It's testament to Armello that as someone with very little experience of board games, upon seeing it running I was immediately entranced. The tabletop-inspired PC game is a vividly alive and remarkably gorgeous turn-based hexxy strategy, that would normally be the sort of thing I'd walk right past. But when it was on display in GDC's indie quarters this year, I not only didn't walk right past, but stopped and stared and chatted for ages. And that's not least because the game will offer a single-player role-playing adventure for soloists like me, as well as cross-platform (PC and eventually tablet) multiplayer for more sociable types. You can see it running below. Oh, and there's a Kickstarter.
I had a sneaky peak at League Of Geeks' Kickstarter before it launched, and when I saw a target of $200,000 (albeit Australian ones) my heart sank a little. Surely a board game game with no prior IP can't possibly generate enough interest? I'm Mr Wrongface. The morning after its launch, and it's already almost a quarter of the way there. Here's the pitch, which better explains the game than I will:
I seem to spend most posts for Kickstarters writing long explanations of what's been gotten wrong. Not this time - they've nailed it. An incredibly professional video, that instantly shows and explains the game, and then goes on to portray their passion, and why they need the money. Spot on. Their target, it turns out, is sensible. And their opening tier price is $15AUD, which nets you a copy of the finished game. (And it's not a limited tier either - this is textbook stuff.) Scroll down and you'll see beautiful animated GIFs, lots of easy to parse information, and eventually a modest set of stretch goals that don't (yet) reach higher than tacking on another $100k.
The creators are League Of Geeks - a collective of developers who all share an open office space in Melbourne, who have been working on Armello in their spare time. This team made up of souls who've worked on Warhammer, Dark Souls, BioShock and Puzzle Quest are now looking to go full time. Hence the fundraiser. The game, a combination of card play and dice rolling combat, sees woodland creatures battling to claim the throne. But it's not just a race to the top of the mountain - each time you play the game there will be unique quests on the unique map to complete, giving a good dose of variety, alongside various ways to actually go about getting your bum on the king seat.
Combat looked especially interesting, mixing played cards from your ever-gathered hand, with bespoke dice battles. Like this:
As someone who honestly cares little about board games, and cares less for strategy games, I'm completely spellbound by what I've seen of Armello. That's certainly in part thanks to just how beautiful it looks, but it's somewhat deeper than that too - it just looks compelling. Very excited to see where this one goes. Oh, and take a look at this animation made for the game: