Oh no! The wolf cubs are lost in the mines. Gather your adventuring party, complete the bridge guard’s tasks, and delve into the mines in search of the lost pups in Andor: The Family Fantasy Game.
What Is Andor: The Family Fantasy Game?
Andor: The Family Fantasy Game is a cooperative adventure game for 2 to 4 players, ages 7 and up, and takes about 30 to 60 minutes to play. Andor: The Family Fantasy Game was designed by Inka and Markus Brand and published by KOSMOS, with illustrations by Michael Menzel. You can purchase the game directly from the publisher for $34.95 or check your FLGS for availability.
Andor: The Family Fantasy Game Components
In the box, you will find the following components:
- 1 Rulebook
- 1 Game board
- 1 Night marker
- 4 Hero boards (double sided)
- 18 Character standees with plastic holders
- 12 Wooden dice (4 blue, 3 green, 3 yellow, 1 purple, and 1 red)
- 27 Wooden sun discs
- 3 Well tokens
- 3 Torch tokens
- 38 Fog tokens
- 10 Mine tokens
- 29 Task tokens
- 12 Task cards
How to Play Andor: The Family Fantasy Game
The end goal of the game is find and rescue the three wolf pups lost in the mines. But before you can do that, you must complete the tasks that Mart, the bridge guard, assigns you. Only after that will he allow you access to the mines. And you have to accomplish all of this before the dragon reaches Rietburg!
You can download a copy of the full rulebook here.
Andor: The Family Fantasy Game has a lot of components to it, but setup is relatively simple and well explained in the rulebook. First, unfold the game board and place in the middle of the table. Then place the dragon standee on the dragon track along the top of the board. Its starting location is based on the number of players. Keep the red dragon die near it.
Next, flip all of the fog tokens facedown, mix them up and place them on all the empty areas on the board, left of the river. Do the same with the mine tokes, but place them in the hexagon spaces to the right of the river. Place the three well tokens, sunny side up, at the well locations. Also, place the Mart standee at his house, next to the bridge.
Gather all the Gor standees in a reserve near the board and then starting with the highest numbered space (#8) and counting down, place one Gor on the board for each player.
Each player will choose one of the characters to play: Warrior, Archer, Magician, or Dwarf. Take the corresponding player board, character standee, sun discs, and dice pertaining to that character. Note that each character has a female and male side of the player board and a matching standee. Place your player board in front of you with the sun discs and dice on it in the indicated spots, and put your standee on the board in Rietburg.
While all the heroes are similar, each one has a special ability:
- Warriors: They are the best fighters in the game, and thus, have more combat dice than the other characters. The warriors roll four dice with three sword symbols per dice. They are best at frightening off the Gor.
- Archers: These characters have built up their endurance. They have nine sun discs instead of the six that the other characters have, giving them more actions each round.
- Dwarves: These underground navigators have created tunnels throughout Andor and can travel between the four caves located on the board. Because of their comfort with underground spaces, they also have more torches on their dice than the other characters. This ability allows them to quickly traverse the board and makes them especially good when searching the mines.
- Magicians: Strong in the magical arts, magicians only have a single dice with a lighting bolt on three sides. A single bolt is all they need to defeat the Gors. Because of this ability, they are also well equipped to challenge the Gors.
Finally, take the “start” and “end” cards along with the selected task cards and align them in order along the side of the board. Depending on what tasks are being played with, you might have to add additional tokens to the board as each task is revealed. Give the night marker to the oldest player with the rooster side facing up. You are now ready to begin playing!
The game plays over a series of days. Each player takes turns until all players have exhausted their sun discs. At that point, you flip over the night marker and perform the tasks indicated. Then, if Rietburg still stands, a new day begins and the heroes march on.
To begin Andor: The Family Fantasy Game, flip the “start” card over and read the beginning of the story, followed by reading the first task. Perform any setup required by the task. The player with the night marker starts the game with turns going clockwise around the table. On a player’s turn, they perform the following two actions in this order:
- Move / Standing still.
- Perform actions on the target space.
Move / Standing still: A player will spend a number of sun discs and move that many spaces on the board. Alternatively, they can spend a single sun disc and remain in their current location. The first player to deplete their sun discs for the day receives the night marker and will be for the first player to activate the next day.
Perform actions: This costs zero sun discs. Depending on where a player ends their movement, they may perform the following actions:
- Fog token: If you end in a space with a fog token, you must flip it over. There are a variety of fog tokens, which I will discuss later.
- Well token: If you land on a location with a well and the token is still face up, you may flip it over and place up to three sun discs back on your board. However, you cannot gain more sun discs than you started with.
- Gors: If you end in a forest or mountain location where a Gor is hiding, you can fight it. Fighting is described in detail below.
