Risk: This Is How The World Ends

Ted’s Campaign

Sam wasn’t able to make a number of the games, so we had a lot of 4-player sessions. This changes the texture of the game immensely. The map has more space, so placement order isn’t as critical. This changes draft priority, and allows for later conflicts and more time to bolster one’s armies. It also keeps one more faction out of play, which prevents them from acquiring knock-out or missile powers, which effectively removes them from the game.

It’s a long list of “if this than that” and “what ifs” in Risk: Legacy. That is, I think, one of its major strong points; our world is unique, it developed as only our could. Ours is a story nobody else has.

Unfortunately that isn’t a happy story for everyone else it seems.

Game 11

Sam is able to make this one, which is kind of exciting. He’s low on missiles, and everyone underestimates him. I hope to get a large exchange of cards late and win the game with a single push. I wait just long enough for Sam to do a smaller push and wipe me out, claiming my considerable card stack. He wins next turn. It’s two victories for the guy who didn’t have any going into game 9, so it provides a bit of hope for the campaign.

Game 12!

Sometimes hope is just a word.

I won. It was another game of someone having a lock on their turn, but somebody sneaking in a moment earlier and taking the victory. It wasn’t guaranteed for me, a lot of rolls had to go my way. But as Ted has said, “if you have a 40% chance of winning with a course of action, it’s worth trying.” So I gambled, pushed across the board, and took enough bases to win. If anything, it continues to demonstrate how important it is to protect your base.

This is my 6th win, and it gives me a plurality. Games 13-15 will have no bearing on who wins the campaign, as nobody can match my 6. Ted says a couple things, boiling down to, “Congrats, even though it’s not a game about winning, but we’ll keep playing, because it’s still fun.” Imagine my dismay when I found out he didn’t really believe that.

See, I’m usually the first person to get to Ted’s, as my work lets out earlier than everyone else’s, plus I live closer. So we have time to chat about the game before it gets underway. And again I had to hear Ted talk about how un-fun the game has become, and how it’s (mostly) my fault. I felt bad about it the first time this was thrown at me around game 8. But I’ve done my best since then to play tough but fair, and not politick or twist the game around. I don’t need this again. At some point it needs to be said. There was terrible play early on, a bunch of people made bad decisions and fought the absolute wrong opponents, and Ted didn’t try hard enough. I may have done some early prodding, but I’m not the sole architect of the game being so busted.

Game 13

I win the draft and take Mutants, the only time I’ve played them. At this point most of the people in the table are anxious to crack open the final packet, the Capital City. We start with the appropriate mission (randomly I swear), and a territory card that works for it comes out a few turns in.

This is where it becomes obvious how busted the game is. Aaron has a great chance to take the territory needed to make the mission happen. However, my stack of missiles is enough to keep it protected, even when Ted (the one who owns it) is playing missiles to help Aaron take it. He’s rebuffed, and I take it my next turn, giving me two points. I lost my base earlier, but I’m able to take it my next turn, though with only 3 armies on it. So when I’m at 3 points I see Ted checking his options. At this point I feel compelled to say, “I know I shouldn’t say this, but you should really defend your base.” He does, sort of. He ups the army count from 4 to 7, though he has more he could use. So when my turn comes around, his is the most reasonable target to go for. Even after the Capital City battle, and even after I spend missiles to defend my base, I still have 1 to use against him. I’m able to swing a double loss into a double win with it, and I have more than enough strength to take the base and the win.

I feel crappy for doing it, and I apologize to the table. The campaign is called here, as nobody wants to watch something like that again.

Aftermath

So yes, the game got busted. I took some wins I shouldn’t have, obtained a stronghold, gained an advantage too difficult to overcome (with 3 other people; it would’ve been much different if Sam could’ve made it). But After mulling it all over again, I’m pretty sure that I’m done apologizing for this sort of thing. Ted said that games aren’t about winning, they’re about competition. Yeah, I get what he means, but it’s a game, moreover it’s Risk. Says it right on the box, above the word Legacy. It’s an Ameritrash classic which has always been about random swings, massive armies, and grinding everyone else at the table into dust. The fact that it has a 15-game meta framework does not change that core stylistic design. I agree that the game is somewhat broken, but sometimes the players are too.

I hate that I have to feel crappy all over again while I type this. I hate that I’m in a position where I have to apologize for playing my best. I hate that everyone thinks it’s the game that’s screwed up and not their own stupid shitty play. It’s Beyond Boardwalk all over again; a lot of new mechanics and cool choices, but the same game at its core, with hurt feelings and sour looks when you lose.

You know what? Fuck it. I won, I’m not going to feel shitty about it. Besides, the other campaign manages to be balanced, despite having similar issues.

It’s Risk. Says so right on the box.

Greg’s Campaign, Game 8

So, that stronghold I had in Australia in Ted’s game? Jess has one in South America here. It’s not as great, as it still has two entry points and her city is surrounded by ammo shortage scars, but it’s still nice to have a guaranteed quality starting location. The faction she gets has an “ignore ammo shortages when defending” bonus to it, so her setup is pretty good.

