Is a phrase coined by General Douglas MacArthur that refers to the Vietnam war and the horrible time that the Americans had trying to wage a land war there. The movie the Princess Bride quoted this line most famously:

"YOU FOOL! You've fallen victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous of which is 'never get involved in a land war in Asia', but only slightly less well-known is this: 'Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!'"
-Vizzini to Wesley a moment before he dies of iocane powder poisoning

Never get involved in a land war in Asia, has become a way to warn someone not to do anything foolish or difficult. Like this:

Jack: I'm gonna steal the Royal Family's Jewels.
Tod: Well don't get yourself into a land war in Asia!

When beginners start playing RISK, they are almost always given two pieces of advice: take Australia and never become involved in a land war in Asia. The first piece of advice is somewhat obvious since Australia is the single most defensible continent in the game with only one entrance. However, the second piece of advice can be counter-intuitive because holding Asia grants a player a 7 army bonus per turn, making Asia a tempting prize for those with power in mind.

Unfortunately, a player who tries to follow this advice will find themself put in a very difficult position. If they successfully conquer Australia, they must invade at least some parts of Asia to avoid being trapped. The usual strategy is to build up a large army in Siam and then march it across Asia to another continent (often Africa but less frequently Europe or North America). The problem with this strategy is that it leaves your forces divided between two continents and greatly increases the number of fronts you must fight on from one to at least two (and often three or four). Unless you have an overwhelming force and are able to take and consolidate the continent quickly, your attack force will eventually dwindle through attrition on these multiple fronts and your invasion will fail. Not only that but your invasion force had to have come from the army defending Australia and as you campaigned you most likely diverted some of your reinforcements every turn to your attack force. This means that your defense is significantly weakened and an astute player may be able to take advantage of the situation and push you out of your only continent.

Fortunately the second piece of advice is often wrong or at least comes with a caveat—not only is it possible to conquer Asia but once held it is one of the most strategic positions on the board, potentially threatening four continents and providing a significant 11 armies per turn (4 armies for the territories held plus a bonus 7 for the continent).

Know Your Strongholds

To take and hold Asia you need to identify and occupy a few key stronghold territories. Though common sense says the opposite, when consolidating a position you generally want a country to have more borders, not less. This allows you to threaten multiple territories with a single large army and forces your opponents to divide their armies between multiple territories for protection. A few examples of these kinds of territories are Ukraine (1), North Africa (2), Middle East (3), China (4), and to a lesser degree Kamchatka (5), Greenland (6), and Southern Europe (7). Notice how five of these territories are either within or directly adjacent to Asia.

*-------------------------------------------------------------------------------*
|                      ____                             __________________      |
|                    .'    \                          .'.     '.    ;  5  \     |
|......''._____,..   '.  6  |               __    __.'  :      |   ;  __  /.....|
|    /  :        /.....|    |     __      .'  ;_.'  :    :     |__;  /  {;      |
|   |   :       /  ;__  \  /.....:__:..../ .  :      :    :    ;   \ \  :       |
|    \__:.......\ ;/: \.'|/      _:    .: ; '.:      :    :   ;     ||  :       |
|       \     :  \/ :  \         \;  .' :'__;        :     . |____/\|| ||       |
|        \............./      :: ;\.:.../    :  1   .'.    ;_|      |/ ||       |
|        |     :      /          :  ___/.....'     :   '. ;  '.    /   ;;       |
|        |     ;     /           : {   :  7  '.    :     :    '.___|..//        |
|        |....:____ /            :_{  _:_ __   : _ :    :          \            |
|         \   /    \\           {   .'   \\ \  :' ':___; '.   4    |            |
|          \ {                  {___}     \\ |/      :     '. ____/             |
|           \_\___                ___..--'-.___| 3 __:_      |   '.             |
|            :   _'._            /     :      \\   \_  \    / :   :             |
|           ;__.'    '.         /       '------\\___/   |  |   '._;             |
|           \  '.      |.......|    2      :    \_       \/      : _     __     |
|            '. '.     |        \        ..:     /               :/ |....\ '.   |
|              |__:   /          \____ .'   '   /:            \\ /__/  .' \__'. |
|              |  : .'                \     :  / :             \\ -- .'   :     |
|              |   ;                   }.  .: |  :                :.'_.--'|     |
|              |  |                    | ''  '{  :_               :-':__   \    |
|              |  |                    |      ;  / /             |      :   :   |
|               \_'.                    \    ;../_/              |   ___:   ;   |
|                                        \__;                    |.-'   \__/    |
*-------------------------------------------------------------------------------*

