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Risk Godstorm: Anticipating Armageddon!
by Mike Selinker, lead developer, Risk Godstorm

"The god of death is a guardian of the Underworld. It is he that brings the epic disasters like plagues and earthquakes. He gains power when his followers rule the Underworld."

-- from the Risk Godstorm rulebook

The final god in Risk Godstorm is the most final of all gods: the god of death. He stands at the gates of the Underworld, controlling the passage into Hell and, very occasionally, out of it.

God of DeathThe death god is the source of all cataclysms. He prospers when others suffer. He does not always insist that the ones who oppose him be the ones that suffer.

Here are the death gods in Godstorm. Not all are evil but none are to be trifled with.

The Gods of Death

The Greeks' god of death is Hades, the cruel lord of the underworld. Zeus's brother is king of the abode of the dead that bears his name, with legions of demons and shades at his behest. His helmet provides him invisibility, which he uses to walk among the living and seal their fates.

The Norsemen's god of death is Loki, the trickster god. It is he that plays at deadly mischief in Asgard, leading an army of giants and monsters against the gods in the cataclysm of Ragnarok. In this apocalypse, everything in the universe will shake apart.

The Celts' god of death is Arawn, master of the Wild Hunt. His white hounds chase the souls of the damned back to his domain of Avalon. All dead souls return to his Cauldron of Life, where they are reborn to begin the Hunt again.

The Babylonians' god of death is Druaga, the ruler of the Devil World. At the beginning of creation, his choice to become evil creates the act of death. He and his devils prey on human frailties, and so bring about all the evil in the world.

The Egyptians' god of death is Osiris, Lord of the Outermost Limit. He is murdered by his brother Set, then resurrected by his wife Isis, gaining dominion over the dead. He weighs dead souls against the Feather of Truth, and many are found wanting.

The Death God's Domain: The Underworld

The Underworld: click to enlargeRisk 2210 A.D. introduced the concept of a "side board" to Risk. The Moon in 2210 is an auxiliary board on which you battle with your robot warriors. We wanted something that cool for Godstorm, and we got it. Here, for the first time, is the Underworld, illustrated by Dennis Kauth.

When your soldiers die in Godstorm, they're not returned to your pool. Instead, they immediately pass on to your "heaven." Ringing around the outer rim of the Underworld are the five heavens, one for each civilization. The Greeks have Elysium, the final resting place of the souls of the virtuous. The Norse have Valhalla, where the Valkyries take the bravest of warriors. The Celts have Avalon, the mystic land where King Arthur came to rest. The Babylonians have Kurnugia, the night lands of the dead. And the Egyptians have Duat, the treacherous world of the afterlife. Your heaven is a safe zone, meaning you can't be attacked there.

Still, once your soldiers reach your heaven, they're not done fighting. They become available for combat in the Underworld. After your Fortify a Position step, you can Embark from Heaven. Any armies in your Heaven may enter the Underworld through any of the three gates or any space you control in the Underworld. If an opponent controls a gate, you may still enter through the gate -- you just have to fight your way in.

Underworld Gate, Crypt, and AltarThe next step is called Invade the Underworld. Here, you attack from gates and spaces you control in the Underworld. These battles work just like the fights in the Ancient World except that if a soldier dies here, he doesn't return to your heaven. He just dies.

Spaces in the underworld aren't territories. They don't count for raising armies, gaining faith tokens, or determining continent bonuses. Gods can't be summoned in the Underworld. (Not even the god of death has any business there.) Miracles and relics don't affect the Underworld unless the card states so. Temples can't be built there.

Spaces in the Underworld do have some interesting features, though. In addition to the gates and the walls of flame (effectively mountains), you'll also find a few altars. Controlling an altar in the Underworld is, quite literally, a godsend. For each altar you control, you roll one additional die in a godswar. If you control both altars and have a sky god in a godswar, you roll six dice (and add your supporting armies, and any war god and magic goddess bonuses).

Also in the Underworld are four crypts. Controlling a crypt lets you raise one army from each crypt to any temple you control. (You have to have more than one army in the crypt space to do this.) Not only do your slain armies fight for you in the Underworld, they can also return to the Earth and fight beyond the pale.

One last thing: Each crypt or altar you control adds one point to your score at the end of the game. Your final score at the end of the Fifth Epoch is:

  • all your territories +
  • your continent bonuses +
  • your crypts and altars +
  • any bonuses from relics that have home territories.

The player with the highest score wins and drives all the other pantheons from the Earth.

The Death God's Power: Finality

The death god controls the Underworld, even though he can't be found there. His divine power can be frightening: When he attacks, opposing armies do not go to the Underworld at all. They just return to your reserves, without ever having a chance to fight and die in the Underworld.

Some players believe the death god is the most potent of all, because controlling the Underworld can pay huge dividends at the end of the game. Maybe so, maybe not. There's no question that he is the most disheartening god of all, because when your opponents are moving their casualties to a heaven and you're not, you despair. That's what the death god wants.

Of course, he wants something else, too. The death god's labor and cards are the subject of the final Godstorm column, which comes later this week. See you then, one last time.


Catch up on any previews you missed!

  1. Into the Fire
  2. The World of the Ancients
  3. God-Fearing People
  4. Gods Among Men
  5. The Warlords
  6. Miracles On the Battlefield
  7. The Sky Kings
  8. Blessings From the Heavens
  9. Enchantresses
  10. The Reliquary Opens
  11. Hellions
  12. Pandora's Box

Mike SelinkerMike Selinker has been playing, designing, developing, and just plain loving games of every variety for many, many years. He is a gamer in the very best sense of the word. Mike lives in Seattle.

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