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Italian Risk

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Anonymous

Well, I don’t know where I should post this.

Maybe this should go in the “game review” section. But this is not a review. It wouldn’t make sense to review this game because, if you live in Italy, then I’m talking about a game as popular as Monopoly, so it makes no sense to review it; if you don’t live in Italy, then I’m talking about a game nobody ever heard about which isn’t even commercially available. At least I don’t believe it is.

Anyways, I live in Italy.

Here, Risk is completely unknown, but we have a different version of it called Risiko or Italian Risk. Italian Risk is extremely popular in Italy. Everybody knows it and has played it at least once, and there is a strong community of Italian Risk fans who enjoy regular tournaments and online playing.

I recently heard about International Risk, which I didn’t know, so I searched the web for any information about it.

Thus I discovered that most serious gamers consider International Risk a simplistic game that doesn’t involve serious strategic thinking.

Here, most gamers see Italian Risk as a serious game that is a real brain challenge. Some prefer it to the likes of Axis and Allies. So I’d wonder how different the two Risk games are.

I looked at the international rules of Risk and they’re very similar to Italian rules. However there are little differences that make the international game simplistic. I also played a simple computer version of International Risk and I realized that few different rules make a game completely different.

So I’m wondering if anyone here knows Italian Risk (aka Risiko) or ever heard about it. I know that the game is sold and played only in Italy; it has always been the leading board game over here, but I don’t think it was ever translated into other languages.

Anyways I want to tell you something about the game.

There are several differences between Italian and International Risk, but these are the biggest:

- Combat rules. When a battle occurs, BOTH the attacker and the defender roll up to three dice. Then, each of the attacker’s three dice is compared to one of the defender’s three dice. When a tie occurs, the defender prevails. Since ties are very frequent the average outcome is that the attacker loses 2 armies while the defender loses only one. All Italian Risk players know that if you attack a country you will lose two armies for every defending army – if you’re lucky. In the international game, casualties tend to be the same for both sides.

- Cards. In the international game the number of armies you receive for turning a set of cards is increased during the game. In the Italian game, it remains fixed. And it’s not much. Usually, you will receive less armies than you lost to gain the cards.

- Random secret victory conditions. Well I believe that these are present in certain version of the international game as well. Anyways in the Italian game each player get a card at the beginning that says something like: you must conquer Asia and South America. This is your victory condition and it remains secret until you actually meet it.

- Random initial countries. Again, this also seems to exist in some versions of the international game.

These rules mean that the Italian game is completely different.
First, continente are absolutely vital because they are the only significant source for reinforcements (cards are not). Defensive combat rules mean that continents are MUCH harder to conquer. However, they’re also much easier to hold.

The game is so different from International Risk because combat rules favor defensive, conservative playing. Attacking is too army-expensive to be a good strategy. Attacking is often suicidal. Only because you don’t want your enemy to have a continent doesn’t mean that you must attack him whenever he has a continent. That is suicide strategy. Instead you must garrison one country in the continent BEFORE he takes it. This is a major difference because it means that you must think forward and PREVENT your enemy’s moves. And you must fool your enemy so that he doesn’t see where you’re going to attack.

The strategy in the game doesn’t come from complex field tactics and different types of units. Instead, it comes from complex relationships among players, a la Diplomacy. Each player has different victory conditions so each player has different aims and wants that different areas of the world remain ungarrisoned. And you must find the balance between pursuing your own victory conditions and preventing other players from winning (which does NOT mean that you mindlessly attack them… it means that you garrison the areas you BELIEVE they need for winning).

Also, you cannot win without allies so as in Diplomacy, you must make deals and then break them. There are many reasons why you can’t win without teamwork. One is about cards. Unlike international Risk, here the only way to gain some profit from cards is to attack countries that are defended by a single army. If you attack better defended countries, you will lose more armies than you gain. And players tend to garrison countries heavily and rarely leave countries with only one army – unless you have a deal about it. So it’s vital to have some ally who leaves countries undefended for you. A player who is near victory will often have all his former allies turned against him, which means that he doesn’t have anybody that makes him gain cards. Unless he’s so good at hiding his aims that nobody understand that he’s winning.

A good thing about Italian Risk is that it’s often undecided until the last turn. In my last game we were four players and when I finally won and everybody revealed their victory condition I realized that two of my three opponents were also very near victory. I won only because one of my opponents was so near victory that he moved some troops away from the area he was defending from me – in order to prepare a final strike.

