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Subject: Why I like this game but not as much as most others in the series rss

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Moshe Callen
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1. Introduction

This is intended as the last in my series of reviews of the Risk-series of games.
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This games actually has existed longer than a number of the others I have reviewed but it is to me the most recent. My reasons for excluding the other games from my collection (and hence from the number of games I feel comfortable reviewing) is purely a matter of my preferences when buying new games and also explains my ambivalence about the game and my long delay in purchasing it. In short, when I purchase a game, I want it to be different enough from games I already have that I could not just adapt games I have or add things onto them to play the same game more or less. This perhaps is why I fundamentally dislike expansions in the main. Yet, this game is fundamentally just the original classic Risk expanded-- as I knew when buying it.

So, one may well ask: why did I buy it? In essence, it comes down to two things. First, as a fan of this series with most games in it, I trust the Risk series to be generally good quality games, and second enough is different about this game that I was willing to see if it was what I would call a fundamentally different game. Having purchased and played the game a fair number of times, albeit not as often as other games in the series, my conclusion is the classic wargamer's dichotomy of strategy vs. tactics. Of course, since these terms mean very different things to different people, I will elaborate. The strategy of the game-- what overall each player is trying to do-- is very much the same as in the original Risk. Even the five-turn limit does not change this because with competent players a classic Risk game will be actually over or all but over in five rounds. The tactics by which one achieves those strategic ends are quite different. The changes to the board and indeed the addition of a secondary board are in my experience interesting but really not that big of a deal; frankly, I would much prefer it were they in fact a bigger deal.

That last statement goes to what I like about games in general, particularly those in this series and my specific attitudes toward this game. In many ways, I am a minimalist. As I tried to get across in the previous review of classic Risk, that game elegantly develops to its natural conclusion the characteristic combat system of this series and a card system which incrementally increases in such a manner so as both to facilitate rapid destruction of all opposition and to create the need to inflict such destruction lest one become one's self the target of it. With the exception of Risk: Godstorm, all the games in this series previously reviewed likewise are streamlined games well suited to their strategic ends which are fundamentally new and different with each game. To my viewpoint, Risk Godstorm is simply classic Risk re-themed and expanded. The same is true of this game. Yet, in both cases, the potential is there in the game for basic strategic differences, had the designers chosen to develop it. Consequently, this will never be one of my favorite games per se.

Yet, in spite of these reservation about the game, it easily passes the crucial test; I have a lot of fun playing it. Since I like the original, that's to be expected. This begs the question which each person need answer for himself; ought I buy this game? If one likes the original game of this series and prefers tactics over strategy, then I would unequivocably recommend yes. If one prefers strategy over tactics as I do, maybe not, but then again this maybe a case to make an exception as I did.

Am I glad I made the purchase? On the whole, yes. Admittedly, I might try some variants to tweak the strategic position, but I will and do happily play the game as is.
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One may well understand that this review does not treat the numerous expansions nor do I intend to do so in future.


2. Components

I purchased my copy from Amazon which advertised it as "revised" so that I thought it was a form of this game made to include Risk (Revised Edition); I was mistaken but I think this mistake is solely responsible for the decidedly mixed quality of the game's components. A good overview of the components can be seen here.
The principal board is of high quality as are the army units
(which notably come in only 5 colors, not 6) and commanders.
I specify the edition I purchased and where I got it because I know definitely that other copies are better quality. For example, the rules-booklet I have looks like bad photocopies stapled together and the devastation markers,
energy counters,
turn-order markers,
moon board,
and reference chart
are of thin cardboard comparable to a cereal box but unlike GMT games of which the same might be said these are inclined to tear easily. The reference chart was not even properly perforated from the cardboard to which it came attached. Unlike the large box edition
, my set came with nothing to keep components in-- not even plastic bags. Thus I recommend only against the edition I got; stay away from Amazon's revised edition. It's not Revised, and it's made on the cheap. Other editions do not to my knowledge have these problems. Nevertheless, all the components are there and the cards are of good quality-- both territory cards
and command cards.


