Designed by Christwart Conrad and Tony Rochon
# of players 2 - 4
Ages 8 and up
Armadora is a 2-4 player area control game. Your objective is to claim the biggest portion of the dwarven gold mines. Each turn, you will choose to either place one of your tokens facedown to claim territory or place a palisade to divide existing territories in two. The player with the highest strength in each territory wins its gold at the end of the game. The player with the most gold wins.
The gameplay is fairly simple. It reminds me of Othello, Mancala or Go. There are, however, a few elements that complicate matters. The tokens you place facedown each have a number on them, 1 thru 5. Since they remain facedown during the game, you are forced to speculate how much strength other players have invested in what areas.
The placing of the palisades is much more strategic than it looks. When the game starts, the entire board is one zone. Little by little, as the game progresses, the board gets chopped up into smaller territories. This completely changes the impact of the tokens and the outcome of the game. At one point, my brother was convinced that I had placed my strongest token in a certain spot near two big gold mines. He then spent a couple turns isolating that token into irrelevance with his palisades. He was wrong and that ended up being a real waste of resources for him.
When the game ends, all the numbered tokens are turned face up and it is determined who has the most strength in each territory. The winner of a territory gets all the gold of that territory. The player with the most gold wins.
Armadora possesses good strategy, much more so according to the skill of your opponents. It is not complicated, but it is still an open competition and therefore plenty challenging.
Still, in this world of games that are bursting with both personality and solid gameplay, Armadora delivers one and not the other. I didn't mind playing one bit, but I can play other games that have all the same fundamentals and lots of flair, as well. It does get better sipping on a fine Mexican Anejo.
*Small box is good for travel
*Solid, no frills quick strategy
*Good value ($14)
*Gameplay lacks unique or addictive qualities