Risk board game strategies: Australia
by Craig Reade
Risk board game strategies: Australia – Defensive Might
One of the most basic and widely-used strategies in the game of Risk involves establishing the continent of Australia as a defensive base.
Since Australia only has one entry point (Indonesia, through Siam), it is an ideal continent to keep and hold, especially when focusing on a defensive game. Because of its simplicity and popularity, at least one player in every game will attempt it.
If this is your plan, be prepared for fierce competition and make sure you have the stomach to ‘risk’ the game to gain that foothold.
Risk board game strategies: Australia – Initial Army Placement
There are four territories in Australia – Indonesia, New Guinea, Western Australia and Eastern Australia. With the exception of Indonesia and Eastern Australia (which cannot reach each other), every Australian territory connects with every other one, making it an ideal defensive position.
Editor’s note: the version of the game which Dan describes is the one where players can choose which territories they own, rather than the modern, random element when you deal out territory cards.
If you want to take Australia, you must lay claim to at least one of these territories – the more the better. You probably won’t be able to claim all four during initial placement (since no one will want to hand you Australia at the start of the game), but the more the better.
If you can secure New Guinea or Western Australia first, this is ideal as it gives you the most flexibility in the opening turn. After all of the Australian territories are taken, you should claim some Asian territories – Siam especially if you can get it.After all of Asia is claimed, you can place randomly – Africa and Europe might help you a little bit, but at this point these territories are so remote that they really won’t help you too much early in the game.
After the territories are all claimed, you must place all your forces on a single territory in Australia. Select the one that gives you the most flexibility of attack and the greatest leverage against any opponents who challenge you on the continent.
Be mindful of the units your opponent faces, watch for any players establishing a presence in Asia (as they may try to knock you out) and respond accordingly. Your first priority is having superiority in Australia, but if any potential opponents give up on the continent, you can move on to placing defensive units to keep people out of Australia (Siam is ideal for this – China, India, or Indonesia if you intend to move into Siam and weren’t able to claim it at the beginning of the game).
Risk board game strategies: Australia – Opening Turns
This is where you need to analyze the position of your opponents and determine your course of action. If you are alone or mostly unchallenged in Australia, the choice is simple – take it, and establish a defensive position in Siam. This is the ideal condition.
If there is one other player making a play for the continent, the choice is a little more difficult. By attacking them, you will severely deplete your forces, leaving you vulnerable for attack. On the other hand, in large army battles, the attacker has the advantage.
You can elect to forgo the attack and open the door for your opponent to move off the continent, but they may decide to take the odds for themselves. The best thing to do is to attack – it is an all-or-nothing proposition, but it is your best odds for success.
If you should eliminate the opponent, fortify as many armies possible into Indonesia or Siam, to defend your hard-earned continent. If there is a player with an established presence in Asia, you can almost guarantee that they will attempt to move in and take Australia for themselves.
When there are three or more players going for Australia, the resulting stand-off should seem like a game of chicken. No one will want to attack, because it would open them up to defeat from the third or fourth party. This is a tense situation, but the good news is that with so many players focused on one continent, that leaves the rest of the board open.
If you have an escape route, take it and let the remaining players jockey for position. By the time that conflict is settled, you should be well established on another part of the board.
Risk board game strategies: Australia – Asia and Beyond
After securing Australia, your ideal position is to have your entire force in Siam, with each Australian territory having the minimum of one army each. This is an ideal defensive position – every other continent has at least two entry points to defend, and most players should not be able to muster enough strength to penetrate into Australia in the beginning of the game.
Taking Australia is viewed as a defensive strategy, because while you have guaranteed yourself five reinforcements a turn, your next target for expansion is murky. Most players view Risk as a continent game, where ultimately you should take and hold one continent and work towards another.
With this strategy in mind, the prospect of expanding and taking Asia seems daunting. To really be successful in an Australia defensive position, you have to abandon the conventional continent model and instead focus on territory number.
India and China become your staging ground. While it is a good idea to keep a large force in Siam no matter what, the bulk of your reinforcements should go towards establishing a strong presence in India and China. Defensively this is to your advantage, because there is now a second layer of defense that any opponent who wishes to challenge you for Australia must go through.
From here, do what you can to take Asian territories – don’t focus on defending them, just go for numbers. Make sure you leave enough armies behind to keep your strong presence in China and India, but feel free to leave only one army in each of the other Asian territories you take. You may lose some, but it is unlikely that you will lose them all before your next turn.
Build off the territories you do keep – perhaps re-inforce them if you so choose, but continue to amass troops and slowly peck away at the Asian territories.
There are three more territories that will be ultimately critical for you – Kamchatka, Middle East and Ukraine. The next phase of your expansion will require you to take at least one of these territories as a new staging ground.
Kamchatka is needed if your next target is North America, Middle East for Africa, and Ukraine for Europe. You need to take and hold all three if you want to have any shot at defending Asia.
If you are making a play for Asia, Kamchatka should be the first territory you should take with any respectable force. Establishing a strong defensive position in Kamchatka will establish a “wall” to put your back against as you push west through Asia.
As your position in Asia gets stronger, your opponents will work to prevent you from taking it. However, any player approaching you from Africa or Europe also has to worry about weakening their forces along those fronts too much, so it is unlikely they will throw everything they have against you. By securing Kamchatka first, you have blocked a player in North America, who is in a much stronger position to attack you with more force.
Risk board game strategies: Australia – Conclusion
Once you have taken and secured Siam and established a strong presence in India and China, there is little advance strategizing you can do – so much depends on the strength and position of your opponents, any diplomatic relationships you have established and your own strength.
What course you take at this point should be dependent on the game conditions, not your initial strategy. Australia favors the defensive player, but not one who is afraid to make any offensive moves.
If you stay where you are, you will last a long time, but eventually an opponent will become strong enough to break through your defensive shell and defeat you. Expand too quickly, and the defensive advantage is gone.
Playing an Australia campaign requires patience, as well as a slow and steady expansion. It brings to mind a turtle – not only does your “turtle shell” defense keep you safe, but your slow progress will ensure that you have enough offensive might to claim victory in the game.