Risk: Factions Impressions

Zombies, robots, and cats...oh my.


The classic Parker Brothers strategic board game Risk has evolved throughout the years, but the end goal was always the same: world domination. The game could take anywhere from one hour to multiple days, depending on how persistent you were and how much free time you had. However, with Risk: Factions, the game takes it a step further by not only updating the game to match the objective-based rules that Hasbro set in 2008, but also by throwing in factions so that you can wage war against zombies as the yeti army or a mob of communist cats.

Watch out for Chairman Meow.
Watch out for Chairman Meow.

Who's Making This Game: Stainless Games, the developer behind Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers is making the game and has teamed up with Power House Animation for the cutscenes. The game is being published by EA Partners.

What the Game Looks Like: Power House Animation has worked on the Penny Arcade Adventure games, so the cartoon-art style, as well as the quirky humor, will seem very familiar. There are 13 different maps and they are tailored to how many people are playing the game. You can have anywhere from two to five players, so the size of the map will be proportional to the number of players.

What There Is to Do: The original Risk was about conquering the entire map, but with the new rules, you can complete three objectives while maintaining control of your capital to win the game. Tougher objectives can yield better bonuses, so it's worth aiming for those before your opponent. For instance, if your objective is to claim two continents for a bonus of an extra attack die, it is well worth your time and effort to achieve that goal before your opponent.

How the Game Is Played: Classic Risk is included in Risk: Factions, so you can play the original board game with the old-school rules if you like. For Risk: Factions, there is a single-player campaign that is split into five chapters where you'll learn about the new rules of the game and the dynamic terrain. You'll also find out exactly why the humans, cats, robots, zombies, and yeti are fighting one another. Having to pay attention to the terrain is something new because it not only alters the game map but it also changes up the gameplay. Dams can be used to flood nearby continents, and depending on how smart you are, such a dam could be used to your advantage or disadvantage. Volcanoes, rocket launchers, and temples for converting the masses are also included to help you conquer the world.

Players duel by rolling dice to determine who wins. There are amusing battle animations at the bottom of the screen, which can be skipped if you're not interested in seeing a horde of cats lashing out at robots. If you just want to get a move on, the fast-battle option will let you bypass the tussle.

What They Say: Risk: Factions features outlandish factions, a unique art style, new gameplay twists, and off-beat humor. It promises to challenge and captivate both new and seasoned Risk fans on their quest for world domination.

Robots vs. Zombies.
Robots vs. Zombies.

What We Say: The original board game Risk wasn't for everyone, especially those who didn't have the patience to sit and roll dice for hours on end. But after the new Hasbro rules were implemented to be more objective based, playing a game of Risk: Factions should take 20 to 40 minutes, depending on your skill level. There are several new things to consider now when forming a strategy, and deciding what objective to go for can mean victory or a crushing defeat. By bringing the game to Xbox Live Arcade, it'll likely reach a wider audience, especially with the ability to play with up to five players online or four people on the couch with a computer opponent. Rolling dice is as easy as pushing a button.

Look for Risk: Factions when it is released on June 23.

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