TABLE GAME REVIEW: Legends of Andor

Legends of AndorThis time on GS Table Games, reviewer WedgeDoc takes us on an exploration of a mythical land. A land of monsters and heroes. A land of Legends. Gather your friends and come with us as we take a look at a co-operative game of fantasy. Welcome to Andor!

Legends of Andor is a cooperative adventure board game for two to four players in which a band of heroes must work together to defend a fantasy realm from invading hordes. To secure Andor’s borders, the heroes will embark on dangerous quests in one of five unique scenarios (as well as a final scenario created by the players themselves). But as the clever game system keeps monsters on the march toward the castle, the players must balance their priorities carefully. Will their heroes roam the land completing quests in the name of glory, or devote themselves to the defense of the realm?

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Number of Players: 2 – 4 (optional solo rules can be downloaded for one of the legends)
Play Time (Approx): 75 mins
Ages: 10 +

I’m not the most competitive of individuals when it comes to board games. I think this is mainly because I have a nasty habit of losing, so it’s much easier to play for fun than to beat the other players senseless with my awesome supremeness. Games like Legends of Andor focus on the players working as a team to “beat the board,” and this style of game really appeals to me. Andor has double appeal as a small-scale role-playing game in a box. Each player takes on the role of one of four heroes (Warrior, Wizard, Archer, and Dwarf) to complete a quest around the mythical kingdom of Andor.

What sets Andor apart from other games (whether co-operative or otherwise) is that there is no real rule book provided. Instead, each legend (or quest) that players take part in presents the rules as they are needed in the game. An introductory legend teaches the basics of game-turns, movement, actions and combat for example. This really makes the game easy to get into once the board has been set up. I have played the introductory legend a couple of times with different groups. Because the first play of a game is often treated as a tutorial, it makes perfect sense for this to be incorporated into the game’s mechanics. It works well, too, and I’ll continue to use the legend as a starting point with other groups.

Legends of Andor in Progress

A Legend in Progress

That introduction doesn’t take long to play and from there, players can move into another legend. Each player’s equipment and statistics (strength and willpower) reset each time. A new legend is literally that. The players are given their objective, the first stage of the legend begins, and the monsters march on the castle. The game can be lost not only by running out of time, or by players dying, but also if a given number of monsters manage to invade the castle. Each turn, monsters will move along a designated route around the board (each area has an arrow indicating which way the monsters advance when it is time) towards the castle.

The progress of a legend takes place over a number of days, which are divided into a number of “adventuring hours,” with new stages taking effect as the “legend marker” advances. The marker will advance at the end of a game day (when all players have used their allotted hours) and also when monsters are defeated. This adds a level of tension to the game. Players must balance the danger of the advancing horde capturing the castle and the possibility of running out of time by the progression of the legend marker.

Combat is a little odd in the game. Monsters will never attack a player, instead they focus on advancing mindlessly to their goal. When a player attacks a monster, each attack round will take an hour of the game. At the end of the combat round, if the monster is dead, then great. If not, the player must choose whether to continue for another hour or end the fight. If the fight is ended without slaying the enemy, then it will be at full health the next time it attacks. As such, combat can be a risky proposition with regard the game’s time limit!

Fantasy Flight Games have filled the box with superb quality cardboard components. Yes, cardboard. There are no miniatures representing our heroes, their allies or the monsters they will face. Actually, I think this is fine, as the artwork is superb and really helps sell the game world. The inclusion of miniatures (especially unpainted ones) would detract from the over all experience and I really doubt the game would be affordable, given the sheer number of characters and monsters included.

Perhaps my favourite feature of the game is the most simple idea possible. Each of the four heroes can be represented by either a male or female version. The character boards are reversible and there are two versions of each character’s standee included in the game. This single idea just elevates the game. If I have some girl gamers over (in addition to my wife, obviously) they can choose the type of character they want to play if they want to be a girl or any male friends to, for that matter. Genius.

Legends of Andor Components

Some of the beautiful components

Head over to the game’s original site for a taster of the artwork. You can even download a beautiful map of Andor. This is essentially the game board, but overlaid with scrolls identifying key landmarks.

The game also includes a number of wooden counters that are used to track the progress of the game and each character’s strength and willpower. The dice are also wooden affairs. It may seem like a petty concern but I do prefer wooden components to plastic ones – especially for a game set in a “historic” period, so I’m glad the dice and counters are wood here.

The official sites for the game (the original and Fantasy Flight Games’) offer ideas for creating your own legends and offer alternative characters (including a template so you can create your own hero). Additionally, players occasionally post new legends and gameplay ideas over on board game geek. This game is well worth checking out. If you’re a miniature nut, you might be disappointed that the game-pieces are cardboard stand-ups, but that didn’t detract at all for me. I can see how the legends could become “by the numbers” once they’ve been played a few times as the strategy to complete them can be worked out, but the dice do add a randomising factor into the mix and different groups of players will lead to different ideas. The game should cost around £40, and I think that’s money well spent.

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Rating: 4 / 5
Reviewer: WedgeDoc

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