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Legends of Andor – Base Game

RRP: £39.99
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Legends of Andor is a co-operative adventure game by Kosmos Games for 2–4 players. Designer Michael Menzel is better known for his amazing board game art. Legends of Andor proves he’s a man of many talents, though! Andor is a fictional, fantastical realm, but there’s evil invading hordes trying to conquer it! This is where you step in, a brave party of asymmetrical adventurers…
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Category Tags , , , SKU Z-THKO-691745 Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • The puzzly ‘pick-up and deliver’ nature of the gameplay
  • You have to cooperate and plan together to win this game
  • Trying out how the different characters play
  • The way that each legend plays differently
  • The ease with which you can start playing the game

Might Not Like

  • The way that you have to pick and choose which creatures to fight, you can’t kill them all
  • It’s got standees rather than miniatures
  • There are a lot of components
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Description

Legends of Andor is a co-operative adventure game by Kosmos Games for 2–4 players. Designer Michael Menzel is better known for his amazing board game art. Legends of Andor proves he’s a man of many talents, though!

Andor is a fictional, fantastical realm, but there’s evil invading hordes trying to conquer it! This is where you step in, a brave party of asymmetrical adventurers. Can you hold back these monsters and beasts and secure the realm’s borders?

There’s various scenarios you can play as standalone experiences. These form part of a larger campaign-style arc, if you play them back-to-back. Each scenario (a ‘legend’ in its own right) comes with a Legend deck of cards. There’s Legend track too, which acts as a game timer of sorts. Once the marker hits a point, you draw a card from the Legend deck and address the situation accordingly. These cards introduce various effects into the scenario: extra antagonists, advancing the plot, and so on.

Legends of Andor features point-to-point area movement. The hordes move ever-closer to the city in the top-left corner of the board. The board features the kingdom of Andor, with various terrains. It has a grid overlaid on it, with each section having a number. When baddies get introduced into the game, they might enter on a certain number, for example. The sections have arrows, depicting which direction that character moves next turn. (This is always towards the city, so it’s almost programmable).

Legends of Andor has an excellent track record, and has spawned many expansions. It seems as though the kingdom of Andor is a sought-after place, with many baddies wanting in on the action! For more Andor goodies, check out the likes of Legends of Andor: The Last Hope, also by Kosmos Games.

Player Count: 2–4 Players
Time: 60–90 minute
Age: 10+

Legends of Andor is a cooperative game that won the prestigious Kennerspiel des Jahres in 2013. In this fantasy game, you’ll be completing tasks and fighting monsters to protect King Brandur’s castle. Along the way, you’ll be meeting a variety of other characters such as the witch and Prince Thorald. Will your small band of heroes be up to the task of saving Andor?

What’s It All About

In Legends of Andor, you each control one character in a happy band of heroes who has their own special abilities. You play through a series of five legends. You each have a certain number of hours each day to move, fight, pick up items, and complete tasks. At the end of each day, there will be an event and the creatures will then advance toward the castle in an attempt to overrun it. This continues until either you complete all of your objectives or you lose in one of several ways.

To Fight Or Not To Fight

I’m going to start by delving into the most divisive aspect of this game: the combat. You fight a monster by rolling some dice and adding your strength. The creature does the same and then you compare your results. This all sounds like business as usual, so what’s the problem? When you kill a monster the legend marker moves one space up the legend track. When the legend marker reaches the final space, you lose. This makes killing a tough choice. You may really need to kill a creature that’s just about to enter the castle but if you do, the legend marker will move on and you’ll struggle to finish your other tasks in time.

This makes Andor different from most other games. You can generally charge around killing monsters willy-nilly in other fantasy games. If you thoroughly enjoy this willy-nilly killing frenzy and you’d miss it if it was absent then Andor is probably not for you. Everything is a lot more measured in Andor. You have to be precise about which creatures to kill. And there’s the crux of the game: it’s not a combat game, it’s a puzzle game.

What a puzzle it is, too. You have limited time to do things but you have oh so many things to do. You generally have to protect the castle from being overrun by monsters and complete a variety of tasks that are usually of the ‘pick-up and deliver’ type or searching for something. It often feels like you want to be in more than one place at once. This is all set against the clock that is the legend track. At the end of the round, you advance the legend marker. After each monster you kill, you advance the legend marker. It soon gets close to that worrisome final space.

