Sometimes you find a game and you can’t seem to put it down, and you play it continuously. While I usually like to write reviews after I’ve put in a few hours of a game, so I have a good grasp of the majority of the games features, some games you can reach that point quicker than others because you enjoy the game that much. This time, that game is called Armello, a digital board game by League of Geeks.
As I said, Armello is a digital board game. That means it plays just like a normal board game, with turns and game spaces. Armello also has cards and dice.
Armello has a day/night turn cycle, where the player gets 2 turns, 1 during the day, and 1 during the night. Each turn you can draw more cards for your hand, provided you don’t already have the max you are allowed (more on this later). The story of Armello is the King has become cursed/diseased by “the Rot” which weakens him each turn. The King starts with 9 hearts and right away he loses his first heart. Every day cycle he loses 1 heart, and each night he gains 1 rot. The game ends when the King is dead. While there is a limited amount of turns you get to play, it doesn’t make the game any less exciting, nor is it rushed. There are 4 victory conditions available to win the game.
- A Prestige victory is earned by being the player with the most prestige in the game. Prestige is the easiest to earn, by completing quests, killing other players, or killing the rot spirits in the real, called Banes.
- A Kingslayer victory is earned by defeating the King in combat. He’s tough, so you can’t really rush and do this in the 2nd or 3rd turn of the game, you will need to play for a bit and build up your character.
- A Rot victory is similar to the Kingslayer, but you have to have more rot than the King. This is the hardest victory to obtain.
- A Spirit Stone victory has you collect 4 spirit stones from around the realm, and then cleansing the King. This is very similar to a Kingslayer victory, as the King dies from the cleansing, but it isn’t as difficult as the combat option. (Spirit Stones randomly spawn around the realm, or can be collected from quests)
While you play each turn you will have quests to complete, which you can choose each time you finish a quest. Each quests gives you a choice, a easy victory that gives you a stat boost to the appropriate stat (Fight, Body, Wit or Spirit) along with 1 prestige point, or a victory based upon the appropriate stat which has a percentage for success based upon your stat (a fight quest with have a 50% chance of success if your fight is at 5). You can cast spells to boost the stat before you enter the quest area in order to gain a higher chance of success. Rewards for these quests can vary, but they can be a special card, or a follower that will give you a special ability. More risk the better the reward right? This system works really well. Obviously with prestige victories being the easiest, completing quests for prestige is your fastest path to victory, but it doesn’t mean its a sure thing, as there are lots of ways to lose prestige too.
Each day cycle, the king consults the prestige leader for a daily decree that will affect the game in some manner. Sometimes these decree’s can be good, sometimes they can be bad, and there isn’t much you can do, other than choosing the “lesser of two evils” when looking at the choices in decree’s.
I’ve found that Armello’s game-play lasts anywhere from 30mins to 45mins depending on how many players you have. The game will always have 4 players, but the AI players are played quite fast, while living human players are plotting, scheming and planning each move, which generally takes a little more time.
While Armello doesn’t specifically state co-operative game-play, it is possible. Usually each time Tali and I play the game there is some degree of co-operative gameplay in our strategy. While Tali usually ends up winning due to the choice of character she plays (and a little luck) as long as you keep playing the game isn’t over until it is over. Kingslayer victory can easily turn into prestige victory if the attacker & the King both die in combat. So if you are going for this type of victory, make sure you prepare.
The amount of cards you can have in your hand is determined by your wit. Along with wit there are several other stats that affect your character. Fight, Body/Health and Spirit are in the game, and can increase or decrease as the game goes on. Fight is how many dice you get in combat. Some circumstances will give you extra dice, like having your clan affinity for either day or night. You can also boost your fight temporarily by playing cards. Body is your max health amount, and this can change depending on taking damage during fights, or being poisoned. Your max body will usually increase with the completion of quests. Wit is how many cards you can have. More wit means more cards, which can give you an advantage in the game, but it can also be a hindrance. Spirit controls how much magic you can gain each dawn, and if you have more magic it gets re-balanced to what your spirit level is.
The visuals in Armello are outstanding. Each character is animated to seem like it has a life of its own, and all the cards also have some sort of animation, making them feel more like actual items and spells, instead of cards. This level of detail put into the game makes it feel and play amazing. Everything looks so alive.
Now I realize this review is quite long already, but we got a chance for a little Q&A with a member of the dev team while at PaxPrime. A recording of the Q&A is below.
I found this game extremely enjoyable as did Tali and our oldest girls. We can’t seem to stop playing it and it looks like this game will definitely be one that we keep playing over and over and over again. I hope League of Geeks adds more characters and cards to the game to keep making something that is amazing, even more amazing. I highly recommend this game, and it is making its way to Ps4 and soon, mobile devices.(iOS and Android)