If your family really enjoys the Risk board game, you’re in good company. Risk is one of the most popular games of conquest on the planet. Designed by French film director Albert Lamorisse and released in 1959 it has grown in popularity and spawned dozens of variants covering some very popular themes, including Star Wars, Lord of The Rings and Transformers to name a few.
You might be looking for a little more out of your strategy games and looking to branch out a bit into new territory. If that sounds like you, we have you covered with some excellent war-based strategy games that will tick the right boxes but give you something new and fresh to experience. In our view these games are a lot better than Risk.
I can still remember my first game of Risk, we got a copy when I was around 8. It was the first time I had ever experienced anything at that scale. Global conflict, dozens of armies, world domination, almost endless dice chucking. I was immediately hooked and couldn’t wait to play again.
Over the years, however, I have started to want more from a game and discovered what modern strategy board games have to offer. Luckily there are some fantastic games out there that can give you a lot of the great things Risk has to offer but use some cool modern elements.
How we picked games for this list
Here are the considerations we applied when picking our list:
- games with area control, area movement and combat
- games with lots of strategy
- more gameplay depth compared to risk
- game length was not a barrier. We are assuming that if you enjoy Risk you don’t mind spending a few hours on a game
- we didn’t include other iterations of Risk, we thought you would be interested in something outside of the Risk family.
Games like Risk list
- Axis & Allies 1942 Second Edition: A good next step after Risk
- Small World: Empires aren’t forever!
- Kemet: An Egyptian themed strategy war game
- Blood Rage: Norse themed warfare with a twist
- Nexus Ops: Sci-fi themed conquest and strategy
- GKR Heavy Hitters: For those who like to get up close to the action
- Eclipse New Dawn for the Galaxy: Empire building and strategy on a galactic scale!
Axis & Allies 1942 Second Edition: A good next step after Risk
Play Time: 3-4 hours+ / Players: 2-5 / Complexity: Medium / Age: 12+ / Publisher: Wizards of the Coast / Designer: Larry Harris
- Great step up in depth compared to Risk
- Easy to learn
- Adds some great unit variety
- Components are a step up from Risk and add to the theme
- Some good learning opportunities in relation to history.
- Games can take upwards of 3-4 hours to play
- Down time can be high at 4-5 players.
Our first Risk-like game is a classic strategy war game. Axis & Allies has been around since the 1980’s and since that time its various reimplementation’s have sold well over a million copies. That makes it one of the most popular war games on the planet. In Axis & Allies players will control one or more of the great powers of World War 2 to gain victory as the Axis or Allies.
Axis & Allies is a great next step after Risk. It has strategy at a global scale just like Risk, but it also adds more depth and options. Instead of generic armies, players can recruit and control naval, air and ground units each with their own attributes.
I can still remember playing my first game of Axis & Allies when I was in university. A friend of mine got a copy and three of us ended up playing until the next morning. It was a blast, and I was hooked.
Many years later I got a copy of Axis and Allies 1942 second edition and it was the start of rekindling my interest in board gaming. My son and I played this repeatedly and it started his interest in board gaming as well.
There are many versions of this game but if you’re looking at an entry point there are a couple that are good options:
- Axis & Allies 1941 is the leanest version of the game and really caters to beginners or those that want a simpler experience. You can read our full Axis & Allies 1941 review to find out more
- Axis & Allies 1942 Second Edition is a step up from the 1941 edition. We think it’s better suited as a next step after Risk provided you are ok with the time commitment.
Small World: Empires aren’t forever!
Play Time: 40-80 Min / Players: 2-5 / Complexity: Medium / Age: 8+ / Publisher: Days of Wonder / Designer: Philippe Keyaerts
- 14 races and 20 special abilities provide a unique experience with each different combination
- There are different maps for each player count which improves scalability
- Being able to play multiple races each game due to the decline mechanism is fun and adds to replay value
- The combat in Small World is very streamlined and fast moving, this keeps the game going at a good pace compared to Risk.
- The basic rule set is simple, but each race and special ability adds some complexity for new players to get their head around.
Our next game like risk is Small World. It has combat and area control just like Risk but with some nice extras. In Small World there are 14 different races and 20 different unique special powers to spice things up and keep things interesting.
In Small World players win by conquering territories and gaining the most victory coins by the end of the game. Another game with constant combat and players waging war to successfully expand their empire.
