Andor: The Family Fantasy Game – Fight or Flight?
KOSMOS released Legends of Andor a decade ago, hewing a new path for a lightweight cooperative fantasy adventure. Michael Menzel’s approachable art and KOSMOS’s excellent graphic design created an adventure solid enough to spawn numerous sequels and pseudo-sequels in the Andor universe.
But what if players wanted something simple? What if the 10+ age rating on Legends of Andor flitted out of reach for a younger group, or a family eager to introduce their younger players into the Andor property, knowing there was so much room to grow.
Enter Andor: The Family Fantasy Game, a game so similar in concept to Legends of Andor that BoardGameGeek calls it a reimplementation of the original title.
Andor: The Family Fantasy Game was designed by Inka and Markus Brand, illustrated by Michael Menzel, and published by KOSMOS. This version brings the difficulty level down to a 7+ crowd, and it lasts 30-45 minutes.
If you’ve played almost any game in the Andor series before, you’ll recognize a lot of the pieces in the box. Gors are back to torment the countryside, as is the dragon working his way to the town of Rietburg.
Your goal is to complete some number of tasks for the bridge guard to the mine, make it into the mine, and find the wolf mother’s three cubs before the dragon lays waste to Rietburg.
Each player chooses one of four very slightly asymmetric characters. KOSMOS generously provided art and standees that lets every player choose whether to play as a boy or a girl.
Put fog tokens face down on every spot to the left of the river that doesn’t have any other art in the space, and mine tokens on every spot to the right of it, again, face down. Put wells on the well spots, the bridge guard in front of the bridge, and the dragon token on its appropriate starting spot, depending on player count.
Each player puts one Gor on the board, starting at the “8” spot and counting down.
Take whichever task cards you want to try to complete during this game and place them red size up between the start and end cards. There are details in the rulebook on the specific tasks. There may be additional board setup depending on these tasks. You’re ready to play!
Playing the Game
Play starts with the oldest player and continues clockwise. Each player may move as many spaces as they have action tokens, from 0 to their max unspent amount. (If a player does not move, they still spend a token). Wherever the player lands, they perform the action on that space. That could be fighting a Gor, flipping over a facedown fog token, or the action on one of the special spaces – lighting the tower, drinking from the well, or buying torches from the merchant.
The fog tokens may reveal good things (wood, sword tokens, coins) or bad things (dragon icons, Gors). Players will need to flip some tokens over, but there’s always a risk in doing so.
If a player has left over action tokens at the end of their one action, they keep them, and play continues to the next player. The first player to use all of their action tokens becomes the first player of the next round, and play continues until all players have used their actions.
Then, bad stuff happens. A player rolls the dragon die and moves the dragon toward Rietburg. Players move all of the Gors one space closer to Rietburg as well. If a Gor reaches the town, roll the dragon die again. Then, depending on the dragon’s location, players put more Gors on the board.
It’s everyone’s responsibility to work together to keep the dragon away from the town while simultaneously completing their tasks. Some tasks require ferrying a character from one location to another, while other tasks require the players carry items to specific locations.
Once all of the tasks for the game are complete, the players have satisfied the Bridge Guard, and they can enter the mine. In the mine, there are three wolf pup tokens and a lot of dragon tokens all face down.
Players uncover these mine tokens by rolling “torch” symbols on their dice. Try to find those baby wolves and save the day! Once players find all three wolf pup tokens, they win! If the dragon reaches Rietburg first, the players have failed to defend the town, and everyone loses.
When we first cracked the box for Andor: The Family Fantasy Game we were excited. This was a collaborative adventure where we would be slaying monsters and saving the town! We had played Adventureland from HABA, and we were hopeful that this would be at least as good, if not an upgrade.
And it is! Andor is very open world – players can go wherever they want. There are no real movement restrictions other than needing to get the Bridge Guard out of the way before the group can complete the final task.
Unfortunately, we found that at four players, everyone was just waiting for their own turn. The slight asymmetry meant there were a few tasks certain characters were better suited for, but not enough to dramatically change the way we played. Other than the goals being generally shared, there was no real room for cooperation. This is a hard mechanic to capture in a family-weight game, but something that can be smoothed over if the game itself were more fast-moving, or if the tasks were more clearly suited to characters who had abilities that differed a little more from one another.
When we cut the player count down to three or even two, the game flowed better. We cringed together every time we needed to roll the dragon die, and as player count dropped, it was harder to fight off the Gors and keep the dragon away from the town.
Unfortunately, this balance is where the game struggled for us. The game flowed better at lower player counts but the difficulty ratcheted up without all those extra actions available to clear tokens, resolve tasks, and fight enemies. The game hits best for our family at three, but then it’s either only the kids, or some kids are left out when parents are involved.
Left to their own devices, this game doesn’t have enough interesting set pieces or unique tasks to keep our kids coming back to it. They’re going to play something else.
There also isn’t really anything cohesive about this game that keeps people coming back. There are ten different tasks to accomplish, but there’s nothing connected between them, and no story to move forward by finishing these tasks. Ultimately, these different pieces felt hollow. There was no end to reach for.
The core gameplay loop is fun, approachable, and understandable, but it doesn’t really change much, even with the different tasks. Everything is an exploration, a fetch quest, or a basic attack. Everything worked, but we were hoping for a little more.
For this reason, we think Andor: The Family Fantasy Game is best suited for parents with one or two younger children who don’t have a lot of experience with deep board game mechanics. The shallow gameplay loop can still be exciting for children, eager to help their fantastical friends accomplish their goals.
The Family Gamers received a promotional copy of Andor: The Family Fantasy Game for this review.
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Andor: The Family Fantasy Game
Number of Players: 2-4 players
Age Range: 7+
Playtime: 30-45 minutes