Tony D.
United States
Waterloo
Iowa
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Nothing like family, friends and games...and music and beer...and pizza and bean dip...and actually having time to play games...
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And so it begins...

Saturday, February 11th, 2012 saw the beginning of our Risk: Legacy adventure. For now, we’re sticking with a core group of 5 people and seeing how long we can hold it together. My goal for the evening was to play at least twice, hopefully 3 times. Between catching up with each other, playing with our daughter Ella, and a nice, long pizza break, we managed two games. That’s fine: when planning these things, it’s surprisingly (and somewhat embarrassingly) easy to forget that the whole point of this hobby is to spend time with friends. Besides, our two games took a bit longer than I expected, and we still managed to be in bed at the (for us) highly reasonable hour of 11 pm.

Our group consists of myself, my wife Gretchen, our friends Matt and Jeremy, and Jeremy’s teenage son Zak. I explained the rules, which only took about 10 minutes, and then we set about customizing the territory deck. We unanimously agreed to shuffle the deck and put one coin sticker on each of the first 12 cards we turned up. Our results were interesting: half of the territories selected were in Asia, 3 were in South America, and one each appeared in Africa, Europe and North America.

After that, we rolled for turn order, and we chose factions in that order. At this time, I also handed out the Scar cards and the Starting Power cards, explaining that we would take turns discussing our options for each faction, but that the final decision for each starting power would be made by each faction’s player. I also made sure everyone understood that we wouldn’t be playing the same factions every game.

Jeremy chooses Enclave Of The Bear and starts in Russia
(Defender receives -1 to lower die in first battle of turn)
Gretchen chooses Saharan Republic and starts in Western Australia
(May maneuver between any 2 territories)
Tony chooses Imperial Balkania and starts in Mongolia
(May draw a resource card after expanding into 4+ territories)
Matt chooses Khan Industries and starts in Peru
(Receives 1 bonus troop in every territory he controls with an HQ)
Zak gets Die Mechaniker and starts in South Africa
(HQ is always fortified)

Once the game got underway, I realized I had made the classic Risk error: starting in Asia. I had hoped to take advantage of Imperial Balkania’s starting ability and stock up on resource cards. In the first two turns, though, I only managed 2 coin cards. Meanwhile, everyone but me controlled at least one continent. Uh oh.

Early on, Gretchen was looking like the one to beat. She’s a bit of a Risk shark, and had exploded out of Australia. Meanwhile, Matt and Zak were headed into a bit of a standoff, which I chose to ignore for the time being. Jeremy, on the other hand, controlled Europe but was spread very thin. Seeing an opportunity, I went for Russia and snatched it, earning an HQ and my 3rd red star, but I was now spread equally thin. At this time, Jeremy reminded us all of The Tony Principle:

The Tony Principle wrote:
If Tony owns a game, and is teaching it for the first time, there is a strong chance he will lose.

Corollary: The likelihood that Tony will lose is directly proportional to how excited he is to play and how much time he has spent on BGG reading about the game the previous week.


And boy, did it come into play. While none of us were paying attention, Matt had taken over most of North America and had made inroads into Asia. Through the use of an ammo shortage, he took my HQ from me, and somewhere in there, Jeremy reclaimed his HQ. The best I could hope for at this point was to avoid elimination, so I started piling my troops in Siberia.

Gretchen, meanwhile, now controlled most of south Asia, and I was bracing myself for an attack. She wouldn’t have time though, because Matt decided to stop toying with Zak and went for his HQ, earning his 4th red star and the honor of being the first to sign the winner section.

For its role in his victory, Matt chose to rename South America “La Morsa Muy Fuego”, which he says is very bad Spanish for “The Fiery Walrus”. We’ll have to take his word for it. The rest of us chose to place Minor Cities. Here’s our board after the first game - click on it to see names and locations, because this session report is already long enough:



After pizza and wings, we settled in for our second game, after giving Matt his missile and explaining how it worked, along with the additional rules brought about by the cities and continent names. Also, two Scars were played in the first game, so no Scar cards were dealt out.