It’s a nice step after risk as the game is simple to pick up but offers a little more depth. The catch is that your races deplete themselves over time as they battle opponents and so players can choose to place races into decline. This means you’re likely to control multiple races each game.
The variety of races and abilities to choose from adds some nice replay value and makes each game feel a little different each play. The board is also very constrained (the hint is in the game’s title) meaning conflict is frequent and immediate.
We think anyone trying Small World as a next step after Risk will find this a nice next step.
Kemet: An Egyptian themed strategy war game
Play Time: 90 -120 Min / Players: 2-5 / Complexity: Medium / Age: 13+ / Publisher: Matagot / Designer: Jacques Bariot, Guillaume Montiage
- Scales well at different player counts due to the board space adjusting to the player count
- Looks amazing on the table
- Very cool creatures
- Encourages conflict and interaction
- Easy to learn the basics and get started.
- Can be hard to keep track of all the effects on the power tiles.
Kemet Blood & Sand
Kemet is our next strategy board game similar to Risk. It is one of my favourite games and a worthy entry to our list. It has plenty of conflict, a great theme, and very cool upgrades you can gain throughout the course of the game.
In Kemet you take on the role of an Egyptian God using all the powers, armies, and creatures at your disposal to wage war over your fellow Gods. Victory requires you to earn 8 points which can be gained in several ways throughout the game.
One of the best things about Kemet is how well it scales at different player counts. The board has two sides and for each player count you will use a predetermined section of the board. This means for a low player count the play area will be smaller and ensure there is a good amount of action.
One of the reasons this is a great next step after risk is that it gives you more strategic depth but isn’t hard to teach to new players. My son and I got a handle on it in our first game. The only thing that gets a little fiddly is keeping track of all the bonuses you get through power tiles. As you start to accumulate these, it can be easy to forget to apply one of the bonuses if you’re not careful!
Did I mention the beautifully sculpted creatures? There are 7 Egyptian themed creatures that can be gained to terrorise your opponents with. They look so good on the board too! It’s so satisfying when you gain a giant scorpion, desert snake or a phoenix.
If you prefer an Ancient Greek theme, you could try Cyclades which is similar, but we think Kemet is the better game.
Update 2022: There is an updated version of Kemet called Kemet Blood & Sand which has the same core gameplay but has updated components and slight refinements to the rules.
Blood Rage: Norse themed warfare with a twist
Play Time: 60-90 Min / Players: 2-4 / Complexity: Medium / Age: 14+ we think 12+ / Publisher: CMON / Designer: Eric Lang
- Very high player interaction
- Card drafting element adds a nice strategic twist
- It just looks gorgeous
- Great theme weaved into the game.
- Not as good at 2 players really shines at 4.
Our next Risk-type war game is Blood Rage. This fantastic game has got a heap of player conflict and a high degree of player interaction. The strategic element here has a nice twist, it’s not just about overwhelming your opponent with a larger army in battle, battle cards need to be very carefully played to secure victory.
In Blood Rage you take control of a Viking clan and aim to gain as much glory as possible before Ragnarök (the end of the world) happens. The game is played over three ages (rounds). The player with the most glory points gathered over the course of the three rounds wins. There is no room for caution here, this is all out, nonstop warfare.
Aside from the addition of battle cards in combat, the other difference here compared to risk is that the winner isn’t necessarily the one who conquers the most territory. Blood Rage is about gaining glory for your clan and there are many ways to do that. For example, there are some cards that give you points for losing units in battle.
Blood Rage just oozes Norse mythology theme! The miniatures, gameplay and back story all come together nicely to make the theme shine. This is another great game to try if you like Risk and want something with a twist.
Read our full Blood Rage review.
Nexus Ops: Sci-fi themed conquest and strategy
Play Time: 90 Min / Players: 2-4 / Complexity: Medium / Age: 12+ / Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games / Designer: Charlie Catino, Steven Kimball
- Easy to learn
- Streamlined combat
- Creature abilities are interesting and fun
- Central monolith encourages expansion and combat.
- The small number of unit types may get repetitive after a while for some players.
Another great Risk like board game is Nexus Ops. Nexus Ops has expansion, dice combat, cool alien creatures and a great theme wrapped up in a simple and streamlined rule set. It’s a great next step after Risk, especially if you like a sci-fi theme. Nexus Ops packs a lot of fun into a 90-minute time frame, much less than a game of Risk could end up being.
Nexus Ops is a battle for dominance on a strange alien moon. You will recruit fearsome alien creatures into your army and defeat other enemy factions by reaching 12 victory points or eliminating the other players. You can gain victory points by winning battles, conquering territories, and completing missions.
