Risk Board Game Rules (A Game of Global Domination)

If you are intrigued by war-based board games of intense military strategies, conquests of new territories, and diplomatic defense mechanisms, Risk will keep you on your toes with new challenges throughout the game. 

Risk board game rules are all about willing to take the risk with bold and cunning moves when it’s time to take over the world. The gameplay is more aggressive and competitive than other strategy games like Scythe or Gaia Project, where the factions try to increase their power and efficiency and expand territories peacefully. 

Find out more about playing Risk, in this easy-to-follow guide and master the art of military strategy by the end of it. 

What is Risk?

Risk Board Game Info image

Risk is the ultimate board game of global domination. Players try to overpower each other’s troops to reign over the world. 

The aim – win more armies and power by the conquest of the enemy territory. But watch out for the neighboring enemy lands if they are building up forces. 

A strike can come at any moment from any corner. To be safe, strategically fortify the borders of enemy territories to defend against an attack. If you manage to sweep all other enemy armies away from the six continents, you conquer the world!

Number of Players: 2 – 6 (best with 4)

Ages: 10+

Length: 120 minutes

Difficulty: Hard

Similar to: Catan, Diplomacy, Scythe, Gaia Project, Root

Main Objective: Carefully deploy your armies with thoughtful strategies, gradually eliminate the opponent’s troops from all over the world map, and capture all 42 territories to win Risk. 

Why We Love It: The game is super exciting as it requires you to be mindfully present in the game from start to finish. There is never a dull moment with Risk. The rich artwork and stunning war-themed look of the game are additional attractions.

Risk board game rules and gameplay image

An Overview of Risk’s History

This game was first released in 1957 in France, designed by the French director Albert Lamorisse. Two years later, Parker Brothers launched the game with slightly modified rules, called Risk: The Continental Game. 

With its colorful board and wooden game pieces, Risk was an instant hit. A collector’s edition of the classic 1959 game was issued by Parker Brothers in 2005, and Hasbro Gaming reproduced a similar version of the classic game later in 2008.

Risk Game Components

The Classic version of Risk by Hasbro Gaming contains everything you need to get started with the game setup. 

Inside the kit, you will find the following: 

  • 1 Tri-fold game board
  • 5 Dice
  • Deck of risk cards
  • 5 Set of armies
  • Risk game rules and instructions sheet

This set also features 12 improved Secret Missions for quicker gameplay. 

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If you are a retrophile, this vintage 1980 Edition of Risk by Parker Brothers will certainly draw your attention. 

Risk 1980 Board Game
$134.78 $119.99

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Also, you have an option to install the Risk: Global Domination app from the Play Store that works exactly like the old board game and has fantastic graphics.

Game Setup

It will help if you have a pre-planned strategy before starting to play. The way you place your army initially will set up the battlefield for future fights during the game. So read carefully about the game components and set the game accordingly. 

The Game Board:

The Risk game board is a 200 years old world map of 6 continents printed in 6 colors, divided into 42 territories. Each continent has 4-12 territories. 

At the bottom of the board (southern edge), you will see the numbers that indicate how many armies you will receive while trading in a set of cards. 

The Armies:

The game contains six sets of armies. Each set has three types:

  1. Infantry (Worth 1)
  2. Cavalry (Worth 5 infantry)
  3. Artillery (Worth 10 infantry/ 2 cavalry)

So the game starts with placing the infantry pieces on the territories. Later, you can trade the infantries with cavalry or artillery according to their respective values, such as 5 infantries for 1 cavalry or 1 cavalry and 5 infantries for 1 artillery. 


  • There are 42 cards marked with one territory and a sign of one army type (Infantry/ Cavalry/ Artillery).
  • 2 wild cards have the signs of all three army types but no territory. 
  • There are 12 Secret Mission cards to be used only in Secret Mission Risk. Discard these cards if you are not playing this particular variation.

Initial Army Placement 

  • Each player will choose one color of the army set.
  • Now set aside the correct number of infantries required for the game, depending on the number of players.
  • 3 players = 35 infantries for each
  • 4 players = 30 infantries for each
  • 5 players = 25 infantries for each
  • 6 players = 20 infantries for each
  • To decide who goes first, everyone rolls the die once. The highest roller begins by placing one infantry piece on any territory on the board to claim it conquered. 
  • The turn passes anti-clockwise, and everyone places their infantries in a similar way on the unoccupied territories until all 42 territories have been claimed. 
  • After this, each player takes a turn to place an additional army to any of the territories already occupied by them.

Continue until everyone runs out of armies. You can place as many troops as you want on one single territory. 

  • Finally, to finish the setup, shuffle the Risk cards and place them face down adjacent to the board. 

The player who placed the first army takes the first turn.

Risk board game rules playing image

Risk Board Game Rules and Gameplay

The primary goal of Risk board game rules is to conquer more territories by defeating the opponent armies. To win, you have to take careful strategies, make quick decisions and be bold with the moves. 

Each turn has three subsequent steps:

  • Gaining and placing new armies
  • Attacking if you want
  • Fortifying your position

Gaining and Placing New Armies:

Conditions based on which you can decide how many armies you’ll add to your territories at the beginning of each turn: 

  1. Number of territories you occupy
  2. Value of your controlled continents
  3. The value of the matched sets of Risk cards traded-in by you
  4. The specific territory pictured on a traded-in card


On every turn (including your first), divide the total number of territories claimed by you by three (ignore fractions), and you receive that many armies. For example, you will receive 4 armies if you occupy 14 territories. 

Place the new armies on your occupied territories. 