- Watchtower: While visiting the watchtower, you can leave a log on one of the three circles. This allows you to push the dragon one space away from Rietburg.
- Merchant tent: At this location you may spend one gold coin in exchange for a torch token. There are only three torches and once they are all purchased, you cannot buy anymore. The torches are useful for searching the mine in the final part of the game.
- Reka the herb witch: If you have found Reka in the fog, she stays on the board and provides an additional location to purchase torches from.
- Task tokens: Depending on the current task, there also might be task tokens scattered throughout the land. A player may pick up and/or deliver these as required by the specific task.
- Exchanging tokens: If you end your movement in a space with one of your comrades, you can exchange any number of items between each other.
Fog tokens: As you traverse the land of Andor, you will search the fog for supplies; however, enemies also lurk within the mists so beware. There are eight different outcomes when exploring the fog.
- Gors (x10): Revealed Gors have a number associated with them. Place a Gor from the reserve onto the board at the numbered location. If there is already a Gor there, place it in the next lowest numbered spot without a Gor. And if all seven Gor standees are already on the board, then just discard the fog token.
- Dragon (x6): Each time a dragon is revealed, roll the dragon dice and move the dragon that many spaces closer to Rietburg.
- Wood (x6): Gather wood on your player board so that the next time you visit the watchtower you can light the beacon and drive the dragon back.
- Gold (x5): Collect gold coins on your player board in order to purchase torches from the merchant tent or Reka.
- Swords (x5): Place this weapon on your board to be later unsheathed if needed during a Gor battle.
- Telescope (x4): When these handy devices are revealed, you can look at two additional fog tokens anywhere on the board. Reveal them for everyone to see, memorize them, and then flip them facedown again and discard the telescope.
- Hourglass (x1): This singular device is placed on your board next to your sun discs. In future turns, the hourglass acts as an additional sun disc, giving you one more move each day.
- Reka the herb witch (x1): As previously mentioned, when revealed, Reka remains on the board, selling torches.
Fighting Gors: When you stop at a location with a Gor, you may choose to attack them. Depending on the location, it will take either two or three sword symbols to send the Gor running. During a fight, a player will roll all their dice, keeping any sword symbols on that space. You may also use sword tokens that you have collected from the fog. If you have enough swords, the Gor flees in terror. Place your dice back on your player board and discard any sword tokens used. Additionally, hearing the screams of the frightened Gor, the dragon retreats one space away from Rietburg. However, if you failed to produce enough swords, leave any swords rolled or played on the board. On you next turn, if you still have available sun discs, you may continue the fight with your remaining dice. Note that if you fail to beat a Gor before the day is done, you will have to start anew the next day.
Nighttime: When all players have exhausted their sun discs, the day is done. Flip the night marker and perform the following steps shown on the back:
- The dragon flies: Roll the dragon dice and move the dragon that many spaces closer to Rietburg.
- Move the Gors: March all the Gors one space closer to Rietburg. If a Gor ever reaches the city, he alerts the dragon. Roll the dragon dice and move the dragon towards the city again. Then place the Gor back in the reserve.
- More Gors appear: Place a number of Gors on the board as indicated by the space on the dragon track where the dragon currently is. Place the Gors, starting with the highest number and filling in spaces as you get closer to Rietburg.
- Refresh the wells: Flip over any well tokens that had been used during the previous daytime, thus replenishing the wells for the next day.
- Gather dice: Take any unused dice remaining on the board from unfinished Gor fights and replace them on their respective player boards.
- Replace sun discs: Reset your sun discs on you player board. Then flip the night marker to the rooster side and begin a new day.
The Dwarven Mines: Once you have completed all of the tasks that Mart, the bridge guard, has set for you, he finally allows you access to the mines on the other side of the river. This is the final stage of the game where you attempt to rescue the three lost wolf pups. Within the mines, when you end your turn on a space with a mine token, you may roll your dice. If you get a torch symbol, reveal the token. Additionally, you can discard a torch token previously purchased to reveal the mine token. Searching for the wolf pups is no easy task though, and many dangers lurk within the tunnels. There are four possibilities beneath a mine token:
- Wolf pup (x3): Congratulations, you have discovered one of the wolf pups!
- Dragon (x5): Like the fog token, if revealed, roll the dragon dice and move the dragon that many spaces towards the city.
- Octopus (x1): Feared by all, if you disturb the octopus lurking in the underground lake, it immediately drives you out of the mine. Place your standee at Mart’s stone house by the bridge, and remove all remaining sun discs from your player board. Your day is done.
- Falcon (x1): With its sharp eyesight, the falcon allows you to peek at one other mine token, showing it to all players and then returning it facedown.
The game ends when either the brave companions have rescued the three wolf pups, or the dragon has reached Rietburg. In either scenario, flip the “end” card and read the finale of the game.
