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Wiki -> FaringdonRiskDoc

The Faringdon Risk League


Read this first: don't say we didn't warn you

The game called 'Risk' (or alternately, 'Risiko' in non-English speaking countries) is a product supplied by Hasbro in the United States and licensed internationally. 'Risk' itself, when displayed in its distinctive typeface, is a registered trademark and is recognized as such by the author of this document.

A note on the use of masculine 'he', 'his', etc. In our league, we're all guys. Get over it.

Original text at:

Table of Contents

[0] Things to remember when reading this document
[1] Risk History
[2] Faringdon League History
[3] Preparation, Mechanics and Game Play
[4] Missions Tips
[5] Scenarios
[6] Key Skills Required (or: How to tell if we're lying to you)
[7] Game Stats and why you should ignore them
[8] Still Interested in a Game?

Appendix A: [9] House Rules (Official)
Appendix B: [10] House Rules (Unofficial, violate at your peril)
Appendix C: [11] December Games (Oddball variants)

Revision History:
00e,18may07,rip Lux rewrite
00d,25nov04,rip six-month-later-readability-rewrite
00c,25may04,rip two-month-later-readability-rewrite
00b,20mar04,rip week-later-readability-rewrite
00a,14mar04,[12]rip written

0) Things to remember when reading this document

The slant of everything in here is in the direction of "how we play". The egregious use of "we" here was considered.

We play a specific way which, if you are used to the classic strategies may seem a bit strange. In fact, if you were to drop by and play with us, and try and use the classic strategy of "prevent everyone from getting continents while trying to get your own", you will die a nasty, horrible, and painful death. Happily, we will not drag it out; it will be a quick one. In fact, you will probably only be around for three turns, and someone else will then play your cards for you.

So if you plan on dropping by for a game (Around 8pm, Wednesday nights, Duke of Wellington, Lechlade Road, Faringdon, Oxon, UK), make sure you've read this entire document beforehand. You'll be asked if you have.

And don't say we didn't warn you.

1) Risk History

Risk evolved from a french jeu de société, "La Conquète du Monde". The original Parker Brothers trademarks on the game are from 1959, after the French "Miro Company" approached them with Conquète some two years previous.

For a complete timeline and history, I recommend Erik Arneson's risk history pages linked from

2) Faringdon League History

(Taken from, the league website). We've been playing these games since 1995, originally in the Eagle Inn, and then shortly for a time in The Volunteer; we've now been using the Duke of Wellington since June 2001. The league itself began in 1996.

3768 gamers (a game with five players would be a five "gamer", which is a word I've made up on the spot) were accounted for between 1996 and 2003.

In the early days, the group got together to play an assortment of titles, not just Risk. Eventually, Risk became the game of choice, and later the only game available. The Faringdon Style of Play (fSOP) has evolved over the past decade since then.

3) Preparation, Mechanics and Game Play

The number of players per game is bounded by three and seven, inclusive. Three players is played with a fourth, "dummy", hand. Eight players means two four-handers.

The beginning of the game follows the rule book, pretty much. Variations, discrepancies, etc, are noted below, and I've gone out of the way to draw attention to them.

Once everyone is sat at the table and the beers have been tested, each player rolls a die to determine who goes first.

The number of initial armies is as per the standard rules, ie (50-(5*n)) where "n" is the number of players for games up to six players. For games over six players, n remains "6" (20 armies). In three+dummy games, the dummy counts as a player (ie, 30 armies, not 35, is the start amount.

The fSOP includes the mission cards as supplied in the later versions of the game. 'World domination' is reserved for when we are on a boat on the Thames during the spring. As world domination isn't being played, the games are much quicker.

Mission cards are dealt to each player, starting with the player who won the die roll. The deck of country cards (less the wild cards) are then dealt, in order, again starting with the player who won the die roll. Players place a singleton army on each of the countries represented by the cards they were dealt.

So far so normal. Now for the interesting bit, the first bit that is fSOP specific.

The following discussion treats Asia as a region, not as a continent. We generally do not allow people to hold Asia. Ever. __''It is not going to happen, so don't try.''__. Trying to hold Asia is like a kick in the teeth to a donkey. A rabid donkey. A pack of rabid donkeys.

