Archive for the ‘Risk online’ Category

How Winning at Risk is the Same as Poker

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Dogs Playing Risk Online By learning some basic tips you win most of your games of Risk.  But when it comes to the expert level of play, you need to take your game up a notch.

When playing with other players of great skill, the game becomes like poker.  You don’t play your hand, you play your opponent.

In Risk your layout, your bonuses are much less important when you are playing with others who can take advantage of every weakness on the board.  So instead you need to take advantage of the weakness in the player.  Are they hot headed?  Reserved?  Can they be frazzled with some banter?

In Risk, one of the best strategies is to pit the other players against each other.  Make yourself seem weak, and let others do the dirty work of breaking bonuses.  It’s all about letting one player get too powerful on another players borders.  Darwinism takes over from there and you are often left to pickup the aftermath.

When playing with escalating cards you need to resist the temptation to go ‘all in’ too early.  Many players are not patient and try to snap up bonuses in the first few rounds.  The patient know when to hold them and when to double down on a set of cards.  It’s often easy to see the immaturity of your opponent in the first few rounds and know you have them beat from there.

So play the player and not the board and you will be knocking off those veterans in no time.

Interview with Landgrab developer: Desau

Sunday, August 14th, 2011 is a Risk playing site that has been around longer than anyone.   I interviewed the developer, Desau to see what makes it tick.

1. LandGrab has been going strong for quite a long time.  When did it start are what was your impetus to create an online Risk site?

Desau: LandGrab was born from an earlier private project I developed to play Risk with some friends back in California while I was living abroad, in France.  That project started in 1997 and was used privately be a small group of my friends for a few years.  That group of friends started growing until the old system really wasn’t maintainable and usable by the larger user-base.  I started thinking of remaking it for a larger (public) audience around 2002-2003, then actually started writing the code in 2004.  LandGrab was released publicly in August of 2005.

2  LandGrab has many features which are found no where else in the Risk playing world.  Which features do you think make LandGrab special and how did you come up with them?

Desau: Yeah — I think just that point sets it apart.  It’s sort of the “kitchen-sink” variant on the net.  There are a number of really good sites out there, but I’ve always tried to make LandGrab the one place where you can find “your” rules. When I was growing up playing the board game, we all had our own house rules.  I played in a number of circles of friends, and a number of different houses.  Each house had its own set of rules .. and they seemed to morph from game night to game night.  So I thought it would be imperative to allow the game creator to set up the rules however he or she wanted them played.
Recently, I added “Bridges and Walls”, which allow the players to control game borders as the game is played, by devoting soldiers to become engineers for a few turns to “build” bridges or walls.  I don’t think I’ve seen this anywhere else, so I consider that one a LandGrab-only setting.  I came up with that idea, as I have most, by just playing the game.  I still love to play it, and I’m always in at least 20 active games at any given time.  I was playing a game and thought to myself - “it would be great if there was a wall here, so I didn’t have to defend this border anymore …”

3.  LandGrab has tons of customizable game settings.  You can adjust the cards, armies, and over all game type.  How do you as a developer decide what to put in and what to leave out?  What are some of the most and least popular settings and have any of them surprised you?

Desaeu: I try to let the user-base drive this.  If I see a particular feature is requested a lot, I’ll probably give it more thought than one that isn’t.  Beyond that, it’s whatever I think would be fun and cool.  More about this in question #8, but since this is a hobby for me, I write code that interests me and keeps me engaged.
Most popular, which surprised me, was realtime.  I never expected so many people would be willing and excited to sit down for 3+ hours and play a full game with total strangers.  Realtime games on LandGrab are much more popular that I had originally thought.  As for rule settings, the “area-based reinforcements” has been a bit of a dud.. it may get deleted at some point.

4. LandGrab allows you to adjust the play style of AI (computer) players as well as change inactive players to computer players (Borgify).  Were computer players part of LG from the beginning or were they created out of need?

