Like the beloved jam band Phish, Risk is a board game that relatively few of us have time for these days. Risk is a game that has all the trappings of phenomenal board game: it’s cheap, engrossing and equipped with the uncanny ability to ruin lifelong friendships in one fell swoop, but it’s often too difficult to gather enough people who actually want to play. Luckily, the Web serves as one of the best virtual coffee tables for even the most casual of Risk players. Almost all the sites abide by the same set of rules as the French classic (or a similar version thereof) and allow you to play at your own pace so you aren’t stuck waiting while your opponents drag their feet. Plus, many of the sites are completely free to use so you can save your hard earned cash for another day.
Here are our choices for the best sites for playing Risk (or something like it) online. Below is a video in case you need a little 1980s inspiration, complete with gunshots and cringing faces.
Conquer Club — Free
Conquer Club was one of the first online strategy games to tackle the world of Risk, and it holds true to its founding principals. The free-to-play game features almost everything you know and love about the Parker Brother’s original, just without the official title. The game doesn’t require any additional software — aside from your favorite browser — and touts a robust, active community that is frequently tackling online tournaments and participating in one of the most rip-roaring forums on the Web. The interface could definitely use a bit of a facelift, but the wide selection of maps and the sheer number of diehard members have kept the game alive and well long after the site’s launch.
Dominating Twelve — Free
Like Conquer Club, Dominating Twelve features stunning maps and gameplay that help make it shine among the rest of our picks. The interface and gameplay are sleek,with more than 30 maps to choose from, but games take some time to fill up given the rather small community of users. Once signed up, players can choose from a classic deathmatch scenario or Capitals, a game in which your opponent only needs to capture your capital in order to capture all of your territories and automatically win the game.
The game is free to play, regularly updated, and provides a premium option should you decide you want unlimited active games, private messaging, vacation periods, or a slew of other features not included with a standard account.
Land Grab — Free
Although it’s not Risk per say, Land Grab is another browser-based strategy game that shares many similarities to Risk without any association whatsoever, legally speaking. After creating a free account, players can participate in up to four game at once as they battle for ultimate world domination on more than 60 user-created maps. The interface and maps are decent — not outstanding — but what can you expect when players create the content? Nevertheless, some of the maps are standouts and show a good deal of promise. Land Grab ranks among the best Risk-like games given the fully-fledged customization options, strong base community, and excellent replay value.
Major Command — Free
Cartographers rejoice! Major Command, aka MajCom to some, boasts some of the most stunning Riskesque gameplay currently available online. The interface and map design are simply gorgeous, whether you are confined to a single battlefield in Africa or operating on a global scale, and the ability to choose between Casual and Real Time game modes adds a level depth that’s hard to find elsewhere. Like Risk, players are randomly assigned a region and given deployable troops in an effort to conquer the entire map or reach the mission objective.
The game is free to play, routinely updated, and features a lively community that can never seem to get enough of Major Command. Try joining a clan, entering a tournament, or opting for the premium version if you really want to get down and dirty.
Risk (PopCap edition) — $10
PopCap’s official rendition of the take-over-the-world board game is one the best, but it comes at a price. Players can test their wits against up to five AI players at once or tackle their friends head on in Hotseat multiplayer, which is essentially a pass-and-play multiplayer feature using one computer. Although Risk is accessible online, it is not a browser-based game, meaning you will have to download the desktop software in order to begin your quest toward global domination. The premium version of the game will set you back $10, but you can always give the 60-minute free trial a whirl if you’re undecided.
War Gear – Free
With more than 200 public maps, War Gear is one of the most extensive and customizable options when it comes to playing Risk-like alternatives. The site allows players to schedule their games on their own time — whether you want to take turns over a period of several days or mere hours — and features a vast wealth of user-created content. Launched in 2009, the site maintains a strong, loyal following four years later and is still constantly growing and evolving.
The support team, something we sometimes write off when it comes to free game sites, is one of the best around, given its openness to consider community suggestions and its innovative features. Other noteworthy features include the ability to host private matches and comprehensive hot key support. The only downside is an inconsistency between maps.
Warlight — Free
Warlight is Risk alternative that is actually worth it both on and offline. The game features an admirable AI, a decent collection of maps, competitive ladders, and compelling gameplay that works in the same vein as the rest of the picks on our list. Some of the maps are massive (3,000 territories) and players can choose the pace at which the game plays out if they want more fast-paced gameplay than is traditionally offered. The site is also frequently updated, with new features being rolled out regularly, and boasts one of the more flexible engine game engines out there.
While we welcome the greater customization the engine offers, the varying gameplay mechanics and modes can be a bit much for just the novice gamer, taking considerable time to get up to speed. The active community is also fairly small and forum posts remain sparse at times.
What do you think of our selection of the best places to play Risk-like games online? What site or program do you use for to conquer the world from the comforts of your own home? Let us know in the comments below.