Ditch the original. Risk: Legacy has arrived

Let me start by saying that I did not want to buy this version of Risk.  Not one bit.  My fellow Risk comrades insisted that we all throw down the cash to cover this new-fangled board game, and despite my insistence...they purchased it anyway.  In this case, I’m really glad I got shouted down, and here’s why:

1.  Factions: more than your favorite color
Each player selects their faction a the outset of the game. Already the crucial decision-making has begun.  Your faction might have the unique ability to do a troop movement mid-turn (can you say surprise attack from the troops buried at your back lines?), or inflict a -1 on the defender’s dice roll of the first territory you attack each turn (caution, all but one of us overlooked how powerful this is!).  Choose carefully and you might just have an upper hand before the game even begins!

2.  Mighty morphing rule book
As we read the rules, cover to cover, we noticed many rules surrounded by dotted lines, meaning they get and permanently changed in a later game.  A player’s ability to quickly adapt to rule changes is more important than developing a singular strategy for world domination.  Read the rules carefully!  There is nothing worse than being caught mid-turn during what you believe to be a brilliant maneuver, only to have you follow Riskers point out the folly of your strategy based on your misinterpretation of the instructions.

3. Wide open spaces
To begin the game, all of your troops must start on the territory where you placed your capital. This means most of the board is completely open! Snatching up all the open territories took several rounds longer than I would have expected, but it is also easy to see why it happened that way. If you move to snatch a continent or huge block of territories right away, you may have put a bullseye on your back with such aggressive play.  

The limited number of troops each player starts the round with also limits early expansion. This leads to a few early rounds of troop maneuvering and strategy that may contain very few skirmishes between players.  Open territories also allow for an eliminated player to re-enter the game, which appears to facilitate early blitzkrieg-style attacks. If these prove unsuccessful or result in the overly aggressive player’s elimination, they can get back in the action if open territories still exist.

4. Gameplay: Best of world-domination and missions
The way to win (the first game anyway) is to get 4 red stars. Everyone starts with one (again, only applies to first game), and tries to obtain another 3, for a total of 4.  Stars are obtained in a few different ways, which means players are not locked into one specific objective like a game of traditional mission Risk.  The result is gameplay that is fluid and flexible, like world-domination RISK.  However, it is never necessary (though sometimes to your advantage) to wipe another player off the map.  This leads to very strategic decision-making and planning, which is very much the hallmark of mission-risk.

The result is the best of both worlds:  fast-paced games that focus on a specific objective, but the means to achieve that goal are flexible, allowing for tremendously dynamic gameplay.

5. Disincentive to be a suicide bomber
The absolute, number one, hand’s down, biggest pet peeve in a game of Risk is when someone goes rogue. It’s late, they’re tired, ready to quit, so here comes the attack-everyone-I-possibly-can-to-end-this-game-I-can’t-win maneuver. What a waste.  

Risk: Legacy provides a clever mechanism to keep players on the board and engaged. Number one, because the game can take unexpected twists and turns and opportunities may present themselves for surprising come-from-behind victories. But more importantly, the surviving players get to make decisions about the shaping of the map, and as a result, the fate of future games.  

One example is the opportunity for the surviving losers of the round to place a city (possession of a territory with a city gives a nice little bump to the number of troops placed at the beginning of a turn) on an open territory.  Placement of these cities will affect the decisions made in future games to own territories with cities and defend them for the advantage they give.  These opportunities to shape future gameplay help to ward off futile rampages of Risk: Legacy’s predecessor.

Give it a go!
There are plenty of good reasons to break with tradition and try this new version.  Split the cost, read the rules (carefully!), and never look back. This version changes everything!