Desau:  They were there from the very beginning.  That was actually part of a senior project for my BS in Computer Science.  This was pre-LandGrab, but my original project (discussed in question #1) had computer AI as a research project.  I just ported and improved some of that original code for LandGrab, then it because a natural fit for people who timeout.

5. For those who may be familiar with computer players on the official Risk game on Pogo, or on Lux Delux, how would you say your AI players stack up against the competition?  How much development went into creating and testing their AI?

Desau: I’ll be the first to admit that the AI on LandGrab is pretty bad.  There are times when it can overwhelm you if you don’t pay attention to it, but it’s quite predictable, and doesn’t really think very far ahead, or have a strong decision tree.

6. Some sites have a tightly controlled map creation process, some are more open.  There are pro’s and con’s to both.  Why did LG go with a more open process and how has that worked out?  If you had to pick a favorite map, which would it be, and why?

Desau:  Yeah - I’d say it worked out.  And, I agree that there are pros and cons to each method.  Having a controlled process certainly weeds out bad maps, but I believe that’s the job of the map choosing UI.  That’s why I have a list of endorsed maps — those are the ones that most people see and choose from.  However, if I want to make a silly map to play with my friends for 1 night, why not?  It’s all about letting the users do what they want .. as long as it doesn’t hurt other players.

7. LandGrabs forum community has almost a 100,000 posts.  What are some aspects of LG’s community that make it a success?

Desau:  Not really sure.  I tried to keep it easy to access and somewhat integrated (although not nearly as much as Conquer Club).  I think the game just lends itself to socializing.. so that part needs to be there.  Obviously having some regulars around with their well-known personalities helps.

8. Is it difficult to be a single person development team?  How do you appease the many users and the growing TODO list?  Is LG a full time gig for you?

Desau:  Well — it’s difficult to get a lot of stuff done quickly, but it’s easy to make decisions  :)
If you’ve seen the TODO list on LandGrab, you’ve seen that you can vote for items.  This certainly helps me to prioritize things.  I also read the forums regularly to keep a pulse on what’s working and what isn’t.  High priority bugs (that hit a lot of people) are usually my number 1 concern.  After a major release, I’ll just spend time doing nothing but bug fixing for a while, until things stabilize.  After that, I try to find features that a lot of people are asking for, then mix in some stuff of my own creation.  I’ve got another admin (foist) who is a great help in bouncing ideas off, and he’s an amazing artist — most of the graphics that you see on LandGrab are from him.  When doing development on large new features, I’ll usually consult him to hash out how something should work.
Full time gig - no.. never has been.  It’s always just been a fun hobby of mine.  I currently work at a pretty fast-paced startup, and I’ve now got two kids and a wife, so LandGrab really doesn’t get nearly as much time as it used to.  It’s never made a ton of money, I’ve always done it because it’s a good outlet for creative design and development for me, and I just love to play the game.

9. Not many Risk sites provide a public API.  Are there examples of people using it in interesting ways?

Desau:  One of the users made a tournament manager which allows people to create tournament games and monitor the progress.  That’s probably the biggest project that’s come out of it.  I’ll admit that I’m not really happy with how the API works.  I wrote it using SOAP when the SOAP vs. REST war hadn’t been won by REST.  I have dreams of redoing it all in a much simpler RESTful design at some point, opening it up to a broader base.

10. LG has monthly and yearly premium accounts like many other sites, but LG also uses a coin based marketplace system.   This seems a little confusing to me.  How do the coins fit into the membership model?

Desau:  Yes - this has confused a number of people, and it needs to be smoothed out a bit.  Memberships were there before the Marketplace / Coins came along, so when I implemented the Marketplace and Coins, I left the old membership avenue in place.. you can purchase a membership using a credit card, paypal or google checkout the same as always.
However, you also have a new method of using “LandGrab Coins”.  The Coins can also be used for other things, such as gaming tokens - which allow you to rejoin games, or add another realtime game, etc.
Coins can be earned by playing games and unlocking achievements.  You can also purchase coins (using the aforementioned methods of paypal & google checkout), and you can also earn coins using various ad-based offers.

