How Risk Works

Risk Strategy

Here are a few tips for developing a winning Risk strategy.

  • Go for whole continents. Risk is an aggressive game, and in order to become ruler of the world, you have to grow a big, powerful army. You can increase your force by earning cards through conquering territories during your turns, but an even more efficient way is to take over an entire continent, which generates bonus armies at the start of your turn [source: Hasbro].
  • Think defense. Ehsan Honary, author of the book "Total Diplomacy: The Art of Winning Risk," cautions that spreading yourself too fast and too thin across the map can lead to catastrophe, because one-army countries are invitations to your rivals to attack and conquer them. The smart thing to do is build your empire outward around a core, and allocate the greatest number of armies to your border territories. It's also important not to advance so recklessly into opponents' territory that you leave thin border defenses behind [source: Honary].
  • Know the map. Not all territories are created equal, in terms of vulnerability. Some countries -- Argentina, Madagascar and Japan, for example -- are strongholds that are difficult to attack. But others -- North and East Africa, China, Russia, Southern Europe and the Middle East -- are easier targets, since they can be invaded from a multitude of different directions [source: Hasbro].
  • Know your enemies. Honary says that the masterful Risk player will study his or her opponents' moves and manner -- not just in an attempt to anticipate the next foray, but to understand the psychology that drives his or her strategy and tactics. Players, he notes, fall into some archetypal categories, each with strengths and weaknesses. Aggressive/expansionist players are good at taking chances, but often temperamental and unable to cooperate with others. Conservative/isolationists, on the other hand, eschew direct attacks until they have what seems like the perfect opening. Their caution helps them to preserve their armies, but they also can easily become isolated on the map in places where they have no easy path to follow for conquest. Dealmakers/negotiators, who try to win by manipulating alliances and maneuvering rivals into beating each other's brains out, are perhaps the most difficult to play against. Their big weakness is that the verbal commitments they rely upon can easily be broken, when it suits you [source: Honary].

Related Articles


  • Hinebaugh, Jeffrey. "A Board Game Education." Rowman and Littlefield Education. 2009. (Aug. 2, 2011)
  • Honary, Eshan. "Total Diplomacy: The Art of Winning Risk." BookSurge. 2007. (Aug. 4, 2011)
  • "Risk Basic Strategy." (Aug. 2, 2011)
  • "Risk: The World Conquest Game "(official instructions). Parker Brothers. 1993. (Aug. 2, 2011)
  • "A Short History of Risk." (Aug. 2, 2011)