Recommend
7 
 Thumb up
 Hide
3 Posts

Risk» Forums » General

Subject: A Conversation with Roberto Convenevole rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Dave Shapiro
United States
Milwaukee
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
A Conversation with Roberto Convenevole

As with any time that translations are involved, something may be incorrect, mis-understood. Any errors are mine (though we have tried to eliminate the possibility). For convenience, I will refer to Risk as Risk throughout the article. In Italy, Risk is known as Risiko and the switching from the Italian to the English is a bit confusing so all references will be as Risk.

The gaming community is very diverse. Literally, millions of people around the world play some game everyday. From simple games found in the daily newspaper to complex war games and video games, somewhere in the world, games are being played every minute of everyday. Backgammon dominates the Middle East while South Korea holds the distinction of more video gamers per capita than any other nation in the world. China boasts of Go enthusiasts while Japan is fanatical about Sudoku. Russia considers Chess to be a sport and promotes Chess education. North America and Europe best exemplify the diversity in gaming, in that every form of gaming from anywhere in the world can be enjoyed on these continents.

Thirty years ago, little was known about gamers in other countries or the games they played. Today, with the magic of the internet and the advent of sites such as Board Game Geek, this is no longer the case. In this age, gamers from around the world are able to contact each other, discuss games and even play together. Another effect this magic has produced is that the distinctions between the various types of gamers are fading. Gamers that predominantly play board games are discovering the implementation of their games on the web (Xbox Live is the best example as of this writing). Video gamers often demo the board games and just as often will play them. Gaming is international and growing. The game industry is larger than the film industry. Beginning in 2008 revenue from gaming exceeded that of all films combined.

In the movie industry, there are stars – the standout actors or directors that draw the interest of the viewers. The gaming industry has produced ‘stars’ also. Thirty years ago most gamers could not determine who designed a specific game – today the designers are well known (at least among gamers). In contrast to the film industry, in gaming, many of the players are known entities also. Some produce podcasts, others video instructions or reviews; while others create variants. And then there is Roberto Convenevole.

Roberto Convenevole is a gamer; a gamer’s gamer. He has designed (and published) an excellent Risk variant and has authored a book on Risk. Recently I had the opportunity to engage in a conversation with him through email. The following is a transcript of that conversation.

Everyone seems to have a unique entry into the world of gaming, how and when did you begin gaming?

I was first introduced to gaming by my eldest brother who was nine years my senior. We played Monopoly when I was six and I have saved the board from that game. My brother ‘invented’ games that we then played. One game was a naval game played on a huge paper map covered with rectangles and the object was to conquer the central island. By the time I was twelve, this had evolved into a naval war with the map reduced to the size of two A4 sheets. The realism in the game was incredible, forcing players to secretly design a convoy’s course that would detect an enemy convoy while permitting the player to conquer various islands. We had rules that included cast off times for each of the ships, specifications for a variety of ships including carriers, destroyers and liberty ships. There were rules of engagement that determined when a battle would/could occur. (An early form of zones of control.) This was 1962 and hex based war games had not been introduced into the Italian market at this time.

While attending Cambridge (UK) I discovered the Avalon Hill style game; the first being Stalingrad. In Rome, I began playing these games with my friends from the university. (We were a group of researchers in economic policy.) Often we played Caesar at Alesia, France 1940 and the best of all simulations: Flat Top. (Flat Top was first published by Battleline and then by Avalon Hill in 1977.) Flat Top is very well designed and very realistic. My gaming friend Andrea Mancini and I revised the game, preserving the basic rules set and the characteristics of each ship while introducing a balancing factor. We each would have a specific number of points with which to purchase ships and planes, building our unique fleets. This was a war for the Pacific. Believe me, I never had such intense and great fun like playing ‘our’ Flat Top. One game, Andrea and I were able to play for 16 hours. I still have the rules for this game.

How often do you play games?

Unfortunately, not very often. I married very late (at 40 years old) and it was no longer possible to play war simulation games because they required too much time to play. I started collecting and building model ships. First were 1:700 scale and followed later by 1:1.250 metal models produced in Germany. In 1994 I founded a non-profit society named Waterline Italia which in 1996 began printing an amateur magazine (Waterline International) in both Italian and English. In 1997 I created a line of resin kits named Regina Marina. (It continues today but I left the line in 2000.)

Before opening the Risk topic, I would like to know what other games you enjoy. What is your favorite non-Risk game?