3. Overview of rules and game-play

The game is essentially classic Risk expanded but also explicitly limited to five rounds; however, as stated in previous reviews in this series any component set of players of classic Risk will have finished the game or all but done so in five rounds anyway so that this makes little practical difference. Players start the game with three units of energy each and initially only the land territories of the main board are occupied. Water territories and the moon start empty, although they will be occupied during the game. Four land territories will not be and are designated with devastation markers from the beginning. Territory cards are not drawn at the end of a turn but are used as needed with command cards. No decks are re-shuffled when exhausted. Players also start with one space station each.

Energy is used to bid for turn order and buy command cards, as well as to play them. One earns energy and units in the same way-- the familiar dviide territories by three and drop remainders rule. Command cards will sometimes however give energy or unit bonuses, the latter both offensively and defensively. The major problem with this system is that it does not offer any mechanism to combat a run-away leader. In classic Risk, the incrementally increasing values of sets of Risk cards does this, but this game lacks that. True, one technically plays for VPs which some cards provide, but the overwhelming majority of VPs are earned for territories and regions held at the end of round five.

To play or use command cards, one needs the appropriate type of commander in play. These also have advantages in attack and/or defense-- such as allowing one to use a d8 in lieu of a d6. Space stations do the same. This makes commanders and space stations (which also garner an extra army at the start of one's turn) prime targets, albeit not necessarily easy ones. Commanders also are needed to conduct any attacks outside of the main board's land territories. A naval commander is needed to attack or attack from water territories. To attack territories on the moon, one needs a space commander in play, even from other lunar territories. From Earth, lunar territories can only be attacked from a space station, and only a single command card allows one to attack from the moon to earth-- the main board-- but even then only at one randomly drawn territory for a single turn.

Here I think the designers missed a great opportunity. Restricting the ability to attack between the moon and earth is an excellent idea, but I think the game would be more interesting if a player with a space station (which I would prefer to use on the moon as well) and a space commander in play could attack any earth territory just as uch a player could attack any lunar territory.

Another such lost opportunity is the nuclear command cards. More often than not, these provide only chaos; apparently the designers never heard of tactical nuclear warheads because targets are almost always random.

So why do i still like the game? Frankly, it's not as good as the original classic Risk, but it has enough in common with it to make this a basically fun game. The tactics are different.

edit: typos (thanks nom_)
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Nice review. I own the game but haven't had a chance to play it yet.

I agree with you about the lousy quality of the manual and some of the components. The rules were clearly designed to be seen in color, and as such look really bad in B&W. As a customer paying a premium price for a boardgame, I expect a nice glossy rule manual in color, especially from a big company like Hasbro! (A small start-up self-published game, I might give a break).

I think the first printing they did of the game was in a bigger box, and had better quality moon board, energy tokens, etc. But after that they moved to the small box and the crappy cereal-box quality components. I think this is what the "revised edition" means that you were referring to.
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JohnnyDollar wrote:
...The rules were clearly designed to be seen in color, and as such look really bad in B&W.

I think the first printing they did of the game was in a bigger box, and had better quality moon board, energy tokens, etc.


I've got the original larger box version, and the rules were B&W in it as well. It doesn't look like a photocopy, though. It's good quality B&W printing.
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Sphere wrote:
JohnnyDollar wrote:
...The rules were clearly designed to be seen in color, and as such look really bad in B&W.

I think the first printing they did of the game was in a bigger box, and had better quality moon board, energy tokens, etc.


I've got the original larger box version, and the rules were B&W in it as well. It doesn't look like a photocopy, though. It's good quality B&W printing.


That's interesting. The cover of the rules are a reproduction of the box front, which looks awful in B&W, I can't imagine the graphic designer would've intended such a presentation. The back is also barely legible. Must've been a last-minute cost-cutting decision related to the first printing, and was never changed.

