Risk 2210 A.D. is a new variation on the classic board game Risk, originally published by Parker Brothers. Parker Brothers is now owned by Hasbro, which also now owns Avalon Hill, who put their logo on this new edition.

It's perfectly possible to play classic Risk on this new set, and is in fact recommended, given the niceness of the new plastic pieces and the correction of factual errors like the hugeness of Greenland on the classic board. However, the uncredited designers of Risk 2210 have added a number of features designed to make Risk less of a trivial kids' game and add more interest for adult players. (Of course, a lot of these features are childish in their own way.)

There's a moon board. Yes, you can build space stations on the ground and use them to send armies to the moon. The dotted-line connections across oceans are now also dotted with underwater cities. Those are the most clear superficial differences. Also evident to a casual observer are the little round tokens with numbers on them, which turn out to be energy points, the slightly silvered mean-looking dudes that are much taller than the armies, and the many, many types of cards. These latter three are somewhat related.

In addition to your allotment of new armies each turn, you get an allotment of energy points. This adds an element of resource management to the game, as you can spend these points on Commanders (the interesting silvery figures) and Command cards (the multiplicitous little card decks). Commanders and Command cards come in five flavors: Diplomat, Land, Naval, Space, and Nuclear.

You may buy Command cards any time (one point, one card), but you may only actually play them if you have the matching Commander on the board. Commanders stand on the board the same way armies do, and can be used as armies with special bonuses. Also, you may only enter underwater cities if you have a Naval Commander on the board, and my only take off for the moon if you have a Space Commander.

I have a feeling that the game is really in the Command cards, but I've only played once, and even that had to be called on time. (Mercifully, the designers have realized how bloody long Risk takes to play, and have formally added a game duration of five turns.) Invest in lots of cards early, and you might be able to find a way around the game's Achilles heel, but I'm not optimistic.

What's the Achilles heel, you ask? Same as it is in classic Risk: you can build up your armies as much as you want, and plan as carefully, and scheme as brilliantly, but the fact is, sooner or later you have to make an attack, and when you do, the six-sided die still owns your pathetic soul. One army can fend off six armies, if they're lucky. And they don't even have to be very lucky. The combat mechanic is what made Risk a trivial game to begin with, and since they haven't fixed that, the designers of 2210 A.D. have built some very interesting new features on a foundation of sand.

Hasbro: sullying the good name of Avalon Hill since 1999.