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Best Strategies for Playing Risk: Board Game Tips and Tricks

I spent many years playing Risk with friends and I participated in local tournaments, finishing in fourth place in the finals.

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How to Win When Playing Risk

Follow these strategies to improve your world domination in the board game Risk!

  1. Take Baby Steps to Conquer the Globe
  2. Consider Alliances (But Don't Rely on Them)
  3. Focus on Gaining Small Advantages
  4. Try to Earn a Card Every Turn
  5. Plan Which Continent You'll Conquer First
  6. Play Against Human Opponents

1. Take Baby Steps to Conquer the Globe

One of the best pieces of advice I've ever received while playing Risk is the "baby steps rule." Because of how it was created, Risk is a very long and very complex strategy game, and facing it like a race (immediately attacking all opponents with all available troops, etc.) leads to certain defeat.

The game tends to reward players who have good resilience and know how to plan their moves from a long-term perspective. Very often, drawing too much attention in the early stages is a bad sign and will lead to defeats or uninspiring games.

2. Consider Alliances (But Don't Rely on Them)

The game does not prohibit (and in some cases even promotes) the possibility of creating a sort of fleeting alliance with the other players at the table if someone starts to break the status quo. In the long run, however, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain the status quo, and therefore it is normal for fragile alliances to end.

3. Focus on Gaining Small Advantages

Aim to accumulate small advantages that will lead to a position of superiority that can no longer be opposed. One possible way to gain an advantage is to create "strongholds,'' or neighbouring territories that allow you to maintain a low garrison that cannot be attacked by other players. For example, Japan can have a minimal garrison if you control both Mongolia and Kamchatka.

4. Try to Earn a Card Every Turn

The best way to gain an advantage is to conquer at least one territory in each of your game turns and earn a coveted card. You want to be able to earn a card every turn without getting too weak or antagonizing too many players.

Whether you conquer one territory or acquire multiple territories, you will only receive one card. For this reason, it is counterproductive to declare war against too many territories: You will only acquire one card at the end of the turn, and you will leave few troops to defend those territories—meaning they'll probably be stolen by the other nearby players. It is therefore essential to take a "trophy card" and at the same time consolidate the territories acquired to keep them for as long as possible.

Acquiring cards will give you access to the exchanges where you'll be able to receive a greater number of troops to put on the battlefield for your new moves. This spring effect can launch you very far in the game, so that you'll have to face (sooner or later) the conquest of an entire continent or completion of a secondary objective, such as breaking the hegemony of another player.

Risk 60th Anniversary Edition Board Game by Hasbro

Risk 60th Anniversary Edition Board Game by Hasbro

5. Plan Which Continent You'll Conquer First

If you want to try your hand at conquering your first continent, there are several options to consider (and a few to avoid).

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Australia

  • Pros: Australia is the easiest continent to conquer and defend; in fact, just put a good line of defence in Siam or Indonesia, and you can move on to something else. This is a good starting point for beginners.
  • Cons: At the same time, however, its greatest weakness is its decentralized position, which precludes the possibility of accessing other territories or expansion.

South America

  • Pros: South America often falls into the same principle as Australia, but it's slightly more difficult to control. However, it allows for minimal mobility, since it's able to access North America and Africa. It's another good starting point for beginners.
  • Cons: From here, the expansion to North America is not easy, given the large number of territories (as many as nine) that make up North America. It is probably easier to move and experience expansion to Africa.

Africa

  • Pros: Africa is, in my opinion, a great starting point due to its central position on the board. It guarantees quick access to other continents. It is more difficult to conquer and defend, but it provides a troop bonus that helps to balance the points against.
  • Cons: This is not a good continent for beginners. Conquering Africa as the first continent already requires some skill and some experience.

(FYI: For a short time, due to a printing error, East Africa did not border the Middle East, facilitating the conquest of the continent. The border was restored in subsequent reprints of Risk.)

North America and Europe (Avoid)

These two continents are not good starting points. They are usually conquered in the later game stages, after you've already conquered other continents to obtain the necessary troops.

North America and Europe are generally similar, and they produce the same amount of bonus troops. North America is more difficult to conquer since it consists of a greater number of territories, while Europe is more difficult to maintain due to the greater number of neighbouring territories.

Asia (Avoid)

Nobody should consider conquering all of Asia as the first continent. Asia is the most difficult of the continents to conquer and maintain, as it is made up of 12 territories and borders on four other continents!

Risk Europe

Risk Europe

6. Play Against Human Opponents

One last tip is to play this game as much as possible with real people, like your family and friends. Diplomacy is one of the most important aspects to consider in this type of game, and it helps to make the game more fun to play.

There's software available to play the game online multiplayer or with CPU-controlled players, but nothing—and I say nothing—is like playing it in person.

Enjoy Playing Your Favourite Version of Risk!

There are a thousand variations of Risk and a thousand versions for all tastes and all game groups. For instance, Risk: Game of Thrones? Check! Risk: Warhammer 40,000? Check!

There are also Risk variations themed around Assassin's Creed, Plant vs. Zombies, The Elder Scrolls, Star Wars, Rick and Morty, and many more options.

What is your favourite version? Are you a lover of the Classic version? Let me know in the comments!

© 2021 Christian Allasia

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