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Review: Legends of Andor

Gamers love a good adventure. Gathering together a motley band of heroes to take on the evils of the world is the stuff of… well… Legends. These take place in Andor.

Legends of Andor Box
2 – 4 players | 60 – 90 minutes | Beginner – Medium Difficulty

Legends of Andor is composed of a series of quests which the players, as adventuring heroes, must work together to solve. Some of the quests involving bringing an item to a location, some involve defeating monsters, and almost all of them involve managing time effectively. To proceed in the story of the game, players must complete the quests in sequence which also advances an overarching plot.

Each game begins with a standard game setup and a specific setup for a quest driven by Quest Cards which lay out the goal as well as any components necessary. Rules for the components are revealed during play and additional effects and opportunities from landscape features on the board might take place as well. Once setup is complete, the quest introduction is read aloud and players can begin.

Each player takes the role of an adventurer with a specific strength, combat style, and individual ability. The individual abilities give each player an extreme advantage that can be utilized, and the appropriate timing of using these abilities can make or break the success of a quest. However, the play order in the game is fixed by adventurer, so players must work with some of the game constraints to decide what is the best course of action.

The game board presents a map of Andor and the castle which players are focused on during the first quest. A series of spaces at the top of the board shows the hours in the day. Each day, players get a set number of hours to complete all the actions they can. This could be attacking a monster, moving, or interacting with the map.  Once a day is over, monsters activate and a separate pawn marking the plot step (A – N) is advanced. If any events occur from the quest or from a random set of event cards, players also resolve those. If the players do not complete the goal of the quest, usually by the time the plot marker gets to N, they fail the quest.

Presentation

  • The board, cards, and tokens are of good quality.
  • The art for the game board and player boards is very engaging and epic. The player boards allow for tokens to be placed on the character showing the equipped weapons or shields. This adds a great thematic touch.
  • The introductory rulebook which leads new players through the adventuring experience is overly simplistic. If players are familiar with games like this, it’s easy to get tripped up on the first quest because a part of the adventure was activated incorrectly in anticipation of an upcoming rule. It makes the first play experience feel almost mechanical and not as enjoyable.
  • The full reference rulebook is comprehensive, but very dry with minimal visuals or examples. This is understandable, but also feels like it makes it harder to find relevant information scanning through the text.
  • The cardboard monster and character tokens feel adequate. They’re cardboard to accommodate male and female sides, but miniatures would have felt better. The dragon cardboard miniature was pretty flimsy.

Legends of Andor in play Legends of Andor Dragon

Legends of Andor in play

Gameplay

  • The game does a fine job of introducing new mechanisms to play at just the right moments.
  • Once players are in the swing of how the game flows, turns can go fast as long as discussion of plans is kept to a minimum. However, this is the heart of the game. This is definitely a game where gamers with a strong personality can overly orchestrate the game actions.
  • As much as the theme tries to make players feel like they are part of an adventure, it still feels like a cooperative puzzle. Game elements are viewed less for their thematic flair and more for their necessity to complete the quest.
  • Monsters are no more than two-dimensional puppets to be smacked down. There is some thrill in defeating them but the limited dice mechanic and the overwhelming power of even the monsters one level above the base monsters make combat seem more like a mathematical challenge. In addition, defeating monsters for some reason advances the plot, which makes sense on a game level but really detracts from the thematic immersion.
  • Twists and turns in the plot are interesting and well scripted, but also feel mechanical. The new challenge represents more of a roadblock to make the quest harder at a critical moment.

Fun

  • The game overstays its welcome. It is definitely fun for a couple of adventures once you get the hang of it, but completing quests is not tremendously difficult once you figure out the mechanics of each quest. Once you’ve played through all the quests once, there isn’t much incentive to play again.
  • Discussion for how to proceed in each quest is limited by the creativity and analytical skills of the participants. Even then, there is usually one most efficient path to victory.
  • The entire game, if focused on, can be completed in six game sessions, which is very short. It makes expansions really necessary.
  • Players looking for immersive adventure should steer clear. This is a puzzle solving exercise.

Collection Management

Many games have borrowed from Legends of Andor’s play style. Some of the newer campaign style games such as Time Stories are very similar. Players looking for the same puzzle-solving mechanisms with a fantasy veneer will be pleased. As much as the game might invite kids to join in a family game, this one is more geared for kids 12 and older.

Scores for Legends of Andor
  • Presentation - 70
  • Gameplay - 75
  • Fun - 70

Summary

Heavy theme just barely keeps an intriguing puzzle from being completely mechanical, even if the replayability is limited.

72