Battlefields Across Time and Space, The Best Risk Board Game Versions

Tactics are essential. 

Many people might say tactics only matter in war, but they don’t think that through. All of life is about tactical decisions. We make strategies and plans for everything we do in life. 

Any time we plan how to use our time, that’s an exercise in tactics. Anytime we plan the conversation to ask an employer for a raise, that’s an exercise in tactics. Playing a miniatures game based heavily on warfare as an abstract is definitely an exercise in tactics. 

Risk was first released in 1957. The basic idea is that it’s a miniatures game that lets players take on the role of a general. Players take turns adding troops to territories on the board.

After the board is full, players attack neighboring regions (using dice to decide the outcome) until either the attacker or defender has no miniatures remaining in the conflict. The winning side then expands into the now-empty territory. 

Play continues until one player controls the entire board. 

There’s much more to the game, but that’s a fundamental overview. I don’t want to go too much into it because dozens of other versions have been released, each with its own spin on the rules. 

But which one of them is the best? 

Criteria

When there are so many variables to consider, how does one choose? I will boil down each version’s cost/risk analysis to determine the last version standing. 

  • Invention: Many versions are just “What if Risk, but in X Setting?!” It’s fun to imagine things in a new setting, but if that’s where it ends, the game’s gonna get a worse rating. 
  • Reconstruction: Risk has been around for a very long time. Each version has the chance to do something new. If it does it, and it’s in a way that makes sense? It’s going to get rated higher. 
  • Supply Lines: Everything has a cost. Not everything has a fair cost, however. Does a version give you more bang for your buck? Then that’s going to make a difference. 
  • Rank has its privileges: At the end of the day, this is my list. I’m in control here, so if I need to break a rule here or there because I think a version has more merit than another? Then I’m going to do it! 

Bottom Line Up Front: Risk: Godstorm goes to a source material that isn’t just another licensed property and does it well. It also adds a new element to the game, changing how it is played. This version is my pick for “God of Risk.”  

Now, with no further ado, back to the fray:

20.) Risk: Warhammer 40K

risk warhammer 40K

  • Latest Year Released: 2020
  • Age Rating: 10+
  • Players: 2-5
  • Approximate Play Time: 60-120 Min
  • Publisher: USAopoly

Warhammer 40k is a science fantasy setting in a dying universe. It’s a crapsack dystopia where there are no good guys, no good options, and everyone and everything is a terrible person. The setting is one of the codifiers of “Grimdark,” meaning it’s edgy enough to cut yourself by reading it too long. 

(I’m not a big fan). 

The Risk version of the game offers the players five different factions from the source material: Orks, Chaos, Tyranids, Eldar, and the Imperium. Each has slight differences in how they play and custom-molded pieces for the board. The game also has multiple modes of play, one of which is Total Domination, which plays out like classic Risk.

19.) RiskPlants vs. Zombies

risk plants vs. zombies

  • Latest Year Released: 2013
  • Age Rating: 10+
  • Players: 2
  • Approximate Play Time: 30-60 Min
  • Publisher: USAOpoloy

Plants vs. Zombies started as a tower defense game on several platforms. Players took control of a group of scientifically-engineered plants to defend their home against a horde of zombie types. 

This game version only offers a two-player option, with one player taking control of the zombies and the other taking control of the plants. It has custom miniatures based on the source material, allowing for three different play styles. Total Domination, Objectives, and Tower Defense.

Total Domination is the classic risk gameplay. Tower Defense plays out like the traditional Plants vs. Zombies game. Objective-based gameplay involves drawing several different objective cards at the start of a game. The first player to achieve three of these objectives wins. (Pay attention because these modes will come back often.) 

18.) Castle Risk

castle risk

  • Latest Year Released: 1986
  • Age Rating: 10+
  • Approximate Play Time: 120 min+
  • Players: 2-6
  • Publisher: Parker Brothers

This was the first new version of Risk released in 27 years. It was markedly different than the original, and although it didn’t catch on, it did have MANY rules that would influence other versions of the game in years to come. 

