Risk 2210 AD is a pretty rich game in itself, even though it is dramatically more simple than a game like Axis and Allies. Never the less it is the kind of game that is just begging to be expanded upon, in both story and tactics. Avalon Hill/Wizards of the Coast realised this and created more than a few expansion packs for the game over the course of a few years but, in a move that can either be called pure genius or utter stupidity, they never released any of them commercially at all. Instead they arranged a tournament circuit called Frontline, and each season organized the tournaments around a new themed expansion. The expansion paraphernalia were produced in very small quantities and the tournament centres were issued just enough to run their tournaments, with the expansion pieces being awarded as prizes.
Season 1: Mars
The familiar Earth map, was ignored this season and the entire campaign took place on the Martian Landscape of 2210AD. As with the Earth map in the box, the Martian map was based on modifed satellite photographs of the landscape which I presume they bartered off of NASA. Mars has been occupied and terraformed and the entire Northern section is one big ocean, with the southern portion consisting of a large land mass divided into colonies, rather than a multitude of separated continents that most risk players would be familiar with. The resulting lack of bottle necks meant that the strategy was dramatically different, requiring a blanket defensive strategy rather than the traditional "strong at the borders, weak in the middle" approach. I personally have never played this variation, but I intend to in the near future if I can get my hands on a map again.
Season 2: Tech Commander
This expansion was dramatically more significant than the Mars one that preceeded it. It consisted of a deck of Tech Command Cards with original art and a Tech Commander for each army. I was a little disappointed to learn that the actual commander piece was a piece of cardboard with a stand, and not an actual plastic figure to match the existing commander pieces, but this news made me less sad about having not been in a position to actually participate in any of the Frontline Tournaments. The Tech Commander is not unlike the Nuke Commander in terms of game mechanics, and uses a d8 for all his attacks and defense rolls, but the Tech Command deck is a true asset and adds a whole lot of new options to old strategies while creating a brand new set of new ones. Most significantly there are now cards that allow you to negate the effects of an opponents card, like a Counterspell in Magic: The Gathering. There are also cards that allow you to move your troops around more efficiently and that bypass the Devastation Marker rules to your strategic advantage. Most significantly there is a most powerful card that allows you to swap turn order with someone else, which can be as much to their detriment as it is to your advantage. You can find a great fan-made recreation of the cards in part of this interesting unofficial expansion.
Season 3: Factions
The Factions expansion consisted of 6 playmats, that had space for cards and energy marked out on them. The mats themselves were pretty inconsequential, but each mat was themed to a different faction with its own advantages and disadvantages. Each faction was dramatically different from the others and required a different style of play to achieve victory. It incorporated the previous season's Tech Commander and really improved the game. I will discuss this one in greater detail in a future post. You can find a great fan-made set of Factions cards in part of this interesting unofficial expansion.
Season 4: Invasion of the Giant Amoebas
This simple expansion was designed to shake up the mechanics by adding in a new level of randomness and a non-player invasion force. It consisted of a pile of glass beads (the amoebas), a deck of Amoeba Event Cards that controlled the Amoeba's attacks and fortification, and 3 additional Diplomat cards. I haven't played this one either, but it's on my list of things to do.
After Season 4 they turned their backs on Risk 2210AD, but there are a lot of unofficial expansions out there. I may explore some of them down the line, and I will definitely be adding some of my own in future.
For more on Risk 2210 AD have a look at this interesting unofficial expansion which includes DIY versions of some of the official expansions described above. If you enjoy board games, you might also enjoy Zombies!!!