Risk

Risk

For budding conquerors of all ages, Risk was the game to hone their skills. Young Napoleons or Alexander the Greats knew that world domination at Risk was simple enough for kids to play, yet elaborate enough to create detailed strategy guides and complicated maneuvers. As such, it has remained a popular board game for fifty years and counting.

Released in 1959, as the country was deep inside the Cold War, Parker Brothers’ game of conquest involved the entire world. Each player’s goal was to conquer as many countries as he could. The rules varied from year to year and from country to country, but the general idea was that countries were either divvied up with one-by-one choosing, or by dealing out the set’s country cards. After the whole world was owned, each player built up armies for both defense and attack.

As the game progressed, the map changed. Players pitted their color-coded army cubes (replaced later by icons, roman numeral figures or actual molded figurines) against each other, and the outcome was determined by the roll of the dice. Country cards were awarded to anyone who captured a territory. Once a matched set was collected (this included three infantry, cavalry or artillery, or one of each) a player could trade them in for bonus armies. The game ended when the map showed a world unified under one army.

Other versions of the game took less time by giving each player game-winning missions, such as knocking out a certain color, capturing certain continents, or holding a set number of territories. Risk was ripe for variations, and house rules for each game could include everything from nuclear combat to multiple-earth play using several boards at once.

Parker Brothers picked up on the variation tip by adding its own. They developed the Castle Risk board game, Risk: The Lord of the Rings, Risk: The Transformers Edition, and many others, but the original version has never lost its appeal among budding dictators of all ages. Armies may advance and countries may change hands, but Risk remains universal.

If you spent some time with this addictive board game back in the day, maybe even learned a thing or two about geography from Risk, we would love to hear your recollections in our comments section below.

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