11. From talking with other developers, it seems that a major thing they struggle with is marketing and getting users.  LG currently has over 70k signups.  Is this something you have struggled with and do you have an tips for what has worked best?

Desau:  I haven’t really marketed it (at least not well). It’s mostly spread by word of mouth and a few review sites.  I do spend a very small amount of money on a google ad campaign, but it drives very little traffic.  Since it’s a hobby site for me, I don’t really care how fast it grows, although it’s nice to have a steady flow of good opponents to play, so I like to keep it active.

12.  What are some general tips to help new LG players not get slaughtered and perhaps win a few points in their first few games.

Desau:  :)  I’d suggest starting with a computer game.  Just start a game with 3 or 4 computer players so you can get used to the interface.
After that, try creating a few games so you know what type of game you’re playing.  If you decide to join a game instead, as you’ve said, there are a myriad of choices, so you need to read the rules screen carefully.
I’d suggest creating your first few games with settings you know.  Perhaps leave out the leaders, fortresses and capitals.  Just set the cards and armies to something you’re familiar with, then play a game with 4 or 5 opponents.    I’d also suggest not doing realtime to start.

13.  Did you expect LG to go on for this long?  Where do you see LG in the future, say 2-3 years?

Desau:  I really had no expectations for it.  Perhaps if it were a business, I’d have come up with a growth projection ..  Perhaps if my day job is wildly successful, and I find myself with a lot of money and time, I’ll spend some of it on LandGrab to turn it into a business.  But until then I’ll keep playing it and adding features and fixing bugs to keep the users happy.
In 2-3 years?  I’ve got a few ideas that I’d like to implement — more things to spend coins on, more things to set it apart from the other sites.  You’ll just have to wait and see  :)
Thanks Desau, make sure you check out net today!

The Current State of Risk Online

Monday, February 21st, 2011

The landscape of online Risk playing sites is constantly changing. It seems that every month there is a new entrant to the mix and another one is committed to the rubbish bin. It can be hard to keep up with so I am going to run down the current start of Risk online with my own analysis. All figures are accurate to February, 21, 2011.

Active Members for Selected Sites.  Total active users: about 25K web based +63K+ on XBLA.

  • 21,650 Active Users (25,475 Active Games  / 5,028 Open Games)- Conquerclub.   The ol Rock has maintained a steady active base of around 20K for a long time.  I don’t see these numbers moving very much any time soon. 504,920 Total Registered Users.
  • 1011 Active Users (355 Active Games / 96 Open Games) MajorCommand. Total active users has been capped at around 1,000 for months and the site is invite only.  Site activity seems healthy and should increase rapidly when the restriction is lifted.  Unknown total users (2-3k?).
  • 758 Active Users (Unknown Active Games /13 Open Games) WarGear.  There is a steady flow of new players but retention may be a problem.  Activity levels seem steady.  Charts can be found here. 7,866 Total Registered Users.
  • 2,804 Active Users (2,799 Active Games) - LandGrab.  I haven’t been keeping a close eye on this one but there appears to be a steady flow of users.  64,610 Total Registered Users
  • 256 Active Users (Unknown Active Games / 6 Open Games) Dominating12.  A small community possibly with retention problems.  2900? Total Registered Users

There are other sites out there that have small communities or dying communities that are not listed.  Additionally there are many Risk-like iphone and ipad apps that have download numbers in the thousands.  Risk: Factions, the console adaptation from EA for the XBLA attained 63,000+ downloads in the first half of 2010.

New Entrants:

  • MajorCommand - A very promising site that has been in beta for over 6 months now.  Definitely the one to watch for 2011.
  • Victors United - Just popped on the radar and in early beta.  With a talented team and modern design, this could be a contender.
  • Dominating12 - In development for 18 months now, its unclear whether it can survive.  Low players and project fatigue may kill off its small community.
  • ArtofWar - Also in development for 18 months, unfocused development and lack of players may kill this site as well.


The Risk playing field is strong and major productions by EA and Hasbro reinforce that there is a viable Market.  There is room for growth in the web and device sector and I expect to see some new entrants grow strongly there.  The current landscape of established sites is only getting older and less user friendly as web standards and expectations change.  I suspect that were will be a slow exodus from these sites as the landscape becomes more varied and competitive.

