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[Review] Risk 2210 A.D.

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  • Tom Vasel
    I ve never liked Risk. I think it mostly has to do with the fact that I never played it as a child and didn t touch it until after I had played other light
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 3 1:25 PM
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      I've never liked Risk. I think it mostly has to do with the
      fact that I never played it as a child and didn't touch it until
      after I had played other light war games such as Samurai Swords and
      the other Gamemaster Series games. Once I played Risk after
      playing these other gems, it seemed to random. There were some
      minor strategies, to be sure, but the same things happened game
      after game, and with lucky die rolls, one person could win –
      regardless of strategies. Also, an alliance against a player could
      destroy him, no matter how good his strategy. And finally, I never
      before had seen arguments that powerful until playing Risk. So I
      stopped playing it, and tried to avoid the game (with the exception
      of Castle Risk, which I enjoyed on occasion.)

      When I saw Risk 2210 A.D. (Avalon Hill, 2001 – Rob Davieu),
      even though I had this natural aversion to Risk, I was still
      interested. For one, it was science fiction, and that automatically
      makes a game sound interesting for me. Also, all the games put out
      by the new Avalon Hill have great bits, and this game was no
      exception. So I picked it up, and we've played it many times
      since. The problem with the game is that while it's really fun and
      enjoyable, the fierce arguments and sheer rage that appears during
      game play deters me from playing it more often. I like it a lot,
      but I have seen the most mild person lose it when playing this game
      (myself included).

      I'm going to forgo explaining the basic rules of Risk (as it
      seems most people in the world have played it) and just talk about
      the differences between Risk and Risk 2210.

      - The map is different, although very similar. The
      territories are redefined into different ones, trying to give a feel
      of the future ("The Exiled States of America", "The Brazil Desert,
      etc.). They are still grouped up in the same continents as the
      first game. Added to this mix are thirteen Water territories –
      divided into five groups, and fourteen Lunar territories – divided
      into three groups, and on a separate, small round board. At the
      beginning of the game, four land territory cards are turned over,
      and nuclear devastation markers are placed on the corresponding
      spaces. These spaces cannot be entered into or through for the
      game, and essentially do not exist. This promises a different
      mapboard every game.
      - Money (also known as "energy chips") is distributed each
      turn according to territories, continents, and groups controlled.
      This money is used to buy commanders, command cards, moon bases, and
      bid for turn order.
      - As in Risk, there is only one main type of combat unit,
      except that in this game they look like little `mechs. (called
      MODs). Bigger MODs stand for 3 or 5 of smaller MODs, just like
      standard Risk. There are also commander units; the Diplomat
      Commander (allows nasty Diplomat Command Cards to be played), the
      Land Commander (uses an 8 sided die in land battles, and allows Land
      Command Cards to be played), the Naval Commander (who allows
      invasion into water territories – otherwise a player cannot enter or
      leave these territories – rolls and 8 sided die in water battles,
      and allows Water Command Cards to be played), the Nuclear Commander
      (who always rolls an 8 sided die and allows the wild but massively
      powerful Nuclear Command Cards to be played), and the Space
      Commander (who rolls an 8 sided die on the Moon, allows invasions to
      and on the moon – otherwise the Moon cannot be attacked to or from,
      and allows Space Command Cards to be played.) Each commander costs
      three energy tokens and can be bought at the beginning of each
      players turn. All Commanders always defend with an 8-sided die.
      - Turn order is different. There are only five turns in the
      game. Each turn, players secretly bid an amount of money for turn
      order. Whoever bids the highest can choose which turn order maker
      they will take (from 1 to 5), etc. Ties are broken by the roll of a
      die.
      - Command Cards can really change the face of the game. Each
      player can buy them before they start their turn for one energy
      token each. They can only buy them if they have the matching
      commander in play. The cards do different things with the
      Diplomat's cards being the most useful, and the Nuclear cards being
      the most powerful – yet the most random. Cards can be played at
      different points in the game, which is determined by the text on the
      card. Some Cards cost energy tokens to play.
      - When setup occurs (which is just like normal Risk), no units
      are placed in the water or on the Moon, and players only receive
      their Land Commander, Diplomat, and one moon base. The moon base
      allows 8-sided dice to be rolled for ALL units in the defending
      territory and allows invasions to the moon.
      - The Moon can only be invaded from a land territory with a
      moon base (new ones can be bought for 5 energy tokens). There are
      three territories on the moon in which invasions from earth can
      land, but then the landing armies can move freely on the moon (as
      long as that player has his Space Commander in play.) Attacks from
      the Moon can only be made when using certain Command cards.
      - Reinforcements are determined by a chart, rather than the
      cards. Each player receives one unit per turn for each moon base
      they control, a certain amount of MODs according to how many
      territories they control, and bonus MODs if they control all the
      territories in a continent or group.
      - After the fifth turn is over, each player calculates their
      final score. This is done in the same way as determining how many
      reinforcements they got, except that some cards can be played to add
      to a player's score. The player with the final score is the winner.

