I’m sure you’re all familiar with the game of Risk. I am probably not imagining things if I hear stifled groans from your direction, although I probably am, as I know that my readership extends as far as Australia, and I can scarcely hear what happens in the next room from me. Anyway, Risk. It is a game that is perhaps best known for being intolerably boring and for taking three weeks to complete. This is an exaggeration. I managed to complete a game in only one and a half weeks the other day.
Indeed, the dullness of the game provokes a challenge among popular games designers like myself. Well, I call myself a popular games designer, I should confess it would be an exaggeration to call me popular. Or a designer. Or even to say that I have anything to do with games. This may shine through as I attempt to explain my game.
The challenge of course is the infamous quest to create the most boring derivative of Risk. Again, you may be questioning just how infamous this quest is. I just made it up. I’m really failing at my new year’s resolution not to exaggerate the truth at all. That wasn’t my new year’s resolution. However, it is not hard to imagine that this is a real challenge, with Risk being modified to be associated with everything from Star Wars to Narnia.
So I thought, as a not-very-popular un-games anti-designer, I should try out this challenge, and, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to present to you Risk: Assessment. Enjoy…
The object of Risk: Assessment is to be the first to establish stable democratic governments in far-flung places that are constantly loyal to one’s own regime, while also keeping the fickle public in an appropriately war-like mood, and ensuring that no-one can sue the leadership of your army for malpractice and placing your citizens in unduly harmful situations.
To set up the game, each player chooses a ‘home’ country to start with. All of the other countries are declared to be backward-thinking tribespeople. Use the black backward-thinking-tribespeople counters to represent this. Each turn has multiple stages, beginning with the reinforcement stage.
Count up each country with your people in, and add on your public relationsTM score. Divide the result by five. This is the number of reinforcements you will receive. Then calculate the amount of money that your government is willing to spend on the military using the Patent Risk: Assessment Money Calculatron, and work out how many sets of equipment you have. If you have fewer sets of equipment than you have reinforcements, write an open letter to the member of your government in charge of the defence budget complaining about this, then give the excess reinforcements to the local chapter of the UN Peacekeeping Force.
Secondly, you move into the attack stage. Choose a nation to attack, and a nation to attack from. If the nation you are attacking is populated by backward-thinking tribespeople, pick a like-minded candidate for leadership from an especially backward region of the nation, and promise them that you will make them Emperor For Life if they help you. Then give all your equipment to this person and their crack team. When you finally realise that he has been playing the ends against the middle, invade the country using your advanced military capabilities.
If, however, you are attacking a ‘home’ country, immediately announce your actions to the United Nations Security Council. If you own the most nations overall at this point, you can choose to ignore anything that United Nations Security Council says. If not, your actions result in immediate expulsion from the United Nations, meaning you can ignore anything that the United Nations Security Council says. Either way, a large portion of your budget must now be taken up by ambitious yet ultimately flawed projects like space lasers and remote-controlled dolphins. You are now prevented from actually attacking the country by your government, who approves of removing their evil ideology from the face of the game board, but wants to fight them in a more psychological way. From now on, every time your opponent attacks a nation populated by backward-thinking tribespeople, you must attempt to do so too, resulting in a disastrous stalemate for both sides.
Then move into stage 3, the stage of the game that the whole game is named for, although not for any particular reason, just because it sounded catchy. It’s the risk assessment stage. Anyway, count the number of troops that you have. For each one of these, spend fifteen minutes writing down all the possible things that could happen to them during a war zone. These things include tripping over the body of a dead civilian, being crushed by a tree that fell as a result of a drunk soldier driving a tank into it, or being shot. Also write down whose fault it would be if these things were to occur, and evaluate the likelihood of them happening. Then use the Patent Risk: Assessment Risk Assessor to work out what accidents have befallen your troops this turn. If you have successfully insured against the accidents, continue to the next turn. Else, spend twenty minutes fighting large, costly legal battles against the families of the injured.
The next stage is the education-of-backward-thinking-tribespeople stage. For each country originally owned by backwards-thinking tribespeople, spend lots of money attempting to create some sort of structured military, government and economy. Don’t forget to fill the tribespeople with lots of propaganda against your enemies. Deduct the sum from your budget using the Patent Risk: Assessment Calculatice.
Stage 5 sees you work out your public relations score for the next turn. Take the number of battles that you have won this turn, and add on the number of feel-good success stories that you have taken part in. Subtract the number of legal battles you have taken part in. For each public recruitment campaign, add fifteen, then divide the whole thing by the number of turns you have taken.
During the final stage, take a card for each battle you have won. Do nothing with these cards. They constitute a health risk to your troops.
So, having seen that brief outline of the rules, who wants in? And I’m going to write to all the big retailers immediately, so don’t think about stealing the idea…