1vs1 Tournament: Why is it Popular and Why do People Hate it!?

The 1 vs 1 tournament is loved, hated, and debated.  Why do people play it?  For many reasons:

  • some love the number of quicker games it offers
  • some love the speed at which the tourneys start
  • some love the fact they will get to play higher ranking players that they would not normally get the opportunity to play and take their points knowing they are unlikely to win the tournament. They still effectively win by only winning one game.

Why do people hate it?  A less psychological strategy is required and more reliant on luck/odds, whether that being the first player to act or luck/odds of the dice, so it is debated in the forums anyway.

The tournaments I create are escalite, 1 x reinforce, border.  I do this so players need to think hard about their first few turns which as we know are critical in the long run.  Many players don’t think that the first attack is against 1 or 2 terts with a 3 on, they get caught up in securing an early command and forget about the order of the sets.  So with a lack of psychological influence and the ability to use other players as pawns, it’s an odds-based strategy and a full analytical look at the board will tell you what the best odds are.  How many players use the full odds?  I would argue not very many.  Do you waste troops going after a neutral to complete a command?  Can you protect it on every border or do you slowly hunt the player reducing their deployment on every turn?  At the end of their turn the deploys are even again and that is what they are looking for.  At the start of their next turn, they have smaller deploy and so it goes on.  The only luck in this game is relying on a player to make a mistake based on poor judgment and a rose-tinted view of the board.  But what if their initial attack doesn’t work?  Have they considered the implications? Generally not.

Is 1 vs 1 based on luck? I would argue no.  In every game, there is an element of the odds not paying off but I would argue it just a very different strategy and less reliant on using other players as pawns.  For those about to provide statistics to prove me wrong, remember there are lies, lies, and statistics. To be conclusive, all variables would need to be considered.  I very rarely play multiplayer games because I cannot be bothered with mind games.  I can handle them, it’s other players in the game used as pawns that frustrates me.  Anyway, I thought I would write a blog on my thoughts on the 1 vs 1 tourneys that I enjoy creating and playing in.  I know there is a difference of opinion from the odd player and if anyone is happy to debate it, please feel free to provide comprehensive statistical evidence ‘controlling all variables’ and I will agree to be proved wrong.  Happy to be the guinea pig.

1 vs 1 is not for everyone, and nobody is forced to play them.  If you think you have what it takes, come play a few
1 vs 1 tourneys and duel your heart out with like-minded people.




Playing Risk on Major Command after 5 years

Why am I still playing Risk on this site after 5 years?


JCUK avatar


Well it all began in 1996… just kidding, that’s how I started my first blog on Major Command. I just read that blog from 2017 back and it and had a little chuckle to myself. I thought it would be interesting for someone to read by first blog and then my views a few years later to see how my outlook has changed, if at all. Even I’m not 100% sure as I am penning this now.

My initial thoughts are that Major Command has changed a little, either that or I have, maybe a little of both. I have done some growing over the years. I suppose understanding who I am may help add some flavour to how you interpret my thoughts. I have a relatively late educational background having completed my first degree in my late 30s and then going on to complete two more degrees in the few years following. I am student of engineering, in the fact that I have been an IT Engineer for the last 25 or so years and love all things technical including engines et al. Although my main role is as a cyber security engineer, I completed an MSc in Leadership and Management with my dissertation based on Psychological Contracts in the workplace. A very interesting and enlightening subject. I have found that my research has helped me understand how people think and in particular what motivates them from a psychological perspective. It’s interesting watching people using psychology in games and in the forums and it often makes me smile as I’m sure it does you. My negative aspects are that I get into battles that I should walk away from as I feel I don’t suffer fools too well. In reality I should ignore them and walk away… occasionally I don’t and I hate myself for it. On a positive, I am told I am calming influence in a crisis and lead well. I think that has come from 25 years in the military and learning not to worry about things you can’t control and focus on what you can in the appropriate manner. This meaning that getting excited and angry won’t change what has happened but working calmly and methodically through the situation to resolve it. Yes…this totally contradicts my negative point but I think that’s because I am very much aware it, have learned from it and try to compensate. Well that’s enough of an expose, hopefully you will be able to understand why I think the way I do a little.

