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For some reason, I agreed to play Risk with my wife and her friend the other night, and we decided to try the Mission cards in Risk because no one wanted to go for global domination. I would soon be reminded why I don't play this game.

One of the mission cards states "Control two islands". While there is nothing in the rules that states what exactly is an "island", to me, islands would be any of the following countries:

  • Great Britain
  • Iceland
  • Greenland
  • Indonesia
  • New Guinea
  • Madagascar
  • Japan

However, our friend also claimed Australia was an island, albeit a "very big island". Pulling up the Wiki Answers article as well as the Wikipedia article state that Australia is a technically a continent and not an island, partly due to being on its own tectonic plate. The Wikipedia article does mention that Australia has been dubbed the "island continent", which was enough to give our lawyer friend something to hold on to.

Barring common sense, are there any rulings as to which countries count for the mission card?

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+1 for piquing the interest of this Aussie. – Andrew Grimm Feb 9 '11 at 22:31
Worse: Arguing that GB should count as two islands. – Joshua Apr 26 at 23:15
up vote 15 down vote accepted

Australia is not an island.

The rules for the 2003 edition define an island as follows:

A mission may require you to control an island. An island is a territory completely surrounded by water and only connected to other territories by sea-lines, for example Indonesia.

See page 18 of the rules here:

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that was the conclusion I had come to, but it's good to see it in print. Once again, teeny-tiny italicized blue font is my nemesis. – LittleBobbyTables Feb 9 '11 at 11:48
For those curious, Australia split into Eastern and Western Australia. Western Australia has always wanted to do that – Andrew Grimm Feb 9 '11 at 22:25

Within this context, I would define an island as a territory which is completely surrounded by water. By this definition Australia would not be an island, since in the game it's divided into two territories. That said, from a mechanical standpoint there's no difference between an island and a landlocked territory.

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Consulting Wikipedia, I see that the Secret Missions have been changed.

Unfortunately, I cannot find a full list of the newer mission cards.

Looking at the old cards, there are several of the form:

  • capture Europe, Australia and one other continent
  • capture Europe, South America and one other continent
  • capture North America and Africa
  • capture Asia and South America
  • capture North America and Australia

As long as your set of mission cards contain missions worded similarly then I think most reasonable people would grant you that Australia is a continent and therefore not an island.

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