Strategy Game Developer Interview: Afterwind

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

In the first of a series of interviews with strategy game developers, we take a look a a new and promising entrant, Afterwind.

While Afterwind is too dissimilar to Risk to be included in the review section, it will certainly appeal to Risk and turn based strategy gamers.

PRO (PlayRiskOnline):  How would you describe AfterWind in a single sentence?

Ivan (of Afterwind): A browser-based multiplayer strategy on a real world map.

PRO: What was the impetus that led you to build an online multiplayer strategy game?

Ivan: My brother and I wanted some kind of a project together - something with a potential to become commercially successful, but also something we would be passionate about. A website, perhaps, or a web game. A game seemed like more fun - and since neither of us could draw, we decided to make it a strategy game (which doesn’t necessarily require fancy graphics). We felt there was a significant lack of good strategy web games in the internet (though many appeared during the 2.5 years it took to develop our game), especially if you wanted something more complex than a basic Risk-type game. At the same time, web games seemed like the future of gaming, and we wanted to be a part of it.

PRO:  The design of the game and site is very professional.  Describe your team and how long it has taken you to get to this point.  Is AfterWind a full time venture?

Ivan: The team is me (Ivan, design/website) and my brother (Amok, programming) - originally from Estonia, but currently residing in Switzerland and Cyprus. I had a background in web-design (being a freelance web-developer), but zero experience with game development or any non-PHP programming. Amok is very good at programming and his previous job involved some simple Flash game development. We make a perfect team - doing what we’re good at, without intefering with each other’s work. We both have other jobs/projects, so the progress of Afterwind was rather slow, especially on early stages. It took more than 2 years to be able to launch a public beta.

PRO: While not exactly Risk, AfterWind seems to have gone a few steps beyond Risk.  Describe how AW differs from Risk and why you decided to go in that direction?

Ivan: We were big fans of games like Risk and Civilization - however, we definitely didn’t want to create just another clone. We wanted the game to be rather simple on the surface (like Risk), but with some extra ideas piled on top - some borrowed from other games, others our own. For example, the primitive geography of Risk was always somewhat frustrating to me, so one of the first things we decided was to take the action to the realistic world map, present day, with as many countries and cities as we can fit in (160 and 500) and real numbers for population and GDP. We also wanted more than one unit - and having 10 (at the moment) really adds a lot to the variety of gameplay. One of the more radical ideas we had was to abolish all grids and paths and allow players to move units freely, to any point on the map. This decision brought massive technical difficultions, but we felt it was the right step towards finding our own path. These are perhaps the most significant differences from Risk.

PRO: Why did you choose do use Silverlight?  Did you know that another Risk based site, started using Silverlight but recent moved it over to a flash platform?  Do you worry about the acceptability of Silverlight?

Ivan: Silverlight was really the only way to create what we wanted - a complex web game that could hold its own next to regular games. In the beginning we considered Flash, but with its awkward Actionscript and insatiable resource hunger it just didn’t have enough muscle to pull the ambitious game we envisioned. HTML5 was still in its infancy back then, with hardly any browser support. And even today, making an eqivalent of Afterwind in HTML5 would be enormously complicated, not to mention 5 times more time-consuming. On the other hand, Silverlight was a very promising new platform that allowed using C# in combination with XAML, was good for building a server-client type of application, was running very smooth (even in version 1!) and could handle the load well. So, we decided to go with it.
After releasing the game we encountered quite a lot of hostility towards Silverlight - stemming mostly from the fact that it’s developed by Microsoft, and that it’s not available for Linux users. On the other hand, I never heard any complaints about the actual performance of SL, and I myself have only good things to say about SL - developing applications with it is an amazingly smooth experience. We hope that it becomes more widespread in the future and finally gets a decent Linux port.

PRO: Do you have a revenue model?

Ivan: At the moment we’re just focused on perfecting the game and building the player base. We do have some ideas for the future, though - perhaps something like premium accounts.