According to Risk board game rules, you will receive a minimum of 3 armies even though you occupy less than 9 territories. 


The number of armies you receive at the beginning of each turn also depends on the number of continents you control. To control a continent, you must be occupying all the territories within it. 

You can look up the number of armies you will receive for each continent in a chart in the lower-left corner of the board. 

Risk Cards:

Earning cards: If you have gained at least one new territory at the end of a turn, you will earn one Risk card. Your goal here is to collect sets of 3 cards in the following combinations:

  • 3 cards of similar design (Infantry, Cavalry, or Artillery)
  • 1 of each of the 3 designs
  • Any 2 and a wild card

If you have collected a set of 3 Risk cards, you have the option to turn them in on your next turn. However, if you already have 5-6 cards, you need to trade in at least one set at the beginning of your next turn.

Trading-In Cards: At the beginning of each turn, you can trade in matched sets of cards for more armies based on the total count of sets you have traded so far. Keep the traded-in cards face down near the bottom edge of the board for quickly referring to the value of the next trade in terms of armies. 

  • 1st set – 4 armies
  • 2nd set – 6 armies
  • 3rd set – 8 armies
  • 4th set – 10 armies
  • 5th set – 12 armies
  • 6th set – 15 armies

After the 6th set has been traded in, you earn 5 more armies on each additional trading. For example, on your 9th set, you get a total of 30 armies (15+5+5+5).

  • Occupied Territories: You get 2 extra armies if the picture of one of your occupied territories is imprinted on any of the 3 traded-in cards. Place these 2 armies on that particular territory. 


After the initial placement of armies is complete, you may choose to attack in the next step of your turn. The main objective behind an attack is to overthrow the opponent armies from a territory and capture it.

To fight a battle, roll the dice once. Pass the dice to the next player if you choose not to attack. You still have the option of fortifying your position.

Follow these rules to attack:

  • If an opponent’s territory is adjacent or connected by a dashed line to one of yours, you may attack that territory. 
  • The territory you are attacking from must have at least two armies.
  • You can keep attacking one specific territory until you remove all the opponent armies, or you may shift to another territory. Basically, you can attack as many territories as you like and as often as you want. 

How to Attack in Risk:

Initially, announce which territory you intend to attack and which one you are attacking from. Now roll the dice against the opponent occupying that territory. 

Before rolling, both the attacker and the defender disclose the number they aim to roll and then roll simultaneously. 

  • The attacker rolls 1, 2, or 3 red dice. There must be at least one more army in the attacker’s territory than the number rolled. 
  • The defender will roll either 1 or 2 white dice. There must be two or more armies in the defender’s territory. 

Deciding a Battle in Risk:

You can decide a battle by comparing who rolled the highest number.

  • If the attacker’s roll is higher, the defender loses one army from the attacked territory.
  • On the other hand, if the defender rolls a higher number, the attacker will remove one army from the attacking territory. 
  • If both have rolled more than one dice, you should compare two next-highest dice and follow the same rules.


* If it’s a tie, the defender always wins. 

** The attacker cannot lose more than two armies per roll. 

Capturing Territories:

If you won the battle, the new territory is now yours. To occupy immediately, move at least that number of armies that you rolled in the last battle.

Remember, every one of your territories must have at least one army during the whole gameplay. So leave one in the attacking territory. 

Eliminating an Opponent:

In case you have thrown over the last of the opponent’s army on the game board, you will win all the Risk cards that the player has collected so far.

Fortifying Your Position

Irrespective of whatever actions you took in your turn, you can always end the turn by fortifying your position. It does not matter if you have attacked a territory or won a battle; you can get this as a ‘free move.’ 

As per Risk board game rules, you can move as many armies as you wish from one of your territories to another adjacent one. Keep in mind that it’s always better to post your troops near the borders. This way, they will be helpful to defend your lands against any attack. 

Related: 14 games like Risk

Winning the Game 

If you manage to defeat every opponent and conquer all 42 territories on the map, you win!

How to Play Risk – Video Tutorial 

Frequently Asked Questions About Risk

What are the Secret Mission, Risk for 2 Players, and Capital Risk?

Other than the Classic gameplay that we have discussed, there are three different ways to play Risk: Secret Mission, For 2 players, and Capital.

In the Secret Mission version of the game, players compete in a race to finish the secret mission mentioned in the special Secret Mission cards. 

Army distribution is different in Risk for 2 players. Each player gets a set of 40 armies, and there is another set of 40 neutral armies. When one player attacks the neutral territory, the opponent rolls the dice to defend that. 

And Capital Risk is a shorter variation of the Classic gameplay. 

Why are there two different colors of dice in the Risk board game?

The game set comes with 3 red and 2 white (blue in current editions) dice. The dice are used for the purpose of attacking and defending a territory. The attacker rolls 3 red dice, whereas the 2 white ones are used by the defender. 

Why did I get only 5 armies with the new Risk game kit?

In the earlier editions of Risk, there were originally 6 armies. Now to make it less crowded, the current editions come with only 5 different colors of armies. 

Alternative Games You Might Like 

Do you want to breeze through a few more games that involve colonizing new lands, resource and engine building, competing against each other to establish power? Well, then Catan, Scythe, Stratego and Gaia Project are just the perfect choices for you. 

If you are looking for another game of global domination where the players need to make diplomatic strategies, we suggest you give Diplomacy a try.

In case you are a card game fan, Dominion is a game based on the same theme as Risk, with less complicated gameplay.

For more such board game ideas, you may want to look at our suggestion for 5 of the Best War Based Board Games.

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