When you play the game of Armello, you win or you die.
As someone who recently delved into the world of tabletop gaming, the release of Armello couldn’t come at a better time. Armello is League of Geeks’ attempt to revolutionize digital board and card games, combining the deep tactics of card games, the rich strategy of tabletop board games, and the character progression of traditional role-playing systems. It’s all of that neatly packaged into a swashbuckling adventure in which four different clans of fairytale animals battle to claim rule over the whimsical, yet grim Kingdom of Armello.
The premise of Armello is simple, really. The kingdom is in peril; the King corrupted with Rot that’s slowly driving him towards death. With the mad King’s death looming, you and three other hopefuls set out to claim the throne.
There are four ways to secure the throne in Armello: through Prestige, Spirit Stones, Rot, or straight-up killing the King. Throughout the game, completing quests, killing other players, or vanquishing Banes (evil enemy forces) will reward you with Prestige points. The player with the most Prestige at the end of the game (either by turns or by the king dying and killing the challenger) is the winner. Side note, at the beginning of each new round, the player with the highest Prestige is able to implement a new law to go into effect immediately.
Spirit Stones are another path to victory. These can be rewarded for completing certain quests and can also be picked up at various Stonehenges located around the map. Once you have four, you must get into the kingdom and cast them on the King.
Rot and Kingslayer are probably the two most difficult paths to victory as both require you to not only kill the King, but to survive. If you kill the King, but die, the victory is awarded to whoever has the most Prestige. What’s worse is that attacking the King will remove all of your Prestige, so if you fail you are pretty much guaranteeing a loss. Kingslayer only requires you to kill the King and live, while Rot requires you to gather more Rot (by dying to Banes or playing certain cards) than the King and then killing him. As a side note, Rot also affects how much dice you can roll during combat encounters. The player with the most Rot gains the amount of dice equal to the other player’s Rot.
Before each game, you select a character. In addition to the character’s unique ability, he/she is also part of a clan which provides bonuses as well. The basic stats are Health, Fight, Wit, and Spirit. Health is your character’s health, Fight is the amount of dice you roll in combat, and Wit and Spirit are used to resolve Perils (traps) around the map. Additionally, there are four types of currencies that allow you to play cards on your turn: Coins, Magic, Prestige, and Rot.
Dice are the primary way actions and encounters in Armello are resolved. There’s attack and defense for combat, as well as various symbols that are used to resolve Perils. The amount of dice you can roll for Perils are determined by your Wit or Spirit.
There are also cards you can play from your hand. These exist in three decks: Items (weapons, armor and tools you can equip for bonuses), Tricks (traps you can set to hinder your opponent’s progress), and Spells (buffs for your defense or offensive curses to play on other characters).
Combining all of these mechanics, the quest for the throne quickly becomes reminiscent of something you’d see in Game of Thrones. Now that the mechanics are explained, let’s get to the positives and negatives of Armello.