The board is made up of different terrain tiles which are randomised each game. Certain creatures get benefits related to certain terrain types which keeps things interesting. The great thing about this is that in some situations cheaper units can be more useful due to the terrain suiting their special ability. It makes you think more carefully about where you decide to do battle.
One thing you are likely to notice about this game when you open the box is that the rule book is very thin. They have done a great job of keeping the rules simple but the fun factor high. That is quite an achievement.
This game is a great option for sci-fi fans who would rather strategize and wage war on an alien landscape.
GKR Heavy Hitters: For those who like to get up close to the action
Play Time: 60-120 Min / Players: 1-4 / Complexity: Medium / Age: 12+ / Publisher: Weta Workshops & Cryptozoic Entertainment / Designer: Matt Hyra
- Exceptional Weta Workshop miniatures
- Great variety on offer with each of the different heavy hitters and pilots
- Lots of action and combat
- Interesting decisions to make when equipping your heavy hitter deck.
- Can take a while to set up.
At first glance this may seem like an odd pick for our games like Risk list. GKR (Giant Killer Robots) Heavy Hitters operates at a very different scale to the other games on our list. While Risk and the other games have players controlling armies of some description, GKR asks players to control giant robots with a city sized arena as their battleground.
The back story is quite interesting and involves large corporations fighting for lucrative salvage rights on Earth’s abandoned cities. Players sign on with one of these corporations to pilot Heavy Hitters to win fans and loyal customers.
Each game takes place in an abandoned city that you can build based on one of the pre-defined set ups or create yourself. Throughout the game, sponsors will send you rewards in the form of sponsor cards for tagging buildings. Once you have tagged a building four times you can demolish it and claim the rubble! Demolishing four buildings in this way will win you the game. You can also win by destroying all the other Heavy Hitters.
We think GKR Heavy Hitters has a lot to offer fans of Risk. There is some great combat on offer, some challenging strategic decisions, and the added twist of a heavy hitter deck you can customise before the game starts. Did we mention that the robots are designed by Weta Workshop? I challenge anyone to walk past a game of GKR Heavy Hitters without stopping to admire the Heavy Hitters, they are just striking.
Read our full GKR Heavy Hitters review.
Eclipse New Dawn for the Galaxy: Empire building and strategy on a galactic scale!
Play Time: 60-200 Min / Players: 2-6 / Complexity: High / Age: 14+ / Publisher: Lautapelit.fi / Designer: Touko Tahkokallio
- Very high replay value
- 7 unique and interesting species to choose from
- Very deep strategy
- Streamlined turns
- Research and upgrade elements are interesting and well implemented
- Really feels like an epic experience.
- Quite complex so not well suited to new or younger gamers
- While enjoyable at 2-3 players, Eclipse really shines at 4+ players.
See the new edition of Eclipse Second Dawn for the Galaxy
This is the most epic game on our games like Risk list. If you have tried a few of the others and want something on a truly galactic scale, this is a game you should try. Eclipse has conflict and strategy just like the other games on our list, but it has a whole lot more.
In Eclipse you will take control of a unique species and seek to expand your influence across the galaxy. To win you must end the game with the most points. There are many different strategies to gaining points and getting ahead in Eclipse. Each race has its own strengths that will influence your strategy.
Eclipse is a 4X style game which has so much to offer in the box, including:
- 7 different species to choose from each with unique abilities and traits
- A variable galaxy which will be different every time you play and requires exploration
- A wide array of technologies to research with interesting benefits
- Diplomacy and alliances that can be negotiated with other players
- The ability to upgrade and customise your ships with a wide array of ship parts
- A nicely balanced economic system that requires you to manage money, minerals, and science effectively.
All of this comes together to give you a truly exceptional game that takes place at a galactic scale. This game is a lot more complex than the others on our list but in my view, it is also far deeper and more rewarding of repeated play throughs.
We hope you have enjoyed our Games Like Risk article. If you have any more questions or just want to share your thoughts, please leave a comment below, or get in touch through our contact page.
About the Authors
We are parents who love board gaming. We have three children and have been enjoying board games as a family ever since we had our first child. We share our real unbiased experiences and opinions on board games so you can decide if they are right for your family. We also write guides and articles to help you get the most out of your family game time. If you enjoy our content and want to support us you can do that through our Ko-fi page by clicking on the button below.