I just heard about this game and read through the rules. It looks interesting. The game that immediately jumped to mind as similar was Risk 2210. Both games are built on the basic risk "engine" making them familiar to a lot people with some added features like:
-variable turn order
-rare player elimination
-fewer chokepoints on the board/water movement
Can anyone that has played both games compare and contrast? Thanks.
Now, I love Risk. But at the end of the day it's a game people tend to play until everyone gets bored (which can take -hours- for some folk).
Risk 2210 tries really hard to be a kind of Risk 2.0, offering some neat tactical improvements and modifiers to speed up the game.
SoI does similar, but it's not as afraid to move away from the classic Risk engine as 2210 (understandably) is. It's fair to say SoI is someone's house ruled version of Risk, and that if you've played Risk you've played SoI.
There comes a point where you stack so many house rules together, that the end result is so removed from the original as to be it's own creature. That's pretty much the case here with SoI. If 2210 is trying to be some sort of Risk 2.0, SoI is like the neighbor's cousin of Risk 6.0 or something.
Risk 2210 is still the "lighter" of the two I think, but that's not to say SoI is overly complex. It just has more little conceptual changes to learn and use for someone used to classic Risk (and by extension, 2210).
I'm not sure both deserve places on your shelf (especially once SoI releases the talked about expansion modules), but rather that SoI kills 2210. And I don't say this as "it's newer, so it's better" but because "it's better, so it's better". And SoI has enough differences and improvements to be worth buying even if you already have 2210.
All that said....
If you don't like Risk 2210 because of it's head-to-head conflict nature, you probably won't like SoI either. Just like I wouldn't encourage a vegetarian to try a hamburger, some people simply don't enjoy some types of games, and SoI is very much a game about smashing the plans and armies of other players.
So at a glance, the games do share a number of similarities, however, there are a fair number of differences. The following is just some of the major ones:
Spheres - much larger map with over 70+ territories (vs 2210's 42), map is also divided into more "regions" than 2210, with a greater eye towards the geopolitical realities of each sphere (so instead of a huge ASIA region like in Risk, Spheres has a distinct Middle Eastern, Chinese, Indian, Russian, Central Asian, East Indie and Pacific Rim sphere of influence, each divided into numerous territories). Each territory has a different regional production value - which contributing more or less points towards unit generation each round (so, for instance, India contributes 6 times more towards unit generation than Madagascar does). Those values are based on real world population/production/economic output/resources, which is why certain territories are definitely stronger than others. Territories can also contain oil (for gaining additional turns - based on real world oil distribution), capitals (for scoring purposes), and points of interest (for frequent special card interaction).
Spheres - players will control anywhere from 4 to 1 individual factions each game depending on how many players are playing (making lower player count games much more interesting). Each faction begins the game with only a single, semi-randomly determined territory under its control from which it gradually expands. Conflict slowly ramps up because its based on the gradual realization of the each faction's expanding borders (as opposed to the somewhat random situation you find yourself in in 2210 on turn 1). Games are set to either 5-6 rounds.
2210 - players always control only 1 faction regardless of player count (in my mind, making low player count games very unenjoyable). The map begins fully populated, with conflict beginning on turn 1. Games are set to 5 rounds.
ROUND STRUCTURE - biggest difference
Spheres - At the start of each round, all factions place new units based on several factors, before any players move or fight. Each faction also contributes a certain number of its turn cards to a global turn deck - they get more cards in this deck for the more oil they control (more cards are going to equal more turns/greater frequency of turns). Afterwards the "turn" part of the round is played out, where one at a time, the top card of the global turn deck is revealed. The faction whose card is revealed takes a turn performing a single action - where a faction makes a single move, performs a single attack, makes single redeploy (by single I mean, units on one space interacting with another space). Turns last a couple of seconds and are very incremental. Once that turn is done, the next card is revealed and that faction takes a turn, again, performing a single quick, incremental action. In terms of feel, this leads to a lot of suspense as:
1. Players don't know when their turns are going to show up in relation to each other
2. There are "races" that can take place since the outcome of the turn order is uncertain. Its also possible to try out outflank someone with the hopes of having several turns in a row before their turn pops up
3. Since one of your turns can pop up at any time its easier to be more engaged. In Risk, its very easy to take your turn and get apathetic about the game, since you know it might be 10 minutes before you do anything again. In Spheres, your turn is never more than a couple of seconds away, since turns are short and frequent.
