Risk Legacy: Envelopes
Here’s the drill: as started in the previous installment, my gang of puckish rogues has been playing through Risk Legacy and surviving to tell the tale. However, we’re telling everything, and Risk Legacy is one of the few board games in existence that actually suffers when spoiled — so take heed, because today we’re looking at how the game changed when we triggered the opening of a pair of the envelopes taped to the inside of the box, and once you know what’s inside, there’s no going back.
The Founding of Ungieland and Las Rojas
I mentioned last time that Risk Legacy makes you cover its board in stickers, but I may not have made it entirely clear what they do.
There are two types. The first, more prevalent type is called a “scar.” Each player likely starts with a scar card (if there are enough to go around), and under different circumstances they can be adhered to the board. At the outset of your journey into the sweaty underarms of Risk Legacy, there are only two flavors: ammunition shortages, which make a territory harder to defend; and fortifications, which have the obvious opposite effect. As our first few games progressed, North America gradually revealed itself as our favorite whipping boy, picking up ammo shortages in a third of its territories, becoming therefore rather easy to conquer but a pain to hold onto — unless your only goal was to control the Bering Strait’s sole lane between Alaska and the entirety of Asia, because we put a fort there just to keep people from getting too excited about circumnavigating the globe.
The second type of sticker are cities. There are three types of cities, though at this point we’ve only seen two. Minor cities are one of the options for players who “held on” in previous games, giving certain territories a higher population value for recruiting reinforcements each turn, though they’re a little more difficult to conquer. Major cities are pretty much the same but for two details: they’re worth double the extra population, and whichever player founded the major city — one of many possible rewards for winning one of the previous games — can start the game there. Thus, when I won the second game, I decided to embrace the “Australian Gambit” by founding the City of Tomorrow (Ungieland) in Western Australia. And when Adam won the next game, he founded Las Rojas in Brazil. From then on, it became pretty easy to guess our preferred starting territories.
An Evolving Landscape…
The appearance of Ungieland and Las Rojas changed the tone of the game. Since I began each game seated in a position of guaranteed power, my goal was solid but predictable, to use Australia as a springboard for dominating Asia and raiding Africa, Europe, and North America in hopes of keeping continent reinforcement bonuses out of the hands of the other factions. Adam’s goal in Brazil was similarly predictable, to conquer South America before moving north to take North America. Holding it would prove the more difficult prospect.
With Adam and I now starting from a position of strength, the next game was all about the extermination of an entire faction. Normally, when your team gets wiped off the map, it’s possible to redeploy into an unoccupied territory and start anew. That way, even if your chances of winning are hilariously slim, at least you aren’t sitting on your hands like a moron while your friends wrap up the game. In this case though, Adam and I took especial care to gobble up all the neutral territories before pushing Steve, who had won the first game and earned our eternal ire, completely off the map.
His extermination meant more than mere satisfaction (though sure, it meant that too). Our first envelope, the one that read “Open the first time a faction is eliminated from the game,” was pulled from the box and torn open.
It made two changes. The first was a new type of scar — mercenaries, who would give that territory’s overlord an extra army at the end of each turn. In following games, I would place one of these new scars in Southeast Asia to help safeguard the entrance to Australia, with others appearing near opposing home bases in Central America and Central Africa.
… and Evolving Factions
The other change was more profound — the introduction of extra customization options for any faction eliminated from the game, increasing their appeal for future use despite an untimely demise. In this case, Steve decided that the Saharan Republic would be “Well-Supplied” in the future, meaning all those ammunition shortages in North America were no longer any problem for the game’s most maneuverable faction.
Not that it benefited him, since factions aren’t permanently tied to specific players, and it was Adam who picked them up next game. Sure enough, he was able to use the once-shamed Saharan Republic to easily conquer and hold all of North Africa, while nobody else could do much about it.
Upon that next game’s conclusion, all nine minor cities had been placed on the board, meaning it was time for our second envelope.
What a Beautiful World
This time, our two changes were a little more frightening.
The first are “Bio-hazard” scars, meaning future games will witness territories that deplete themselves by killing off an occupying army per turn, a horrific reversal of the fortuitous mercenaries scar.
And the next are drafting options, an entirely new rule that will change the way the game is played in the future. No longer will we be able to just roll some dice to determine starting players; instead, a series of drafts will determine starting location, turn order, and our number of starting armies.
Folks, Risk Legacy just got serious.