Armello was released back in September 2015 in Steam after a successful Kickstarter. I’ve been looking forward to this game, but like usual, I don’t buy the indy games at retail price since I don’t really know what to expect. So I found it in Humble Bundle Store on sale so I purchased one for myself and one for my brother. The game is mostly what I’ve expected. A simple turn based game as if specifically designed for a casual player like me.
The way I see it, it has a Civ 5 element to it by controlling cities but without the army or city building concepts. It also has some barbarian-like NPCs, called Bane, that their main purpose is to screw you over by terrorizing your cities and attempting to kill you. Though unlike Civ 5, Armello also has good NPCs, called King’s Guard, who tries to kill the Bane and player characters with a bounty on their head. So there’s a good back and forth at times since the whole game is centered on dice rolls and cards.
The players get to choose one of the basic heroes to start with. There are heroes that can be obtained in some special ways which I will exclude from this post for now due to restrictions (i.e. Scarlet is obtained by pledgers/DLC). So the heroes I’m going to cover are Amber, Barnaby, Brun, Mercurio, River, Sana, Thane, and Zosha. These heroes have their own unique stats and clan powers, so I’ll go over this first before I go into details on what each hero can do.
The heroes have the following stats: Fight, Body, Wits, and Spirit.
Fight determines the number of dice you start with, which is used during a…um, fight. O.K. The dice is a D6 and each side has different effects as sword, shield, sun, moon, wyld, and rot. Thus the more fight you have, the more dice you get, the better is your chances on getting the effect you want.
Body is basically the hero’s hit points, thus if the hero gets hit more than their max hit points, they perish and respawn back to their starting area.
Wits determine the number of cards the hero can have in their hand. If the hero has 5 Wits, they can have 5 cards, thus if they have less than 5, they get to draw a card until they have 5 cards. The cards have three types: Items, Spells, and Tricks. Each type has subtypes. Items have equippable and consumable subtypes. Spells have peril and ranged damage subtypes. Tricks have peril and ranged damage, much like spells but with a different cost. There are special cards that heroes cannot normally draw based on their wits. Instead, these special cards are obtained through a quest or as a dungeon reward. These cards are treasure and follower cards.
Spirit determines the hero’s ability to gain magic points. Magic points are used to cast spells. Some spells require a lot of magic points, thus a hero with low spirit (i.e. Mercurio) will have a hard time casting a very good spell.
There are four other non-hero stats which are mainly a status counter. They are gold, magic, prestige, and rot.
Gold determine the hero’s richness status. Some effect will determine which hero is considered rich based on the number of gold they have. Gold is also used as a cost to equip an item or a cost to play a trick card. Gold is earned once per turn for each settlement the hero controls.
Magic accumulates every turn at the rate of the hero’s spirit level. For example, Mercurio will gain 3 magic points per turn since he only had 3 spirit, while Sana will gain 5 magic points per turn for having 5 spirit.
Prestige determined the favorability of the hero. If the hero has the highest prestige, the King favor them to set the royal decree for a turn. The king’s decree has a wide range of effect that typically has a negative impact on everyone.
Rot determines how much corruption a hero has performed. Some spells don’t cost magic points, instead the spell will grant the hero 1 rot level. Once the hero reached 5 rots, the hero is considered corrupted and will not benefit from moving to the healing stone circle, instead they will perish. As long as the hero has at least one rot level, they will take one damage per turn. There is an advantage on having a high rot level but often times this is not worth it.
Amber of the Rabbit Clan (F:3/H:4/W:4/S:4)- Amber is a very balanced hero with a passive ability the gives her a better chance in finding treasures in dungeons. The way I play her is to give her the clan’s ring that gives +2 Shields when fighting on plains and an amulet that gives her +1 Wits. The goal I have with this loadout is to navigate as many dungeons I can and collect all defensive treasures possible. This gives me an advantage when attacked by Banes and other players. The high level Wits allows me to cycle through many cards per turn as possible. This gives me a way to find the right spells that will give me the last minute prestige win or hinder any players trying to win by domination (killing the king) or by salvation (healing the king).
Barnaby of the Rabbit Clan (F:4/H:5/W:4/S:2)- Barnaby is an item master who’s advantage is not really the beneficial. Instead of overriding his currently equiped item by equipping a new one, he simply unequip them beforehand, which gives him a lot of card advantage. However, he relies too much on gold and is easily denied. His low spirit makes him a non-spell caster which limits his options once he’s denied gold. I don’t use him unless it’s for achievements.
Brun of the Bear Clan (F:4/H:5/W:3/S:3)- Just like Barnaby, Brun is limited in spell casting, however, his passive gives him a huge advantage against everyone else since for each spell he cast on the same turn, he gets +1 Fight, meaning he gets a dice per spell cast. Although this is a good passive, due to his low wits and low spirit, it’s fairly balanced that he’ll get an extra dice or two. However, the way I play him is to give him Wits since his clan has access to a +3 Magic ring. With high Wits, he can set up an attack by casting 2-3 spells.
Mercurio of the Rat Clan (F:4/H:4/W:5/S:2)- Mercurio has the highest base Wits which gives him a huge advantage when it comes to items and spells. His passive is that he steals 1 gold from the previous owner of a settlement after claiming it. This gives him a lot of gold in one playthrough and practically make Barnaby out to shame. His low level spirit restricts his access to spells. His clan doesn’t really give him any good benefit other than the evade ring.
River of the Wolf Clan (F:4/H:4/W:4/S:3)- River is another balanced hero just like Amber. Her passive gives her first strike and its dangerous for other heroes to run around with one hit point. Her passive deals 1 damage to anyone she attacks before any dice is even rolled. She is the best hunter heroes which is exactly her play style. The best item for here is the spear that gives here +2 swords when attack and the rest are shield items. The spear makes sure that she’s not at a disadvantage when attacked, she’s supposed to be the huntress.
Sana of the Bear Clan (F:2/H:5/W:3/S:5)- Sana is a typical caster except for her high hit points. She sucks at fighting and she draws little cards due to low Wits. In my opinion, she’s the hardest to play as and I am yet to figure it out.
Thane of the Wolf Clan (F:5/H:4/W:3/S:3)- Thanes is a typical warrior class with high number of dice and average hit points. His low Wits and Spirit practically makes spells an off-limit. However, the wolf clan has access to the most broken ring in the game. Normally, traversing through mountains will cost 2 action points instead of 1 and ignoring this limitation give Thane a huge strategical advantage. He’s so broken that our custom house rule is to ban Thane.
Zosha of the Rat Clan (F:5/H:3/W:4/S:3)- Zosha’s passive gives her stealth at night regardless of the tile(other heroes are only stealth in a forest at night). This has some advantages but her real advantage is in her ability to ambush as an attacker. Ambush denies the target access to their card during combat. Which limits the target’s ability to defend him/herself. With Zosha high Wits, it gives her a lot of cards to cycle through normally Trickery cards.
Not all good
One thing that I find bad is that this game has no re-connect feature. If I’m playing with someone and I DC, I’m SoL. Not a good thing when I’m winning and the game is about to end. Or I have some cards up my sleeve that will overtake the prestige leader at the last turn. Other than this, the game runs very well.
Amber all the way…
Obviously, my best pick is Amber since the Rabbit Clan has the best ring and Amber is well balanced that gives my a lot of option to adapt to whatever RNG throws my way. Thane, of course, is broken and too easy to use and too easy to win as that it’s not fun for everyone. Brun has a tendency to be broken, but his low Wits balances him out. Overall this game is worth the money and it fits the schedule of a casual player like me.