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Risk Legacy, Part Eight: Fresh Meat

This post explicitly talks about some late-game aspects of Risk Legacy that some people may wish to keep unspoiled. They are: “after all nine minor cities have been founded”, “a player signs the board twice”, “a player has been eliminated”, “three missiles are fired on the same turn”, “Do Not Open. Ever.”

It had been quite some time since our last Risk gathering (so much so that people were beginning to get restless!). Scheduling five busy people is always a pain, especially when the Flaming Lips are in town. Even more troubling was that, on this very day in fact, Julia was skipping town. “Moving,” she calls it, but we know what she was really doing.

This meant we were one person short. We considered taking a break from the games to run “America’s Next Top Risk Legacy Player” (alternate titles: “MasterRisk”, “So You Think You Can Invade Australia”), but it would take too long. We were itching for action now. So we did the only sensible thing: we let Julia pick her replacement.

The new contender

Felicia Welch

2013-08-07 20.26.36Felicia is a member of the growing Buffalo Beer Goddesses group. Her “aha” moment with beer came a few years ago when she was out to dinner. She wanted a beer with dinner and asked her waitress for a recommendation. The result, Great Lakes’ Burning River pale ale, opened her eyes to the world of craft beer.

Vegetable that defines you as a person: Sweet potato

The beer

The theme for the night was decided at our meet & greet with Felicia a few weeks prior. If there’s one thing I know about Justin it is that he is a fiend for jukebox selections at Sterling Place. During his birthday celebration he played “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” three times, in fact, but I’m not complaining.

He declared, near the end of the night, that the theme should be “A beer that makes you bust a move.”

Justin: a medley

I’ve said in the past that Justin’s favorite styles are heavy, malty Belgian ales, and how he finds that a problem come summertime. He went to the Great Blue Heron Music Festival and needed beer that was both lighter in body and also available in cans, as they have a no-glass policy. He chose four beers, expecting to be underwhelmed by them all, and was pleasantly surprised.

In honor of the bluegrass he listened to while drinking the beers the first time, Alex put on a bluegrass station on Pandora. This started a trend of the person whose beer we were drinking getting to play some music. We all really enjoyed the idea, so it’s likely to continue.

Summer Ale (Sam Adams)

Justin's a can man

Justin’s a can man

Felicia said this was her first Sam Adams in a while. It’s brewed with lemon peel and grains of paradise, which I found a little too close to a shandy for my liking. Alex and I have discussed this before: he’s got no issue with shandies, whereas I find they taste too little like beer for me to really enjoy them.

Summer Ale (Harpoon)

I like this beer. It’s what I want from a summer ale: light and refreshing, but not too sweet. Having followed the Sam Adams, Felicia said she actually could have done with more lemon. It wasn’t really Matt’s cup of tea (tea? lemon? eh? eh?), and Justin would have liked it a bit brighter. Alex got a buttered popcorn character from it, usually a sign of diacetyl, but which he was thinking was a combination of the lemon flavors and the grain.

This beer was a kölsch, and I admitted that I didn’t know if I had ever had a true, traditional example of the style (instead of an American interpretation). Alex recommended the Reissdorf, which I then realized I may have had at Blue Monk.

Elder Betty (Magic Hat)

“Whoa,” I said. “That is fruity.”

Alex got an umami character, something I only tend to taste in beers with brettanomyces. Once again, I was not a fan of the fruit. I think I’m becoming Craft Beer Grandpa. Felicia said it reminded her of cheap wine; Justin countered with Bartles & James.

Blackbeary Wheat (Long Trail)

Justin detected artificial sweetener from this blackberry beer: specifically, aspartame. I’ve never been able to play the “pick the fake sugar” game, and in fact use Splenda interchangeably. I liked it better than the Elder Betty, but it was still fake fruit to me, and as such wasn’t really my thing.

Matt: Blanche de Chambly (Unibroue)

When asked how this made him bust a move Matt admitted it was just what was in his fridge. I won’t complain, however: Unibroue makes damn fine beer and I’ll take any excuse to drink it.

As he took his initial sniff Alex murmured, “Really nice.” Matt had indicated there was something different about this but didn’t want to spoil it. I thought it tasted a little funky (bust a move!): he said he thought it was skunked. Like some oxidized beer I didn’t think it really hurt it. It might be better non-skunked but it wasn’t outright bad.

Justin relayed a story of being very into them in the past but getting burned out. Much like Stone before, he throws himself headfirst into a passion. I thought it was much more flavorful and full bodied than I’d expect from a 5% abv beer.

