Friday, May 29, 2009

Godstorm Review

I just thought I'd share with everyone about another version of Risk I've played recently. There's a version of Risk, which is also made by the company Avalon Hill, known as Godstorm Risk. A couple of friends and I played this version a few weeks ago. Aside from my friend Luke, who owns the game, it was everyone's first time playing.
I found this version of the game to be very interesting, and surprisingly alot of fun. First of all, the game incorporates ancient mythology, which puts a cool spin on it. Each player selects a different "race" of people (Egyptians, Greeks, Norse, Romans, etc.) Each race has its own god's that are specific to the mythology of that particular race. Now, this is mostly just for fun, since each god in the game does the same thing throughout the races.
Eace player has 4 gods, which act sort of like commanders as in Risk 2210. Each god has it's own special ability. Some abilities are offensive, some defensive, and some are a little of each. Now the craziest thing about this game to me, and the most different from 2210, was the cards. The cards work pretty much the same as in 2210... you can't use them without that specific god in play and so on and so forth, but there is a much larger variety of cards and they are much, much more impactful to the game itself. There are several cards (especially the god of death cards) that are completely and utterly destructive, and there is almost no way to predict or memorize all of the cards that another player may have seeing as their are so many of them. I though that this would make the game not as fun for me, seeing as I rely on prediction and strategy to play, but it made it so exciting I hardly noticed.
The game board is set in Europe and North Africa, but the general rules about continents and bonuses still apply, and the territory dynamics are at least comparable to the classic Risk world map. Instead of a moon, though, like in 2210, there is an underworld. The only way to get there is to die. That's right, after your troops die, they are sent to the underworld, and must enter at 1 of 3 specific points. This ads a very interesting dynamic to the game as well. Once a man dies in the underworld, however, it is gone forever.
In the end of our game, I came away with the win by applying my standard Risk 2210 strategies, but I can see how those would probably not be the best for every situation in Godstorm. So, needless to say I had a great experience playing this different version of Risk, and look forward to playing it again. I definitely wont stop playing 2210 though, that's for sure.

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.