Risk is a board game that has strengthened and destroyed friendships for more than 50 years. The game requires players to have strategies on how to take over and conquer territories around the world that are owned by other players.
Each player will be given troops that they can place in the territories found in the board. These troops can then move to other countries owned by enemies and engage in battle for the occupation of the territories.
A single game of Risk would usually take at least one hour to finish, but some game sessions could even last for days or even weeks, depending on how good the players are in strategizing their troops’ movements. The player who succeeds in conquering all territories on the board wins the game.
Risk was invented in 1957 by Albert Lamorisse, a French filmmaker who is also known for winning the Academy Award for Best Screenplay for the movie The Red Balloon in 1956. He got the idea for the board when he was on vacation with his family in Holland, and before it was called Risk, Lamorisse titled the game as La Conquête du Monde, which translates to English as “The Conquest of the World.”
Lamorisse then sold the concept to Miro, a toy manufacturer in France, during the same year. A man named Jean-Rene Vernes tweaked the rules a bit before the board game was sold to the French public.
Two years later, Parker Brothers partnered with Miro to release the game in the United States. When it was released in the US, its title “The Conquest of the World” was changed to a much simpler name, Risk.
After Hasbro bought Parker Brothers in 1991, several special editions of Risk featuring popular movies, video games, or TV series were released in the years after the acquisition. These variants include legendary franchises or brands like Transformers and Star Wars.
Risk will go on to serve as an inspiration for other territory-focused board games like The Settlers of Catan and Axis & Allies.
Because of the many variants of Risk released over the years, the board game’s rules are constantly changing. For this gameplay guide, we will focus on the 2016 Standard Edition of Risk, which has the classic rules but with added tweaks to simplify the gaming experience for players.
Before Starting the Game
Before the start of the game, each person playing must roll a die to see who will go first in picking a color for their troops as well as the territories where they will place the troops on. The player who got the highest number on the die will go first, then the player who rolled the second-highest will go next, and so on. If there is an instance where two or more players rolled the same number, they must roll a die again.
After knowing the turn order for players, they will then choose a colored set of troops to place in territories. The number of soldiers given at the start of the game depends on how many people are playing the game. Here is a list of how many troops will be given for each specified number of players:
- Two players – 40 troops (for the standard edition)
- Three players – 35 troops
- Four players – 30 troops
- Five players – 25 troops
After all the troops are given to each player, the one who will go first will pick one territory, then the other players will then choose a territory according to the turn order. Choosing territories will continue until all 42 territories on the board are occupied.
For players who have many troops in one territory can exchange them for other figures that represent larger numbers of troops. An infantry figure signifies one troop, the cavalry figure is five troops, and the artillery figure is ten troops.
In a player’s single turn, there are three phases that allow him or her to do specific actions. These phases are draft, battle, and maneuver. Let’s go over these phases one by one and see how they work.
At the start of a player’s turn, he or she will receive one troop for every three territories that he or she owns. For example, the player will receive three troops if he or she controls nine areas.
Another way to earn troops is by occupying all territories in one continent. Here is a list of the continents in the game as well as the number of troops players will receive if they are fully occupied:
- Asia – 7 troops
- North America – 5 troops
- Europe – 5 troops
- Africa – 3 troops
- South America – 2 troops
- Australia – 2 troops
The third way to get troops is by trading a set of cards collected after a few turns. One card can be drawn from the deck each time the player conquers an enemy territory.
In these cards, you will see two things: a specific territory in the board and a silhouette of the figures for the troops. To get a troop, you must surrender three cards that feature the same silhouette, or you can trade three cards that have different silhouettes.
There is a chance that you may get a wild card from the deck, which represents all silhouettes found on the cards, and you can combine this with two more cards that have the same icon.
The number of troops given to you will increase each time you trade a set of cards.
