Risk: Game of Thrones Review & Board Game Guide

Game of Thrones’ ending may have been questionable but luckily, you can make your own story that doesn’t end with plot holes spanning 7 seasons. 

Risk: Game of Thrones edition puts players in the boots of their favorite factions of Westeros.

Risk: Game of Thrones
  • SEVEN ARMIES DESTINED FOR BATTLE: Claim your right to the Iron...
  • TWO CUSTOM DESIGNED GAME BOARDS DISPLAYING THE KNOWN WORLD:...
  • SEVEN EXCLUSIVE PLAYER BOARDS FIT FOR THE FINEST COMMANDERS:...

Brief Overview of Risk: Game of Thrones

Risk: Game of Thrones Board Game

Each version of Risk is basically the same game but the themed versions all have a different twist. 

Game of Thrones, which is known for having some of the most beloved and hated characters, allows you to use some of your favorites to gain an advantage on the battlefield. 

In addition to the hero abilities, players will also play on custom maps of Westeros and Essos, building strongholds to hold back their enemies. There’s also a simple economic system built into the game to add a bit more strategy. 

If that’s too much and you’re just seeking nostalgia, Risk: GoT works just like a standard edition of Risk, but with fancier-looking pieces.

Versions & Expansions

There’s really only 2 versions of Risk: Game of Thrones; Skirmish & Deluxe.

What’s the difference between Skirmish and Deluxe?

We’re going to be reviewing the Deluxe version here because it’s an all-around better game. The Skirmish edition comes with only the Westeros board and only 5 different armies. It can only be played as a standard game of Risk without any of the fancy additions. 

Deluxe comes with 3 play modes, an extra board of Essos, and 2 additional armies. 

If you’re just looking for a Risk re-skin then Skirmish will work for you — but the Deluxe Edition is the better buy, in my opinion.

Unboxing Risk: Game of Thrones

Risk: Game of Thrones Board Game

First off, USAOPOLY(now The Op) really pulled out the stops on the production value, but before we look at specific components, let’s see what’s in the box. 

  • 2 Game Boards
  • 315 Army Pieces
  • 7 Seats of Power
  • 7 Player Boards
  • 187 Cards
  • 68 Special Unit Tokens
  • 75 Gold Dragon Coins
  • 20 Score Tracker Coins
  • 9 Dice 
  • 1 Rulebook

Now that we know what’s in the box, we need to ask, “How does it stack up?”

I’m a weirdo when it comes to components and it seems that The Op definitely pandered to the audience with this one. The box is gorgeous and is covered in GoT artwork. All the punch-out tokens are solid quality and the player mats are really attractive and helpful. They do seem a bit flimsy but they’re good-looking either way.

Risk: Game of Thrones comes with 7 familiar factions, each with their own player board and hero characters.

  • Stark
  • Baratheon
  • Lannister
  • Tyrell
  • Martell
  • Targaryen
  • Ghiscari

The units of each faction are all customized to their faction, which is super cool, and they all have their own nice little spot in the box with an organizer. Everything has a place and fits perfectly. It calms my boardgame OCD to see it all put away neatly.

How to Play Risk: Game of Thrones

Risk: Game of Thrones Board Game

At its core, Risk will always be Risk. You get one red die per attacker (up to 3), and one white die per defender (up to 2) for each invasion/encounter. Defenders win ties and anyone who beats the other player on a higher die loses one unit. 

Risk: Game of Thrones, however, has some fun new abilities and ways to play. There’s a built-in economy, strongholds, and heroes to contend with over the dice. Even if you’re untouchable by the dice gods, you’ll still be able to win with tactics. 

3 ways to play

  • Skirmish
  • Dominion
  • World at War

Skirmish mode is basically your standard Risk setup. Each player picks a faction/color and the territories cards are dealt out to determine the starting locations. The actual number depends on the players and your your starting territories are determined through random chance as opposed to book/movie accuracy. 

