Saturday, May 16, 2009

Strategy Tips: Starting Positions and Bonuses

Sorry that I haven't updated in a long time. I thought it was about time to throw out a little more 2210 strategy advice. This particular subject really has no right and wrong, as long as you follow a few basic strategic rules. It really comes down to how well you play the "hand you are dealt" in the game.
Let's talk about starting positions. First of all, there are two basic ways to start the game. Method #1: have each person choose a territory one by one, until all the land territories on the board have been taken. or Method #2: deal out the land territory cards. Each person would then just place a mod on whatever territories he was dealt at random. My friends and I play using the second method. Honestly, I don't think there is much of a difference in the two, aside from the fact that you will be forced to experiment with new continents in the second method, because you will not be able to control where you place your men. What you can control is where you place your additional men. This will determine a large part of your strategy for the rest of the game.

Large Continents; Small Continents; The Moon; and Water

I will tell you one thing that I have learned. It will be nearly impossible to win this game if you do not control your own continent. I would say the average continent bonuses that I see people receive each time is around 6-9. It can be more or less of course depending on other circumstances in the game, but you should shoot to be receiving at least as much if not more than the other players each time it's your turn. This is where you need to take advantage of your starting position. Look at where the other players are going to be placing their men, and choose a place for yourself. If you are going for a "large" continent (North America(5), Europe(5), Asia(7)), it may be wise to simply concentrate all your efforts on controlling only that by the end of year 1.
Note: I do not recommend choosing Asia as a starting continent. It is much too easy to lose and to large to defend.
If you want to take a "small" continent (Australia(2), South America(2), or Africa(3)), it is probably best to also think about securing some water or moon territories either in the first or second year, in order to keep up with those who will have the larger ones. Once you have your bonuses secured, most of your goal for the next 4 years should be to defend them, and use the extra mods they provide as you see fit.

Taking your Bonuses in Year 1

You need to make sure that the other players know which continent you intend to take. Some choose to keep this a secret for as long as they can, but everyone will find out eventually, and making it clear from the beginning will help you avoid conflicts early in the game. If you have to, threaten anyone who tries to challenge the continent you want will an early battle. Any smart Risk player knows to avoid a big fight early in the game, so they will usually back down.
Note: It is almost never a good idea to be involved in a battle over initial territory in the beginning of the game. Do everything you can to avoid this, because it will most likely cripple you in a bad way for the rest of the game. If you are in a situation where it has to happen, try to be the one doing all the attacking. Get a nuke and land guy to give yourself the advantage rolling, and avoid the enemy's stations if possible.
Also, try to place most if not all of your initial "extra" mods into territories within the continent you intend to control. Think about how you will set up your defenses and place your mods according to that. Never randomly scatter your mods across multiple continents, or put a small force in the way of a large force in someone else's continent. Remember, this game is all about diplomacy, and making enemies is something you don't want to do if there is no reason for it.

Holding your Bonuses for the Rest of the Game

Holding your bonuses will be a little trickier. Sometimes you will get lucky and have an entrance to your continent blocked for you by a devastated land. Other than this, try to defend you borders by placing many men in them. You can get rolling bonuses with a diplomat, or a station, so use those to your benefit as well. Also, making deals with other players can help you protect your borders. If you and another player agree not to attack each other, the border you share with him will be blocked automatically, and your mods will be free to be used somewhere else. Be careful though, because your ally can always be invaded by another player, which may make you vulnerable.
If you can make it through years 2-5 with a bonus of about 6-9 intact the entire time, you will be doing pretty well for yourself. Don't be discouraged though, if you lose your bonuses and have to retake them. It's all part of the game and it will happen alot. Part of your strategy should be to make sure you have a larger bonus than the other players, and this may mean it is up to you to destroy some of theirs.
Till next time.

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