Better than Risk
September 8, 2009 11:50 AM   Subscribe

What is the best favorite Risk-like strategy/global domination games?

I'm looking for a Risk-like strategy game that can be played out of the box and is accessible to friends that have never played D&D or tabletop games.

An historical setting would be cool.
Or a Galactic-Risk. Space-Risk!
posted by kittensofthenight to Media & Arts (33 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Axis and Allies.
posted by Loto at 11:51 AM on September 8, 2009

Axis and Allies also has various historical scenario edition, or packs or whatever you call them. The only one that springs to mind is Guadalacanal.
posted by cmoj at 11:55 AM on September 8, 2009

posted by chrisalbon at 12:08 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Starfleet Battles is fun if you like Star Trek.
posted by jmmpangaea at 12:10 PM on September 8, 2009

Risk 2210 is like Risk but, crucially, with a built-in time limit, plus lots of cool extra stuff like special characters, special abilities, and the ability to CONQUER THE MOON. You can play regular Risk with the pieces & board as well, should you wish.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:23 PM on September 8, 2009

Carcassonne is awesome. Everyone who suggested Axis + Allies is insane - it takes a serious time commitment. Carcassonne is easy to pick up right out of the box.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 12:49 PM on September 8, 2009

Seconding Risk 2210. It's close enough to Risk to be familiar, but it's a lot cooler with the moon and the pre-scorched-Earth stuff. It has the distinct advantage over its namesake of being played over a pre-set number of turns, and thus ending in a reasonable amount of time.
posted by explosion at 1:08 PM on September 8, 2009

Axis & Allies is Risk on steroids. However, it is a serious time commitment - I've played games that lasted over 8 hours. Totally worth it though!
posted by CdnMathTeacher at 1:09 PM on September 8, 2009

Twilight Imperium is pretty awesome, but also quite long. Not sure Carcassonne is what you are looking for, though it is enjoyable.
posted by meta87 at 1:15 PM on September 8, 2009

Oh and if you are a Lord of the Rings fan, War of the Ring is awesome and definitely reminds me of Risk.
posted by meta87 at 1:18 PM on September 8, 2009

posted by Pomo at 1:28 PM on September 8, 2009

the great thing about axis and allies is you can choose your nerd factor. If you want to be casual, you can totally play at a bar, as long as it's slow and you keep ordering drinks. If you want to up the nerd factor, team-specific costuming - and drinks - are always fun. granted, you're likely to lose more friends than make them with that scenario.
posted by Think_Long at 1:47 PM on September 8, 2009

SETTLERS OF CATAN is an award winning game in which you trade resources to enable yourself to build cities and roads. There are no battles, which is a big plus -- you're competing but not fighting. The rules are short and simple, and much of the game is in the trading back and forth. (You need at least 3 people to play.)

A typical game is about 2 1/2 - 3 hours.
posted by musofire at 1:52 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yeah, Settlers. Obvious. Not sure why anyone mentioned anything else...
posted by Naberius at 2:16 PM on September 8, 2009

Whatever you do, don't start playing kdice. You'll never stop.
posted by nicwolff at 2:19 PM on September 8, 2009

Diplomacy is surely the grandaddy of these games. Each turn, you confer with your opponents, making deals and promises, assuring them you will convoy your troops into the Spanish coast, supporting their efforts. Then, everyone writes down their moves and they are read out at once. You did not make good on your promise, you turned coat and did not convoy your troops! Your opponent is enraged and swears on his mother's grave that he will destroy you--cursing you, your family, your pets, and your houseplants, in perpetuity.

posted by Kafkaesque at 2:26 PM on September 8, 2009

check out this geeklist @ BGG

Also, check out the recently released Risk: Halo Wars
posted by JonnyRotten at 3:00 PM on September 8, 2009

Axis & Allies is Risk on steroids. However, it is a serious time commitment - I've played games that lasted over 8 hours. Totally worth it though!

Only 8 hours? I've played 20 hour sessions.
posted by signalnine at 4:18 PM on September 8, 2009

Best answer: Carcassone and Settlers are awesome games (no, seriously - just go buy them) but I wouldn't call them Risk-like. Diplomacy is fantastic as well but too damn long to actually play.

I'd call a game Risk-like if it's 1) cut throat 2) casual 3) world domination and 4) has a large random element to help level the playing field.

The game you want is Cosmic Encounter. It's Risk meets Hitcherhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It satisfies all 4 criteria plus has more replayability than Risk. Games are short and you can play several in an evening with, essentially, different rules every time due to the changing alien powers.

If you're intrigued by Diplomacy but can't devote an entire weekend to playing out a single game, check out A Game of Thrones. Very similar core mechanics without the negotiation phase (and fantasy theme, rather than historical). True Diplomacy fans will say the negotiaton phase is the "good part" but it's also the part that slows the game down to a maddening crawl ...
posted by zanni at 5:23 PM on September 8, 2009

The best game in this genre I have ever played (and I have played every single game mentioned so far in this thread and many more - friend of mine runs a game store) is the Avalon Hill edition of Dune.

