Bah, these kids these days with their fancy iPhones, Playstation Portables, and next-generation gaming consoles… they’re just so darn spoiled. Back when I was a kid (before we got an Atari), if we wanted some multiplayer gaming action, we’d usually have to pull out a chair, and reach up in the closet for a board game. I don’t know if they were called board games because the playing surface was flat and stiff, or if you only played these when you were completely “bored” with every other toy you had.
Nevertheless, I spent many a rainy day and family gathering racing to the finish in a game of Life or trying to amass crazy loot in the depression-era classic, Monopoly (personally nicknamed “Monotony”). As I got older and eventually got board, I mean bored, with the “classics” I tried to move onto more adult games like Axis and Allies and Risk. I hated both because they seemed like too much work. Like a game of chess, the winner was usually the one who could think several moves ahead and also realize what the other players were up to and either thwart or integrate their plans into their own to win. So I gave up on playing Risk through my high school and college years and never touched the game until earlier this year. A friend of mine pulled out a 1980’s version of Risk and encouraged me and another friend to suffer through a game. You know what? I actually enjoyed it. Maybe my adolescent ADD has subsided a bit or perhaps having matured a bit I actually like giving the old gray matter a workout.
I didn’t win at first, but I enjoyed playing enough that I was the one who suggested playing Risk the next time we were all together. By the third of fourth game I was pouring over the Risk manual and looking for any additional clues, rules, or strategies that would help me defeat my enemies, I mean friends! I discovered that near the back of the manual, there were rules for advanced play… rules that would actually help speed up the game too (one of the main complaints from non-Risk afficianados). If you’ve decided Risk is not your cup of tea because it’s too complicated, well, I can’t help you much. If however, you’re afraid to start a game for fear that you’ll be swearing at your best friend over a land dispute in Asia at 2 AM, I recommend incorporating a few rule variations and game-play adaptions which I will describe over the next few posts.
The Commander Roll
Every group of 2 or more soldiers that goes into battle usually has a commander somewhere that has ordered them to do so. In most armies, there can be only one Commander and he can only be at any one place at any given time. I’d like to think that having the Commander right there with you at a particular skirmish would help you deliver a more decisive defeat, and that’s exactly what the Commander Roll does! Only once per turn, during a battle for a territory, after you’ve rolled your Attack dice and before your opponent has rolled their defense dice, you can call “Commander Roll” and change one of your dice (usually the lowest roll) to an automatic 6! It’s a great tactic for when you absolutely have to take over a neighboring territory and you just rolled triple ones.