A Weekend of Risk Legacy

2015, Jan 19    

We’re on the fourth game of Risk Legacy this weekend, and we’re a little tired, but we can’t stop, because this game is amazing, and we need all five of us to be in one place before we can play it. Simon has the benefit of placing his troops after me, so he can see what I’m up to. I place my HQ near a city in Australia, which I’m hoping to capture, along with the continent, to set myself up early. There is an advantage to be gained here, he realises. He swoops.

“Well, I have four nukes,” he says, indicating the number of wins he has on the board, “So I’m going to place… Here -”, he puts his HQ on the bottleneck of Australia, just one space removed from mine, “And then I’m going to eliminate you in the first turn. I’m sorry, but it’s the right move, for me.”

He’s right. It is. None of us had thought of that before. With four missiles, you can do that! How had none of us seen this before? How had we avoided such aggressive strategies for so long? The answer is simple: they weren’t possible before. Until now, none of us had the missiles to pull it off. You see, attacking on the first turn is risky (See name of game) - you might just lose everything. Missiles, however, change things: you can spend them to turn any dice to a six. One or two missiles can change things a little, but four? Four sixes puts the war ball squarely in your war court. I was ruined.

I can’t tell you how Simon got to four missiles. I can’t tell you why I needed that city. That’s how Risk Legacy is: it’s a board game with spoilers. It changes over time, you see: the box contains a series of envelopes and packages that you only open when certain things occur, and the board continues to change over 15 games of Risk. You would be forgiven for thinking that Risk is a horrible, horrible game to play, but Risk Legacy is fast paced and fun. It uses Risk as a vehicle for a story: Risk is the battles, but the war is played out through the table talk that ensues over the top of the game, and through cards that come from the envelopes you open as events occur in game. Each one is so tempting - “Open the first time someone signs the board for the second time”, says one, pushing you on to a second victory just that little bit more than, well, winning the game twice otherwise might. “Open the first time a player is eliminated”, says another, guaranteed to make anyone bloodthirsty.

“Open the first time three missiles are used during one combat roll”, says another. Go on, push the button - What could possibly go wrong? I find it hard to believe any group can make it through their fourth game (the first with three missiles in play) without opening that one.

What I can tell you is, four missiles ruins a man. I was, indeed, knocked out on the first turn, forced to spend the rest of the game trying to hold on to any territory I could in Europe. Simon, though? He didn’t win. He was spread too thin, then - his HQ an obvious target. As soon as his plan became known, Sam stepped in to do to Simon as Simon did to me. In fact it was Maisey who took the victory, biding his time over a long game, building up armies and cards, only to swoop out of Africa and collect three HQs in one turn.

The game has changed for us. First turn defeats are an option. Two games ago, the pace felt slower, as if we all knew our places in the world and had to wait for each other to overreach before we could make our move, but now? Now anything can happen. We are eight games in, and there’s a whole world still to play for.