PRO: The realistic world map is great, but you have any plans for fictional or different maps to play on?

This is something we would like to do in the future. Unfortunately our engine makes it rather difficult to add selectable maps, so perhaps we’ll just concentrate on the one we have and various options for it.

PRO: Describe the current AfterWind community and do you have any plans in that direction?

Ivan: In the beginning we found ourselves overrun by a big group of Turkish players - they refused to use English in the chat and were rather rude on a few occasions. Things have improved significantly after we started advertising on - they have a great community there, and we now have a small slice of it. Overall, people seem to be polite, helpful to new players and interested in game development. We now have a constant stream of ideas pouring through the forum. We certainly want Afterwind community healthy and thriving. We already have the forum and a multi-channel in-game chat, and are planning a kind of ‘clans’ as a way for players to organize into groups. There are many other ideas too - for example, tournaments and card-trading.

PRO: When can we expect 1.0 and what can we expect from it?

Ivan: Most likely there will not be a huge jump in game features once we hit 1.0 - it will just mean that the game is (mostly) bug-free and balanced. I guess we will arrive there soon, since we’re running out of version numbers! (currently: 0.94).

PRO: Do you have a customer acquisition strategy?  The online gaming space is always crowded with new entrants all the time.

Ivan: One thing we’re not particularly good at is promotion. Sometimes it feels like we’re hitting aimlessly at all directions, with little results. Promotion takes a lot of time - precious time that could’ve been used to add some cool new features to the game, and this is frustrating. Even so, we’re quite pleased with what we’ve achieved with our modest efforts - there are always some games open in the lobby, and we gained 1600 registered players in 6 weeks, with more coming every day.

PRO: What would you say is the single most important strategic tip to winning an AfterWind game?

Ivan: Never get involved in a land war in Asia! No, wait… This: choose your starting position wisely!

PRO: Describe a typical AfterWind game.  How long does it take, how many players, what is the commitment from each player look like?

Ivan: Depending on settings, a game can last from 20 minutes (small map preset, few players) to hours (whole world, 10+ players). Games can be limited by setting the maximum number of turns - after which the player with the highest score wins. The maximum number of players in a game is 15 - however, a typical game would have 4-6.

PRO: Do you have any plans for mobile applications of AfterWind?

Ivan: We might be able to port the game to Windows Phone 7, since it has native Silverlight support. Will probably have to strip a few things to make the application lighter, though.

PRO: How has your response to the facebook application been?  Do you find more players using the app or the website?

Ivan: In one word, underwhelming. We expected a huge stream of players pouring in, since there are few games on FB that can compare with Afterwind - however, FB turned out to be a tough market to crack. We estimate that only 1-2% of our players are using the app. When it comes to FB games, there’s an enormous competition, and many of them are really fighting hard for attention. Zynga and several other companies are spending millions on advertisement. We don’t have a big company backing us up, so we’ve only spent $50 on FB ads so far…
There are lots of tricks to make it big on Facebook, and we still hope the application will get noticed. We prefer to spend more time on improving the quality rather than on promotion, so perhaps if we manage to really impress people, word-of-mouth will eventually do its thing.

Checkout Afterwind at

Online Risk Strategies with Escalating cards

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Playing Risk online in a multi-player singles game with escalating cards can be one of the most exhilarating and chaotic gametypes out there. However, in order to succeed in escalating singles, there is one successful strategy to follow that will set you up for the coveted winning “sweep” across the board.

The Basics

Some quick things to remember:

  • Only take bonuses if the map is a large one and/or offers many small ones. Of course there may be exceptions (e.g. you drop ¾ of Australia on the classic Risk board map), but a good rule of thumb is to ignore bonuses.
  • Only go for kills if you’re going to get a mid-cash. This means that if you cash a set with four cards, leaving you with one, you should only look to kill someone with four or five cards. Just like in a game which you might play on, for example, the PartyPoker site, Risk is a game in which you will need manage your cards carefully in order so succeed. Killing these players will give you the ability to cash directly after the elimination, starting you towards other kills; killing someone with only one card would only make you weaker and more susceptible to someone else eliminating you.
  • Only go for a kill if the cash value is high enough to make a difference. Let’s say the cash value is at 10: there’s no reason for you to kill someone for a mid-cash if you’re only going to get 10 troops that won’t get you close to killing another player.
  • Don’t kill stacks early on. Utilize card spots (more on these later on), and don’t aggravate other players by killing territories with troops on them.