I play Settlers of Catan, Bang!, Carcassonne, Wings of War and other minor card games. During the summer I love to play Axis & Allies. I have nearly all of the editions (A&A Europe, Pacific, D-Day, 2004 edition). I discovered A&A very late; when I was writing “The History of Risk and the Missing Link” (published in 2002). The French designer Bruno Faidutti calls A&A the “Super Risk” and he is correct. The latest, the 50th anniversary edition published in 2008, is a superb edition. Unfortunately, from a gaming point of view A&A is a too politically correct (and, of course, this is completely right!) and so with experienced players the Axis will never win. But one can make a few minor changes just to have fun and…. the game is wide open. We usually play A&A without dice and it is more balanced (also Risk can be played without dice…..).
So my alternate favorite game is Axis and Allies.

How were you introduced to Risk?

Risk arrived in Italy quite late. (Note: Risk was originally released in 1957 as La Conquête du Monde and as Risk!, in the US in 1959.) The first two editions, in 1968 and 1973, were not “Risk” but just “La Conquête du Monde”. The first edition of the game by Editrice Giochi was in 1977 and the rules were the ones of Risk with the exception of the dice rule. (Editrice Giochi is the Italian publisher of Risk games.) This edition had the secret missions established by Jean René Vernes in 1970, when Albert Lamorisse was still alive and he approved this change. Risk by Editrice Giochi was immediately successful among university students (the ones that could play it all night!!). So I discovered Risk in the late seventies.

I always thought that the game was too dependent on luck. In 1984-85 my friend Francesco Bottone and his wife Teresa often asked me to play Risk. One night I suggested to them that we try a “Blind” start to balance the luck, etc. I derived this idea from Flat Top and all of the previous games with my brother! In Flat Top each player must make aerial reconnaissance to locate the enemy. I thought that something similar should be done in Risk! So in the middle of eighties we played Blind Risk that we called “Scientific Risk”.
.
A few years later we stopped playing. I was married in 1990 and in August my son Carlo was born: my life changed. In 1993 my daughter Irene was born and suddenly Teresa died while her third son was born! During the summer of 1997, Carlo saw the Risk box and asked: what is this? The following year I resurrected all we made more than 10 years earlier and I started to write the Blind Risk rules. By this time the internet was established and in 1999 Franco discovered the 40Th Anniversary edition of Risk (on the Web). We were astonished by two things: the American dice system and the metal pawns!! We immediately bought 2 boxes in the States and started to play with 2 dice to the defender. (Risk as played in Italy and South America allows the defender 3 dice.)

Do you play in tournaments?

Yes of course! In December 1999 I organized the first “Torneo dell’Immacolata” (The 8th of December) and last year the 9th Tournament of Immacolata took place. In 2004 I started to play “Blind Risk” in a pub in Rome: La Civetta sul Comò (www.asscivetta.it) and we held over 20 tournaments by 2007. In 2008 the official Risiko Club of Rome, “Il Gufo” was founded and I became a member. Il Gufo organizes tournaments and championship play. Usually we play Italian Risk once every two weeks.

Three years ago I started to participate at official tournaments sponsored by the Editrice Giochi organisation. Every year there is a National Championship which has 2 divisions. The first consists of three “Raduni” (national rallies) held in Northern, Central and Southern Italy. Everyone is permitted to participate with the winner going directly to the final event usually held in November.
There are more than 20 officially sanctioned Risk clubs throughout Italy. (The clubs are sanctioned by Editrice Giochi much as Hasbro would sanction clubs in the US.) Each club holds a tournament and each of the winners are invited to the final contest. Finally, some winners of Risiko Digital (on line Risk) are allowed into the event. There are a total of 32 contestants and the winner is the Italian Champion of Risk.

Have you played other versions of Risk?

I have Risk 2210 but never played it because of lack of players. Last year I bought Risk revised edition and I played it with Carlo and other friends. I like it. I think is it an interesting game and plays quicker thanks to the additional armies that players can get. If you play it in the European way (dealing Territory cards) it is more fun.

Have you played the new 2-player version? (Known as 'Balance of Power' or 'The Duel').

Not yet. I just recently discovered this game. I think that I will ask to my German friends at ESG (European Society of Games Collectors) to buy a box for me and send it. Anyway, all European based Risk games are a bit unsatisfactory up to me because the European setting maps lose the first Risk characteristic.

What are the ‘bastard’ versions of Risk?

