Risk - Tactics
To win consistently at Risk requires development of several skills. Of course, luck is a factor, but a player must know how to respond to certain threats, how to attack, how to defend. There are nuances in the rules that a player can use to his or her advantage that have nothing to do with having a lucky horseshoe nearby (though it can't hurt).
Dice Rolling: This is a basic skill. The fact is that the odds between 3 attack dice and 2 defenders is pretty close to even. As a defender, a player should nearly always use the maximum number of dice possible. This gives the defender the greatest likelyhood of punishing the attacker. The attacker also should maximize the number of dice he rolls. However, he must take into account the rule that stipulates that should he be victorious, he must move at least the number of armies as the dice he rolls into the conquered country. This means that the attack should be full force until the enemy is wittled down to two or fewer armies. Then as long as he intends on advancing at least three armies, he should use three dice. However, if he chooses to use less, he should remember that fewer dice lessens his chance of victory.
Line of March: The dice rules and the fact that armies can be easily cut off from the battle-front make selecting a line of march when attacking a vital tactic. A player should keep his armies grouped at the front as much as possible. When attacking, a player should group his offensive force on one country. Then he should trace the rout of countries he intends to attack through so that he is not required to leave more armies than necessary behind him. For example, if he has 30 armies in the Middle East and he intends to conquer Africa, he should first enter through East Africa, then attack the countries in the following sequence: Madagascar, South Africa, Congo, North Africa, Egypt. If you follow the trail of this attack you can see that when the attacker conquers Egypt from North Africa, he can leave 1/3 of his remaining armies in North Africa, he may then use his final-move to transfer an additional third of his armies back to Middle East. This would secure all the borders of Africa and the countries not exposed to the front are left with only one army each. Of course, this is a general example. If there was a significant threat in Brazil, the attacking player might leave greater forces in North Africa or even attack Brazil.
Army Placement and Card Armies: A player may choose to refrain from turning in cards until he has 5 cards. Unless there is a favorable opportunity or extreme need, it is usually wise to wait as long as possible as this will maximize the number of armies received. Of course, the placement of these armies should be done with strategic considerations in mind, yet on a tactical level, a player should refrain from spreading his armies out evenly over his entire empire. Spreading out his force leaves a player vulnerable to attack everywhere and does not allow him to muster much offensive force when the need arises. Generally, it is best to oppose force with force and it is often better to attack first as waiting only allows the enemy to build up more troops and attack when he has the advantage. This is a fundamental concept in Risk, massing ones forces as much as possible.
Final Moves: The move at the end of the player's turn can be handy in bringing troops to the front that get cut off after a major victory. However, good planning in choosing lines of attack should make this a rare occurance. Rather a final move is more powerful when used as in the example above in the secton on lines of march. It can be used to balance out forces on a defensive boundary after a strong attack or it may also be used to prepare a future attack. For example troops might be transfered from two important border areas such as Greenland to Alaska if an invasion of Asia were planned from North America in two turns. (However, this should only be undertaken if Greenland is relatively secure.)
Taking a Country: A player should always try to take a country even if he is building up his strength for later opperations because this is the only route to getting card armies. The number of card armies builds up quickly; a player does not want to be left out; for after one or two turn-ins the number of armies is so vast as to easily sway the outcome of the game. Even a player who seems on the verge of destruction can come roaring back with one turn-in of cards that nets him 40 or 50 armies.