Archive for the ‘Risk Strategy’ 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.

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?