Risk 2210 A.D.

While on vacation I was able to play Risk 2210 A.D. with my brother and nephews. Andrew brought the game board, which originally came out in 2001, but it was new to me. This variation of Risk adds underwater territories and continents (2 or 3 territories per continent) and the moon with 3 additional continents, plus there are small changes to the land territories including most of the names of territories. Using energy tokens that you earn by controlling territories at the beginning of your turn, you can buy specialized commanders which are required if you want to take over water or moon territories. The commander also lets you use an 8-sided die for attacking and they always defend with an 8-sided die. An opponent with a 6-sided die can never roll a 7 or 8, so this is a pretty good advantage. There are also cards that you purchase with energy credits that allow you to do special things like reinforce a territory when it is attacked, give you points at the end of the game, and other things, some of which can completely change the game, like stop an opponent from attacking you (or stop an opponent from using cards against you, both big changes on the last turn).

For the most part the game plays like regular Risk, but with so many more territories and rules that there are a lot more options. Also there are more border territories (Australia goes from one entry point to one by land and two by sea, and since it only earns 2 troops per turn, it is no better than a couple of the water continents). The result seems to be less emphasis on giant battles of amassed troops and more on just taking over as many territories as possible and avoiding conflicts, even if means letting your opponent hold a continent like Europe or North America.

Another new wrinkle is bidding for turn order. Players bid on whether they want to go first (or last, you decide if you win the bid). If you have control of a continent and fear losing it, it will be very helpful if you can go first and reap the benefits of those holdings by going first, but to win a bid you use points that could buy cards or commanders. The play is limited to 5 turns, so the last turn becomes absolutely critical. If you go last you can sweep through your opponents’ lightly defended territories without worrying about defense and take as much territory as you can to boost your final score (based on your territories and continents as well as any cards that may give you points at the end).

One problem is that a player that is able to take a lot of territory quickly will start to receive a lot of bonuses of troops and energy currency, letting them buy more commanders and cards as well as outbid their opponents. So the strong get much stronger and the weaker have very few options, though sending troops to the moon or taking over neglected water territories is a way to increase bonuses without getting into costly big battles with powerful opponents.

One other new rule is to randomly destroy 4 territories at the beginning of the game which can affect borders (or have very little effect sometimes), making every game unique. There are still ocean connections. There aren’t really connections from space. You can enter the moon at one of three different moon territories (3 continents with only 3 entry points; not bad if you can take the whole thing, though I haven’t seen it happen). You can fortify from your space territories to your earth territories, but you can’t attack earth without a card that lets you invade, and even then only to a country picked at random. It took us a while to figure out to use all of the new territories instead of just playing risk with the old land-based territories. The usual strategy of taking Australia first is not nearly as effective in this game.

Anyway, there are a lot of new elements to this game and a lot of choices. This might make it a little less about strategy. Plus the cards change the game a good bit in unpredictable ways giving it a little more of an element of chance. I think the big game changing cards shouldn’t be allowed. Also there are 18 points in cards floating around which can easily be enough to win the game after 5 turns.

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