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Winning Competitive Armello: How to Take the Crown

The king is corrupt, and it’s time to take the throne! Learn the secrets of Armello and how to use them to your advantage, from your first online matches to playing with the pros. Online Armello can be daunting to newcomers, but with some advice and a bit of practice you’ll be taking home the crown in no time.

This is a guide meant for players of intermediate skill, who have finished the in-game tutorial and tried out a few games. You’ll get the most out of the guide if you understand most of the basic mechanics and have a bit of experience in the game. I’ll also assume that you’re playing on PC, where Armello 2.0 and the Dragon Clan have been released. Some of the more general advice could still be useful, but Armello 2.0 was such a huge update that the meta looks very different across platforms. With practice and patience, anyone can learn to win Armello online. Sharpen your sword and ready your shield, tonight you take the throne!

Heroes and their Paths to Victory

With 24 unique heroes to choose from, picking one to play can be daunting. Every character has their own unique strategy, and this isn’t the place to break them all down, so I’ll be grouping heroes together based on the core strategy they use to win the game.

Before I go on, a quick disclaimer. Armello is all about adaptability, and in a dire situation, the best path to victory is the path of least resistance. All characters have perks, though. And those perks encourage certain styles of play. And while not every Twiss or Sargon will play the same, I’m taking some generalizations here to help identify what strategies could be used early on.

What an intimidating (but predictable) lineup...

What an intimidating (but predictable) lineup…

There are five main kinds of strategy; Fighter, spellcaster, trickster, rot and generalist. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages, and will be predisposed towards certain paths to win in Armello.

Fighter

Fighter strategies are often employed by heroes with high Fight or Body. They often choose to focus on building their Fight, Body and Wits so that they can attack other heroes, and eventually the King, head on. They tend to prefer to draw from the Item and Trickery decks, and often hold cards to burn in battle. The most capable fighting heroes have abilities that help them deal more damage or take less damage in combat. Thane, River, Magna and Brun are among heroes most likely to use a fighter strategy.

Looks like Sylas wants to commit some good old fashioned regicide.

Looks like Sylas wants to commit some good old fashioned regicide.

Fighters need a lot of Swords in combat to deal damage, and enough Shields and Body to make it around the board without dying. They also need enough Wits to draw the Item deck for equipment, and enough gold to play those Item cards. This means that questing and taking settlements can be important as a fighter. It’s also important for fighters to have cards in hand to burn if things go south in a fight, or to burn your way through Spirit perils. Most fighters win their games by killing the king outright, or holding the prestige lead to the bitter end.

Spellcaster

Spellcaster strategies demand high Spirit and Wits, with which to play Spell cards. Many spellcasters also have abilities that grant benefits to Spell cards. Spellcaster strategies don’t always value the same stat distributions, meaning this strategy varies based on the hero using it. Spellcasters draw the Spell deck, using their Spirit to engage enemies outside combat and place blocks in the way of their pursuers. Sana, Sargon, Yordana and Twiss are all capable spellcasters.

Playing at range, just how spellcasters like it.

Playing at range, just how spellcasters like it.

Spellcasters have an advantage at range, where they can damage their opponents with Spell cards like Immolation and rearrange the board with Banish and Teleport. The downside to this strategy is that spellcasters tend to suffer when locked into combat against heroes with high Fight and Body, or powerful equipment. Spellcasters are very mobile, and have an advantage when perusing spirit stones, but this strategy can lead to any victory within reach. It’s rare for spellcasters to win a true king slayer victory, but some can manage it. More often though, spellcasters win by prestige, or attempt spirit stone or rot victories.

Trickster

Trickster heroes benefit from high Wits, and passable fighting abilities. They possess hero abilities that make them difficult to track and target, or that steal resources from other players. They have the option of drawing from any deck they please, although they rarely have the Spirit to make use of high cost Spell cards. Their high Wits lets them turn their unused cards into an advantage, holding them and allowing them to be burned later on. Mercurio, Zosha, Elyssia and Griotte are some of the most common tricksters.

