Enter a world where there are 42 territories. Plastic men attack and defend in their dictators honor. The dictators drink, swear and lie more than Kim Jong Il (may he rest in peace).
There’s a land bridge between North Africa and Brazil. And everyone aspires to be Hitler. Although, some would argue capturing Russia is important so maybe not quite Hitler.
That’s right. Welcome to Risk. The board game that ruins friendships.
Risk was invented by the French. Which actually explains a lot.
It’s all about concurring the world, losing what you’ve conquered, losing friendships and then getting really frustrated because you just can’t hold Asia. And everyone keeps kicking you out of Kamchatka.
I found myself playing Risk last night. I know what you’re thinking and I agree: it’s an epic way to spend your Saturday night. Last night was the first time in a long time that I’d played, and upon brushing up on the rules I quickly found myself in the predicament of hating all my friends.
It started off well enough. It takes about 30 minutes to set the game up (I’d advise bringing snacks). You have to roll for who goes first, pick your color, count your troops, hope and pray you get Australia, get your starting territories, become depressed upon not getting Australia, then pretend to build a strategy as you randomly place troops down. You also have to fake like you know what the hell is going on. Quite a process!
By now, you’re committed. And anybody who leaves before the game is over is required by law to be stoned to death. And not in the good way.
Next, each player gets a ‘mission’ card and the mind games begin. Everyone starts guessing what mission card you hold and then quickly forms an opinion on how best you should complete your mission. Without interfering with their agenda or killing any of their troops of course. Now, this would all be fine if it was not for the unwritten rule that everyone needs to scream their plans and ideas at you, at the same time and continuously for the next 2 hours.
After accepting your headache and inability to actually hear yourself think, you start to play. Yes, this is about 40 minutes into the game and no, you haven’t actually stated playing yet. See what I mean about the snacks?
Playing involves drafting, attacking and reinforcing. Drafting means you get extra men for holding continents, trading cards and just starting a turn. Given the complicated rules (and the amount of alcohol consumed during the set up process) you could do with a calculator just to figure out how many troops you need. Given it’s a minimum of 3 per round, if you get a number smaller than 3, round up.
Next you attack. This is where it gets messy. Friends are lost, treaties are broken and everything goes to the dogs. Your friends call you names that they wouldn’t call their worst enemies. Then continue advising you on the course of action you should take that is in keeping with their agenda. They call you a few more names. You finally choose a place to attack. The attacker (you) and the defender (the person calling you names) both roll some dice until someone who understands the dice part of the game tells you whether you’ve won or not.
Here you take a moment to stop hating your friends and start hating the dice Gods. Your 18 attacking troops are defeated by 5 defending troops. Anger consumes you, your ‘strategy’ falls apart and people are still yelling at you. But that’s just part of it. Your opponent has Canadian snipers, and your rifles are broken. That’s life.
Finally you reinforce. You take a moment to be with your thoughts, mourn the lost and wipe your tears. You send troops from one territory to another in hope you won’t get killed in the next round. You silently pray to the dice Gods and patiently wait 30 minutes until it’s your turn again. All whilst continually yelling at everyone exactly what you think they should do to ensure they don’t interfere with your agenda.
At the end of the day, it’s all a bit of a fun. Who needs friends anyway? Besides, the best part about Risk is stabbing your ‘allies’ in the back.
Help Blue out. Get Red off his back. Get Blue to bash his head against Yellow. Meanwhile take out Black. Worry about inconspicuous Grey. Find Blue has killed Red, and is on the verge of destroying Yellow. It would be foolish to help Blue take out Yellow. He’s got that under control, and would mean you have to clash. Consider breaking treaties. No, you’re a good person. You have been allies with Blue for the last 2 hours, and he has left his backside open, trusting you to defend it. Break treaties. On your turn, you cash in your cards, and march your troops through Brazil. Blue immediately realizes what you’re up to, but it’s too late. You move through South America, destroying Blue’s stronghold. Crippled, he can’t stop your menacing reign of Greeness, and is eliminated in the next two turns. Tears ensue. Expletives are used. And everyone is still yelling.
The moral of this story: Risk destroys friendships.