The legends of Andor, that means cooperative play, exciting moments and a lot of story. The stripped-down version was brought to market by the Kosmos publishing house with “The Liberation of Rietburg”. The idea of ​​author Gerhard Hecht wants to be a hybrid, located between card game and board game - the former clearly outweighs. The concept as “Andor light” works surprisingly well, but works hard on the mechanics. We'll reveal in the following board game review whether you can have fun liberating the Rietburg.


The legends of Andor, once epic adventure. The background stories that once came home in three medium-sized boxes can hardly be accommodated in the Rietburg box in the same narrative depth. And so The Liberation of Rietburg is a story essence from the big picture, broken down to King Brandur's walls overrun by hordes of monsters, which also sees itself threatened by a mighty dragon. “Fast, independent game in the fantastic world of Andor”, is how Kosmos describes the card-heavy board game. It's correct.

Liberation of the Rietburg: fast, independent, cooperative

You can't expect too much story from The Liberation of Rietburg because the entire story of the Andor release fits on a total of 22 narrator cards. The text on it: short, to the point, with instructions. The narrator cards are the pile that signals the end of the game. When the last card is drawn, the heroes can act until the next card draw, then it's over. The idea behind it is not bad, because it delimits the game and makes The Liberation of Rietburg an ideal introduction to the Andor universe. Those who want more and who like the setting have to go to the Legends of Andor to grab.

It is, as it is often in fantasy games: A powerful dragon threatens the people and sends skeletons, trolls and gors as scouts in this case. King Brandur, again visibly overwhelmed with the situation, leaves his fate and that of his subjects to two to four players aged ten and over. At least now it is clear: The liberation of the Rietburg is going on in a cooperative manner. The monsters to be fought can appear in six locations on the board, each represented by a deck of cards (encounter cards). Combat is essential in this game, only when all monsters in one place have been defeated can players complete the tasks that have been assigned to the locations during game setup.

Everything begins with the choice of heroes: If you throw yourself into the bad with the combat dwarf Kram, you can fall back on an ax. Photo: Volkmann

Four “quests” have to be completed, the requirements for the players on the 16 enclosed task cards differ significantly - also with regard to the degree of challenge. So it can be that simple monster clapping is enough, sometimes objects have to be handed in as well. However, because players get their equipment by chance and there are only eight item cards anyway, such an undertaking is much more difficult to master than the heroic announcement: “Defeat the giant troll!”.

Because cards are regularly placed face down on the tableau, you must first spend actions to turn cards over. Hero actions are triggered by players discarding cards, of which they initially have three, but can increase their deck as the game progresses. In this way, players move their hero through the castle, reveal cards or initiate battles. The latter sounds more exciting than it is in the end: A fight only consists of comparing the strength point of the hero - or the heroes in a cooperative fight - with those of the monster. If there is a tie, the hero wins. Success can at least mostly be controlled with it, there are some random elements, for example in the damage that the ranger Chada can do with her bow. 

There are tactical tricks on the Rietburg adventure because, for example, friend cards can be used or given to fellow players. Photo: Volkmann

Tactics still come into play, and for such a clear concept even a comparatively large number of them. By playing their cards in hand, players can also interact with the figures of other players, for example move them.

It quickly becomes clear: nothing works without agreements. This is especially true because the number of laps is limited and very tight right from the start. It is important to combine actions as sensibly as possible, also with regard to future moves by other players. All too wasteful use of resources, i.e. your own hand of cards, will be punished. Every time a player has completely discarded his hand, he has to “refresh” on his next turn, may then take his deck back, but has to draw the next narrator cards from the stack and follow the instructions. Most of the time, new monsters come into play, possibly in places where the team had long since come close to a milestone. Annoying, but definitely one of the small tension factors that playfully keep the Liberation of Rietburg going. 

“Andor light”: Mechanics beats fun

The liberation of the Rietburg relies on a certain variance in terms of the degree of difficulty. Experienced groups should find the basic variant far too easy, by reducing the number of narrator cards you can provide more of the challenge - and “Andor light” is actually anything but easy. The luck factor remains in any case. An unfortunate combination of task cards mixed together ensures that the battle for the Rietburg is a walk in the park for the heroes in the best case, in the worst case a combination of tasks can hardly be achieved. Nevertheless: The variety at least ensures that you can play more than just one game if you have found the game concept to be good enough.

