Review of Risk Revisited Edition

In case you missed it Hasbro has a new version of their classic Risk game. This game is being called a reinvention as it is not the same as Risk 2210, Lord of the Rings Risk, Godstorm or any of the other versions of the game but is instead a new version of classic Risk and is being distributed by Hasbro as a mass market game and not by Avalon Hill as several of the other versions have been.

I haven’t played a lot of Risk games lately but I own Risk 2210 and Risk Godstorm as well as several versions of the classic Risk (one with missions and one from before they were implemented). Risk 2210 may see some play in the not-so-distant future as I purchased the unofficial expansions Advanced Tech, Terror Tactics and Missions from Insurgency Games. As soon as I do get a chance to play around with them I will certainly put up a post about it.

For now my group has began playing Risk Revised Edition and so far the reviews are quite positive.

What’s the Same as Classic Risk?

In the old Risk game players placed armies into 42 Territories on the board and tried to amass enough force to eliminate all of the other players. Later on missions were added, as global domination took an incredible amount of time and often became rather tedious. Those same (well mostly “same”; some have been renamed to be more accurate to our modern times) 42 Territories are present in the new game as well.

Combat hasn’t changed too much from what people remember. The attacking player can attack with up to three armies but must always leave one unit behind. The defender can roll a maximum of two dice on defense. Once the dice are rolled players line up their dice from highest to lowest and compare the highest attack die with the highest defense die. The higher die in each case causes the other player to lose one army, with the defender winning ties.

The only other things that are the same as the older versions of Risk are that the continent bonuses (bonus armies gained for controlling entire areas of the board) and the reinforcements gained for controlling territories have not changed.

What’s Different in Risk Revised?

The first difference that becomes important is the addition of cities. There are 15 city pieces included with the game and they are placed in random territories as determined by flipping up 15 territory cards. Cities have two impacts on the game. First they double the territory’s value when counting how many territories you have for reinforcement purposes, and second they factor in to some of the Objectives (explained below).

Another difference in the game is the addition of capitals. When a player places their first army on the board that player also places their capital. One bonus army is given during the Draft Troops part of your turn for each capital you control (yours and other players’) but that is the only effect capitals have on the game itself. However they do affect winning the game in that a player cannot win unless they control their own capital.

Unlike some of the other versions of Risk, Risk Revisited sticks with a standard turn sequence. Play progresses clockwise and the turn order does not change (unless a player is eliminated). However in the interests of balance the player who goes third and the player who goes fourth begin the game with one card and he unlucky person that goes fifth begins the game with two cards.

Cards are another aspect that has changed. Gone is the matching system and bonus troops for controlling one of the territories you are turning in. Now the cards simply have one or two stars on them and the number of stars a player turns in determines how many bonus troops a player gets. Like in the old risk players need to take one territory in order to get a card.

This is one aspect of the game that feels like a slight hiccup to me. Whether a player draws a one or two star card is completely random and two stars are always better than one. A way I feel they could have fixed this would have been to allow players to place a bonus army on two or one of the territories featured on the cards they are turning in but then had two star cards always have poorer territories represented. There are probably other options as well, perhaps preventing players from turning in more than one two-star card at a time, but it feels like this element could have been better thought out.

The final difference from Classic Risk, and the change that really makes this a new game, is the addition of Objectives. While some older versions of the game came with Missions they were all-or-nothing propositions which simply required players to complete a secret mission to win the game. While these missions certainly made the game quicker, and from my perspective more interesting, the new Objective systems goes even further and, as I already said, makes the game feel unique.

Explanation of Objectives

Risk Revised Edition comes with 12 Objectives, eight of which are used in any individual game. There are two types of Objectives, Major and Minor, with the Major Objectives being, as expected, harder to complete than the Minor. To win the game a player must have completed three Objectives and be in control of their capital at the end of a turn. Completing Objectives also gives players Rewards. There are four Minor and four Major Rewards that are attached to the their associated Objectives before play begins. Thus players can see what Reward they can get for completing each Objective, perhaps being influenced as to whether or not a move is worth making.

The Rewards are interested bonus powers that effect a player after they have received the Reward. The Minor Rewards are such things as Always Receive a Card – a player gets a card at the end of their turn even if they did not take a territory while the Major Rewards can be as powerful as Extra Attack Die – which allows you to roll a bonus die whenever you are attacking.

As I mentioned it takes three completed Objectives to win a game. When a player has an Objective complete at the end of their turn they can take the Objective token and its associated Reward and place it in front of them. That Objective is theirs unless they are removed from the game. If that player is removed the player that removed them takes the Objective as though they had completed it. Rewards however do not transfer so completing Objectives is better than stealing them.

My Opinions on the New Game

House Rule: The major sticking point our group had with Risk Revised Edition was that it uses “tactical” placement. Meaning players take turns choosing which territories they will occupy at the beginning of the game. I was disappointed to see this rule but it was the way we played when first trying out the game.

