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Subject: Sibling Rivalry rss

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Stephen Smith
United States
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Only Game: Risk

About two weeks ago, I talked to my younger brother Philip for a little while about life in general. He is a recent law school graduate and has been working for one of the local judges. It seems that he has a lot of time on his hands these days which he spends playing computer Risk. Needless to say, he began a little trash talking. I was decided that we would play a game sometime over the Thanksgiving break. This was the result of that with Matt and Dad joining us for our battle of world domination.

We started the game by dealing out the cards for territories rather than the often longer prospect of choosing them. Since I had a territory in Australia, I figured I would make an attempt at the continent, so I placed all of my men there. Dad felt the same way. This essentially meant that our four-player game of Risk was going to be reduced to a three-player game of Risk in a matter of turns. Matt concentrated primarily on Africa while Philip set up a nice pattern in Europe and South America. My first few turns were rather predictable. I spent my time trying to kick Dad out of Australia while he did the same. Eventually, I was able to do so, but not without heavy cost. While I did manage to hold the continent, I was never really able to fortify it, and Dad never gave up. Meanwhile, Matt and Philip spent a lot of time fighting over South America and Africa. At times Philip would have the upper hand while at other times, Matt would have the advantage. The battle also began in earnest for Europe. Finally, Matt was able to set himself up in a pretty strong position, holding both Africa and South America with most of Europe.

At this time, Matt held the dominant position in the game. If he were a little more experienced in Risk (this was only his second time to play) he might have actually held on for the win. However, at this point, we were entering the second round of turn-ins for additional armies. This often leads to some fairly large swings. Fortunately for Matt, he was ahead of the curve initially. Dad and I were still fighting it out, basically waiting to see who would be able to turn in first. As it was, Dad won that race. While he did not completely wipe me out, he did take me out of Australia, and left me with only three territories. Since I had four cards, I was quite surprised he did not attempt to completely take me out. At any rate, Philip was in dire straits, so he did me the favor on his next turn, allowing him a mid-turn turn-in. This allowed him to do some damage to Matt and get back in the game -- fortifying himself with an eye toward North and South America.

Unfortunately for both Philip and Matt, they continued to ignore Dad as they had for the earlier portion of the game. Unfortunately, I was no longer there to keep him in check. Shortly thereafter, he managed to take control of Asia, fortifying himself strongly on the western front. He was obliged, however, to leave only a skeleton force of five armies on Kamchatka. Matt was too busy fighting for South America and Africa to mount any sort of attack on Dad's western flank. Oddly, he beat himself to death on the forces Philip had in Central America. Philip spent his turn occupying the last of North America. He now had a sizeable army in Alaska, yet did not at least take Kamchatka. This allowed Dad to hold Asia long enough to earn the additional armies. He then used these armies to solidify his western front and make an incursion into Africa. He did not fortify Kamchatka. Little did this matter, as both Philip and Matt continued to ignore him?!?

On his next turn, Dad was able to turn in again. With the mass of armies he acquired -- something like 40 -- he prepared for an all out invasion of Europe and Africa. He also placed a large group in Kamchatka. With the armies he had acquired, he was able to easily wrest total control of both Europe and Africa from Philip and Matt. As Philip had solidified his control of South America on his previous turn, this meant Matt was now out of the game. In addition, he took Alaska away from Philip. At the end of his turn, Dad fortified both Iceland and North Africa. On his turn, Philip was able to turn in as well. After fortifying both Brazil and Greenland, he placed most of his men in the Northwest Territories in order to make war in Alaska. He eventually pushed dad out and followed him into Asia. Leaving a few men behind, he traveled on toward the Ukraine with a plan to turn south to Africa. However, after the Ukraine, he had left too many people behind to continue further. One his next turn, dad was able to turn in again, receiving 50 men this time. This was in addition to the 13 others he received. When these were added to the force in North Africa, he had over 100 men in one territory. Philip decided it was not worth the trouble of rolling the dice as he had two turns before even a chance to turn in again.

Final Result:

Dad wins

My recent experience with Risk has been a little odd. I played another game of Risk not all that long ago. Prior to this, though, I cannot even remember the last time I played a game of Risk, let alone the last time I managed to win -- at least five years for the former, more than ten for the latter. Alas, my recent outings have not been good. Tonight, I knew things were not going well at the beginning. Rarely does a second player pick a fight in Australia after a first player has already made his intentions for it clear. The primary reason for this is that there is a reasonably good chance you will be put out of the game rather quickly since you will not have the first turn attacking. The second is that if you happen to win, you are too wounded to be able to do much good afterward. In the game tonight, it was simply a race to the second turn-in. However, at that point, the game really should have been over. I was quite surprised that Dad was allowed to hold Asia for two turns. To be honest, I've never seen someone lose after holding Asia for even a single turn. Kudos to Dad for surviving the fight for Australia and sneaking into a position of strength. Our total game time was about three and a half hours.
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