Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Risk Legacy - Unboxing and First Game Session (Lots of Images!)

I picked up Risk Legacy on Black Friday and patiently waited until Saturday night to open it and play our first session. If you don't know anything about Risk Legacy, it's a new Risk game where you modify the board, cities, armies, and more as you play the game. The modifications are permanent and after 15 games you have your own Risk game that was created by you and your group. A very cool concept that's really original. (See my previous post for first impressions from other players)

The whole experience of Risk Legacy starts as soon as you open the box.

Click through the jump for my unboxing photos and a recap of our first session. There are some minor spoilers ahead, but just a few to give you a feel for the unique style of the game.

----------------------------- THE UNBOXING -----------------------------

The game comes in almost an odd currugated shipping box with a plastic handle. I've seen it on some of the recent hasbro games and it usually looks pretty cheap. I don't know if it was made this way for style or not, but it doesn't feel cheap. Maybe it's the nature of the game and it feels like there's a DIY reason behind it, but I thought I'd mention it. 

Once you open the box, you'll see that it's pretty jam packed. There is a huge map board, a smaller board for the card layout, 5 armies - each with unique pieces, cards, 5 army player boards, some hefty cardboard chits, stickers (to later place on your board and cards) and all of the hidden items too. 

The hidden items are such a tease too. It's very much like an achievement in a video game, and once you know about it, it's hard to get it out of your mind (more about this later). Here is a closer look at the secret envelopes and compartments.

There is one more envelope, hidden underneath the box components. If you remove the plastic part that holds everything in the box, you will find this.

And here is the untouched board. Each has an imprinted stamp of the board #, which is very cool and adds to the feel, and a little bit to the story. See the three colored rectangular banners at the top left? They are special abilities called "Scars". There are three blank ones on the top right to be added as you play. See the "X" shaped mark on each country? Those are placement marks for stickers that are added as you go. And the lines on the bottom left side are where you mark your first 15 victories, and eventually name the world.

----------------------------- THE FIRST GAME -----------------------------

Backstory: It's the future, and all of these clone earths were created. War is bound to happen, and this is your earth (the imprinted #) and your war. 

Our first game was 4 players, which is most of my normal gaming group. Before playing, you must all sign the agreement on the board. It's the first modification you do, and an easy one because it's on the back side of the board. Some players will have issues with modifying the game board, but it's the heart of this game. Without the modifications, you just have a re-skinned Risk. This is much more than that.

We unpunched everything and fought over who would play as the Enclave of the Bear (one of the armies). It turns out, you don't just pick your starting army, you roll to see who picks. Although each army is similar in size, they each have a unique card and unique pieces. The pieces all have the same use as other players (and other Risk games - 1 unit, 3 units, etc) but the card for each Army gives special abilities. One of the first things you do is get a card with two abilities on it. The abilities are on stickers. You have to choose one and stick it on the army card, and throw the other one in the trash. 

After that, you add 12 coin stickers to the countries. Basically a game session is won by reaching X amount of victory points. Victory points can be bought by coins, and each card has one coin printed on it. At the start, you add 12 coin stickers, but however you want. You can add 1 to each of 12 countries, or 4 to 3 countries. They can be in different parts of the board, or all right next to each other. There is huge range of options here, and it will really impact your gameplay. You can also do it randomly, secretly, publicly... however you want. I passed out 3 coins to each player and we secretly added them. 

Onto the game. I lucked out and ended up with the Enclave of the Bear. Nothing special, but really cool. Their units were a warrior (1 army) and a guy on a bear (3 armies). Other armies had steampunk-ish cars and mega-mech suits, but I intentionally didn't get too into the other armies so I can be surprised later if I pick them in a future game.

Each player starts out with a "Scar" card, which is a modifier that can be placed on a country. I had one that gave the defender -1 defense and played it on Russia in a time of need. It's there to stay, so the beast that is Europe has been slightly weakened.

One of the biggest changes is you start out in just one country with a bunch of troops and work your way outward. I like that approach much better than spreading around the board.

Most of the rest of the game played out like regular Risk. The attack/defend mechanic is the same, but you have army bonuses, and any others that have been modified while playing.

I had my eye on opening up one of the secret packs so at the end, I was able to knock someone out of the game and opening up the achievement card pack. SPOILER: Inside were more scars, and new character card stickers with abilities for when you are knocked out.

Eventually, I won the game. As winner, you get to place your name on the board and choose one of six awesome options.

-Name a continent: giving you a bonus when you control that continent
-Name a Major City: giving you bonuses later in that city
-Fortify a city: more bonuses
-Change a continent bonus: +1 or -1 forever for that whole continent
-Tear up a city card: if anyone loaded one up with coins that is in an area that you are not interested in
-Cancel a scar: there are blank stickers allowing you to remove a scar. This is one of the onl;y things you can undo in the game.

I chose to name Australia "Middle Earth". Although New Zealand isn't even part of that continent or even the entire game board, it was as close as I could get. Why did I choose Australia? If you've ever played Risk with me, I try to take the whole corner of the map and work my way west. This will probably have to change as we keep playing.

Any other players that survived get a choice of two options:

-Name a minor city: Giving small bonuses to anyone there.
-Add a coin to a card: Making it more valuable when trading in for victory points.

Adding coins to a card is the least exciting, but it will definitely impact later games. Instead, everyone chose to name a city. We now have Cthulhuland in South America, and something stupid in Europe. (My brother made it, and he couldn't even fit it on the sticker so it cuts off. We will forever make fun of him as it's on the board for good.)

-----------------------------FINAL THOUGHTS -----------------------------

As someone who would usually rather make their own game than play an existing one, this game is one that I absolutely love. It's not that similar, but I would compare it to the feeling of building your own huge Heroscape map and then battling right afterwards. You have that emotional feeling of using something that you created to your benefit. Having that personal connection is something that is really important to me, and really sticks with me. While not as user interactive as an RPG campaign, this one is made up of quick sessions, where anyone can jump in. If they've played Risk, you just need to teach the basic modifiers and changes.

I'd like to try and get as many players as possible in each of my first 15 games. With the winner and each surviving player getting to modify the game, I want to make sure there are plenty of players to enable those modifications. So 2-3 player matches must wait until after the 15th game when everything locks into place. I have a feeling that 15th game won't be too far away though, because everyone loved it.


  1. what was the duration of the game? I know that is a major turnoff for me on the classic game, since I don't have 4 days to play a 6 player game.

  2. Each game session is about an hour. It's not total domination / last one standing like regular Risk. It's first to 4 victory points, and you can get them a few different ways. It definitely leaves you wanting more instead of hating yourself and your opponents.

  3. Jerk. I convinced myself I didn't need this, now I do.

  4. seems very interesting! Risk was always my favourite board game but yeah, it's always WAY too long...hard to get anyone to play...

  5. One way! We have played 6 games none shorter than 4 hours. We did have 5 players which forces conflict by proximity. The points system makes the game a little faster than the old risk...but it is still not that fast. Add that each of us is about equal in gaming experience, so we not only plan our moves but anticipate the others moves. I have told people that this is more like survivor the TV show, where it is hard to become dominant without other players noticing, and once they notice they team up to bust you down. For us this game has become like a 5 way chess game. I am enjoying it...but lets see how we feel after game 12 or so.

    1. Ours have been quicker, and mostly 4 players. Some have been about an hour and a half or so. I guess it depends on how the group plays. My group is stubborn and nobody will team up, so we end up with the runaway leader who steals a base for their 3rd star and then quickly steals another base for the win.

      I'm still very much enjoying it as well, and looking forward to the next few games.