For years and years, I would always lose at RISK when I played online and over-the-board.
It was so frustrating, and I didn’t know why.
After playing a lot more and learning from pro players, I realized there were a number of key errors in the way in which I approached the game.
Since following these 21 simple tips and Risk Global Domination strategies, my ranking has gone up, and I typically finish at least 2nd, if not 1st quite a bit.
Keep all of these in mind the next time you play, and you may end up winning more too!
Are you looking for some new games to spice up your life without spending a ton of money?
Enter the One Deck, Endless Fun eBook.
It contains 15 of my favorite card games you can play with a single deck of cards and a brief description of how to play each one.
I also include a handy table, breaking down each game in terms of difficulty, number of players, and the time it takes to play.
Table of Contents
#1 Keep Your Large Armies Together
For a while, I thought it was better to have an even spread of armies across many territories than a couple of larger armies.
Yeah, this was a terrible mistake and cost me many games.
The way odds work in Risk favors the 1) larger army and the 2) attacking army. So if I’m defending with a smaller army then I’m doubly doomed.
If playing Fixed Bonuses, keep one or two large armies.
If playing Progressive, three disconnected larger armies are ideal.
#2 Attack When Needed, But Not Before
Don’t attack just because you can. It may be best to simply capture one territory and then stop. This way, you collect your card and build up a larger army.
In general, if you attack, you want to outnumber the opponent by at least 25%. The higher the ratio, the better your odds.
If you don’t have a specific reason for attacking (getting the card bonus, getting more territories, wiping an enemy out, breaking a continent, don’t do it!
#3 Make Allies, Avoid Making Others Mad
Psychology is a big part of the game of RISK, even if you’re playing in such a way that you can’t clearly communicate with the other players.
Sometimes, especially in the early and middle games, you need to keep under the radar and be a good neighbor.
This is a strong case to avoid breaking an enemy’s continent bonus, even if it leaves them stronger. If they get mad and too weak, they may give up and try to make you lose.
This can often give the game to the other players.
#4 Know Your Bonus Structure
Fixed and Progressive bonuses are two sides of the same coin, but there are several critical differences that affect how you play.
In Fixed Risk, you get the same bonus value every time you turn in cards based on what you turn in.
- 3 Infantry = 4
- 3 Calvary = 6
- 3 Artillery = 8
- One of each = 10
Because the growth is slow, one bigger set of troops and continent bonuses are a must. These games go longer.
In Progressive Risk, the bonuses get bigger every single time someone turns in a card bonus. As such, continent bonuses don’t really matter as the army count gets huge.
You want to survive to get those bigger card bonuses. As such, make sure you have bigger armies spread out around the word.
Treating them the same almost never works out. Spend your time learning one bonus or the other to start.
#5 Grow To Get More Troops, Expand Your Reach
One of the most underrated ways to get more troops is to add more territories under your control.
Continent bonuses are easy to see, but the troop ones are tougher to catch.
For every 3 territories you own, you get one more troop. Even if you don’t have a continent, you can outpace them with sheer numbers.
#6 Concentrate Your Forces Where They Can Attack Quickly
Too many people get so caught up in defense. Defense is important but you also need to be able to strike quickly and easily.
Position your large armies, so they are next to an enemy one. If you block your troops in with your own armies, it’ll take time to get them mobilized.
Keep them ready to go at all times.
#7 Manage Your Card Bonuses Well
It’s not always the best choice to turn in your cards as soon as possible.
In Progressive, it’s always better to wait as long as possible. Unless you think someone will take you out the next turn for your cards. Then, get rid of them for a chance to live longer.
In Fixed, always wait for the best chance to get better bonuses. Turning in three cards early just makes you wait longer for the next bonus.
#8 Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin
If you can’t defend your current territories, then capturing as many territories as possible isn’t always a good idea.
Balance a smaller, defendable space over spreading yourself too thin and ending up with nothing except your one army.
#9 Watch Where People Want To Be On The Board
Most players show what their plans are by where they place their armies and where they capture. Someone who captures and moves back to the same spot is in it for the long game.
Someone building up troops on a border is getting ready to make a push.
If someone wants to break through you, it might be better to get out of their way, so you can keep your armies largely intact.
#10 Get Continent Bonuses (But Don’t Expend Too Many Forces In The Process)
If a continent is easy to take, take it. The bonuses will add up over time.
If it’s going to take a lot of troops, wait and build up your armies. Eventually, the other people will start to move out of there.
Check out our strategies with the best continents in RISK.
#11 Don’t Be Afraid To Change Tactics
If someone hates the fact that you have Australia, don’t be so attached that you lose everything in defending it.
If someone is gunning for it, consider vacating it and leaving all your troops together in one spot somewhere else.
Then, gradually move to another continent until you can get that one instead.
#12 Be Patient
The players who win are the ones who wait to get into a big battle.
The players who lose expend their troops and get wiped out by the patient ones.
#13 Maintain Suprising Kill Lines
Some players will start to look like the weakest (they’re often called Fish in the game).
You want to always have a line or route to get to them without needing to break through another large army.
When they look ready to take out, use these kill lines to wipe them out, get their bonus, and plan your next move.
If you’re lucky, you can turn in the cards right there for another bonus and take out another player.
#14 Don’t Completely Trust Anyone
Alliances are a key part of RISK, but at the end of the day, someone’s got to win. If your opponent sees you as the leader, they may try to take you out.
Always have a plan for how to counter-attack or change strategy.
#15 Use Bonuses To Wipe Out Players; Not Capture Continents
A general rule of thumb goes as follows:
Use card bonuses to wipe out players, not capture continents.
If you’re not wiping out a player, use the bonus to build up your large army.
If you simply capture a continent, the player you left alive “suicide” into you and uses all their troops to weaken you.
#16 Don’t Telegraph Your Plans
If you want to make a move, don’t try to let others know about your plan. Keep your troops a little farther away but still with a clear line of attack. Suprise is worth its weight in troops.
#17 Keep Defending Territories Strong, But Not Blocked In
There are a number of bottle-necks on any RISK map, and this is a great place to plop your big army and defend the territories behind it.
But if you can’t move that army out quickly, your opponents can make big moves to get stronger while you try to organize your troops.
#18 Encourage Others To Overreach
My brother is a decent tactician but an excellent manipulator. He wins most of our RISK games, not because of a specific map strategy, but because he manages to get the other players to overreach or attack me.
This is often enough to leave you strong enough to make the game all about mopping everyone up.
#19 Know The Map
Most people play on the Classic World Map you get with the RISK board game. But there are many people who play online.
With Hasbro’s RISK game, they have a ton of maps, and each one has its own unique setup.
Learn each map well to have the best chance of winning and picking a good continent.
#20 Watch The Balance Of The Game
The balance of the game refers to the number of armies each player has. When the top player is stronger than the next two combined, the balance has shifted beyond repair.
It’s at this point the top player can win the game by taking out as many players and capturing as many as possible.
If this isn’t you, watch when someone gets too strong. Do what you can to limit their growth.
Don’t do it alone, or they’ll get mad and destroy you.
If the other players know what they’re doing, they’ll help.
#21 Stay Flexible, Don’t Get Into Big Battles
Until the balance shifts, you never want to take your big army against someone else’s. At most, you’ll beat them and get wiped out next for being too weak.
At worst, you won’t finish them off, and they’ll destroy you.
Read more about why RISK is hard to play and how to make it easier.