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Under the Radar: Armello — Conquering the Animal Kingdom
The Redwall universe by Brian Jacques holds a special place in my heart as a writer. It, in parts, transcended the cutesy novelty of having talking animals pal around in a massive, utopian monastery and reminded readers that not all animals are nice. Sure, Jacque’s overwhelmingly descriptive banquets and pleasantly antiquated riddles added a nice, medieval nostalgia to his books that captured the imagination. But it was enemies like the one-eyed rat named Cluny who used his tail as a whip and his cronies like target practice that really tied everything together. That being a roundabout way of saying that Armello by League of Geeks already has a leg-up in my good books. From quirky anthropomorphic animals to dice and cards to dungeons and parties, this RPG has an unhealthy smattering of many of the things I love.
The wheel that is Armello spins around a palace pinned in the middle of a procedurally generated map and the machinations of a king gone mad with a disease known simply as “the Rot”. While he continues to go gibbering mad, up to four players will roam the land completing quests and dungeons, gathering favors and followers, and generally working their way towards deposing the Rotting King. The list of planned side activities players can engage in while working their way to kingship is impressive but it’s the art style that really underpins the game. The storybook quality is polished to a sheen with the more realistic lighting effects shown by the night and day cycles and promises that even your eyes will enjoy stabbing your friends in the back with a well-timed trap card.
Speaking of cards, they are one half of gameplay in Armello alongside the dice in more direct combat. The cards can be drawn from a number of decks (Items, Spells, and Trickery) and the special Follower and Treasure decks. Choosing to play them seems like it will make up a significant part of Armello’s strategy as some cards can either be played in or out of combat. Or even on another player’s turn. The hex-based board will change every time you start up a new game, so finding and completing (and trapping) dungeons and quests will hardly play out the same way often. The other part of strategy will be deciding how exactly to tackle taking down the King. From the Kickstarter page, the paths to the throne look varied. You can choose to challenge the King to a fight or even defend him in hopes that you will be named his heir when he finally kicks the bucket from the Rot.
League of Geeks has a great idea on their hands. I can’t wait to see what antics people will come up with when the game gets released.
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