I am the Alien Collaborator! – Risk: Legacy Adventures
(Expect some Risk: Legacy spoilers in this one. I’ll probably be making a review later about the game itself, but for now, if you don’t know Legacy, you probably won’t appreciate the impact here. But I highly recommend the game. It’s pretty awesome.)
Risk has been one of those games that, for a long time, I had very little love for. That’s not to say that I didn’t want to love it. I remember convincing roommates in Hong Kong to go along with me for a few sessions of Risk 2210, pleading with them to go along with it. (People can just be adverse to games, sometimes, so this often became a chore.)
But even with all the new little bells and whistles, the commanders and different strategies, the games still always seemed to come down to a heavy amount of luck, with some strategy mixed in. The roll of the dice is what made the game go, and unfortunately, that randomness could be fatal to your well-prepared scheme. The number of times where I watched a small, insignificant force push through by sheer luck… It made for some rather difficult losses.
Risk and I always seemed to have a love/hate relationship.
So, when I heard about Legacy, my thoughts were quite excited, while a little nervous at the same time. I mean, the core point of the game is to not only play, but to actively change the map for future games. What this meant was that a choice that won you game two could have terrible consequences for you in game six.
The game utilizes factions, and you choose yours at the beginning of a session. In the first game, you choose abilities, which grant you strengths unique to your faction, but not unique to you. Then, after that choice is made, you throw the other ones away.
One of the producers whom I was playing with nearly fainted.
In Legacy, the board gets scarred, you write down everything from who won, to who held on, to who was eliminated, and all these different choices, stats, and other things that you keep track of all combine to affect choices down the road.
(I’d love to go into more detail on the more minute things of the game, and I might later, in another post, but for now, I just wanted to be super excited about tonight’s match.)
You see, tonight, a good friend of mine decided that she wanted to act the troll. Though I’d already lost the previous game, It was decided that I was supposed to be bottle-necked, blocked into a very narrow strip of territories encompassing Iceland, Greenland, and Great Britain. You see, in Legacy, the goal of the game is not to simply take over the map, but instead the mission is to gain four “stars,” which are granted for various acts, the quickest of which is to take enemy headquarters.
Instead of populating the entire map from the beginning, players choose a starting territory and work outwards, grabbing unclaimed lands and expanding their population. The rules stipulate that two armies cannot start adjacent to one another, and so I was forced from my previously-established major city of Snowhawk, Iceland, and instead began in Greenland. My first act was to leap to Iceland, of course, but that immediately blocked expansion into North America.
The rest of the game was spent claiming single territories, grabbing opportune Territory Cards in the hope of a grand comeback late in the game.
And my, how grand it was.
Upon turning in ten resource markers, I was granted thirty troops, but the act also allowed us to open one of the game’s “unlockables” – small packets of sealed items that acted as game changers – and I grinned as I unsealed the box:
OPEN WHEN SOMEONE IS ABOUT TO PLACE 30+ TROOPS ON THE BOARD AND HAS A MISSILE.
Suddenly I was crowned the Alien Collaborator, as troops emerged from the box. A new Alien Island was established, connecting Greenland and Argentina (I just know THAT is going to bite me in the ass later!), and ten extra alien troops joined my previous thirty-three as they began their great march across the map.
It was an epic march, as Khan Industries and their Alien buddies crushed territory after territory, all in a rush to the three other headquarters. In a single turn, I went from having almost nothing to winning the entire game, and that feeling of pride began to rise as I just laughed, trying to be as non-malicious as possible.
What began as a game where I was stuck, searching but finding no way out, became a massive turnaround. Though it could have just as quickly gone in another direction, it just so happened that my personal patience paid off.
In Legacy, the game can change at any moment. It’s a game where choices matter, and not only that but are permanent, and that’s such a unique trait in gaming itself, not just in Risk.
Though I ended tonight on a win, tomorrow’s game may end with my crushing and definitive defeat. That’s what makes the game so interesting.
It was a fun night, and it made for some amazing memories, and unique perspectives.
Plus, it was a whole lot of fun.