Albert Lamorisse

- Press release -

No. of Players:
3 - 5



51 years after the initial creation of Risk and more than a decade after the release of Risk Deluxe, HASBRO has decided that the time has come for a new version of Risk. Thousands of players around the globe have enjoyed this classic PARKER-game, and likewise there have been thousands of discussions whether there was too much luck in the game and whether it really is a fair game. Scanning through the ideas of Risk-ethusiasts, the design crew from PARKER finally has added a few more ideas and rules twists to the game, and by these minor changes they tried to shift the focus of Risk slightly more from luck to strategic planning.


The new version of the game is due to be released in fall 2008, but selected games journalists around the world have received an advance copy of a specially manufactured trial version with the title Risk - Black Ops. This trial version features its own layout and a rather meagre design with wooden playing pieces, but it allows the players a full test of the new rules which will be introduced in the new Deluxe Version of the game.

So, let us have a look at the differences between the classic game and the new version:

  • The setup at the beginning of the game has been changed in so far as the total random setup which was suggested in the old rules is not mentioned anymore. Instead, players can either chose a fixed setup or a chosen setup, meaning that the players in turn chose one country after the other. Instead of the random "sprinkled" map, this usually creates more or less stable blocks in which the players have concentrated their strength. Each of these countries contains at least one army, but more armies will be distributed when the countries have been chosen so that the players may develop strong points right from the start.
  • Each player receives a capital which he placed into his first country. A player cannot win if he has lost his capital, and each capital a player possesses will generate an additional army in the reinforcement phase.
  • In addition, 15 cities have been randomly distributed to different countries around the globe. In the traditional reinforcement phase, a player got a new army for each three countries he possessed, but now the cities are taken into this calculation as well. This makes some countries more valuable than others.
  • Reinforcement bonuses for the possession of a whole continent and for handing in country cards remain in the game, but the country cards do not feature different symbols anymore. Instead, a country card now shows either one or two stars, and the more stars a player possesses the more armies he will receive.
  • The Objective cards will not be kept secret anymore. Instead, a random choice of four Minor Objectives and four Major Objectives is placed at the gameboard at the beginning of the game. Whenever a player fulfils an Objective he may take the fitting Objective card, and when he has acquired three Objective cards he will have won the game. The Objectives remain with a player unless he is eliminated, in which case they must be handed over to the player who has destroyed the last army of the eliminated player.
  • In addition, each Objective card is assigned a Reward Token at the beginning of the game. When the Objective is fulfilled and taken by a player, that player also will gain the Reward token which will give him a benefit for the rest of the game. These rewards vary between Minor and Major Objectives, and they may be additional Maneuvers (movements), a defense bonus due to an Airfield, additional reinforcements each turn or even an additional battle dice which will increase the odds to roll a good result.

During playtesting it became clear rather fast that these changes have a rather big impact on gameplay since the players were forced to abandon their old-age strategies in order to adapt to the new challenge of the "modern" world of Risk. I still remember quite a few games where a player made an all-or-nothing suicide run for fulfilling his Mission card or even World Domination, but now the focus has shifted to a more careful planning and the weighting of odds and possibilities. This is mainly due to the new way the game objectives are handled, since they are openly available on the table and everybody watches each other's moves in order to guess which objective he might be after.

Also, tension increases more gradually in the new game because at some point the new bonuses from cities and Rewards come to bear quite decisively. Weaker players drop out somewhat faster, and this results in a shortening of the average game duration. This observation is also increased by the fact that Objective cards may be taken from an eliminated player, so that it may become rather attractive to remove somebody from the game. And if you take this together with the fact that player-specific elimination Objectives have been removed from the game and are replaced by the Objective to control a number of Capitals, the unsatisfactory situation that a player is kept alive out of fear that an other player might have the fitting Objective to eliminate this player is prevented.

The press release Risk - Black Ops with its simplistic military design was perfect for testing the innovations, and especially the rules themselves were presented rather cleverly as a military command folder with different cards. This allowed for a rather well structured presentation of the rules, while at the same time the different modes in which the game can be played could be introduced by referring to some of the cards. The game itself looks abstract and dark, but in a this increased the military character of the game. Whether the new mass market edition of the game really looks better will be a matter of taste, since armies now have been replaced by arrows which give the game a look of a Command Room map.

I really liked the challenge introduced by the new rules, and whereas my old game of Risk has not been taken down from the shelves for some years because of more satisfactory alternatives, the new game of Risk offers a fresh degree of attractiveness which has changed my attitude towards the game quite considerably.

A view of the upcoming new Risk Deluxe

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Copyright © 2008 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany