Legends of Andor: The Last Hope
- Designer: Michael Menzel
- Publisher: Kosmos
- Players: 2-4
- Ages: 10+
- Time: 90-120 minutes per scenario
- Times played: 5, with review copy provided by Thames&Kosmos
Legends of Andor: The Last Hope is the third (and likely final) installment of the Andor system. In this game, players become one of the Heroes of Andor, moving through the countryside trying to survive the different Legends. The Legends are laid out on a series of cards which will be revealed during the course of the game. There will surely be lots of twists and turns along they way, but the Heroes will not know what they must face until the card is revealed and the text on that card is read aloud.
The game is played on a huge (and beautifully done) two sided board. Each side shows a different part of the Andor landscape. The map is segmented into many smaller sections, each with a number to identify it. I have now played all three of the games, and I’ll admit now that I still have no idea how the numbering system was decided upon! The box is filled with scads of hero and enemy standees. Each legend setup will tell you what you need at that time.
There is a legend track on the right side of the board which is lettered from “a” to “n”. Throughout the course of the game, the narrator pawn will move upwards from the “a” space. In the deck of cards for each Legend, certain cards will be revealed as the narrator pawn reaches the lettered space denoted on the back of said cards.
There is also a time track at the top of the board. Each day normally has seven hours, and the actions of the heroes will eat up part of the day. The heroes can also burn the midnight oil and take up to three more hours per day, but these extra hours can be costly as you lose two Willpower points for each extra hour.
Each player will choose a hero to portray in the Legend, will take the matching Hero board which gives a pictoral inventory on the left side. The right side has tracks to mark your strength and willpower. Willpower can be used for a number of things; additionally, your Willpower standing determines how many dice that you Finally, each hero has unique special abilities which are outlined in the upper right part of the hero board. Given the special abilities, special care should be taken by the players to choose particular actions they would like to have or perhaps certain complementary actions as part of their team.
You finish setup by setting up the board on the setup checklist. This tells you what each hero begins with and what sorts of tokens start out on the board. Then, the story is started by reading the first few cards of the deck for the chosen Legend – all the cards with the letter “a” on them.
These cards usually give you more setup instructions as well as outlining your (initial) goal for the Legend. Sometimes, the end point of the whole Legend is known from the start, while othertimes, the story is given to you in pieces. One goal which is always in effect is that the Heroes have to guard their camp. Depending on the number of players, there are a set number of times that the camp can be overrun by an enemy creature before the Legend is lost automatically. Additionally, the players must work together to achieve the goal of the Legend before the Narrator pawn makes it to the final space on its track (“n”).
I will review the basic rules now, but I should make it clear that there are often new rules and restrictions which come up on cards as the Legend unfolds.
As I mentioned earlier, each day in Andor consists of 7 hours. When it is a hero’s turn, there are basically three options: move, fight or pass.
If your hero moves, it takes up one hour to move to an adjacent space on the board. He can move as far as he likes, but he must move his time token ahead on the time track equal to the number of moved spaces. At the start of the game, the board is littered with fog spaces. If you END your movement on a space with a fog token, you reveal it and deal with the event/action on the backside.
If he fights (which happens only if he has started the turn in a space with an enemy creature), each round of battle takes an hour. Teammates which are in the same space or nearby can sometimes assist in the battle. If they join in, each round that they participate in also costs them an hour. Interestingly enough, unlike many other adventure games, there is not a mandatory battle if a hero and an enemy occupy the same space. A fight must be declared; otherwise the characters simply co-exist in a space.
Fighting is a little different that most other games. Here, each enemy creature starts with a basic strength and willpower values; these are marked on the monster board found at the bottom of the game board. Only one enemy is ever fought at a time; the active hero must designate which creature is being fought. Any teammates within range (Generally in the same space, except for the archer who can be adjacent) can join in if they wish.
Each hero rolls how ever many battle dice they are allowed (look at the willpower chart on the Hero board), and then takes the highest single number rolled and ADDS it to his current strength value. This sum if his attack value. If multiple heroes are attacked, all of their attack values are summed together. This becomes the value for the heroes. The creature now rolls dice (again based on his willpower) and adds his best number to his strength. The heroes’ total attack is compared to the creature’s total, and the difference is subtracted from each participant in the loser’s side in willpower.
If the creature is out of willpower, it is defeated. There is a fixed reward for each type of creature, and this can be spread out amongst any heroes who participated in the fight. If both sides still have willpower, the heroes can decide to go for another round of fighting (At the cost of another hour) or they can break it off and end their turn. However, if they quit in the midst of a battle, the creature will recover all damage and start at its baseline values if it is later encountered in battle again. If a hero ever runs out of willpower, he loses one unit on the strength track and resets his Willpower to 3. If he is out of strength, he must retire for the day and then must rest the entire next day to regain some strength.
So, a player’s turn essentially consists of either moving as far as he wants, passing and doing nothing for an hour, or fighting as much as he wants, and this could take anywhere from 1 to 10 hours! When the player is done doing stuff for the turn, he tells everyone that his turn is done and then the next player clockwise faces the same three choices.
If you choose to end your day, you move your time marker to the sunrise box to show that you choose not to take any further actions that day. There is a line of icons at the bottom of this sunrise box, and they outline the different steps done in the final upkeep phase of the day. This happens when all the player time markers are in the sunrise box.
Once all players have rested for the night, then you go through all the upkeep things in the sunrise box. First, you read the top event card from the deck. Then the creatures all move in order – based on where they are shown in the sunrise box. All creatures (unless instructed otherwise) move towards the base camp; they do this by following the arrows on the board between spaces to get to the main road, and then once on the road, straight towards camp. Creatures skip any spaces already occupied by another creature. Then the board is reset and each hero must turn in provisions for the day (representing the food he eats that day) or he loses 8 willpower points. Finally, the Narrator Pawn is moved forward one space. If a Legend card is on the top of the deck with the matching letter, it is read aloud to advance the story.
The game continues on until the heroes meet the stated end point of the Legend – and they will win immediately. They will lose if their camp is overrun by creatures or if the Narrator pawn reaches the end of the track.
There are actually a lot of other little rules, but going over them will just muddy the waters. At this point, just understanding the overall structure should be enough. Furthermore, many of the other rules are introduced over the course of the Legends, and it would be a little spoiler-y to talk about those here.
My thoughts on the game
I had grown a bit tired of the Andor series at the end of Box 2, but the time away from the game (awaiting the release of this final portion of the trilogy) has re-sparked my interest. Much of this game is familiar; the overall structure and basic rules are the same – the difference here is in the new board and the new stories in the Legends 12-17.
If you’re new to Andor, never fear. There is actually an introductory scenario, #11, in this box which will walk you through the basic rules of movement and attacking as well as the mechanics of moving the Narrator Pawn and going through the Sunrise Box upkeep steps. Even though we were all familiar with the previous two Andor games, my group still did the started scenario and it was a great way to get a refresher for all involved. Though we didn’t use them, the game also includes special rules for “Easy Play” with two different levels of help for the players. In this way, gamers of all different abilities and experience levels with Andor should be able to enjoy this box.
The artwork is really beautiful and detailed, and it seems to really flow with the story. One of the reasons for this is that this is the rarest of birds in that the designer and illustrator are the same person! There aren’t many other mainstream games that can claim this. The board art is fantastic, and this is the sort of board that could be framed and hung on the wall. (I must say that the other main Kosmos US release this spring, A Column of Fire, shares this quality – a truly beautiful board!)
The stories in the legends I have played so far are good and have a surprising amount of depth. Like previous games, you only get the sense of surprise once – the first time that you play a scenario. It’s likely hard to forget the new rules or surprising developments once you’ve seen them. Also, for the most part, the scenarios won’t play much differently because the enemies all move based on the same rules and the same story cards trigger at the same letters on the Narrator track.
There is a bit of a difference based on player count – fewer players have fewer heroes on the board, and this changes which enemies should be attacked. Furthermore, lower player counts also allow more enemies to get to camp before a loss is triggered. Each different player count causes you to look at the strategy differently – mostly because fewer heroes make it much harder to collaborate and join in on attacks on the larger enemies. In fact, in a 2p game, it’s nearly impossible to kill the strongest regular creatures! For my money, I’d really only personally choose to play with four players.
The game is unlike most other dungeon crawls. Here, the object is not to slash and burn and kill everything in sight. Due to the timing mechanisms, each killed enemy causes the story to advance.
During the course of the game, the Narrator pawn can be triggered to move. The two main ways this happens are: 1) a mandatory move upwards at the end of the upkeep phase at the end of each day, and 2) movement for defeating a creature on the board. As the Narrator pawn moves up the track, make sure you look at the Legend deck to see if you need to read out a new part of the story.
You don’t want the Narrator pawn to move ahead too far because you will lose if it gets to the end of the track. Therefore, the group must work together to decide which enemies actually need to be killed and which ones can be left alone. It turns the game into much more of a tactical puzzle. When the first Andor game came out, I did not like this aspect; but now that I have seen how it determines the pace of the story, I kind of like the way it forces you to “solve” each Legend by figuring out which enemies actually need to be killed.
I’ve played five sessions so far, and I’ve made it through three of the Legends. (#12 and #14 required multiple plays in order for us to get through them). I’m still looking forward to playing the final three – it is a nice change from other adventure games, and the unique puzzle-solving aspect to the story has really grown on me over the years.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it!
- I like it. Dale Y
- Not for me…
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