Even though you don’t have to conquer the world, Italian Risk games are long. They can last many hours and even days. This is because of the conservative style of playing which slows down the game a lot.

The best Italian Risk players are those who understand what’s really going on in the game. This is difficult because you have to guess your opponent’s victory conditions and what they’re going to do next and who’s going to attack who. There’s a lot of skill involved. Some players are very good and they win most games.

What do you think about all this?

Gogolski
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Joined: 07/28/2008
Italian Risk

Apart from "the defender also rolls three dice", Italian Risk is just like Risk as I have always known it. ...And I don't like it anymore...

The main issue I have with Risk is that an awful lot depends on your random starting position.
Another issue I have is about some alliances (especially very long lasting ones). If two players make an alliance with which they can practically wipe out the board, it is not too much fun for the players that are just swept from the board. (After this, the two players battle eachother...)

I have a journal entry that proposes Risk-variants. I haven't tried them yet (Having issues with Risk and having a big bunch of other games to play, causes these variants to remain untested...)

Cheese.

zaiga
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: Italian Risk

Francesco wrote:
Thus I discovered that most serious gamers consider International Risk a simplistic game that doesn’t involve serious strategic thinking.

Here, most gamers see Italian Risk as a serious game that is a real brain challenge. Some prefer it to the likes of Axis and Allies. So I’d wonder how different the two Risk games are.

Hello Francesco!

I think almost any game can be a real brain challenge when taken seriously. There are people who have studied Monopoly almost scientifically, and know exactly which spot on the board has the best relative payout, etc. There are world championships for Monopoly, Settlers of Catan, Poker, Magic the Gathering, Backgammon, etc. These are all games with a high amount of randomness, yet you will see the same people doing well at these championships, because they take the game more seriously than others, and make better use of the small differences that differentiate a good player from a great player.

I have played Magic the Gathering at tournament level myself, and I know how much time can go in to finetuning a deck, agonizing over that single card in your deck, because it will make a difference in maybe 2% of the games, which may be the difference between winning a tournament and ending somewhere in the middle of the pack.

My point is that I don't doubt that, when played at a high level and when taken seriously, Risk can be a real challenge to play, with a myriad of strategic choices, because at such a level, small differences will matter. This is not only true for Risk, but for any game of significant weight.

That said, a game that involves strategic thinking is not necessarily a good game. Personally, I don't like Risk mainly because it just takes too long, and because every turn the same kind of decisions have to be made. Now, if it had been a 45 minute game, that might have been OK, but not for a game that may take hours or even days to play. I also don't like the defensive nature of the game, which makes me even less inclined to try out the Italian version of the game.

jwarrend
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Re: Italian Risk

Francesco wrote:

Here, most gamers see Italian Risk as a serious game that is a real brain challenge. Some prefer it to the likes of Axis and Allies.

Axis and Allies is one of my favorite games to play, but I don't think it's really a brain burner. It's more complicated than Risk, but it's not much deeper; there are "best strategies" that you discover pretty quickly on which the entire game hangs (Germany must take Karelia by turn 2, etc). A more interesting game is Samurai Swords, which combines elements of A&A and Risk.

Quote:

- Combat rules. When a battle occurs, BOTH the attacker and the defender roll up to three dice. Then, each of the attacker’s three dice is compared to one of the defender’s three dice. When a tie occurs, the defender prevails.

This sounds like it would heavily encourage "turtling", ie, building up huge armies in border territories. Since Risk already encourages that, I don't know if making it the default strategy will make the game better; it seems like it would lead to gridlock.

Quote:

- Random secret victory conditions.

This is an interesting twist; are there few enough cards that you can memorize what they are (and thus, interpret other players' actions and guess what they might be aiming for)?

Quote:
Attacking is too army-expensive to be a good strategy. Attacking is often suicidal.

Risk where attacking is a bad strategy seems almost like an oxymoron; is this game actually any fun to play? It seems like it would be monotonous to play, with everyone just moving their armies around all day, afraid to actually launch an attack.

Quote:

Even though you don’t have to conquer the world, Italian Risk games are long. They can last many hours and even days. This is because of the conservative style of playing which slows down the game a lot.

I don't see this as an advantage -- the rules changes seem slight enough that it's still Risk at the core. Risk is not a game that I'd want to play for many hours; it's just not deep or varied enough to justify that length. The real advantage of Risk is that it's fast, freewheeling fun, with heavy reliance on luck so you don't take the outcome too seriously.