Why You Should Play Andor: The Family Fantasy Game
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Andor: The Family Fantasy Game. I had played its progenitor, Legends of Andor, years ago, and while I enjoyed the game and its beautiful table presence, it wasn’t for me at that time. However, I was intrigued by a version of that game that I could play with my kids and was extremely interested to try it. And it didn’t disappoint. Before we even broke open the box, my children were excited to try this game just based on the box cover alone. And why wouldn’t they be. The artwork is gorgeous, the four characters are impressive looking, and my animal loving daughters loved the idea that they would get to rescue some wolf cubs.
So one night, I eagerly broke open the box to play with my daughters and then had to tell them that we would have to play tomorrow because I had to digest the rules first. It isn’t that the rules are difficult, just that Andor: The Family Fantasy Game is definitely a step up from other kid games that we have played. The rulebook does an excellent job of walking you through setup and how to play though. And although there are a lot of pieces to setup, I used it as an opportunity to get my kids involved instead of just sitting and waiting for me to prepare everything. While I selected the tasks, they placed the fog tokens, or setup up the hero boards, and so on. After a few games, they would just start setting it up by themselves!
Another aspect of the game that I liked were the tasks. The rulebook has the ten tasks separated into four groups, creating a series of increasingly more challenging game plays. After you complete the preset challenges, you can continue to replay them as is, or randomly select tasks. Pick two for an easier game, or challenge yourself by selecting three or four tasks to accomplish. Having the tasks prearranged allowed me to introduce my girls to game without it being overly difficult. Once they learned the rules during that first playthrough, we could move on to the more challenging tasks if we wanted. I think this approach is extremely helpful in getting kids engaged and interested in a game. If it is too difficult from the start, they might lose interest and not want to play again. However, by gradually upping the difficulty, it allowed my kids to learn the rules while having a high chance at victory. And as we got to the more challenging tasks, they had some games under their belts and could better parse the information and make smart plays. Also, the tasks themselves offer great variety and introduce different gaming mechanisms, including pick up and delivery, finding matching symbols, searching for specific items in the fog, and combat oriented tasks. With ten different tasks to mix and match, each game creates a unique challenge and provides tons of replayability.
As for the gameplay itself, I found Andor: The Family Fantasy Game very easy to teach, and my kids grasped it right away. They understood what needed to be accomplished and we worked together towards that goal. I didn’t need to direct them, but allowed them to decide what they wanted to do each turn based on the current circumstances. The central mechanic of flipping fog tokens is excellent because as an adventure game, it’s necessary for you travel the land and search out items. But you never know if you are going to reveal a something useful or discover the dragon and his minions. That tension really elevated the game. Additionally, as you do find items, being able to use them throughout the game to drive back the dragon, or defeat a Gor, enhances the overall theme. I also found that we really needed to work together as a team, leaning upon our specialties to accomplish the tasks. There is a little bit of a puzzle aspect to Andor: The Family Fantasy Game, which is in line with its predecessor. You cannot run around the board, flipping over every fog token or you will lose the game. You must focus on the goal at hand while managing your enemies to be successful. It truly is a cooperative game that requires everyone to work as a squad while still providing plenty of individual decision points.
That last point is important to me when it comes to kid oriented games. I like my girls to feel like they have important choices in a game and that there isn’t always an obvious route to take. Andor: The Family Fantasy Game has this in plenty. On your turn, will you move a single space at a time, flipping fog tokens as you go, or will you use all your sun discs at once to travel several spaces across the board? Will you fight the Gor near you or continue to complete the task? In fact, before the game even begins, the kids have a significant decision in which character to play as. If only two of us are playing, what duo will work best together. Do you want to be more combat oriented? Then take the warrior or magician. Or perhaps you want to move quickly around the board. Then the dwarf or archer is a better choice. Providing significant decisions that can affect the game outcome is a key component to transition children into more complex games and Andor: The Family Fantasy Game provides that from start to finish.
As for the characters, I really appreciate that the publisher provided both male and female standees and player boards for each hero. Often times, females are underrepresented in games or are represented poorly, especially in fantasy themed games. Being a girl dad, finding games where my daughters feel represented well is important, and Andor: The Family Fantasy Game allows you to play all four characters as either male or female. Unfortunately, the diversity stops at gender, but it’s a step in the right direction.
So far, my experience with Andor: The Family Fantasy Game has been wonderful. The artwork and theme is very family oriented and engaging to my children. There is a lot of little detail on the board and throughout the game that enhances the fantasy theme and brings the game to life. While the ending of the game is always the same as you need to enter the mine and save the wolf cubs, the variety and complexity of the tasks, make each game feel different and provide solid replayability. This has been a welcome addition to my game collection and an excellent next level game to teach to my girls. So if you are looking for a fun family adventure, you can discover it in Andor: The Family Fantasy Game.
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.