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Risk Legacy, Part Four: Valiant Stands, Capricious Dice

This post explicitly talks about some late-game aspects of Risk Legacy that some people may wish to keep unspoiled. They are: “after all nine minor cities have been founded”, “a player signs the board twice” and “a player has been eliminated.”

The game has matured. We had begun as a rag-tag group of beer lovers, some strangers to others, playing a fairly straightforward game of Risk. Now we’ve become hardened by adversity, friendly enough with each other to make incredibly effective “your mom” jokes while stabbing each other firmly in the back.

Matt was coming off a two game win streak. Justin and Julia have found no satisfaction, and Alex and I remain unsated, having tasted victory only to have it ripped away.

It was, as they say, on.

2013-05-08 21.30.16

The beer

Last week’s theme was “a beer that took you by surprise,” after Matt’s come-from-behind victory in game 3. This week we’d be playing with two new packet’s worth of rules, so I decided to commemorate the new experience with the theme “a beer you’ve never had before.”

Justin: Sawtooth (Left Hand)

Amber ales are probably tied with dry Irish stouts for my least favorite style of beer. They just seem so boring: not malty enough to be a bock or porter, not hoppy enough to be a pale ale. There are exceptions: I think Matt brought up Nugget Nectar, which is of course delicious, but an imperial amber and hoppier than I would expect for the style.

A glass of Sawtooth

A glass of Sawtooth

Having just spat upon the style for a paragraph, Sawtooth was actually quite enjoyable. It packed as much caramel as a sundae, and was fairly sweet. Would I want to drink this all the time? No, I would not describe it as “my jam,” but I’d say it’s the beer equivalent of “Thrift Shop”: good, simple fun.

Dan: Live (Southern Tier)

I walked into Consumer’s looking for a beer I’d never had before. I began to walk around to the aisle of 750 mL Belgian beers when Ethan’s post-TAP sentiment echoed in my head: to paraphrase, “Drink local. Failing that, drink WNY. Failing that, drink NYS. We have quite a lot of damn good beer.” There, right up front, was a Southern Tier display including six packs of Live, a bottle conditioned pale ale.

I suspect part of the anti-amber bias many people, myself included, have is that tastes have moved on. The “standard” beer is now a pale ale, and Live shows exactly why. Pleasantly hoppy but not aggressive, it’s eminently drinkable. My notes say, simply, “Delicious.”

Alex: VI Wheat (Jandrain-Jandrenouille)

Having just talked about my love of brettanomyces, this was certainly a beer that piqued my interest. It brought the funk, but the funk was unassuming. Alex compared it to a young Orval, while Justin thought it was like an unskunked Fantome.

It wasn’t overpowering, but it was certainly a left turn from the other beers of the night. It was in no way a drinkable beer, but that’s not an insult: sometimes you want something to go down easily, and sometimes you want to chew it and think for a while. This was a ponderous beer.

Julia: Head Hunter (Fat Heads)

Julia didn’t get the memo. She forgot what the theme was, so she combined two possibilities. They were both wrong. But hey, she brought Head Hunter, so I wasn’t about to complain!

The beer in the foreground was Justin's penance for being naughty in a game of Werewolf on BoardGameGeek. I didn't make him drink it,

The beer in the foreground was Justin’s penance for being naughty in a game of Werewolf on BoardGameGeek. I didn’t make him drink it,

We had considered both “a beer that makes you abusive” and “a beer for your mom,” so she combined them into “a beer that makes my mom abusive.” That works!

“Just scraping a little enamel off my teeth,” Justin said. I admit that, despite its presence in the NIPAC, I hadn’t had this beer before. Actually, I hadn’t had any of the ones we drank. There’s a good deal of hype surrounding Head Hunter, and I quite enjoyed it. All of these beers I consider myself better for have tried.

The Game (5/15)

Yet again the forces of evil conspired against me: Justin chose his starting placement first and occupied Australia. Alex, as always, chose La Ciudad de Fuego in Argentina (a city I aspire to one day be able to type without copying and pasting from the previous week). Julia chose Persephone (Koskilde), and Matt the south of Africa. I knew from experience that choosing an Asian headquarters to butt heads with Justin would be folly, so I headed to Wenchport (Alberta).

Greenland has been scarred with an ammo shortage for the entirety of our campaign: that makes defending it difficult, so I knew to have any chance of holding North America from eastern aggressors I had to expand into Iceland.

Once I got there I realized that Julia had chosen an elimination power for my faction: after she opened the “a player is eliminated” packet last game she was supposed to choose one (thanks to @robdaviaugamer for setting us straight), so before we started she chose the ability to get +1 to all die rolls when attacking HQs. Being denied my starting territory, I snatched that faction up right quick and took her HQ.

Justin then came out of Australia and tried to take Persephone for himself. Somehow the valiant populace held on, stopping his advances and setting the tone for the game: it’s a defender’s market.

Julia and I fell into a routine of her taking back her beleaguered capital that I left undefended, only to have me recapture it the next round. I only wanted the card for taking over a territory, and the HQ attacking bonus made it easy pickings.

The same as it ever was.

The same as it ever was.