Out of curiosity I checked my 1980s Risk rules, and they're mostly B&W with some red highlights - but the difference is, they were designed with that in mind. Any illustrations are line drawings.
Risk: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Edition did a much more admirable job than Risk 2210 with their rules manual, full color and glossy.
And, surprisingly, the other Avalon Hill/Hasbro square box game I have (Nexus Ops) has a wonderful and effective color rule book, so it's a strange inconsistency within the company & game line.
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JohnnyDollar wrote:
That's interesting. The cover of the rules are a reproduction of the box front, which looks awful in B&W, I can't imagine the graphic designer would've intended such a presentation. The back is also barely legible. Must've been a last-minute cost-cutting decision related to the first printing, and was never changed.


The B&W rules in my copy look just fine. I'd say they are comparable quality to my MB GameMaster series rules for Axis & Allies, which are also B&W.

I'm assuming from your comments and Moshe's that the reprint rules are worse quality than my originals. I have no idea how you can determine the graphic designer's intent from a muddied copy.
 
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Sphere wrote:
JohnnyDollar wrote:
That's interesting. The cover of the rules are a reproduction of the box front, which looks awful in B&W, I can't imagine the graphic designer would've intended such a presentation. The back is also barely legible. Must've been a last-minute cost-cutting decision related to the first printing, and was never changed.


The B&W rules in my copy look just fine. I'd say they are comparable quality to my MB GameMaster series rules for Axis & Allies, which are also B&W.

I'm assuming from your comments and Moshe's that the reprint rules are worse quality than my originals. I have no idea how you can determine the graphic designer's intent from a muddied copy.

I thought the original was full color too but merely because the rulesLOOK like a b&w photocopy of a full-color original.
 
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I have difficulty understanding how you can rank the classic version above this worthy facelift. While still being Risk at heart, 2210 fixes what I found most distressing about the classic game, and adds additional interesting elements:

1) The five turn limit fixes the way the original game unfolded - effectively no more player elimination or extra long playing times;

2) No more card generated army reinforcements with the attendant wrist-wracking dice fests as increasingly huge armies clashed using a combat system that only allows max two casualties per combat round;

3) Adding the moon, and undersea colonies - great ideas allowing far more fluidity of manoeuvre;

4) Combat Commanders/cards - more great ideas;

5) Finely sculpted figs versus jelly beans.

No contest in my mind. Risk was a game I thought I had left for good in my teens, until I discovered this excellent remake...
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Bubslug wrote:
I have difficulty understanding how you can rank the classic version above this worthy facelift. While still being Risk at heart, 2210 fixes what I found most distressing about the classic game, and adds additional interesting elements:

1) The five turn limit fixes the way the original game unfolded - effectively no more player elimination or extra long playing times;

2) No more card generated army reinforcements with the attendant wrist-wracking dice fests as increasingly huge armies clashed using a combat system that only allows max two casualties per combat round;

3) Adding the moon, and undersea colonies - great ideas allowing far more fluidity of manoeuvre;

4) Combat Commanders/cards - more great ideas;

5) Finely sculpted figs versus jelly beans.

No contest in my mind. Risk was a game I thought I had left for good in my teens, until I discovered this excellent remake...


1. Player elimination is a good thing.
2. If in 5 turns more than one player has not been eliminated, you're not actually playing to win.
3. As noted tthis game has a run-away leader problem that doesn't exist in the original (assuming people play to win) because large masses of troops are available to anyone with the card set. In this, cards go more to the run-away leader. As a run-away leader, I've exhausted decks purely to keep them from other players.
4. Yes, as stated, I like the idea of the moon and the underseas colonies but think they could have been developed more.
 
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they made a PS1 version of risk that had a solution to that run away leader problem. Basically.... less troops. you get enough to know you got some, but not an entire f'ing army.
 
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whac3 wrote:

3. As noted tthis game has a run-away leader problem that doesn't exist in the original (assuming people play to win) because large masses of troops are available to anyone with the card set. In this, cards go more to the run-away leader. As a run-away leader, I've exhausted decks purely to keep them from other players.


In case someone does become a "run-away" leader (which I have never seen happen before the last year), if the other players all gang up on him there's not much he can do about it. I have played many games of 2210 with good players and find it very rare for someone to win by a large margin. Part of the strategy, especially in 2210, is maintaining a balance of power throughout the game.
 
