Family Game Review: Risk Europe

Welcome to the the first Family Game Review, which may or not become a semi-regular feature here. We’ll see how it goes.
Anyway, for Family Game Reviews, I will play a game with my kids, Connor (23) and Rhiannon (13), and then we will each offer our independent reviews of the game. Each game we play will be a game that is new to all of us (our first time playing).
The first game we played was Risk Europe. I had been eyeing this on the shelf at a local toy store for a while, because I was intrigued by the different pieces. And then it went on sale! There’s my opportunity, I thought, and I bought it.
Here, interspersed with some pictures of our game, are our reviews:

An empty Risk Europe board depicting a map of Europe.
The board, clean, empty and ready for conquering. Soon, it will be covered with purple people!

Scott

Risk Europe is a strategy game with the elements of the original Risk, but with more. Where the different unit types (infantry, cavalry, cannon (or the triangle and the multi-spoked piece if you have a really old version like I first played with)) in the original Risk represent different numbers of forces, the different units here fight with different abilities. The units have different ranks which fight in order, with casualties being removed before the next rank fights. Siege weapons, archers, and cavalry fight by successfully rolling a target number, and then after that, everyone left in combat fights with the classic Risk comparison of the dice roll to determine who takes a hit.

Set up complete, the armies are on the board.
We have our starting cities. My purple army is in Berlin and Stockholm. We are ready to rule!

Winning isn’t done through domination of the board or eliminating other players (although that nearly happened to me), but by capturing crowns (cities on the board). There is a good deal of choice and planning involved in this version, as each player makes two actions each turn, and must determine both of the actions, in the order for them to be carried out, before the round begins. Each player has a set of cards that have the actions on them, such as tax/spend (to get money from controlled cities and territories or buy more troops or castles), expand/manoeuvre (to attack neighbouring territories or move troops through friendly territory). Once a card has been played, it is out for the rest of the round, meaning you can’t use it again. Paying attention to what your opponents play can give you a pretty good idea of what they are doing during their last turn of the round when they only have two cards left.

Turn 2 - Pieces are spread out a bit.
My Norwegians move to support my Berliners against the Normans in France.

Despite being behind for most of the game and finishing in a very weak position, I enjoyed this quite a bit for all of the tactical options and choices that need to be made. The turns go by quickly, since you only resolve a single action before the next player’s turn, and all tactical moves are resolved before any combat happens. There is a lot of opportunity to set up a several-turn plan through careful use of the action cards, especially if you can anticipate opponents’ moves based on what they have left in their hand.

Turn 3 - Where'd all those green troops come from?
I paid the blue mercenary army to threaten France, but I’m having concerns about the aggressive build up next door.

Now that we’ve played it though and learned the rules, I look forward to playing this again with a greater focus on tactical choices and options.

Turn 4 - Green overruns purple's territory
Well, that didn’t go well.

Connor

A pretty fun game, albeit one I don’t think should be under the Risk series, since it doesn’t share enough of the core mechanics.  The 3-player version does feel a bit sparse with how spread out the east half of the map is, but that might resolve itself with more experience and different starting placement choices.  The ability to get a powerful ball of units at the beginning if you can connect your starting cities seems like it might be too good, but again it might come down to strategic mistakes borne of ignorance.  All-in-all, quite a nice game that I hope to play more of in the future, and see how it changes with experience.

Turn 5 - Green takes UK, Red goes North, Purple just chillin'
I’ll rebuild in Scandanavia and take Eastern Europe instead, then.

Rhiannon

It was a lot of fun at first, pretty easy to get into the flow and learn the rules. I was winning for the entire game until the very end. I could’ve taken my last city to get my last crown but I couldn’t see the border of Hungary and Poland because all my guys were in the way. In the end my brother won ‘cause he’s a jerk. I loved it until I lost.

Turn 6 - Purple's comin' back!
Aha! I’m coming to take Berlin back!
Turn 7 - Purple takes Warsaw, which might have been a mistake.
Surprise, Berlin was a feint! I’m taking Warsaw! Uh-oh…
Turn 8 - Purple has a couple of territories left...
Well, crap.

And that was our experience with Risk Europe.