Rules of Fast Risk

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I have been challenged with comping up with enhanced rules for Risk that bring game time down to 45 minutes. The previous set of new rules does a good job of getting it down to between an hour or two. I've got a few more ideas that will hopefully speed things up even more.

New Ideas

Larger Die Rolls

The attacker may roll as many dice as he has armies to attack with, up to the number of available dice. The same is true for defender. 

I want to add two special types of attacks to limit the number of dice the defender can roll--more on that below.

Mobilization (Card-cutting) bonus

When a player is first attacked, cut the Risk card deck, and if the territory on the card is owned by the defender, place 2d6 (1) armies on that territory immediately. The idea here is that when a country is attacked, people often come forwards in larger numbers to join the forces. This applies to allied armies as well.

Committed Attack

The attacker must commit at least three armies (7), and can roll the same number of dice, and the defense must roll one less than that number, or the most possible, but no more.

The committed armies may be reënforced from behind, but the battle may not end until the front line armies are destroyed or victory is won. If they are all destroyed, the attack ends. The attacker may call off the attack but must sacrifice one army to capture by the defender. No further attacks may take place from the attacking territory for the remainder of the turn.

The attacker may increase the number of front-line troops (reserves permitting), but this increases the number of dice the defense may roll.

Features of this attack:

  1. All (surviving) committed armies must occupy the conquered territory
  2. Size of committed army determines attacker (and defender) die roll
  3. Defender dice is attacker minus one, or maximum number of armies defending
  4. The attack ends with victory, all committed attackers destroyed, or attacker calls it off.
  5. If the attacker calls it off, no further attacks may be made from that territory and one army is captured by defender
  6. The attacker can reënforce front lines, or increase force (this increases defense dice, btw)

To clarify, the attacker decides how many armies to commit, and those will either win and occupy the territory under attack, all be destroyed, or the attacker calls off the attack.

If the attacker decides to disengage, he loses one army, which is captured and added to the defender's forces. Unless the attacker wins and invades, no further attacks may be made from the attacking territory, to anywhere. 

If the attacker is victorious, he must move in all surviving committed forces plus as many additional armies as desired. Captured armies must remain behind, along with at least one "anchor" army of his own. 

The attacker may commit more reserves to the attack by moving them to the front (4), but cannot withdraw any. The maximum dice allowed to the defender is fixed by the initial attack, but may go up if the attacker commits more forces (5).

Flanking Attack

This is a type of committed attack, with some additions. The attacker deploys two same-sized sub-armies.

The effect of this attack is to:
  1. Give the attacker +1 bonus on one die.
  2. Allow for capture of defending armies
How to do it:
  1. Attacker moves two separate groups to the front (6)
  2. Each flanking group attacks separately
  3. Attacker rolls as many dice 🎲 as the engaged group (2) (or maximum dice available) with +1 bonus on any one of them
  4. Defender rolls size of largest flank minus one, which does not decrease except as defense loses armies
  5. If defender suffers total loss on both attacks, one defeated army is captured and joins rearguard of attacker
  6. Captured armies may not join the frontline attack
  7. Captured armies must stay behind in the attacking territory 
  8. A captured army may not be the only army left to hold the attack-staging territory
  9. At the end of the attacker’s turn, captured armies are replaced by attacker’s army tokens.
To clarify, when the attacker commits a group to an attack, or two groups for a flanking action, the defender can roll that number minus one for the duration, regardless of attacker losses. If the attacker numbers are eroded, the attacker rolls fewer dice.

The attacker may move troops forward to reënforce the front lines, or may merge a flanking action into a regular committed action (sacrificing the +1 bonus and the enemy capture). If the size of the attacking force increases, the defender's dice permanently increases to that amount minus one.

The attacker makes two attacks, one for each flank, rolling for the number of armies in each flank. Losses are taken to the attacking flank. If the defender loses completely in both attacks, one of his armies is captured to the attacker's rearguard. If one flank is destroyed, the attack reverts to a regular committed attack. Again, the attacker rolls dice according the the army count of each flank, while the defender rolls according to the initial value (or increased due to reënforcements.

