It’s rare to see woodland critters stabbing each other to death, trying to commit regicide or setting up a kingdom spanning spy network. So, if you are looking for a game where you can see Cottontail pick up a great maul and smash it over the head of the lion from Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Armello just might be the game for you.
Besides the whole woodland animal brutally murdering each other, what is Armello about? Well, Armello is the work of the Australian based indie developer League of Geeks who after having a successful Kickstarter back in 2014, have brought their hex based role playing board game to tablets, PC, Mac, Linux and certain consoles. The premise of this dark fairy tale is that the king of Armello has been infected by a blight known as the Rot, which has tainted his mind and body and caused him to throw the land into chaos. You must then choose a member of one of the 4 clans of Armello, to rise up against the king and bring order back to the land.
This is all explained in the game’s effective prologue, where you are not only taken through the main mechanics of the game, but shown how the king descended into madness and how each leader of each clan reacted to the kingdom’s downfall. Armello does a great job in establishing a consistent tone throughout your time through the game, helped in no small part by the fantastic art direction. It’s seen most notably in the animated cards that you play during a campaign, which all are carefully designed and bring a real sense of character to this dark fantasy setting.
The Armello game board is hex based, with each player starting at their clan ground placed at one of the cardinal directions. At the centre of the board is the King’s Palace, which houses the corrupted king and is the source of the King’s Guard who patrol the board and dish out the King’s justice. All the other hexes on the board are randomly generated each game, as to make each Armello campaign that little bit different. Hex tiles include your typical forests, plains and mountains as well as settlements which can be captured to produce gold, stone circles which can heal players and spawn Spell Stones which are a key component to a certain victory type as well as dungeons, which players can explore to gain either more magic points, gold or even followers. The basic aim of Armello is to get rid of the King, by either killing him, banishing him away or being the next in line for the throne when he eventually snuffs it. Like Civilization, these different victory types involve players fulfilling certain criteria in order to achieve victory.
The Kingslayer Victory is very simple, just infiltrate the palace and kill the King. The banish or Spell Stone victory requires you to collect 4 Spell Stones from questing or picking them up in the game world, breaking into the castle and then using the cleansing magic of the stones to cure the King of his affliction and then banish him. The Prestige Victory just requires you to have the most Prestige points when the King either dies from the Rot or is killed during a player duel wherein both the King and the player die. Prestige points can be gained from killing other players, defeating Rot monsters called Banes or fulfilling bounties and is honestly the easiest way to win. There is also a special Rot victory where you yourself are claimed by the Rot and you use its power to overthrow the King and cement yourself as ruler. Unfortunately, this Rot victory is so difficult to pull off that you might as well not bother.