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Armello Review

Armello is a digital board game with RPG elements and a rich, complex system of rules by League of Geeks.

Armello on PC

It’s taken me considerable time to come to terms with the idea of digital board games. Armello, an attempt by developer League of Geeks to “revolutionize” this category, may have finally sold me. With a rich world, complex rules, and phenomenal polish throughout, this charming fantasy tale of a kingdom in the midst of bitter struggle encompasses everything that the genre should be, and then throws in more for good measure. Here, beyond simple board game mechanics and artful card animations, players will find something truly special and unique.

Armello is set in a fantasy kingdom of the same name, populated by anthropomorphic animals of various Clans. Players have their choice from among eight Heroes; two of each from the Wolf, Rabbit, Rat, and Bear Clans. Each hero, of course, has a unique ability to grant them an edge on the field, and each has a set of stats that will help dictate how they perform at various tasks. Your basic attributes are Fight, Body, Wits, and Spirit with each impacting play in different ways. A high Fight will grant you more dice in combat, while a high Wits helps your hero survive deadly Perils along their journey. Body determines your Hero’s health, and Spirit dictates Magic.

If this sounds like a lot, that’s because Armello doesn’t approach much of anything lightly. The game is staged as a battle for control of the titular kingdom as the King sinks further into madness and death due to the surging darkness called the Rot. This seething corruption is yet another thing that players must contend with, as evil Banes fill the land and Heroes may become infected or corrupted through play. Keeping an eye on your own Rot level is vital to success; are you going to remain pure and cleanse the land of this evil? Or is it your goal to use this strange power to propel you to the throne to reign as the new king of corruption?

armello king

Gameplay in Armello is a traditional, turn-based style of play. Each game begins on the first Day, and players may select their Quest from available options and then set out on their journey. Four Heroes occupy each game, and each gets one turn every day and night. Other mechanics also come into play; at each dawn, the King will declare a new law, usually having a negative affect on all Heroes, and his personal guard will patrol the land. At night, the twisted Banes make their move, scouring the land and destroying anything in their paths. Each animal Clan also has a natural affinity that grants them an additional die during their preferred time — day for Rabbit and Bear, and night for Wolf and Rat.

In addition to Armello‘s RPG-like stats, many other elements from the genre are present. Heroes may take up Quests with a chance to raise their attributes and find powerful items or followers, explore dungeons in search of treasures, and more. Completing Quests, besting other Heroes in combat, or destroying Banes will raise Prestige, a numeric count of how highly regarded each Hero is by the King. Dying, attacking the King’s Guard, and various other actions will lower this rating. At each dawn, when the King is set to enact his decree, the Prestige Leader will be granted a choice between two possible laws; while both are usually negative to all players, this small edge can help the clever player keep themselves from too much harm.

Armello includes a “Prologue” mode to introduce players to the concepts of the game slowly. Following the tales of four of the Heroes, this tutorial begins with basic movement and combat, then brings in the use of items, followers, magic, and other cards that can sway the way the game plays out. Again, it’s a lot to take in, but this short and effective walkthrough presents each new piece one at a time to make it more digestible. Enough about the rules of the game, though; let’s get into the nuts and bolts of how well this complicated set of rules plays out.

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