How to Win at Risk
The purpose of this article is to teach you how to win at Risk, a game from Hasbro. As Genghis Kahn is purported to have said: "The greatest happiness is to scatter your enemy, to drive him before you, to see his cities reduced to ashes, to see those who love him shrouded in tears, and to gather into your bosom his wives and daughters." Damn Skippy! This article assumes that you know the basic rules of Risk.
The setup of the game is of critical importance. Your basic objectives should be:
- Set yourself up to take control of Continents.
- Deny your opponents control of Continents. Build a stronghold in Continents your opponents are trying to gain control of. If you have no immediate ambitions for the Continent, try to occupy Territories that are more easily defended (e.g. Madagascar)
- Avoid (if possible) major confrontations with opponents. If your opponents are having major battles with large armies early in the game, while you quietly expand, you stand a strong chance to win the game
- Attempt to gain control of the two small Continents - South America and Australia. Many people use Australia as the key to their early strategy because its easy to gain control of and highly defensible via the Siam->Indonesia bottleneck. I find that South America can be the best early game Continent to control because it then becomes a launching point either to take over Africa or North America, or deny your opponents control of them.
Early Game Strategy
The path to victory in Risk lies in out-producing your opponents in the creation of new units. The luck of the dice plays some role, but ultimately early control of Continents and late control of Territory Cards is the way to win.
The early part of the game is about gaining control of Contintents so you get the production bonus. Therefore concentrate on smaller Continents and make sure you deny your opponents control of larger Continents, particularly Europe and North America (Asia is so large its hard for anyone to control early.)
It's generally worth it to sacrifice control of a small Continent to deny your opponent control of a large one. For example, if you control South America and an opponent is threatening to take control of North America, it's worth it to leave Brazil vulnerable so you can throw more strength at Cenral America. If your opponent gets early control of North America with its 5 unit bonus, you're in big trouble.
Overall, Continents are controlled via bottlenecks. Key bottlenecks include Indonesia->Siam, Brazil->North Africa, Greenland->Iceland, etc. Always build up and protect your bottlenecks before extending forward. E.g. if you control South America, fortify Venezuela and Brazil and leave the other territories with only one unit. Once your bottlenecks are strengthened, then extend forward to North America or Africa.
Late Game Strategy
The late game is all about the Territory Cards, which gain in value as the game progresses. Keep a sharp eye out for how many unused Territory Cards your opponents have. An opponent with a weak board position but 4 Territory Cards in hand can be more dangerous than one with a strong board position, but only one Territory Card.
Even at the risk of overextending yourself you should try to wipe out players with 3 or more Territory Cards. Going all out to finish off a weak player with multiple TCs can be a game-winning move.
Overall Risk is usually won by the player who gets the most units. Control of Continents is key. Concentrate on gaining early control of small Continents and deny control to opponents. Use bottlenecks to protect your Continents and deny you opponents theirs.
Be conservative early by not over-extending yourself. Keep count of the number of Territories you and your opponents hold. Remember, three Territories equals one unit, so it may be worth it to extend yourself to gain an extra Territory or deny one of your opponents.
As the game progresses, pay more attention to Territory Cards. An opponent with three or four of them is a dangerous opponent. Try to be the one to finish off a weak opponent and gain his Territory Cards.
Follow these simple precepts and victory will be yours!