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How To Play Risk, One Of The Best Strategy Boardgames Around!

Updated on January 14, 2017

One of my favourite things to do with friends is get together, eat a load of food, drink a lot of booze and play the strategy board game Risk. This article explains how to play the game and have a great and entertaining night in with your friends.

Risk is fairly easy to learn how to play, but requires skill and strategy to win. You will also need some luck. As it is turn based, there are plenty of opportunities when playing with your friends to have a drink and a laugh.

As you'll be having lots of battles throughout, there are also opportunities to have rewards after each successful battle, such as a glug of cognac for the victor, or whatever you want to use as a prize.

It's great fun and extremely satisfying to outwit your friends and be declared the winner at the end of the night.

I've just won a battle YEAAAH!! Pass the port.

This is Vangelis. Ok he looks a bit odd, but his music is great when playing risk!

How to play and enjoy Risk

To play Risk, you will need at least a couple of friends. It is possible to play the game with just two people, but the whole point of Risk is that there are risks when you play.

You have to decide who you're going to attack and at what time, all the time weighing up the risk of opening yourself up to an attack by others if you do decide to press forwards. With two people, that element of the game just isn't there so get between three to six of you together.

I also suggest a large amount of beer, port and cheese. Plus whisky and cognac if you're feeling extravagant (I always am).

You also need some ridiculous music playing in the background. We have had success with the music of Vangelis. He has made a lot of music in his time, some of it good, some of it bad, a lot of it strange.

Somehow or other, when you mount an attack, if you have rousing music playing in the background, your attack seems to be more effective than if you have limp, insipid music. It shouldn't work that way, but it just seems to happen. Vangelis' music is such a mixed bag, you just never know what you're going to get if you all of his albums on random play.

This is the one you want if you can afford it, the anniversary edition!

Which version to buy

There are lots of different versions of Risk. I've tried several, but classic is the best in my opinion. If you can get one, then the 40th Anniversary Edition has metal pieces and a more upmarket feel than the standard board. However if you can't get that, don't worry too much, pick up classic Risk and enjoy.

To play the game you first of all count out your troops. You get 35 troops for a 3 player game and 5 less per person as you add more into the game, going down to 20 troops each in a 6 player game.

You then divide up the territories, this is done at random with all the territory cards being shuffled, then dealt. After that, you have to place your pieces and then the game is on. The object of the game ultimately is to wipe everyone else off the map and take over the world. It is also possible to complete the game by carrying out all of your missions, from the inculded mission cards, but that is not always possible. If your missions have been blocked, then conquest is your only hope!

The world is divided into 42 territories and 6 continents and ideally you want to control the lot.To do this you need to attack your opponents armies with your own, with battle being decided with dice rolls. The attacker gets 3 dice, the defender 2, the defender only has to match the attackers roll with his dice to win, whereas if the attacker beats the defender with his roll, then he wins. The battles carry on until you decide to withdraw, or wipe everyone out. You then reinforce .

I won't go into the specifics of the rules, as they are all in the book for you to read when you buy the game, but you have to balance out several factors while playing.

You need to gain reinforcements each turn to bolster your army. This is done by owning more territories, which are only gained by attacking. You need to make sure you don't leave yourself open to attack on any flank, or spread your forces too thinly so they won't be able to defend your borders.

You need to take over and hold continents, as you will get reinforcement bonuses for holding a continent for a turn.

This is a cannon with a value of 10 men. Several of these in an army will strike fear into your opponent's heart!

Mission cards

You also need to be aware of the mission cards, which hold missions such as taking a set number of territories in one turn, or holding a certain continent, making multiple successful attacks across water etc. When you complete a mission, you are rewarded with more reinforcements. Your mission cards are dealt out at the start of the game and you need to keep them secret from your friends.

You have to try to work out what missions your opponents have to try and block them from completing theirs, while at the same time completing yours and hiding your intentions so you don't get blocked!

As you can see there is quite a lot to think about during the game. It is easy to pick up, but there are usually lots and lots of different strategic decisions to bear in mind as you play.

We have modified the rules slightly, the original game has an item called the golden horse, this is to make the games shorter, this works by bolstering the number of reinforcements that every one will receive after a complete turn. This unbalances the game though and means that the foundations that you have laid can be destroyed by someone suddenly dropping an enormous army on the map. I can see why the makers introduced this, as it means that game playing time can be cut down from several hours, to an hour or so to keep families from killing each other, but I'm sure the purists will leave the golden horse in the box.

These things will help your game

Lots of port
Lots of port
Very smelly cheese
Very smelly cheese

What to consume while playing

Something that I see as essential to Risk is having a drink while playing. This does mean that your decisions may get a bit crazier as the night goes on and everyone gets drunker, but as everyone else is doing the same thing then it balances out. Of course the battles and celebrations generally get more raucous and rowdy as the night goes on, but that's part of the game.

To keep it traditional and in the manner of 19th century British military high command, then port is usually what we drink (also because we all love it).

Something else we usually do is halfway through the game we stop for a cheese session. These things aren't mandatory. Just highly recommended.

If this sounds like fun, then buy it here!

If you have friends and are always interested in doing something fun, then I'd highly recommend Risk. As all the best games, it's pretty easy to learn, but hard to become a master. It is one of the best strategy board games around.

Of course the more you play with your friends, then the more you will learn their tactics, which makes the games more interesting. If you're tired of playing computer games, having a dinner, or watching films with your friends and want to try something different, get yourself a Risk set, plenty of supplies (alcohol optional of course) and have some fun!

I hope you enjoyed this article, if you have any comments, then please leave them below.



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    • Rain Defence profile imageAUTHOR

      Rain Defence 

      6 years ago from UK

      You're guaranteed a good Christmas! I'm really looking forward to some decent games when I get my supersize set. Thanks for your comment.

    • seanorjohn profile image


      6 years ago

      Great hub about a great game. I will get out the risk board for Christmas Hols but first I must stock up on port. Voted up and useful

    • Rain Defence profile imageAUTHOR

      Rain Defence 

      6 years ago from UK

      Like eggs and steak, Risk and Port go hand in hand! I'm planning to custom build a giant board, when complete I'll take some pics and write a hub. Thanks for comment.

    • internpete profile image

      Peter V 

      6 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

      I've played a fair amount of Risk in my day, but this sounds like an evening full of fun. Great hub!

    • dommcg profile image


      6 years ago

      Excellent hub, i too enjoy playing risk and have been known to combine it with port, whisky and cheese... I also think that music is a key element of risk, listening to classical music or Vangelis particularly. I find the music can often affect the psychology of the game.


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