Once everyone has deployed their single armies on their randomly distributed countries, the players then discuss who is going to go for which continent. This should be pretty obvious. If Blue has got four countries in North America, and goes first, it is probably likely that Blue will be going for North America. Based on the random deployment, you can look at the board and say "Purple's going here, Pink's going there..." right on around the table. Before the first deployment army hits the table, it has pretty much already been decided where everyone is going to end up.

So, starting with the high-roller, players begin placing their additional, initial deployment armies in turn. Unless you have a very clear, very valid reason for doing so, do not impede a player's attempt to get their continent within the first two rounds.

This is not a bad thing! In fact this should be considered as " Rule One: Do Not Get In The Way ". Getting in the way can be a strategy, but it had better be a strategy that relates to what is on your mission card and leads to you winning. If you get in someone's way, and then it turns out to have been little more than a whim, you can expect to stop hearing about it three or four hundred games down the line. If you are lucky. And you can expect your game point average to be in negative equity during that time frame, too. This is generally the very first mistake new players to the league make, by the way, which is why it is Rule One.

The other players will want to see your mission card at the end of the game to check. Not just the player you stitched up, either.

All the players. They will want to find out if you are trustworthy or not. This isn't poker, where if everyone folds, the winning hand remains hidden. Missions get exposed at the end of the game, as part of the gathering of the statistics.

The interesting part of the Don't get in the way strategy, newcomers find, is the amount of time it takes before realisation dawns that while you are not getting into others' ways, they are also not getting into yours.

Unless you are going last in a six or seven person game, this almost guarantees that you will be given the chance to take your continent (other than, of course, Asia) on the first go.

Caveat: It is up to you to decide whether you can or not, of course. If you do go for your continent on the first go, assume, however, that any border country of/on Asia (Alaska, Indonesia, East Africa, Southern Europe, Ukraine, and to a lesser extent Siam, Kamchatka and Middle East), with less than three armies on it at the end of your turn, is fair game and can expect a counterattack ... If you hold the continent. So this then leads us to Rule Two. " Rule Two: Do not expect to hold a border country with less than four defending armies ". People will go out of their way to disabuse you of the idea that holding a continent with a singleton army is a valid strategy.

In fact, they will do this by disabusing you of the continent ... and once that happens, unless you are holding a set of ten, you probably have seen the last of your bonus reinforcements for that continent.

Note the emphasis on " if you hold the continent ". If you end your first turn without taking the continent, you have a good chance of getting it on the second go (ie, the others will probably allow you a round's grace). The chances of this drop off markedly after that, of course, since if you can't get it after two turns, you either didn't really want it in the first place, or your dice have been thirty different kinds of crap. In either case, you'll probably end up spending the remainder of the game in "inoffensive mode", simply attempting to keep anyone else from booking the bonus armies for that continent ... or killing you for your cards.

The trick to getting a continent in the first go, in our games, based on the initial deployment, lies in the following considerations:

     * Do I have enough armies to take the continent, and end up with a

minimum of three armies in each border country,

     * Can I place all my armies onto a single country to begin with (the more

jump-off points you need to use to "get coverage" means that you will increase the likelihood of having to attack with less than three armies at some point),

     * Is there anyone playing silly buggers by getting in my way,
     * Is there anyone in a neighbouring continent building up on a border

country, For No Apparent Reason (could they, for example, just as easily build up someplace else for their initial jump-off point).

Keep in mind that someone may be forced to, based on initial deployment, prevent you from getting your continent on the first go. This happens, for example, when someone wants to take South America, but the nearest territory they have to it is beyond Central America or North Africa (ie, they haven't any in it). They need to build up outside and then dash in once it is their turn. And if their turn falls after yours, then they've effectively prevented you "through no fault of my? own". (Although, cf "How to tell if one of us is lying to you"). This is primarily the reason for the round's grace if you can't take the continent on the first go.

So, once you've got those four variables sussed, then you simply roll dice and take the continent (or wait one turn and finish taking it the next round).

Once you have taken your continent, you need to keep in mind that the amount of armies needed in a border country depends largely on several additional factors. Yes, more is better, but if you spend a lot of armies building up in Greenland, this will make the person holding Europe nervous ... requiring a cross-border arms race that makes everyone else at the table happy (those two great big armies staring over the border at each other, means that they aren't staring at us).

Now that you understand the reasons behind "don't get in the way", you need to understand that for every rule there are exceptions.