Heroes can - and must - fight together. The battles then only consist of comparing numbers. Photo: Volkmann

In fact, the concept and mechanics are clearly in the foreground in The Liberation of Rietburg. As a player, you sometimes work your way through the set tasks, and then you hardly notice the shreds of the story. Focused players tact along the locations in the castle, try to solve the tasks as consistently as possible and - and this is a very clever trick - fall back on interesting combinations. For example, when it comes to piling up creatures that are no longer needed anyway - you kill two gors with one stone. The fact that players are allowed to pass items and even the friend cards to each other also provides strategic alternatives. For example, rounds of the game can be stretched so that one more action can be carried out before the narrator pile has to be used, or the team's attack can be improved by moving equipment to where it can be sensibly used. 

Attack is anyway one of the central tactics in The Liberation of Rietburg. Players should always fight, but rarely wait. Sometimes the encounter piles grow rapidly, sometimes it is foreseeable at an early stage that the task will hardly be able to be solved in one place - unless a little luck ensures that players can work down stacks of cards that are supposedly too high. “Work” is then also one of the key words in The Liberation of Rietburg.

Indicates the end of the game: If the story card deck is empty and four tasks have not been completed by the next drawing, the players lose. Photo: Volkmann

Indicates the end of the game: If the story card deck is empty and four tasks have not been completed by the next drawing, the players lose. Photo: Volkmann

The game works mechanically well, but it is not uncommon for it to feel that way. Too often everything revolves around the question of whether you can still complete a “quest” in a place or whether you simply ignore a place from now on because it is probably more efficient. Then there are the fights, which are basically not. It's about comparing values, sometimes with a little luck factor, which is almost annoying because it is often not useful. 

That's not necessarily bad, because it shows how well the individual elements can be combined, but is not worthy of the “Andor” brand, which stands for epic battles and stories. Back to the beginning of the board game review: “Fast, independent game in the fantastic world of Andor”, is how Kosmos describes the card-heavy board game. It's correct.

Infobox

Number of players: 2 to 4 players
Age: from 10 years
Playing time: 30 to 45 minutes
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: low

Publisher: Kosmos
Author: Gerhard Hecht
Graphics: Michaela Kienle
Illustration: Michael Menzel
Year of publication: 2019
Language: German
Cost: 22,99 euros

Conclusion on the liberation of the Rietburg

It is not easy to judge the liberation of the Rietburg. Mechanically, the card game works largely well in the Andor universe. Actions can be combined and planned, creating a noticeable feeling of cooperation. At the same time, you can plan too far into the future because what is happening on the board can change too radically too quickly. Author Gerhard Hecht probably disagreed on the luck factor of the game: This is sometimes noticeable, rarely helpful and should have stayed in the ideas drawer for even better balanced game tactics. 

Yes, as a group you sometimes have the feeling that you are working your way through the stacks of cards - and that's only so that the nasty dragon throws the next three trolls onto exactly the stack that you actually wanted to complete in the next round. Conceptually, the liberation of the Rietburg sometimes stands in its own way. Planning requirement yes, meaningful plannability not necessarily. 

Nevertheless: Denying the liberation of the Rietburg fundamentally any gaming fun does not do justice to those elements that function like a king. This primarily refers to the interaction between the players. In every move, before every action, the members of the heroes' troop speak to each other - because they have to, but also because you can bring clever moves on the table. That motivates and sometimes even pleases. Variance comes into play through the various heroes, especially the “magical specialists”. 

In any case, the framework is right for The Liberation of Rietburg: Good material, the usual atmospheric illustrations, a quick set-up, the quick course of the game and the limited number of laps. The missing story? You get yourself because the short Rietburg adventure gives you the desire for a game of “real Andor”. The card game variant offers the chance to take Andor with you on trips or simply to offer newcomers a first point of contact with the brand. Frequent players are not the core target group of this title anyway - and especially beginners or family players will have fun with one round of The Liberation of Rietburg and can simply start playing on a fun-demanding level.  


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