As you know much better then me, Risk has many children and cousins (as said by Bruno Faidutti many years ago); Axis & Allies being the ‘Super Risk’ (Faidutti). Futurisiko is a son but games such as Castle Risk (Risiko Più in Italy), Risk Edition Napoleon, S.P.Q.R. Risiko etc. are “illegitimate” sons: bastard editions. The reason is very simple. In those games the player cannot go, with one move, from left to right, and vice versa, on the game board. (The map does not wrap around.) In a Risk game with a European map you cannot go west from Spain to Russia or what ever. Lamorisse was a genius because he created the first 3 dimension game in history!! La Terre est ronde! He said. The Earth is round! Think, if when playing Draughts, you could go out from the left-hand upper corner to re-enter from the upper right-hand corner! This would be the 3rd dimension. Risiko Master represents the Death of Risk: one can prepare his own map; the world is over. Of course these bastard editions were made only for commercial purposes.


Have you ever played 'simultaneous' movement in Risk. A version of this appeared in the Risk II computer game. (All players plan their moves in advance, similar to Diplomacy, then the referee (computer) executes them at the same time.)

I know this version because I so much loved the Risk II CD with its wonderful “1812 Overture” written in 1880, by the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikosky, to commemorate Russia's defense of Moscow against Napoleon’s advancing Grand Armée at the Battle of Borodino in 1812.
I played simultaneous movement a couple of times with my son Carlo. It is an interesting variant but it is different from Blind Risk. The “ancestor” of Blind Risk can be found in a variant proposed by Selwyn Ward in 1976 on the magazine Games & Puzzles #50: the initial armies placement by players should be written on a piece of paper and revealed simultaneously. So the start of the game, but only the start, is “blind”.

What is the gaming community like in Italy? What games are popular? Is video gaming popular?

I do not know why, but Italy is still a difficult and “small” market for games, generally speaking.
In the last 20 years there has appeared in the bigger towns what we called “Ludoteche” (Toy library for adults) usually located in pubs: you drink something and you can play games leasing boxes for the evening. There are also some specialized game shops where you can play. Some meetings on games are held and the most famous is “Lucca Games & Comics” (4 days at the end of October with over 100.000 visitors). Groups of game supporters organize them to buy games in Germany or else where. There is also a community of Italian authors that works with small game firms sometimes foreigners. As you know, “War of the Ring” published by NG International was invented by three Italian authors (Roberto Di Meglio, Marco Magi, Francesco Nepitello).
Besides Risk, in Italy we have national championship regarding: Carcassonne, Ticket to ride, Dominion, Settlers of Catan. However, a popular game like El Grande for example, has never been published. I think that video games are well established like in all countries because they are very attractive. But I prefer board games.

Everyone has a 'special' Risk game that they played. What is your best experience and your worst.

My worst experience was last year in June. In a tournament, a player was incredibly lucky with dice so in the second game he took the dice with him from the first game. Another player contested him and accused him of cheating with the dice. They started punching! But the dice in question belonged to a box located in the pub….

My best experience was in 2000: Carlo, 11 years old, was playing Blind Risk in a tournament (that he finally won) with people that were 30 and 40 years older. He simply overturned the game with an unexpected move!! Everybody was astonished. That was beautiful.

What is Risk International?

(Note: The Risk International logo was to appear here but for some reason I cannot upload the photo. The logo includes the gold Napoleonic canon found in the 40th Anniversary of Risk edition.)


“Risk International” is a non profit society founded in 2009. The main goals to achieve are: 1) preserve Risk for young generations as it is a intelligent game which introduces people to probability theory / risk assessment; 2) to create a documentation centre for the Lamorisse game (history, tips, different playing versions around the world, articles and books, etc.); 3) organize, in the long term, a real world championship like the one which exists for Monopoly, Scrabble, Magic or other more recent games.

Of course to establish a World or a European Championship one should solve the problem represented by dice: North America and Europe versus Latin America and Italy. I think that the solution I adopted (3 dice to the defender but abolishing the tie can be a good one).

Another problem is presented by secret missions. The ones adopted by Spartaco Albertarelli in 1993 (the Italian secret missions) and by me in La Conquête du Monde revised are much better than the historic secret missions invented by Jean René Vernes. So, the program of Risk International is a wide program but with the help of American and German Risk fans it can be achieved especially if we establish a network on this program (BGG), I think that Hasbro will finally help us.


Dave, what is your opinion regarding dice and secret missions?

