Risk board game strategies: South America

by Craig Reade


Risk board game strategies: South America

Overview South America is more than the poor-man’s substitute for Australia. It is identical to Australia in every way, except that it has two entry points, instead of one.

Many players make the mistake of assuming that a similar defensive strategy can be employed successfully, and opt to begin their game in that continent if Australia is too competitive. This is a mistake. Australia caters to the defensive player, but South America very much favors the offensive player.

In order to be successful starting the game in South America, you cannot establish yourself defensively and then move forward, or you will be trapped. You must play more aggressively and the map is structured in a way that is is beneficial for you to do so.

Risk board game strategies: South America – Initial Army Placement

Obviously you want to claim some territories in South America from the start. If you can only get one, you should do your best to take Argentina, or Peru if that fails. Yes – that puts you in a position where you have to fight if someone challenges you for the continent, but your opponent will know that.

Since South America is offensive in nature, you can’t win the game if you lose the bulk of your starting forces in a pyrrhic war over South American supremacy. Giving them Brazil or Venezuela to start with allows them an easy escape route, one they are likely to take.

After South America, you only have two expansion choices once the game starts – Africa and North America. It is impossible to say which is the more viable target until the game begins, but North America is the preferable point to expand into, so claim any territories there that you can.

You will have to quickly take and fortify Central America if you want to be successful, so it is a good idea to claim that as well.

Naturally you want to place the bulk of your initial armies on one territory inside South America. If your dominance is assured, you can work on securing your northern border by placing troops in Central America (should you own it).

Risk board game strategies: South America – Opening Turns

The first couple turns are critical. You need to take South America and have your positions in Brazil and Central America fortified as quickly as possible.

This is where the big difference between Australia and South America comes into play. No player has any reason to claim and strongly fortify Siam early in the game except a player in Australia. However, to the dismay of the player attempting a South American campaign, things are a little more crowded.

It is very likely that at least one player will be attempting footholds in either Africa or North America, and as such it is inevitable that another player will attempt to establish a strong border in North Africa or Central America. If this happens, your campaign will end before it began.

Locked at five armies for reinforcements every turn, you will be forced to divide those troops between Brazil and Venezuela, only to be unable to make an intelligent attack. Failing to take territories, it is only a matter of time before one of your neighbors hand in a set and overwhelms your forces.

So, speed and intelligent positioning are critical. Offense is the name of the game. North, or East? No doubt you now have the point – offense, offense. But where do you expand, North America, or Africa?

A lot depends on the game conditions and, like any reliable strategy, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin.

Of the two, North America is a better option. Africa has fewer territories that are easier to access, but Africa is in the middle of everything and is going to be a direct target of anyone who is stuck in Europe or Asia looking for a good place to establish a stronghold.

North America, on the other hand, is ideal because it is more isolated, and if you should somehow manage to take it, between the two continents there are only three entry points. Being able to defend 13 territories on two continents at only three points is an easy way of securing a good number of reinforcements – you couldn’t ask for a better stronghold.

That is the reason so much emphasis was placed on Central America during Initial Placement. Preventing any players from taking and holding Central America gives you the perfect staging point to attack the rest of the continent and secures the only path into South America from the north.

Risk board game strategies: South America – Conclusion As always, the game changes more and more as the game progresses. The three most important things to keep in mind when employing a South American campaign are:

1- Offense
2- Keep your back door well defended
3- Do not get trapped in South America

Ideally, you want to gain control of your second continent before the player in Australia begins to make real offensive pushes.

Once you have reached this point, it is a matter of addressing the current situation on the board and discovering what direction you should take to achieve the endgame.

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