Firstly, what attracts me to Major Command and what probably keeps me coming back are the people. This site is an honest site, run very professionally, or at least as professionally as it can be for what is essentially a community site and the community is what makes it work with the busy owner ‘Sheriff‘ and the long standing ‘take no crap’ but honest and approachable Cardinalsrule steering the ship. I love the way that everyone gets a chance to screw up, learn the error of their ways, nothing more is said about it (too my knowledge) and the ‘let’s get on and play’ attitude. I say this from seeing a number of players blatantly cheating, the hammer coming down on them and then generally they play honestly there on in. Although I think we have all seen some of these players coming back under a different username to hide their shame, changing their persona to be avoid being discovered but really we know it’s them and ignore it as long as they play nice. I could honestly say there are a few players around here that are clearly older disgruntled players (of a different username) that have realised they just need to play nice but it’s interesting occasionally seeing some of their old unmistakable personality showing through. So why am I still here, well, all that said, this site still works as a community, people make mistakes and move on and we just keep playing.

So I left for around 12 months and had a break last year, why did I do that? I got to the point that I thought I was playing too much, it was a big part of my life as I know it is for many people here. Frustrations got to me and it was actually starting to affect me in the real world. I felt myself becoming argumentative in the forums and with people in general, this was not healthy. I reviewed why I play here and it was becoming more negative than positive so I made a decision to have a break, left the community, retired my account and got on with other things. I think being a tourney operator also has it’s stresses and I used to be very busy making lots of tournaments, responding to complaints which takes its toll on you. All I can say is that Sheriff and Cards have the patience of saints. As they will know, not all criticism is constructive and it does wear you down after a while. I have probably been one of those that has passed criticism over the years and hated myself for it after.

I think something I have learned is don’t be greedy, quality over quantity in the game sense. I used to have double the amount of games on the go and too many wears you down. My good friend F15 has suffered this and we have many chats about it, he reduced his game count and seems a lot more happy now, it’s great to be back playing with him again. I will also mention SamPaul who is another good friend I have on this site, we all met in a clan a few years ago and recently Sam came back from a break of a year and we have started playing triples again, good times. These guys are awesome and I love playing triples with them, win or lose, we have a laugh doing it… and that’s what it’s all about.

There are so many characters on Major Command, many come here for different reasons, escape the troubles of real life, to waste time, to meet new people and to challenge themselves. I can understand all those reasons as they are exactly why I am here. I will mention that many people I have played against over the years were just a name and it’s taken a long time to really get to know them and realise that they are genuine good guys. I now filter many of my games in the hope to be playing against these people and avoid many of the players that I don’t want to play against or with.

To answer the question I posed in the title: Why am I still playing risk on Major Command after 5 years? Hopefully some of this has come through in this blog but primarily it’s the challenge of the game and the good people that make up this community. I have learned a lot about the site and the way in which I play here, good and bad, and adapting my play and interaction on the site has made it somewhere I want to continue being a part of for the foreseeable future.

People Playing Risk Board Game

If you are having bad days, bad games, bad interactions… don’t let it consume you, take a break, change your games, people you play against and moderate your time on the site.

All the best


ADDENDUM: FOLLOW UP FORUM POST FROM JCUK: A place where everyone knows your name!

The Psychology Behind Playing RISK

The Psychology Behind RISK

A short post for the community corner:


Psychology of RISK

The psychology behind playing RISK, the seen but not spoken….

RISK is a game of diplomacy, strength and threat. Not always obvious and sometimes people don’t see what is happening until it is too late. The best RISK players apply all elements of this strategy to best affect knowing which to apply and when. There are many players that discuss strategy such as ‘be every where and no where’ etc. What is never really discussed is the psychology behind some of these strategies.
Sun Tzu
‘Know your enemy’ Sun Tzu.
I have watched many players over the last few years, some recklessly lucky, some patient and strategic. Each of these players know who they are and how they play, what is constant is their general game strategy. Some will disagree but my observations are that many players very rarely change their strategy unless forced. I will not say that their strategy doesn’t change after being on the bottom, a bad run of dice or a lucky unpredictable player catches then off guard while they they are building and all is to play for.

