The King is corrupted, sending the land into chaos and turning on those he promised to protect. Now new champions must rise to save him, manipulate him or take his place outright. This is the story or Armello.
Genre(s): Board Game
Developer: League of Geeks
Publisher: League of Geeks
Release Date: Sept 2015
Played: Single and multiplayer games.
Purchase At: Steam
Source: Review Copy provided by Publisher
Armello is just lovely. It’s a board game in videogame form. But it’s not an adaptation, trust me, I’d love for this to be a real board game. No, Armello’s developers decided to make a digital board game and I give them a few thumbs up for that.
As I said in my opening statement, the King of Armello falls into the corruption of the Rot, turning evil and falling further into depravity with each day (or turn depending on your point of view). He’s now violent and turned against his people, so characters rise up to save the kingdom, or control it.
And that’s the core of Armello right there, explained in a simple paragraph. As players, you move along the board completing quests and gathering resources to accomplish one of many winning scenarios: kill the corrupt king, become even more corrupted than he is and then depose him, have the most political power before the king dies or purify his royal highness using sacred magic.
With different characters to choose from, dozens of items to equip and minions to recruit, you decide and go with whichever strategy works best for you. If you have the Usurpers DLC, then you have even more choices available.
As a magic-type player, I went for the purification scenario, gathering the stones with my super sneaky thief while taking out the competition to delay their own progress. At first, it all went well and I picked up two of the four stones, but then things heated up and I eventually lost to a Rot-player. Didn’t help that my quests were right next to another character’s respawn point.
I’m usually not very pro-tutorial, but Armello makes it a really good experience by giving you characters to follow. A heroic wolf targeted by the maddened and paranoid king, a Rat seeking to claim the bounty on the wolf and become the next corrupted king, a Hare of a prominent politician family playing the game and ruling the kingdom from the shadows and a Druid Bear fighting the Rot and looking for the ancient stones.
Each of these characters is after one of the winning conditions and so learning to play Armello feels like reading their story and it’s much easier to understand.
Speaking of characters, playing the game with a few character made Armello’s biggest flaw apparent. The characters lack proper balance. More often than not, it’s characters with high combat skills and health that have the advantage when doing the necessary PVP. Even burning cards (sacrificing items or spells for added dice) is sometimes useless when the difference is stat and therefore dice to roll is so large.
In the game I played with my super sneaky thief, I rolled pretty high against an enemy, but they had way more health than I did, making it a losing battle either way. It doesn’t help either that some hero abilities give bonuses in combat while others are more for utility. These are still very helpful, but it does give physical characters a big advantage.
Armello has some balancing issues but is still a board game I enjoy playing. I’d love to have a physical version of this game, I would play the hell out of it with friends. As much as I enjoy online multiplayer, there’s nothing like playing a game on a tabletop with friends!
4/5 – Exceptional