Usually, players receive new troops and armies based on card draws and the number of territories controlled. This game changes that to be based on a single card drawn and how powerful your castle is.

Different cards like Spy, General, Marshall, and Admiral add additional abilities to your side. Each player gets a single castle at the start of the game, and play continues until one castle remains.  

The “minis” in this game are straightforward shapes, except for the castle, which is pretty detailed. 

17.) Risk: Star Wars Original Trilogy Edition

Risk Star Wars Original Trilogy Edition

  • Latest Year Released: 2006
  • Age Rating: 10+
  • Approximate Play Time: 60-120+
  • Players: 2-5
  • Publisher: Hasbro

Star Wars is a classic space opera about one family’s battle with good and evil and its ramifications on the galaxy around them. This game is set during the “Galactic Civil War” era (or the original trilogy, if you prefer). 

The game has three different factions with their own custom-molded miniatures AND their own victory conditions!

The Empire’s goal is the most simple and familiar to Risk players. They want to eliminate all of the Rebel forces. The Rebels, meanwhile, need to destroy the Empire base that houses the Emperor. The third faction is the Hutts, who don’t care much about the war. They just want to control 10 of the 13 available resource planets.  

But what about the stars of the show? Figures from the movies appear as “Hero cards,” which will affect gameplay if drawn from the resource deck. 

16.) Risk: Legacy

risk legacy

  • Latest Year Released: 2012
  • Age Rating: 13+
  • Approximate Play Time: 60 min
  • Players: 3-5
  • Publisher: Hasbro

Full disclosure: I’m NOT a big fan of Legacy games, and this game is the one that named the trope. 

The game occurs on a “cloned earth” sometime in the next few hundred years. The various wars the planet goes through will change it and shape how war itself plays out over time. Straight out of the box, it plays like classic Risk. However, as you play, you make changes. The rule changes will affect future games. It simulates the evolution of how a planet wages war.

I love the concept. I hate the execution.

As you go through, you destroy cards. Literally. 

I hate that. It makes the poverty part of my brain violently ill. 

The miniatures are excellent, though. It’s hard to beat the elegant simplicity of futuristic soldiers, tanks, and aircraft. 

15.) Risk: Game of Thrones

risk game of thrones

  • Latest Year Released: 2015
  • Age Rating: 18+
  • Approximate Play Time: 120-240+ min 
  • Players: 2-7
  • Publisher: USAOpoly

I’d be surprised if you don’t know what Game of Thrones is. Regardless, it was a series of “mature fantasy” (read: erotically charged wish-fulfillment) that was adapted into a television series that took the world by storm. 

This recreates the show’s political intrigue and fantastic warfare in a classic Risk fashion. It’s very in line with the show’s aesthetics. The seven warring houses of Westeros are each available to play, with small pieces relatively simple, while cavalry or artillery pieces are in the shape of the house’s crest. 

The game has two boards and three ways to play. The Essos board is for two players who want to go head to head, while three to five players can use the Westeros board.

You can use both boards to play World at War mode if seven players are involved. Skirmish mode plays out like the classic board game, and the winner is determined by territories controlled. Dominion mode then includes different objectives that add a new level of complexity to the game. 

14.) Risk: Assassin’s Creed

risk assassin's creed

  • Latest Year Released: 2019
  • Age Rating: 18+
  • Approximate Play Time: 60 min+ 
  • Players: 2-5
  • Publisher: Hasbro

This version is… disappointing.

There are unique cards, and the game pieces differ from the standard game. The problem is that they’re the same for all five armies in different colors. Other than that, It’s almost exactly the same as the standard game.

Risk is a great game! There’s nothing “Wrong” with it. My problem is that Assassin’s Creed is also a great game. It’s had multiple games with an option for conquering or protecting territories. The fact that they decided to just change and release a version of Risk with unique minis is a missed opportunity. 

13.) Risk Factor (also called Risk: Revised Edition)

risk revised edition

  • Latest Year Released: 2009
  • Age Rating: 10+
  • Approximate Play Time: 90 min
  • Players: 3-5
  • Publisher: Hasbro

This game was released fifty-two years after the original and aimed to update it for the modern age. 

