I used to love Risk when I was younger, but as time went on, I simply ran out of people who liked sitting down to play a relatively long strategy game. I still have my original Risk game, circa 1975, but apparently I had purchased a newer version, copyrighted 1993 and never opened it. When my youngest daughter pulled it out and wanted to play, we had to punch all the pieces, 360 miniatures, before we sat down to have it out. Yeah, punching new games is a lot of fun, but then we all sat down to play.
Neither my 14-year old daughter nor my wife had ever played before, they are not really into strategy games or wargames and this really qualifies as both. My oldest daughter didn’t want to play the first time and even when we forced her to sit down and play when we did do a second play-through, she wasn’t all that happy to begin with, even though she won the second game by marching across the board from North America into Europe and into Asia. My youngest doesn’t have the strategy down, she’s got this really weird obsession with Siam (because of The King and I) and ends up piling as many troops there as she can, even if she can’t win the game otherwise. It’s just a blockade to anyone trying to take over Asia and get those 7 armies.
Gameplay essentially proceeds with a player attacking a territory from one of theirs that borders it. Dice are rolled, based on how many attackers or defenders are in play and if the attacker wins, the defender loses an army and can attack again. If the defender wins, the attacker loses an army. If the attacker won at any point during the turn, they get a card, which can be turned in, either when they have three different icons or when they have three of the same kind, for more armies. Play goes around the table until someone has taken over the entire map and won the game. We often play until it gets late and whoever has the most territories wins, simply because player elimination gets boring for people, especially when you get down to just two people and the ones who are out of the game get bored. This is supposed to be fun after all.
We do play using the alternate rules where the 42 territory cards are shuffled and dealt out at random to the players. That reduces the initial setup time and the amount of strategy picking individual territories. You start spread across the board and there is a significant amount of luck involved. In the two games we’ve played recently, I’ve started off heavily invested in Asia and South America, but, especially due to my daughter’s control of Siam, no one really got very far in Asia so I’ve had to settle with controlling South America and Africa.
There are newer versions of Risk out there, particularly Risk: Legacy, a game that has an ongoing campaign performed through many successive plays, where each time you play, you modify the game in a significant manner for each new game you play. That game is on our list of things to get, although I admit that we’ll never do what it demands, such as tearing up cards.
Risk is a fun game if you have a lot of time and people who are at least somewhat competitive. This is not a cooperative game, although I suppose you can play teams but I’ve never had much fun that way. This game is a classic and, whether the “designer board game” elite like it or not, it is a classic for a reason, it’s withstood the test of time because it is a good game. I highly recommend it. It needs to get to the table more often, now that everyone likes it.