“Hey man, what’s up? What… A digital board game with online multiplayer that ISN’T Monopoly and has a medieval theme to it??? Bro, I’m so there.”
Let all dive into a classic feel of Catan meets D&D’s Lords of Water Deep in the release of Armello for the Switch. This role-playing strategy board game was originally released by the League of Geeks, an Australian company, back in 2015 for the PC. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter it has since been ported to every handheld and console since then.
The game takes on a pretty simple plot direction, the king of the land is cursed/sick and it’s up to 4 different clans to try and either save him or dispose of him. There are 4 ways total that can claim your victory. You can choose to collect some sacred stones and offer them to the king in order to heal him or you can overthrow him by powering up and facing him in a duel. There is also the option of going insane by absorbing as much “ROT” as possible and infecting the world with the same curse or… just wait until the sickness kills his royal highness.
You play as anthropomorphic animals that set out on a journey. The 4 clans: Wolf, Rat, Rabbit and Bear each has both a male and female representative. Depending on who you start with their stats are different as well. You’re also able to attach a couple of bonuses to give you a slight advantage during your play through.
As the game opens up into the field map, that you’ll be traversing on, you start at your clan base. At the top left corner of the screen you’ll see a picture of your character, along with some Abilities points to show you your movement capabilities. Beneath that you will see some symbols. Those symbols show the amount of Fight power (dice your able to use in a fight or peril), Health, Card capacity (which will be displayed between your Ability points and stats) and Magic power your character possesses. The bottom center will keep track of all players action, including the AI’s. To the bottom right corner are more symbols that display your Currency (money), Magic power (in stock if you were to collect over your normal set amount), Prestige points (Loyalty points you gain from the kingdom populous) and Rot points (showcasing you how much darkness your character is suffering from). And to finish off you’ll be given an icon that will keep track of day and night for you, which will also be the button to use to end your turn.
Depending on the type of tile you land on it will have different effects on your character. For example, a swamp can cause you damage, while a sacred pillar site will grant you health. If you choose to walk through the mountain it will eat up 2 of your AP points, but will grant you extra defense to use during an ambush or fight. Dungeon tiles allow you to explore them and can reward you with treasure or could set off a trap that could do your character harm. Forest area will only grant you stealth at night and open plains have no effect or attachment to your hero. By planning carefully you can use the maps train to your advantage.
At the start of each turn your character will always be carrying the numbered amount of cards your allowed to. You have 3 decks to choose from: Fight deck, Spell deck or Event deck. You can choose to take all Fight cards or take one from each deck and vice versa. Each card that you possess will have a type of “payment” in order to activate or equip them. Either through Currency, Magic, Prestige or Rot points. You can also equip special sidekick cards that you can collect by exploring dungeons, stealing from other heroes or finishing quests. Some cards can be placed over certain tiles. In doing so you will create a Peril and anyone caught in it will have to roll and match the dye display beneath the card.
Even though the King stays locked away in his castle he will reach out to the hero with the most prestige points, at the start of a new day, in order to help him make a decree. This decision can either be a blessing or a disadvantage so think carefully before choosing.
When entering into any fight all your dices have six different faces of symbols on them. A sword face counts as an attack, while a shield will grant you defense. The Sun and Moon can be used as extra attack point only if they fall under the correct time of day. The Rot symbol will only add to your attack strength if you have accumulated enough darkness and finally if the dye falls on the Tree symbol it will also add to your attack point, PLUS give you an extra dice roll. Cards in your hands can also be used to help you during a fight. Each card has a dye symbol that you can use by sacrificing it before you roll, adding it immediately into your fight pool giving you a better chance at winning or defending.
As you play through the game you can keep track of everyone status by moving the cursor over any Enemies or Heroes. At the beginning of your journey your given a quest to strengthen your characters abilities and popularity. With each quest you complete a new one will appear. By finishing a quest they will always reward you with a Prestige point and the choice of raising the stat of your choosing. You’re also given a challenge upon arriving and could win a chance at some extra Help (Bard, Squire, Warlock, etc.), high end Equipment or Spells and/or a Spirit stone. Though be cautious that if you lose the challenge you will be punished. You are given a brief percentage of your chances of winning each challenge. If you find yourself defeated in battle you will be brought back to your clan base and may resume adventuring on your next turn.
Depending on the time of day different AI’s will move accordingly. During the day the Royal Guards will wander the kingdom, either claiming bounties or destroying monster. At night creatures known as Banes will appear and choose to chase down heroes or terrorize settlement. If you choose to fight a guard you will place a bounty over your name and lose Loyalty points. If you chase after the Banes you will gain loyalty points, but be warned if you are killed by one of them you will be infected by the Rot.
As intricate as this game sounds I found myself glued to its strategic gameplay. The character sprites are adorable and the action and adventuring keeps the story lively. This game can also be played online with others and I highly recommend choosing this option once you’re comfortable playing this game as the AI’s fighter tend to be predictable after many rounds. This game is no more then 45 minutes per session and has achievement that you can unlock by playing multiple playthroughs. If you complete the achievement you are given a new bonus ability that you can use before the start of your next gameplay.
Armello is nothing short of charming and I will gladly give this game a rating of 9.5 out of 10. Now if you’ll excuse me I have a friend that is in dire need of a purging. YOU. SHALL. NOT. PASSScore: 9.5 / 10