My reason for disliking the “tactical” placement as opposed to random placement used in some versions of Risk is that it generally results in a player owning all but one territory in South America and a similar situation in Australia and situations where a player needs to “take one for the team”. Some people don’t have a problem with this or might not even have a problem with letting a player start with all of one of these continents but personally I find that it affects game balance and makes things less enjoyable. It can also result in players constantly choosing to implement the same strategy every game which this game tries to prevent through cities and Objectives.

Our House Rule would be the use of random setup. There are however a few things to consider when using random setup in this version of Risk. One would be if the players feel the need to distribute the city populated territories evenly. If players feel this is an issue they can simply take the 15 cards used to determine the city spaces and place them on top of the territory deck before dealing all the cards out to the players. I’m not certain if this is necessary yet and further testing is likely in order.

On the other hand a decision does need to be made as to how one places their capital. One option would be for players to choose from among their cards where their capital goes only after seeing where the previous player has placed their capital but before any other cards have been revealed. This would be similar to how the game works now in a way as capitals are placed with a player’s first army. Another way would be for players to choose their capital card all at the same time and then place them. This seems risky in that two players could end up choosing adjacent cities and thus be forced into extensive conflict. A final option would be for players to choose their capital space after each territory has been filled with its initial unit. This would also be in player order and would let players see the larger scope of the battle before placing but might give too much advantage to the player who places their capital first. (Honestly this is another reason I feel the random set up is necessary as placing first is very powerful in this and all versions of Risk.)

Our group is planning to experiment with random placement and I will post our decisions as soon as we have them. If anyone else has opinions on this feel free to post them in the comments section!

I really liked this game. It’s a bit more aggressive than games we typically play, which can lead to a bit of complaining and some harsh words in our group (not all of them from me… honest) but it plays quickly (60 – 90 minutes seems average) and offers interesting decisions.

Unlike the old Risk there is more strategy and choice as players need to pay attention to how well defended they are, but “turtling” is not really an option as only aggressive players can complete Objectives. The bonuses for completing Objectives really gives players an incentive to be bold.

I think for the most part our group enjoyed this game. And we plan to play it a bit more, possibly replacing the slightly over-played History of the World with it for a time.

One thing that is interesting but possibly off-putting for some groups is the very real prospect of player elimination. When another player looks weak and has completed at least one Objective it is very likely that they will be attacked and removed from the game. Some gamers don’t like this kind of thing as it leaves one person sitting around waiting for the game to end. In my opinion in Risk Revised Edition when one player gets eliminated the game will only last another turn or two and by the time a second person is eliminated the game is truly on its last legs. While some people still won’t like this part of the game I do not find it as upsetting as in other games.

Final Thoughts

This is a mass-market game which is primarily important because it makes it very cheap. I picked up my copy at Wal-Mart for just over twenty bucks. I didn’t go into the pieces too much (they aren’t as cool-looking as some Risk games) but that might be some of the reason for the price. Still, spending less than twenty five dollars on a board game that is gamer-ish is amazing these days. Many card games cost that much and most board games sit snugly at twice that price.

I think anyone who ever enjoyed playing Risk should check this game out. The price is certainly right and it offers the excitement of a war game without the intense time constraints. Feel free to sound off below in the comments!

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    ojiepat Says:

    Okay, I’ve played this game 3 times now. first time I nearly won, the second 2 times I was out of the game by time my first turn came around. So I think I need to give this game a thumbs down. The bonus of getting cards for going later is just a random chance you get a 2 and can do well… for the most part having 2 extra guys on your first turn doesn’t make up for the half your guys you lost before you got to go. So I don’t think this game will grow on me, unless I get to go first every time.

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    I won both games we played yesterday… so me saying I liked it is kind of slanted however I did go first one game and last one game so I don’t know how much placing really matters. Still, we were using the random set up rules I discussed above so I’m not sure how that effects things as of yet.

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    Thanks for the review Josh. Sounds like a potentially viable shorter alternative to Risk 8469 thousand, Nexus Ops, or History of the World (woo, I should have my copy late next month!)

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    chris Says:

    ok… i was playing this last night. greaatt game!! one issue. i never understood additional maneuver . looked at wat the manual said. made no sense lol. i will repeat what it says.

    Addtional maneuver: You get a troop maneuver at the start of your turn, after you placed troops but before you attack .

    does this mean i can move other troops down the have been already placed ?

    I feel like a dummy XD

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    Nic Says:

    One thing I can’t understand, you need 3 objectives to win, but there are only 8 on the board. 3 People playing requires 9 objectives. Can 2 people complete the same objectives? what happens to the rewards then?

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    jockey Says:

    Chris – At the end of each turn you are able to move troops from only ONE territory to One territory adjacent to it. An additional maneuver means that you are able to do this 2x at the end of your turn so. move one set of infantry and move another.

    Nic – this is exactly what happens sometimes, and it forces you to go after and eliminate another player to get their objective cards. Thanks and great review

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    reanimator Says:

    Jockey, I think that is not correct. It says “before you attack”, so I guess it means that you can perform an additional maneuver right after placing your troops.

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