Getting back to it, strategy, so what is this generally unseen winning strategy that is so successful? It’s the psychology of playing RISK that emotionally intelligent players understand so well. They are patient players that can see what is happening early and employ the right strategy early. Aggressive players go for a command early but can very rarely hold it. Intelligent players build boarders early with threat and use this as their tool enabling them to hold a command. Some call this bullying but at the end of the day this is war and war can be seen as unfair such as the dice. Nice guys lose wars! Don’t hit a guy with glasses, why? Because they have a vulnerability and it is seen as an unfair advantage and dishonorable. So how do you make yourself vulnerable without being vulnerable? Get your opponent to like you so they feel bad about attacking you, after all, that wouldn’t be very nice would it? Are they being nice because they like me or are they being nice so I don’t attack them? This is for you to work out but it’s interesting to watch from the outside when it is happening. The problem is, as your are watching it from the outside you are becoming a target from its effects. 4-6 player games of RISK are when this is seen to best effect.
RISK General Rank
Why do some RISK players never make General or even Major after being on this site for many years? In my opinion they are not patient enough, not in years, but in games. They want to win and get into the next game and win again, similar to the addiction of putting more money into the gambling machine. If there was a leader board for the most amount of money put onto a gambling machine they would be happy as they are at the top.

So why is patience important, it isn’t the thrilling part of the game, you don’t cover the map, so how can you win? It’s simple, stay small enough to grow and don’t be a threat. The threats become the target to other players, let them battle it out and slowly expand, their troops are busy elsewhere, plan your diplomacy’s to reflect this. Players will be comfortable with a diplomacy and often get into another fight and forget about that fact that their diplomacy will end at some point and being unable to show strength in the area to force a diplomacy renew. Great players will allow a diplomacy renew knowing that the opposing boarder will be even weaker the next time.
Sun Tzu
‘Know your enemy’ Sun Tzu. RISK is a game of attrition, let other players spend their troops and allow them to do it. ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’ Sun Tzu. This is only a drop in the ocean understanding the psychology of war, after all we can’t boil the ocean in a short blog. Things maybe not what they appear at first glance and don’t become a pawn in someone else’s game! RISK is a game of war and game of diplomacy, but don’t get the two confused!

Happy hunting!


My First Game of RISK

It all began in 1996…

by JCUK (jon7064)
(Major Command Risk Game Player and Blog Contributor)

I wanted to write a few words about why I play risk and what have I learned from playing this great game.

Gornji VakufMy first introduction to the game of Risk was during a tour of Bosnia in 1996. I had been in the army for 6 months and found myself in a little place in the Balkans called Gornji Vakuf. We had 1 TV channel to watch while we were out there and a bar that we were allowed to drink 2 cans of beer a night (when I say 2 cans, it wasn’t policed very well), It was 1996 after all. As you can imagine board games where a big pass time and it wasn’t until after a few months I was introduced to the board game ‘Risk’. It took me a little while to understand how the dice and cards worked but that was it, I was addicted. We played every Sunday and the games started late afternoon as it was our day off and went well on into the night. Good times.

I never played Risk again until around 2007 when Zynga created an app to play Risk online on Facebook, this lasted for about 6 months I think until they were caught infringing copyright I imagine and it was taken down – I was gutted. I have looked over the years and no site stood out as being managed well or had regular players until December 2015 when I found MajorCommand. I played a lot of real time risk games at first and became a little disillusioned as players leave when they realise they are losing and they are generally not very polite. I soon realised that causal games were the place to be, players were respectful, polite and were also happy to share some strategy. I found sharing strategy odd at first due to my experience playing real time, but soon realised that actually most players on MajorCommand are genuinely respectful and honest which was a breath of fresh air.

