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Tabletop Game / Risk

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"Second World War, Russian front, not a good idea... Hitler never played Risk when he was a kid...! Because, you know, playing Risk, you could never hold onto Asia — that Asian/Eastern European area? You could never hold it, could ya? Seven extra men at the beginning of every go, but you couldn't fucking hold it. Australia, that was the one, Australia — all the purples, get everyone on Papua New Guinea and just build up and build up..."

Risknote  is a classic Wargame centred around commanding armies on a map of the world. The game starts with the random division of the world among up to eight players. Armies are gained according to how much territory each player has, whether they control entire continents, and special cards drawn from a deck. The object of the game is to control the entire world. Risk has been around for a long time and has many, many spinoffs and expansions. See Themed Stock Board Game.

One especially-interesting spinoff is Risk Legacy, which involves permanent changes to the game board during gameplay, leading to a unique experience for each session.

This game provides examples of:

  • After the End:
    • One possibility for Risk Legacy after enough games have been played on the same board.
    • 2210 is set in the aftermath of a nuclear war.
  • Aggressive Play Incentive: The game strongly ties your number of reinforcements each turn to the number of territories and continents you own, as well as giving you bonus cards for successfully taking territory — which can only be done by attacking, not defending. Furthermore, attacking lets you roll three dice against the defender's two, improving your odds of victory. Slow and steady rarely conquers the world.
  • Artificial Stupidity: EA's iOS port of the game features six computer players, all using the same opening moves. This becomes especially obvious if you choose "Manual" set-up — the computer will attempt to match the "Automatic" set-up as much as possible, even when doing so is suicidally stupid.
  • Artistic License Geography: The "Afghanistan" region doesn't even contain Afghanistan. The "Middle East" is one nation. Russia is required to hold Europe. "Northern Europe" doesn't include most of the actual Northern Europe but does include a large chunk of Central and Western Europe. Related to that: Scandinavia includes Finland (which isn't Scandinavian) but lacks Denmark (which is). Great Britain includes Ireland ("British Isles" would have been a more accurate name). Many areas named after countries or states don't correspond to any historical borders of that country (kind of Justified with South Africa and Central Africa, as both can be interpreted as areas rather than countries).
    • The landmasses themselves are often distorted so as to better fit on the confines of the game board, especially in older versions of the game where even some of the more recognizable bits of continents can be badly distorted. Even on modern boards, the Americas will be shifted northeasterly, shrinking the Atlantic and leaving the south end of South America level with the south end of Africa, all to reduce unused ocean space, while having Europe proportionately larger so as to be able to accommodate army pieces in territories that are otherwise smaller than on other continents.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Asia. If you can control it long enough to actually start getting units from it, you can steamroll the other players in numbers. Problem is that it has many territories you need to take and can be attacked on a number of different fronts from very many provinces. Lose even one lousy territory and kiss your continental bonus goodbye until you can re-take it. You can get attacked from no less than four of the other five continents represented, with South America being the only one without access. Even if you manage to get a firm hold on Asia, expect the other players to start conspiring with one other to launch multi-pronged attacks before your large numbers of reinforcements would become unstoppable.
    • Newer editions of original Risk have cavalry figurines to represent five units, and cannon figurines to represent ten (as opposed to an infantryman being one unit). As awesome as it is to have cannons intimidatingly guarding your borders, get ready to waste time exchanging them for a horse and 3 men as you take losses, until you get fed up and just stick to using regular infantry for everything.
  • Bears Are Bad News: One of the Risk: Legacy factions is the Enclave of the Bear, whose soldiers ride on bears.
  • Beef Gate: A tactic. In newer editions where a horse or cannon represents 5 or 10 units, you can place one at each of your chokepoints or borders. While your opponents may have the soldiers to beat them rather easily, most won't because of the intimidation factor. While five soldiers and one horse have the same value, it feels a lot different to go up against a horse.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Australia. Only one way in or out (and the owner of Asia likely has bigger concerns at the start) and a total of 5 reinforcements each round (assuming that's all the player owns) means it's possible to amass an enormous army then conquer once everyone else has depleted themselves fighting each other. A good way to tell veterans from beginners is who thinks they got screwed over by getting 3 out of 4 Australia territories doled out to them and who thinks they've already won.