For example, we will, on occasion, get in each others' way. Red wants to move into South America, but the only place he can do that from is Eastern United States. This is unfortunate for Black, who, with four countries within North America, and going first, has declared for it. Black, aware that Red will prevent him from getting NA on the first go, takes some countries and basically positions himself for the second round.

What he doesn't know (but is always suspected), is that Red's mission is "destroy Black". When it is Red's turn, he can a) "forget" to move south, b) attack one of Black's smaller army groups, c) leave North America as expected, but then come back in once Black has spread himself out all over the continent, d)...

The fact that he "got in the way", however, is allowed (in theory), because it was on the mission card. He'll still get grief, of course.

I mentioned earlier that going last in a six- or seven-hander might mean that you aren't going to hold a continent. Note, however, that this is not the death penalty that you might think it is. We have had a player who, by preference, played without a continent, whenever possible. And he didn"t fare too poorly, either.

After several minutes consideration, you realise that a massive, unaligned army sitting in the middle of Asia is an invitation to play nice. It has a wonderfully salubrious and calming effect on others' play. Yellow, sitting in Europe, is going to think twice about having a pop at Black, in Africa, unless he's absolutely certain about the outcome (or probable outcome). If he weakens himself too much, there's this wonking great army sitting on his border that can, without much trouble or risk of retaliation (since Yellow just wasted himself against Black), go sit on Great Britain for a couple of turns or until the end of the game, whichever comes last.

And that's it, really, for the preparation. The cards are returned to the deck, the wild cards are shuffled in, and then play proceeds as normal.

While the initial deployment is fairly routine in its nature, there are instances where things happen out of order. For example, if you have to use the toilet for example, you can simply (once it is obvious where everyone will be playing) drop your remaining armies onto a single country within your declared continent. For example, if you've got both Eastern and Western Australia, and no one is contesting it, you could simply drop all your armies into one or the other and no one will say anything. This is, however, not a common occurrence, and is usually reserved for beer rounds or toilet breaks, ie there should be an "outside the game" reason for it.

The first round or two, everyone quickly and calmly goes for their continent. This happens like clockwork in probably 80% of our games.

Of course, you have games where two players refuse to defer to the other (North America and Australia have, on occasion, turned into "no-man's-lands", because two people are in each others' way), or games where someone is "playing silly buggers" because they"ve seen a way to keep someone (or some continent) weak and get away with it (ie, their mission card, combined with a really horrible initial deployment for someone else, combined with "I just need to sit here until my turn, then I"ll rabbit down to South America. No worries Mate!". Of course, cf "How to tell when one of us is lying"). But that"s just the way the deployment goes.

The reason we play this way, I think, is that it speeds up the game, and also, to a lesser extent, keeps people involved. If everyone is playing the strategy "keep everyone from having a continent while getting your own", several rounds pass before the continents start getting divvied up. During that time, maybe a player or two has been gratuitously killed, and is now sitting off to the side watching the footy on the television in the corner.

Our "nicey-nicey" way means we, in end-effect, skip the first "several rounds" and get straight to the game. And there is less chance that someone is killed off without ever really getting a chance to be in the game.

After the second round, play begins in earnest, and it is as per the normal rules. Attack with up to three, defend with up to two.

Note that it is considered bad form to defend with only one if the defense allows two. The reason for this interpretation is that it can easily throw the game to someone. For example, if your mission is kill red, and red throws one defensive die when he could be throwing two, it makes the kill significantly more likely to succeed. The reason he would want to do this is based on the way the league points are allocated and less on the spirit of the game. You are in effect playing the league table, and not the game.

There is a slight difference in the card-award from what is defined in the printed rules, and also how the computer game Risk II is coded. In the printed rules, the card is awarded at the end of the turn . In our games, the player has the right to request his card immediately after the first country is taken. This means that a player's further actions during an arbitrary turn may be influenced by the draw of the card.

Also, the sets are not escalating in award, rather they are by set-value. Even there, we play the rules from an older publication of the Risk rules, in that we don't use the modern convention (whatever they are :>). A set of three cavalry is worth eight points, a set of three infantrymen is worth six points, and a set of three canon is worth four. This is based on "mobility" rather than "force", which is why cannon, while being a potent "force" on the modern battlefield, are not as mobile as infantry or the cav and so have the lessor point value. The set of ten is still "one-of-each" (cav, infantry, artillery), representing of course the traditional, modern combined-arms team of Armor, Infantry and Artillery.

