Online Risk Strategies with Escalating cards

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. 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.

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