Risk

So here’s something of a confession. While I have played several digital versions of Risk (such as Domination) and a few Risk variants (Star Wars Risk being the most notable), I had never played the actual board game. Until recently.

For my birthday last week, the boys clubbed together to get me Risk, the board game. Clearly I have trained them well.

Risk is probably the most popular war game around and one that still holds up today. A large part of this, I am sure, is down to the elegant simplicity of the rules.

First you place armies in the countries you control, then these countries are able to attempt to invade neighboring countries, gaining a bonus card if you succeed (only one per turn, though) and finally, you can move armies to defend your borders.

This simplicity makes for rules that are very easy to understand and encourages players to start thinking strategically very quickly. Indeed, right from the initial placement of armies, you can see what territories your opponents are trying to capture and quickly have to start developing a strategy of your own.

Invading a territory is determined by dice rolls and, while it is possible to be incredibly unlucky on occasion, the mechanics feel quite balanced overall. For equally matched battles, the defender has a slight advantage, but once the attacking force is stronger the advantage goes to the attacker.

It’s easy to see why Risk has remained popular for over six decades. While there are plenty of games that add both complexity and sophistication to war gaming, in terms of getting the basics absolutely spot on, Risk is very hard to beat.