      • In the Pogo version of Risk, at least if playing against AI players, the winner is usually (though not always) whoever manages to grab Australia.
      • In Risk 2210, this doesn't work quite as well, between the existence of sea territory and the fact that taking Australia won't be enough to win the game for you on turn 5.
    • North and South America, Africa and Europe can be this. None of them offer the high bonus of Asia, nor the Stone Wall characteristics of Australia, but they can be useful territory all the same. North America in particular has three chokepoints in or out, ties with (more exposed) Europe for the biggest continental reinforcement bonus outside of Asia, and can allow a player to deny others total control over Asia, Europe or South America.
      • Conquer both Americas and the player still has only three chokepoints to defend, while gaining 7 bonus armies a turn — all without the hassle of holding Asia together.
  • The Chessmaster: The premise of the game.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The strategy of many players.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Every continent has its own color, and so does each Army.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: The factions in the videogame Risk: Factions are Humans, Cats, Robots, Zombies and Yetis.
  • Crapsack World:
    • A board of Risk Legacy will most likely turn into this after enough games are played on it.
    • Standard Risk is basically an up-to-six-way free-for-all spread across the whole world until one guy amasses enough force to utterly crush all opposition.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Usually after a player has turned in their cards for a massive number of reinforcements. Though because attacking other territories is based on dice rolls, this may be subverted if the attacker has bad luck (especially with the defender always winning ties).
  • Divine Conflict: Risk: Godstorm pits the pantheons of the Egyptians, Greeks, Norse, Babylonians, and Celtics against each other in a fight for control of the ancient world.
  • Domed Hometown: 2210's undersea and lunar colonies.
  • Easy Logistics:
    • Players are allowed to "fortify"note  one territory per round by moving forces from one territory to another, as long as there's a continuous path through friendly territory. Yes, it's possible to move 10 units all the way from Alaska to the Middle East in the time it took for an enemy to move 2 units from New Guinea to Japan, details like rations and supplies be damned.
    • Even easier — the reinforcements you receive at the beginning of each turn can be placed anywhere. Even in territories you just captured last turn. Even if they are completely isolated from the rest of your territories. Hundreds of armies can appear where there was just one a moment ago with no visible source.
  • Enemy Mine: A common strategy, but seeing how there's only one victor, the end result of this is easy to predict.
  • Epic Fail: Hilariously bad luck with the dice can result in unexpected slaughters dealt to superior forces. Generally We Have Reserves does win the battle, but it's never a sure thing.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Woe betide the holder of North America who doesn't notice his enemy slowly adding units to Kamchatka. It goes both ways too; woe betide the owner of Asia that fails to see the large army amassing on Alaska.
  • Forbidden Fruit: At the bottom of every box of Risk: Legacy is an envelope simply marked "DO NOT OPEN. EVER." If you choose to open it anyway, you unleash a cataclysmic event, which varies between copies, and includes awakening curses, unleashing a supervirus, or the world going out of orbit and causing major climate changes.
  • From a Single Cell / Not Quite Dead:
    • Due to the mechanics of the reinforcements card trade in, it is possible for a player to be beaten to 1 troop in 1 territory only for him to suddenly raise an army out of nowhere. This becomes especially interesting if you're playing with the U.S. rules, in which card sets increase in value throughout the game.
    • This can become a strategy unto itself: wait until the last moment possible to turn in a set of cards, then destroy your weakest opponent and take their cards. If you still hold two cards and your enemy holds n+1, you'll very likely be forced to turn in another set, if not two, leading to a 100+ troop bonus.
    • In a milder case, no player can receive less than three reinforcements per turn, allowing a nearly defeated player to slowly build up if the other players are sufficiently merciful (or Genre Blind).
  • Gaia's Lament: Risk 2210 has a war on an irradiated, polluted Earth.
  • Hold the Line:
    • Players on the receiving end of attacks roll their (up to) 2 dice to see if their forces can hold. Interestingly, even though the attacker can use up to 3 dice, the advantage is theoretically always with the defense, since the defenders win a roll if the dice tie each other (possibly to represent the "home field advantage") — though the attacking player can certainly make up for this with a large enough force making repeated attacks. Truth in Television in that defending a fortified position does tend to require less manpower than conquering one.
    • Additionally, at least one army must remain in every territory, presumably to "hold the fort" in-universe, or more practically to denote which player currently owns it.