Early Rounds

Here you should examine your drop: in the optimal scenario, you will have territories on or near almost every continent.However, chances are this isn’t the case, so you should look to spread your deploy troops around your territories to ensure you have a hold on the entire map, allowing you later on to have the ability to attempt an elimination or the ability to react to a move by an opponent. You should also reinforce any territories you have that border one another together. Two territories with troops on them next to each other do nothing to help your cause, which will rely on large stacks made by cashing and building. Reinforcing these territories together will also create “card spots.”
What Are “Card Spots?”
Card spots are territories with only one troop on them that will come up around the map as the game progresses. These territories will be used by players with more powerful territories bordering the card spot to have an easy spot to take to gain cards, the most important part of an escalating singles game. Card spots are vital because they allow the players to build up to the climactic later rounds of cashing sacrificing the minimum amount of troops to gain cards.


For the first half-dozen or so rounds of an escalating singles game, the game will probably progress slowly, with turns amounting to not much more than spreading the deploy and taking a card. However, in these rounds you should look for the easiest possible targets, namely those opponents who have most, if not all, of their territories bordering or near your own. Once the cashes start piling in, the turn-in value will skyrocket into the 30’s and 40’s, where sets and kill shots will decide the game.

The Sweep

By now, the cash value should be upwards of 30 troops, and you should be set up to attempt to eliminate someone.Going back to the basics, look to eliminate a player that will give you a mid-cash, and go for the kill. Make sure you have every single territory of that player’s as a near guarantee to be taken—too many times have I done or witnessed someone kill all of an opponents regions but one, leaving the game to the next player in line. After you have (hopefully) killed your target, cash your set and look for the next person. Remember, you want another mid-cash that will help you sweep around the entire board, killing all your opponents. However, you do not need to kill every player as you go for eliminations; wiping out a few other players will give you a good grasp on the game and set you up to go forward. For this reason, you do not need a mid-cash on all your kills after the first couple. However, you should still ensure that you have as good as a lead on cards as you can get. Just because you own most of the map territory-wise doesn’t guarantee you a win.

Some More Advanced Tips

  • Look at the play order and at who has how many cards. This is mainly important when the second and third cash rounds (where most players have four or five cards and will either choose to or be forced to cash), when you need to see what cash value you will most likely have when you turn in a set, what your chance of getting killed is, and, arguably most importantly, how your chances look of killing opponents for mid-cashes.
  • Calculate your odds of reward. Sometimes, even if you get a mid-cash, that cash value won’t be enough—even at high values. A rule of thumb is to look at the amount of troops your target has, and see if that’s more or less than the cash value. You should re-examine your plan if the troop number is more than the cash value.

Using these strategies you should be able to win any game of Risk, whether playing the board game or playing Risk online.

How to win at Risk with team strategy

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

So you’ve gotten the hang of playing Risk online, and you want to start playing in team games. Not easily replicated in traditional tabletop Risk, team games, in this author’s opinion, are the most fun you can have playing online Risk. However, like with any new game format, there are sharks awaiting your entry into the water, so here’s how to quickly get yourself into fighting shape.

Know the Rules

Many Risk sites offer team games, including Landgrab, Conquer Club, and Warlight, but each of them have slightly different rules as regards teams, so before starting any games, consult your preferred site’s rules and faqs and familiarize yourself with them. Also, there are different types of team games, differing both in size (doubles, triples, quads) and number of opponents (either head-to-head or with more than two teams competing). Starting off, you might want to stick with head-to-head doubles until you get the hang of working with a teammate, and then expand your horizons to triples/quads and multi-team games. For the sake of argument, the rest of this guide will assume you’ve done just that.