Felicia: Live (Southern Tier)

She describes Live as her “flavor for the month.” It reminds her of the “grass” flavor of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans.

This is a good beer. I brought it in the past, and I think it’s even fresher now! Hopped enough to be refreshing but not enough to challenge drinkability, it’s light but flavorful on all accounts.

Dan: More Information (Community Beer Works)

Did I cop out? I did. I hadn’t had much time to run errands after Belgium Comes to Cooperstown, but I figured:

  • It was made for a musical event! and
  • It was unlikely anyone but Alex had gotten a chance to try it

I’m always loath to talk about my own beer (It’s great? Get right outta town!), but I thought it had a pleasant creamy chocolate quality. Matt called the aroma “fantastic,” and flattery will get him everywhere. Alex said he didn’t really get any wheat characteristic but that he liked it anyway. He had been considering making a stout with wheat before he found out we were, so I hope he follows through with that and brings it to a future Risk night.

Alex: Baltic Porter (Niagara Association of Homebrewers)

He said this beer makes him bust a move because whenever someone brings out a bottle at a club event he knows what it means. So do I: in fact, I remember us both trying it at Alex’s first meeting.

Much like the BARLEYWINE! that I brought to an earlier night, this was a club collaboration. Everyone brewed a baltic porter and then it was tossed into a bourbon barrel. This time, though, something went wrong. Well, depending on your perspective: some nasty critters got in there, infecting it with brett and acetic acid. Many club members dislike the funk and sourness but others (like me!) love it.

Justin, though, met it with a “Meh.” He then clarified, saying that he understood what it was going for but that there was too much going on that didn’t work together. He recognized it for what it was, though, and called it “interesting.”

This batch was much more acidic than funky. Felicia called it wine-y and said that it wasn’t really her style but that she’s had worse.

Matt, meanwhile, was on Team Alex/Dan. He noted that the brett/acid made it more drinkable, masking the high abv. It certainly did: Alex brought three bottles and we had opened all of them by the end of the night. It’s good to be the host.

The Game (10/15)

Players, factions and starting territories:

  • Matt: Saharan Republic, Iceland
  • Dan: Die Mechaniker, Shady Conley (Western Australia)
  • Justin: Mutants, Urals
  • Felicia: Khan Industries, Egypt
  • Alex: Imperial Balkania (Bringer of Nuclear Fire), La Ciudad de Fuego (Argentina)

It’s throwback week: both Alex and I were in cities we founded early on but have been kept out of recently. In particular I had been doing terribly, and I said that I had a hunch of why that was but wouldn’t be sharing. Since I’m not playing against you, dear reader, I can explain that my North American strategy had been repeatedly foiled by the fallout zone in Siberia: quickly either the Australian player or someone in Northeastern Asia would come at me through Alaska while the South American player would head north. By turn two I was usually out of the game.

But Australia! My precious!

Okay, next time I'll walk to the other side of the table

Okay, next time I’ll walk to the other side of the table

There was the early expansion: me into all of Australia and NikeTown (Southeast Asia), Matt hesitantly into Greenland. Then Justin’s Mutants took Siberia, Persephone (Koskilde) and Southern Europe, which was scarred with a biohazard. He thus controlled the fallout and all the biohazard territories, giving him a red star. I said a bad word. In other games, with other players, this might be harder: there’s another biohazard scar to be placed, but there are only three unused scars and five players. Just like gum in grade school, if there isn’t enough for everyone then no one gets to have one. So we sit, one biohazard short.

I think people’s annoyance at me being an advice-giving asshole came to a head this game. You see, from my perspective if someone else is going to win (and thus I’m going to lose), I will do everything I can to stop them. Everyone else should too, including doing whatever you can to stop me. I’m both fairly competitive and easy going, because I know it’s just a game. Game designer Reiner Knizia has a relatively famous quote:

When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning.

Which is all a fancy way to say hate the player, not the game, people. So yeah, I may have become hysterical about Justin’s imminent victory, up to and including strongly encouraging both Felicia and Matt to attack him. (Although, for the record, I would never encourage someone to do something that is more to my benefit than theirs unless it was in a clearly joking manner: that’s unsporting!)

Felicia took my advice and attacked Justin. In the course of the battle he used two of his three missiles, but she took him out of Southern Europe.

An event! Endless Storms, one of the unstable orbit cards from the “Do Not Open. Ever.” packet. It would stay on the board until replaced by another unstable orbit card. Now, when attacking over sea lines you can only send two troops (roll two dice).