Can you tell I spent ten years in the Army?

The other major deviation from the rules, when cashing in sets, deals with the way the countries are handled. In the modern printed rules, if the person cashing the set plays a card that depicts a country that the player currently owns, then the player receives an additional bonus army, which must be placed on that country.

In our games, the player receives two bonus armies (like Lux) for that country. This is one of the reasons that a player might alter their plans after drawing their cards. If they are only a redeploy away from massing an army on a country that they hold a card of, then they will no doubt make that redeploy in order to later benefit when the card is played as part of a set.

Also, if a card is played that depicts a country owned by a different player, and that player has multiple (two or more) armies on that country, then that player loses one of those armies. A great set is Greenland-Iceland-Other, because if you hold North America or Europe, then your border country gains two while the enemy continent's border country loses one--a net gain of three. Drop your eighteen armies into your border country (ten for the set and eight for the continent) and it's ferret-up-the-drainpipe time.

The final house rule involving sets that we have is the "Mission Exchange" rule. At a cost of three cards (note: __not necessarily a set), a player may decide to forgo a fourth__ card, and "buy" a new mission. A player wishing to buy a new mission forfeits the right to attack during their turn, which is why it costs four cards. The player deploys their initial deployment, hands three cards plus their old mission to the dealer who places them unseen under their respective piles. The dealer hands the topmost mission card to the player. The mission card deck is then reshuffled. Keep in mind that while the player may not attack during the round that he has exchanged his mission, he still has the right to deploy his reinforcements and make an end-of-turn redeployment. So for a player with North America and not much else, he would deploy his eight armies, hand over his cards, take his new mission card, make his redeploy if he wants it, and then pass the dice.

Eventually, someone wins.

For the league, we have several different scoring methods. The primary ("official") method is three points per win. If you kill someone gratuitously, you gain a point, while the victim loses two points. The most points gained or lost in a single game, during the era when the complete stats were kept, was fifteen (four kills and a win).

A secondary method for keeping track of points depends on the number of players in the game. The number of points for a win is one less than the number of players, minimum of three points. So for a six person game, you get five points for winning.

A third method is based on the mission, with the easier missions worth three points (Take 24, 18x2, and the plain kills) worth three, and the continental missions being scored as two points plus the number of continents (North America and Africa is worth four, for example, and Europe, South America and Other is worth five). The extended missions (someone else killed your target, so your mission is now Take 24, or you are your own target, so Take 24 instead) are each worth four.

With regards to gratuitous kills, the points for/against remain at one for the kill and minus two for the victim, regardless of which point column you are looking at.

4) Mission Tips

I"ve tried to block out tips for playing to a given mission __when playing at the Duke of Wellington__. That said, reading any other Risk strategy guide off the web can't hurt for the general background. Each discussion here is broken down into two parts, general strategy and local tactics.

There are fourteen missions, of three broad types. These are kill missions, terrain missions, and continent missions.

The kill missions are played such that you win __only if you kill your target__. So if your mission is "Kill Blue", you win only if you are the one to take him off the board. If someone else takes him off the board, then your mission becomes "Take 24". You can not win until it is your turn, though. This means that if your mission is still Kill Blue, and you hold 24 countries when someone else takes him off the board, then you still haven't won until the dice come around to you.

Also, in your turn, the moment you complete your mission, the game is declared over. This means that you can't get credit for a gratuitous kill if the 24th country that you take is owned by the only remaining piece of a given color. If Siam is held by the only Black piece on the board, and taking it means that you have your 24th country, you will not get credit for a gratuitous kill of Black. Likewise, if you need North America and Africa, and you need to get Africa, and Red owns Africa (with no pieces anywhere else on the board), you won't get credit for killing Red off, because "you will have completed your mission" before the kill.

The other minor bobble with kill missions happens when you draw your own color. For example, if you are playing Purple, and you draw the "Kill Purple" card, then your mission is immediately "Take 24". This is on some of the worldwide variants of the mission cards, but not all.

The territorial missions are "Take 24" (hold 24 countries at any time) and "18x2" (hold 18 countries, each with two armie minimum) and are, for the most part, self-explanatory.

The continental missions are also self-explanatory.

