Risk board game strategies: North America

by Craig Reede

(USA)

Risk board game strategies: North America

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North America can be a tempting target – with five bonus armies and only three points of entrance to defend, taking and holding North America can quickly make you a force to be reckoned with.

Unfortunately, North America’s sheer mass makes it difficult to quickly take and secure the continent.

In many ways, North America is the polar opposite of Africa. While Africa is a tight-knit continent that you can take rather quickly, there are many corridors that an enemy can use to attack from.

Risk board game strategies: North America on the defensive

Defense of North America is straightforward – but it difficult to quickly take all of the territories and you almost always have some kind of competition.

Perhaps the most important territory to an effective North America strategy is Central America. Like Africa, you will have to immediately deal with an aggressive South American player who is looking to break out of their land-locked continent.
Off the bat you are going to be in an arms race, the ultimate goal of which is to make North Africa a more appealing target than Central America for their expansion.

If you are confident that your southern border is secure, you can begin to move north – establishing a defensive line at Western and Eastern United States.

From here you will need to take Alaska and Greenland – after those territories are secure, you can use your armies in Western and Eastern United States to mop up the northern Canadian territories and fortify out to defend from attacks from the north.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

Risk board game strategies: North America’s strategic problems

The difficulty with North America is that the continent really is very difficult to take if you are contested. Neither Europe nor Asia are very welcoming places to establish a foothold – players in both continents will look at North America as a target.

There is even a good chance that another player will immediately set up shop in North America via placement. In a strange twist, the competition actually increases your overall odds of success.

One mistake many people make in North America is spreading themselves too thin. Nine territories are very difficult to hold in the first couple turns effectively – it is much better to wait and be patient with your expansion.

Holding Central America along with Western and Eastern United States as a staging point will allow you a secure base to defend and many opportunities for easy victories to earn your card draws.

Players with no base are always going to move in the path of least resistance – and attacking sparse Asian and European territories is going to be easier than trying to break your hold on North America’s base.

If you play your cards right (both literally and figuratively), you will quite suddenly control the entire continent, with effective defensive positions in Alaska, Greenland and Central America.

Risk board game strategies: North America on the offensive

From here, expansion is the ultimate goal. The most favorable move would be to break South America – but as you can imagine, this move would be incredibly costly, and should only be made once South America and Africa have come to blows and South America’s armies are depleted.

From here it is relatively easy to sweep South America and establish a foothold in Brazil. This position is one of the best in the game – the Americas can be easily defended with three points of entrance – Greenland, Alaska and Brazil, and it nets you seven bonus armies for the continents.

(Don’t get overconfident at this point – it is smart to leave a few armies in Central America, just in case an African player breaks into your newly conquered continent. Leaving one army in Central America leaves an open door to your interior – even leaving three there can be an effective deterrent until your turn comes along and you can fortify it.)

Ultimately, once you have secured North America you are playing a waiting game. Outside of South America there isn’t a very logical next target, so it is best to encroach into Asia just to get your territory numbers up.

If you can somehow get into a dominant position in Europe, don’t be afraid to use it – it is difficult to keep and hold those territories, but if your opponent’s focus is there, a South American sneak-attack might be easier to pull off.

Risk board game strategies: North America conclusion

Like Africa, North America requires patience to pull off. You aren’t looking to take the continent in one turn, but you are looking to establish a firm foothold and suddenly take the continent when the moment is right.

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