Pick a Good Teammate

I cannot stress enough how important your teammate is to your eventual success. This seems simple enough, but you’ll want to put some time and effort into finding a teammate, as playing with random people is the surest way to losses and frustration. Thankfully, finding a teammate isn’t very hard if you know where to look. First, look back on some of the games you’ve played. Perhaps there was an opponent that you played a few times (or maybe even once) who seemed particularly skilled. Also, look through the forums to see if your preferred site has a “team-up” or “callouts” forum and look to see if anyone has posted looking for new partners. As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to find someone who’s more experienced than you at team games. Once you have a few people in mind, do your homework: team experience, missed turns, communication ability.

Communicate Extensively

The second-most important element to team game success, behind your choice of teammate, is successful communication. Not only do you not want to be working at cross-purposed to your partner, but two heads are often better than one when it comes to devising and refining strategy, whether for a single turn or over several turns. Every site that offers team games offers a private “team chat” where you can post messages that only your teammate can read. Committed team players, however, often go well beyond team chat or even the site’s private messaging, using email, IMs, Skype, or even telephonic or in-person interaction to plan their moves. However you decide to communicate with your teammate, though, do so early and often, even if it’s something as simple as “I think I should attack Territory X and fortify Territory Y, what do you think?” If you find yourself with a teammate who, despite your vetting, does not communicate very well, then it might be time to find a new teammate for future games.

Use Your Skills

Much of what you’ve learned playing single-player games applies perfectly well to team games: attacking intelligently, defending stoutly, defending and breaking bonuses, analyzing the cost of success, having a plan, etc. In a head-to-head situation, you can be even more aggressive, since there is no third party to swoop in and exploit your weakened condition.

Keep Learning

It takes a little time to get used to team games, particularly for people experienced at classic Risk. If you play against experienced opponents, likely as not they’ll defeat you. But every loss should teach you something, and don’t be afraid to private message the people who beat you and ask for some insight or tips. Oftentimes an experienced team player may even offer to team up for a few games and show you the ropes. This is an opportunity not to be passed up.

How to Win at Risk Online (Veteran Strategy)

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Veteran Risk StrategySo you’ve joined one or more Risk sites, you’ve gotten your feet wet in a few games, and you’re looking to take that next step. Well, today’s your lucky day. Some of the concepts below build off of those in this guide for beginners, some are brand-new, as befits your new status as an online Risk veteran.

Know Your Enemy

Whether you’re playing in a multi-player free for all, or head to head, it helps to know the skill levels and tendencies of the opposition. A quick look at each opponent’s profile is a good place to start, as many sites will list information such as number of games played, overall score, date joined, and win percentage. If possible, it’s also a good idea to look through the opponent’s history of games played that are similar to the game you’re playing. For instance, if you’re playing a six-player escalating cards game on the classic Risk map, then knowing that one of your opponents has only ever played three games with those settings can be an advantage.

Attack Intelligently

Risk is a game of luck, but as the saying goes, chance favors the prepared mind. Always try to have a plan that extends over the next several turns, with fallback plans in case the opposition does something that you were not expecting. Every attack you make should be in service of the larger plan, but you need to remain flexible and try and anticipate your opponent’s moves as well. Never attack just to attack; instead you should be attacking weak spots for cards, breaking bonuses, eliminating pockets, and hoarding troops for the final killshot. Also, in most cases, if your plans involve getting amazing dice, then it’s time for a new plan. A good rule of thumb is that if an attack cannot succeed with average dice (meaning a relatively even one-for-one), it’s not an attack worth pursuing, save in direst need.

Defend Stoutly

One of the great strategic divides in Risk is between attacking a single defender vs. attacking a defender that can use both defense dice. In the former case, an attacker with all 3 attacking dice will win roughly 65% of the time. In comparison, in a given attack, three attacking dice against two defending dice will kill the two defenders a third of the time, split 1-1 a third of the time, and lose two attackers a third of the time. This divide becomes more pronounced over more attacks. Furthermore, if you have to defend two territories with 4 armies, then you’re better off with a 2-2 than with a 3-1, as you require an attacker to roll against two defender dice at least twice instead of at least once.