I hope my next quest isn't in that settlement...

I hope my next quest isn’t in that settlement…

Gold is the most plentiful resource for trickster strategies, and so trickster heroes will often draw the Trickery deck. The Trickery deck is infinitely useful, and few heroes make a habit of drawing from it, which opens up an often untapped resource. Trickster strategies may struggle to take the crown by prestige, thanks to the number of prestige-cost cards in the Trickery deck. Tricksters can be unpredictable, since they win the game in varied ways. Tricksters in a solid position to fight can easily overpower the king and anyone on their way to him, and mobile tricksters have the mobility to snatch and steal spirit stones when they appear.

Rot

The one thing rot heroes have in common is that they lose out on some or all of their benefits if they choose not to pursue a rot victory. These heroes are often the most predictable since they announce their preference right out of the gate, but that doesn’t mean they lose their other options if their main plan fails. Fang and the Dragon Clan heroes are the only characters that fall into this category.

Uh, if Fang is corrupted, then is this really an upgrade?

Uh, if Fang is corrupted, then is this really an upgrade?

Rot heroes use their unique abilities to achieve success. Each rot hero plays differently, but all will chase the most powerful rot cards in the game. Bane Blade and Reaper’s Trident from the Treasure deck, Warlock from the Follower deck, Plague Bearers from the Trickery deck, Dark Influence and Call of the Worm from the Spell deck and Hot Rot Wine and Marauder Gauntlets from the Item deck are the main cards they seek. Watch them closely, as they are the cards that win Armello with rot. 

Generalist

All characters are somewhat generalists, but what we’re talking about here are heroes with utilitarian hero abilities and well-rounded stats. They can win the game by any means, and can be surprisingly unpredictable. This is sort of a catch-all category for heroes who don’t quite fall into the above groups. Amber, Barnaby, Hargrove and Scarlet all fall into the generalist group.

Hero Selection

When starting a game of Armello, the first and most important decision you make is what hero loadout you’ll bring. You can see your opponents’ heroes, (but not their rings and amulets) and see once they’ve finalized their pick. This is a situation where you mustn’t be too hasty. The hero you choose, and your matchup against your opponents, is critical to winning in Armello. In practice, it isn’t unusual to swap heroes until the timer hits zero without having readied for the game, or for last-second switches to change the lineup drastically. If time runs out before you ready up, don’t worry, you won’t get kicked out of the lobby.

Armello - 'Horrors & Heroes' Trailer

Once you’ve selected a hero, (you have to actually hit the “select” button for this to count) you’ll be automatically readied with that hero. If you haven’t selected a hero, you’ll ready up with a random hero, using your saved loadout for that hero. As long as you’ve got a hero selected, you can wait out the hero selection clock without worry. That being said, once everyone else is ready, you should ready up too! It’s just polite.

Winning is in the Cards

Cards are your key to victory in Armello. Your Wits let you draw more cards, and your Spirit and gold let you play more cards. Cards have powerful abilities, and the right cards can win or cost you games. One of the hardest and most important aspects of Armello is mastering the cards. It might be frowned upon in a casino, but in Armello, sometimes it helps to count cards.

Simeon's Arms and Wyld Weed? Don't mind if I do!

Simeon’s Arms and Wyld Weed? Don’t mind if I do!

Below I’ll lay out some of the best cards in each deck, what they do and how many of each there are. If one of these cards is played, or should you happen to draw one, make a mental note that it’s not in the deck anymore. When a deck runs out, all of the cards in the discard pile get reshuffled into a new deck, so it’s important to know which of these valuable cards are being put back up for grabs. Knowing where game-winning cards are at all times can help you pull ahead.

Nobody has to know I drew this...

Nobody has to know I drew this…

It’s a common tactic to burn off powerful cards that don’t align with your strategy, since it prevents them from being revealed to the other players at the table. That means your opponents might start digging in decks for something that isn’t there anymore.

