Armello Review: Watch the Throne
Kalvin Martinez / Dec 26th, 2018 No Comments
The best aspect of board games is they create an incredibly social and competitive experience. One of the major drawbacks that the more complex board games take a lot of time to set up, and if someone isn’t intimately familiar with the rules, there can be a ton of questions hindering the experience.
But, what if you could take the guesswork and setup out of the equation while keeping all the good parts of board games?
Armello replicates all the complexity of a board game while making it more accessible. It takes out the hassle of setting up the board or having to read a detailed instruction manual. It keeps all the same social and competitive elements that makes board games great and combines them with the seamlessness of a video game.
The King is mad. The kingdom of Armello is in great turmoil due to the erratic decisions of its king. His whims put the kingdom into chaos and left the four great clans to deal with the consequences. He’s made enemies in the Wolf, Bear, Rabbit and Rat clans. All of them wish to discover what has brought such ruin upon the land.
When it is discovered that the blight known as Rot has overtaken the King, the clans cannot stand idly by while the kingdom devours itself. It is up to champions from each clan to find a way to take the throne back from the mad King. The strategy you take to do so is up to you.
Armello combines the interactive, pick-up-and-play nature of video games with the meta narratives of a board game. Its simple premise of dethroning the king and giving players the choice on how to do so, combined with tons of characters, delivers a wealth of possible narratives to create.
Add in the game’s multiplayer aspect — where real-life opponents make unpredictable choices upon a game board that constantly changes each time you play — and you have a recipe to craft your own narratives with every playthrough.
Winning in Armello means taking the throne for yourself. Doing so is not easy as champions from each clan (and sometimes from the same clan) are vying to take up the crown for themselves. Since all champions are working toward the same goal, there are multiple routes to achieve the same outcome. Armello is all about choosing a path to power.
The obvious path is the Kingslayer victory. Might makes right, but becoming powerful enough to stop the Mad King takes time. Choosing this path means you’ll focus on amassing enough strength to stand toe to toe with the King. You’ll want to focus on quests and equipment that improves your attack power, health and dice count. Another way to help exert your dominance is to attack other players, banes and king’s guards (although this will put a bounty on your head).
Achieving Kingslayer victory involves piercing the castle walls to challenge the king. This is tough because he is surrounded by fearsome palace guards. Plus, you only get one shot at him, so you best not miss. Luckily, the Rot takes a serious toll on the King’s health, so he should be severely weakened by the time you reach him. Still, he’ll wipe you out easily if you’re not prepared.
While monarchy is generally inherited or taken by force, there is also another way to dethrone a monarch: politics. The Prestige path is about amassing political clout and currying favor. It allows to become king or queen without spilling a single drop of blood.
Gaining prestige is accomplished by completing quests or taking out your opponents in battle. To achieve a Prestige victory, all you need to do is be the prestige leader by the time the Rot takes the King’s life.
Another benefit to going for a Prestige victory is that as a prestige leader, you get to advise the King on the decrees he makes each turn cycle. This means you can really make things tricky for your opponents. A King’s decree can range from taxing your competition to summoning extra Banes. But decisions can also be detrimental to you, so you must choose wisely and be careful.
There are two additional methods to claim the throne, which act as mirrors to the other paths. While the Prestige victory is a largely non-combat path, the Spirit Stone victory is decidedly not violent. It involves collecting Spirit Stones that appear randomly at shrines across the kingdom.
The aim of a Spirit Stone victory is to heal the King of his Rot. By collecting four Spirit Stones, you can purge the Rot, and you can use them to pierce the walls of the castle and bring the King back to his senses.
Existing as a dark mirror to the Kingslayer victory is the Rot victory. To achieve a Rot victory, you need to use magicks, get killed by banes or perform other actions that increase your Rot. This path is high risk since you begin to lose health after getting corrupted. Every time the sun rises or you enter spirit temples, you’ll lose health.
To secure victory, you will need to ensure your Rot is higher than the King’s. With a higher level Rot, you can challenge the King to a fight and you will have the upperhand. You can also gain additional dice equal to the difference in your Rot levels. Since the King will be weakened by the time you can challenge him, you should easily defeat him if your Rot level is high enough.
These various methods of becoming king or queen are what make Armello such a dynamic experience. There are so many paths to victory, but what you’re never locked into any one path. There are plenty of opportunities to take multiple paths to victory or change gears in the middle of the game. Armello allows for flexibility, and this makes for a fun experience.
Armello is satisfying to play alone against AI, but it really comes alive when playing against other people either online or in local multiplayer mode. While the base game has everything you’ll need to play, the Complete Edition with all the DLC content is the version to get. By having all the additional heroes, you can add a whole lot more variety to games and further extend the possible stories you can tell.
Armello was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the developer.
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