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Posted on Dec 9, 2003 in Stuff We Like

Battlefields Revisited

By Shane Sohnle

To represent the navies, I use pieces from other wargames I own. In this case, the navies from Supremacy generally match the colors in Risk, and are perfect for the task. You could also use transports from Axis & Allies, or even paper cut-outs!Anything that will avoid any confusion among the players is perfect. Navies cost the equivalent of three armies during your reinforcement phase, and you can purchase as many as you can afford. You must have at least one territory bordering a legal ocean or sea to purchase navies, and once purchased, they must be placed in port in these same territories. Certain territories (like Alaska, Brazil, Indonesia, etc), have more than one legal sea adjacent to them, and the player must decide which sea the navies are deployed in. This is shown by having the navies in port (touching the coastline of the territory) adjacent to the sea. So in Central America, a navy in port should be touching the eastern coastline to show it’s in the Atlantic, or the western coastline to show it’s in the Pacific.


Each navy can carry 3 armies (just enough for an attack with 3 dice), and has a movement rate of three. It costs 1 point to go in or out of port, and 1 point to cross into a new sea zone. As an example, a navy in India could load up with 3 armies, spend a point of movement to leave port, a second point to enter the South Atlantic, and a third point to land in Brazil. If the player owned Brazil, he could unload the armies; if Brazil is enemy owned, he’d have to start an attack!Attacks across sea zones are called amphibious invasions, and once begun, they cannot be called off!Amphibious invasions can be launched in conjunction with standard land attacks. Keep the armies that came by sea off to the side to show how many are amphibious participants. It is also advisable to take these units as the first losses; so that if you do want to call off the battle, you can do so once all these armies have died (the only remaining participants would have come via land routes, and could then call off the battle).

Navies do not have to end their movement phase in port. The same example as above could see the navy in India load up with three armies, spend a point to leave port, a second point to enter the South Atlantic, and a third point to enter the North Atlantic. It would end it’s turn here, at sea. This can be quite dangerous, however, because your navy is now sitting out in the open, vulnerable to attack from all of your opponents with navies in range, until your next turn!And if your navy is sunk, all the armies are lost with it. (Armies cannot participate in naval battle, but can die as a result of it). Note that an opponent would not be forced to attack your navy in the North Atlantic. The sea zones are huge, and you cannot possibly blockade one of them. Rather, it is the choice of the player whose turn it is to decide whether or not to initiate naval combat when he enters the same sea zone as you are currently in. As an example, if player A left his navy in the North Atlantic, as outlined above, Player B could take a navy based in Congo, spend a point to leave port, a second point to enter the North Atlantic, and a third point to enter the Central Arctic, ignoring player A completely. Player C begins his turn, spends 3 armies worth of his reinforcements to purchase a navy, and places it in Iceland, touching the southern coastline to show that it is based in the North Atlantic. When he begins his moves, he spends a point to leave port, which places him in the same sea zone as player A. He announces his intention to attack!(Note that attacking does not cost a point. To attack navies, you must simply be in the same sea zone as they are. To attack a territory with armies, you must have the point of movement available to enter port in that territory, as in the Brazil example above). Attacks of any sort, naval or amphibious, end the navy’s turn. In the case of a failed amphibious attack, the navy is left at sea, having failed to enter the port. There is no movement cost for this.

Naval combat is different than land combat. Both attacker and defender roll one die for each navy involved, and a roll of 5 or 6 scores a hit. Losses are removed for both sides, and the combat continues, if the attacker so chooses.

Navies in port are a different story. They cannot be attacked by sea; they can only be affected through land battles. Here’s how it works!Player A has a navy in port in India. Player B has a navy in the Indian Ocean, but cannot attack player A’s navy, as it’s in port. Player B launches a land attack from Siam into India. Before any dice are rolled, at the same time as player A would announce whether he’s defending with one or two dice, he must decide whether to retreat with the navy, or to stick it out in port. If he retreats from port, the navy is removed from the coastline and placed out at sea in the Indian Ocean. (Player B can attack this navy later in his turn if he so wishes, as it’s now at sea). If he chooses to remain in port, the navy is treated just like another army. It can be taken as a loss, it counts as a dice in combat (if the defender was down to one army and one navy, he’d still be able to use two dice), but it cannot leave the port during this battle!If the attacker called off the battle, and then started it back up again later in the turn, or attacked from a different position, the defender would again have the choice of retreating.

Beware!A lone navy cannot hold a territory. If player A is down to a single army and the navy, and he takes a loss as a result of combat, he must take the navy, so that the army can still maintain control of the territory. Keeping in mind that navies cost three times as much as armies, you’re looking at a very expensive loss!

