Warlight: An Online Version of Risk

Many times Risk players just get sick of the same world board. A new map to put a spin on things, such as instead of the world, how about Europe? They may also want more complexity in their Risk game without having to play the extremely complicated Axis and Allies. There are solutions to this. One may either make their own board, get a specialty edition of Risk, such as the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings versions, each costing a good chunk of money, or play an online version of Risk with different maps.  There are many different types of online Risk, LandGrab, AtWar, and the simple Pogo version of Risk. Warlight is the one that stands out to me the most. Warlight doesn’t stray too far from Risk, but also isn’t an online replica of a PC Risk or the actual board game.

There are many new features added to the game, including new types of cards and wastelands, like in the Risk 2210 edition. The rules of Warlight are similar to risk, with similar differences. For starters, there are thousands of maps, from The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker sea charts to a map of the brain, there is probably a map you are looking for. Like Risk, maps have bonuses, but there are usually lots of bonuses on a map, especially when maps have over a thousand territories. Some bonuses are actually worth more reinforcements than they state since those bonuses are encompassing other bonuses, meaning instead of nine reinforcements being given, for example, thirty-six are given since that bonus has other bonuses inside it.

Turns are divided into three steps. The first step is deployment. Deployment is basically placing your new armies on the board. All the units have to be deployed. If they aren’t, then the Warlight server prevents that person from moving on until all armies are placed on the map. The next step is attacking and/or transferring. Attacking is optional, but to win, at least one attack is generally made in most games. Transferring is also optional and not done as often as attacking. What transferring means, is just transporting some of your units to a territory that borders yours. The last step is simple, confirming your orders by clicking a button on the screen. There are also occasionally cards in a game. There are many types of cards. The most common is the reinforcement card. Reinforcement cards, when played, give you an extra amount of soldiers to deploy, the amount depending on what the game creator chose. Another common card is the airlift card, which is a one-time transfer between any two of you territories. Unlike transferring on the attack phase, the transfer doesn’t have to happen with a neighboring territory, so territories that don’t border can be transferred to using an airlift card.

There are two types of games, single-player games and multi-player games.  Single player games always pit you against AI, unless the game only has AI, in which you spectate the game. Single player games are either challenges, which are preset games against AI and were built for players to learn how the game works, or custom games with preset templates, your templates, or completely custom games without templates. Multiplayer games involve other Warlight players and rarely AI if the game creator puts AI in the game, or if a player is booted and turned into an AI. Also, there are tournaments which you can compete in against other players.  The way multiplayer games have developed on the site is amazing. Instead of just the same old Risk game with online players, there are specific types of multiplayer games. The largest are diplomacy games, which are nicknamed “diplos”. In diplomacy games, the game creator either assigns slots in a custom scenario, or in other words, the territories a player starts with are picked at random, or the players have to conquer their territories that they claim. I consider the first example to be a true diplomacy game, which has similarities to the board game, diplomacy. Diplomacy games have at least twenty players, and can take up to ten hours to complete. The other common type of multiplayer game is a FFA, or free-for-all. FFAs are began with players having a few territories to start and conquer as the turns pass. When a player wishes to stop playing, they may surrender, which can happen instantly or must be accepted by the remaining players. Being booted can be caused by being slow while taking your turns, or becoming PE, or public enemy.

Lastly, if the player wishes to make his/her own game, then there are the five major aspects of the game to set up. The first is the basic setup, which is the fog, or areas one cannot see beyond their domain, surrenders, booting, and other stuff that isn’t one-hundred percent key for a good game to take place. The next is selecting the game map. There are real-world maps, which are either historical game boards or maps of the world and certain parts of it, fictional maps from novels and movies such as Lord of The Rings and Narnia, and novelty maps, which don’t have to represent any fictional or real location. These include wide ranges of maps, from hexagons, duels between ninjas and pirates, and even the brain, novelty maps offer a wide range of objects to be the “board”. The next is distribution. Automatic distribution is where the starting territories are chosen at random, while manual is where players choose their own territories. The custom scenario is where the game creator choses the player’s starting positions. Generally in multi-player games, the custom scenario should be relatively balanced, so each player gets around the same amount of territories. The next aspect is the armies. Armies and bonuses include bonuses (obviously), the amount of armies lost attacking and defending, and the amount of reinforcements per turn. The cards section shows all the cards, how many parts they may be split into, the effects of the card, and much more. If you want to make a map, go to the Warlight Wiki and search for how to make a map. Also, when making multiplayer games, the title should be clear and attractive. If this is the case, then usually the open seats fill up fast and the game starts. From my gaming experience, which can be quite limited since I don’t play the game twenty-four-seven, an example of a good title that gains seats quickly would be, “Free-for-all Warriors”, or “1870s European Diplomacy”, even though diplomacy games take a while to start.

Warlight isn’t perfect; there are often glitches that cause you to have to re-enter a game when the site is too crowded which really can be a problem, especially when under attack by another player and are just about to finish your turn, with mere seconds to spare, and you have to re-enter, and you are auto-booted. A bad scenario in Warlight just got worse. Also, lots of Games with custom scenarios are either unbalanced, or simply are inaccurate to what they are representing, such as Europe in the late 1930’s, before World War two and the annexation of the Czech part of Czechoslovakia, the Uzhgorod territory isn’t part of Czechoslovakia and the borders are Cold-war style (Uzhgorod is part of the Soviet Union instead of Czechoslovakia).

Overall, the game is very good. The mechanics are easy to understand and learn quickly, even though getting good at the game takes practice, and there is lots of freedom choosing the game settings, which is a plus for the site. Unless you want to buy an expansion pack, the game is free, which is definitely cheaper than a specialty version of Risk, which can cost around $70 (the newest versions of plain old Risk are $20-$30), and there aren’t any tiny plastic parts to lose, since everything is digital. In fact, there aren’t any representations of those plastic figures, those are replaced with numbers, which allow for hundreds of armies per territory. So if I had to choose an online version of Risk, Warlight would be my answer.