Retreat by Defender

If faced with a committed attack, the defender may at any time choose to retreat with all forces into an adjacent territory (if any). The attacker then occupies the territory and may continue the attack.


Allied Armies

Deal six piles of Risk cards. Every player gets a pile. The rest go to allied armies.

Allied armies get 2 armies on each territory plus 3 more on three random Territories (from card pile for that ally). Allies are now set up (with 23 armies each).

Each allied army gets one factory placed on a territory selected at random from the ally's cards.

Player Set-up

Place one army on each territory on the Risk cards.

Place three armies on each Risk card territory. Each player now has 21 armies. Once all are placed, they may be reärranged freely.

Shuffle the Risk cards and poker cards.

Each player gets 2 Risk cards (1) and one poker card to start.

Each player gets one factory to place on any of their territories.

The game is ready to begin. Decide who goes first by die roll.

Joining and Leaving Mid-Game

If a player turns up late and wants to join the game, they pick an allied army to take over. They immediately draw two Risk cards and one poker card. 

If a player leaves the game, their army becomes an allied army. Any poker cards they have remain with the new allied army and may be seized by the first player who manages to play the allied army (by a poker win or if unchallenged) or if the new allied army is completely defeated by another player.

Turn-by-Turn Play 

Reënforcing at Start of Turn

A player gets:
  1. 2d6 armies (1), plus...
  2. Territory bonus (1) of number of territories divided by three, minimum three
  3. Largest bloc of contiguous territory (1) divided by three (no minimum)
  4. Continent bonuses
  5. Card turn-in (3d6 (1) or factory placed at end of turn) plus 2 for held territories (3)
  6. 3 armies (1) per factory (on the factory territory)
Note, this is what a player gets for a poker game (except for Risk cards). If the player previously played in a poker game, he will already have his armies counted out (maybe none left). Factories still produce three armies at the start of every turn.

Campaigning during the Turn

The first time a given other player is attacked (including allies), that player may cut the Risk card deck and if they own the territory shown, they may place 2d6 (1) armies on it (the "Mobilization Bonus").

End of Player Turn

  1. Draw a Risk card and a poker card
  2. Can turn in cards for a factory (plus 2-army bonus for held territories (1,3), or 2d6)
  3. Replace any and all captured army tokens with tokens of player's own color
  4. Single troop transfer through contiguous territory
  5. After their turn, a player may choose to play an allied army

Play Allied Army

A player must either be uncontested, or win a poker game. Everybody who wants to play must count out their future armies, just as in start-of-turn reëforcement. Once a player has counted future armies, that is all they receive on their next turn (including poker winnings, if any). If you lose all your future armies, you can't play poker any more until your turn comes up, and then you won't have any armies to add to the board (except factories).

In a way, factories are a good investment for those with a gambling addiction ;-).

A player must win a poker hand with at least one card in the suit of the allied army he wants to play. Otherwise they just keep the pot and don't get to play the army.

The player whose turn it is may keep playing poker games until they win or give up or run out of armies, or until nobody else wants to play (uncontested situation).

An allied army gets all the same army bonuses as a player.

If a player takes territory using an allied army, they get an additional Risk card for themself. 

The allied army gets a troop transfer.


The idea of the flanking attack may need work. It makes sense for the defender to choose how many dice to commit to each flank, in an effort to "break the attack" or defeat the attacker's effort to "turn his flank." The attacker can only roll for his weakest flank--does that make sense? Can the defender distribute losses across the two flanks after the fact? 

Maybe the defender should be able to decide from which flanks defeated armies get removed. Or make each flank do its own attack. If a flank is destroyed, that's it--it becomes a consolidated attack.

I'm wondering if increasing the card turn-ins and factories to 3d6 and 3/turn is too high, and if 2d6 to start each turn is too much. The card-cut bonus of 2d6 -- too high?

The big question is how these kinds of numbers affect game dynamics.

A big issue is the time to do battles. By increasing the number of dice in play, and setting up committed battles where the defense is forced to engage in high numbers should speed that up.

