Video games are crossing the media fence into tabletop’s backyard at an increasing rate these past few years, and now we can add 2015’s strategy title Armello to the list. Three different board game and RPG publishers have joined forces to translate the fantasy epic of anthropomorphic animals and kingdoms into Armello: The Board Game, arriving sometime in 2024.
Armello first launched as a strategy video game from developer League of Geeks. In it, players control the scion of several different animal clans who each want to become the next ruling monarch. Gameplay was designed to evoke elements of both epic fantasy tabletop RPGs and turn-based competitive board games. Players use cards drawn from a deck and dice rolls to determine the outcome of both their actions and state-based effects.
The kingdom is represented as a hexgrid board replete with explorable dungeons, enemy troops and neutral settlements that can be recruited to a player’s cause. Day and night alternate as the game progresses, each with their own effects on the board. Armello contained four distinct paths to victory, from killing the king in a direct duel to banishing him with the aid of spirit stones or gathering the most prestige amongst the kingdom’s inhabitants.
Three tabletop publishers - Australian-based King of the Castle, Quicksilver Studio and Fire Opal Media Inc. - have been attached to Armello: The Board Game, which plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign in the first quarter of 2024. A press release for the project stated that Rob Heinsoo, designer of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition and co-designer of 13th Age RPG, will lead the design team.
Like its digital predecessor, Armello: The Board Game will contain four clans - the Rats, Bears, Rabbits and Wolves - who all want to dethrone the corrupt Lion king. Early images from a press kit show intricate players boards for Mercurio, the Grinning Blade, Sana, the Forest Sister, Thane, the Winter Wolf and Amber, the Far Seeker (miniatures of these four, plus the king and his royal guard will be included).
Players will use character-specific abilities, spells and attacks by playing cards from their hand. A deck of cards representing the king’s meddling will inflict penalties on those who fail their save rolls, including banishing their heroes to far-flung reaches of the board. A separate deck of quests cards will present opportunities to interact with villages, delve underground and seek out relics to aid in your quest for the throne.
“Armello was a landmark in digital board games when it was released in 2015, so the decision to port it back to the tabletop was a natural one,” said Andre Bishop, director of King of the Castle. “With Armello: The Board Game, we’re thrilled to invite both longtime fans and newcomers to experience the magic and deep strategy that Armello has to offer.”
Armello: The Board Game will preview a work-in-progress version at PAX Australia in October of this year ahead of its crowdfunding campaign. Dicebreaker has reached out for more information, including whether a retail version is in the cards, so to speak. Armello joins a host of other beloved video games trading computer chips for cardboard - Slay the Spire, Dead Cells, Call of Duty, Rainbow Six: Siege, Dorfromantik, and even Worms have announced tabletop adaptations in the past two years.
The trend apparently shows no signs of slowing, even if this latest announcement makes more sense than some of the others. We will have a better idea of what to expect from Armello: The Board Game once its Kickstarter campaign begins next year, but the strategic foundation and tabletop sensibilities are so baked into the original that it's hard to imagine the team whiffing such an obvious win.