Monday, February 06, 2012

GoofBoy's Risky Strategy

GoofBoy has long been my master at Risk, a friendly game of world domination. But for some reason he insisted on playing me this weekend. As it happens, I had been thinking about it for a while and had a new strategy I wanted to try.

The first player in a two-person game usually has an almost insurmountable advantage. But I tried a new strategy, limited conquest along with building up defenses. It was working pretty well. I was slowly expanding my territory. Plus, for once, the dice seemed to be going my way. GoofBoy was getting frustrated, throwing the die and moaning, “You are going to win, I should just give up.”

I controlled Africa and Europe and was slowly, but steadily extending my dominions. Seeing GoofBoy upset, I backed off a bit – but I admit, I still wanted to win. He couldn’t understand why I stopped when I still had more armies.

In Risk every turn a player conquers a territory the player can take a card. Certain combinations of three cards get the player bonus armies. I hadn’t been paying attention. GoofBoy had hoarded his cards. He put down six entitling him to 22 new armies. With his massive forces he proceeded to reconquer half of Europe and Africa – along with all of North America. The next turn would be my last.

Now, strictly speaking, GoofBoy’s gambit was illegal. A player cannot turn in two sets of three cards in one turn. But since neither of us knew that rule until he actually played the cards it seemed unfair to invoke the rule and shut down what was otherwise a brilliant strategy.

He carefully schemed to hold on, lulling me into a false confidence both with his manner and his board position. He had planned his deathblow several moves ahead. I can’t say I wasn’t impressed. Clear and simple, he out-thunk me.

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