High stakes risk, or; how to get everyone drunk in half an hour

Released June 19, 2013

Risk is fun.

Risk is hard; it is an unforgiving mistress.

Risk should only be played with people you already hate, or with people whom you will learn to forgive, and they you. Risk is the destroyer of people, friendships, and nations alike. Risk sorts out the winners from the losers; the strong from the weak.

I love Risk, but there’s a problem: Risk takes a long time, and usually devolves into kamakazi moves and utter recklessness. As this is usually the end result, why not expedite the whole thing? And why not add alcohol into the mix?

I’ve come up with what I like to feel should be a 30ish minute variant of Risk that a group of friends (or foes) can use to get their evening started, and also by way of result get devastatingly drunk. Why did I create this? Because as much fun as normal Risk is, attention spans are finite, and who doesn’t like drinking with their friends? Well, except people who don’t like to drink… I guess they wouldn’t, but then why are you reading this if you’re one of those people?

Without further rambling, I present to you: High Stakes Risk.

High Stakes Risk

Still here eh? Good.

What you need

  • Classic Risk, though technically any variation would work.
  • Shot glasses.
  • Your choice of shooter. You can have everyone to drink the same, or have different alcohols for what I’ve dubbed “The Chalice of Failure,” which is used in Even Higher Stakes Risk which is detailed at the end of this post.
  • A timer.
  • Probably some bread or something because things are gonna get real bad real fast.
  • Some friends. The mechanics change slightly depending on the number of friends.
  • A liver.
  • Your wits.


To play High Stakes Risk, you are going to be playing the game in classic domination mode, no mission cards, no alternate success strategies; you are taking over the world, pure and simple. Dice rules are the same as Classic Risk, as well at the typical sections of the player’s round (playing armies, cards, attacking, moving).

To get started:

  • Deal out all of the countries to all the players, no neutral or free countries should be on the board. These should be dealt out through random lottery (such as the shuffling and dealing of country cards if your version has them).
  • Roll to see who starts.
  • Each player takes their turn laying out their armies.

Rules for standard play

Each round is comprised of the following:

  • Each player is given a finite amount of time to play their round. At 5 players, I recommend 1 minute per round. If you have less players, you can add 10 seconds for each person lacking, so a 2 player game allows for 1 minute 30 seconds per round. When a players time is up, they must stop what they’re doing, regardless of the action.
  • Each round the player adds their units wherever they see fit, there are no limitations on country-specific units and their placement.
  • Each round the player must attempt to take at least one country. No round is allowed to pass without attacking.
    If the player takes an enemy country: that countries owner will have to take a shot at the end of the round. If the player takes multiple countries from multiple opponents, they will all have to drink at the end of the round. Only one shot per player, regardless of the number of countries seized (unless you enjoy alcohol poisoning.)
    If the player fails to take a country or does not attack: That player must take a shot, while the other players openly mock them.
  • When the timer is up, the user must stop what they are doing, regardless of action. This means if they are placing armies, they will have to wait until their next round to finish; if they were in the middle of attacking, they must stop; If they were moving armies, they must stop.

Success and loss criteria

A player is considered defeated when: they have no more armies and no more countries. At that point, they must take 1 more shot, and then spend the rest of the game regretting their bad decisions.

A player is also considered defeated if they forfeit. If a player forfeits, the game is paused and the lands and armies are transferred to the remaining players by way of lottery. You can use: rock, paper, scissors; evens and odds; lucky dice; or whatever method of blind luck you agree upon. Once all of the countries and armies are distributed, the game instantly resumes on the next players round.

The game is over when: one player controls the entire board, or; all of the other players have forfeited, or; the time limit for the game is reached (if one was set at the start of the game).

If you are playing with a time-limit to the game, and it runs out: the winner of the game is the player who has the most countries. If one or more players have an equal number of countries and are both placed in first, then a count of armies determines the winner. If those players also have equal unit counts, than the number of completed zones will dictate the winner. If they have equal completed zones, then a blind luck method (such as those dictated in a player forfeit) may be used to determine the winner.

Alterations for Even Higher Stakes Risk

Even Higher Stakes Risk requires the addition of “The Chalice of Failure”: a large cup, jug, measuring cup, vase, etc. You may decorate it if you wish.

The Chalice of Failure contains the Losers Brew: a drink made from the shots of other’s winnings. Consult the rule alterations below for further explanation.

At the start of the game

After countries are divided up, but before the game commences, each player will pour on shot of their chosen drink into The Chalice of Failure, effectively creating the beginnings of the Loser’s Brew. Once this is done, the game begins.

Rules for play

The rules of play operate exactly like High stakes risk, except for the following changes:

  • If a player succeeds in taking a country, they add a shot to The Chalice of Failure. All affected opponents still take their shot for countries lost.
  • If a player tries to play past their allotted time, they may be punished, at the discretion of the group. This can be an additional drink, a lost of time next round, loss of additional armies next round, etc.

When the game is over

When the game is over, a single shot is drawn from The Chalice of Failure. This is given to the winner of the game. The rest of the contents from The Chalice of Failure is divided evenly amongst the players who have lost. They winner will cheers the losers with their shot, and drink it. This is to honour the other players valiant efforts. The losers must then drink their share of the Losers Brew.

Good luck.

Please feel free to leave comments in regards to questions, comments, or stories of your own! I’d love to see how others have played this out.

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