To the south, Alex and Matt played out the scenes they always do: Alex expands from South America into Africa and attempts to exterminate the populace. At first, Burg (Central Africa) stymied the Brazilians with no losses. They eventually are forced to retreat, and after many terrible, bloody rolls Alex eventually found victory through the ammo shortage scarred Eastern Africa.

Then: a dramatic turn! Justin scarred Burg with a biohazard, which takes away one troop at the end of the turn of the player controlling it. It was a calculated move to cut Alex off from Africa and force him northward. Thus far he had stayed out of Argentina, avoiding conflict with me in Central America. With Burg scarred, Justin’s machinations quickly came to fruition: war was coming to North America.

It was excellent timing for Justin, too: he had expanded throughout most of Asia, and Julia and I had formed an alliance to stop him. I let her have Persephone, only having wanted it for the cards, and said I would attack Asia through Alaska if she would cross over from Europe. With Justin staring at me across the Bering Strait and Alex marching towards Panama I couldn’t afford to expand: I actually had to break our truce before it had lasted even one turn and attack Northern Europe so I could earn a card. I felt bad, I truly did, and I let Julia retake it on her next turn, but the damage had been done: she didn’t much feel like listening to me for the rest of the game.

Matt, having held on in South Africa, fully kicked Alex out of his continent. Alex put a mercenary scar on his HQ, earning an extra troop there at the end of his turns. He needed it, as Matt continued his push and took over Brazil. Alex retook it, but at the cost of his South American bonus for the turn. It is around now that I yell an obscenity, realizing I haven’t expanded to control all of North America despite being unopposed: I’ve been losing five troops a turn all game.

Son, do not mess with Matt in Africa.

Son, do not mess with Matt in Africa.

Those troops would have come in handy as “the vengeance of a thousand suns” crossed into Alaska from Creepytown. Justin’s time had come, and he wanted blood. Here the second or third great standoff of the game occurred, with his troops besieging Wenchport but the brave Wenchportians holding on. They had help: the entire international community was watching, hoping to stop the Mad Australian Justin Frost. A missile is launched on behalf of Alex: one of my dice rolls is turned to a 6. Then another, courtesy of Matt. I still had my missile, though I wasn’t about to say anything to make them stop helping me.

Eventually, it is finished. Wenchport hangs on.

In need of a card, Justin attacked Julia in the Urals from his position in Tenacity (Afghanistan). It’s close, but he earns his card.

North America’s woes are not yet done, however. The Venezuelans attacked Central America in a battle that I believe changed the course of the game. My Mexican infantry stopped Alex, roll after roll. He was responsible for arming the Mexicans, having placed the bunker scar there in an earlier game, as I gleefully remind him. Eventually, as in Burg, as in Wenchport, as in so many cities in the game, Alex is denied.

I say this changed the game for one simple reason: Justin’s plan was to sandwich me between his troops and Alex’s. If Alex had been able to come in through Central America, I’d have been finished. Either Alex would have eliminated me or Justin, and if the latter he’d have been simply unstoppable. Each event card played in the game (drawn when a territory card worth an even number of coins was turned over) had gone to Justin, giving him a troop bonus at least once per turn. With my cards, he would control the world.

That was only if Alex had defeated me. He hadn’t, and through no fault of his own: the dice just weren’t with him. Instead, I cashed in my cards and got a 10 troop bonus that I used to invade South America and wipe him out. He chose an elimination power and rejoined the game, but with only four troops he didn’t really stand a chance. His time was up.

Let us pause, dear reader, and consider the game thus far. It is going somewhat predictably: Dan and Julia squabble but unite against the common enemy of an unreasonably powerful Justin. Alex attacks Matt and, through some adversity, prevails. The game is playing out much like it has in the past.

Somehow, none of us remembered the words of George Santayana. We did not remember the past. We were doomed to repeat it.

Cue the Imperial March

Cue the Imperial March

Like a cat, Matt sprung out of Africa. He had had a taste of blood when he attacked Alex on his home turf and he wanted more (more, more, more). He exploded eastward, attacking Justin in a huge southern Asia battle. After much rolling of dice, Justin was kicked out of his headquarters in Indonesia.

He immediately retaliated from iPadlandia. Matt considered scarring Indonesia, but decided against it. It would help him now, yes, but would help others in future games as well. He stopped Justin and still controlled both Indonesia and his own HQ.

Matt then goes all in. He cashed in his cards and attacked Julia’s European forces. She rolled, to put it nicely, like crap. Persephone fell, and Matt controlled a third HQ. He only needed one more to win.

He turned his eyes to Wenchport and invaded North America. The Wenchportians had overcome much, but the massive army Matt commanded was simply too much. For a second game in a row, Matt took my headquarters to win. The win was his third. In a row.

It was a Matt-trick.

The Aftermath

No packets were opened this game. There aren’t very many left, and I expect it will be a game or two before we see another.

The once-again unscarred Burg

The once-again unscarred Burg

Matt used his victory to cancel the scar in Burg. Tensions between him and Alex may now continue unabated.

Justin adds a coin to the value of the iPadlandia card. I add one to Wenchport, and Julia Southern Europe.

Like last week, this one game took long enough that we don’t have time to play another. Game six will have to wait two weeks.

And Matt? I’m coming for you. The ground will run red from the blood of your troops. I will find you, and I will defeat you. If you come back, I will defeat you there too.

You will not win the next game, Matt.

See you in two weeks.