Armello - Mobile Review

I'll admit, when I ended up with Armello to review, I wasn't sure what I was really getting, as the only thing I'd seen about it was a single picture that made me think it would be in the style of Civilizations. Well, I was pretty wrong on that front, as I ended up with more of a digital board game akin to Settlers of Catan, really. It's a quaint little game that has in-depth strategy and planning, but with a general concept simple enough to pick up pretty fast.

You play as one of the many members of the Armello Kingdom, who you choose at the onset of the game. There are a number of stats, you have a bunch of action points, and you get to draw cards and cast spells. Ultimately, this is no tutorial for the game, although that is happily included, but I'll run down the basics.

The current king of Armello is infected by an evil force called "the Rot", and your goal is to either usurp the throne, cleanse the king, or take over after he dies naturally. There are four primary characters, excluding purchasable ones, and each is more or less specced for a certain type of win.

Thane of the wolves is geared for beating the king in a duel, Mercurio of the rats is more of the "win by being more corrupted and beating the king" type, Amber the rabbit is more geared for gaining enough prestige to take over if the king naturally dies, and Sana the bear has the goal of cleansing the king. All characters move on a hex grid taking turns, completing quests to earn items and prestige, and playing traps for the other characters.

Cards are available as spells, which consume mana, equipment, which costs money to put on for some reason, and 'trickery', which is generally used to hinder other players. When you get in combat with someone, or if you need to perform an ability check, you roll dice, and when in combat, you get attack and defense symbols, with the calculated totals being the outcome of that round of combat, which may be affected by the day/night cycle. In ability checks, you need to roll the same symbols presented by the check. Sounds difficult? Not really, to be honest. There's a lot going on, but playing through the tutorial basically teaches you all you need to know to get started.

Armello has a pretty cool premise and some good mechanics, but has some rather clear drawbacks as well. First of all is the fact that, like a large swathe of board games, ultimately a lot of your success or failure comes down to luck, and not necessarily skill. Like failing two checks that were 80% in my favor. My awful luck aside, the different tiles on the hex grid board have different aspects to them, as an example stonehenges (fairy circles) provide you with +1 health upon entry. This makes navigating the board to find your next quest location more of a plan, rather than simple movement.

Since I was playing on an iOS device, you tap and swipe to perform actions, and Armello can be rather…finicky, about what it thinks you've done. Far too often I went to slide the map, only to end up moving to a tile I didn't want to. Same with the "end turn" button, it sometimes took a few taps before I could hold it properly to advance the turn order.

On the plus side, the gameplay was smooth, and it wasn't choppy, nor did it drain my battery. The only thing I'm super peeved about is that the "zoom out" basically just covers the board in a hazy mist so you can't see anything, rendering it absolutely useless, or I may have missed a zoom function, but I would expect it to be the standard two fingers together or away to zoom in/out respectively.

Armello would be one of those things that's great to have while on a long commute, or while traveling, but I honestly can't see myself playing it for any other time, as each game takes longer than what I would deem as "ideal", unless you've set some time aside to play with friends or the like. While Armello definitely has some flaws, it definitely has some bright points too. If you're a fan of board games, it's definitely something to consider, especially if you have long distance friends you want to continue your board game nights with.

Game Information

Apple iOS
League of Geeks
League of Geeks
Turned Based Strategy
Single Player
Other Platform(s):
Sony PlayStation 4
Microsoft Xbox One

Provided by Publisher

Article by Richard


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