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Introducing Risk Board Game

March 7th, 2021

Many consider Risk the first mainstream war board game, simple and fascinating enough to attract the attention of a wider audience than previous war games of military simulation. In this strategy board game, each player tries to win battles and conquer countries in order to increase his power and to finally conquer the world. The game board used for Risk is a simplified map of the world, consisting of 42 territories.

Origins of the Risk board game

The history of Risk began in 1950s, when a French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse created the board game called “Conquest of the World”. In the time, the game was revolutionary, because it involved non-linear movement. As for most successful games, the rules of the game were fairly easy to learn, but difficult strategies could be developed for winning. The wider audience got to know the game thanks to the Parker brothers who published the game in 1959 with slight modifications under the name of Risk.

Gameplay basics

The world map used to play Risk groups the 42 territories into different continents and by controlling an entire continent, a player can become stronger by gaining extra troops. Just like in a real war, the players have to attack their opponents’ territories and defend their own in order to conquer the world. The outcome of battles in Risk board game is determined by rolling dice, so there is an element of luck included, just like in the real battles. But as in the real battles, a greater army has an advantage.

The classic version of Risk uses miniature soldiers, cavaliers and cannons to represent armies of different sizes, but in the recent year 2008 version, they have been replaced with more generic arrow figures to bring the game closer to the contemporary world. Different army types exist only in some special editions of Risk, but not in the classic version.

It’s the flexibility of the game that has made the Risk board game one of the most popular war board games: the tactics for winning of one player can be very different from those of other players. The problem of many war board games is that the power of the strongest player increases exponentially and others can do nothing to stop him. In Risk, negotiating and finding allies is a rather important part of the game. By uniting their forces against a player who possesses an entire continent, other players can conquer a territory from this continent to weaken him and to prolong the game.

Many variations

There are many different ways to play the classic Risk board came. For a shorter game, players have to accomplish a mission to win the game. These missions include conquering certain continents or eliminating another player. For the longer game version, the winner has to conquer the entire world. Another variation called Capital Risk is included in the official rulebook, where each player has to secretly choose a capital. To win the game, one has to capture a certain number of capitals. The universal form of the game board and the existence of different gaming pieces have also given war board game enthusiast ideas to develop their own versions of Risk. Different third-party rulesets go from slight modifications of the game, like new types of warfare, to completely different scenarios like a zombie attack on the planet.

Being one of the best selling war board games, Risk has many special editions. Risk: the Lord of the Rings is played on the map of the Middle Earth and includes “light” and “dark” armies. Risk: 2210 is an award-winning futuristic version, that includes special leader figures and randomly-placed natural disasters. Risk: Reinvention or Risk Factor includes cities, capitals and new types of missions. The last version mentioned was released just in 2009 so fifty years after it’s creation, Risk is a war board game still going strong.

Board Games on the iPad

February 7th, 2021

The Apple iPad is an incredible device that’s making waves in board gaming communities the world over, but why? What do traditional board games have to do with the iPad? Can physical games with lots of pieces faithfully be converted to a small touch screen device? Are they any areas in which the iPad is actually better than the physical board game?

Despite what many hardcore board game enthusiasts may want to believe, the iPad is actually a great addition to the wardrobe full of bits and pieces, “real life” physical board games. But it will never replace the physical ones – just as it will never replace the experience of gathering around a table with 4 friends.

The size of the screen, for the time being, is the primary limitation on the iPad gaming experience – yet the size is also an advantage. For instance, the combination of the iPad, iPhone, and Nintendo DS have utterly destroyed the “travel” game industry. No longer are we forced to play monopoly with tiny pieces that get lost down the back of the seat! Long trips with the children are a whole lot easier, now. The small screen does mean however that it is not particularly suited to being placed in the center of a large table and sat around. An impressive attempt at small-scale coffee table gaming was by Days of Wonder’s “Small World” board game app, which includes a coffee table mode as well as the standard “pass and play” modes. In coffee table mode, the iPad would detect that it is laying horizontally on a tabletop and automatically keep the board in a fixed position, with each players interface area kept on the appropriate side of the screen. However, this style of play was limited to 2 players, as the interface elements for more than 2 players simply couldn’t fit on the screen. The “pass and play” mode is standard to nearly every board game conversion for the iPad yet, allowing for more players by passing the device around. Indeed, “pass and play” is the only mode possible when games include some element of secrecy regarding players cards – using the iPad to play Poker with a friend sitting opposite you simply isn’t possible with just one device. Obviously, with more than one iPad, we can achieve a somewhat similar experience in terms of gameplay, but the social interaction would plummet – each player may as well be staring at a computer screen.

Which bring us to our next point, one in which iPads really win over on physical board games – the fact that physical games require physical players. A weekly gaming session is difficult at best to organise – scheduling conflicts, gaming preferences – can sometimes lead to an unsatisfactory gaming get-together. With an internet connection, and iPad though – you can potentially be playing with people all over the world who want to play the same game as you, at the same time that is convenient to you. Of course, the social interactions aren’t the same, but the gaming experience generally is. Carcassonne is possibly the best example yet of internet gaming done right on the iPad. When you select to play an internet game, the app doesn’t ask you for usernames, passwords, to choose a game lobby or server – it just goes out to find you an opponent and gives you an estimated time. Most iPad board game conversions sadly have yet to include an internet gaming option.

So far we’ve only talked about how the iPad can replace the physical versions, but I think they can also co-exist and in fact complement them. As I said, getting a gaming group together can be difficult, so taking time to explain a new game and give it a run through before playing “for serious” is time consuming and wasteful. The iPad is a great way to practice before the real social game, to make sure you fully understand the rules and have an idea of strategies that might be played against you. And even if you have some real life experience of the rules, the iPad is a great way to discover new play styles that you might never have seen before – remember that most of the board games apps have AI routines developed by the board game creators themselves, so they usually know a trick or two that your friends might not.

The iPad can also complement the real board game even during those social gaming sessions. Scoring points, for instance, has traditionally been a rather tedious but necessary part of board games – not so with the iPad. “Agricola”, game in which players attempt to create the best farm, is a great example of this. At the end of the game, points are scored according to the size of your house, the material it is made of, the number of family members, how many fields you have managed to create… all in, there are about 15 different metrics you must check on a scoring table for. The Agricola companion app makes it easy to calculate everyone’s score by walking you through each metric and giving you a simply “number dial” element to easily input it all. The app then calculates it according to the built-in scoring tables, makes a total, then shows the results and overall winner. It even stores player data (including a photograph), and you can save every game result as well as where the game was played!

But perhaps most importantly, the iPad opens up the board gaming hoping to so many more people. It has to be said that most designer board games are generally cost prohibitive – without a personal recommendation from a friend, it’s hard to lay down $70-$100 for a board game that you’ve never heard of. Monopoly is the complete opposite of designer board games – it’s known by everyone, and the game play is relatively non-compelling. Designer board games however are known by so few, yet their game play is often magnitudes more interesting than anything in your typical high street retailer. So personally, I love the fact that more people will get to know the board games I love, through the iPad.