All of the missions have been completed at one time or another; some are much less likely. The Asia and South America mission is a bear. We have, however, seen the Asia and Africa mission completed on a player"s very first go (three hander, with a dummy as the fourth hand, the eventual winner declared for Africa, the other two players declared for North America and Australia. He had a clear path out of Africa and up through Asia and since he went first, and because no one had considered the possibility, he simply marched around Africa, up through Asia and ended up in Kamchatka five minutes into the game).

For the first time player, the absolute first thing to remember is: __Rule Three: Do Not Overextend Yourself, Especially Early On__. And this is the primary problem that most beginners (beginners in the sense of "first time playing with us") have, and the reason that most beginners end up with negative equity the first couple of times they play (ie, victim of gratuitous kills). At the end of my first year playing with this group, I ended up with exactly zero points, even though I'd won four games during the preceding four months.

Note: I've left the Mission info here for the Lux wiki, even though Lux does not support mission play. You might find it interesting, or you can skip down.

The Missions

North America and Australia ("naau"): (1) If you can declare for either of the two continents, do so. Of course, if you declare for either of the two continents, everyone assumes your mission is then naau. If the player in the other half (and there will be a player there, as both NA and AU are desirable territory) has a bad run of the dice, you could be in there quick enough. (2) Declaring for NA is usually preferred to AU, simply because there are players who declare for AU regardless of who else is there, what mission they have, etc. Then it becomes a "who is going to blink" match (or: who gets a set there first). Yes, this "two players in Australia" thing violates Rule One. Feel free to retaliate if you think you can get away with it, but see Rule Three.

North America and Africa ("naaf"): (1) Slightly less likely to be completed then naau above, but still doable. Declare for either if you can, by preference NA. If neither is available to you, your next choices are of course SA and EU, because they both border on your two target continents. SA is slightly better (in my mind, the others may disagree), simply because you've got less borders to worry about, and since you "only" draw two bonus armies, the others are less likely to see you as a threat than if you are drawing the five for Europe. (2) There isn't much to say about this mission on the tactical level. Holding NA, again, is preferred because it gives you slightly better options (only three border countries to "worry" about, verses four if holding AF), meaning its easier to mass an army. If you mass in Central America, however, whoever holds South America is given some interesting options about how to defend. See Asia and South America for what they are.

Asia and Africa ("asaf"): Basically, and realistically, the only way you are going to get this is a fluke good early deployment, or after someone else tries for their mission and fails, leaving the board wide open. If you can declare for Africa do so, obviously, but don't expect it to be easy.

Asia and South America ("assa"): Significantly more difficult than asaf above, simply because you are starting out one step removed. If you can declare for and hold South America, great. But even then, you need to get through Africa first, and whoever holds it probably isn't interested in letting you do that. You can win after a try or on a fluke deployment, and that's it. (2) Defending South America: If you find yourself "locked" into SA because your mobile force in Asia has been removed by an army coming up from Australia (generally what happens unless the sets and dice favor you), you need to decide how to defend SA. You have three choices, and those are Venezuela, Peru and Brazil. If you mass in Venezuela or Brazil, it means you've left a singleton on the other. You probably have sufficient armies to take on

either Central America or North Africa. If whoever is faced by the singleton comes across the border, that allows you the counterattack. So if Blue comes across the border into Brazil, he's almost guarenteed to lose his continent when you come storming back from Venezuela. If Black, in North America, is holding "North America and Africa" as his mission, he'll win on his next go, but everyone will be yelling at Blue, not at you. The other option is simply massing on Peru. This is traditionally called the "dog sees the rabbit" defense. Either NA or AF can storm around the corner and so long as they don't win it outright, they probably won't bother taking you off the board on the way. Don't try this if you are weak and only in South America (you need the mobile army in Asia to prevent someone from going for the gratuitous kill en passant).

Europe, South America and one other ("esa1"): Reasonably doable, someplace between the easier naau and the more difficult asaf. Slightly more difficult that its companion below. If you have a choice declare for Europe or North America. Europe because you are going to need it anyway and it gives you more options. North America because it borders on the two requirements and it's one of the two five-army bonus continents. If you are offered a choice between South America and Australia, take Australia. You aren't going to win either way, but at least a strong Australia (with you sitting en masse on Siam), means you've blocked the Asia missions, the Australia missions, and whoever is trying to kill you.