Alex expanded throughout all of South America and ended his turn. Matt continued the holy war I’ve been calling for and pushed Justin out of Persephone. He was victorious but it was bloody: he stopped his turn and reinforced from Greenland into Persephone.

Another event! Agent of Chaos: if no human (non-mutant) faction had a continent bonus then the Mutants would get a red star. Thankfully for everyone but Justin, Alex and I each had bonuses.

I expanded into India and iPadlandia (China) and then stopped. I was expanding more slowly than I would have liked, but anything more aggressive and I risked the ire of the Mutants. Justin reinforced his Urals HQ and stopped: he knew war was coming. Felicia gave up on Southern Europe’s biohazard wasteland and instead moved into Western Europe, which had a mercenary scar: essentially the opposite of a biohazard, at the end of your turn you gain one troop.

There was one hell of a Justin sandwich at this point. Alex was the only one not in on the action, choosing instead to invade North America.

Matt’s Saharan Republic faction got +1 to each die roll when attacking a HQ. This served him well when he attacked the Urals, and Justin was defeated. He was still in the Siberian fallout zone, and while I briefly considered trying to eliminate him from the game that would give me no benefit (as he had no cards) and would result in a high troop loss from having to enter that irradiated wasteland.

Yet another event! The Mutants Evolve: Justin could choose how he wanted them to evolve, either bodies or brains. There’s another Evolve event with a different choice: once both choices have been made we scratch off the corresponding power on the Mutant’s faction card. Justin chose bodies.

So are they transitional right now?

So are they transitional right now?

With Justin incapacitated (for the moment; he would rise again), I turned my eyes on Matt. After two miserable attack rolls I gave up.

Justin reinforced his Siberian exile. Felicia reinforced her territories as well. Alex, in the process of claiming North America as his own, attacked Matt in Greenland. Because of the Endless Storms he could only send two troops per roll. He suffered losses, then victories, and then had a final victory snatched away by Matt’s use of a missile. Greenland would have to wait.

Matt reinforced the Urals. I entered Conley’s Shame (Mongolia), which would give me a higher population bonus the next turn. Alex’s population bonus would have been one higher as well had it not been for his Greenland defeat. He was successful this time and reinforced his new eastern border.

I entered Tenacity (Afghanistan) and defeated Matt in Persephone. He still had both his own Icelandic and Justin’s Urals headquarters, but he had suffered some significant defeats.

Justin, as always, reinforced. I could tell that he was biding his time. If we waited long enough to end the game he would leap into action, slaughtering everyone. My goal was to not be his target.

Felicia attacked Matt in Persephone, taking him out. He now essentially was down to the HQ territories.

Even those seemed in jeopardy, as Alex invaded Iceland from Greenland. A missile was fired from each side during the course of the battle, but ultimately Matt held on.

It was time for Matt’s revenge. He cashed in his coins for troops and defeated me in Tenacity before expanding into Tootsville (Middle East) and attacking Felicia’s Egyptian HQ. His +1 to rolls against HQ ability again paid off as she was defeated. Unsated, he began attacking me in India. I would have none of it and sent a warning missile: I wanted this to be costly for him, and for him to stand down. He attacked once more but after minor losses saw the error of his ways. I had been hoping he would be spread thinly enough by now for me to pounce on the Urals, but he reinforced enough for me to leave him be.

An event! Endless Rains, another unstable orbit card, which restricted end-of-turn maneuvering to only between adjacent territories.

For a game that initially seemed like it would be done by turn five, it’s certainly been long and exciting. Alex called it hegemonistic: rather than many fighting against a clear victor, any one of us could gain dominance in the end. With apologies to Julia, this was the best game we’ve had in a while (although I’m sure Justin would disagree).

On my turn I retook Tenacity, then looked to take Tootsville as well. After two losses I called it quits.

Another event! Another unstable orbit card to boot! Eternal Darkness, which subtracts one from the number of troops you receive for cashing in coins.

Before Felicia’s turn I offered my opinion: “I say you attack this guy,” pointing at Matt. Self serving? Yes. But Matt’s defeat would also help her! “No one cares what you say,” Matt shot back. All in good fun, of course! Matt’s a good guy. He then said it was the Blackbeary Wheat talking.

She did take my advice, however, and attacked Iceland. To stop his defeat he uses a missile, which forced her to switch fronts and attempt to reclaim her Egyptian homeland from him. She was successful, and then ended her turn.