Cards come in a few different types and rarities. You can see a card’s type by hovering over the icon at the bottom right of the card, and the rarity by hovering over the icon in the bottom left. As a general rule, common cards have 4 or more copies per deck, uncommon cards have 3 copies, rare cards have 2 copies and unique cards have only a single copy in the whole game.

Item Deck

This versatile deck is drawn occasionally by almost all heroes. Most of the cards here cost gold, but some will force you to gain rot, and a select few are free. This is the only deck where you can reliably find equipment, so draw from it when you need to beef up your gear or if you have extra gold to burn on instant effects. Sword and shield cards are plentiful here, draw the Item deck if you need them to burn. Here are some of the key cards from the Item deck.

Name Type Cost Effect Symbol Rarity
Cub’s Blood Instant +1 Rot

Teleport nearest Bane to tile.

Rot Unique

King’s Guard Armor

Equipment -2 Gold

In battle, first two suns or moons that miss count as defenses.

Shield Rare
Bastard Sword Equipment -4 Gold

In battle, +1 sword and +1 die.

Sword Rare
Hare’s Halberd  Equipment -2 Gold In battle, +1 die and opponents suffer -1 die. Sword Rare
Hot Rot Wine Instant

+1 Rot

+1 AP and -1 Health. Rot Uncommon

Spell Deck

The Spell deck is drawn often by heroes with high Spirit, but can be occasionally drawn by most heroes. Almost all of the cards in this deck use a hero’s magic, but a small handful impose a rot penalty to use. This deck is best drawn from when you have available magic. The Spell deck has the highest concentration of sun and moon cards, making it a great resource for burning those symbols. Although they are still uncommon, the spell deck also has the most rot and wyld cards by percentage. Here are some of the key cards from the Spell deck.

Name Type Cost Effect Symbol Rarity
Spirit Strike Instant -X Magic -1 health per magic spent when cast. Costs all remaining magic. Moon Unique
Crystalize Instant -6 Magic Summon spirit stone. Wyld Unique
Dark Influence Instant -4 Magic

+1 rot, and +1 random rot spell card in target’s hand.

Rot Unique
Teleport Instant -3 Magic

Teleport to tile. Palace tiles restricted.

Sun Rare
Banish Instant -4 Magic

Teleport to the furthest dungeon.

Moon Rare

Trickery Deck

The cost of cards in the Trickery deck can vary, with some costing gold, several costing prestige and a couple that impose a rot penalty. Sword, shield and moon cards are common here, but there is not a single wyld card to be found. Draw from the Trickery deck if you aren’t in the running for prestige, have extra available gold, or are in pursuit of shield, sun or moon cards. Here are some of the key cards from the Trickery deck.

Name Type Cost Effect Symbol Rarity
Strategist Instant -3 Gold +1 Action Point. Sword Unique
Grand Heist Instant -6 Gold Steal 1 Spirit Stone. Sun Unique
Witch Hunters Peril -3 Gold -4 Magic and -1 Action Point. Shield Rare
Welcoming Party Peril -2 Gold Exile to nearest unoccupied Mountain, and turn ends immediately. Sword Rare
False Orders Instant -1 Gold Force King’s Guard off tile. Shield Rare

Follower Deck

As the name of this deck suggests, it is the main way to obtain new Followers. Cards from this deck can be drawn and presented to heroes as quest rewards, or can be drawn while exploring dungeons. All Follower cards provide powerful benefits, but some are more sought after than others. And yet, all but one of the cards from this deck are free, and the only costly card inflicts a mere +1 rot penalty.

Treasure Deck

The best of the best cards Armello has to offer are concentrated right into the Treasure deck. It functions a lot like the Follower deck, in that cards are drawn most often via quest rewards or dungeon exploration. Treasure cards are a bit less rare than follower cards, but can still be extremely transformative. The right combination of treasures and items is the key to most Armello games. Most of these cards are free as well, with only a handful inflicting rot penalties as a cost.