I prefer the 3 dice to the attacker and 2 dice (maximum) to the defender with ties going to the defender. It is significantly more difficult to calculate the ‘odds’ when using this system. I enjoy the ‘upsets’ when the dice are unpredictable.

There have been three versions of the secret missions in the Risk games released in North America. The first, each player received a secret mission prior to the start of the game. These ranged anywhere from conquering and holding specific continents to eliminating one particular color. Though these were fun, I do not believe they were well balanced with some missions much more difficult than others. The second version of missions was introduced with the 2003 edition of the game. In this version players received 4 missions ranging from simple to very difficult. However, after repeated plays, I thought that the different levels were not well balanced either. One player might draw three or four easy missions while another would have to struggle continuously.

The third implementation of the missions was introduced with Black Ops (the newly revised edition of Risk. In the Black Ops version, 8 of the 12 missions are revealed on the board. All players are competing for the same goals. I find that this creates the greatest tension of the various versions and strengthens the cause for eliminating an opponent. For example: if I have completed one of the missions and one or two of my opponents has completed two of the missions, then eliminating one of these opponents will result in my victory. It adds a unique flavor to the game while retaining all of the sweeping confrontation of the classic version.

You authored a book on Risk. To my knowledge this is the only book written on the game. What encouraged you to write the book?

As you know the first book on Monopoly was published in 1974 by Maxine Brady (Strategy and tactics in Monopoly) at Parker Brothers request. Parker Brothers also asked that David Pritchard, British chess writer (1919-2006), editor of “Games & Puzzles” magazine and author of The Encyclopedia of Chess Variants (1994), write a book on Risk. But it was never published.

The Italian Risk National Championship began in 1981. So Sergio Valzania, who was a player attending the Championship, published (in Italy in 1985) the first Risk book: “Strategy and Tactics in Risk”. This book described the Italian version of Risk with the secret missions invented by J.R. Vernes and discussed topics related to these missions.

In 2000 I wrote to Editrice Giochi (the Italian editor of Risk) suggesting to them that they adopt and market Blind Risk: they never answered me. So I decided to complete my research work on Risk history while at the same time present rules for Blind Risk to the gaming community. This research work, which lasted 2 years, was very entertaining and I learned many things about game history and the way to analyze game mechanics by contacting many people on the internet. Finally in 2002 I published, together with Francesco Bottone, The History of Risk and the Missing Link. Chapter 4 of the book is devoted to Blind Risk. In 2007 a book on Risk was published in English language: Total Diplomacy: The Art of winning Risk by E. Honary. This book describes all the psychological aspects/attitudes regarding playing Risk games. The author is British and so he analyzes the European version of Risk, based on secret missions and not on global domination.

It is tough to get hard facts about Risk sales and most other information; how and where did you get your information? How difficult was this endeavor?

Thanks to the internet I knew people all over the world that I will never have the pleasure to meet (they are listed on the “thanks page” in the book, according their residences in Risk Territories! So, for example a person living in France is located in “Western Europe” ). They helped me a lot and by chance I was able to reconstruct some interesting figures. For example, up to 1995 1.5 million Risk boxes were sold in France. 4 million copies of the 40th Anniversary edition were printed. Some figures of Parker Brothers sales were available so when the book was printed in 2002 I concluded that 40 million copies of Risk was an acceptable figure (1959-2000). But this number does not include Risk versions which are not published under Parker/Hasbro copyright. Latin America and Italian editions are not included. A reasonable figure for Italy is something like 4 millions copies (1977-2009) for all kind of boxes and versions produced (the “Risiko brand” as they call it). I guess that in Latin America Risk has had the same circulation as in Italy, but with a much larger population compared to Italy. So Italy is, or has been, in relative terms the largest market for Risk in the world.

The book is only available in Italian, would you provide a short synopsis for those that cannot obtain a copy?

Well some copies are still available writing to riskinternationa@gmail.com . I am reminded that David Pritchard (British Chess writer) and Eric Solomon (the British author of Entropy ) encouraged me to translate the book in English but this is a huge job. (Now I have a suggestion. If you help me together we could make the “definitive” book on Risk, with all the developments of the past ten years that I did not analyze. And, of course, what you called “21st Century Risk”.)

My history if Risk is articulated in 4 chapters:
1) The comparative history of Risk: from La Conquête du Monde to all editions published until 2000. As you know Risk is quite different from La Conquête du Monde by Miro company. Parker experts worked hard for one year before arriving at Risk as we know it. For example it was only in 1963 that the final, official determination of the size of starting armies was settled. (30 armies if there are 4 players, etc.)
2) The structure of the game: tools, peculiarities, fortune and hazard and the big debate: 6 or 5 dice?
3) Variants published in magazines in France, UK, USA, etc. and new editions of Risk
4) The Missing Link: Blind Risk rules (available in English, German and French).