Europe, Australia and one other (eau1): Slightly easier than its companion above, but only if you can declare for Europe or Australia. If offered Africa and North America, I'd opt for Africa, simply because America is "so far away" from Australia (five countries to cross instead of three, and the five in question are generally well defended).

Hold 24 Countries: One of the missions with the best options for play. Whichever continent you can declare for is probably sufficient, including South America. Wait until you have a path open and sufficient armies and go for it.

Hold 18 Countries, each with 2 armies: By far the easiest to complete, because all you need is a continent, one massed army and a set of ten. North America is generally the prime candidate because if you are holding it, you are already holding nine countries and you only need nine more. That said, if you don't hold a continent, you probably won't complete this mission (unless you are on the coattails of a try).

Kill {color}: Depends on what color you need to kill. Some of the players here play very defensive, some very offensive, and some very random. You just need to play several games to figure out which is which. Just studying the statistics is another way (hint: If they've won a lot of games, don't expect them to be easy targets, no matter how they play). Or, you can just look at the kill/victim and the mission conversion graphs, and see who's been the victim the most often :->.

A note on defending against a gratuitous kill: If your deployment is so bad that you know you're going to be fighting for survival during the whole game, try and see if you can get South America. Most of the players here don't like that continent, since it really puts constraints on the options, which means that if you declare, then you'll probably be allowed it (in a five or less handed game, almost certainly). The strategy then is to take South America, put enough into it to show that you want to hold it (too weak, and someone will take it off you simply because they can, without fear of retaliation). Once that is sorted, you'll need a second, mobile, force someplace in Asia. The tactical force gives you options for generating cards, while making the gratuitous kill almost impossible (someone, either North America or Africa, is going to have to either split a big army, or use two armies, to take you out).

The counter to this strategy then, is for someone to take your tactical army out of Asia by killing it off as soon as possible, before it can grow too large. Generally this will be the color who has declared for Europe or Australia, because they don't share a border with South America and are thus "safe" from direct retaliation.

There is a fine balance in deploying reinforcements, splitting them between "defend the continent" and "don't lose the mobile force". Or, you can assume one or the other is going to happen, and build up the other as long as the rest of the players let you. It may suit the purposes of some of the players to have a strong South America, or a strong floating force in Asia, but hardly any of the other players are happy to have both. Figure that at some point you'll lose one, and be prepared for that eventuality.

And if you can't get a continent at the go, build up in a single massed force in Asia. This makes people nervous, and nervous people make interesting mistakes.

5) Scenarios, or Set Piece Battles

There are several "expected" manoeuvres that will happen, based on the current state of play. I'm laying a couple of them out here so that they don't take you by surprise.

A) Color owns South America, and has a mobile army in Asia. Result: Owner of Australia will probably kill the mobile army, if he can.

B) Color leaves a singleton or double army defending a border, and does not have a backup. Result: Color will be shown the error of their ways; will be shown that hubris is not permitted. A pure set-piece has Color A lightly defending, Color B takes the border country and leaves a singleton army, redeploying attacking army back across the border to finish his turn. Color A, during next turn, plays a set, places all deploying armies accordingly, retakes border country. Statvs qvo ante bellvm .

C) Defending in depth: Color A does not build up a border country one go, but instead builds up a reserve force one country back from the border. Color B, across that border, during his turn also builds up a reserve force instead of the border country itself. Result: "Unspoken" truce (spoken truces are not allowed). Eventually, someone will probably come across the border, but hey, those are the rules.

D) Defending from Depth: Color leaves a singleton army on a border, but has a nine-hundred strong army count sitting one country back, currently unable to move short of an end-of-turn redeployment. The problem here is that if you take off that lone defending army, you expose yourself to a massive counterattack. This is especially useful if the depth country is Peru and you've got a singleton in both Venezuela and Brazil. Or better yet, mass on Brazil and leave a singleton on Venezuela, or vice-versa. It makes people nervous. Nervous people make mistakes.

E) Hide in Japan.

F) Try to convince everyone that your mission is other than what it is. Don't blink if someone susses out what your mission is, as they may very well just be phishing.

6) Key Skills required

If one of the other players tells you something reasonable, remember, he's not doing it because he's your friend. He's trying to get you to do something because it will improve the chances that he'll win.

How can you tell if someone is lying to you? Are his lips moving? That's a pretty good give-away.

Paranoia is necessary.

