Each player takes a turn and rolls the dice. The player with the highest toss chooses the colorof his army and where he wishes to place the first of his armies on the game board.
In turn, each of the other players distribute their armies, one at a time, across the game board until the world is occupied fairly and evenly. Once done, the players finish distributing their armies across their occupied territories in anticipation of a successful campaign.
Then the game of RISK begins.
Right now the United Nations is involved in it's own game of RISK in the former Yugoslavian republic.
In the board game the player who chose first attacks first. Winner of the attack has the highest roll of the dice. The aggressor can attack any of his opponents however many times he wishes until he either runs out of armies or conquers a country, whichever comes first.
The number of players participating will decide the length of the game, not necessarily the outcome. The outcome of the game is decided on strategy, pure and simple.
Two players invariably complete a game quickly, depending on how either one logistically places their armies.
Three players will take a little longer, in that fighting a three-sided war can sometimes be tricky. Not only does one have to worry about either of two enemies, their greatest worry comes when they are attacked from two fronts.
One of the favorite scenarios my brothers and I used when we played RISK was the three-sided game. When our cousins jumped in (the game board could support six opponents) the games would become more interesting. But, it was the three-sided scenarios that made the memories worthwhile.
That is, until I figured out my brothers' strategy. In the beginning days of the sibling civil wars, I usually ended up being the first opponent knocked out of the game. Then I discovered, during a lucid moment of strategic revelation, that they had ganged up on me and were attacking my territories from two fronts!
There was no way I could win against that kind of strategy.
I eventually figured out, through trial and error and endless losses on the battle field, that the best way to match wits with them was to add a fourth opponent. The fourth opponent would provide enough distraction so that I could strengthen my armies down the middle, attacking the same way, in a sense, dividing and conquering.
The strategy worked. In every four-sided game we played after that, I usually ended up conquering the world.
Recently, the Bosnian government teamed up with the Croatians to try to unseat the Bosnian Serbs holding real estate surrounding Sarajevo. Their quest to end the siege of the capital of that war-torn country ended with some ground taken but the stronger Bosnian Serbs remained in control of most of the territory.
The government army and their Croatian allies will not be successful. For one, the war in Bosnia is not a three-sided war as we might suspect, but a four-sided engagement. The fourth ingredient to this Balkan stew happens to be the U.N. Peacekeeping Forces stationed in that war-torn country.
The leaders of the seven major economic powers met last week and decided to strengthen the security forces in Bosnia. They cast the dye and committed another 12,500 troops to the area.
The U.N. will keep the other three sides wondering, but most of all, they will occupy the minds of the Bosnian government as to whether the U.N. will fully commit to a ground war. The Bosnian Serbs don't care one way or the other. They will continue to agress the middle ground, keeping their enemies separate and divided.
In the end, the U.N. will be the first opponent to be knocked out of the game. The world's allies will never commit aggressively to action in a war that sees the deaths of hundreds of women and children every day.
Eventually, the Bosnian government will deteriorate amidst the ethnic "cleansing" and the Bosnian Serbs will continue to hold most of the territory. The Croatians aren't strong enough to continue in an all-out war, bowing first to the government's pressure and falling eventually to the Bosnian Serbs' power and strength. The government will waste time and energy trying to bump the Croats out of the game, once the alliance falls through and in turn they will fall to the Bosnian Serbs.
In the end, the Bosnian Serbs will end up conquering the world. Well, at least their tiny corner of it, which is what they wanted all along.
Charles Ratliff is Editor in Chief of the Summer Wildcat and a journalism graduate student.
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