When writing the book, what item surprised you the most?

I reconstructed the evolution of the game working with the patents submitted by Albert Lamorisse (1954 in France and 1955 in UK); the original rules of La Conquête du Monde and all Risk editions published in the States, UK, Germany, Italy etc. I even translated the German rules without having studied German language at school!! All of that has been fascinating. Last year I was able to fill the gaps that I had in 2002. A short time ago I discovered 2 things:
a) in Denmark Risk is marketed with different rules: I still am looking for them!
b) for a short time (1982 I suppose) Parker Risk was marketed in Italy: then it disappeared. I do not know why.

The book is entitled (English version) The Story of Risk and the Missing Link. What is the 'Missing Link'?

In my opinion Blind Risk represents the “first” level of war simulation games. Blind Risk is the ideal link between abstract board games like Risk and war simulation games based on a hex system. Scientists often speak about the “missing link” among apes and human beings; so I suggested a metaphor. The first boxed “blind” game in western countries was “Kriegspiel” invented in 1824 by the Prussian army: that game was strictly “blind”. The trained young officers played Kriegspiel being in two different rooms and with the help of a referee that was able to look at the maps of both of them. When a player could see the “enemy” on his copy of the map, the referee told him. Exactly as in “Flat Top” mentioned above.

Gamers tend to be very critical people. How well was the book received in the gaming community?

Like Phil Orbanes, the great Monopoly expert once said, “serious gamers tend to be conservatives!” So, as you said, gamers are critical people.

In Italy there is an urban legend, invented for commercial purposes, that suggests that the 3 dice defence system was invented by Emilio Ceretti, the founder of Editrice Giochi. (In Risk as played in North America, the defender is allotted 2 dice for defence but wins all ties.) With the huge amount of research required to publish my book, at that time the Board Game Geek was just an infant, I demonstrated that the 3 dice defence system together with the “tie” rule was invented by Jean René Vernes in 1957 to speed up the original Lamorisse game. So, for copyright reasons the legend of Ceretti took place in Italy. Being that players are “conservatives” it is difficult to change their mind. So, players were interested by my book but at the same time, they were too accustomed to the “Italian way” of playing Risk, that I discovered later is in fact the Latin America way too (Argentina, Brazil and Chile adopted the 3 dice defence system).

When I started Blind Risk in a pub in Rome (La Civetta, mentioned above) I adopted a new dice rule (already illustrated in the book): the defender can launch 3 dice but the “tie” rule is abolished. Roman Risk fans liked it and so now La Conquête du Monde revised is played in this way.
I now show you the implications to the game when adopting different dice systems in Risk.

Table I: Loss distribution in 100 dice launchings

In La Conquête du Monde, Risiko (Italy) and War (Brazil) the defender is allowed 3 dice and wins ties. The loss distribution ratio of attack to defense is 190:110 (300 total losses)

In Risk! With the defender allowed only 2 dice and winning ties, the loss distribution ratio of attack to defense is 94:106 (200 total losses).

In La Conquête du Monde revised, the defender is allowed 3 dice but does not win ties. The loss distribution ratio of attack to defense is 110:110 (220 total losses).



In the table above you can see and compare the 2 dice systems, most common method with the solution adopted in La Conquête du Monde revised. In all cases the attacker always can launch 3 dice. In the American system the total losses arise to 200 armies because the defender can launch only 2 dice, regardless the number of armies he has. In Risk the attacker has a little advantage: he claims 47% of total losses, so he has an advantage of 11%. In Italy or Latin America the total losses are 300 armies and the attacker will claim 63.3% of total losses: its disadvantage is 72.7%. This was the system adopted in the original la Conquête du Monde in 1957.

But reading the Lamorisse patent I discovered that he did not include the rule which always assign victory to the defender with tied dice. In the last section of the table we have the result of attacks if we adopt the Lamorisse rule. Over 100 dice launching losses are perfectly equal: 50% each. The total losses being 220 armies (in my book I published the complete table with the results of each of the 100 dice launching. The proportions shown in the table derive from the same 100 dice launching; so they are comparable among them).