It also changes one primary rule: How to win the game. Now, you claim victory by accomplishing three randomly drawn objectives. You’re still aiming to control territories, but now that’s more a byproduct of the fact that it gives you more armies to control territories with rather than an end in and of itself. It makes for an interesting shakeup to the tactics of the classic game.

The pieces, however, are much more boring. Rather than shaping them like infantry, cavalry, and artillery, now they’re primarily thin arrows and buildings. It’s a very utilitarian choice that loses a lot of the charm. 

12.) Risk: Metal Gear Solid

risk metal gear solid

  • Latest Year Released: 2011
  • Age Rating: 10+
  • Approximate Play Time: 120 min
  • Players: 3-5 Min
  • Publisher: USAOpoly

Have you ever wanted to play a slightly more dystopian version of Risk? Now you can! 

Metal Gear Solid is a video game series that slowly morphed from a stealth-action game to a world-control game with stealth-action segments. There was a lot of Risk in the design DNA of Metal Gear Solid 4, so it makes sense that they would create a version of the board game focused on it. 

It plays out like a typical game of Risk with a few differences. It even uses the traditional Risk board for play. In addition to the usual rules, Players can take control of the mobile region “Outer Haven” and the WMD “Metal Gear Rex” to have a mobile strike platform and the ability to launch nukes, respectively.

Players can also draw hero cards that offer additional benefits throughout the game to gain an edge over opponents. 

11.) Risk: Transformers

risk transformers

  • Latest Year Released: 2007
  • Age Rating: 10+
  • Approximate Play Time: 120 Min
  • Players: 2-4
  • Publisher: Hasbro

As a nominal child of the eighties (I just barely squeaked in under the cutoff), my childhood involved no end of Transformers media. I cried along with many others when Optimus Prime fell in the first movie and cheered when he returned in the latter. I even cried when he died in the second Michael Bay Transformers film in one of the most action-packed scenes ever put to film.

So it should be no surprise that I have this edition of Risk.

It offers two modes of play, one on the “Earth” side of the board, similar to normal Risk. The other, on the “Cybertron” side of the map, aims to recreate the Cybertronian war of the film’s continuity. The Cybertron side adds rules like a time limit and variations on the card rewards found in most game versions. 

In either version, players take on one of four “sides.” Each has identical miniatures of different colors, but individual leaders are represented with two-different tokens a piece! (One for their robot mode and one for their transformed alternate mode). 

Honestly, that’s so cool that this might have taken the top spot if the leaders were actual miniatures. 

10.) Risk: Starcraft

risk starcraft

  • Latest Year Released: 2012
  • Age Rating: 10+
  • Approximate Play Time: 60-120
  • Players: 2-6
  • Publisher: USAOpoly

What would you get if you took Warhammer 40k, filed off some serial numbers, and made it into a video game that was a touch more hopeful? Then you’d have Starcraft

Risk Starcraft offers players three factions to choose from. They could take on the role of the Zerg hivemind, with their leaders the Queen of Blades and Zagarra, or the heroic Terran army led by Jim Raynor and Valerian Mengsk. They could also control the erudite Protoss legion with the noble Zeratul at their head if they’d prefer a third option. 

The miniatures are beautifully rendered characters from the game, including the heroes! That’s right, for once, the hero characters are represented by actual models rather than cards!

9.) Risk: Europe

risk europe

  • Latest Year Released: 2016
  • Age Rating: 14+
  • Approximate Play Time: 45-180 min
  • Players: 2-4 Players
  • Publisher: Hasbro

If you ever wanted to play a game of Risk that JUST focused on Medieval Europe, this game is for you!

It changes a great deal about the traditional game. Instead of a general, you now play as a king in control of one of seven nations. The different nations offer different advantages or disadvantages in how you play. You also choose a color. Aside from the different types of siege weapons, the artillery pieces are modeled after, the colors don’t have differences. 