The other aspect that adds massively to the puzzly nature of this game is that creatures can leapfrog each other. There are different types of monsters and they move in a set order. When a monster moves it generally follows the arrow on the board and moves one space. But if that space is occupied it will leapfrog that monster and go into the next space. Multiple leapfrogs can leave your castle overrun at the end of a turn where you thought you were perfectly safe. You have to plan to make sure you take this leapfroggery into account.

How Easy Is It To Start Playing

Legends of Andor is not a legacy game where you unlock new components and rules. It’s not even a campaign game where what you do in one game affects the next. And yet strangely it has the feeling of both. You start the game by reading a short section of rules that only takes up one and a half pages. You’re then straight into the game. Along the way, you’ll be turning over tiles or reading cards that explain certain new rules and introduce new components from the box. Plus, all of the rules are collected together in a reference booklet so you can refresh your memory at any time. The cards also fill you in on the story. It’s an incredibly easy game to get into.

The Legends

Saying that, the first legend is definitely a training legend. That’s not to say it isn’t fun but many of the rules are explained in this initial game which slows it down slightly. After that, the game gets into its stride. Each legend plays differently and feels like part of a larger story. They’re a lot of fun. The difficulty is set at a level where you’re always going to be up against time. The legend marker consistently gets close to that fatal final space.

For me, the weakest legend is the final one. Certain things can happen in this legend that can wipe out your chances of winning. To be fair to the game, you’ll only get caught by these the first time you play this legend. Once burned, twice shy. When you play again, you’ll know to keep away from specific places at specific times. After you’ve got over that little bump, this legend is fun too.

Are The Expansions Any Good

I wouldn’t normally look at expansions in a base game review, but in this case, I’ll make an exception. The reason why is that the expansions carry on the story. The Star Shield is a relatively small expansion but it adds a tonne of replayability. There are then two big box expansions that bring the story to its conclusion. Added to this are some extra characters to play as and you’ve got a lot of game to go at if you enjoy the base game. Having played all of the expansions I can tell you that they’re all great. In fact, they’re better than this base game.

The Components

The components are very nice. There are standees rather than miniatures. This helps keep the price point down and shows off Michael Menzel’s art, who coincidentally designed the game. There are a lot of components. Some will only be used in one legend. In one playthrough of all five legends, you may not use all of the components. This adds to the replayability of the game and the different feel of each legend.

How Well Does The Game Play At Different Player Counts

The game scales well and I’d be happy to play it at any player count from 2-4. Expansions add a fifth and sixth player but I don’t think I’d ever play at that player count. It seems a bit messy to me. Even so, the option is there.

Conclusion

I love the Legends of Andor series. Then again, I love puzzly cooperative games and this is one of the best. If you don’t mind the lack of senseless monster slaughter, there is plenty of puzzly goodness to be had here. The game is constantly evolving and has a story that links the otherwise separate legends. The ‘pick-up and deliver’ mechanism is underused in games in general, never mind in cooperative games – Horrified being a notable exception – so it’s a breath of fresh air to see it used here. The art is fantastic. Michael Menzel does some of the best board art in the business and you get two cracking examples here as the main board is double-sided.

One downside I have is that the characters in this base game are exceptionally generic fantasy types. The creatures are better and you can always get one of the character-based expansion packs in which the new characters are much more interesting.

Overall, Legends of Andor is a great game and certainly worthy of winning the Kennerspiel des Jahres in 2013. Yes, it is a slightly older game now but it still stands up well to current games. Other games have come along that do the campaign and story side of things better, for example, Sleeping Gods, but I think it’s the puzzly nature of Andor that keeps me coming back for more. This is in my top ten games of all time. Don’t miss out on this gem of a gem!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • The puzzly pick-up and deliver nature of the gameplay
  • You have to cooperate and plan together to win this game
  • Trying out how the different characters play
  • The way that each legend plays differently
  • The ease with which you can start playing the game

Might not like

  • The way that you have to pick and choose which creatures to fight, you cant kill them all
  • Its got standees rather than miniatures
  • There are a lot of components