I am making an effort in Italy to change the old 3 dice system introducing the Lamorisse rule. This rule is attractive because it allows 3 dice for defending which is important from a psychological point of view. La Conquête revised adopts this system. Finally, with this rule Risk becomes an “equal basis game” in the long run, while being always an “aleatory” game.



In addition to writing the book, you have designed two variant versions of the game. The first was Blind Risk – The Missing Link (published in 2002) and the second is La Conquête du Monde revised (published in 2009). Both variants introduce values to the territories on the map and along with other important changes regarding the mechanism of the play (attack and reinforcements). Having played La Conquête revised, I can attest that it adds considerable strategic complexity without increasing the complexity of the rules (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/42921/la-conquete-du-... )
How was the variant received in the Risk community?


I officially presented La Conquête du Monde revised (LCMr) in April 2009 at the national tournament held in Bologna. This was the first realization of “Risk International.org” and we wanted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Risk in a worthy way. The variant has a very eloquent subtitle: “In honour of Albert-Emmanuel Lamorisse (1922-1970)”, the ingenious mind who invented the game, the father of Risk.

Last year, Winning Moves celebrated the 50th anniversary by publishing a replica of 1959 edition of Risk! The Italian Risk community was quite surprised by the new Pacific-centered map and liked it very much. “Risk International.org” attended the “Lucca Games & Comics” the end of October and LCMr had a warm welcome. I organized a tournament in June and a second one last December. Gamers were satisfied because LCMr plays faster than Italian Risk is more entertaining: one can play it in a more relaxed manner.


How many attempts did you make before you determined the variant was acceptable? Now that it is complete, do you ever feel that you should have done something else? Would you like to make any changes to the game?

I started to think about LCMr in at the end of 2007. In June 2008, I tested the game at a tournament in Rome introducing the new secret missions. Another test was done in Barletta (southern Italy) the national tournament of Italian Risk held in September. In January 2009 I decided to print a new full colour map and I asked the designer Dario Calì (http://www.dariocali.com/ ) to do the art work: the final result was excellent.

I think that the variant works quite well and for the moment I do not plan on introducing significant change to the rules. But there is a last small variant that always fascinated me: the withdrawal of armies from a territory under enemy attack. This variant has been described both by Lew Pulsipher (Britania, Hyborian Risk) in 1979 and by R. Wayne Schmittberger (editor, Games Magazine) in 1992. I think that the inclusion of withdrawal rules would be interesting for hardcore gamers and would ‘complete’ the game.

Of course LCMr has its own variant: Blind – Risk. In this game, secret missions have been eliminated, and all gamers have a same goal to achieve: reaching 105 (or more if you like) Victory Points.

Blind Risk – The Missing Link introduces the ‘fog of war’ to Classical Risk. I was recently introduced to this variant and though it does not increase the complexity of the rules for Risk, the resulting game is a brain burner. It is extremely tense and elevates Risk to the level of a mid-complexity war game.

As I said previously, “Blind” Risk was a home grown variant born in 1984-85. It was resurrect in 1998 when we formalized a rule book that was presented to the game community in 2002 in conjunction with the publication of “The History of Risk”. (I enjoy your expression the “fog of war” which reminds me of the superb documentary film made by Errol Morris in 2003 and screened out of competition at the “Cannes Film Festival” (France). This documentary summarizes in 95 minutes some 20 hours of interview with Robert MacNamara.)

Well, coming back to “Blind” Risk, your metaphor is appropriate because when you start this variant, the game board is completely empty, deserted!! Where are the enemy armies? Having kept secret my Territory cards, how shall I distribute my 30 armies among my territories? Before starting the game, looking at his own Territory cards, one should determine what in Chess is called “the heart of the game”, following the opening. In Blind Risk the heart of the game coincides with the opening, which is the starting deployment on the Strategic Plan.

Table II: STRATEGIC PLAN: Armies secret deployment

Game Turns.........1........2........3........4

Africa
North Africa
Egypt
East Africa
Congo
South Africa
Madagascar

Europe
Iceland
Great Britain
Scandinavia
Ukraine
Northern Europe
Western Europe
Southern Europe

Asia
Kamchatka
Yakutsk
Siberia
Irkutsk
Mongolia
Japan
Ural
Afghanistan
China
Middle East
India
Siam

Australia
Indonesia
New Guinea
Western Australia
Eastern Australia

South America
Venezuela
Brazil
Peru
Argentina




This is a crucial moment: you must make some critical decisions:

a) choosing 2-3 Territories that you cannot defend in the long term placing only 1 army;

b) decide which Continent you would like to conquer first;

c) think about another Continent that you hope to conquer later to win the game.