Rather than total control of the board, you’re now also aiming to control all seven of the capital cities on the board. It’s a small but crucial difference that changes the tactics a player might employ. 

8.) Risk: Elder Scrolls V – Skyrim

risk elder scrolls V - skyrim

  • Latest Year Released: 2019
  • Age Rating: 13+
  • Approximate Play Time: 60 min 
  • Players: 2-5
  • Publisher: Winning Moves

How about we play Risk but also take time off during the war to slay dragons? 

That’s the fundamental design principle of the Skyrim edition of Risk. You choose between the Foresworn, The Thalmor, The Stormcloaks, The Orcs, and The Imperials. The game then plays out a great deal like the standard version across the familiar districts of Skyrim, except for a few key differences. 

One of the big ones is that there are Dragons across the board and these function as mobile natural disasters that randomly destroy swaths of the countryside.

Each faction also has a Hero unit that crosses the board, going up in levels and acquiring different equipment cards to make themselves more powerful. They slay dragons, offer bonuses to their team, and they’re also represented by minis, which automatically makes this game awesome! 

7.) Risk: Office Politics

Risk Office Politics

  • Latest Year Released: 2019
  • Age Rating: 18+
  • Approximate Play Time: 15-120 Min 
  • Players: 2-4
  • Publisher: Hasbro

I love when people and companies can be self-aware.

This game is almost a parody of Risk. (Or it’s a parody of office managers who read The Art of War and make that their entire personality.) 

Players take on one of four colors and move around pawns in the shape of a donut, intern, or manager as they attempt to take control of the office. The game even encourages you to write the name of real-life coworkers on the included drama cards for some potentially much-needed catharsis! 

6.) Risk: Captain America, Civil War

  • Latest Year Released: 2016
  • Age Rating: 10+
  • Approximate Play Time: 75-90 min
  • Players: 2-4 
  • Publisher: Hasbro

This is the most different version of Risk so far on this list. 

Players can join either Team Cap or Team Iron Man and take control of one of four armies. The only difference between the armies is the leader piece, shaped like Captain America, Iron Man, Falcon, and War Machine. Unfortunately, the two-team options mean you must play with either two or four players. 

Or you could choose the mode that works almost exactly like classic risk. 

The unique ruleset for this game is based heavily on the Revised Risk above, with some streamlining. Cap’s team is trying to get the Winter Soldier to the Quinjet and take off. Iron Man’s team is trying to capture the Winter Soldier and stop the Quinjet. If neither side achieves their objective by the end of turn five, the player with the most territories is declared the winner. 

5.) Risk: The Dalek Invasion of Earth

Risk The Dalek Invasion of Earth

  • Latest Year Released: 2014
  • Age Rating: 10+
  • Approximate Play Time: 60-120 min 
  • Players: 2-5
  • Publisher: Hasbro

This game disappointed me and made it up to me in glorious fashion.

If a game touts itself as “Risk, but with Doctor Who,” you’d expect to play as the Doctor, Right? 

WRONG!

In this game, you choose one of five different Dalek factions. The black, bronze, and silver armies are designed after the classic Daleks, while the red and yellow Daleks are designed after the NuWho Daleks. 

It plays out very similar to a typical game of Risk, except for the fact that the Doctor, represented by a TARDIS mini, randomly brings peace to a region each turn. If no one wins by the time the Doctor reaches his eleventh regeneration, everyone loses, and the Doctor successfully defends the Earth!

This brings an element of player-versus-board, except that you literally can’t because Daleks can’t accept peace, and you HAVE to take control of the board, or you’re eliminated anyway.  

Never have I ever wanted so badly to lose a board game!

4.) Risk Junior: Narnia

Risk Junior Narnia

  • Latest Year Released: 2006
  • Age Rating: 8+
  • Approximate Play Time: 90 min
  • Players: 2-4 
  • Publisher: Hasbro

If you saw the title of this game, you might be tempted to assume that it was a simplified version of Risk, with elements drawn from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, right?

You’d be half right, and probably not the one you’d expect. 