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Well, the "run away leader" only comes about because of the way the card turn in rules work. When you get eliminated, the player who eliminatd you gets your cards and can turn them in for more units. Thus potentially giving them enough to take out someone else. This is mainly an issue because of the way the card turn-ins have an increasing effect. If you turn in for 20 units the next guy will turn in for 25 etc.... this continues until only one player is left standing.

Some versions have a different system that gives mods based on the combination of symbols on the cards you turn in. Each card has a pcture of one of the kinds of unit on it. The combinations are kinda similar to poker hands. The main thing is that the value of turn-ins never goes up. Killing some one off for their cards gives you a bonus but it's relatively small compared to the regular way of doing it.
 
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marhawkman wrote:
Well, the "run away leader" only comes about because of the way the card turn in rules work. When you get eliminated, the player who eliminatd you gets your cards and can turn them in for more units. Thus potentially giving them enough to take out someone else. This is mainly an issue because of the way the card turn-ins have an increasing effect. If you turn in for 20 units the next guy will turn in for 25 etc.... this continues until only one player is left standing.

Some versions have a different system that gives mods based on the combination of symbols on the cards you turn in. Each card has a pcture of one of the kinds of unit on it. The combinations are kinda similar to poker hands. The main thing is that the value of turn-ins never goes up. Killing some one off for their cards gives you a bonus but it's relatively small compared to the regular way of doing it.

Um, sorry, no. You have the wrong game. That's Risk, not this game.

edit: I could tell you why I think your statement is incorrect about that game too but why bother here?
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*rereads review* I see where you stated above that the card turn in was somehow a balancing factor.... I don't see it. It created anarchy more than anything else. And half the time if you were on the losing end you'd lose the next turn anyways. Oh and player elimination made it worse by giving players who are already ahead even more cards to get more troops with. So no I did not like the card turn in system at all.

Truth be told, 2210 was the first version of Risk I ever played. the first time I played the original my first thought about card turn-in was how horribly it unbalances the game.
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marhawkman wrote:
*rereads review* I see where you stated above that the card turn in was somehow a balancing factor.... I don't see it. It created anarchy more than anything else. And half the time if you were on the losing end you'd lose the next turn anyways. Oh and player elimination made it worse by giving players who are already ahead even more cards to get more troops with. So no I did not like the card turn in system at all.

Truth be told, 2210 was the first version of Risk I ever played. the first time I played the original my first thought about card turn-in was how horribly it unbalances the game.

That suggests that perhaps my view like your own is an artifice of how I came ot the game. I play the original first. Once one learns the system, the card system in the original has very much a leveling effect-- precisely because of the danger of someone conquering you and taking your cards so that you are forced to minimize this risk.
 
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My experience is that it can't do that in multiplayer games because once you're weakened you usually get steamrolled by someone else....
 
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marhawkman wrote:
My experience is that it can't do that in multiplayer games because once you're weakened you usually get steamrolled by someone else....

I've been playing for about 30 years and that is not at all my experience. I'm not saying coming from behind is easy but it's not uncommon. Basically, most games between competent players whittle down to two or three players [from six] by round four, five at latest. More often than not, one player is ahead but either not by too much or such that he isvulnerableto the other two players. If so, the card system is ideal for counter-attacks. If not, then the weaker players need crush the other weaker player to even things out and hopefully take some cards and then proceed as normal on a level field. The leading player specifically needs attack the next strongest player.
 
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??? I have to agree with the others, you seem to have this rule confused with other versions of Risk. In 2210 you do NOT collect cards to turn in for bonus armies and you do NOT take a players cards when they are eliminated. You might have been playing 2210 with classic risk rules (there is a separate set of rules included for players who want to play basic risk using the 2210 board). It really sounds like you were not playing Risk 2210, you were playing classic Risk using the 2210 board. - Totally different game.
 