If you’ve ever played vanilla Risk then you’ll be pretty familiar with what’s going on here. At the end of every turn, players get a new territory card if they’ve conquered at least 1 territory. At the beginning of every turn, players can turn in sets of cards to get bonuses to reinforce their territories based on the number they started with at the beginning of the round. 

Skirmish

This is basically your standard Risk setup but with a fancy GoT theme thrown into the mix.

Each turn, players will:

  • Reinforce
  • Invade
  • Maneuver
  • Draw

To reinforce at the beginning of your turn, tally up all of the territories you control, and any bonus card sets you are able to turn in to get more units. Remember, the total number of territories you own at the start of the game divided by 3 (rounded down) is standard practice in any version of Risk. If you have 12 territories, you’ll get 4 extra units and if you have 13 you’ll still only get 4 extra units.

Turning in cards can be a huge game-changer as well. It’s always intimidating to drop a fistful of units on your enemies, Red Wedding style. Just make sure you leave enough for defense because I guarantee that you won’t be the most popular person at the table. 

Next, comes everyone’s favorite part: INVASION! Any territory with 2 or more units can make an attack on an adjacent territory. You can stage your forces and, like a swarm of locusts, descend upon your enemies. Keep in mind, though, that it’ll be their turn next and it can be… RISKY to overextend without having adequate forces to hold what you take. 

After you’ve dropped the hammer on your enemies, you can maneuver or reinforce one of your territories. If your backline is full of units that aren’t doing anything, you can pick 1 territory and move extra units to any connected territory you control. You have to leave at least 1 unit on the initial spot, but it’s a nice way to move up forces after a big push. 

If you manage to take over at least 1 territory during your turn, the last thing you’ll need to do is draw a card. If you smash through and take over 5 territories, you still only get one card, so don’t get too eager if it puts you at… Risk.

Dominion

Dominion is where the extra-fun Game of Thrones bits come into play. 

You’ll have the same actions in the same order as Skirmish mode but you have to say “winter is coming” before you invade. 

  • Reinforce
  • Purchase
  • Refresh
  • Invade
  • Manuever
  • Complete an objective
  • Draw a card

All of the similarly-named steps work just like they would in Skirmish mode, so let’s take a look at the new bits.

On top of the usual “risky” business, you’ll now be able to buy several different bonuses using a fancy coin system that’s built into the game. After all, money makes The Known World go round. 

“The Master of Coin finds the money. The king – and the Hand – spend it.”

―Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish

Players can purchase Maester cards, objective cards, and hero cards.

Maester cards are one-time use bonuses that you can drop on your opponents. Maybe they’re coming at you with your back to the sea and can already taste victory. What’s that? Boom! The Iron Fleet comes in with reinforcements. 

Objective cards are exactly what they sound like. They can be purchased and if the requirements on the cards are fulfilled, you’ll gain some bonus victory points for end game scoring. Towards the end of your turn, you can check to see if you fulfill any requirements of the objective cards you own and turn them in for those sweet points. 

Last and probably the most fun are the Hero cards. Each faction has 4 hero cards that grant an ability that can be used once per turn. They can be game-changing by giving players an extra boost at just the right time. They’re not free, though. You’ll still need to pay the cost on the card to activate it. This keeps players from spamming them every turn. 

Immediately after your buy phase is the refresh phase, which basically is just a reminder that you can use all of your hero abilities again once per turn. You still have to pay, though. 

Invasions and fighting work mostly the same as in Skirmish mode. There are a few more caveats, however.

World at War

World at War plays the same way as Dominion with one addition. It’s designed for 7 players and uses both of the boards together, making it a knockdown fight over two continents. 

Each port on the eastern side of Westeros (hang with me here) connects to any port on Essos. Now you can have a multi-continent East vs. West Brawl and the Starks can finally get the damned justice they deserved.

Your First Game of Risk: Game of Thrones

Risk: Game of Thrones Board Game

If it’s your first game, you probably want to start with Skirmish mode. If you’re super familiar with Risk (why shouldn’t you be?) you’re probably safe to start with the extra rules, but it’s always fun to get a feel for the board and the new locations of everything. There’s no Australia this time around, so that destroys most people’s initial strategies. 