Tony chooses Die Mechaniker and starts in Eastern Australia
Jeremy chooses Imperial Balkania and starts in South Africa
Gretchen chooses Enclave Of The Bear and starts in Iceland
Zak chooses Khan Industries and starts in Argentina
Matt gets Saharan Republic and starts in Alberta

Everyone seemed to have picked up on my mistake in the last game, because by the end of round 1, everyone had a continent to themselves, and almost everyone had earned a troop bonus as a result. This time I was the one trying the Australia gambit, and it was working well enough for me that Matt was warning everyone else about “the Tony situation”. Meanwhile, Zak and Jeremy had started close enough to each other that they got into it right away, and soon we were seeing The Jeremy & Zak Effect:

The Jeremy & Zak Effect wrote:
If Jeremy and Zak are both playing in the same game, and there is at least one other player, they will both attack each other nonstop and someone else will cruise to victory.


Having played many 3-player games with these two, I’ve become a bit of an old hand at exploiting The Jeremy & Zak Effect. I took advantage of what Zak had done to Jeremy in Africa and swooped toward Jeremy’s HQ, taking it and knocking Jeremy out of the game in the process. Fortunately for Jeremy, his turn was next and there were three empty territories, meaning he was able to join the war and avoid elimination. Also, somewhere in there Matt used his missile on behalf of Jeremy, in a battle with Zak.

By this point, Gretchen had expanded out of Europe into north Asia, and Matt had gained a foothold in the east through his domination of North America. This was pretty far away from the main action, which by now was in Africa. I traded in 4 coins for 7 troops and massed them in Egypt, then cleaved through North Africa and Brazil, losing a lot of troops to Zak along the way. I was hoping to have enough to take Zak’s HQ in Argentina, and had stacked up troops on Jeremy’s HQ just in case, but the dice went my way and I earned my 4th red star.

Taking a cue from Matt, I chose to use my endgame reward to honor the continent that had played the biggest role in my victory and renamed Australia “The Nether Regions”. This came close to violating our “all continent and city names must be G- or PG-rated” rule, but the term “nether regions” had been used on an episode of “Spongebob Squarepants” earlier that day, so it was all good.

Again, everyone else chose to place a Minor City. Here’s our board after game #2:



Random observations:

- As mentioned before, Gretchen is very good at most versions of Risk, and I fully expected her to come away with a win here, but by her own admission she wasn’t prepared for the quick pace of this game. She took too long building up her forces, and the game ended before she was ready to do some serious damage. She’ll remember for next time.

- Territory cards didn’t play as much of a role as we expected. That may change as we open packets, but for now at least, this game seems to be all about going for the HQs. Rewarding quick, aggressive play is a good thing, in my opinion.

- In both games, we came very close to having an eliminated player, and both times the endangered faction was Imperial Balkania. I wonder if this faction will develop a reputation in our group as being “cursed”. Gretchen doesn’t seem to think so: when I pointed this out to her, she took it as a challenge, and I expect she’ll be picking Imperial Balkania when she gets a chance.

- As you can tell by the second board image, none of the players who held on were interested in upgrading a territory card. (I think Jeremy spoke for the group when he greeted that option with an exaggerated yawn.) Still, with only 1 minor city left, we’re going to have to get used to the idea soon. It’ll be interesting to see what strategies (if any) are employed when upgrading cards.

- Speaking of minor cities, I’m certain we’ll be opening the “all 9 minor cities” packet after the next game. With us coming so close to having an eliminated player in our first session, it’ll be interesting to see if people start gunning for other players in hopes of opening that envelope as well. The only other one that might realistically happen soon is the “sign the board twice” envelope, but I expect that red star deficit will be tough to overcome for me and Matt (well, me anyway).

- Our other 3 players who haven’t signed the board yet have indicated that the next session will be a bloodbath. I hope so.



Thanks for reading. I'd prefer if everyone stayed away from spoilers in the comment section, but if you must include them, please use spoiler tags. Thanks again!

EDIT: typos.

EDIT 2: Here are links to the rest of the series:

Games 3 & 4
Games 5 & 6
Games 7 & 8
Games 9 & 10
Game 11
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Ecosmith Ecosmith
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Nice session report. I wonder, what time did you start your first session? We only managed one game in our first session, which was about 3 hrs long from opening the box to naming our minor cities.

Eco
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Tony D.
United States
Waterloo
Iowa
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Nothing like family, friends and games...and music and beer...and pizza and bean dip...and actually having time to play games...
Avatar
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Good question, and something to keep in mind for future reports. Our first game got underway around 4:30-5 pm. The first game took about an hour, and then we had a nice long pizza break before game 2. The second game took a bit longer, but we were done before 10 pm.

We've since played games 3 & 4, but haven't gotten any sessions in since. Our games are getting longer, so even if we start in the afternoon the best we can hope for is probably 2 games.
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