You may stack your navies with those of any ally in sea zones only (never in port). This allows you to share defensive strength, but you can never attack at the same time as an ally. This stacking is displayed by placing your navies side by side, as if they were all part of the same force. (Your ally must grant his permission during your turn prior to you arranging your navies alongside his). Be sure you trust your ally, however! This alliance can end at any time during either player A or C’s turn. Player A might move into this defensive stacking, end his turn, and when player C begins his turn, he can attack player A’s navy, if he chooses!But the defensive stacking, once begun, can only be ended during one of the Allies turns. For example, Player A moves a navy into the North Atlantic, where player C also has a navy. Player A asks ?Permission to stack!’, to which player C replies ?Granted!’. Player A then moves his navy alongside of his ally’s navy, and ends his turn. Player B starts his turn. If he chooses to attack the allied navies in the North Atlantic, player A and C must defend together, each rolling the amount of dice corresponding to the amount of navies they own in the fleet.

But there’s nothing to stop player C, when his turn begins, from attacking A’s navy. Or from simply sailing away, and leaving A’s navy to the tender mercies of players D and E. So beware, treachery abounds!

Regional Reinforcements

This mod has the inclusion of tanks and planes into the world of Risk, and can greatly increase the strategic element of the game. These units cannot be purchased; instead, they are awarded as part of the region bonus. Whenever you begin your turn in control of an entire region, in addition to the extra reinforcements earned, you gain a specific amount of these types of units according to the following table:

North America – 2 fighters, 2 armour

South America – 1 fighter, 1 armour

Europe – 2 fighters, 2 armour

Africa – 1 fighter, 2 armour

Asia – 3 fighters, 3 armour

Australia – 1 fighter, 1 armour

These units must be placed in the region for which they were awarded. For example, special units received from a North America region bonus cannot be placed on territories in Europe.

Armour ? these units add one to the highest die roll when on attack. For example, an attacker’s roll of 5, 3, 1 would become a 6, 3, 1. There is no bonus awarded if the player rolls a 6 normally. (There cannot be a 7). Regardless of the amount of armour participating in an attack, only one bonus is awarded. Armour is treated just like armies, and can be taken as losses, and count towards determining how many dice the player may roll. (A player attacking from Greenland to Iceland with 3 armies and 1 armour unit may still roll all three dice. If Iceland contained 1 army and 1 armour unit, the defender can still roll two dice). Armour can hold a territory without any armies being present. Armour gains no bonus on defence. Armour units have the ability to make a single movement prior to engaging in combat, or can move two spaces, but not engage in attacks for that turn. Although armour must initially be deployed in the region for which they were awarded; once on the map, they may leave the region, and travel anywhere. Armour count as three armies for the purposes of naval transport.

Fighters ? these units add one to the highest die roll when on defence. For example, a defender’s roll of 4, 2 would become a 5, 2. There is no bonus awarded if a player rolls a 6 normally. Regardless of the amount of fighters participating in the defence, only one bonus is awarded. Fighters can be taken as losses. They do not count towards the amount of dice rolled by the defender. (A defender with 1 army and 1 fighter can only roll 1 die on defence). Fighters, like navies, have the option of retreating prior to the beginning of a combat, and may move to any friendly territory up to two moves away, provided they always remain in their home region. Fighters may never leave their home region, and in the case of being on the last remaining territory in their home region, must fight to the death. Once committed to a defence, however, a fighter must stay until the end. If the attacker called off the battle, and then started it back up again later in the turn, or attacked from a different position, the defender would again have the choice of retreating. Fighters gain no bonus on the attack. Fighters may move up to three spaces prior to engaging in combat, or may move four spaces, but not engage in attacks for that turn. Sea zones cost 1 for movement purposes. Fighters may attack out of a region (from Greenland to Iceland), but may not leave the home region if the attack is successful.

Fighters and armour cancel each other out. If an attacker with 1 armour assaults a territory with 1 fighter involved in the defence, neither player receives a bonus. In the case of an attacker with 4 armour, and a defender with 2 fighters, the attacker would get the single bonus to his highest roll.

Fighters and armour cannot be purchased. They are awarded only through region bonuses, and can only be replaced in the same manner. At the beginning of your turn, if you hold your region bonus, all losses to special units are replaced back up to full strength. If you never again hold that region bonus, you will never be able to replace those particular losses.

There are many other mods and variants for Risk, but this makes a good start for gamers looking to expand their horizons. I’ll be revisiting other classic games in this series, and providing you with more interesting ideas and suggestions to help keep your battles fresh!

If you have any mods you’ve created for Risk, or any other classic board games, email them to me at, and I’ll include them in the next part in the series, with fulsome acknowledgements to all contributors.

Until next time, let me wish you all good luck on the cardboard battlefield!

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