Skirmish is the same Risk you know and love, but set in Westeros… or Essos depending on the number of players. 

Risk has always been a family staple in my home. My brother and cousins used to stay up all night and all weekend long playing a game, fighting for that final territory. We also were playing on our parents’ copy of the game, so there was no built-in timer for the end game.

With newer editions of Risk, the game has a definite end. In the bottom half of the territory deck, you’ll need to shuffle in an end game card. When that card is drawn, the game ends and everyone tallies up the final score by how many territories, ports, and castles they control. 

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • A fun spin on a classic
  • Individual heroes
  • Great components
  • Awesome artwork

Cons:

  • RNG
  • Cards are flimsy
  • Skirmish Edition is lame

There’s no doubt about it, Risk uses a handful of dice to resolve combat. It inherently relies on a bit of luck to be successful. If you’re an avid gamer or if you go to any board game forum out there, you’ll be flooded with posts or conversations about how this or that game is completely awful because it relies solely on luck. 

Sometimes it’s just fun to roll some dice while hanging out with friends and Risk does that well. For the gamer who hates random chance and dice in general, the new hero powers add a layer of depth that mitigates the drawbacks a bit. 

I cannot stress how awesome the packaging and artwork are. The artwork is amazing and everything looks impressive when it’s all set up and a full table of players are sitting around. My one real complaint is that the cards and boards are on the flimsy side. If you take care of your games, then they’ll last for a while, but the cards are pretty thin. 

TL;DR

It’s Risk. That shouldn’t really come as a surprise… but it’s one of them fancy Risks.

The Game of Thrones edition elevates the classic to bit more by adding themed abilities, characters, and bonuses that allow players to immerse themselves in the battle for the Seven Kingdoms and Essos. 

If you want a simple re-skin, you can pick up the Skirmish edition, which is just that. The Deluxe edition is the version with 2 boards and 7 armies and adds 2 additional modes to play. 

Conclusion: Verdict?

I like to put Risk in a slightly different category than most “mainstream” board games like Monopoly. This is mainly because the different variants are always slightly more than just cheap money-grab re-skins.

So far every version of Risk that I’ve played has some new element that ties in thematically with the theme that they’re going for. Star Wars Risk has a Death Star to contend with, Lord of the Rings Risk has the Fellowship walking into Mordor, and the Metal Gear Solid version that lets you conduct total war in Hideo Kojimo’s war-torn dystopia. 

Needless to say, I like a good game of Risk. There’s, of course, the very “tired” mechanic of throwing dice and making sacrifices to the RNG (random number generator) gods, but sometimes it’s just fun to sit around the table and throw dice. 

It’s also not all about a 1-6 number role either. There are plenty of powers and abilities that can stack the odds in your favor, and with the addition of a currency system and hero characters, you can go into a fight reasonably sure about what’s going to happen… but the dice are the great leveller. 

I’ve had plenty of games where a wall of troops march straight for my stronghold only to have a single unit hold off long enough to halt the invasion. They’re still stronger, but they’ve lost steam and won’t be able to press forward. Even in the mainstream board games, you can have some incredible gaming experiences without a lot of fluff, and the GoT version is no exception. I really enjoy the new powers and on a few occasions, I can get a large enough group together playing with both boards in an epic worldwide showdown is just damn good fun. 

Risk: Game of Thrones
  • SEVEN ARMIES DESTINED FOR BATTLE: Claim your right to the Iron...
  • TWO CUSTOM DESIGNED GAME BOARDS DISPLAYING THE KNOWN WORLD:...
  • SEVEN EXCLUSIVE PLAYER BOARDS FIT FOR THE FINEST COMMANDERS:...

Have you tried Risk: Game of Thrones? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think!

Stats at a glance

Players: 2-7

Ages: 18 +

Medium

120-240 Mins

Publisher: The Op

Published: 2015