If you’re anything like me, you’re probably a fan of the hit TV show Game of Thrones. Somehow, Armello pulls together the majority of the interesting thematic threads from George R R Martin’s recent book and TV phenomenon and wraps them neatly together in a super cool tabletop boardgame package. War, heroes, political intrigue, a capricious monarch and a swelling evil force are all intermixed with a wonderful Watership Down/Studio Ghibli-esque dark fairy tale fantasy aesthetic. The title focuses heavily on tactical turn-based strategy and emphasizes intelligent decision-making, whilst blending in the unpredictable nature of card games and tabletop boardgame dice rolls. Swiping the PS4’s touchpad to roll each nail-biting set of dice is a really neat, authentic touch too.
The game’s premise is this: a once magnificent lion king (no, not that one) has fallen prey to an evil force known as the rot, which slowly eats away at his body and soul with every passing in-game day. This noxious ailment has driven him mad forcing the anthropomorphic leaders from each animal clan of the titular land of Armello to embark on a journey to the king’s castle and reclaim the throne.
There are a few ways to reign victorious in Armello and these range from murdering the king, purging the king of rot by collecting special spirit stones and a prestige victory, which requires you to be the prestige leader when the king inevitably dies. The latter is the most common form of victory in Armello and is essentially given to the hero who has garnered the most favour from the king before his untimely demise.
What makes Armello so addictive and awesome is that each game is never quite the same. Each of the eight heroes (twelve if you purchase the extra Usurpers DLC expansion) all have unique abilities that set them apart. The tiles on the board are randomly generated and the randomness of the dice rolls always keeps you on your toes. It’s a great little title that’ll appeal to anyone who’s enjoyed a night in playing D&D, HeroQuest et al. It’s also a great entry point for those who haven’t had the opportunity to play tabletop boardgames with friends too, as it’s fairly easy to pick up and get into straight away.