- green plastic army men
- clear contact paper
- white card stock
- black duct tape
- digital photo of the board
- computer and overhead projector
- permanent black marker
- acrylic craft paint
- fabric medium
- paint brushes
- spray paint designed for plastic
When my husband turned 30, I wanted to do something special for his birthday. I thought about what he loves to do the most and decided that I would have a game night and invite all of his friends over for food and board games. That seemed a little ordinary, though. The party needed something big… something better… something different… it needed GIANT RISK!® I can’t remember the exact thought process that lead to the creation of Giant Risk® but it happened and I arrived. The result was a fantastically fun game that he thoroughly loved. Everyone at the party agreed that once you play Giant Risk®, you will never want to go back to regular Risk® again. Intrigued? Keep reading and I’ll tell you how to make your own Giant Risk® game, and amaze all your friends!
The best thing to have before you start is an actual Risk® board game, which will serve as a useful guide. There are many different versions available (and Chica and I owned three different ones between us), but choose the one you like the best. We used the 1993 version because it had the cleanest look and was the easiest to copy.
The most instrumental part of preparing for your project will be the selecting the canvas you will use for the board. This choice is important because the quality and size of your canvas can’t be changed later, and will be the most noticed things about your finished result. You can buy large rolls of canvas from your local art supply store or from numerous online resources (our favorite source for rolled canvas is MisterArt.com). Which type of canvas you choose will depend a lot on how large you want your board to be. My finished board was about 5′ x 9′, which was (by pure luck) the perfect size to cover our ping-pong table. You also have a choice in whether or not you want your canvas to have a primed surface. I used an unprimed canvas for my board. The benefits were that it was cheaper and the fabric was softer. However, it puckered a bit from the paint, and it required that I use the fabric additive in my paint. Had I gone with a primed canvas, though, I think the end result would’ve remained flatter and I don’t think I would have needed the fabric additive. You need to weigh the pros and cons and choose either unprimed or unprimed canvas. Some suggestions we have are Discovery Unprimed Cotton Canvas 52 in. x 6 yd. roll or C. R. Daniels Caroline Primed Canvas 72 in. x 6 yds.
Transferring the image to the canvas
Next, I found an image of the Risk® board online and hooked my laptop up to a projector that I already owned. (If you don’t have a projector, check your local library to see about borrowing one. You might also be able to borrow from a local school or your office. This will be the most difficult thing to get for this project, but it will make the end result MUCH nicer than drawing it freehand. Hopefully you find one to borrow, because they are pretty expensive if you buy one new). After hooking up the projector, I hung the canvas on the wall and adjusted the image onto the canvas until it fit perfectly. I made it as large as I possibly could on the width of canvas I had.
The most difficult task then ensued. My friend Rita and I started to trace the image onto the canvas with pencils. When we finished outlining all of the countries, Chica did freehand drawings of the compass, boat, etc. on the canvas (since she can actually draw and we can’t). We tried to trace those images as well but they didn’t look nearly as good as Chica’s drawings. We also added rectangles along the edge to serve as placeholders for the cards that players trade in during the game for more troops.
Painting the countries
I was now ready to begin the really fun part — the painting! I took the actual Risk® game board to our local craft store and matched all of the colors of the countries to the small tubes of acrylic craft paint. I also picked up some fabric medium that allows acrylic paint to be used on fabric (extra insurance to make sure my paint stuck well). I took it all home and labeled the lids with the abbreviations for the countries just in case we got confused and needed to go back and make touch ups. With all the paints available, we made short work of painting in the countries.
Next, we took a black permanent marker and outlined everything. This gave all of the countries on the board a nice, finished edge and cleaned up any spots where the paint went outside the lines (oops!). We also used the marker to write the names of the countries and to do any small detail work on Chica’s drawings. At this point, the board was almost finished, but we still needed a solution for the edges of the entire canvas. We thought about painting a border but that would still leave a bad edge on the ends that were cut from the roll. We needed something that was easy and durable and that would prevent the edges from unraveling in the future. After a couple of brainstorming sessions, we decided on applying black duct tape along each edge, folding it so that it covered both the front and back of the canvas. It worked perfectly! It was easy to apply and the duct tape had a texture and feel similar to the canvas, so the end result looked really nice.
Additional game pieces
Now the board was done at last. However, you can’t really play Risk without army men, dice and the cards, so I had to think about what to do for those. You need six different sets of armies in black, gray, red, green, yellow and blue. For the men, I bought a bunch of classic green plastic army men These guys are really cheap, so I bought hundreds of them to serve as the regular army men the game needed. The game also has special pieces that count for 5 or 10 armies each, so I also bought a few sets that included flags, fences and machinery. Make sure you get enough pieces for six players — each person will need at least 40 armies to start the game, and even more will be required during gameplay!
My army men were the perfect size, but they were all green, and I needed them to be different colors. So, I divided up all the pieces into six distinct piles and then laid them all out on cardboard in my backyard. I then spray painted them with Krylon Fusion paint that’s specially created for painting plastic. The lighter colors took quite a few coats for good coverage, but it did the job. And the green ones were the easiest one to paint! After all of my men dried, I needed containers to store them in so they wouldn’t get mixed up or lost. At first I considered ordinary plastic storage bins, but then I had a brilliant idea. While visiting my local Army surplus store (for additional supplies for the party) I found some wonderful ammunition boxes! They work great and add to the “world domination” feel of the game.
Chica created the cards you need for the game by first scanning her existing game cards into her computer. She then printed them onto half-sheets of white cardstock and then laminated them with clear contact paper so that they would be durable.
As a finishing touch, I bought some giant dice to use instead of regularly-sized ones (you need 2 white and 3 red dice). I also got a stick (normally used for playing “craps”) that you can use to scoop and push the troops around the board. Everyone loves pushing the armies around with the stick!
The final result
We love having a group of friends over to play Giant Risk®! The last thing I want to do to the board is add grommets along the top so I can hang it on the wall when we aren’t playing it. The board is so neat-looking that it’s a shame to keep it rolled up and on a shelf!
If you’re not sure how to play, take a look at the official instructions for Risk®.