Thanks for sharing info about the game; I hadn't heard about this particular variant before.

-Jeff

Gogolski
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Italian Risk

jwarrend wrote:

Quote:
This is an interesting twist; are there few enough cards that you can memorize what they are (and thus, interpret other players' actions and guess what they might be aiming for)?
Nope, there aren't that many cards:
* Most of the victory conditions are about conquering two continents
* There's one with three continents
* Conquer 24 territories
* Conquer 18 territories and have at least two armies on each one
* Defeat =->insert color<-= . You have to be the one that defeats the last army of that color or else you must conquer 24 territories. (Remove colors that don't play along before shuffling victory condition deck or else conquer 24 territories if you have to defeat a color doesn't play along.)

Cheese.

larienna
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Joined: 07/28/2008
Italian Risk

It is far from being perfect but it is much more better than the original risk. ( Maybe it is the EUROPEAN risk which is different, not necessarily italian )

But on my point of view, the problem is that you are encouraged to use the moving country tactic. Since the attack path are really limited, for example , in north america, you place all your armies on groenland, alaska, and mexico and you can defend all north america ( which is totally illigical). So you place your armies all at the same place and you rampage your opponent's territory. You split you army when needed. When everythings is destroyed, you set 1 army on all non important army and shield your entry points.

The element that create this bug is the limited invasion points. A good war game must make sure that the defender can never shield himself completely. For the example avove, If I could use ship to land anywhere on the north american coast, then the strategy would be different because I would have to defend both coast in case somebody decide to make a landing.

You know, in bells of war, you can land by ship in england, but you can also paradrop soldier which can be also efficient. So your country is always open, you are never totally safe.

Hedge-o-Matic
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Joined: 07/30/2008
Italian Risk

This should definately be moved to "Game Reviews".

Anonymous
European and Italian versions

Larienna, the Italian edition of Risk is different from those I have seen in other european countries. The tokens and board design is completely different.

However it is possible that the Italian game has the same rules as the European version or at least similar rules.

I'm very curious about this and would like to know. does the European risk also have three dice defence?

Anonymous
Italian Risk

Quote:
Risk where attacking is a bad strategy seems almost like an oxymoron; is this game actually any fun to play? It seems like it would be monotonous to play, with everyone just moving their armies around all day, afraid to actually launch an attack.

Well, it's fun in a different way.

If you want a lot of action and excitement, then you will not find Risiko fun.

(now I don't know any more if it should be called Italian or European Risk; here it's known as Risiko so I will just call it Risiko).

However over here many people find it fun and are addicted to it (including myself).

The point is that unlike "defender-rolls-two-dice" Risk, Risiko is not meant to be fast and fun. It's meant to be slow and defensive. It appeals to people who like relaxing games that evolve slowly and have a lot of diplomacy.

Anonymous
Italian Risk

One reason why games do end even though the defender has a heavy advantage is that different players must conquer different continents to win.

A simplistic example: If Player A must take North America and Player B must take Europe, then Player A will place most of his armies in North America and Player B in Europe. So sooner or later one of the two continent will be in the hands of the player who actually needs it and the game will end even though the two players didn't actually launch a "heavy" attack against each other.

Anonymous
Italian Risk

Well maybe this example doesn't work because if there are only two players they will put all their effort at stopping each other and there will be a heavy battle anyways. However multiply this example by six players and you will see that Risiko games do end.

Of course the example is simplistic because the areas different players must capture often overlap.

As for the victory conditions mentioned by Golgoski those are from an older version of the game. In the latest there are more complex victory conditions and none that requires you to completely destroy an opponent.

Anonymous
Italian Risk

Quote:
You know, in bells of war, you can land by ship in england, but you can also paradrop soldier which can be also efficient. So your country is always open, you are never totally safe.

A good friend of mine once told me that she hates those games in which they can attack you from all sides because then it's impossible to defend yourself. I find it interesting that your point of view is the exact opposite.

FateTriarrii
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Joined: 01/04/2009
Italian Risk

This version sounds alot more fun to play, especially the dice and the victories. I might try it myself with my risk (international, but I assume the map is the same?). The one thing I don't understand is the army buildup. In the risk I know, good players go for either australia or south armerica (works often enough for me) and then each turn plunks down armies of twenty, conquers half the map, only to have their opponent do the same. I might be wrong, but this sounds like it could be nicer w/ the victories before players get two continents etc... I never knew this fact, interesting...

Anonymous
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