What if the Middle East invaded North America?

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No, the above picture is neither the deluded fantasy of a member of the al- Saud family, nor the paranoid hallucination of an AIPAC staffer. It’s a picture from a new ad campaign for the old strategy board game “Risk” devised by advertising giant Saatchi & Saatchi.

I played Risk regularly in Cairo during Ramadan, when some of my Egyptian friends (Muslims and Christians) used to spending their evenings in bars must loiter at home instead (only foreigners are accepted in bars during the holy month.) So they’d make sure to stock up on booze before Ramadan begins and spend several nights a week playing all-night Risk games. (Productivity isn’t very high during Ramadan anyway, so why bother getting up early?)

It’s clear from playing Risk that the Middle East is the least desirable territory to conquer. It’s right there in the Middle and anyone who wants to expand needs to go through it at some point. Australia and South America may not get you many points, but at least they’re secure. Africa is a bit better, but still tricky. North America is probably the best place, with five points and only three places to access it. Europe is more difficult to keep hold off, as is Asia and its seven points. But the Middle East doesn’t even count as a continent and is constantly being overrun by European, African and Asian hordes — as well as the odd American passing through Africa on his way to Asia. It’s a place for war and conquest.

Plus ça change…

[via Boing Boing]

0 thoughts on “What if the Middle East invaded North America?”

  1. i am a muslim living in south africa. please excuse me for digressing from the topic and my innocence and ignorance for asking this question; i haven’t been to egypt – just out of curiosity, i know that alcohol is completely forbidden to muslims, so does egypt have bars that cater for muslims and what kind of drinks are served there?

  2. Noodles,

    Egyptians have been drinking alcohol for a long time — they invented beer after all — and it’s always been more or less tolerated. There are many bars for all social classes in Cairo, and the state leaves it up to individuals whether they want to drink — except during Ramadan. The same is true of most Arab countries, and even in the ones where alcohol is completely banned like Saudi Arabia there is a brisk trade in contraband whisky.

    The bars don’t really “cater to Muslims”, they cater to everybody. And the drinks served are the same served anywhere else, for the most part. Unless you go to a really working class bar where you may try some more bizarre homebrewed beverages.

  3. “Productivity isn’t very high during Ramadan anyway, so why bother getting up early?”

    That’s a healthy attitude you have there.

  4. My impression is that I end up winnning more when I start in Europe than anywhere else.

    You cannot really set out to conquer the world from Europe or Africa without controlling the Middle East. Otherwise you will be too exposed. It also works the other way round: You will never keep Asia in your hand unless your defences start in Egypt, Ukraine and Southern Europe at minimum.

    My only problem with the Middle East is that it does not seem like a unit to me. I’d like a smaller Arab World better 🙂

  5. Amr – finally, a real Risk expert leaves a comment! Akhiran!

    I do agree with you that the crucial battles are fought in the Mediterranean. North Africa, Egypt, Southern Europe etc. are crucial territories.

    But I still find the game biased towards North America most of all. Once you control that, you get some many armies that it becomes easy to consolidate and expand across the rest, starting with Latin America, Africa and Europe.

  6. Issandr, I’m down for risk anytime, any place. As to America’s dominance, it depends on how many people are in the game. In a smaller game, it is possible to consolidate America fairly quickly, seal up your borders and build a massive invasion force with occasional forays into asia, s. america or europe to keep anyone from holding the continents. The problem is that with more people, the initial consolidation of America is highly problematic. I go for south america or africa myself. Even Australia isn’t too bad to go for in larger games if you can retain a few territories on other continents and expand out from them with a massive reinforcement push. Now diplomacy, there’s a board game.

  7. There is a point to counter the easy control of North America, though. It takes so many turns to move your five armies to anywhere else they are really needed. You can make-do with the Monroe Doctrine, but that does not conquer the world.

    There is an open-source, Risk-like network game called http://teg.sourceforge.net/“ rel=”nofollow”>Tenes Empanadas Graciela. It is pre-packaged for most Linux distros, but can run on any computer if you compile the source.

    The map is a bit different, and you can play in “for-of-war” mode, which allows you to see only countries neigboring the ones you control.

    Hossam Hamalawy told me about another strategy game, although the whole theme is about developing civil disobedience. Still waiting for the review, Hamalawi!

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