Arguably the easiest continent to launch an Asian strategy from is Australia (it is possible to conquer Asia from other continents but there are often more logical directions for armies to go from these places). Australia's two bonus armies and single entrance make it a good base of power early game that you can build off of as you conquer Asia. Additionally, its only border is with Asia so you can conquer the continent merely by expanding your defensive line allowing you to committ your entire force. Your first step should be to take Siam, then move to China and India and put a large force on both of them. Most players use Asia simply as a means to march their armies to other continents so they're unlikely to leave strong garrisons in their territories there. By establishing a strong front, you either force them to divert their reinforcements to Asia (weakening them on other fronts) or intimidate them into abandoning their Asian territories, making it easy for you to conquer them.

After taking India and China (and replacing any losses those armies might have taken in the process) expand northwards to Kamchatka. You should leave a large number of forces there to deter the North American player from invading the rear of your line. Slowly work your way west while being careful not to lose too many troops at once— don't expect to conquer Asia on one or two turns. If your line breaks, an opponent will run through the gap and could easily march straight into Australia, breaking your only continent.

And Then We'll Invade Russia...

The western border of Asia is the most important and difficult to establish but easy to hold. Middle East is extremely important and you will most likely find yourself putting the majority of your defensive force there. Not only is it part of Asia but it also borders two territories in Africa as well as Southern Europe, all of which are usually heavily fortified.

It may be tempting to draw the northern border of your empire at the continent line between Asia and Europe but Ukraine is key to defending Asia. This is because of the ratio of borders which determines how much you need to spread out your forces to defend an area. If you only take the countries that are a part of the western border of Asia (Middle East, Ural, and Afghanistan) you hold three territories which border four. Even worse, both Afghanistan and Ural only border Ukraine meaning that, all other things being equal, you would need to have as many troops in Afghanistan and Ural each as your opponent had in Ukraine simply to defend that front. The map below is an example of this with 40 armies on each side (opposing armies have a # in front of them).

*-------------------------------------------------------------------------------*
|                      ____                             __________________      |
|                    .'    \                          .'.     '.    ;     \     |
|......''._____,..   '.     |               __    __.'  :      |   ;  __  /.....|
|    /  :        /.....|    |     __      .'  ;_.'  :    :     |__;  /  {;      |
|   |   :       /  ;__  \  /.....:__:..../ .  :      :    :    ;   \ \  :       |
|    \__:.......\ ;/: \.'|/      _:    .: ; '.:      : 10 :   ;     ||  :       |
|       \     :  \/ :  \         \;  .' :'__;        :     . |____/\|| ||       |
|        \............./      :: ;\.:.../    : #10  .'.    ;_|      |/ ||       |
|        |     :      /          :  ___/.....'     :   '. ;  '.    /   ;;       |
|        |     ;     /           : {   : #10 '.    : 10  :    '.___|..//        |
|        |....:____ /            :_{  _:_ __   : _ :    :          \            |
|         \   /    \\           {   .'   \\ \  :' ':___; '.        |            |
|          \ {                  {___}     \\ |/      :     '. ____/             |
|           \_\___                ___..--'-.___| 20__:_      |   '.             |
|            :   _'._            /     :  #10 \\   \_  \    / :   :             |
|           ;__.'    '.         /       '------\\___/   |  |   '._;             |
|           \  '.      |.......|           :    \_       \/      : _     __     |
|            '. '.     |        \        ..: #10 /               :/ |....\ '.   |
|              |__:   /          \____ .'   '   /:            \\ /__/  .' \__'. |
|              |  : .'                \     :  / :             \\ -- .'   :     |
|              |   ;                   }.  .: |  :                :.'_.--'|     |
|              |  |                    } ''  '|  :_               :-':__   \    |
|              |  |                    |      ;  / /             |      :   :   |
|               \_'.                    \    ;../_/              |   ___:   ;   |
|                                        \__;                    |.-'   \__/    |
*-------------------------------------------------------------------------------*

