Risk: The Clone Wars and NutriSystem Update

We recently had picked up another boardgame that we gave our first spin to this weekend. The game was Risk: The Clone Wars. Its another in the modification series of the long living, popular Risk boardgame.

I grew up as a kid many years ago playing Risk. I have very fond memories of many Summer days playing Risk with the neighborhood kids. We played for hours every man days of the week. We introduced Risk to our kids a few years back and they have taken to it too. Suzanne is not a big fan of the game, but she plays as part of a family gaming session.

As a kid, I only played and only remember the original Risk game. Today, they have introduced many variants of the Risk game based on current movies and/or themes. I believe we own the classic Risk game, a Lord of the Rings Risk variant and now the Star Wars: The Clone Wars variant.

I have not been a big fan of these variants. They have seemed to try too hard to improve an already excellent game system. We dont play the Lord of the Rings Risk game as much as the kids would like because it just didnt seem to mesh to well. However, after playing the Clone Wars Risk this weekend, they have finally created a variant that works quite well. We thoroughly enjoyed our session.

Like the original Risk, Clone Wars divides the galaxy (instead of World) into regions of planets. The game supports 2 – 4 players that are aligned into two teams/factions: The Separatists and The Republic. As the Separatists, your goal is to wipe out the Republic Armies and control the galaxy. As the Republic, your goal is to wipe out the Separatist Armies or capture the planet where Darth Siddious is hiding. The game adds in spaceships as well as Armies. The card system used in Risk is the method for amassing armies or space ships, as well as a few other surprises. It is an effective modification to the card system. In our one game experience, we tended to use the cards for building space ships instead of armies.

The space ships give you modifiers for battle as opposed to additional forces. Based on your cards, you can build either a Capital ship (lets you use an 8 sided die instead of 6 sided for battle), a Corvette class ship (adds 1 to each die roll in battle), or a figher ship (lets you re-roll any 1 you roll in battle). They can significantly alter a battle makeup.

The game is also designed to take less time than a traditional Risk game. I have played Risk games that take a very long time to complete with the various players sparring for position and waiting for someone to take a gamble. The board tends to fill with armies and players maneuvering looking for the right opening. Clone Wars adds an element to the game that makes players want to be more aggressive, in particular the Republic side.

This feature is called Order 66 and it mimics the event of a similar name in the movies. Once, any time during the game, the Separatists faction can call for Order 66. Basically, Order 66 makes a check on every Republican controlled planet to see if they switch sides to the Separatists. You roll an 8 sided die and based on how many turns into the game you are, there is a percentage chance that the planet will switch sides to the Separatists. In our game, close to 50% of the Republic planets and armies switched to our side. It dramatically changed the flow of the game. Now, we have only played once, but I suspect it gives impetus for the Republican side to be a bit more agressive in the beginning of the game.

To counter the obvious benefit the Order 66 feature gives the Separatist side, when the Order 66 is given, Darth Siddius reveals himself and becomes Emporer Palpatine. The Separatists must place him in one of their controlled planets. If the Republic faction can now capture the planet on which Palpatine is hiding, they win the game. In our game, Suzanne and Sean were never able to mount an effective challenge on the planet where Palpatine was hiding. This allowed Savannah and I to systematically eliminate the Republican armies due to our numerical superiority. Understanding the rules and subtleties a bit better now will problaby make the early strategic decisions a bit different next time.

The game was quite enjoyable and I think, the best Risk experience we have had as a family. I dont think the kids appreciate the simplistic (though strategically complex) nature of the original Risk. They want more in the game and these variants with cultural references that they are familiar with (ie Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, etc) give them that. I am still not sure Suzanne is a fan of Risk, but we will get her playing once in a while.

On the NutriSystem front, last week was another week with a 1 pound weight loss. That erases the previous week 1 pound gain and leaves me at a total loss of 18 pounds. I had a good week except for Saturday. Being as busy as we are with the kids dancing and football/cheerleading having us out and about Monday through Saturday, we are finding ourselves eating out more often. I have never been a fan of eating out and would rather cook at home. The activity level of the family, though, is making eating out more attractive these days.

The challenge of eating out is not going crazy and being anti-diet. Saturday, after the football game, we ate out at Johnny Carrinos, an Italian dining establishment in Sierra Vista. The food is quite good there. Even though I brought over half of my dinner home, I still felt like it wasnt quite in line. The NutriSystem diet has helped me to make healthier and smarter dining out choices. I have also reduced the quantity of food eaten, but I still feel its a negative on the weight loss side. Of course, still losing a pound last week is a good sign and it means once I get to the weight I want to be, smart choices will allow events like dining out to happen without big negative results. The key is getting to that goal weight.

I am going to be aggressive the next two weeks on the diet as well as force us to eat at home – at least myself. This is important for me, because in a couple of weeks, I head off to Germany on a business trip. Eating German food and drinking German beer is going to make the NutriSystem diet a challenge for that week. I want to get myself in a good position for that trip in case the results head South.