How are your plans going for world domination?

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SOME games are timeless. They seem just as relevant today as they did when they were invented. They are re-incarnated many times, changing only slightly to keep pace with the world. None of them survive so complete and unaltered as a strategy game.

Few strategy games have survived as complete and unaltered as Risk. From its first inception on a flimsy board with garishly painted wooden blocks, through two plastic evolutions and a change of manufacturer Risk makes it to the computer generation. On that long path, has it changed? Have locations been renamed to remain contemporary? Have the hussars which appeared on a third of the game cards been turned into main-battle tanks? No. Then all is good.

The brief in Risk is fairly simple. You are a general in command of an army. From your allotted territory you must forge an empire - I thought I was a general, not a blacksmith - over the 42 territories of five continents of the habitatable globe, destroying all who stand in your way.

Extra armies are gained for the possession of complete continents and the number of territories owned.

Further reinforcements are obtained by cashing in a set of three cards which fall into a certain pattern. You get a card at the end of every turn, provided you have managed to successfully invade at least one territory. Adjacent territories may be attacked at any time during the player's turn, provided he has sufficient manpower. No country can be left defenceless. In order not to deviate from the feel of the board game the offensive and defensive actions are still carried out by dice throws. The computer throws the dice of course, just in case of accidents. Offensive players (sounds like Jeff) can use up to three dice while defenders may only use up to two, but their's are worth more in the vent of a tie.

Combat involves the sort of mathematical luck which can never easily be predicted. There is always a battle worth fighting, a risk worth taking to add glory to the cause and land to the empire. A definitive strategy for world domination has yet to be uncovered. Everything depends to a greater or lesser extent on luck. The odds can be narrowed down in your favour but in the end it is all down to how much you risk.

An excellent simulation which misses little from the original board game. Computer opponents are worthy but occasionally erratic. For real competition, play against your friends.



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LEISURE GENIUS £19.99 * Mouse or Joystick

There is a streak of megalomania in each of us, so what could be better than playing a game that gives you a shot at world domination? Up to six players, computer or human, can compete for control of the 50-odd countries that make up the world in this translation of the hugely popular board game.

The game starts after all the countries have been divided up between the players (or the computer has dished the countries out at random depending on whether you are playing using US or UK rules) and your initial batch of armies has been placed on those countries you own.

The game is played in turns and whoever starts is awarded extra armies, the number depending on how many countries the player owns. If later on in the game a player manages to gain control of all the countries making up a continent, then extra armies are awarded, in proportion to the size of the continent, on top of the normal number allocated.

What happens next is what the whole game is about. The attacker tries to conquer a neighbouring territory by rolling up to three dice. The defending country can also roll dice and whichever side scores highest wins. For example, an attacker throws three dice and scores a six, four and two and the defener rolls a five and a three. Both the six and four of the attacker beat the defender, so in this instance the defender would lose two armies from his country. If that now means he has no more armies in that country then the attacker can invade and take control of it. Defenders always win draws, so if a defender ever throws a six he knows the attacker will be losing at least one army.

Attacks continue in this way until the attacker feels he has had enough and retires. If he has captured at least one country he then receives a Risk card. There are three types of card: artillery, cavalry and infantry. Three cards of the same 'suit' count as a set and do one of each type. Sets are handed in at the start of a player's attack phase for extra armies.

Play successfully is a careful balance between conquering countries and not leaving any gaps that would allow the following player to walk right across you: there is nothing more annoying than capturing seven countries on one turn to find you have not enough armies left to defend them and the next player goes and take them all off you. The person who conquers the world is the winner!

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

Simple beeps and hardly anything to get excited about, but that is all you will need to play the game. The graphics are basic but at least the scrolling is smooth. It does not look or sound great, but then it does not have to.

LASTING INTEREST

As well as the basic game there are a whole load of options which allow you to change the game's parameters. Mission games can be played, where the computer gives you a mission card at the start of the game - for instance, 'Knock out player three' - and you can then concentrate on trying to fulfil your objective. There are a load of other options including a cheat option and a fast option, all increasing the lasting interst of a game that is already packed with it. You will be coming back to this for years.

JUDGEMENT

If you have ever played the board game you will know just how compulsive it can become, and the computer version has everything the board game has (and more). Play with a few friends and you will be in for some long sessions of enjoyable play. It may not be the most complex strategy game in the world, but it is certainly one of the most enjoyable.



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Wer ein echter Hobby-Stratege ist, der kennt auch "Risiko", den Brettspiel-Hit, in dem ganze Kontinente den Besitzer wechseln, als ginge es nur um alte Unterwäsche. Nach diversen PD-Versionen hat nun Virgin das Game in einer "professionellen" Variante herausgebracht.

Risk ist international - die von Land zu Land variierenden Regeln können zu Beginn beliebig eingestellt werden. Bis zu sechs Spieler (oder Computer-Gegner) dürfen sich dann um die Weltherrschaft streiten.

Und das in einer sowohl grafisch als auch technisch gelungenen Umsetzung: Die Landkarte ist ansehnlich gezeichnet, wird sauber und schnell gescrollt und wartet von Zeit zu Zeit sogar mit kleinen optischen Gags, wie Walen oder Segelschiffen im Meer auf.

Die Einstellmöglichkeiten sind vielfältig, sogar einen Cheat hat man vorsorglich ins Programm eingebaut! Warum macht Risk dann im Vergleich zu den viel bescheideneren PD-Alternativen dennoch keine überragende Figur?

Die Antwort ist verblüffend simpel: Die Computer-Gegner stellen sich einfach zu dumm an, taktisch komplett sinnlose Züge sind an der Tagesordnung. Außerdem sind bei A1000 und A2000 Amigas oft mehrere Ladeversuche erforderlich, was auf Dauer die Nerven tüchtig strapaziert.

Tja, schade um die hübsche Aufmachung und die tolle Regelvielfalt, aber bei einer strategischen Herausforderung kommt der Spielstärke halt viel mehr Gewicht zu. Zieht man jetzt noch den Preis ins Kalkül, so haben die PD-Versionen die eindeutig besseren Karten! (Felix Bübl)