So, before continuing any further, I want to tell you that this is not going to be a review of the game itself. Tom Vasel did a wonderful job of that here. Instead, this is going to be a comparison between the standard edition and the deluxe “Black” edition – both published by Hasbro Games Inc.
So, the first thing I’ll mention and then quickly place behind us is the price. Price, although important, is subjective when comparing as the value of the two different games will need to be determined by you when deciding if the Black Edition is worth the higher price. The standard edition typically goes for about $30. The Black ed. is going for about $60. So, it’s double the price. Having said that, let’s compare the two. Spoiler alert: Black ed is better in nearly every category bar about 2 that I was able to determine.
Game Box Winner: Black Ed.
First, the box. The standard edition comes in a typical “lid and base” style box of the same quality you’d expect of games typically purchased at Target, Wal-Mart, and Toys-R-Us. The Black ed., however, has a flip-up lid that is composed of a removable top tray (made of sturdy foam) and a base (made of the same material). The foam material is similar to that used to package the BB-8 remote toy made by Sphero or the foam used in the Deluxe version of Takinoko. My only complaint about the foam is that it’s a very tight fit for the Rebel ship tokens that are placed along the edge of the game board. It’s a minor concern when compared to the lack of any real storage solution for the standard edition.
Player Pieces Winner: Black Ed. (for the most part)
Ok, the player pieces – let me clarify the “most part” of the title. The mini ships are, as far as I can tell, the same. But that’s where the similarity ends and is far outweighed by the benefits of the others. The cardboard Millennium Falcon and Imperial-Class Star Destroyer token are replaced by a very hard plastic (perhaps light metal) mini that is placed on a hard-plastic stand. Additionally, not found in the standard edition, is a very cool-looking Death Star miniature. Even the dice, in my opinion, are of a better quality (Black Ed components on left, standard on right). Also of note is the addition of storm trooper minis as compared to the cardboard tokens in the standard edition. So, although the mini ships are the same – all of the other components are extremely better.
Cards Winner: Tie
I rated this as a tie only because it just boils down to your preference for the art of the top face of the card. I prefer the Black ed. sleek feel (left hand side) but some may like the standard ed. better. The artwork on the back appears to be the same. The quality of the cards appear the same (I sleeved the cards from the Standard ed). So this one’s a toss up – but, my personal opinion, I like the Black ed. cards better.
Board Winner: Center Board: Black Ed. (by a long shot) || Side Boards: Tie
One of my biggest concerns with the standard ed. board was that the center board was folded into fourths and, when placed out on the table, didn’t stay flat without some play. The Black ed center board is only folded in half and does a much better job laying flat. Now the side boards appeared to be nearly identical. Perhaps the Black ed is slightly thicker, but not hugely noticeable. It’s the same art work however. That aside, I just love the board of the Black ed so much better. Below are comparisons of them laid out.
Rules Book Winner: Black Ed.
So I was tempted to rate this as a tie for the same reasons I did on the cards but the manual is simply just a higher quality. If feels thicker, of a better quality and I really like the Scout Trooper on the front. The inside is very similar but has some differences.
Many people have compared this version of Risk to Queen’s Gambit – light. For those that aren’t able to afford the astronomical price of hunting a copy down (it’s out of print and pricing is in the hundreds of dollars) I honestly feel this is a good light-weight substitute. If you’ve never played Queen’s Gambit, this is a must-buy in my opinion. Again, I won’t go into the details of why as you can refer to the above-mentioned review for game play. As to which version to get, if you don’t own either copy the Black Edition is a shoe in for me. With the pricing of modern board games in the $45-$60 range, the price for this isn’t out of place and the storage is much better than most other games in that price range. The upgraded components are also … worth it. Now, should you upgrade if you own the standard edition? That one’s going to be up to you. For me, knowing how difficult Queen’s Gambit is to get and with all the upgraded components, I would sell the standard edition and purchase the Black one. For me it’s a no brainer but, for others, you’ll need to make up your mind and, hopefully, this article may help you in that decision. Risk: Star Wars Edition is a wonderful game made only better by the Black Edition!