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In most RTS games, from Dune 2 on, the single player component consists of a number of stand-alone scenarios linked together in a campaign. In recent years some games have eschewed this, using a world map much like the board game Risk either to allow a measure of choice in what scenario the player wants to play or as "eye candy" for the in-story movements of their army. The map divides a countryside, country, world, or galaxy, into distinct political and/or cultural component groups, sometimes uniting small countries into a larger one, or dividing a large one into its components. It's often color coded to help denote larger groupings of states/countries or allies and enemies, and conquering all of one is often a game objective.

This is classically called an "area-based map". Contrast this with a grid-type map (e.g. chess) or a hex-map.

The player's armies are often represented on the map itself, and can be moved only to a contiguous country (unless the game allows for special "air" units or the like). If the game allows strategic combat as well, a scenario where the individual units can be controlled starts, the nature of which usually is determined by the territory in question. In most cases only a few of the scenarios are pre-scripted, with the majority being skirmishes played against the computer.

Examples of Risk Style Map include:

Board Games

  • Risk, obviously, as the Trope Namer. In addition, quite probably the majority of strategy games, as well as a goodly number of non-strategy ones. The examples are too numerous to list fully: Diplomacy (possibly the Ur Example), Axis and Allies, Civilization...
    • Hexmaps are probably more common, since nearly all board game wargames use them. Point-to-point is also fairly common. Table top war games often avert this, and use measuring tape for unit movement, as in "this unit can move four inches a turn."
    • At the same time, though hexmaps dominate wargames, RISK-style maps are more common in more abstract strategy games.

Tabletop Games

  • Every once and a while, Games Workshop, creator of Warhammer and the Lord of the Rings strategy game (and Warhammer 40000, but that is less relevant here) will release a new idea on how to do map-based campaigns. These systems never agree with one another, which just goes to show how volatile these "meta-games" can be.
    • The latest ones (hex-based) just gives you a 3D map, some basic rules, and tells you that the rules are just an example and you can do it however you feel like.

