I play strictly 6-player fixed card trade and I've found that the game experience sucks when I reach Grandmaster or even Master level. There are 2 reasons.
First, the point system. When you're Master or Grandmaster, you can't advance unless you get to be winner. If you are second, your ranking hardly moves. If you are third, your ranking takes a big hit. That is not a fair system. In a 6-player game, if you averaged 3rd place or better you should be getting some points, not losing points.
Secondly, everyone gangs up on you when they see there is a Master or Grandmaster in the game. It sucks. This problem is much worse when the players are higher rank, like intermediate or better. Everyone is out to kill the Grandmaster and take him out of the game, it is so obvious and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. That makes it so much harder to survive to even 3rd or 2nd place and everyone is out for your blood.
I've ranked up to Grandmaster playing only fixed card trade multiple times, gotten my rank to under 1700. When you win a game, you get like 60 ranks better. If you get knocked out in 5th or worse position, you lose 500 ranks and you're instantly back to Master.
Basically when I reach Grandmaster, pretty much the only games I can win are if there's a bunch of newbies who don't know what they are doing. If you start a game with like 3 intermediates you can expect to be knocked out first, because, well, they hate your guts because you're you.
Online Risk is great, but the higher you rank up, the worse the experience is. When you reach Grandmaster, it is a disgusting experience. Why would I sink my best effort on 15-20 games to get to Grandmaster only to get a couple of silly games where everyone decides you're it and knock you back to square one?
With fixed card trades, diplomacy is critical and you have no way to recover if 2 or 3 players are determined to kill you no matter what you do or what the board situation is. I guess other play modes like progressive trade might let you stand a chance, but unfortunately I just am not into that game mode.
This is my experience with 108 wins and 146 losses. SMG, I'm so done with this game.
Am I a whiny sore loser or is this a valid critique of the game? Post a reply below, I'm interested to hear what others think.
Some pictures to entertain whoever is still reading this:
105 win to 141 losses, rank 2220 (Grandmaster)
6 wins and 6 losses later...
111 wins to 147 losses, rank 2453 (Master)
2 more wins and 3 losses later...
113 wins to 150 losses, rank 3188 (Master).
Moral of the story, play for fun, don't play for ranks.