Analyze the Cost of Success

Imagine you’re playing a six-player game on the classic Risk board with escalating card rules, where card sets become more and more valuable as each set is turned in. While some sites have exotic card cash-in rates, the basic Risk formula goes 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20, 25, etc. The upshot is that, after all six players have turned in a set of cards, the next set will be worth 20 armies. Now, consider the continent bonuses on the Risk map. The two main targets for players are Australia/Oceania and South America, each worth a two-army bonus, but these small bonuses pale in significance compared to the ever-higher cash-in value of cards. Often, two inexperienced players will engage in a bloody war for one of the small bonuses, forgetting that they might each sacrifice ten or more armies for a two-army-per-turn bonus, and by the time the player who “won” the conflict has held the bonus for enough turns to recoup their losses, other players might be cashing in cards for forty or fifty armies. In short, only take a bonus if you can do so quickly and easily, with a minimum of bloodshed. However, that might not always be to your benefit, especially in Australia/Oceania, as we’ll see in the advanced guide.

Risk Resource Directory

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Here is a collection of links to assist you in playing and winning Risk online.

If you would like your site added, please email Risk (@) (no overtly commercial sites)

Places to play Risk online

Risk Strategy

Additional Resources

How to win at Risk online (beginners strategy)

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Here is the first in a serious of strategy articles about winning your online Risk games.  Online Risk can be very different than the standard board games, so here are some beginners tips will help you get off to a good start.

A really complicated map

Keep It Simple (Maps)

Anyone who’s played the boardgame is familiar with the “classic” Risk map, and some people may have played the variant editions that presented different maps. But those maps are but a mote in a storm compared to the vast number of maps available across various sites. Every site has a variant of the classic map, but most sites have a library of additional maps, either site- or user-created, that range from the simple to the fiendishly complex. There are also players on those sites that prey upon newcomers unfamiliar with the more complex maps. So to begin with, you might want to stick to the classic Risk map, or similar basic-gameplay maps, until you get your feet wet.

Keep It Simple (Settings)

The most variance in game settings you’re likely to see in a tabletop game of Risk are glorified house rules, like different card values or random allocation of starting territories. Online Risk allows for settings that would be impossible in a boardgame, such as fog of war or simultaneous play. Some sites allow so much customization of the game experience that there are literally thousands of different permutations. While these advanced settings can be a great deal of fun, they also present a trap for the newcomer, in much the same way that complex maps do, so I’d advise playing with the most basic (i.e. most boardgame-like settings) available, which for most people would be 3-6 players, sequential play, escalating cards, and chained fortification.

Know The Site

Every site puts its own spin on Risk, certainly, but every site has its own iconography and jargon. It’s worth spending a little time between turns looking around the site and familiarizing yourself with its various aspects. In particular, learn how ranks work, so you’ll know if your opponents are newcomers like yourself or highly-ranked veterans looking for an easy meal. Also, every site has a slightly different interface for dealing with the game board, so make sure you know how it works so that you can eliminate easy mistakes, like attacking the wrong territory or accidentally advancing armies.

Attack Intelligently

Even as an online Risk newcomer, you don’t want to make it easy for opponents to defeat you. Always have a plan, even if it’s something as sketchy as “in a few turns, I’ll be able to kill that opponent and steal his cards” or “I’m going to lay low and let those two guys fight over South America, and then sweep in when they’re weak”. Every move you make should serve as a means to an end. Don’t attack foolishly, especially if you have 3 armies or fewer to attack with, since you won’t be able to attack with full force.

Never Give Up

Even when things look darkest, there may be a play you can make to turn the tide. Don’t let opponents intimidate you, regardless of how highly they might be ranked or how many games they’ve played. And always try and learn something from every game, win or lose. Even the best online Risk players started right where you are, as a newcomer, and who’s to say that with smart play, you won’t become one of them?