The factions here aren’t fully loaded with powers and scars, so it’ll be interesting to see how they develop. The Saharan Republic has a sweet one-two combination of being allowed to use their redeployment in any territory they control, and being able to reinforce to one unoccupied territory per turn. I use it to get around the nuclear fallout in Australia. It’s not a great bonus, but it keeps my base protected, as the mutants are on the other side of the map.

I get a nice set of cards, but I don’t get to use them. Jess manages to take a few quick cards, and when nobody expects it (and I’m in no position to stop her), she turns in cards, marches through two bases and 9 territories, and grabs 3 points in a turn. I believe her base was a critical component, not because of the continent bonus (which I don’t believe she ever held), but the unbeatable population amount which gave her some great events.

Aftermath

This gives her two wins. At 8 games, everyone has two wins, except for Greg who hasn’t gotten on the board yet. It’s odd for me, knowing what’s in the remaining packets, and seeing how the game could play out. It’s difficult to keep that knowledge from coloring my decisions. Still, this game is progressing much differently, with a completely different set of players, so I’m excited to see how this one ends.

WHERE WE STAND

Greg’s campaign

Winston: 2 Wins

Brandon: 2 Wins

Spooky: 2 Wins

Jess: 2 Win

Packets Open: Second Win, 9 Minor Cities, Player Elimination, 3 missiles

Ted’s Campaign (Called)

Brandon: 7 Wins

Ted: 1 Win

Aaron: 2 Win

Mark: 1 Win

Sam: 2 Win

Packets Open: Everything

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2 thoughts on “Risk: This Is How The World Ends

  1. As someone who is currently in Ted’s place in Risk Legacy, do you feel differently now that you’ve had more time to reflect on this campaign? Specifically, I have two questions:

    1) You said, “I took some wins I shouldn’t have, obtained a stronghold, gained an advantage too difficult to overcome,” yet you also said, “I hate that everyone thinks it’s the game that’s screwed up and not their own stupid shitty play.” In hindsight, doesn’t poor board balance giving you an insurmountable advantage justify feelings that it is indeed partially the game’s fault? Putting it another way, do you feel that, given four players of equal skill, the player that wins more early wins more later?

    2) In hindsight, do you feel like going easier on the other players once you had more of a board advantage would have made the later games of the campaign more enjoyable? Do you regret the way the Ted campaign ultimately played out?

    • Funny you should mention this, for two reasons; Ted is moving across the country, and he just gave me the Legacy set we used; and my favorite board game site Shut Up and Sit Down posted a talk by Risk Legacy Designer Rob Daviau which was very informative:
      http://vimeo.com/82383614 (I do not know how to hyper-link in comments)

      It’s been a while since I thought about this, but lemme try to answer your questions:

      1) I am again going back and forth in my mind about this, and I can’t seem to personally land on one side or the other. I don’t want to condemn the people over the paper-and-plastic, but I still believe that I wouldn’t have had such a huge advantage if people had assessed me correctly as a target instead of sort of forgetting I was on the board.

      Yes, feelings that it’s the game’s fault are justified. It bears repeating that this game is Risk at its core, which has always been kind of b0rken.

      4 Players of equal skill… I really think it’s less about skill and more about behavior. The game has positive reinforcement for those who win, which would normally be balanced by the other players focusing on the bigger threat, but I really couldn’t say if early wins are that much more powerful without playing it again. Greg’s campaign has stalled out, but early wins didn’t help anyone there.

      In looking at these old posts I just now see I omitted games 8&9 of Ted’s campaign, in which a concerted effort (which I helped conceptualize) cracked open my bunker and sort of re-balanced the map, allowing the guy who hadn’t one a single game to take a couple.

      2) I do regret how that campaign played out, very much, but I don’t regret how I played it. I stopped politicking, attempting alliances, or even pretending like I wasn’t the guy who needed a beating at all times, but I still hold to the belief that you can’t ask a person to play poorly, it’s not fair (which reminds me, I had a lot to say about the Badminton debacle from the 2012 Olympics. Or has the moment passed?).

      Going easier on everyone might have been more enjoyable, at least for everyone else, but I’m certain it would leave a bad taste in my mouth. I eased off a player in the Game or Thrones LCG like 4 years ago and I still regret it.

      So, final thoughts: I don’t feel differently, which is to say I still feel all that shame, indignation, joy, frustration, apology and justification all at once. I just want to not feel bad about it all over again. And honestly I want to play Risk Legacy again, if only to know how it could go differently, but the one guy who’s into the idea is moving to the literal other side of the country, which does sadden me. Hopefully I can get some interest in Daviau’s new Legacy game Seafall.

      And I’m sorry your campaign is in similar dire straits. I don’t know if it helps, but it really is worth saying that, if your group isn’t having fun with the game, change the game, It’s not God, it doesn’t control you. Try to agree on a compromise that would re-balance some glaring issues (which I’m assuming there are (and I really would love to hear about them)).

      I’m officially rambling now, so let me close by saying thank you for reading the blog, I do hope your Legacy game picks up and that all your games are good.

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