Sunday, March 28, 2010



When it comes to a war game, the one most people are at least somewhat familiar with is Risk. The game is sort of a war game light, with the actual strategies of war having limited impact on how you play the game.
The popularity of Risk has of course meant there have been a few variations made over the years, in particular Lord of the Rings, and a Star Wars: Clone Wars versions have drawn some definite attention because of their tie-in to popular books and movies.
The entire Risk franchise also had a facelift with a revision in 2008. The revision targeted the length of a game, which with the original could drag out with eliminated players left bored by the wayside.
Following the revision, and the idea of tying Risk to popular franchises for marketing USAopoly released Risk: Halo Wars in 2009. The game highlights gaming pieces and a map connected to the mega-popular video game Halo.
This variant is played with three to five players.
Risk: Halo Wars allow players to command one of three factions (the UNSC, the Covenant, or the Flood) and battle for supremacy of Arcadia. You actually get two UNSC armies and two Covenant armies which means with five players there is a team aspect.
The board, which looks a lot like an earth map turned upside down, features 42 territories and six sectors. There are 250 plastic playing pieces which represent the three factions in small molded representations of infantry, tanks, etc.
Halo Risk uses the new Hasbro rules which allows for three levels of game play (basic, advanced, and classic) depending on the skill level and desired playing time of the players, another major aspect of the major game revision.
There are a couple of major pluses with Halo Risk. On one hand big Halo fans are likely to like the laid on theme, and even without a connection to the video game the unique factions and game board are a nice change from standard Risk.
And, the ability to play a team version requiring co-operation, while not for everyone, is a definite plus because it creates gaming options.
This version of Risk has some other nice mechanic additions that are a bonus too. It incorporates a way to double weight certain random spots on the board which alters the typical drawback of Risk where a game can bog down at some points on the board.
Leaders which come in and out of play quite easily for added firepower are a nice touch too, and some special abilities add power and options without unbalancing the base game.
If you like Risk, the Halo variant offers enough differences to enjoy. If you have never played Risk, this actually offers enough bells and whistles to be a better first choice than the traditional version. One to check out for sure.
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Mar 3, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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