- One set – 4 troops
- Two sets – 6 troops
- Three sets – 8 troops
- Four sets – 10 troops
- Five sets – 12 troops
- Six sets – 15 troops
The next sets after the 6th set will then add five more troops to the number given to you after trading.
After receiving troops, the player may then go to the battle phase, which allows him or her to attack and conquer nearby enemy territories. To attack an enemy territory, you can move one or more troops to the land you want to occupy, and you and the defender must roll the dice to determine who will win the battle. The number of dice that you and the defender will use depends on the number of troops that both of you have deployed for battle.
- One troop – 1 die
- Two troops – 2 dice
- Three or more troops – 3 dice
- One troop – 1 die
- Two or more troops – 2 dice
In the standard edition, the maximum number of troops in a single battle is three attackers and two defenders. The player who has rolled the highest number in a single die may defeat one enemy troop, but if there is an instance where the defender rolls the same number as the highest number rolled by the attacker, then the attack will fail.
If the defending player loses all of his or her troops, then the attacker will successfully conquer the territory. The attacking player can battle and move to enemy territories as many times as he or she wants, but only one set of troops belonging to one controlled territory can fight in a single battle.
Keep in mind that the attacking player must leave at least one troop behind in the territory where the attacking forces came from. Also, players can only attack areas that are adjacent to their controlled territories.
During the maneuver phase, a player will be able to move troops from one territory to another as long as it is adjacent to the chosen territory. Again, whenever you are moving troops from one territory, whether they are moving to another controlled territory or the enemy, one troop must remain to defend the area.
Only one maneuver is allowed for each turn, which means that you can only move the set of troops in one controlled territory.
For some editions of Risk, there is an included Secret Missions deck, which has cards that show specific tasks that players must do to win the game.
The Secret Missions feature is added to hasten the gameplay of Risk, as accomplishing a secret mission will let them win automatically regardless of each player’s progress on the board. Missions found in the special cards include destroying all troops that have one color and occupying a specified number of territories.
Players must draw one Secret Mission card from the deck before the game begins. If the mission is inapplicable to the current game, then the card must be discarded, and the player will draw again.
Popular Editions and Variants
As previously mentioned, there are various variants and special editions of Risk that may have different sets of rules to make the board game feel new for Risk fans. Here are Risk’s most popular variants online.
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of Risk, Hasbro released a special edition that includes a special rulebook for players to learn how to play the game in its original format, which is Lamorisse’s La Conquête du Monde.
Besides its original set of rules, there are four more playing options that players can choose to play in this 60th-anniversary edition, with one of them being the standard variant introduced in 2016.
This edition also features exclusive artwork and figures, and they are all packed in a gorgeous box that looks like a vintage travel suitcase.
In the Star Wars the Black Series edition of Risk, instead of controlling troops, you will control iconic ships in the Star Wars franchise like the X-Wing and the TIE Fighter. Also, you will not just conquer the world in this edition, but you will take control of areas in the galaxy where the Death Star and the Millennium Falcon are located.
Two players can work as a team to defeat Darth Vader and the Empire, while the enemy team will try to thwart Luke Skywalker and the Rebellion’s plans.
This edition of Risk features characters and location from the popular comic book series written by Robert Kirkman and drawn by Tony Moore.
Players will aim to take control of all territories in the game, and these territories may have zombies that are lurking around and ready to kill your troops. Along with the added zombies, The Walking Dead Risk also includes a Supple Deck that adds exciting or terrifying scenarios and events to the board’s gameplay.
In Risk Europe, players can take part in some legendary medieval battles where they can change the course of history. Players would need to battle each other to take control of all seven kingdoms and win the game.
The figures in this edition are medieval military units such as footmen, archers, and cavalry. The version also includes a Secret Missions deck and a King’s Orders deck, which enables certain territories in the board to have unique playing features.
Risk is a game that promotes critical thinking and effective strategizing. The board game also teaches us to never give up on reaching our goals, even if it would take days, weeks, or months to accomplish, similar to how a single session of Risk can take that long to finish.