Winning Armello

Each game of Armello needs four players, and in the end, only one will win. Don’t be discouraged by losing. You can’t win every game, and that’s especially true when playing online for the first time. Armello is practically brimming with traps for new players, and the experienced player base can make breaking into online play difficult for newcomers. With a little bit of effort however, you can overcome those traps and win at Armello for the first time.

The crown is mine!

The crown is mine!

There are 4 win conditions in Armello, each ranging in difficulty. Your win condition should support your hero ability while making use of the tools you are given during the match. Remember, don’t stick to a losing plan just because your hero ability benefits from it. If four spirit stones fall into your lap, even Fang can cleanse the king. Take careful stock of your resources every step of the way, and flow down the path of least resistance for the best chance to win Armello.

Breaking Into the Palace

The perils placed on the palace tiles are always the same in every game. There are two Wits and two Spirit perils, alternating on each side of the castle. The Wits perils always require one wyld, one sword, one shield and one rot to pass, while the Spirit perils require one wyld, one sun, one moon and one rot. In addition to this cost, every +1 difficulty card played to a palace peril will add 1 rot to the symbols needed to pass it, so make sure you keep an eye on where these cards are played.

Sometimes the only solution is breaking and entering.

Sometimes the only solution is breaking and entering.

Having the four cards you need in hand guarantees your entry to the palace, a strategy you can use to confront the king before you’re granted entry by your quests. Be aware that by clearing the peril you open the way for other heroes who might challenge you. Be ready to defend your claim to the throne should this happen. You are at your most vulnerable while sitting just inside the palace walls, as other players and the King’s guards will all do their best to push you back. Managing risk and reward is crucial to keeping your foothold inside the palace. If you get pushed out, an opponent could steal your victory out from under you.

Winning Armello with Prestige

The prestige victory is Armello’s greatest trap for new players. When first starting out, the game almost encourages victory by prestige, when in reality it is one of the rarest win conditions in Armello. To win by prestige, you have to not only be prestige leader late into the game, you have to also prevent all three other players from enacting their win conditions as well. Prestige is less of a primary win condition, and more of a back-up plan for when things don’t go your way.

Being the King's favorite comes with certain perks.

Being the King’s favorite comes with certain perks.

There are other benefits that come with being the prestige leader, though. Choosing the King’s orders can help you stay ahead, giving you powerful tools to fend off other heroes. Most of the opportunities you have to gain prestige will also award you some other benefit, like gold or progress on your quest line. But if you go into a game planning to win by prestige alone, you should be aware of the risks you face. The entire table is against you, and other heroes won’t let you win so easily.

Winning Armello by Killing the King

Killing the king in an outright battle results in the king slayer victory. You also get this victory if you kill the King by using River’s hero power. If you have four spirit stones, or if your rot is greater than the king’s, you won’t be eligible for the king slayer victory anymore. Instead, you’ll be attempting the spirit stone or rot victories respectively.

Now it's just me and him, I have to take him out now or lose.

Now it’s just me and him, I have to take him out now or I lose.

The key to winning a king slayer victory is to minimize the number of dice you miss in combat, because every miss gets added straight to the king’s die pool. It’s a good idea to burn as many cards as you can before rolling your dice, and depending on your equipment and cards in hand, it may be better to burn swords and shields you don’t really need rather than risking that they turn against you. This balance becomes clearer with practice, so keep in mind the risk in every die you roll.

Winning Armello with Spirit Stones

Spirit stones can be annoying, popping up randomly all over the board and always forcing their way into your quest rewards, replacing treasures and followers. The good news is that with four of them, the easiest path to victory opens up for you.

The Druids never told me that Spirit Walkers were quite so... Visible.

The Druids never told me that Spirit Walkers were quite so… Visible.