Published in 1979 (so it is based on the books not the later movie) it is just about perfect. Both in the conquer-the-world mechanics and in how perfectly it captures what is great about the book. The factions (Atreides, Harkonnens, The Guild, The Emperor, The Bene Gesserit, Fremen) each play quite differently and are fascinating in their depth.

It is very similar to Diplomacy in a lot of ways but plays so very much better. Yes, this game is actually better than the hallowed Diplomacy.

Unfortunatly it is out of print but you can still find a copy on ebay from time to time.
posted by Riemann at 5:53 PM on September 8, 2009

Oh and zanni is right, Carcassone and Catan are good games but absolutely not what the question is about. The base games have no conflict or conquest whatsoever.
posted by Riemann at 5:56 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Catan Catan Catan Catan Catan CATAN! So very machiavellian.
posted by cachondeo45 at 6:18 PM on September 8, 2009

If you're looking for dead-simple rules, Diplomacy's your only real choice. Each piece has 4 possibilities: move, support, convoy or hold. Write your moves down on paper, everybody reveals simultaneously. There's 4 seasons, everybody holds in winter. No dice, no chance. Now you know enough to play!

Cosmic's tons of fun but the base rules can take a while to master by themselves, let alone the multitude of rule-altering powers each player gets and the interactions between them. And that's before you even introduce moons or filthy lucre. It's the insane complexity that makes it so fun. When one player's pieces are each worth 4, another player multiplies his pieces by his card value, a third subtracts his card from his pieces & makes the lower number win & the fourth makes you pull a card from your hand blindly, who comes out on top? We've played games where somebody won & nobody noticed for several turns. If you're still considering Cosmic though, you can always play it online.
posted by scalefree at 6:47 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'll throw another title out there but you'll have a hard time finding it. Amoeba Wars is the closest you'll come to Space Risk that I've ever played. Build your empire, go to war with other players but always beware the deadly & unpredictable Space Amoebas as they multiply & eat your ships. Very simple, lots of fun, flexible number of players but it's been out of print for many years. But I guess if you look hard enough you can find anything on EBay, so who knows?
posted by scalefree at 6:57 PM on September 8, 2009

Best answer: Viktory II

1. Do you enjoy "conquer the world" wargames like Risk 2210, Axis & Allies, Attack!, & Memoir '44?
2. Do you enjoy games with an element of chance, i.e. dice rolling to resolve combat?
3. Do you think it is okay to sacrifice some realism for increased simplicity of play?
4. Do you prefer fast paced games that can be finished in a few hours or less?
5. Do you prefer games where an aggressive strategy is not penalized?
6. Do you prefer games that have miniatures as opposed to chits?
7. Do you prefer games with customizable maps for greater replayability?
8. Do you prefer games that don't involve a ton of number crunching and complex rules?
9. Do you prefer games that a beginner can understand easily?

If you've answered "YES" to most of the above questions, then VIKTORY II is a game you should strongly consider.

posted by martinrebas at 5:59 AM on September 9, 2009

Diplomacy. No other game can reproduce the feeling of paranoia.
posted by spamguy at 6:59 AM on September 9, 2009

If you're still considering Cosmic though, you can always play it online.

Is there a word for a link that is so useful and distracting that the act of posting it has a malicious intent? I think that’s what just happened here. Thanks.

yes catan and carc. are awesome, but they don't quite match the description (at least, not without the expansions). start with axis in my opinion
posted by Think_Long at 9:02 AM on September 9, 2009

Twilight Struggle (2p only)
posted by zennoshinjou at 9:28 AM on September 9, 2009

Nobody's mentioned Junta yet. Multiple players battle for control of a small central-American banana republic--or more specifically for the income it gets from foreign aid. Reasonably fast to play, plenty of opportunity for making and breaking alliances, and every so often someone declares a coup and you get to play something like Risk for a bit to establish who the new president for life is. And the winner is the player with the most money in their Swiss bank account at the end, even if they've been killed along the way.

Not global domination, but a lot of fun.
posted by Hogshead at 10:23 AM on September 9, 2009

Response by poster: Yeah! Just got back into work and this is exactly the thread I wanted to see. Thanks all.

I think I'll check out cosmic encounter, risk 2210, and Carcassone.

The Group I'm trying to start up rejected Catan for not being rad enough, even though they have it at the bar...

Time to conquer the future.
posted by kittensofthenight at 12:29 PM on September 9, 2009

Best answer: What you describe exists. It is called World War 5 from Looney Labs. I don't play Risk anymore, ever since I got this game. Low time commitment, incredibly simple to learn, deep and interesting strategy. Most important, every game ends with somebody saying "just one more game!"
posted by Matt Arnold at 12:16 AM on September 10, 2009

The Group I'm trying to start up rejected Catan for not being rad enough, even though they have it at the bar...

Perhaps they are not sufficiently acquainted with the LULZ of "I've got wood for sheep. Any takers?"
posted by juv3nal at 12:41 AM on September 18, 2009

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