So you must decide where to concentrate armies hoping that other players did not make an identical choice!! These are the problems that one must face in the few minutes that precede the start of the first attack. With “Blind” Risk, this game reverts to his (Lamorisse’) original concept which is expressed in the 1959 subtitle: the continental game!

50 years later, Blind Risk becomes what you said: a mid complexity war game. A game for adults or for experienced Risk players. I agree completely.

How was this received in the Risk community? (One of our players felt lost during the game – he claimed that it was impossible to know where his opponents were. Everyone else enjoyed the challenge.)
I am interested in what ‘hard core’ war gamers thought of the game.
It appears that there is a flow from classic Risk to La Conquête du Monde revised and then to Blind Risk. Was that your intent?


The experience in Rome, in the wonderful game pub La Civetta from 2004 to 2008, was excellent: 22 tournaments held with some 60 gamers involved. When somebody came to try the new game, in 50% of the cases, he came back to play it again because he enjoyed it. But it is crucial to teach the rules correctly to new people before playing the first time. The game is not complicated but it is unusual indeed!

Italian “hard core” war gamers consider Blind Risk a simplistic game because the game is too short and is not complicated.

Risk is the third most popular commercial game in the world. What do you think is the essence of Risk?

Well after Monopoly I think that there are 2 best sellers Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble so Risk is actually fourth.

I believe that the essence of Risk is a mixture of different things:
a) It has a fantastic evocative power as you play on a “three dimension” World Map that enables you to go from left side to right side of the map board;

b) The game is as easy as Draughts to learn but it is also a complete game; instead of “square” boxes as in Chess or Draughts, Risk adopts irregular and not geometric boxes (the territories) and this was revolutionary 50 years ago;

c) Dice make the game absolutely unpredictable. Western society, our culture has had dice in its blood since the time of the Sumerians 4,000 years ago. The Sumerians invented the “knucklebones” which are the ancestors of dice. Ancient Greeks and Romans played dice all the time.

d) In The game of Goose (invented in Florence (Italy) around 1575) which depends completely on luck, we have 1 die. In Monopoly (1936) we have 2 dice; in Risk we have 3 dice: this was the important contribution of Jean René Vernes made in 1957, who resurrected the 3 dice mechanism found in some games played in the most serene Republic of Venice (Italy), from 697 to 1797. So, for people who enjoy dice, the possibility of launching 3 dice in a modern game was exciting.

How do you respond to the typical complaints that:
i) Risk is too long
ii) There is too much luck
iii) It is too nasty?


i) Once Eric Solomon (Black Box) said that Risk was a wonderful game but had a “non finishing / ending syndrome”. He was correct and this characteristic derived from the peculiar mechanism of increasing number of armies that you can get with card sets as the game progresses. But this problem is easily solved: in La Conquête du Monde revised you can have only two combinations for card sets: 8 armies or 10 armies depending on the set cards you collect. The final solution, for controlling the duration of play, is to establish a time limit for the game: i.e. 90 minutes or less and determine a mechanism to end the game. A benefit of the victory point system is that when time has expired it is always possible to decide who has won. For example, you can establish that one must reach 105 victory points to reach a strategic victory before time expires. Otherwise a tactical victory (with less points) is reached after the time has expired. Rules for time expiration must be established before playing.

Table III : Victory Points

9 points
South Europe
Ukraine
North Africa

8 points
Middle East

6 points
Afghanistan
Kamchatka
China
Egypt
Ontario

5 points
North Europe
West Europe
Ural
Siberia
Mongolia
Greenland
East Africa
Brazil

4 points
Alaska
Cent.America
Easter US
Western US
Alberta
Nor. W. Terr.
Indonesia
East Austral.
India
Irkutsk
Siam
Scandinavia
Great Britain
Iceland
Argentina
Venezuela

3 points
Congo
South Africa
Yakutsk
Peru
West Austr.
New Guinea
Quebec

2 points
Japan
Madagascar

On table 3 you can see that the full value of the map board is 194 victory points.
Finally, there are many ways to shorten the game.

ii) + iii) It is true, there is much luck in the game. If one does not like dice, it is better to play a different game. Risk can also be played without dice with a few simple rule changes. However, in this way Risk becomes a draughts game played on a world-draught-board.
All the changes I have injected on classic Risk have the purpose of decreasing the intensity of luck and allowing the game to be more balanced but still unpredictable.