Video Games

  • Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds executed this quite well, using a slider to control the passage of time while things moved, were built, or researched. This lead to Oh Crap moments when the area you just emptied of your army in order to invade a Martian territory is the victim of a strike just before/after your own occurs. No building occurred on the tactical map. If your shiny new battleship, or artillery cannon wasn't finished before the battle began- Tough. In the latter case of buildings, they appeared as half-built structures which could be targetted for destruction by the invading force.
  • Dune II itself had a map of this kind, but it was almost purely cosmetic; the same scenarios occurred in the same order regardless of which territories the player chose. Only the layout of buildable rock changed depending on the player's choice.
    • It does make a difference which territory you pick in the penultimate mission. You get to choose between two, each controlled by one of the other Houses. The major enemy base you fight depends on which House controls the territory (though the other House will also have a base, it will be much smaller).
    • One of the game's sequels, Emperor Battle for Dune, did this more conventionally.
  • Rise of Nations is an early example of a game that uses this trope, though it does not really feature any scripted missions.
    • Rise of Legends, steampunk-fantasy themed sequel to the above, features both scripted and unscripted missions.
    • Rise of Nations: Thrones and Patriots, the expansion to Nations, also featured scripted and unscripted missions.
  • The second Expansion Pack for Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War, Dark Crusade, featured this kind of campaign mode instead of the traditional linear campaigns in Dawn Of War and Winter Assault . The third and fourth expansions, Dark Crusade and Soul Storm, also have a campaigns structured like this.
    • The turn-based predecessor to Dawn of War - Final Liberation - also possessed a Risk-style map for the Imperium to reclaim from the Orks.
  • The Total War games feature a variation of this: the campaign map served only to generate troops and battles to use them in. Actual battle occur when two opposing forces meet on the map, and there is no base-building involved.
    • The first two games had Risk style maps where units move from province to province and initiate attacks, or reinforce pre-existing troops. Every game from Rome and upwards gave all units a certain number of movement points so they could wander across the map freely rather than hop between adjoining territories. Provinces still exist however in terms of how the economy mechanics work as every large city draws its resources from the surrounding land essentially being the capital of a province.
      • As of Empire: Total War, regional capitals (i.e. provincial/state capitals, such as Albany for New York or Boston for the "Confederation of New England" in the Road to Independence campaign) are the "control point," so holding it grants you control of the region (in terms of boundaries) but also every building and 'town' (home to a single building) in it at its existing level of development.
  • The original Command and Conquer (and the C&C: RedAlert) used a Risk map of two separate continents depending on your alliance. The map was simply an artificial facade of a tree campaign, but you could see other areas on the map being contested or conquered by other good and bad guys while you went.
    • Tiberian Sun and Tiberian Wars used it in an interesting way, because there are a number of optional missions you have access to, which usually make the "main" missions much easier if you complete them all.
    • Kane's Wrath, the expansion to Tiberium Wars, made efforts to avert this by having a global map where every army could be moved freely around the map with no defined territories. Each base the players found develops its own (circular) zone; the borders of which prevented allied units from founding another base close to it and instantly caused a battle to occur is an enemy entered it. Further, the amount of open, uncontested area covered by the base determined how much money its owner gets every turn.
  • The Weapon Master mode in SoulCalibur 2. Yes, in a Fighting Game. Any battles generated on the map were played out as a match or series of matches. Advantages and disadvantages were granted by equipment and leveling up. Similar modes appear in later games of the series. The arcade version of SCII even had a stripped-down version called Conquest, in which the saved characters of other players of the same arcade machine would be encountered as NPCs.
    • This mode was inspired by the excellent Edge Master mode in Soul Edge/Blade for the PS 1, which also has a Risk-like map.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic III featured a campaign map, which didn't even start to correspond with the actual scenarios played. In fact, it was merely a decoration, usable even in custom campaigns.
  • Sengoku Basara (a.k.a. Devil Kings) features a Risk style map, where you can only attack neighboring countries. This is somewhat subverted in that, no matter which territory you chose, you take the fight to their capital. Victory means you take their entire land.
  • Quite possibly one of the first examples of this were the Romance of the Three Kingdoms games, in which you can capture enemy territory in several ways, although the most common one is the simplest: March your army in.
    • The Empires expansion packs in the Dynasty Warriors games played out like this, and a conflict between two occupied territories led to traditional DW gameplay where you hacked and slashed your way through everything that didn't look like you.
    • Nobunaga's Ambition is another Koei game that uses this.
  • Some ladder ranking systems for online games function sort of like this, with players signed up for different sides, and battles occurring wherever they overlapped. Total Annihilation used a system called “Boneyard”, and World War II Online even has the entire European theatre being contested in months long recreations of the entire war!
  • Some Team Fortress 2 maps are like this.
  • End War uses this, as well, for both its World War III single-player game and the Theatre of War online version - all of the points on the map represent different maps and scenarios for play, with some territories being Capitals (controlling all three grants immediate victory, and each requires 3 victories, first in Assault, then in Conquest, then in Siege, to take), some territories being Bases (that grant Air Support and Force Recon to engagements within range, and can be Raided to remove these benefits for two turns), and the rest being standard Conquest maps.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Falsebound Kingdom showed a Risk-style map in which an area flashed before each scenario to show where it was taking place. You didn't have a choice in where to go, but each area of the map did indeed have its own stage layout, which stayed the same whenever you returned to that area.
  • Star Wars: Empire At War uses the core concept of a Risk Style Map, but the visual is a set of planets, rather than an actual Risk Style Map. One of the single-player modes for Star Wars Battlefront 2 works similarly.
  • Castles II: Siege and Conquest, a kingdom-building strategy strategy game, with an RTS-like combat mode, employed a Risk-style map of "Bretagne". It is a rough contemporary of Dune 2.
  • Lord of the Rings - The Battle for Middle Earth has this in the first game's single-player campaign, and something even more Risk-like in the sequels "War of the Ring" mode.
  • Elfmania, a 1994 beat-em-up, has an (incredibly tenuously related) example: the two-player map is divided into squares. The players choose where they fight, and the square is marked with the winner's symbol. The first one to get six in a row wins the game.
  • Universe At War: Earth Assault features both kinds of campaigns. In the linear story mode, the risk-style world map only fills the role of a briefing room until the last leg, but there is an option to play this kind of free-form game on it.
  • Myth: The Fallen Lords and its sequel both had a map showing the movement of both your forces and the forces of the undead, which was the background of every mission's briefing.
  • Seven Kingdoms has a randomly generated variant. The missions are also randomly generated, but oddly redone every time you restart a mission, so the map only represents general progress (and some events are simply beyond your control). Especially as you can't fail in the sense of losing territory, you'll just restart the mission.
  • Stronghold features a map identical to that of England and Wales (or Germany in its current borders) though the name of the country is never stated. The map is divided into counties, each a different color depending on who controls it. The player cannot choose where to go next however, it is only used to show the player's progress.
  • Syndicate goes big time with this. Each and every region on Earth is shown with the colour of the company controlling it.
  • The Battle For Middle Earth II had a conquest mode that also made use of a Risk-style map (of Middle Earth).
  • Strategy games by Paradox Interactive are this trope - most notably Europa Universalis, Hearts of Iron, and Victoria.
  • Dungeon Keeper 2 uses a 3d Risk-style map for its campaign mode, and some maps can be entered at different points on the overworld map.
  • Pandemic has a map of world countries with Risk-style geographical simplifications (e.g. Peru, Brazil and Argentina are the only countries in South America).
  • Grand Theft Auto San Andreas has a color-coded overlay for the turf wars in Los Santos, denoting blocks and sometimes even streets as belonging to a certain gang.
  • Caesar II featured a map of territories you could choose to rule. Generally, only territories adjacent to one you already conquered are available. There are major differences such as the resources available and the friendliness or otherwise of local population.
  • Empire Earth III has this as well on its Campaign mode.
  • Imperialism, where the world (or at least Europe and North Africa) is divided into provinces, similar to Diplomacy.
  • Sins of a Solar Empire has this, as multiple battles can take place at once.
  • Warlords Battlecry 2 did away with a story but allowed the player through this trope to choose which region to attack.
  • Shattered Union does this to the US.
  • In Episode 2 of Strong Bads Cool Game for Attractive People, Strong Bad's overworld map from the previous installment is eaten by The King of Town, so he uses the game board of a Risk-like game as a substitute. Appropriately, the episode centers around federating the breakaway "countries" of the other characters to Strong Badia.
  • Atom Zombie Smasher has a randomly generated version of this kind of map which is used to calculate how close you are to winning (or losing) each turn and to simulate a zombie outbreak

Web Original

  • Linkara actually uses a Risk board to outline his takeover plan of Kickassia (after a quick tutorial by Board James) The actual plan is a Zerg Rush, so he apparently took the tactical depth from invasions in that game too.
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