Reiner Knizia


No. of Players:
2 - 6



Over the years, HASBRO has produced an astonishing number of games which are variants of their classic game lines like Monopoly, and this time Reiner Knizia has once again taken up the task to design a new variant for the tactical classic Risk. Following the current trend to produce easy-to-handle travel editions, HASBRO now has released Risiko Express under their PARKER-label which is usually reserved for their tactical line of games. And impossible as it may sound, Reiner Knizia indeed has succeeded in translating the spirit and feeling of the much bigger and longer boardgame into a small, easy going variant which needs a minimalist number of playing pieces: seven special dice (each showing the following combat symbols: a General, a Cannon, a Cavalry, one Soldier, two Soldiers, three Soldiers) and 14 Conquest cards. Have a look yourself…

At the beginning of the game all 14 Conquest cards are distributed on the table. Apart from the maps drawn on the cards, the cards are color-coded to demonstrate which cards belong together as a group for a continent. As in the traditional game, there are bigger continents with up to three cards belonging to its group, but also small continents like Australia which only consists of one card. Also, each Conquest cards has a value in victory points and a number of combat symbols which are divided into up to three groups (or "battle ranks").


During his turn, a player now rolls all seven dice and checks out the results he has rolled. Depending on the combination he has rolled, he chooses one of the Conquest cards on the table which he wants to attack. Using one or more of the dice from his roll, he may assign these dice to a fitting battle rank of the card he wants to attack, and places the dice onto the symbols printed on the card to show that this battle rank has been defeated. Then the player takes up the remaining dice, rolls them again and checks whether he can defeat another battle rank of the attacked card. If this should be the case, he one again places the required dice onto the card and rolls again with the remaining dice. However, if no battle rank could be defeated, the player must remove one dice and rolls again with the remaining dice in hope to defeat a battle rank with his next roll.

This procedure continues until the player either succeeds in defeating all battle ranks on the chosen Conquest card or he has not enough dice left in his pool to defeat the remaining battle ranks. In the first case the card is conquered and the player may take it and place it in front of himself, whereas in the other case the attack was not successful and the player does not receive the card. Either way, the player's turn ends after attacking one Conquest card.

Instead of attacking a Conquest card from the common area, the active player also may opt to attack a Conquest card in possession of another player in order to take it away from him. The attack is resolved in the same way as the attack on a normal Conquest card, with the exception that an additional battle rank with one "General" symbol must be rolled and defeated. Thus, it is slightly more difficult to take a card from another player than conquering an unoccupied card. However, if a player has succeeded in collecting all cards belonging to the same continent, he may turn these cards face-down so that this cards may not be taken from him anymore.

The game ends when all 14 Conquest cards have been conquered by the players. The players now add up the values of their individual Conquest cards, but bonus points are awarded if a player has succeeded in gathering all cards from a continent. The game then is won by the player with the highest score.

As you can see, few traditional elements of the boardgame have found their way into this fast-paced dice rolling clone, but although the differences between both games are palpable there still remains a competitive playing spirit which is virtually the same as in the Risk boardgame. Naturally, the players' strategic options are more limited and - due to the short playing duration of about 20 minutes - rather short-lived, but on the other hand this express-version of Risk has charms of its own. Thus, the foreseeable end of the game makes the players weigh between the occupation of different cards, and, what is more, the game seems to be more balanced than the boardgame because a leading position can still be broken (unless the leader has cemented his position by occupying several whole continents).

Apart from the playing material, the players receive a dice bowl with a lid which also serves as a packing for the playing material. This robust playing aid gives HASBRO's new line of "Express"-games its own character, and to my mind this type of games is especially attractive as small luggage for family holidays...

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2008 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany