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Game Review

RISK Godstorm

Ages 10 and up
Avalon Hill
Game © 2004 Hasbro
Date reviewed: 9/07/2004
game setup
Uncle's Games link

2-5 Players 2-6 hours


Mythological gods influence the ancient world as ancient races battle for domination.


Players begin by selecting a color to represent their race. The board is set in the center of the table,  and the underworld board placed in an accessible location.  In addition, four decks of miracle cards are shuffled and placed within reach of the players.  A deck of territory cards is shuffled, and the top four cards are revealed -- the territories depicted on the card each receive a plague marker.  The four cards are replaced, the territory deck is reshuffled, and the territory cards are dealt out to the players.

Players begin by counting out the number of starting armies that the rules state that they should be given (for a three player game this is 35). Players place 1 army on each territory that they have the corresponding Territory card.  After all of the territories have one army, then players take turns placing 3 armies at a time upon the territories they control (the armies do not have to be placed in the same territory).  Once this is done, players place 1 temple and their god of War on territories they control. Players are given an initial quantity of faith chips (31).

The game is played in five turns, called epochs.  Each player will go through the same turn actions during an epoch, in the same order.  At the start of each epoch, players may spend faith chips to determine who goes first.  This is done by all players simultaneously revealing the chips they are spending.  The player who spends the most plays first -- ties are broken by rolling dice.  Faith chips used for turn order are returned to the "bank" area.  Once the turn order is specified, players are given a marker to remind them of the turn order.

On each player's turn, they do the following in order:

  1. Raise armies & gather faith

  2. Summon gods & build temples

  3. Obtain miracle cards

  4. Play miracle cards

  5. Suffer Plague

  6. Invade Territories

  7. Fortify a position

  8. Embark from Heaven

  9. Invade the Underworld

  10. End turn

Raising armies simply means counting the territories you control and checking a chart to determine the number of armies you receive.  Like RISK, you also collect armies for controlling entire continents. Armies may be placed in any territory you control.  In addition, territories that contain a temple will gain 1 additional army.  Players receive the same number of faith chips as armies they raised. 

Additional armies may be brought from the underworld if you control a crypt and a temple.

Gods each have special abilities that aid your armies in battle.  To summon a god, you must spend 3 faith chips for each god you summon. Every players' gods have the same abilities: War = when attacking ties go to the attacker; Death = when attacking your opponent's lost armies don't go to their heaven; Magic = whenever you roll a 1, reroll that die; Sky = add an extra die to your Godswar total.  It is important to have your gods in play, because you cannot receive the corresponding miracle cards unless the god is in play.

Temples cost 5 faith chips and may be placed on a territory you control.  When a territory with a temple is attacked, the defender may reroll any die that is a  1. In addition, temples allow you to gain extra armies each time you raise troops.

Miracle cards may be purchased for 2 faith chips each.  But, you must have the appropriate god in play in order to acquire one.  The main catch to this is that you must buy all of the miracle cards at once -- and then you can look at them at the same time.  Miracle cards can only be played during the "Play miracle cards" phase of your turn, unless they specify otherwise.  Typically, the miracle cards for Magic are equipment, like the golden fleece, and are played immediately; Miracle cards for Sky are responses to other players' actions (e.g. played when you are attacked); Miracle cards for War summon more armies in general; and miracle cards for Death cause devastation (like sinking Atlantis, or reducing all armies in a continent by 50%).

You may also complete special tasks, called labors, during your turn to collect additional miracle cards.  The labor for a each type of miracle card differs -- War: capture three territories on your turn (one miracle card limit); Death: control a crypt at the end of your turn; Magic: roll 3 of the same number at any time on the same roll; Sky: defeat an opposing god.

When players suffer plague, half of your armies in a territory with a plague marker die (rounding down).  One army will not be killed by the plague.  Any gods in the plagued territory are removed from play.

Invading territories is the main phase of your turn.  Armies from one territory may invade any adjacent territory.  This mechanic is identical to the original Risk game, the only exceptions to this are when you have gods participating in the battle.  Any armies that die are placed in that player's heaven on the underworld board.

You can't attack over a mountain range.

If you invade and you have a god accompanying your forces, you may use the god's powers in battle. (Remember, the god of War allows the Attacker to win any ties of dice rolls.)  If an army with gods attacks another army with gods, a Godswar ensues.  In this case, the gods battle first -- players roll 3 dice and add the dice totals, then the number of armies you control in this battle is added to your total; The highest total wins the Godswar.  The god that lost the godswar is removed from the map.  If there are no more gods on one side of the battle, then the armies battle as normal.

If your invasion is successful, you must move your armies (including gods that joined in the attack) into the captured territory.  One army must remain behind in the original territory.  If the attacker had no gods, but the defender did, and the defender lost his last army, the defending god is removed form the board as the last army dies.

If you invaded a territory with a plague marker, half of your invading forces immediately die and any attacking gods are removed from the board as well.

After you have invaded all the territories you care to on the main map, you may fortify your position by moving armies from one territory to another that you control.  Usually this is limited to an adjacent territory, but if you control a large number of territories that form an unbroken chain, you can send your fortifying armies from one end of the chain to the other.  You may only fortify from one location to one destination per turn.

Any armies in your heaven may now embark from heaven to a gate room, or to another territory that you already control in the underworld.

Armies in the underworld may invade underworld spaces with the same rules as the main map... but no gods or miracles can affect the outcome, and lost armies are removed from the board.  There are two types of spaces in the underworld that are of value: altars and crypts.  Controlling an altar gives you an extra die whenever you participate in a Godswar.  Controlling a crypt allows you to bring a single army back to a temple at the start of your next turn.

Once you have completed your underworld invasion your turn ends.

After all players have played their turn in the fifth epoch.  Victory points are counted -- one point per territory controlled; one point per crypt or altar controlled in the underworld; continent bonus is added if a player controls an entire continent.  The player with the most points wins.


the underworld

Winning Conditions:

  • The player who has the most victory points the end of the game, wins.

continent bonuses

Our Opinion:

Thumbs Up!Updating a classic game takes a lot of nerve -- but this update is a worthy effort.  By utilizing the well known mechanics of the original, this update is quick to learn if you ever played RISK before. Two of our reviewers are avid fans of RISK, and this game merited their approval.

The most significant updates to the original that we noticed are: limiting the game to five turns; changing the defense-wins-ties rules; eliminating the trading of territory cards; and using miracle cards for special effects.  We also found that the economics of your faith tokens is very important -- especially in determining play order for each epoch and purchasing miracle cards.  It certainly added several layers of complexity to the game, and mostly for the better.  We liked the army pieces they selected... war elephants are much cooler than roman numerals.

Of course, having relied upon the classic battle rules from RISK, this game also falls prey to the same flaws.  Bad dice rolls will destroy the plans of the best tactician, and expect to have each player make massive assaults that capture half of the board every turn.  If you dislike the original for these reasons, you'll dislike this one, too.  There are a few other minor flaws in the game's construction, for instance, there is only one card (plus the rule book) that lists the turn order, and two of the armies' colors (tan & reddish-brown) are so close in hue that players must strain to tell them apart.

We  played this game on two separate occasions.  In both instances, it took an extremely long time to play (over 6 hours).  We expect that if we played it more often, the game would get marginally faster, but the turns become very long because players know that there are only a few turns to play -- aggression is very important and leaving too little room for a defensive buffer guarantees your elimination. If the game designers had omitted the underworld aspects (and thus remove the gods of death), turns would be shortened significantly.  Except for a few victory points, there aren't too many good reasons to control the underworld -- and in our games, there were so many armies in the underworld that the small board couldn't contain the forces there.

Strategically, we found that purchasing the miracle cards worked much better than trying to perform labors. Also, most of the miracles for Death struck random continents or armies -- thus making them better self destruct devices than strategic weapons.  In fact, I wiped out most of my own forces by using a Death miracle -- it took me 2 epochs to recover.  Effective use of the god of War became very important in our games, when ties go to the attacker, it is difficult to stop a high rolling player.

We recommend this game to any fan of RISK.  This game stands well on its own as well.  It doesn't replace the classic, but it is worthy of being named like it.  The game is pricey, but the construction of the pieces merits the cost. After you get used to the strategies that the new rules present, you'll like this as much as you liked the original.

Where to buy:

Check your local game store or toy store -- it costs about US $45.

Uncle's Games link

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