The Family Fantasy Game is a light heavyweight duo adventure – Big Boss Battle (B3)
If you look at Inka and Markus Brand’s catalog, the couple behind games as diverse and award-winning as Rajas of the Ganges, Town and several games in the To go out series, then you’d be forgiven for wondering how the hell they got involved in Andor: the fantastic family game. This family weight game is expertly designed to introduce kids to adventure games – and my God, does it do a fantastic job!
With a recommended age range of seven and up (and my own kids as proof that young players can get by, with some help) Andor: the fantastic family game presents a cooperative adventure that takes about an hour to complete. Each game has the same “primary” objective (saving three Cubs from an abandoned mine), but players are also free to choose two of the eight additional side missions.
For young gamers, it keeps the adventure fresh every time the game is played. What will we do this time? Will we bring a wounded hawk back to town to heal it, or will we seek out the vicious troll and try to defeat it? For more difficulty and longevity, players (especially if they are assisted by an adult) can add one or two additional missions.
Even if it is aimed at young players, Andor: the fantastic family game has a lot to do. First of all, there is the character selection. Players can choose from male or female presentation avatars for four different classes. The Elf (who can do a lot of actions), the Warrior (who rolls the most dice in combat), the Dwarf (who can use tunnels to move an extra distance) and the Magician (who only rolls ‘one die, but has a 50% chance to kill an enemy with one hit).
The first thing I have to mention here is that the character selection is… disappointing. While there is a distinctly masculine and feminine side to each character (which is a start), the eight personalities featured are very clearly white and cisgender. When I say white, I mean; really white. Almost all of them are blonde and there isn’t even a hint of tan. For a game released in 2020 that wants to be as inclusive as possible mechanically, I find that unacceptable.
With the characters and missions chosen, the board will be set up. The dragon (which gets closer to your city on each turn) will be placed according to the number of players, then the tokens will be randomized and placed on each empty space on the main board, then in the abandoned mine which is beyond the river . On the bridge that spans this river, a guard will wait for your chosen side missions to be completed – when he leaves, players will be able to walk through the mines.
In addition to the dragon – who will defeat the heroes if he manages to reach their city – players must face an endless procession of Gors. These comical-looking creatures move through eight numbered spaces until they also reach the city, at which point they will summon the dragon, bringing fate ever closer. The heroes must defeat the Gor in order to avoid this, but it requires precious sunshine.
On that note, and continuing with the idea that there is a lot for children to take in when playing Andor: the fantastic family game, let me talk about sunlight. Each character has (usually) six amount of Sun to spend. Each turn (whether you’re moving or not) costs roughly one, and when you’ve spent all you’ve got, you need to rest. The Elf is the only character with more than six solar lights to start with, but any character can replenish three solar lights by visiting one of the three wells placed on the board.
That combination of things to think about – the Dragon, the Gors, the side quests you need to complete, and the puppies hidden in the mine, weighted by falling actions, is a hell of a thing for kids. We almost talk Pandemic level of thinking needed for most tricks if you want to win, and the group can badly afford too many missteps. Even so, the theme and visual aspects of the game continue to keep kids focused, and with an adult guiding them, kids can be surprisingly cunning and resourceful.
There is one area in which Andor: the fantastic family game falls a bit late in the game. Once the bridge is crossed and the players are in the mine, the game warns us that our heroes can no longer see. Now whenever we want to flip a token (and out of about ten or twelve here, three are the missing puppies) we need a torch – found either by rolling dice or throwing a torch item from our bags. back.
Here’s the problem: There are only three torch tokens in the game, which can be purchased by finding gold coins on the map. In any game, you’re unlikely to find coins to buy all three (and have time to visit the store or the witch that sells torches.) This means that every turn in the mine abandoned, you’ll roll your dice to try and get a torch – something that can lose you round after round and frustrate your young adventurers.
Besides the lack of diversity between the characters, it is Andor: the fantastic family game ”s only downside. I’m not sure where such a seasoned designer duo was going with this idea, and considering how everything else in the game – down to the perfect balance of the Gor and Dragon combination – it looks like a goofy way. to complete each game.
There have been a few occasions where we have played and this endgame has gone perfectly with the puppies being rescued while the Dragon is only a space or two away from our town. On other occasions however, we have arrived at the mine and found the puppies too quickly, without any real sense of planning, or therefore in danger. Other times we got there early with good preparation, and the luck of the dice meant we lost – because once you’re in the mine you’ll rarely bother to take any combat actions against the two. Gor spaces there, and the Dragon moves each turn anyway based on a dice roll.
In summary, Andor: the fantastic family game is a game that has just the right mix of randomness and strategy until the closing act where it goes off the rails slightly. It has a theme that kids love and a set of missions that, while often mechanically similar, create enough narrative variety to keep players happy and engaged. Anyway, it goes on my day care shelf, but it won’t stay there after the kids reach a certain age. For 6-10 year olds, I would say Andor: the fantastic family game well worth a look.
You can find Andor on Amazon.
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