How to Set Up and Prepare for a Game of Risk


Risk, the classic board game of global conquest, has been captivating players for generations. While it’s a game known for its strategic depth and epic battles, getting started is easier than you might think. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll walk you through the process of setting up the game board, distributing armies, and preparing for your first game of Risk. Whether you’re a complete beginner or just need a refresher, this guide will ensure that your journey to world domination starts smoothly.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Before you begin, ensure you have everything you need to set up and play Risk:

  • The Risk game board
  • Risk cards
  • Infantry, cavalry, and artillery pieces (armies)
  • Two white dice and three red dice
  • The rulebook
  • A group of eager players (2 to 6)

Step 2: Unfold the Game Board

Place the Risk game board on a flat and stable surface, making sure it’s visible to all players. The board features a world map divided into continents and territories, each with distinct colors and borders.

Step 3: Assemble the Armies

Count out the armies based on the number of players:

  • 2 players: 40 armies each
  • 3 players: 35 armies each
  • 4 players: 30 armies each
  • 5 players: 25 armies each
  • 6 players: 20 armies each

The armies come in three different types: infantry (1 army piece), cavalry (5 army pieces), and artillery (10 army pieces). Ensure each player has the correct number and type of armies. You can use the game’s army containers to help organize them.

Step 4: Prepare the Risk Cards

The Risk cards represent rewards and reinforcements. Shuffle the Risk cards and place them face down near the game board.

Step 5: Determine First Player

To decide the first player, you can use any method you prefer, such as drawing straws, flipping a coin, or rolling dice. The player who goes first will receive three armies as an initial bonus.

Step 6: Place Initial Armies

The players take turns placing one army at a time on the board’s territories. The sequence is as follows:

  1. First Player (3 armies): Place one army on any territory you control. This will be your starting territory.
  2. Second Player (2 armies): Place one army on any territory you control.
  3. Third Player (1 army): Place one army on any territory you control.
  4. Continue this process until all territories are occupied. Note that territories must be claimed evenly among players to ensure a balanced start.

Step 7: Distribute Risk Cards

Before beginning your first turn, the first player takes one Risk card from the deck as a reward for claiming their initial territories. Risk cards can also be obtained during the game when a player conquers a territory.

Step 8: Review the Rules

It’s crucial for everyone to have a good grasp of the game rules. Familiarize yourself with the rulebook and discuss key concepts such as reinforcements, attacking, and fortifying territories. Understanding the rules will lead to a smoother gameplay experience.

Step 9: Determine Order of Play

Risk’s order of play rotates in a clockwise fashion, starting with the first player. Each player’s turn consists of three phases: reinforcement, attack, and fortification.

Step 10: Determine Turn Sequence

The first player begins their turn with the reinforcement phase, followed by the attack phase. Once they complete these phases, play moves to the next player. Continue this order of play until a player achieves world domination by controlling all territories or a pre-set number of victory points.

Step 11: Dive into Gameplay

With the board set up, initial armies placed, and rules explained, you’re ready to embark on your Risk conquest. The game unfolds as you strategically deploy reinforcements, launch attacks on your opponents, and fortify your territories to withstand enemy assaults. Communicate, form alliances, and negotiate to gain an edge in the game.


Setting up and preparing for a game of Risk is a straightforward process that leads to countless hours of strategic enjoyment. With a world map at your fingertips, armies at your disposal, and alliances to be formed, Risk offers a thrilling journey to world domination. This guide has walked you through the essential steps to get your game started, so gather your troops, choose your starting territory, and embark on your path to global conquest. May the best strategist win as you play Risk, the classic board game of epic battles and global dominance!

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