The Risk Strategy

My brothers play a board game called Risk. It’s played out over a map, usually of the earth or some other fantasy world, and the player with the most pieces on the board in the end wins. I believe the original tagline for the game included something along the lines of world domination. While parts of the game involve the luck of the draw and roll, a fair chunk of it requires strategy.

I’m not a terribly strategic person, tending to taking things as they come and coming up with things as I go, but I can hold my own in Risk when I’m invited to play. (I usually get asked to join after someone has angrily stormed out of the game when things are not going well for that person.)

My older brother, Nate, on the other hand, is a very strategic person, and by the time I join the game, he usually has a rival on the board who has the potential to take him out. Now, you might think that he and said rival would work together to push my remaining pieces off the board, but that’s not usually how it goes. My brother knows that my presence on the board can help him ultimately wipe out his rival, so he strikes a deal with me: “Let’s take him out, and then we’ll see what happens.” Of course, what happens is that once the rival threat has been neutralized, my presence on the board is often spread wide and thin, and it requires no effort for my brother to take me out.

The way I play, I know I can’t win, but I stay in the game because I know whatever player I choose to help will win, and that’s strangely satisfying.

I wonder if Ted Cruz and John Kasich have ever played Risk…

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