'Risk' Lets You Conquer the World on Your iPad
When board games like "Risk" are adopted for computer play, they lose the tactile qualities that are an important part of their appeal. There's a pleasure in rolling dice and dealing cards that can't be duplicated on a video display. The iPad, though, has tactile elements of its own that -- while no substitute for their real-world counterparts -- enrich this computer version of the game.
Board gamers with a thirst for world conquest have long been attracted to "Risk." Its simple mechanics make it easy to learn, and the thrill of annexing nations through simulated force of arms appeals to a bellicose streak in all but the most devoted pacifists. Now Hasbro and Electronic Arts have brought the classic board game to the iPad, and they've done an excellent job making the tablet version as exciting as its board analog.
The "board" for Risk (US$3.99) for the iPad is a map of the world segmented into countries and regions. All territory is occupied by the armies of the players when the game begins.
Each player's turn consists of three phases: draft, attack and fortify. In the draft phase, you receive additional armies based on a number of factors. For example, if you occupy nine territories at the start of the phase, you would receive three additional armies. If you occupy a continent, you would receive additional armies for that, too.
After receiving your armies, you can place them in any territory you occupy. They appear in a staging area at the left corner of the display. To add an army to a territory, you poke the region. Then you can drag an army to the location or use a wheel that appears at the bottom of the screen to transfer a specific number of troops to the territory. When you complete a troop movement to a territory, you tap a green checkmark beside the wheel and you're ready to repeat the process for another region.
With new armies deployed, you're ready to enter the attack phase. To perform an attack, you tap the territory from which you will launch the attack. You must have a minimum of two armies in the region to do so, however. Then you tap the target region.
The result of the attack can be decided by a dice roll or a blitz. Attackers can throw one die for every army they have in the territory from which they're attacking, up to a maximum of three dice. Defenders do the same, up to a maximum of two dice.
When an attack is under way, the attacker's dice appear in the staging area. To "roll" them, you simply swipe them into the playing area. Your dice and the defender's will bounce around the screen and come to rest. The results are resolved with higher numbered dice crashing into lower numbered ones, obliterating them with an explosive sound effect.
Although you can throw a maximum of three dice, you don't have to do so. You can throw fewer by poking the ones you don't want to roll.
An attack might go like this: You roll three dice and the result is six, two and two. The defender rolls a five and a two. Your six beats the five, so the defender loses an army. Your next highest die ties the defender's next highest, so you lose an army, too. You would continue to roll the dice until the defender's armies in the territory you're attacking are destroyed, or until you have insufficient manpower to continue an attack.
If you want to quicken the pace of the game, you can hit the yellow blitz button in the staging area. It will automatically resolve in a blink of an eye all the dice rolls needed to complete the conquest of a territory.
The last stage of your move is the fortify phase. During it, you can move armies between adjacent territories that you occupy.
After completing the fortify phase, the next player's turn begins. That player can be your iPad, another person -- from two to six people can play the game at the same time -- or a combination of both. There's also a "local play" mode in which up to four people can play the game from their iPads over a WiFi or Bluetooth connection.
When you begin the draft phase of your next turn, you will receive a Risk card. Each card has either a tank, plane or soldier on it. When you have a set of cards -- three tanks, for instance, or a tank-plane-soldier combo -- you can turn the set in for extra armies.
How card sets are treated by the game can be customized with the option menu. For instance, you can increase the value of each set of cards turned in. The first set would be worth four armies; the second, six; and so forth. Or you may want to fix the worth of the sets. Three soldiers would be worth four armies; three tanks, six armies; and such.
When board games like "Risk" are adopted for computer play, they lose the tactile qualities that are an important part of their appeal. There's a pleasure in rolling dice and dealing cards that can't be duplicated on a video display.
The iPad, though, has tactile elements of its own that -- while no substitute for their real-world counterparts -- enrich this computer version of the game. What's more, many of the tedious aspects of the board game are performed automatically in the iPad version, which can greatly speed up game play.
"Risk" for the iPad is as entertaining and enjoyable as its board brother, and it's a lot more portable.