Armadora Review

Area Control
Blue Orange Games
Christwart Conrad
Tony Rochon

Armadora is a straightforward, compact area control game.  Its abstract gameplay will appeal to some, but for us it was a touch too simple and its decisions lacked impact.

In Armadora, players will compete to gain influence over the titular territory, where the dwarves have amassed a fortune in gold nuggets.  Players will add both their own clan members to the board, as well as place palisades in order to divide up the territory into smaller parcels, and at the end of the game, control over each area of the board will be calculated, with the gold going to the player (or players) with the most influence there.

There’s gold in them thar hills.

Jess:  So, we’re all dwarven clans, competing over our treasure?

Andrew:  Nope.  The gold belongs to the dwarves, but players are the elves, orcs, goblins, and mages.

Jess:  So…it’s a game about stealing dwarven gold?  Like, in some great battle?

Andrew:  No battle.  We’re robbing these dwarves through the power of gerrymandering!

Jess:  I’m suddenly not feeling so great about this…

Somewhat convoluted ‘plot’ aside, the rules for Armadora are abstract and quite simple.  Each player has a certain number of warrior tokens, the number and values of which vary by player count.  Their are also 35 wooden palisades.  On a player’s turn, they can either place a single warrior token in an unoccupied space, or they can place up to two palisades.

The Elves, along with the 3 ‘advanced variant’ tokens.

Warrior tokens are placed face-down, so players never know precisely how aggressively another player is pursuing a given area of the board.  Palisades are used to divide up the board into smaller territories, potentially cutting a player’s warriors off from the gold they were trying to claim.  Once the board is full, the warrior tokens are flipped face-up, per-territory majorities are calculated, and gold is handed out.

Things were going well for the Goblins. Then this wall dropped out of the sky…

And that’s it, really.  There is an ‘advanced’ variant, that gives each faction an extremely limited-use special power – the mages get to peek at 2 face-down warriors, the goblins get to make a single extra warrior once, orcs place a single extra palisade once, and elves get to place two -1 tokens on enemy warriors. There’s also an advanced variant that gives each player a single +1 token that can be added to a warrior.

Andrew:  I do hate to sound lukewarm on a compact, easy to play title perfect for travel, but Armadora simply wasn’t to my taste.  Even with the ‘advanced’ variants, it lacked punch.

Jess:  Yeah, me either.  There was just too much hidden information, too few interesting decisions, and overall just not enough going on to keep me hooked.  And like I said before, even though it’s totally an abstract, the theme actually made me feel kinda crappy.  We’re all just jerks taking treasure that doesn’t belong to us, and we’re doing it by drawing arbitrary lines on a map to decide what districts vote Mage and what districts vote Elf or whatever.

Armadora wasn’t a game for us.  While it is well-made and portable, neither its mechanics nor its theme appealed.  That said, if the idea of its gameplay does sound like something you might like, it’s also a small box game with a matching price tag, and that could make it a good fit for folks who might get more out of it than we did.

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(Gameosity received a review copy of this game.  We were not otherwise compensated.)

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