“It’s gonna be a bloodbath…”

So, King Henry, Prince Hal, Bardolph, Poins, and Vernon got together at the Manse last night and ordered a pizza, had a beverage or two, and got to the nitty gritty work of taking over the world. If you’ve never played Risk, it’s a turn-based strategy board game, played on a map of the world, divided into territories. The object is to take control of the entire map, by way of attacking neighboring territories. Each turn consists of troop deployment, combat, and fortification. The rules are fairly complex as far as deployment goes, and combat is based on the roll of the dice. Attackers throw red dice and defenders throw white.* Before any of that, though, is the dividing up of the world, where one by one, we place troops in one of the 48 mapped territories, until they’re completely distributed. Then we deploy the rest of our initial troop allotment, fortifying territories based on strategy — Do we want to control a continent early?** Create a smokescreen? Cry Havok?

Australia is the most easily defensible continent, and it is often the site of much contention at first. Jeff Allin, Jake Russo, and Jeff Withers all laid a claim to territories there, and when it became clear that it would be a messy prospect to take the continent, Jeff Withers gave up deploying troops, quipping, “It’s gonna be a bloodbath.” Instead, he concentrated forces in Europe. Jake spread himself out, and Jeff Allin stuck to the east, concentrating on Asia and Australia. Nick took an early stab at South America, and I had made a play for Africa in my initial deployment. Nick was the first to conquer a continent with South America, forcing my hand to attack him in Brazil. This was where it became clear that luck was not on Nick’s side. I had nine armies, and Nick had eight, and by the end of the combat, I had nine armies, and Nick had none. Nor did he hold the continent any longer. I moved into Brazil from West Africa, exclaiming, “that’s the power of the Cote D’Ivoire!” I shortly took control of Africa, and then Jeff Withers started his campaign to take me down. Unfortunately, neither was luck on his side, and his rolls made it much more difficult for him to accomplish his task. He tried to influence other players, though, which worked, and after being weakened by Jeff Allin, I lost Africa to Mr. Withers in a kamikaze-style rout. I immediately turned in my cards for more troops and took Africa right back, destroying most of Withers’ troops in the bargain. By this time Nick and I had entered into an alliance, vowing not to attack one another until our mutual enemies were defeated. Jeff Allin eventually eliminated Jeff Withers, but by this time it was, as can be imagined, pretty late. So he decided to take his leave of the table, and handed his place to Jeff Withers, who used the advantages put in place to eliminate Jake, who had quietly been fortifying his interests in China. Nick had built a little American Empire by now, taking North America and most of South (our alliance prohibited him taking Brazil quite yet). But by this time, Withers was way too powerful. Each time you eliminate an opponent, you get their troop cards, and by the time all was said and done, Withers had amassed a Holy Roman Army the likes of which we had never seen. On one turn, he travelled from Mongolia through Siberia and Kamchatka, across the Bering Strait, through Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Western and Central Europe (now under my sway), Northern Africa, the Middle East, Southern Africa, the Congo, West Africa, into Brazil (now I was eliminated) through the rest of South America, across the Panama canal into Mexico and into the United States where he defeated Nick’s last troops. All the while, we had been discussing how eerie it was that Prince Hal here had taken his father’s slightly failed attempts at Empire and turned them into a model for Warrior-Kings.

It was now 3:30am.

All of this was prefaced by a conversation I had with my wife yesterday afternoon:

“A few of us are going over to Nick’s tonight after the show.”

“Fun! What are you going to do?”

“We’re going to go down to the basement and play Risk, the game of global domination.”

“Yeah… there are a lot of boys in that play.”



* There was some debate last night as to whether the attacker or the defender had the advantage, because the attacker gets three dice, and the defender two, but the defender wins a tie roll.

** Controlling a continent results in a troop bonus at the beginning of your turn.


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