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.
My 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.
I, 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.
My 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. 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.
by JCUK (jon7064 was my old nick)
15 thoughts on “My First Game of RISK”
what blatant advertising for your clan! LOL and tks for inviting me in….good writeup and u captured the essence that I think most of us feel about this game, the players and site.
Hey, man. I really enjoyed this. Well done.
Nice job dude…
I really enjoyed reading your lines. Very positive, honest and encouraging. Hope to play you one day and maybe able to learn from you or even with you in a double.
Bravo again for your article.
I’m surprised the Balkans isn’t your favorite board though…thanks for the interesting read
I like StudioCity’s remark about favorite map. I’m happy these essay’s started. I would say two for two. JCUK, this was a nice read. Positive, reminiscent, and high hopes for the future. Thanks for taking the time to share this with the community.
Thanks for the kind comments guys, I forgot I wrote this, I’m glad you enjoyed reading it.
very old school, really nice 😉
Good essay.I’ll see you in the battle field.
I really enjoyed your essay. It is truly fantastic the community of Strategists we have here in Major Command!
nicely written, thanks for sharing!
Very nice JC 😀
Thanks for the kind words! Great article!
Thanks to all of yous!