The board game Risk has both forged and broken friendships for over 50 years. Players need plans to invade and conquer other players’ territories worldwide to succeed in the game. Depending on the players’ skill, a single game of Risk might take anywhere from an hour to several days or weeks. The winner is the one who controls all of the board’s territory. First time playing Risk? This gameplay guide might be helpful if you’ve never played Risk before.
History of the Board Game “Risk”
Albert Lamorisse, a French filmmaker who won an Oscar for Best Screenplay for his work on 1956’s The Red Balloon, is credited with inventing the game of Risk in 1957. Before it was dubbed Risk, Lamorisse called the game La Conquête du Monde, which means “The Conquest of the World” in English. He had the idea for the board game while on vacation with his family in Holland.
Soon after, in the same year, Lamorisse sold the idea to French toymaker Miro. Jean-René Vernes, the man responsible for bringing the board game to the French public, made a few adjustments to the rules. The American version of the game wasn’t released until two years later, thanks to a collaboration between Miro and Parker Brothers. The original title, “The Conquest of the World,” was shortened to “Risk” for its American release.
Since Hasbro purchased Parker Brothers in 1991, the company has developed several limited-edition versions of Risk based on well-known media properties. Well-known companies like Star Wars and Transformers have versions.
The Settlers of Catan and Axis & Allies are only a couple of the many board games that took inspiration from Risk because of its emphasis on territorial control.
Starting the Game of Risk
The rules of Risk are constantly evolving due to the numerous versions released throughout the years. This game guide is written for the 2016 Standard Edition of Risk, which retains the traditional rules while making minor adjustments for simplicity.
At the game’s outset, each player will roll a die to know the order of choosing a color for their troops and the territories where they will position the troops. The person with the highest die roll goes first, followed by the person with the next highest roll, and so on. A re-roll of the dice is required if two or more players have rolled the same number.
Deploying the Troops
Players will select a colored set of troops to place in territories after determining their turn order. It’s up to the number of players to decide how many soldiers to hand out at the beginning. Here’s how many soldiers you’ll get for how many people you have playing:
- Two players: 40 troops (for the standard edition)
- Three players: 35 troops
- Four players: 30 troops
- Five players: 25 troops
Once all the troops have been distributed, the player who goes first chooses a territory, followed by the other players in turn order. Until all 42 of the available territories have been selected, the game will continue.
Players with many troops in a single territory can trade them for game pieces representing even more soldiers. An infantry piece represents one troop, a cavalry piece represents five troops, and an artillery piece represents 10 troops. For example, one artillery and one cavalry in a single territory are equivalent to having 15 troops.
The Three Phases in a Player’s Turn
Each player turn consists of three phases during which the player can perform several activities. These stages include the draft, the battle, and the maneuver. The best way to understand how each phase functions is to thoroughly go through it.
First Phase: The Draft
For every three territories a player controls at the beginning of their turn, they receive one more troop. If a player, for instance, controls nine territories, that player will have access to three additional troops.
One can also amass troops by conquering a whole continent. Here is a rundown of the game’s continents, along with the maximum number of troops that may be earned by conquering each one:
- Asia: 7 troops
- North America: 5 troops
- South America – 2 troops
- Africa – 3 troops
- Australia – 2 troops
- Europe – 5 troops
A third option for acquiring troops is to trade a collection of cards amassed throughout several turns. Each opponent territory the player conquers allows them to draw one card from the deck.
The cards feature a map location and the corresponding troop figure silhouette. To acquire a troop, you must either give up three cards with the same silhouette or exchange three cards with contrasting silhouettes.
Wild cards, which can be drawn randomly, stand in for any silhouette on the deck and can be combined with two other icon-identical cards to form a combination.
You’ll receive more troops each time you swap a set of cards. These are the number of troops you can receive for each number of sets:
- One set gives you 4 troops
- Two sets: 6 troops
- Three sets: 8 troops
- Four sets: 10 troops
- Five sets: 12 troops
- Six sets: 15 troops
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Second Phase: The Battle
During the battle phase, the player can invade and capture neighboring enemy territories after assembling troops. You can send one or more troops into enemy territory to seize it, and then you and the defender will both roll dice to see who succeeds. You and the defense will each roll a certain number of dice equal to the number of troops you have deployed.
For attacking players:
- One troop: 1 die
- Two troops: 2 dice
- Three or more troops: 3 dice
For defending players:
- One troop: 1 die
- Two or more troops: 2 dice
Three attackers and two defenders are the maxima allowed in a standard edition battle. If the attacker has rolled the highest number on a single die, they may successfully eliminate one enemy troop. However, the attack will fail if the defender has rolled the same number.
The attacker gains control of the territory when the defender’s troops are entirely wiped out. The number of times an attacking player can move into or battle within an enemy territory has no limit. Still, each battle can only involve a single set of troops in a single controlled territory.
Remember that the attacking player must always retain a minimum of one
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Third Phase: Maneuver
A player can move troops from one territory to another during the maneuver phase if the target territory is adjacent to the one being maneuvered into. While relocating troops from one territory to another, whether to an own or enemy territory, one troop must always remain behind to guard the territory.
Each turn only allows one action, which limits you to make a single change to the territory in which your troops are now stationed.
Secret Mission Cards
The Secret Missions deck, available in various Risk versions, details players’ objectives to claim victory.
To speed up the game, the Secret Missions feature has been implemented. It allows a player to win the game immediately upon completing a secret mission, independent of the other players’ board positions. Among the tasks detailed on the special cards is the elimination of all troops of a particular color and the conquest of a certain number of territories.
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The board game Risk is excellent for developing analytical and strategic skills. Players can exercise their strategic acumen and develop a sense of personal control while playing Risk. The length of time it can take to complete a single round of Risk is meant to be an analogy for how dedicated you need to be to achieve any goal.