App Reviewed on: iPad Pro 10.5
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As far as anticipated mobile games go, Armello is pretty high up on the list, and we've been waiting for it to launch on mobile for a long, long time.
Sure, it's striking, fluid, and nicely designed, but unless you're willing to put the time into practicing and learning its many strategies, you'll likely be frustrated with it before you can find anything to truly hook you.
Armello is a free to play turn-based board game set in the fictitious kingdom of Armello. Its king has been corrupted with rot and you and enemy players have just over a week to gain the monarch's favour and secure your place upon the throne before he croaks.
While that may sound a little uninspiring, there's a lot to take in. As well as its classic, strategic tabletop nature, it also has rich, fantastical RPG elements and tactics of a card game which means there's no set way of winning.
Out for yourself
When you're taken through a lengthy introduction, you'll eventually pick between different playable characters, each of whom offer up a different specialist approach, as well as Signet Rings and Amulets to aid you in your fight for power.
One may not be good at fighting, but has a great political advantage, one need Spirit Stones to take on the king, and another may rely on dirtier tactics to get the job done. Either way there're items, spells, and other special cards to use during play, as well as other factors that can influence your standing in a dice roll.
You don't just fight other players. Roaming around the boards are the king's guards, traps, and creatures of the Rot waiting to take you on. You don't have much health, but when you do die you're sent back to your House's starting position.
That's just the tip of the explanation iceberg, but like I said – you need to have time to invest in getting a grip on the basics. Once you dive into your first game it's all about choosing the right path for your character and taking the right amount of risks.
Long live the king
Despite its stunning visuals and crisp audio, it didn't take long to realise that luck plays a huge factor in the game. Luck determines what cards you can pick from, whether you'll succeed in a quest, what dice symbols you'll roll during battle, and sometimes it just feels like you're doomed from the start.
While you're not bombarded with adverts with League of Geeks' free to play model, you have to pay to unlock skins, characters, premium dice, etc. Whether or not you want to fork out a monthly subscription fee is totally up to you, but you can still have a great experience with the base game.
As board games go, Armello isn't an easy one to get to grips with, nor will it be for those who lack a substantial amount of patience. Once you're in it and understand everything going on, however, you've got a nice, richly strategic game that'll be fun to play solo or with friends.
Better yet, since it's free to play that means you can download it at no cost to yourself to see if you like it. It may be tricky to wrap your head around, but each game isn't too long to play through and your patience is rewarded eventually.
Armello isn't the easiest board game to get to grips with but with a rich lore and deep strategic elements to enjoy, it's worth putting the time in.