Keep in mind that, if the dice rolls are going against you pretty consistently, you can figure that they are not going to change during the current attack phase. The assumption that "randomness means that they have to come back my way eventually", is patently false, or maybe you just haven't considered what "eventually" actually means. Consider that "eventually" could be as far out as the heat-death of the universe (or it may seem that way, watching the dice).

Statistics say that when a massed army attacks a massed army, the rate is going to be about 11 attacking wins to 10 defending wins (or slightly in favor of the attacker). In reality, you'll probably want a 3:2 (15 to 10) or better starting point. 2:1 can't hurt. But don't wait too long, or someone will pull the game out from under you. If skills were trees, knowing when to "pull the trigger" would be the forest.

Another key skill is knowing when to play a set. Technically, statistically , if you have a set after three cards, __''you will not be able to improve it by waiting for two more goes''__ . So if you've got three cannon (a set worth four points), then statistically after two more goes you'll still have only a set of four. So, theoretically, you should play the set immediately on your next turn.

That said, if you aren't hurting, better to hold on to it, because it a) doesn't change how long its going to be before you get your next set, b) you can see how the other players played theirs and that might change how you deploy yours, c) you might draw more cannons, but they might be countries that you hold, which means you benefit from the +2 bonuses?. And d) You still do have slightly better than a 1 in 3 chance of drawing the necessary cards to get your set of ten.

There's nothing more annoying than waiting five goes for a naked (no wild cards) set of four, however.

The above paragraphs hinge on the unaccented fragment of "...if you aren't hurting...". If you are, play the set! You need the bonus armies to make you that more difficult to kill, plus a weak player with a handful of cards is on everyone elses mission card.

And don't let anyone see you're nervous. Or annoyed. Or angry. Or anything other than the happy-go-lucky fellow that you are.

Also, based on the statistics, in a 4-6-8-10 fixed value game, over the course of the game, having sets increases your average income per turn by only two armies. It's not much.

7) Game Statistics, and why you should ignore them.

Unless you know exactly what it is you are looking at, you probably won't be able to tell what is significant, and what isn't, looking at the game statistics, generally. Most of the information is relevant only to a given player, or rather a player's style of play, so it is kind of difficult to spot the trends.

For example, I generally have a "Missed cards" count that is significantly higher than the other players. This is because I feel it is a reasonable strategy to get "locked into" South America, where there is no manoeuvre room. Draw your five reinforcements, and pass the dice, and thus miss a card. If you are weak, or the game drags on into the double-digit turns, you'll have a pretty significant army sitting happily out of everyone's way. And if the person who plays before you pulls the trigger and fails, you're sitting there with that pretty significant army...looking at possibly a gratuitous kill or two, if not the game.

You only need worry about the players holding Africa and North America, because if someone else needs to kill you, they'll need to come through one of those two to win, and if one of those two need the other, they'd rather bypass you (sitting on Peru in strength) then kill you and then end up not getting the game because they don't have enough left to take the continent they need. Of course, if one of those two does need to kill you, they have to be very cagey about how they set up for it (else they give it away). In any case, at least you don't get penalized for being the mission.

8) Still interested?

Wednesday, 8:00 start, Duke of Wellington Pub, Lechlade Road, Faringdon, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom.

Appendix A: House Rules (Official)

Don't roll the dice such that they come to rest on the board.

You can hand-in three cards and forego a forth, in order to buy a new mission.

Set values are fixed rather than escalate.

No spoken alliances or treaties or truces.

Always defend with as many dice as possible (if you are allowed, defend with two).

Appendix B: House Rules (Unofficial, violate at your peril)

Rule One: Don't get in the way of someone's continental aspirations (unless you need to).

Rule Two: Don't expect to hold a continent with a singleton on the border (unless you think you can get away with it).

Rule Three: Don't overextend yourself at any time (ever).

Rule Four: If someone has left a singleton on the border, you are duty bound to take the continent off them.

Rule Five: Everyone will hold a grudge (especially if you try and hold Asia, get in someone's way, try to hold a continent with a singleton on the border, and, um, ... oh yeah: If you overextend yourself).

Rule Six: If a continent is not held, and is currently under contention, feel free to box it in (If two players are tap-dancing around North America, feel free to sit on Kamchatka. Or Alaska for that matter :>

Appendix C: December Games (Oddball variants)

During the month of December, we generally have a winner for the year, so we start playing by odd rules. Here is a list of some of the game variants we've played:

1) Capital Risk: Players define their capital city, to win, you need to conquer and hold a certain number of capitals.

