- For ages 8 and up (publisher suggests 12+)
- For 2 to 3 players
- Approximately 5 minutes to complete
- Counting & Math
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Risk vs. Reward
- Hand/Resource Management
- Child – Easy
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Get to the armory and quickly suit up with the best armor and weapons you can use!
- Gamer Geek approved!
- Parent Geek approved!
- Child Geek approved!
There is a dragon at the gates! The village is burning! The King is demanding all the knights rush out and fight the dreaded beast! There is no time to plan. You only have a few minutes to get to the armory and grab whatever is at hand. Good thing you know your way around a sword and shield, but being rushed never feels good. Having only minutes to decide, you grab your gear and pray it’s enough to take down the giant monster burning your beloved kingdom.
Armor Up, designed by Alisha Volkman and published via the Game Crafter, is comprised of 18 cards. The cards are slightly thicker and more durable than your standard playing card. The illustrations, also by Alisha Volkman, are bright, colorful, and whimsical.
To the Armory!
To set up the game, complete the following steps. It will take you longer to read how to set up the game than to complete the game setup!
First, take the eighteen cards and shuffle them.
Second, take the shuffled deck of cards and place them face-down in the middle of the playing area and within easy reach of all the players. This is the draw deck for the duration of the game. Leave room next to the draw deck for a discard row.
That completes the game setup! I told you it would take longer to read the instructions than to get the game on the table. Now determine who will be the first player and begin.
Get in Gear
Armor Up is played in turns for six turns per game.
A player may do one of two things on their turn.
- Draw Two Cards, Discard One: The player may draw two cards from the draw deck, adding them to their hand. They must then discard one card from their hand to the discard row. Cards placed in the discard row should remain face-up and easy to see by all the players during the game.
- Take One Card from the Discard Row: If drawing blind is not your thing, the player may take anyone’s face-up card in the discard row into their hand.
This completes the player’s turn. The next player in the turn order sequence now takes their turn.
Armor Up is about mixing and matching various armor and weaponry pieces to maximize your badass potential. The goal for all players is to create the “perfect hand” of hand-selected (no pun intended) personal gear to kick some serious butt. While this reads easy on paper, selecting gear and various armaments is a mix of give and take. Each player is limited, and the game is fast. Decision-making is based on what you know, giving players little choice but to make a decision given limited information at the start of the game. As the game progresses, the player will better understand what they can work with.
All cards share the same information and are easy to read. However, not all of the information on the card will be important to the player as they build their hand.
Winning the Game
The game ends when all the players have six cards in their hands. All players now reveal their cards, placing them face-up on the table. It’s time to score that gear!
Most equipment comes with a point value. These points (referred to as “Stars”), found in the upper left of the card, should be counted and added together from all the visible cards in the player’s hand.
Next, each player should determine how many bonus points are earned based on the grouping of named cards, certain types, and suits.
After all the players have determined their total score, the highest score wins!
To learn more about Armor Up, visit the game’s webpage.
The Child Geeks enjoyed this little game, finding it fast and fun. It’s a great way to spend their time waiting at the kitchen table or restaurant. The game takes very little space and can be played in less than five minutes. However, one game was rarely enough, meaning the Child Geeks would play several games in a row, announcing the winner as the individual player who won so many games in a series. Regardless of their approach, all the Child Geeks enjoyed the game. According to one Child Geek, “The game is really easy to learn, but you won’t do very well in your first game. After you learn how to play once, you’ll be good at it.” Another Child Geek said, “Getting all the right armor makes you feel like a legendary hero! I liked this game!” When the last bit of armor was fully equipped, the Child Geeks all agreed that Armor Up was pretty damn cool.
The Parent Geeks found the game to be an interesting and worthwhile use of their time with their children, but not within their peer group. According to one Parent Geek, “This is the perfect game to put in my bag and have available anytime my kids get squirrely while we are out and about. I enjoyed how accessible and quick it was to put up and put away. It was best used at restaurants and the airport. Kept my kids busy for a good hour before they started asking for my iPhone.” Another Parent Geek said, “A good game for the kids and me when I want a quick game to keep their minds and eyes away from the video games. The rules are easy, and the choices are meaningful. A nice little game I greatly enjoyed.” When the last blade was sharpened and the shield raised, the Parent Geeks all agreed that Armor Up was a worthwhile game.
The Gamer Geeks appreciated the game’s approach and ease of play but were left wondering why they would ever play more than a few games before placing it in their back pocket. They decide it best to view the game as intended – a microgame. For those unfamiliar with this term, a microgame is meant to be a very small and fast game. It includes all normally found aspects of larger games but is expertly streamlined to reduce the time needed to play. It is, in all cases, a complete game. The Gamer Geeks recognized this and gave Armor Up the grace it deserved having been purpose designed to be small, fast, and in your face. One Gamer Geek said, “A clever game. I can see myself playing this when bored at the bar with friends or wanting a quick game with my girlfriend. I don’t think it’s anything to get super excited about, but I’m glad I was introduced to it.” Another Gamer Geek said, “Pretty neat. I remember playing a game similar to this with my grandma but with a deck of cards. It made me smile to remember those times, and this game made me smile for just being easy fun.” When the last shield was polished, the Gamer Geeks all agreed that Armor Up was a little gem worth their while.
Like many other microgames, Armor Up nails its purpose with thoughtful gameplay. What it lacks in depth due to being a microgame is quickly forgotten as players try to create the armor and weapon set that scores the most points. Turns, while limited and fast, are thoughtful and interesting. I often looked longingly at a card discarded only to be cheated of claiming it by an opponent. And yet, I never felt I was being blocked or could not quickly recover. More to the point, the ease and shortness of gameplay made even disappointments feel fleeting and unimportant, as there was always a new choice. Great stuff.
For me, Armor Up felt like a deck-builder. These types of games challenge the player to consider how they evolve their deck one card at a time to create meaningful choices every hand. I find them fascinating. Armor Up captures this and presents it in an easy-to-follow and quick format. Most deck-builder games can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Armor Up scratches that itch for me in less time than it took you to read this review.
Do try this microgame when time permits. I am pleased to see this approach to creating games continues to be explored and improved upon. Those of us who enjoy the hobby of board, card, and dice games have an evergrowing collection of games to tap into that can take days to complete to mere minutes. It feels good to know that for every gamer and opportunity, there is a game to be played and shared. Equip this game at your next gathering to see if it meets your standards.
This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.