Warrant OfficerI, like most, found myself chasing commands, over rolling and hoping for great dice and finding more bad luck than good luck. It seems I forgot more from 1996 than I learned. I quickly (after about a month, I’m sorry to say) realised the amount of dice you roll changes depending on how many troops you have and it changes again whether attacking or defending with less than 4 troops. Understanding this changed my whole style and I quickly started to progress through the ranks to Warrant Officer. This is where the game changed again. At Warrant Officer I noticed that more senior/experienced players would play against me, at first very few officers would join any of my smaller games, understandably with a lot of their points at stake. I watched carefully as I got beat game after game and could not understand why, what was I doing wrong? This was when I started to watch how they were beating me and often it was on the larger maps where I realised that owning a few extra territory and gaining the extra deploy of an additional troop started to make a large difference. Instead of attacking 3’s or 2’s it made sense to break a 3 and attack the singles behind it reducing the tert count and indeed dropping the initial deploy of the opponent increasing mine. Again, I started to over roll and lot leave a trail of 2s in my wake, to my frustration watching an even worse counter attack. Never getting in front was frustrating but a valuable lesson learned. Strategy starts from the first roll and a careful look at that map at the start is important.

Team games where the next challenge, I managed to join a couple of games with some experienced people and I would take their lead to a win. On a high, I set up some team games where random people would join and found a real lack of communication lead to a lot of losses. It put me off playing team games for a while and stuck to large singles escalate games. A whole new strategy in escalate, ‘How many different strategies are there?’ Lots! In escalate I continued to try and build commands and then after 6 rounds the game was over, not enough time to build a command! What was I doing wrong! I noticed that Tapeworm put some game advice on his profile which I found enlightening and sped up understanding of strategies for different settings (Thank you Tapeworm). I realised that in escalate a command was just the byproduct of a good drop but the aim. I found the aim was to keep my troops geographically separated build the cards and wait. Timing is everything in escalate, ensuring that it is difficult for someone with a set next to me to take me and my cards out on a turn and then go on a run. This ensured that I lasted at least until after the second set and then it is just luck I suppose of when the sets drop. What I learned is try to get to the second set but not be the first on the second set to get the least amount of cards. I started to hold 4 cards and not take a territory and getting 5 cards until the timing was right. I believe I have captured most of the strategy, well it seems to have worked for me a few times and always relying on lady a little on the cards.

The Twelve Domains MapMy favourite map use to be 12 domains, a lot more complex than other maps apart from Nukes, and the settings make each strategy very different and interesting. I won’t go into all the strategies I have learned as that would be whole essay in itself. I have had some really good runs on 12 domains, it’s exciting to play and still play it a lot now. I have found the map attracts some frequent players that also understand strategies which tend to be really good games.

So a few months ago, I found the BSQUAD, I believe it was SamPaul and Rosco that wanted to start a new clan, JProcwalk was next to join followed by myself, Deandrum, Zapatera, F15FreeEagle, Tyme1Risk. We had a ropey start but settled down and started organising some team games and posting them on the board for anyone to join. We won a few, lost a few, found the maps we liked and won a few more.bsquad clan We are not particular who we play, we win more than we lose but due to the nature of our ranks we tend to lose a lot more points that we win. We generally have to win 7 out of 10 games to break even. This hasn’t always happened and caused us all to drop a few ranks and then slowly build back up again. I’m happy to say that we play for the love of the game and the points and rank are a byproduct of playing but not the main goal. Because we all have the same outlook, we have fun, have plenty of humour in games (sometimes too much) and our clan forum is generally busy with game and personal chat. I have got to know the guys in the clan and see them as my friends now which is a great bonus and one of the reasons I love MajorCommand so much. A place to chat with honourable friends and have fun doing something we all enjoy. I will say that we have an interclan game going that I think will never finish as nobody wants to be the one to break a boarder lol (although no diplos are allowed in that particular game). It’s almost become our unofficial team meeting room.

I could have gone on so much more about many aspects of the site but with the risk of losing you as a reader I will close it here.

So what have I learned from being on MajorCommand for the last 12 months? It’s reminded me that RISK is the best simple strategy game around on a great site, with great admin and great players. I think it will be around for a long time. If you see me (or the BSQUAD) in game, please chat, I may want to kick your ass, but in a friendly way and we have chat whilst doing it ;-D

My advice, play good players that beat you, learn why they are beating you and employ similar strategies. You will eventually get better and win big, and when you do it is satisfying. Join or create a clan and have fun. At the end of the day that’s why we come to this site, not to win but to have fun. If we win while having fun, then you really are a winner.

Certa Cito

by JCUK (jon7064 was my old nick)