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moonglum01 wrote:
??? I have to agree with the others, you seem to have this rule confused with other versions of Risk. In 2210 you do NOT collect cards to turn in for bonus armies and you do NOT take a players cards when they are eliminated. You might have been playing 2210 with classic risk rules (there is a separate set of rules included for players who want to play basic risk using the 2210 board). It really sounds like you were not playing Risk 2210, you were playing classic Risk using the 2210 board. - Totally different game.

I know. You misunderstood what I wrote. You do use cards to get armies, but not via sets.
 
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That was a reply to the post from that other guy. His understanding of the game appeared to be confused.
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moonglum01 wrote:
That was a reply to the post from that other guy. His understanding of the game appeared to be confused.
My apologies.
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Do you have to end the game after 5 rounds?

I understand it is in the rules, but couldn't you just ignore/houserule it and play to last man standing?

Or is there something in the way the game is set up that keeps this from working?
 
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akinfantryman wrote:
Do you have to end the game after 5 rounds?

I understand it is in the rules, but couldn't you just ignore/houserule it and play to last man standing?

Or is there something in the way the game is set up that keeps this from working?
Personally I think that's an improvement. The main difficulty is that the original game's ever increasing value of card sets forces the game to end. If I ghet 30 armies at the start of my turn, I'm going to wash across the board like a wave destroying everything in my path. This game would have a marked tendency for never quite having enough armies to do that.

One could of course use the extended board and just play it as the original with a larger board and leaders.
 
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whac3 wrote:
akinfantryman wrote:
Do you have to end the game after 5 rounds?

I understand it is in the rules, but couldn't you just ignore/houserule it and play to last man standing?

Or is there something in the way the game is set up that keeps this from working?
Personally I think that's an improvement. The main difficulty is that the original game's ever increasing value of card sets forces the game to end. If I ghet 30 armies at the start of my turn, I'm going to wash across the board like a wave destroying everything in my path. This game would have a marked tendency for never quite having enough armies to do that.

One could of course use the extended board and just play it as the original with a larger board and leaders.

Mmmmm...good point.
You know risk very well.

Still, I'm an impulsive variant-er. I could change things....there isn't any game mechanic that requires the 5 round limit, is there?
 
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akinfantryman wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Personally I think that's an improvement. The main difficulty is that the original game's ever increasing value of card sets forces the game to end. If I ghet 30 armies at the start of my turn, I'm going to wash across the board like a wave destroying everything in my path. This game would have a marked tendency for never quite having enough armies to do that.

One could of course use the extended board and just play it as the original with a larger board and leaders.

Mmmmm...good point.
You know risk very well.
Thanks! blush
Quote:


Still, I'm an impulsive variant-er. I could change things....there isn't any game mechanic that requires the 5 round limit, is there?

Not that I'm aware of.
 
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akinfantryman wrote:
whac3 wrote:
akinfantryman wrote:
Do you have to end the game after 5 rounds?

I understand it is in the rules, but couldn't you just ignore/houserule it and play to last man standing?

Or is there something in the way the game is set up that keeps this from working?
Personally I think that's an improvement. The main difficulty is that the original game's ever increasing value of card sets forces the game to end. If I ghet 30 armies at the start of my turn, I'm going to wash across the board like a wave destroying everything in my path. This game would have a marked tendency for never quite having enough armies to do that.

One could of course use the extended board and just play it as the original with a larger board and leaders.

Mmmmm...good point.
You know risk very well.

Still, I'm an impulsive variant-er. I could change things....there isn't any game mechanic that requires the 5 round limit, is there?
Enh, he only seems to like vanilla Risk...

Anyways, The command card system kinda needs it, because as-written there is no rule for reshuffling the decks. As-is situations will arise where one of the more popular decks, often land, will get completely expended in only 5 rounds.

But realistically, it's a way to avoid deadlocks. Vanilla Risk tended to degenerate into utter chaos once players started doing massive card turn-ins. But even with the chaos it might take a long time. Especially in a 5-player game where you had more than one player who played defensively.

Initiative bidding plays into this because you may or may not want to go first in a given round. If you're ready to bum rush someone, you don't want others to get a chance to attack you first.
 
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