By Isaac Espinosa
When a source of dark power consumes a King, who will be able to claim the throne as his or her own? With a strategic and complex game system and multiplayer availability, Armello ,made by indie League of Geeks, ensures that the gamers are always aware of what’s happening on the board and what moves they are able to play to avoid being eliminated from the field.
The story of Armello is rather simple. The King of Armello has become consumed by an energy source known as the Rot. Although the Rot gives you power, it also causes you to lose more of your mind with every bit of it that is taken in. As the King grows mad with power, it’s up to you to put an end to his reign and take the throne for yourself. You have a choice of 8 characters to play as: Thane and River from the wolf clan, Barnaby and Amber from the Rabbit clan, Zosha and Mercurio from the Rat clan, and Brun and Sana from the Bear clan.
Each round of Armello is like a board game. The main objective is to become King at the end of the game. There are many ways to become King. Each character has a set pair of dice you can roll. Instead of numbers, each die has specific signs that can give you the ability to attack or, in the worst case scenario, prevent you from attacking at all. In battle or in certain traps, you must roll your die on the correct signs in order to ensure victory. In battle, this would mean gaining attack and defense points to do damage to your opponent and block attacks. And when you’re caught in traps, which, if you fail to escape, can give you Rot or take away health points, you have to roll a specific sign on the die in order to make sure you don’t get punished. These punishments can range from being teleported to a random point on the map against your will, or even giving your items to your opponents. In order to become the ruler, you must either have slay the King and take the throne by force, or bide your time and wait until the nine-turn game is over. During every turn, the King will gradually lose health. Each battle you win or trap you escape will earn you prestige. Whoever has the highest prestige when the King loses all of his health, will win.
Cards are essential to success in Armello. There are three types of cards: Items, Spells, and Trickery. Typically, item cards will give you certain stats like extra defense points during battle without the cost of a die, or an extra die when you’re engaged in combat. Spell cards usually affect the terrain around you, whether it would be placing a card that takes away someone’s ability to move on a certain space or making it so that anyone that lands on said space will be infected with Rot. Trickery cards are mostly random in what they affect, meaning they can prevent you from going to certain areas on the map, or they can teleport a character to a random point on the map. To draw cards, however, you must use magic or coins as currency. The specific amount varies, so it’s wise to save up magic or coins in order to use the best card in your hand.
Armello is a fun and interesting game with a system that is complex but understandable. It will definitely have you and possibly a couple of friends playing for a considerable amount of time. It makes you think before going straight into every round, and uses its very articulated mechanics to create a strategic, and actually quite addictive board-game-like adventure.
Isaac Espinosa is a New York Videogame Critics Circle intern. He’s the founder of the Lehman College Videogame Critics Circle.