In the following table you can see what I mean with the expression “Intensity of hazard (luck)”. In Risk there are 6 aspects that describe the different possible ways of playing the game:
a) dealing or not dealing cards;
b) secret missions or not;
c) card set values;
d) dice or no dice;
e) 2 vrs.3 dice to defender;
f) end of the game influenced, or not, by the combination between dealing territory cards versus secret mission.

Table 4:
Comparison of different Risk editions:the hazard degree



Risk (U.S.)
Category - 3
Territory Cards - No
Missions - No
Card Sets - Yes
Dice - Yes
Dice Influence - No
End Game - No

Intensity of Hazard - 2


Risk (Europe)
Category - 4
Territory Cards - Yes
Missions - Yes
Card Sets - Yes
Dice - Yes
Dice Influence - No
End Game - Yes

Intensity of Hazard - 5


Risk (Italy)
Category - 4
Territory Cards - Yes
Missions - Yes
Card Sets - Yes
Dice - Yes
Dice Influence - Yes
End Game - Yes

Intensity of Hazard - 6


War (Brazil)
Category - 4
Territory Cards - Yes
Missions - Yes
Card Sets - Yes
Dice - Yes
Dice Influence - Yes
End Game - Yes

Intensity of Hazard - 6

Blind Risk
Category - 4
Territory Cards - Yes
Missions - No
Card Sets - Yes
Dice - Yes
Dice Influence - No
End Game - No

Intensity of Hazard - 3


Blind* Risk (No dice are used in Blind* Risk)
Category - 4
Territory Cards - Yes
Missions - No
Card Sets - Yes
Dice - No
Dice Influence - No
End Game - No

Intensity of Hazard - 2


LCMr
Category - 4
Territory Cards - Yes
Missions - Yes
Card Sets - Yes
Dice - Yes
Dice Influence - No
End Game - Yes

Intensity of Hazard - 5


Category 3 regards games with complete information between hazard and combinatorial analysis;
Category 4 regards games with imperfect information: this is the case of secret missions
or dealing Territory cards, see M. Boutin: Le livre des Jeux de pions, Bornemann 1999, France.


As you can see American Risk has a very small intensity of luck. Italian Risk has the highest score. The meaning of table (originally published in my Risk book) corresponds very well to what was recently said by Heinrich Hüntelmann of Ravensburger, Europe's largest game company, at the Essen toy fair (Germany): “Gaming is a very cultural thing. A country's games culture reflects national stereotypes with remarkable precision. The US mass market demands games with few rules that can be explained very quickly to children. When we sell games to Italy, they must have more luck involved, so you don't have to think as much. It has to be fast. Italians don't tend to sit around the table for hours. In the UK, we always need a character who has been on TV; the game mechanics don't matter, as long as the character is there. Finally, Germans like strategic games: the more rules there are, the more we like it”.


In a typical game of Risk, in our gaming group, after a few turns players are always making suggestions as to strategy others should follow (usually to their own benefit), many are standing during play and the games grow quite loud. This occurred in both La Conquête du Monde revised and Blind Risk; it simply took longer for the phenomenon to occur. How do you feel about ‘table talk’?

Well, if you are playing in a tournament it should be forbidden to comment or to criticize rival’s movements. Among friends comments just are a portion of the gaming evening! You cannot stop it and sometimes one tries to make you nervous! It is much better having comments than playing a video game alone and silent. Anyway I prefer comments once the game is over. Usually after a game we discuss for … half an hour.

What are your plans for the future?

I hope to establish a network devoted to organizing a true World or European Risk Championship. Assistance from American and German Risk fans is requested. Board Game Geek is an especially helpful tool in this endeavour.

If someone is interested in either of your variants or would like more information, how can they contact you?

I will be pleased to answer to any question if gamers write me to: riskinternational@gmail.com Remember, rules for the two variant versions of Risk are available on the web site: www.riskinternational.org

Thank you for the time, the information and the work you have done to expand the Risk community and make the game more enjoyable for all.

Link to the BGG entry for La Conquete du Monde revised is:

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgameexpansion/42921/la-conquet...
6 
 Thumb up
2.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Moshe Callen
Israel
Jerusalem
flag msg tools
designer
ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
badge
μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
mbmbmbmbmb
Um, so who is this guy being interviewed?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrea Angiolino
Italy
Rome
European Union
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
The author of this book



and of La Conquête du Monde revised

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.