Heavy is the head that wears the crown in Armello, a digital board and card game from Melbourne based developers League Of Geeks. With the award winning title now recently released on Nintendo Switch, players are now able to play this epic stories of adventure wherever they please.
At its core, Armello is a digital board game with card game elements. The player selects one of many heroes from four animal clans; Rabbit, Bear, Wolf or Rat. Each character has eight in game stats; fight, body, wits, spirit, gold, magic, prestige and rot.
The number of dice rolled during an attack phase will be determined by Fight. Body determines your health levels, Wits determine how many number of cards you can hold, Spirit is your pool of magic, Gold is well…gold, Prestige is your political clout within Armello and lastly, Rot is your level of Rot disease, an affliction spreading throughout the land of Armello and one that is driving the King mad.
With each move phase, the player is provided three action points to move around the board. Each board tile has a statistical consequence; snowy mountains take two action points to enter but provide additional shields during combat. Forests provide stealth cover and swamps take -1 health points for example.
Tiles such as settlements and dungeons provided the player the ability to earn gold or collect rewards. Players can own settlements, which will generate income until they are claimed by another clan.
With each move phase, the player is provided the ability to draw cards that alter game-play, tactics or mechanics. The deck contains 138 fully illustrated and animated cards. Each card will require the use of coin, magic or prestige to equip.
During action phases, the player may encounter peril, Banes, Kings guards, other players or the King himself, which triggers an action/attack phase.
Once triggered, the player moves to a dice combat system. Your fight stats and attributes earned via card equip, plus a healthy dose of RNG will ultimately decide the victor. The player is also able to ‘burn’ cards within their inventory that match dice symbols to guarantee dice outcomes. This tactical use of cards can quickly determine the players fate fate, often leaving them wondering if they should have saved specific cards for later use.
With each move and attack phase completed, the game moves from dusk to dawn, or vice versa. Certain fight dice attributes change depending on the time of day, which is a novel way to add additional strategy to the game-play.
At night, Rot spreads throughout the land. Rot is an illness that slowly erodes body and soul. The King, afflicted by Rot, has his health reduced and Rot levels increase with each turn completion. This creates an move limit to the core game-play. It also allows for an additional victory condition and interesting tactics to employ.
Rot, at its early levels, is an infection. Heroes suffer -1 damage every dawn. If a player has a higher level of Rot than their combatant the character with the highest Rot level will have additional Fight dice equal to the Rot level of their opponent.
This creates an interesting tactic to defeat the King; simply have a higher level of Rot than he does and enjoy the added Fight dice bonus.
Prestige can be earned within the game by completing bounties, quests or actions that are favorable to the King. At the start of each turn, the player with the highest prestige level will select one of two game altering cards presented by the King. This tactical advantage allows the player to alter the game-play considerably and to their favor.
The goal of the game is to become the King. They are a variety of entertaining tactical ways to do this.
The fighter can simply work on increasing their stats in order to breach the Kings castle to secure a combat victory. The strategist can earn a prestige victory by having the most favor with the crown before his ultimate death from Rot. Spirit stones, scattered throughout the land, can secure victory provided you collect all four stones and banish the King with their use. Lastly, a rot victory can be secured by ensuring Rot levels are higher than the King and used to his disadvantage during combat.
Armello’s primary goal is straightforward. It is easy to see how its core mechanics worked well as a board game. The addition mechanics provide an incredible amount of depth and strategy to the core game-play. League Of Geeks have also ensured a high replay value, with the rewarding of game altering amulets and rings.
Rot levels ensures a ‘pick up and play’ casualness which works very well with the Nintendo Switch.
Some aspects of the user interface could do with a slight increase in size, especially the primary game stats. They work well on a large television or monitor, but are quite tiny on the Nintendo Switch main screen.
Armello is an enthralling digital board game. The unique mix of board game and card mechanics is incredibly entertaining. Armello allow a level of depth that caters to casual gamer and die hard strategists alike. I spent many nights during my review playing until the early hours of the morning.
It is easy to see how Armello has cemented itself as an award winning experience. Armello is a highly recommended experience for all Nintendo Switch fans of board or card games.