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Subject: Risk 2210 Review: A good "bridging" title rss

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Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice.
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Risk 2210

Avalon Hill/Hasbro
Designed by: ???
Number of players: 2 – 5, aged: 10+
Listed duration: Not provided. 3 hours, approximately
Reviewed by: Todd “Beowulf” Lewis

I’ll admit it: I’m a fan of the original Risk. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a thematic variation like 2210, and I was pleasantly surprised. It offers a lot of additional complexity, and manages to keep the time requirement to play the game very reasonable.

Risk 2210 includes three game boards: a world map, a moon map, and a “report status” board. The artwork has a futuristic appearance, with resolution lines reminiscent of a CRT, and topographic features that you might see in a satellite photo. The edges of the status board look like post-apocalyptic distressed metal. These little touches definitely add to the theme of the game, making it feel more integrated and not just an afterthought.

A new addition to the world map is the inclusion of water colonies. There are five “colonies” that are analogous to underwater continents. These locales offer alternate routes for invasion that bypass the traditional chokepoints. In classic Risk, a player who controlled the Australian continent could create a bottleneck at Siam, protecting her complete ownership of Australia, and denying an opponent total control of Asia. In 2210, a player who attempts to follow the same philosophy can find herself outflanked if an opponent launches an attack from Madagascar, through the Indian Ocean water colony, and lands at the “Aboriginal League” (Western Australia on the old map).

The events in Risk 2210 are supposed to take place after a nuclear holocaust. At the beginning of the game, four territories are selected at random and are declared impassable wastelands. “Devastation” markers are placed on those four territories, and players may not own, or move armies through these territories for the entire game. This step adds a nice random element to the game board, although serendipitous marker placement may end up making it much easier to defend a large amount of territory.

Perhaps the biggest difference in 2210 is the addition of five new “commander” units: Land, Naval, Space, Nuclear, and Diplomat commanders. Think of these units as super armies: depending on the situation, they roll an 8-sided die instead of the standard 6-sided ones. Each commander gains this ability under different circumstances, with some overlap. I appreciate thinking about the best way to deploy these units for maximum effect, both offensively and defensively. One of the most satisfying events in the game is to see a defender roll a couple of sixes – certain death for the attacker in classic Risk – only to be trumped by a pair of eights. Their presence in battle gives their owner a greater sense of hope that the outcome will be favorable, and that is a definite edge over some of the slogging fights that would transpire in the original game.

Having a specific commander in play also allows that player to buy and use the corresponding command cards. There are five decks of command cards in all. The effects of these cards can be drastic, making their use an important consideration during your turn. Card sets cannot be turned in for increasing numbers of additional armies, a game mechanic that was flawed in the original game and was rightly removed. Blank command cards are included, and provide players a way to implement house rules. For example, if your group is irked by the inaccessibility of certain areas due to devastation markers, you could create a “global cleanup” card. This card would allow you to remove one devastation marker.

I find that the cards are pretty good in their current form. Most of them are concisely written, leaving little room for sea lawyering. Still, there are some really nasty cards in all of the decks and in the Nuclear and Diplomat decks in particular. I’m not saying they’re broken, but they will illicit some agonized outbursts from your opponents. In our group, causing those outbursts is part of the fun of playing games!

Commanders, cards, and space stations (static terrestrial defenses that confer a bonus when being attacked), are purchased with energy. Energy is the form of currency in 2210, and managing it effectively is a key component of the game. Some cards have an activation cost, which means you have to spend energy to play them. Energy is also used to bid for turn order selection. This facet is perhaps one of the most subtle undercurrents in the game. Should I spend energy now to play cards that can help my current offensives? Or should I hold on to some of it, so that I can win the bidding for turn order, and try to go first on the next turn. The latter idea is very effective if you are the last player to move in the current turn. Going twice in a row can break down even the toughest resistance. These kinds of “tactical versus strategic” decisions add more depth to the non-combat aspects of the game.

With all of these added layers of complexity, it’s easy to assume that the time required to play Risk 2210 easily gets out of hand. And here is where a simple concept comes to its salvation: each game is limited to five turns. At the end of those turns, the player controlling the most territories wins. Note that in each deck of command cards, there are certain ones that confer additional points to a player’s total. I can only speculate as to the origin of these changes: maybe they were lifted part and parcel from a European game. This limitation is a welcome one, as most four player games clock in around three hours in length. That seems to be longer than I recall spending to play classic Risk. I try to plan for four hour gaming sessions on average though, split between two games. Risk 2210 fits nicely, with some light filler either preceding or following it.

I definitely enjoy playing Risk 2210 more than its predecessor. The added dimensions give me more possibilities to explore, both during my turn, and even after it. In effect, the extra complexity dilutes the combat-only focus of the original game that many people find to be tedious. It is a good looking game, it is fun to play, and it can act as a nice bridge between the standard games with which everyone is familiar, and the hidden treasures that can be found on a bookshelf.
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Jason Parent
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Re:User Review
Beowulf (#40506),

Longer to complete than the original? Years ago, my friends all played RISK regularly, and the average game was 10 hours long. The length of the game was one of the deterrents for me enjoying RISK, and one of the reasons I enjoy 2210. In-house games for us take about 3-4 hours, and the tournament games I played in were all 3 hours to 3 1/2 hours long.
 
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Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice.
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Re: User Review
HellHound wrote:
Longer to complete than the original? Years ago, my friends all played RISK regularly, and the average game was 10 hours long.

Whoa! We only ever encountered games of that length if we allowed unlimited redeployments at the end of each player's turn, a house rule with which we quickly dispensed. Most of the games we now play of "classic" Risk don't take as long.

Quote:
The length of the game was one of the deterrents for me enjoying RISK, and one of the reasons I enjoy 2210. In-house games for us take about 3-4 hours, and the tournament games I played in were all 3 hours to 3 1/2 hours long.

Yes, I agree that the turn limit keeps the game manageable. Now that we have had the opportunity to play several games, we can complete a game in about three hours.
 
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Aaron Gelb
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HellHound wrote:
Beowulf (#40506),

Longer to complete than the original? Years ago, my friends all played RISK regularly, and the average game was 10 hours long. The length of the game was one of the deterrents for me enjoying RISK, and one of the reasons I enjoy 2210. In-house games for us take about 3-4 hours, and the tournament games I played in were all 3 hours to 3 1/2 hours long.


uhhh 10 hours??! I don't think thats even possible! I mean just the fact that people turn in cards to get huge troop numbers makes the game end within 3-5 hours i would guess. Our games NEVER lasted more than 4 hours...what and how were you playing that it lasted 10 hours?!wow
 
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