Rob Daviau &
Chris Dupuis


No. of Players:
2 - 5

G@mebox Star



Sometimes it is difficult to get started with a task, and this time I am hard pressed to find the right approach for this review, because the playing concept which can be found in HASBRO's new Risiko Evolution (a.k.a. Risk Legacy) is quite innovative and keeps the players in the dark how the game will evolve from one game to the next. Talking about these evolutionary steps would spoil the enjoyment of the game, and finding your game change over the time is part of the enjoyment for all owners of the game. So, in the end I decided to avoid everything in this review which could be seen as a spoiler, but this does not prevent me from sketching out what will await you upon opening the gamebox and starting your first game…


Okay, upon lifting the lid of the gamebox you will discover some pieces which are common for all modern versions of Risk - plastic playing pieces, a deck of cards and a gameboard showing the world (which is looking somewhat generic in this game). As for the setting, Risiko Evolution deals with a science fiction scenario, locating the players on an artificially constructed and terraformed earth-like planet where the different factions will wage war for predominance. Five different factions are available in the game, ranging from the highly organised troops of Imperial Balkania to the savage fighters of the Enclave of the Bear or the Dune-like guerrilla troops of the Saharan Republic. However, your curiosity will be raised by four sealed envelopes stuck at the inner side of the box cover, and each of these envelopes is printed with specific instructions when it needs to be opened. Likewise, part of the inner tray of the gamebox also has been sealed away, once again with instructions when these parts may be opened by the players.

Following the new playing concept, during the next 15 games of Risiko Evolution the game will evolve in a stepwise process, starting with some initial preparations which allow the players to individualize all factions by choosing a first special ability for each faction. Collectors now will cry out in pain, but these special abilities are pasted onto the faction cards in form of stickers, and all stickers which were not chosen can be delivered to the waste bin since each faction only will receive one of these initial abilities. Furthermore, the starting preparations also require the players to paste some resources symbols onto some territory cards, and these resources will result in making some territories more valuable than others.


When everything is ready for the first game, each player choses a faction and a more or less typical game of Risk will begin with the different factions trying to get into control of valuable continents and trying to eliminate each other. The aim of the game is to get four Red Stars, and each player starts the game with a headquarter which is worth one Red Star. Additional stars are won either by capturing enemy headquarters, or they can be gained by trading resource cards which are collected if a player captures at least one territory from another player during his turn. Another traditional element is the fact that resource cards also can be traded in for additional troops, but now the players have to balance whether they trade their resource cards for new troops or for the essential Red Stars.

However, the uniqueness of Risiko Evolution hits home directly upon the end of the first game, since now the winner and all remaining players are allowed to chose a special bonus which will change all future games. So, the winner may chose to name one of the continents, giving him a bonus unit whenever he controls this continent in a later game. Another option is to go for a city, marking the chosen territory as a possible starting territory exclusively for this player in all further games. Other options include the changing of a continental bonus or even the fortifying of an already existing city, and all these changes are permanent because they will be marked either by writing (with the included special pen) or pasting stickers on the gameboard. (gasp!) The runner-ups are given access to some less powerful choices, but overall the gameboard will change and evolve after each of the first 15 games.

Everything I have said so far can be found directly in the rulebook, and furthermore all stickers used for these actions can be found openly in the box. However, these actions are by far not the only means in which the game will develop. Thus, each of the envelopes and sealed compartments in the box lists special instructions on which occasion they should be opened by the players, and you will have to trust my words that they are full of surprising new stickers, cards and rules which will seriously change the game. So, the players may find stickers with rules which need to be pasted at reserved sections in the rulebook, they will find new special abilities for the factions and they may find other interesting things for the gameboard itself.


Without going into details, it is amazing to see how well these new elements fit into the game. For one, the occasions on which the players are required to open the new elements are chosen fairly well, so that the new elements do not surface all at once, but instead all the new things will come into the game in a stepwise process. In addition, the new rules which can be found keep the game well balanced despite the fact that some factions may get stronger than others depending on the chosen special abilities, and so the playing of Risiko Evolution really means an epoch making new experience for the players. To my mind the balancing of the game is of utmost importance, since Risk highly depends on the fact that all players have a chance to win, and indeed the evolutionary concept of this game seems to meet this requirement quite well. Coming perhaps as a bit of a surprise, the players will not keep their factions from one game to the next, but instead the factions are distributed anew at the beginning of each game. Amongst other - yet hidden - rules this twist guarantees that no player will get into a position of permanent predominance.

Some decades back Risk was a game which could fascinate for a long time, but with so many games of conquest available in modern times the old classic has shifted away from the main focus of many dedicated hobbyists. However, Risiko Evolution should change this situation with a blast, since the new evolutionary playing concept offers an incredibly high addiction factor. The players are eager to open up the hidden components of the game, and I advise all players strongly to play this game as suggested by the rules. Yes, it means that you will do permanent changes, write onto the gameboard and even throw some things away, but at the same time you will feel like your are participating in a movie. The world around the players changes, and until the last envelope has been opened an incredible degree of tension is created. After this process, you will have your very own copy of Risiko Evolution, and in addition you will have enjoyed many hours of fascinating gameplay!

And, as a final word of advise: do not forget to lift the inner tray out of the gamebox!

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Copyright © 2011 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany