Friday, August 22, 2008

Strategy Board Game Review: Risk 2210 AD by Avalon Hill

For those already familiar with Risk, I would say that Risk 2210 AD is the definitive version of the game. For those not, this is a good medium level strategy board game that is guaranteed to give an evening's worth of entertainment with some old friends! There is a slight learning curve, even for those who have played other versions of Risk because a lot of the game mechanics work slightly differently from versions that have gone before, but once you've gotten the hang of it it's pretty straight forward and relatively easy to get around.

Inside the box you will find:
  • A large fold-away rectangular game board, representing the Earth as they imagine it would appear in 2210 AD, divided into 42 land territories split over 6 continents, like "Classic" Risk, and 13 underwater territories split over 5 water colonies which are new.
  • A map of the moon, divided into 14 lunar territories split over 3 lunar colonies. This is an extension of the gameboard
  • 5 sets of plastic army pieces in red, green, blue, black and yellow ochre. Each army has a number of MODs (Machines of Destruction) representing either 1, 3 or 5 military units depending on its size, as well as 4 space station markers and 5 Commander figures. One each for Land, Navy, Space, Nuclear and Diplomacy.
  • 3 decks of Territory Cards, covering every Land, Water and Lunar territory. The Land cards include type markers in the fashion of "Classic" Risk, and a pair of wild cards, but only to allow you to play in the classic style, where you trade cards in for bonus armies. In Risk 2210 these cards are used only for randomly picking territories for certain Command card effects.
  • 5 decks of Command Cards, each tied to the 5 Commanders mentioned above.
  • A pile of Energy Tokens, which are used as currency in the game. They are traded for Commanders and Command Cards.
  • A score board and year counter. Just to keep track.
  • 4 Devastation markers. These are part of the new mechanics and are used to change the board from game to game.
  • 5 Turn Order markers. Another new mechanic.
  • A pile of dice.
If you have already played Risk, then you'll already be familiar with the combat mechanics. They haven't changed at all. A lot has changed tho:
  • The additional Water and Lunar Terrritories. These change the dynamics quite dramatically by adding in new avenues of attack as well as providing alternate positions to gain continent bonuses. For example, North America traditionally only had 3 borders with other continents, it now has 5 as 2 territories now connect with Water Colonies.
  • The Commanders and Space Stations. In certain circumstances a Commander is allowed to attack using an 8-sided die rather than a 6-sided one. A Commander will always defend with an 8-sided die, making him more likely to win. The Space Stations also allow every MOD in the occupied territory to defend with an 8-sided die.
  • The Command Cards and Energy Tokens replace the old-fashioned card trade-ins. In "Classic" Risk you would trade in a set of 3 cards in return for bonus armies every few turns, that is now gone. Each turn you get an amount of Energy equal to the amount of armies you receive from your territory count and continent bonuses. You use this Energy to buy additional Commanders and Space Stations, and to buy Command Cards. You can only buy Command Cards respective to the Commanders you control, so you need a Naval Commander to buy Naval Command Cards, for example. You also use energy to pay the costs of playing cards. Cards have various effects from giving you reinforcements, through imposing restrictions on other players, to destroying enemy units before or during combat.
  • Turn order is not guaranteed. Traditionally play would just proceed clockwise around the table. In Risk 2210 AD, you start off every round by bidding for your right to choose turn order. The highest bidder gets to choose his position first, whether it be First or Last turn. The position you take has different strategic importance at different stages of the game.
  • The game isn't about eliminating your opponents. "Classic" Risk went on til their was only one player left on the board, having wiped out all opposition. Risk 2210 has a limit of 5 rounds, and whoever is in the best position at the end of that wins the game.
  • Devastation markers mean you'll probably never play the same game twice. When setting up at the beginning of the game you randomly choose 4 Land territories from the land deck. Those territories are considered obliterated by nuclear war and can't be entered or travelled through. This can change the dynamic of the game considerably by closing off borders, giving a significant defensive advantage to the owner of the continent.
To close off, Risk 2210 AD is a neat little game. The dynamics are the best I've come across in this series of games to date. and it's thoroughly enjoyable. It has a learning curve, but not one so dramatic as say Axis and Allies or some of the other more realistic strategy board games. Definitely worth getting! Have a look at the manufacturer's site. Over there they have an online playable demo as well as a downloadable copy of the rule book.

If you enjoy board games, you might also enjoy Zombies!!!. For more on Risk 2210 AD have a look at this interesting unofficial expansion.
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Brian the Lion said...

Risk 2210 AD is by far the best of the Risk series. If I had to choose one for second place, I would say that Classic Risk with secret missions would take it. Great post!


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Free Games said...

I think Risk 2210 AD could be a cross-over game for teenagers and those in their early 20s to German-style board gaming and wargames...

Thanks for sharing..

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