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A friend and I recently had a conversation around making a set of rules for a buy-in variant on Risk, and I wanted some help from experienced players to review them as they stand now. Risk is not a game that I know well, but well enough to ask some questions about.

The example we talked about splitting the pot on all 42 countries at $5 a piece; between 6 players, that's a $35 buy in. Players get their $5 bills (or chips that represent them) and must trade money upon losing/gaining territories at the end of each turn. As for quitting a game, a player can't quit unless they forfeit all of their money and walk away from the table, allowing for automatic defense rolls from the other players. To enforce fairness (and to avoid an annoying "winner take all" result each game), if all players from 2nd place until the current last place player all agree to "flag" their places and end the game, first place must then quit and take their money, as does all players.

With this approach, placing troops may result in one player taking all of their infantry on just a few territories; another may start with a larger amount of territories with less reinforcements. Would a French setup work better for this type of play? Are there other pitfalls that I may be overlooking? Anybody out there tried to add money to a game of Risk? What were the results?

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Why would you bother trading chips after every turn? (Or using chips at all?) Unless you do something with the chips you have, just pay in at beginning, set the money aside, and pay out at end based on board position. –  Gregor Jan 11 '13 at 23:16
I do wonder if you could do some sort of bidding for the initial set-up. I'd be willing to pay a little extra for South American countries... –  Gregor Jan 11 '13 at 23:19
There is a certain satisfaction in forcing the leader to pass out $5 bills left and right when surviving a two front invasion in Asia ;). –  Droogans Jan 11 '13 at 23:28
If you want the game to finish earlier than world domination, why not use Secret Mission Risk? –  Alex P Jan 12 '13 at 3:21

2 Answers 2

Be careful. Usually tinkering with houserules, if you overlook something, you can make it up on the spot. If there is real money at stake, suddenly the game becomes much more serious and the ability to quickly tweak something which might be in one player's favor or another is gone.

From your initial idea, I see several dramatic flaws. First is that Risk is designed as a winner-take-all game. You propose to have the ability to end the game short by unanimous-save-one consent. This will not work. One player, for instance, might have relatively few territories, but be well-fortified, well-positioned and have cards prepared for a powerful game-winning strike. Will this player be considered to be in the lead? If not, he will never agree to end the game. If so, he will lose out, controlling many fewer territories although the favorite to win.

You would need to make careful rules about when the game is allowed to come to an end. Can it be ended before a powerful attack? After an unlucky turn? Before whose attack--because the last attacker can just spread himself thin, without any regard to defense, and collect an unfairly large share of the pot.

With directed attacks, you may face accusations of favoritism or collusion that are much more venomous than in a non-stakes game. In this case, I think that playing Risk for money is a questionable idea, and playing with house rules to allow any stakes other than winner-take-all would be potentially disastrous.

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I took the idea of flagging from kdice: kdice.com/FAQ#flagging –  Droogans Jan 12 '13 at 17:32
Also, you are considered in first place by having the most territories (and therefore, the most money). In your example, the turtle would be in third or fourth, and would never agree to flagging their place. The game would continue. –  Droogans Jan 12 '13 at 17:49
watch out that flagging at kdice sometimes makes some weird situations, as who really flag first...or who should take 3 or 4 position... –  gbianchi Jan 13 '13 at 2:50
Yeah never bet real money when you add house rules; someone will always end up feeling angry or cheated. –  Anubian Noob Oct 10 '13 at 15:26

I would recommand another approach:

Each player can buy treasury bonds for every country, you play with the countries in which you have a majority of bonds. You can still attack your ennemy, but when you do that, remember that someday that country you weaken can be yours because you have more treasury bonds that the other players.

But wait! Don't bother creating a game like that, it already exists. It's called Imperial (old European version) or Imperial 2030 (World version).

Change your mind about these kind of games, if you play them, though. They are 100% strategy games with absolutely no luck whatsoever, even for the fights.

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