      Some comments about the game…

      1.) Fifth Turn: Before components, before rules, this is the
      most striking feature of the game, and certainly causes the most
      squabbles, both in the game and on the internet. Most people are
      concerned, and I am in agreement, that the player who goes last on
      the fifth turn is the winner, because they can attack everywhere
      with no fear of reprisals. Now, I do think the 5 turn limit is a
      good idea, because it keeps the game short(er) and prevents
      elimination of players (sometimes). But the last player having such
      an advantage always bugged us. Finally, I read a variant on the
      internet, tried it out, and will refuse to play the game without the
      variant. Basically, the variant stated that each player scores
      their points after their turn in the fifth round. This helped even
      the game out, and eliminated complaining (yeah right! – but at least
      it went down a little.)

      2.) Components: The components of this game are on par for all
      the Hasbro Avalon Hill games. In other words, they are of supreme
      excellence. The plastic pieces, of which there are piles, are
      marvelous, and being a big fan of `mechs, I really enjoy how they
      look on the board. Speaking of the board, it is a marvelous work of
      art, and the round Moon board looks really nice next to it. On the
      flip side, these boards, along with all the piles of cards (eight of
      them!) and the pieces insist that a large table is needed just so
      that everything fits! The cards are of good quality, and several
      blank cards are included, so that one can make up their own command
      cards. The money chips are nice, although I wish they had included
      a "10" denomination. Everything fits well into the box, where
      instead of a plastic insert, they decided to have cardboard cutouts
      that fit into the box to form a tray. As these cardboard cutouts
      are wonderfully illustrated, it makes the box look neat, but a
      plastic insert would have been much more convenient and useful. The
      box, which is the same size as all Hasbro games, is sturdy,
      colorful, and yet smaller than the company could have done (think
      Game master boxes).

      3.) Rules: The rulebook is twelve pages long, but the game is
      fairly simple to pick up – especially if players have already played
      Risk. One thing I found missing, though, was a section that listed
      the changes from original Risk. This would have cut down on one
      having to read all the rules before starting, as the changes are
      sometimes only mentioned once and not really highlighted. At the
      end of the rules there is a section that includes the rules for the
      original Risk, although I doubt anyone ever uses them or has used
      them with this edition. Still, it's a nice touch.

      4.) Command Cards: Several complaints about the game, from my
      group and others, is how the command cards are powerful (sometimes
      quite a bit so) and adversely affect the game, putting randomness in
      it. Frankly, I don't see how anyone can take that view. Risk is
      already the king of randomness, so having random cards seems to fit
      in the theme right well. Not only that, they allow a player who is
      getting his butt handed to him a fighting chance to survive. Some
      of the cards are extremely powerful, but most can be countered by
      other cards – and if you still think a card is too powerful, you can
      make up a card that cancels it from the blank cards or remove it
      from the game.

      5.) Arguments: I have seen quiet, demure, easy-going people
      blow up at others after playing this game, during rules discussions,
      and several games have almost resulted in total war between the
      players. I myself have gotten more irked while playing this game
      than any other (except maybe Diplomacy). After seeing a quiet guy
      unload on somebody else for attacking them, playing a card, using a
      rule to their advantage, etc., I usually resolved never to play the
      game again. Yet, after a few months, we remember how much fun the
      game is, and bring it out again. Another argument ensues, yet we
      still have fun. It's a vicious cycle.

      6.) Theme: Obviously the theme fits, as it's a war game; but I
      really like how "previous wars" have decimated certain parts of the
      earth, blocking them off. Sometimes it chokes up a crucial ocean
      connecting spot, changing everyone's strategy, and I really like
      that. Also, the attacks on and from the Moon are great fun, and
      having nuclear cards able to hurt the player playing them makes for
      a great theme.

      7.) Fun Factor: Does the fun factor cancel the argument/strife
      factor? Yes, but only if the game is taken in moderation. Playing
      the right card at the right moment, attacking with a force and
      winning, defending against an overwhelming force – all this is a lot
      of fun. But for me, it's only enough fun to play three or four
      times a year.

      8.) Risks: There are more and more variants of Risk available
      out there – variants, LOTR Risk, Castle Risk, etc. This is, by far,
      the absolute best variant out there. I will never play ordinary
      Risk again, as this is quite a bit of fun for me. Some people might
      like regular Risk more, but most people I've played with prefer this
      one.

      9.) Expansions: There supposedly are expansions that were
      handed out as tournament prizes, but they are extremely rare, and I
      have yet to see how a "normal" person can get one. This is bad
      form, I think, as expansions should be available to all.

      And that's how I would categorize the game. If you like Risk,
      assume that you'll love this version. If you hate Risk, you still
      might like this game, depending on the reasons that you disliked
      Risk in the first place. I found it a lot of fun, though harrowing
      and divisive. If you have cutthroat group who love to pound on each
      other, tearing each other up and enjoying every minute of it, then
      this is the game for you. Otherwise, you might want to look
      elsewhere – this game might be too vicious for you. The game is
      fun, but at what price?

      Tom Vasel
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