Risk: Conquering Our Inner Napoleons Since 1959

Posted by Michael Pinto on Apr 23, 2010 in Hobbies and Collections, Videogames |

Risk 1959 Edition Game

What did geeks play before Dungeons & Dragons? Well for this geek and his nerdy buds our board game of choice back in the day was Risk! Oh sure in games like Monopoly you could become the next Rockefeller — and games like Battleship let you destroy an entire navy. However Risk! appealed to our inner Napoleon who was intent on world conquest. Of course it’s with a bit of irony that the game was in fact invented by a Frenchman: In 1957 film director Albert Lamorisse released La Conquête du Monde (The Conquest of the World), in France. Shown above is a new re-release of the 1959 version of the game which came to the United States thanks to Parker Brothers.

What I like about this re-release is that it features the old school wooden “army” pieces instead of the plastic guys that would later be associated with the game. To me these abstract armies of colored wood cubes were a key to the game as it made the game timeless — you could be fighting World War II or some futuristic global war. What’s also interesting about the game is that it has that very crude representation of national boundaries. The United States is split down the middle, Mexico owns Latin America and Iceland in a great place to invade Europe from if you own North America.

Now you’re probably wondering why in an age of computers why I’m still raving about a board game that is over fifty years old. Well the secret is that if you want to be a videogame designer, understanding the logic of old school games is a great place to start learning. In fact you can say that many RPG titles really owe a great deal to the likes of Risk. Underneath the geography of the game is a series of nodes that connect to each other which is a bit more complex than the endless circle of Monopoly as seen in this interesting chart from Wikipedia:

Territory connections in Risk!


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