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How to Play Risk and Win Every Time

By Edited Jan 21, 2015 1 0
Credit: Opensource

I have been playing the board game Risk in some form since childhood. Risk, along with Axis and Allies, is the best world domination game to play with friends, or simply play Risk online or on the PC or Sony Playstation version. I still have my original Risk board game purchased in the 80s, however, it is much easier to play online or via the Playstation.

There are several new versions, including a new Walking Dead version I saw online recently, however, I still prefer the classic Risk map. In fact, I have two version for the Playstation, Risk I and Risk II. The newer versions are interesting with better graphics, more detailed maps and visual battles, but after a while, those animated battles become annoying and slow down the game. So I always go back to the old classic one from childhood.

However, the classic version has what I consider to be one fatal flaw in the way the map is arranged. There is one way that you can win every time if you set your armies up correctly at the start of the game. Well, maybe not every time because theoretically someone could keep rolling 6’s while you attack them, but I would estimate that based on my own personal experience that if you employ this strategy, you will win the game at least 90% of the time.

The rules of Risk are simple. Try to dominate. So how do you win Risk nearly every time?

Risk Strategies to Win

When initially placing your armies on the Risk board, start in Australia. Australia is comprised of four territories

with one entry point into the continent. That is important. The key to winning Risk is getting more reinforcements than your opponents at the beginning of each turn and controlling continents is one of the best ways to do this. Australia is the only continent with only one entry point and thus only one border to defend.

So as you begin to place your armies, select as many of the Australian territories as you can, then when all of the territories on the board are occupied, start reinforcing one (only 1) of those Australian territories. You want one massive army in one of your Australian territories, and from that staging area, you will retake the entire continent.

Begin Play

At the outset of classic Risk, each player takes turns placing one army in a territory until all territories on the map have been occupied. Then each player takes turns placing their remaining armies in any of their territories. Game play then ensues. At this point you can get an idea of your opponent’s strategy by where they place the bulk of their armies.

What Can Go Wrong?

If you are lucky, you are playing with people (or computer opponents) that neglect this strategy and will not challenge you initially for control of Australia. However, be prepared to fight it out for the continent at the very beginning with another player, sometimes more than one.

If you did it correctly, you should have 14 armies in one of your Australian territories ready to

pounce.  But someone else could be employing the same strategy and be sitting beside you with 14 armies of their own.  So what gives?

14 armies against 14 armies is really a draw with a slight edge to the defender in my opinion because every roll of a 6 by the defender is a win. However, it really comes down to which one of you gets to go first and that is determined randomly by the computer or set at the beginning of the game if you are playing with live people.

Because each player gets to reinforce their armies at the beginning of their turn, you or your adjacent opponent will get 3 armies before the other which will change the numbers  to 17 armies against 14 armies. That is a slight advantage to the attacker.

Still, all is not lost if your attacker gets the jump on you in the fight for Australia. 17 to 14 is still very much a toss-up. If I were the attacker with 17 armies, I would start the attack and see how the first few rounds went. If I am knocking off 2 armies at a time, I would continue. If not, I would probably stop after 2 or 3 rounds so I did not risk decimating my forcing. Sometimes you can wait it out and let your opponent (especially if you are playing the computer) deplete themselves by trying to take the other territories in Australia rather than attacking your main massive army.

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The Continent (and Game) is Yours

After you capture Australia, the game is basically over. You can sit in your ’little fort’ with only one entrance to defend and slowly migrate up Malaysia each turn and building up your armies. You will be the only player that control a continent and that means you are accumulating more armies (2 additional armies) than your opponents each turn. It may not sound like much but it adds up over time.

At this point in the game, you have to time your break-out. When you feel like you have enough of a massive army defending the border and want to go on an offensive, take off, but always leave at least 10 armies defending your continent. However, only go on a run when you think you can take out an opponent and get their cards for armies. Then it sort of builds on itself because you can keep turning in cards for more armies and so on.

Final Thoughts

So there you have the Risk rules to win every time. In fact, it is so easy this way that it becomes sort of boring if you are playing multiple computer players because they tend to be predictable.

I am so accustomed to winning this way that I actually try to do the same thing with South America because it is much more challenging because you have two entrances into the continent to defend. Either way, Risk is one of the best strategy game out there and can provide endless hours of entertainment even when playing by yourself.

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