Risk Junior: Narnia by Hasbro
Review by Albert Bassili
(Independent Game Reviewer)
Risk Junior: Narnia, is an interesting entry into the Risk franchise, focusing more on introducing the game Risk to children more than anything else. Released in 2006 by Hasbro, this entry gives parents and family members to introduce Risk to them in an easy a simple manner, without devolving into the complex strategy of classic Risk. Overall it’s an interesting concept, and there is the added benefit of knowing your kids won’t be exposed to the unpredictable behavior of adults who sometimes take their online Risk games too seriously.
Unfortunately, Risk Junior: Narnia, didn’t see a big release in the US, but it was big in the UK and Europe, so if you’re ever on holiday over there, keep your eyes open!
Now, you might not be expecting this, but Risk Junior: Narnia actually has more complex rules than classic Risk, ostensibly to remove the deep strategy and make it easier to play. For example, attacks are decided by drawing turns, and how many armies you have doesn’t matter, every player rolls either two or three dice. Winning is also based on rolling a 5 and 6, rather than having a higher number.
The game also adds a bit of a good vs evil interplay, with the forces of evil (The White Witch) which are controlled by one player, fighting against the forces of good (Aslan) which is controlled by many. Ultimately, this makes the game a 1 vs team affair, without any chance for alliances or free-for-alls, instead, you know who your enemy is and that’s that. To add to this, the map is rather small, probably one of the smallest, with several bottle necks that make the game a bit more fluid and dynamic.
Of course, this all might sound a bit strange and out there for a Risk game, but it’s an interesting concept for introducing the series to kids. Without the complex strategy, and the standardization of attacks and the map, it’s much easier for a child to grasp. Don’t worry, though, it’s still fun for adults!
Playing Narnia Risk
While there are two different sides, the troops are pretty much the same, with the main difference being that The White Witch’s forces can turn troops into stone, and Aslan’s forces can cure them. Turns are started by drawing an event card, each that has a variety of effects that aren’t too powerful, yet can alter the game slightly to the advantage of one side.
Within those event cards are three special ones: “Always Winter & Never Christmas”, “Father Christmas” and “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe”. If one of these is drawn, the game is paused and points are awarded based on territories and camps up to that point in the game, after which the game continues as normal. “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” is even more special than the other two, as after the points are calculated the game actually ends and whichever side has the most points wins.
Once an event card is drawn, the player must then draw a territory card which tells them where they must attack. If the territory is friendly, then the player can choose to attack any adjacent territory, otherwise, the battle ensues. The battles themselves are pretty straight forward and are proceeded by a troop placement phase.
After the territory to be attacked has been selected, and troops have been placed, the actual fighting begins. The defender rolls 2 dice and the attacker rolls 3 unless they’ve used a bridge to reach the territory, its hard work crossing a river after all! As mentioned earlier, the roll relies on either a 5 or a 6, with a 5 removing a weak minion, and a 6 removing either a strong or a weak minion.
Of course, all the numbers between 1 and 4 aren’t irrelevant, because that’s where the characters of Narnia Risk come into play. Each of these characters has a special ability that kicks in if a specific number is rolled. For example, The White Witch can freeze minions on a roll of 2, and Lucy can revive them on a 4, 5 or a 6. Doubles kick characters back to the pool, so watch out for those!
Winning Risk Junior: Narnia is either a matter of domination or being the leader in points. Given the fact that there’s a high chance to draw “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”, it usually means that the game is going to end on seeing who has the most points. It’s a bit of a letdown in comparison to classic Risk, but hey, if you’re strong and smart enough, maybe you can get a domination win yet.
Narnia Risk – The Conclusion
The biggest problem with Risk Junior: Narnia, is that it’s quite a ways away from what seasoned Risk players might be used to. The hamstringing that the rules apply to the gameplay might be a bit frustrating for some, and yet, it will make it easier for younger gamers to play. Of course, the complexity of the rules is a bit strange, but having an experience Risk player around will help to get kids into it and understanding the ruleset.
Of course, another main point is that the game is much shorter, which if you know how kids are, is actually a good thing. The smaller map and the way the game dictates where player’s attack means you won’t be spending a lot of empty time thinking, a time where kids might get restless or lose interest. So while it may be strange overall, it’s well adapted for kids.
Overall, if you have kids and you want to introduce them to Risk without overtaxing them with the traditional game, this is a great game to pick up, and a solid entry into the franchise. Though it might not quite prepare them for the world of Risk online, it will give you and them some solid family time. 🙂