Holding four spirit stones will transform your hero into a Spirit Walker. When this happens, you’ll immediately be purified of corruption and can instantly destroy corrupted creatures. This means for every point of rot you have, you’ll suffer -1 health and -1 rot. Any other rot you manage to gain will be cleansed in a similar manner, so be prepared to take damage if rot is forced upon you. Spirit Walkers can purify the king, killing him instantly upon confrontation without the need for combat. First though, you’ll need to get into the castle. Spirit walkers glow on the board for all players, and because of this, it’s easy for other players to find you and stop you in your tracks.

Winning Armello with Rot

The only time you can win by rot victory is when your rot is greater than the king’s, so plan accordingly. Rot victory can get very dangerous because of just how many dice you have in the final combat.

You thought the King was bad? Hah, you've seen nothing yet.

You thought the King was bad? Hah, you haven’t seen anything yet.

The King’s rot grows with time, and since you’ll be receiving a die for every point of his rot in combat, you can be quickly overwhelmed. Your Fight, your equipment, the King’s rot and any temporary effects will all add to your die pool, and each miss becomes a new die for the King to roll. Because of this, extra care should be taken to minimize misses, including using equipment that turns your misses into other symbols. Moreover, dying in combat with the king will force a prestige victory, so you should do everything in your power to survive the fight. You’re almost certain to kill him – but you’re just as likely to die as he is.

Rare Events

Armello is a game of luck as much as it is a game of strategy. There are a handful of mechanics that happen so rarely that few experience them while learning. Because of their rarity you won’t often have to deal with them, but it’s far better to know that they exist.

Random Encounters

When certain conditions are met, a roll of the dice could give you a lucky break. Random events happen from time to time, offering you a choice of three outcomes. These events are the only way to obtain the cards Apothecary and Moon Sickle, and each event has a unique achievement.

A generous offer from a kindly apothecary is always a sign of good fortune.

A generous offer from a kindly apothecary is always a sign of good fortune.

Visiting a stone circle at night has a small chance to start the Ancients encounter, visiting a dungeon at night has a chance to start the Goblin’s Game encounter, Whiteshadow’s Gift has a chance of appearing for heroes with rot who travel through forests in the day, and A Helping Paw is rarely lent to heroes with one health who journey into settlements during the day.

Routing

When a player is attacked, there is a chance their aggressor forces them back. In general, whoever deals the most damage takes control of the contested tile. And if the battle is undecided, then both heroes stand their ground. But what happens if a hero is forced back, and has nowhere to retreat to?

I could get routed by Zosha or a Bane if I stay too long... Better get a move on.

I could get routed by Zosha or a Bane if I stay too long… Better get a move on.

This is called routing, and when it happens, the retreating player is immediately killed because there is no tile they can retreat to behind them. It isn’t fair, however, it does happen on occasion. To avoid routing, be cautious of tight spaces. If an attack would force you off the board or into an obstacle, you’re at risk of being routed. You can also rout NPCs like Banes, or be routed by them if you’re not careful.

Story Questing Bonus

Armello has a deep lore and rich history, and sometimes that history can help you get ahead. The quests in Armello may seem random to the untrained eye, but in fact, each one represents a piece of the world of Armello.

As it turns out, followers can pull their own weight.

As it turns out, followers can pull their own weight.

If you have the right combination of a quest, a Clan and either equipment or a follower, could be offered a third choice when completing your quest. There are dozens of combinations so I can’t list them all here, but you’ll know when it happens. Sometimes this third option is worth it, sometimes it isn’t, but it usually doesn’t require a test to claim its reward. Always make sure to check your quest resolutions to be sure you aren’t skipping over any extra options!

Conclusion

Armello is a difficult game with an established meta and player base, making it difficult for new players to get their footing. With some advice, the right strategy and lots of practice, however, you can learn to win. Learning to read other heroes, count cards in the deck and manage your win conditions are just the beginning of what you can achieve within Armello, but you can only learn so much through study alone. Now is the time to go forth, apply what you’ve learned and take the throne for yourself! 

SOURCE: Story Based Quest Solutions, Random Encounters

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