There is a difference, so give me a chance to explain. I can play a mechanically simple game, and as long it’s solid but compelling then you can file such a title under the term of gateway game. It’s a starter to an evening, or a quick half hour before you do something different. When it comes to games for younger children, there’s the temptation to make them simple, horrifically colourful, easy to understand but not necessarily something that you’ll be wanting to come back to again and again. Sometimes we wrongly assume that complicated means losing someone’s attention, especially if it’s coming from younger eyes. So we keep the mechanics dialed down, sometimes too much, and they end on the shelf, right next to the copy of Kids Cluedo and the Spiderman jigsaw puzzles.
Andor – The Family Fantasy Game gives some strong indicators that it might be lacking in confidence to push anything above a simple exploration game involving some fetch quests and a potential encounter with a dragon. There’s a map board split into relatively reasonable sized tile spaces. There’s the familiar range of character standees and a huge red six sided dice. Reading the blurb it looks like you’re being tasked with rescuing wolf cubs and crossing a bridge. It’s looking like I might need to clear a space above the jigsaws.
And yet, when you start to work through what Andor – TFFG is asking you to do, there’s suddenly a few things that are adding an extra level of strategy. Firstly, every character seems to have their own slight differences in how they play and move. Unlike the normal roll and move type, your moves are based on a resource of sun discs, essentially denoting your movement potential. Actions are free and easy and able to be taken every movement if that’s your will and aren’t restricted. Across the land of Andor, the fog covers the various spaces that must be uncovered as you travel and landing on a space turns over the fog counter to reveal resources, coins, a merchant, a mischievous Gor or even the malicious dragon.
As long as you have the sun discs you’ll be able to continue to move and even if you do get tired, there are wells that allow you to refresh your supply of discs if you intend to travel far on that particular round of play. All the while you’ll need to keep an eye on the Dragon as it makes towards Rietburg with a bag of marshmallows and a hunger for Smors.
At the end of every round, the dragon moves closer, encouraging Gors to appear and make their way closer to the castle with the danger of encouraging the dragon to move even closer. This adds an interesting additional dynamic to the quest you are involved in because at some point, you’re going to need to scare off a few Gors in order to prevent them from reaching the castle and force the dragon to retreat back. Fighting is easy, you’re simply rolling dice until they fill up enough spaces on the place where the Gor is occupying. They don’t fight back or block your attempts to move around Andor, but they are there to force you to make decisions and planning where you are going.
The quests start off as fairly simple affairs, mostly involving searching for items or moving objects from one place to another. As you more confident in the game, the requirements start to become a little bit more complicated with you needing to do some more searching in the fog in Andor, but they’re rarely on the side of being overly difficult. You’re encouraged to play the quests in a certain order, but once you gain the confidence you can move to picking the quests at random instead. It adds variation where other games for younger player often fall by the wayside and then are left abandoned.
The main mechanics may seem complicated in the outset but are easy to learn once players have a few rounds under their belts. With the option to play as different characters, you have the chance to change how you play out the different quests the game offers. This might lead to favourites and that all important squabble and huff among siblings, but it gives an extra level of replay that similar games just simply don’t offer. There are two variations that you can play as for each of the character types, which is a good start but I always think in a kids game it’s really important to be as diverse as possible in the choices. Coraquest still holds itself up as the one to beat in children’s games in terms of championing a diverse set of player characters. Andor gets thumbs up for its efforts in this regard.
There’s something very charming about Andor – TFFG. The Illustrations from Michael Menzel work really well to build the world in which you are adventuring. Inka and Markus Brand have created a game that could have been a very simple and unrewarding set of fetch quests. Here there is a real sense of depth in some of the quests to get young minds thinking. It says that the children from Ostheim Primary School assisted with the playtesting and you can tell there has been some young minds and hands involved in this game making quest. Andor TFFG a delightful consideration for those looking for something that doesn’t play down to expected complexity in children’s board game. A nice wee surprise.
You can find out more by visiting https://www.thamesandkosmos.co.uk/product/andor-family-fantasy/
Author – Inka and Markus Brand
Illustrations – Michael Menzel
This review is based on the final retail version of the game provided to us by the designer and publisher. We were not paid for this review. We give a general overview of the gameplay and so not all of the mechanical aspects of the game may be mentioned.