Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Advance Risk Board Game Strategy Part 2: Australia

One of the most important parts of any risk game is for a player to lay claim to a continent as a base of operations. Perhaps the most well known and classic continent securing strategy is to lay claim to Australia.

Why Australia: The first and most important benefit of holding Australia is that it only has one entry and exit point – via Indonesia and Siam. This allows for easiest border protection of any country, especially considering that the number of reinforcements available from controlling Australia is the same as for South America (two each) with one fewer border country to protect. Also, Australia has some very solid expansion possibilities, discussed later in the article. Finally, once established, an Australian fortress with fortified armies in Siam is unlikely to be attacked by any other player. As opposed to South America, which is a natural expansion point for anyone holding either Africa or North America, Australia is usually “out of the way” for other players, especially since Asia is almost impossible to hold in the early stages of a typical game.

How to win control of Australia: Perhaps the most obvious way to take control of Australia is to pick one of the Australian territory cards during the territory distribution stage at the start of the game (or hope for an Australian territory if playing random territory distribution), stack all available armies on that territory, and take the continent on turn one. However, there are some difficulties with this approach. Once a players armies start to stack up in Australia, her or his intentions become obvious to any other players paying attention and will likely be met with stiff resistance from defensive armies placed in Australian territories that other players control. Defeating these armies is likely to permanently weaken the player trying to take control of the country and may make them vulnerable to a counter attack from a player with a strong position in Asia.
The more subtle and arguably better way to seize Australia is to place a large number of armies in a territory in Asia and wait for a couple of turns. Typically, at least a couple of players will try to control Australia during the first couple of turns of the game and will continue to attack each other until one player wins control. When this happens, the player with armies in Asia can march through Siam and knock out the first player to take usurp control of the continent.

Middle game expansion – Asia: The most common route for players controlling Australia to try and expand is through Asia. Asia is a natural expansion point because control of Australia usually means controls Siam, one of the four key territories necessary to control Asia (along with Kamchatka, Middle East, and Ukraine in Europe). Also, games where players have a strong Asian position are rare, with most players only using Asia to “card mine” (capture territories and retreat repeatedly to win cards).
The key to capturing Asia lies in taking Kamchatka. If a player can control this “back door territory, they can likely use it as a base to slowly expand westward and capture the rest of Asia. Often, control of this territory in a given game is difficult because it is likely to be challenged by a player with a position in North America. Also, even if a player fails to capture the entire continent, they can capture enough territories with this strategy to gain an extra territory per turn via the 12 territory army bonus.

Middle game expansion – North America: A subtle choice for Australian expansion is to use Kamchatka to expand into North America instead of Asia. Often if the situation in North America remains fluid for long enough, a player can turn in cards and capture the entire continent in one turn or less. Again, even if the Australian player fails to capture all of North America, the extra territories can help the player reach the 12 territory extra army bonus.

“Card cascade”: The card cascade is a special strategy that mainly works in the later stages of games with ascending card values. In this strategy, a player places all of her or his armies on Siam and basically plays a passive waiting game during the first several turns. Once the card trade values reach about 20 bonus armies, the player controlling Australia looks for opponents with a weak position and several cards. The player controlling Australia will then march their armies out through Asia, capture all of the opponents territories, and turn in the players captured cards on the same turn to receive an additional army bonus. The player can then either use these armies to continue the attack and eliminate another player (and capture his or her cards) or to consolidate the territories gained from attacking. Sometimes, this strategy can enable a player to win the game in a single turn.

Bottom Line: Playing Australia is an essential part of the knowledge and repertoire of any serious Risk player. The key for Australia is patience and choosing a wise expansion strategy. However, when the time is right, the player should also be prepared to use her or his armies in Australia to strike decisively and win the game.

Part 1: Overview

Part 3: South America


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