2) Multiple-Owner (or "parallel worlds"): Cards are dealt (including wild cards). Players place one of their initial deployment armies into each of the countries they are dealt. Those dealt wild cards may place an army into any country on the board, __including those they were dealt__. Cards are collected and reshuffled and redealt. Again, players place a single army into each country that they are dealt. This means that you could have one, two, three or four different colors in a given country. If a given color is in each of the countries of a continent, then they get the bonus armies, regardless if there is another color in there at the same time. This means that theorhetically, you could have two players drawing bonus armies for a continent. You can not attack "Siam into Siam", you must first attack __out of the country and then back in__ once you've succeeded in taking a color out of a neighbouring country. So, "Siam into Indonesia", win, then "Indonesia into Siam" if you want to get the other guy out of there. Oh, and when you play a set, it is only a single bonus army instead of two ... and you don't need to own the country. If you play Siam, Peru and Urals, you place an army into each one of them, then you get the set value bonus armies, plus your normal deployment armies. It's very colorful, and can be confusing :> And people have the tendancy to "win out of the blue", because it is confusing.

3) Airmobile: A massed army can, at the cost of 50% attrition, attack anywhere on the board. So you can pick up your 101 army-strong mass in Siam and attack Ontario with 50 (you round down). The other fifty armies are discarded (assume that they are using Montgolfier Balloons for the operation).

4) Seamobile: Same as Airmobile, but landlocked countries are safe.

5) Hidden deployment: You deal the cards out as normal, everyone places their initial singletons. Then, everyone secretly decides on one of their cards. Once everyone has chosen a card, the remainder are returned to the deck. Everyone simultaneously uncovers their chosen card and must then deploy __''all remaining initial deployment armies into that country''__.

6) Suicidal Risk: When you choose an army to attack with, you may only stop attacking once you no longer have any of those armies to attack with (ie, you surge), you surge into a pocket, or once you"ve won the game. You get to pick the surge directions, however. So if pick your sixteen armies on Alaska to surge with, you will probably surge Kamchatka -> Mongolia -> Japan. When you surge into a pocket, however, your armies "disband" into the neighbouring countries. In the example above, if you end up with eleven armies in Japan, three return to Mongolia, three return to Kamchatka, three remain in Japan and you can place the two remaining as you like (in Kamchatka, Mongolia or Japan). This is a surprisingly deceptive variant. Also, you might consider taking the "Kill {color}" missions out of the deck and forbidding gratuitous kills until you figure out the strategies.

7) Paranoia Risk: Only the "Kill {color}" missions are dealt, and misdeals are called until everyone has a kill mission other than their own color.

8) Single mission: No mission cards are dealt. Game begins as normal. At first, the mission is "Kill ?". As soon as someone is killed, a mission card is turned over. This is the remaining players" mission (The first player to convert it wins). If a second (or third or ...) player is killed, then a second (or third or ...) mission card is turned over. As soon as someone completes any exposed mission, the game is over. Alternately, the new mission supersedes the previous. You can choose a different event for the mission exposure, for example, every time someone plays a set (or after every four turns, or when a wildcard is played as part of a set, or ...) a new mission card is exposed. The mission currently displayed has to be completed to win (annoying to set up to win it, and then someone plays a set and the mission changes!).

9) Fog of war: This requires a board per person, as well as a lot of space and a lot of time. Players know what they have, plus they know who owns any neighboring countries and how much they hold it with. So if you've got Venezuela, you know that Black has Central America and he's holding it with only five armies (and what you don't know is that he's got over eighty sitting on Western United States).


Abbreviated Lebenslauf, in case you are interested:
: '64 San Carlos (CA, US) (Arundel, Tierra Linda, Carlmont/San Carlos) '82
: '82 Stewart (GA, US)(2-70), Baumholder (FRG) (2-68), others '85
: '85 Hamilton AAF, Clovis (CA, US) (91st Div Trng) '90
: '86 Fresno (CA, US), Aix-en-Provence (France) (BA, French) '91
: '95 Wind River: Alameda (CA, US), Les Ulis (France), Swindon (UK) '03
: '03 U4EA: Bristol (UK)
: '05 UN Spouse: Nairobi (Kenya), Vienna (Austria) '-->

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