“Thank you, Felicia,” Alex said, “for thinning his troops.” He attacked Iceland and took Matt out. On Matt’s turn he reinforced but also managed to take Persephone.

Event! Join the Cause: the person with the highest population (territories owned plus minor/major city bonuses) would get three troops. It was close, but Alex got it.

I swore again. Alex had two headquarters, each worth a victory point. On his next turn he had four cards he could trade in for a red star, and unless he was taken out of a territory in one of the Americas he would satisfy the current Mission, which would give a red star to the first player with a 7 or higher continent bonus. This meant he would win. Unless, of course, someone could stop him. I’m not only a spider, planting ideas in people’s heads. I’m also willing to take action, and I did, cutting a swath through northern Europe to take him out of Iceland. For good measure I also went into Greenland: no sense in giving him the Mission if I could help it.

I took the last of the gold coins, meaning the player with the highest population got a red star. Thanks to my recent march it was me: I then had my own HQ, Matt’s Iceland, a red star and four cards. Now I would win on my next turn.

My Die Mechaniker faction didn’t yet have a “missile power,” which you could pay a missile to activate. Since I earned a red star I could choose one, and I went with Recon: instead of drawing a coin the faction holder can pay a missile to choose any face up card.

I was feeling pretty good about my chances. It had been a few games since I won, but my luck had changed. I tried (and likely failed) to keep my glee restrained, but even if I was taken out of a HQ I could reclaim it, or go after Matt’s Urals holdout.

Then the beast awoke.

From Siberia came the wrath of a thousand suns. The Mutants, dormant all game, were making their move.

Go banana!

Go banana!

There really is no other way to put it: Justin wrecked my shit. He was rolling wonderfully, all fives and sixes, and I was doing abysmally. Once he rolled three 2s, and all I would have to do was match him or do better: 2 or higher! I rolled a 1. Felicia slow clapped.

He surged southward, into Australia. Into Shady Conley. My final missile did nothing to slow him. He turned his attention to the west, taking me out of India before going after Felicia’s HQ. She rolled double 6 and talked some trash, cementing that she’ll fit in just fine. Although I admit I should have known that when she called her troops “campers.”

Trash talk aside, Egypt fell under the Mutants’ wrath. I was still holding out in two Australian territories, but his attempt to get me out of Eastern Australia failed. The Great Mutant Conquest was done, at least for this turn.

An event: Agent of Chaos again, where the Mutants get a red star if no human has a continent bonus. He had taken mine away but Alex’s South American stronghold prevented Justin from winning.

Alex attacked me in Greenland. “Let’s dance a little,” he said, and headed to Iceland. He was successful, meaning I now had no headquarters to my name. Next turn Alex will get the Mission star and cash in his cards for victory. Matt threw himself at Iceland, to no avail.

An event: Resistance, where each minor city with one or two troops in it losing one troop. This takes me out of even more territories: where once I thought I could withstand some attacks, my chance to shine was done.

I managed to retake Shady Conley, but nothing more. Another Agent of Chaos event, blocked by Alex.

At this point it was clear that Alex would be the victor. It’s not a foregone conclusion, I said, but it was at least threegone.

Felicia, in an attempt to forestall the inevitable, moved into Persephone and attacked Iceland. I found it interesting that Matt’s HQ had played such a central role in the game.

The final stand

The final stand

Then the bomb dropped! Literally, as Justin fired his last missile to help Alex. He knew which way the wind was blowing and wanted to bring about Armageddon. Felicia had more troops, however, and finally managed to take him out.

On Alex’s turn he received the Mission star and cashed in his cards for another. He only had to retake Iceland to win, and as he set down his 12 troop reinforcement brigade we knew what would happen.

Iceland fell. Alex won.

It was a hell of a game, and I congratulate him on his victory. As his bonus, rather than name a continent or move a continent bonus up or down one, he chose to rip up three unstable orbit cards. He chose:

  • Blistering Heat: the three continents in the southern hemisphere have their continent bonuses lowered by 2
  • Age of Ice: the three continents in the northern hemisphere have their continent bonuses lowered by 2
  • Famine: Players must conquer 3 territories to draw a resource card at the end of their turn

Sheesh. We had run into some harsh cards as a result of the unstable orbit, but those were particularly mean.

Eat on, Alex. Eat on. Felicia, welcome to the group. Everyone else? We’ll be back with part nine September 3.

 2013-08-07 22.55.37