4. Events unfold in a more rational way - I might betray you, and I might have several turns pop up before you and take several of your spaces before you can respond, however, unlike any iteration of Risk, on my turn I can't perform an unlimited number of actions - since I can only do 1 "thing" per turn. So I probably can't cripple your entire empire all in the course of a single round (though I definitely hurt you). This creates a more realistic sense of action/counter action between opponents ("lighting wars" are still going happen, but you are never ever going to have a turn where you start in Australia and work your way all the way up to London without your opponent's being able to react, which happens in virtually every iteration of Risk)
2210 - Rounds are essentially 1 phase ordeals - a player's turn is both made up of unit generation and attacking. Although there is a variable in the sense of how how that round's turns are set up at the start of that round - once that order is established, I know for a certainty when, for instance, I can betray you, and how long it is till you can respond. Individual turns are still long ordeals, often lasting several minutes each.
Spheres - combat is somewhat similar - combat is still fought in rounds, with units attacking in "waves" (in this case, up to 5 units on both sides can contribute to each round of combat vs Risk's 3). Instead of dice being compared like in Risk, dice contribute to scoring simultaneous kills against the opposing force. In many situations the defender gets the addition of "special dice" to reflect the tactical advantage afforded in certain situations. To show, for instance, how tough a D-Day style invasion is, when an attack goes from sea to land, the defender rolls 2 bonus special die each round of combat which can really change the outcome of a battle. This is somewhat similar to the use of the 8 sided die in Risk 2210, though Sphere's special dice are more impactful on a battles outcome. That said, battles in Spheres are usually shorter, and I'd argue, more mathematically consistent (we've all played countless games in Risk where 1 dude holds off 10, and where that's fun once in a while, it kinda breaks the game with its frequency - now, while that can happen once in a blue moon in Spheres, its exceedingly rare).
Here's my general thoughts:
Risk 2210 is definitely a massive improvement over classic Risk in terms of depth and game length, and the victory conditions are much more palitable. The new map offers more diversity, and limits, to a certain extent - some of the repetitiveness that classic Risk's map imposes on the game. I've played a lot of Risk variants (Halo, LOTR, Legacy, Castle, Godstorm, etc.), and I'd argue that 2210 is the best of them. That said, relationally, 2210 is probably the closest to Spheres of any the Risk games, and if you played Risk 2210, you'll have a great head start with understanding/playing Spheres. However, the games are very different. The biggest change is how turns work and feel - in 2210 turns are still long (though thankfully few), and "set" (though being adjusted each round), whereas in Spheres turns are very short, frequent, and exceedingly variable (you might have 7 turns this round because you control a lot of oil whereas next round you might only have 3 turns - you also might have 3 turns in a row or you might have 1 turn, wait 5 turns, then have 2, then wait another 4 turns before you go again). Conquest of the map in Spheres is gradual, and there are less battles which are going to take place (since in Risk, essentially every action is a battle), however, the battles, I feel, are more involved and memorable in Spheres. The map is bigger and, for what its worth, more "realistic" - and if you enjoy World War I, II, and Cold War history, I think you'll find many situations that arise in Spheres to be very enjoyable. I think the ability to control multiple factions in Spheres will actually see you getting this to the table more often, and this plays a really big role in the game that can't be overstated. I personally hate low player count games of Risk and find it to be almost unplayable as a 2 player game, however, I personally find 2-3 player games of spheres to be just as enjoyable as 6-8 player games.
Anyways, I'm biased, but I hope that was at least somewhat helpful.
- Last edited Wed Aug 24, 2016 5:57 pm (Total Number of Edits: 4)
- Posted Wed Aug 24, 2016 5:38 pm
Any more news on the kickstarter for the expansion? I have shown this game to about 10 people so far and every single one has loved it.
I'm a little behind! I had hoped to release this month, but my work schedule has been utterly barbaric this last month and haven't had the time to really finalize the last details. I'm hoping to launch next month some time... but it might not be till decently far into the month before I do (I still need to shoot a video and do the box art for the game, which I'm hoping I can have some time for next week).
I have both games and enjoy them both, however I and most I play with prefer Spheres. I think these are some of the main reasons:
-The dynamic turn order in Spheres, people seem to love the suspense of who's turn will be next, also it keeps everyone constantly engaged
-One action per turn, Risk 2210, like other other versions of Risk, can have turns that last for quite a while. In Spheres the turns are so quick, it just feels like the game is moving along more and you never have to wait so long.
-Combat is dice based in both, but people I've played with like the special dice in Spheres a lot. Also the combat is typically quicker in Spheres. I think there are also more decisions to make during combat with the special cards in Spheres, which have multiple uses (Risk 2210 has cards as well, but they typically cannot be used mid-combat).
-The very open board, The board in Spheres is very open and you can cover a lot of ground using the sea zones. There are no corners to hide in. This means attacks can come from anywhere and often anyone. and allows for some pretty daring late game strategies. The Risk 2210 board is better than other Risk boards with the addition of the moon and the sea territories, but still not as open as Spheres.