The game is actually MORE Complicated. It involves additional rules that change how armies are deployed and special effects when specific numbers are rolled. Like Captain America: Civil War above, you can only play with two people or four people, as there are explicitly two sides. 

Each side also has an ability unique to their side. The White Witch’s troops can turn units to stone on special rolls, and Aslan’s forces can heal or even resurrect fallen units. 

3.) Risk: Star Trek 50th Anniversary Edition

risk star trek 50th anniversary edition

  • Latest Year Released: 2016
  • Age Rating: 
  • Approximate Play Time: AT LEAST 60 min
  • Players: 2-5
  • Publisher: USAOpoly

The canon story of this board game is explicitly that Q got bored and decided to see who’s the best captain in Star Fleet. That’s absolutely AMAZING. The publisher here knew their audience. 

The minis in this game are either the shuttlecraft or they’re shaped like the starships from the first five Star Trek programs. Battle across the Alpha Quadrant in a game that plays almost exactly like the original Risk, or take on the Final Frontier gameplay, and experience what can happen when Q personally gets further involved with the shenanigans. 

2.) Risk: Lord of the Rings

Risk Lord of the Rings

  • Latest Year Released: 2002
  • Age Rating: 9+
  • Approximate Play Time: 120 
  • Players: 2-4
  • Publisher: Hasbro

This is another of the “two sides, so you must have an equal number of players to play the special rules” Risk games. It plays out a lot like the original game, with some caveats. Unless you have three players, in which case it plays out like a classic game of Risk.

Players choose one of four colors and battle against each other in a good old battle of Good-versus-Evil. Evil wins if they find the One Ring or wipe the good players out. Good wins if they destroy the Evil players or the One Ring is thrown into Mount Doom. 

Each side also potentially has a “Leader” Piece in the shape of a shield (because heroic units shaped like people were still a decade in the future) that provides bonuses to attacking or defending units. 

(This game also featured an Expansion Set, Risk: Lord of the Rings: Gondor and Mordor Expansion Set)

1.) Risk: Godstorm

Risk Godstorm

  • Latest Year Released: 2004
  • Age Rating: 10+
  • Approximate Play Time: 120 min
  • Players: 2-4
  • Publisher: Avalon Hill

We’ve come to an end at last. Behold, the Risk of Gods!  

Literally as in, this is the Risk that lets you play as gods from the classic period. 

Each player chooses a faction from the ancient world (Greek, Celts, Babylonians, Egyptians, or the Norse) and battles across the globe to decide who will control the Earth. If soldiers should fall, however, it is not their end. 

In this game, even control of the underworld is up for grabs. Soldiers that are killed in the mortal realm are really just reinforcements for your soldiers in the underworld, adding a delicious level of tactics to sacrificing your soldiers and making the enemy hesitate to slay your troops. 

It also features the lost civilization of Atlantis as an essential point to control, but be cautious! Atlantis could sink and drown every last soldier stationed there. 

Of course, if all that’s too much, you could use classic Risk with these pieces and this board. You know. If you wanted to be LAME! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What’s the best Risk Version still Available Today?

Answer: I’d suggest Risk: Shadow Forces at the time of this writing. If I was being fair, I mean. It’s a great game, but also a Legacy game, so I hate it on principle. 

Question: What was the Least Popular Version of Risk?

Answer: Castle Risk. People of the 1980s weren’t as receptive to change in well-established board games. 

Question: What’s the Weirdest Version of Risk? 

Answer: I’d give that to Risk: Office Politics. It has a different win condition and an incredibly different tone that had me laughing throughout. 

Conclusion

Games of strategy let us exercise our minds and our wits. Miniature Games about war have been popular for centuries, and they’ve created some classics that we still play today. 

Chess, D&D, and Risk have all spun from the same lineage of miniature war games, and they’ve never been more popular than they are right now. 

Risk has been reinvented dozens of times because it’s an excellent way to pass the time and capture a person’s imagination. 

Now let’s break out those D6s and ruin some friendships!  

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