By taking Ukraine, you can combine the forces defending Afghanistan and Ural into a single army, tipping the border ratio solidly in your favor by threatening five territories while only needing to hold two of your own. To defend their territories, your opponents must split their forces and reinforcements every turn while you are able to drop your reinforcements onto half as many territories (thus, double the reinforcements per territory). After a few turns your ability to concentrate your forces (as well as the massive number of reinforcements you are getting each turn from both Asia and Australia) will outpace your opponents', giving your defensive line a troop advantage in nearly any engagement. As a final bonus, holding Ukraine is an effective block to any player trying to conquer Europe and its five bonus armies, again preventing a challenge from arising.

*-------------------------------------------------------------------------------*
|                      ____                             __________________      |
|                    .'    \                          .'.     '.    ;     \     |
|......''._____,..   '.     |               __    __.'  :      |   ;  __  /.....|
|    /  :        /.....|    |     __      .'  ;_.'  :    :     |__;  /  {;      |
|   |   :       /  ;__  \  /.....:__:..../ .#6:      :    :    ;   \ \  :       |
|    \__:.......\ ;/: \.'|/      _:    .: ; '.:      :    :   ;     ||  :       |
|       \     :  \/ :  \         \;  .' :'__;    20  :     . |____/\|| ||       |
|        \............./      :: ;\.:.../ #7 :      .'.    ;_|      |/ ||       |
|        |     :      /          :  ___/.....'     :   '. ;  '.    /   ;;       |
|        |     ;     /           : {   :  #7 '.    :     :    '.___|..//        |
|        |....:____ /            :_{  _:_ __   : _ :    :          \            |
|         \   /    \\           {   .'   \\ \  :' ':___; '.        |            |
|          \ {                  {___}     \\ |/      :     '. ____/             |
|           \_\___                ___..--'-.___| 20__:_      |   '.             |
|            :   _'._            /     :  #10 \\   \_  \    / :   :             |
|           ;__.'    '.         /       '------\\___/   |  |   '._;             |
|           \  '.      |.......|           :    \_       \/      : _     __     |
|            '. '.     |        \        ..: #10 /               :/ |....\ '.   |
|              |__:   /          \____ .'   '   /:            \\ /__/  .' \__'. |
|              |  : .'                \     :  / :             \\ -- .'   :     |
|              |   ;                   }.  .: |  :                :.'_.--'|     |
|              |  |                    } ''  '|  :_               :-':__   \    |
|              |  |                    |      ;  / /             |      :   :   |
|               \_'.                    \    ;../_/              |   ___:   ;   |
|                                        \__;                    |.-'   \__/    |
*-------------------------------------------------------------------------------*

Alternative Strategies

It is possible to conquer Asia from continents other than Australia but those methods are usually only variations on the Australian strategy: simply expand your empire from one stronghold territory to the next while maintaining a significant force to deter counter attacks. There is one truly alternative strategy to Asia which entirely ignores conquering the continent. Instead the idea is to take as much territory as possible each turn, gaining extra reinforcements simply for holding more territories than anyone else. Having a large force in China is important for this as its six borders make it nearly impossible to surround you and allows a single large army to maintain a significant number of territories. Rather than focussing on holding territories, try to remain mobile and gain back as many territories (though not necessarily the same territories) in your turn as you lose during other player's turns. This strategy is much more difficult to pull off successfully and a single battle going against you can weaken your army beyond the point of recovery. I personally don't recommend this strategy, especially if you do not control a continent to give you extra reinforcements. However, if you're in a large game with many players and gaining a continent is impossible or too costly, it may be an acceptable option.

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