You got board game in my tablet!
The iPad is an incredible platform for board games. Problem is, a lot of ports turn out to be clunky and disappointing. This dilemma is precisely what spurred League of Geeks to try their hand at crafting a board game for tablets. Rather than port a preexisting one, however, they built one from the ground up with digital in mind.
Before I start discussing the game itself, I’d like to briefly talk about the origins of Armello. The short version is that League of Geeks wanted to create a game they personally would enjoy; the long version is that they wanted to create a digital board game with a rich, detailed universe. Having seen a half hour or so of the game in action, it’s clear to me they’re well on their way to pulling it off.
The goal of every match in Armello is to become king or queen of the playing field. To do this, you must traverse the board, fight other players, and strengthen your character to the point where they’re able to defeat what lies in the palace at the center of the board. It’s an interesting concept in and of itself, but I especially like the importance it imparts on every move you make in the game. If you don’t take each turn seriously, chances are good another player will best you in the end.
Moving around the hex-based board requires the use of “Action Points.” Going from one area to the next costs a single Action Point, but some areas -such as mountainous regions—require more. Players also have access to a hand of random cards, which offer up a variety of different abilities. And I don’t use the word “random” lightly there: you don’t have a say in what cards you receive. It wouldn’t be a board game if lady luck didn’t make an appearance somewhere, right?
As you make your way around the board, you’ll occasionally enter a combat sequence with a player or random enemy. The outcome is determined by the roll of several di, which dictate things like attack points, defense, and other variables. If you wish to strengthen your chances of winning, you can burn a few cards before the battle to guarantee a better dice roll.
I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw of Armello‘s gameplay, and its visuals were nothing to scoff at, either. The game takes place on a gorgeous 3D environment, replete with tiny, elaborate villages, greenery, and night and day sequences that affect the gameplay. Needless to say, this is something that could never be pulled off with a traditional board game. Take that, Monopoly!
I was also informed that the soundtrack was done by a film composer, which ends up doing a lot of favors for the game. I consider sound to be just as important as visuals when it comes to crafting an immersive universe, and Armello has both in spades. At the risk of sounding cliché, the best way to describe the game’s music would have to be “epic.”
Armello is currently in pre-alpha, so it could be a bit before it sees the light of day. But this is one game that ought to be worth the wait, and board game fiends in particular have plenty to look forward to. And since it’s in early development, chances are good a lot more will be added to the game between now and release. We shall see!