  • Humongous Mecha: One of the units in Risk Legacy. Aesthetically, at least, the look of all the units (besides the Commanders) from 2210.
  • Impossible Task: Holding the continent of Asia. Good luck if you draw a mission that requires Asia.
  • Insistent Terminology: In some editions of the game (possibly beginning with German versions of the game in the 1980s), players do not conquer countries, they liberate them. Not by attacking, but by performing "Liberation Actions". However, when a player's turn ends, this well-meaning "Liberator" becomes an "Occupant" who defends his occupied countries against "Liberation" by the other "Liberators".
  • Instant-Win Condition: Versions of the game with Mission cards allow someone to win if they accomplish all 4 of theirs, regardless of how much they're losing or someone else is winning at the "conquer the world" objective.
  • Legacy Board Game: Risk Legacy has several mechanics that permanently change the game between playthroughs. To choose powers, players must pick one of their faction's two powers, put the corresponding sticker on their faction card, then destroy the card that has the other rule on it. The game box contains different sealed packages and compartments that are opened during the game, and the rule book itself will also change.
  • Literal Wild Card: Each of the territory cards has a symbol of either a soldier, a cannon or a horseman. Any three cards with the same symbol or one of each symbol can be traded in for more armies. There are also two wild cards which have all three symbols on them, allowing them to act as any of the three symbols. A wild card can be combined with any two other territory cards and turned in for armies, thus replacing one of the needed cards.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Randomly drawing initial territories, as well as the aforementioned Mission cards.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: It's not hard to find rules for combining Risk with Monopoly. It's only slightly harder to find the rules for Risk/Monopoly/Trivial Pursuit/Clue. No, seriously.
  • One World Order: Generally, the game ends when all the space-filling empires are destroyed, save one. Possibly averted in 2210 or Godstorm, which have a five-turn limit, or games where completing missions is also a victory condition, and conquering the world is something of a feat.
  • New Game Plus: The point of Legacy. The winner can permanently change something.
  • Player Elimination: Each player controls an army with the goal of achieving world domination. If a player's army is wiped out, they cease to play, while the remaining players continue as normal.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Extremely common. Players that expend large numbers of troops to take territories or to finish taking control of continents often find themselves unable to actually hold it before reinforcements arrive. Every beginner has done this at least once, only to find that leaving the continent's borders lined with territories guarded by two men at most is ripe for the taking if someone else sees how weak you are.
  • Random Number God: The mechanics of the entire game are based on die rolls. Especially irritating if playing it as a video game.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: Risk 2210 and Risk: Godstorm (a generic fantasy flavored version).
  • Red Shirt Army:
    • It's pretty safe to assume that, after an hour or so of playing, all the pieces that were on the board to start the game will be dead.
    • And of course, some of the pieces actually are red.
  • "Risk"-Style Map: Risk uses an area-based map rather than a hex-base or grid map. It is the Trope Namer.
  • Stone Wall:
    • A common tactic is to take over Australia, hoard its bonus armies, and defend Australia's one access point with everything until you have an unstoppable army that can easily rampage through everyone else's weakened territories. On the flipside, an opponent can just as easily Stone Wall the one or two countries with access to Australia, effectively cutting that player off from the rest of the map, possibly for the entire game.
    • In Risk 2210, it becomes significantly easier to Stone Wall any continent depending on the radiation tokens. South America can become just as troublesome when either of the two entry points is blocked by a nuclear wasteland. And then there is the issue when both entry points become uncrossable. note 
  • Take Over the World: It's the object of the game.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Once a player has acquired enough territories, their per-turn troop allowances become too great for their opponents to match. Sometimes a card trade-in can turn the tables real fast.
  • Variable Player Goals: "Secret Mission" cards.
  • Villain Protagonist: You play as someone who wants to Take Over the World.
  • We Have Reserves: Your army will definitely be obliterated at some point, but all you need to do is produce the right combination of cards next turn...
    • The online Conquer Club map "Das Schloss" is notorious for this; its design can cause games to take months, and if you're using escalating cards ... well, good luck defending against that 600-army drop.
    • The entire combat system is based on this. You can have an army of fifty units going against an army of five, but rather than being ten times as powerful, all that means is that your enemy is more likely to run out of men before you do.