Risk is one of those games that everyone seems to own, have played, or at the very least, knows about. For those who haven’t played or heard about this game, it’s cut-throat. It’s been known to ruin friendships.
I’m a lifelong gamer and spent numerous hours questioning my loyalties and friendships with the people I have played with. Though surprisingly, I have yet to play a game where the board was flipped over, but I digress.
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Top 12 “Don’ts” to Win at Risk
Don’t #12: “Never fight a land war in Asia.” (at least, not at first)
When first starting out, don’t go for Asia because there are too many points of attack. As Eddie Izzard said, “Hitler never played Risk when he was a kid. Cause, you know, playing Risk, you could never hold on to Asia.” Asia is for much further along in the game when you’ve built up your army and can actually take hold of it and defend it.
Don’t #11: Wait on Europe.
Don’t try to take over Europe until you have Africa and North America. That way, your only points of attack are from Asia. While the best starting points are heavily debated, I’ve found taking over South America first -while everyone is duking it out over the bigger continents – has been more advantageous in the long run. From South America, you can branch out and take over Africa and North America. From there, Europe’s a steal and all that’s left is Asia and Australia.
Don’t #10: Don’t fall for Australia.
Don’t fall for the Australia strategy, which is occupying Australia and building up your army, while the rest of the world forgets about you. If you’re playing people who know the game, they’ll already know what you’re up to and will most likely heavily defend your one neighboring border. If you get can’t break out of Australia and can’t win territories, you won’t be able to get any more cards. Speaking of cards…
Don’t #9: Don’t underestimate cards.
Cards can be traded at the start of a player’s turn for extra troops, and are acquired by gaining control over another territory. In order to trade in cards, you’ll need a set of three, so aim towards getting a card each turn and remember to cash them in before you attack, otherwise you’ll have to wait until your next turn, which might be too late. While you can’t win Risk in one turn, you can certainly lose it in one.
Don’t #8: Don’t fight a war of attrition.
Don’t attack with anything less than three dice, unless the territory you’re attacking only has one unit. You always want to have at least one more die than the defender to increase your probability of winning dice rolls.
Don’t #7: Don’t let other players build their armies.
If you see too many units on a territory, attack them to diminish their troops, even if you’re outnumbered. Attack them with the three units mentioned before, as you will have better chances of winning the attack. If you aren’t able to hone down their forces, hopefully, whoever plays after you will be insightful enough to recognize that they’re a threat and help you diminish their forces as well.
Don’t #6: Don’t forget to think like Switzerland.
This game is also about diplomacy, so be as neutral as possible, while trying to pit everyone else against each other. You want as little attention on yourself, so call whoever out whenever they’re about to take control of a big continent. That way, they’ll be perceived as a threat, and the attention is focused on them. The more attacks by other players, the more units they’ll lose.
Don’t #5: Don’t appear too strong or too weak.
As Sun Tzu stated in The Art of War, “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.” Players tend to gang up on whoever is seemingly the strongest, so don’t tempt them. At the same time, if you’re too weak, you’ll be an easy target.
Don’t #4: Don’t rely too heavily on allies.
By all means, make at least one, preferably someone who borders your territories early on in the game, but remember there is only one winner. Also, don’t wait for them to betray you. Take a risk and be the first to screw them over. Try to be as sly as you can in fortifying the borders you share, so you can clean sweep through their territories when the time comes.
Don’t #3: Don’t be too nice.
Show no mercy. If there’s someone you can take out, do it. You not only will gain their territories but their cards as well and the bigger your army the better. If you didn’t read the rules, the objective of the game is to conquer the world by occupying all territories on the board by eliminating all your opponents.
Don’t #2: Don’t overextend yourself.
There’s no point in taking over territories if you’re just going to lose them all within the next round. You don’t want to weaken yourself to the point where someone else can wipe you out. Do whatever you can to avoid being a target.
Don’t #1: Don’t focus solely on just your own strategy.
Pay attention to everyone’s moves. After a few rounds, you should be able to figure out your opponents’ strategies and do what you can to intervene. As we say in the Navy, always keep your head on a swivel; meaning be aware of your surroundings.
Now that you know my top twelve “don’ts” of Risk, you’re one step ahead in winning the game. I’m just hoping we won’t find ourselves battling for world domination against each other. The last thing to remember is that while this game is based on strategy and diplomacy, it’s also based on luck and probability, so good luck and Godspeed.
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