19 Tips, Tricks, and Strategies to Win at Risk (the Game)

Overview of the Risk game board
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If you’re an avid board game player like I am, chances are that you have spent many hours battling it out over the Risk board. Whether you are young or old, there is great opportunity to claim victory in Risk – you just need to have a few good tips, tricks, and strategies up your sleeve. 

By implementing the below-mentioned strategies, you can increase your chances of winning at Risk. I have put each of these 19 tips, tricks, and strategies into action and enjoyed numerous wins as a result. If you would like to learn about them to increase your winnings at Risk, read on. I delve into each of them below. 

If you want to win at Risk, put the following 19 winning tips and tricks to the test:

1. Observe, observe, and observe some more.

Observation is a very important part of winning at Risk. You might not be able to tell what your opponents are up to in the first 2 rounds, but by round 3, you should have a better idea. Watch your opponents to see what they are doing, and you should notice if they have their eye on a small continent or want to move their armies. You might notice that they are moving their defense pieces to a certain area on the board. 

Just watching is a powerful tool. You know what they say; knowledge is power.

Board game, lots of figures from the Risk game
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2. In early rounds, attack territories with 1, 2, or 3 infantry to get additional cards.

Getting cards will help you to survive in the early rounds and then establish and fortify your territories in the later rounds. If you want to get more cards, attack territories with just 1, 2, or 3 infantry so that you can get a card quickly and then stop your turn.

3. Avoid making yourself an easy target.

What you do after the random draw can make you an easy target or help you to avoid being one. If you receive 3 or more territories in Africa, for instance, you might be tempted to try to take over this continent as early on in the game as possible. If you do this, other players will start attacking immediately, and this will eat into your troop reserves. Rather hold back on this tactic and avoid being a target.

4. Make sure you have an additional lifeline.

It’s important to always have a backup plan to serve as a lifeline. Think of the random card draw again where you get 3 or more territories in Africa. Place a few troops to these locations, but add troops to various other locations as well. If opponents attack you in Africa, the troops you have in other areas will keep you in the game. Players are less likely to attack as you will appear weak in those areas, which means you could carry on play for a few rounds and soon be able to dominate the territory. 

Detail of the geopolitical strategy game Risk
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5. In weak territories, maintain your troops in numbers of 1 and 3.

You might be wondering why troops of 1 or 3 are the ideal setup for weak territories. The reality is that a territory with 1 troop ensures that opponents can take territory quite quickly and get a card without causing too much damage to you. If you have 3 troops in a territory, you are also quite weak, but your opponent will have to roll the dice twice to defeat you. This might not seem like a good option for them as it could end in them losing far more troops than anticipated. 

6. Have a strategy when placing large armies.

When building a large army, make sure that you don’t set yourself up for failure. Building large armies in territories with multiple attack points only leaves your armies vulnerable. Choose your territories for large armies carefully. 

7. Be strategic with suicide missions.

It’s not a good idea to go on a suicide mission to get a card, but in some instances, it can be quite strategic to sacrifice one of your armies for the greater good. If you go on a suicide mission, other players might start to do the same, which could lead to them weakening their defenses and putting themselves in vulnerable positions.

8. Avoid the temptation to conquer large continents (North America, Europe, and Asia).

If you are tempted by conquering large continents for the extra armies, think again. The moment you start doing this, you cast a spotlight on your troops and your opponents will most certainly start attacking. Large continents might simply be too large and have too many attack points.

Detail of the Asia continent - strategy game Risk
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9. Seek out small continents first (South America and Australia).

While avoiding the large continent take-overs, look out for smaller continents to dominate such as South America or Australia. You won’t need nearly as large an infantry as you would for a large continent, and chances are that your opponents won’t see this as a major threat and will probably leave you to it. The attack points are limited in both of these areas too, which means that attacks on you won’t be alluring to other players.

10. Make smaller risks where possible. 

Playing Risk is not just about taking big risks. Sometimes you need to make a variety of small risks along the way to get ahead and stay in the game. Don’t be afraid to take small risks.

11. Use gameplay psychology to defend against a small continent strategy.

What do you do if an opponent has dominated a small continent and now you are at risk? The best thing to do is to use psychology to your advantage. Make sure that all the other players are aware of the risk of a said player dominating small continents. This will put everyone on high alert, and other players will probably start attacking. 

12. Keep your large armies away from “wild card” players.

Some players are unpredictable and give in to the temptation of aggressive play from the very beginning. It’s important to build your larger armies as far away from these players as possible, just to ensure your longevity in the game.

13. Ally with other players for support against a common threat.

You can ally with other players to ensure that a certain threat is controlled and defeated. Choosing your allies wisely and make sure that you don’t make unrealistic promises for help. 

Risk - Asia and Oceania Continent
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14. Know when to abandon your allies.

Having allies for certain rounds is essential for staying in the game and for getting ahead, but know when to sever ties. You cannot stay allies for the entire game as you are going to have to take action against each other at some point. Make sure that you know when to end your allegiance to each other – while still on good terms. 

15. Delay turning in cards as much as possible.

Turning in cards must be done with a balanced and strategic approach. Players can turn in cards when they have sets of 3 of the same cards or 3 of all different cards. The reality is that you can turn cards in when you have sets of 3, but you only have to turn them in when you have a set of 6. You can, therefore, hold onto your cards for a few rounds, because the first player to turn in cards ends up with the least amount of reinforcements. 

16. Don’t delay too long with turning in cards.

While you want to hang onto turning in cards for as long as possible, it is never a good idea to delay for too long. Hang onto your cards just for as long as you need to and then turn them in before someone seeks to destroy you because the cards are an asset to them. 

17. Attack whenever there might be a border dispute and the battle is inevitable. 

This is especially true in large battles (5 armies or more); you’ll have the advantage. Remember, to wait until you have a similar number of attacking armies as the other player’s defending armies.

18. Make sure you make your final big risk at just the right time. 

To end and win the game, a player has to make a big final risk. It is important to do this at just the right time. If you go in too early with your final big risk, you may be attacked and find your troops defeated – thus, you lose. If you wait too long, another player may take the opportunity, and you lose. Make sure that you keep an eye on the progress of the game and act when the time is just right. 

19. When making your final big risk, move your army strategically and systematically.

When you make your final big risk, you cannot do it haphazardly. You need to ensure that you move your army along a specific route and that you systematically defeat your opponents along the way. This means that your final big risk must be well thought out. 

Last Word

If you are looking to improve your Risk gameplay, perhaps it’s time you put these tips to the test! Hopefully, these tips and tricks will help you to improve your Risk gameplay. Put them into action and see just how well they work. For your next game of Risk, may you have luck on your side!