Friday, June 4, 2010

Advanced Risk Board Game Strategy Part 3: South America

Australia is ostensibly the strongest continent that receives a two army bonus. However, South America has some subtle dynamics that also make it a viable option for a player for whom control of Australia is not an option. This article will explain how to best utilize the specific dynamics of South America in any Risk game, including conquering the continent, expanding to North America and/or Africa, and winning the end game.

Conquering South America: As with conquering continents in all Risk games, the most direct option for any player seeking to control South America is to place armies in one of the South American territories and try to knock out the defending armies in the first couple of turns. This strategy typically has a much better chance to succeed than a direct takeover of Australia because many players place a much lower emphasis on taking South America, meaning that the player is much less likely to face a large number of defenders, if the other players bother to defend the continent at all. A second option is to disguise this takeover by placing most of the initial armies in Africa or North America and conquering South America through the backdoor. This is especially good for games with 6-8 players, where the South American continent is unlikely to be conquered unchallenged.

Expansion to North America: Expanding to North America is probably the key to playing South America. If the player controlling South America can leverage this into control of North America, he or she can control an area with 7 bonus armies with only 3 borders! However, this strategy comes with a lot of risks (no pun intended). For one thing, a player controlling Africa can force the player controlling South America to eat up a significant number of armies defending the North Africa – Brazil bridge. Also, North America usually has at least one or more players also fighting for control, and the South American player will need to contend with their strong positions on that continent.
The key here is that the South American player needs to move quickly to control the continent. The worst situation possible is where the player becomes stuck and slowly squeezed to extinction between the massive armies of a player controlling Africa and one controlling North America.

Expansion to Africa: If the situation in North America is too simply too turbulent to handle, a player can also opt for an expansion into Africa. Here the North African territory is the key. If the South American player can control this territory, he or she can slowly expand to control East Africa, the territories interior to Africa, and finally Egypt. If no one has a firm control of either North America or Europe when this strategy is attempted, the South American player has a good chance of succeeding. Furthermore, if the player can hold both South America and Africa, she or he can use the base as a very strong launching pad to either invade Europe or North America, probably with a winning game.
Probably the biggest threat to this strategy is either another player fighting for control of Africa or a player who has managed to take control of Europe. Especially in the case of the European player (assuming that he or she can readily control the necessary border countries), the 5 army per turn bonus will stack up pretty quickly and thwart any moves by South America into Africa. In these situations, the South American player has the choice whether to continue her or his push into Africa or whether to change path and drive towards North America instead.

Bottom Line: South America offers a reasonable home continent base in a Risk game, provided that the controlling player is able to expand early enough to avoid being squeezed by players with control of North America and Africa. A player holding South America should seek to keep one avenue of expansion open at all costs.

Part 1: Overview:

Part 2: Australia:

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