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Leading the Charge on RISK: Warhammer 40,000 – Designer Diary

In the 41st millennium there is only war... and with RISK®: Warhammer 40,000, that battle comes to the tabletop! This grimdark version of the “classic game of conquest” features five different factions from across the galaxy, from the Ultramarines led by Marneus Calgar, to the Genestealer Cults led by an insidious Magus.

Bringing the world of Warhammer 40,000 to the timeless game of RISK has been exciting work for our Senior Game Designer, Dr. Pat Marino. We asked Pat what it was like to bring these two iconic brands together for a mash-up that could break open the Eye of Terror.

risk warhammer

RISK: Warhammer 40,000 is an exciting matchup with license and game brand. What are some things that you were looking forward to bringing to the game?

RISK is all about global conflict, and we wanted to bring that macro level battle to Warhammer. The miniatures game is really all about individual units and specific battles, and RISK allowed us to zoom out and see factions fight for control of an entire planet. Vigilus provided the perfect setting for the conflict as the story provides a focal point for many factions to face off for control of the planet. Working with Games Workshop and referencing the “Imperium Nihilus: Vigilus Defiant” sourcebook, we were able to create a map of Vigilus divided into key territories from the story arc, and the result is an interesting map for both Warhammer and RISK fans.

Risk Warhammer 40,000

Risk Warhammer 40,000

There are so many factions that populate the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Which factions are in this game, and how did you decide on which ones to include?

We had a lot of discussion about factions right from the start of development. We have some devoted Warhammer 40,000 fans at the Op who all weighed in on their favorites. We also looked what made sense for the Vigilus story arc, and what worked best in terms of the playing pieces. Games Workshop has an outstanding reputation for highly detailed miniatures. Representing the same characters and units at the size of RISK tokens was no easy task so we had to consider which ones would make the best pieces as well. Ultimately, with input from the GW team we chose to include: Ultramarines, Chaos Space Marines, Aeldari Craftworlds, Orks and the Genestealer Cults. Our 3D design team at the Op did an incredible job reimagining key units from each faction to fit the game, using Warhammer 40,000 source material as reference.

Each faction has a unique leader with a special power. Leaders move around the board with other units and can really impact a player’s strategy. For example, the Ork leader is a Warboss, who gives a bonus +1 to all attack rolls when present - because Orks are all about the direct approach. Abaddon the Despoiler leads the Chaos Space Marines and has the ability to reroll all 1’s, because he does not accept failure.

Risk Warhammer 40,000

Risk Warhammer 40,000

RISK has been around for more than 60 years and has seen many different versions. Are there any new mechanics in this edition? Something special that you wanted to bring that really makes it fit in the Warhammer universe?

With each licensed version of RISK, we look to add some thematic flavor that sets it apart from other games. In addition to the leaders mentioned previously, the most obvious example is the original map we design for each game. While we try to keep some level of consistency in the number of territories and regions, the layout and connections change for each game. In addition, RISK: Warhammer 40,000 features a new mechanic based on the Fortwall structures of Vigilus. These long wall structures span great distances on the planet, and they link different regions. To bring this into RISK, the three Fortwalls each belong to two Regions. RISK players will recognize quickly that this creates focal points for conflict, as each Fortwall territory counts towards two different region bonuses. This means a player may not get either bonus unless they control the Fortwall.

RISK: Warhammer 40,000 also has objective cards, which offer a streamlined path to victory. The first player to claim 3 objectives will win the game. Of course, you can also play the classic Global Domination variant, where you must control the entire map to win.


What are you hoping Warhammer 40,000 players will take away from this experience?

My hope is that Warhammer 40,000 fans get to experience the world that they love in a new way, while perhaps reliving some fond memories of the classic game RISK. I also look forward to seeing if players might connect their game play experience in the miniatures game with the conflict and story of the RISK game.

For a fun question, which faction would you want to play in Warhammer 40,000?

I’m partial to the Orks, I love how their belief in a thing makes it real. Maybe if I paint the minis red, they will travel faster!

RISK: Warhammer 40,000 is for 2-5 players, ages 10 and up, and available now for $49.99 at your local game store or from The Op’s online shop at Be the first to bring this epic battle to the tabletop and risk it all for total domination!