Dialing in the card turn-in / factory pay-out (3d6 & 3 vs. 2d6 & 2) and the start-up and card-cut being 1d6 vs. 2d6 could all be configurable game-to-game


Diagrams of Flanking Attacks

A flanking attack causes the attacker to commit more troops, but gains a plus-one bonus and also the ability to capture enemy armies in the case of a total victory roll. The defender may break the attack by weakening one or both flanks, increasing his advantage and/or forcing the attacker to commit more troops. The attacker loses an additional army should he decide to break off the attack.
fig. 1.1. Start of a flanking attack - total loss for defender

fig. 1.2. If either flank gains total victory, capture occurs

Contrary to the diagram, the attacker must win both attacks in order to capture a defending army, i.e., for one of the defeated armies to be captured.

fig 1.3. Attacker captures an army, wins one die due to bonus

One defending army per turn may be captured if the attacker wins total victory on both (8) flanks.

fig. 3.1.Each flank attacks separately 

fig. 3.2. Each flank attacks separately

fig. 3.3. Each flank attacks separately

fig. 4. Attacker abandons flanking attack for simple committed attack

The attacker may reënforce the front lines from reserves at any point, but cannot withdraw armies. The attacker may also combine the flanks into one, sacrificing the plus-one bonus and the ability to capture armies. If the total armies goes up beyond the initial strength, the defender also gets a permanent rise in the maximum number of dice he may roll (attacker dice minus one).



(1) Changing these parameters can make the game faster or slower, but may unbalance play if overloaded
Tweaks to make things faster or slower (suggested)
Territory Bonus Normal Divide by two and/or round up
Contiguous Territory Bonus Divide by three make same as Territory Bonus
Rolled Armies
(starting reënforcements)
1d6 2d6
Risk Card Turn-in 2d6 3d6
2 armies on each card territory 3 (or more) armies/territory, or 1d6 or 2d6
Starting Risk Cards 1 card 2 cards
Factory Output
(tied to card turn-in)
2 per turn 3 per turn
Mobilization Bonus on Attack 1d6 2d6 or 3d6

(2) In a flanking attack, the attacker deploys two army groups, usually the same size. The smaller of the two determines how many dice the attacker may roll. The defender's dice count does not decrease throughout the engagement. Committed armies may be reënforced from reserves, or flanking armies may be combined into a simple committed attack (which may increase how many dice both sides may roll).

(3) When a player turns in cards for bonus armies or a factory, any territories represented on the cards which the player controls immediately get 2 armies each placed on them. This may be "ginned up" by making this 3 or more armies, or rolling 1d6 or 2d6 (this latter perhaps preferred).

(4) Defending armies may be captured during a flanking attack, if they defender suffers a total loss in a given die roll. These armies may not be committed to the front line attack, but one per dice roll may be counted as casualties if the attacker loses two or more armies in a single dice roll.

(5) The initial number of armies committed, or the smaller flank of a flanking attack, determines how many dice the attacker may roll, and the defender rolls one less than this number (or his total number of armies, whichever is less). The attacker's losses decrease his maximum dice roll, but not the defender's. Both go up if the attacker commits more forces, but the defender's never goes down, i.e., the defender enjoys a "ratchet" effect.

(6) Normally the two flanks of a flanking attack would be equal. The attacker attacks with one and then the other, taking losses from each individually. Each flank may be reënforced from reserves. The two flanks may be combined into a concentrated simple committed attack, which loses the +1 bonus and the ability to capture defending armies.

(7) Relax this restriction. Even as few as one may be committed, which limits the defender's dice count, but if the attacker is destroyed, it's the end of the attack. Actually, the committing of three or more means that the defender may always roll at last two, whereas if the attacker could only commit two, the attacker would be forced to roll only one. This basically mimics the regular Risk dice count rules.

(8) This could be a game configuration, i.e., should the attacker be able to capture a defending army by winning a total victory on one flank, or need it be both? The extreme version is the attacker may capture up to two armies. I think both flanks winning equals one capture is best, implying an encirclement.

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