The Legends of Andor means cooperative play, exciting moments and a lot of story. The publisher has the slimmed down version Kosmos brought onto the market with “The Liberation of the Rietburg”. Author Gerhard Hecht's idea is to be a hybrid, somewhere between a card game and a board game - the former clearly predominates. The concept as “Andor light” works surprisingly well, but the mechanics are a lot of work. In the board game review below, we'll reveal 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 contained in the Rietburg box in the same depth of narrative. And so The Liberation of the Rietburg is a story essence from the big picture, broken down to King Brandur's walls, which are overrun by hordes of monsters and which also feel threatened by a mighty dragon. “Fast, independent game in the fantastic world of Andor,” describes the publisher Kosmos the card-heavy board game. True.
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.
Four "quests" have to be fulfilled, the requirements for the players on the 16 enclosed task cards differ significantly - also in terms of the level of challenge. So it can be that simple monster clap is enough, sometimes objects have to be handed over. However, because players get their equipment through king chance and there are only eight item cards anyway, such an endeavor 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.
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 from the start and is quite tight. It is important to combine actions as sensibly as possible, also with regard to future moves of other players. Too wasteful use of resources, i.e. your own hand of cards, will be punished. Each time a player completely discards their hand, they must "Refresh" on their next turn, then they may regain their deck, but to do so they must draw the next Narrator card from the deck and follow the prompt. Most of the time, new monsters come into play, sometimes in places where the team was already close to a milestone. Annoying, but definitely one of the small tension factors that keep The Liberation of Rietburg running in a playful way.
"Andor light": Mechanics beat fun
The liberation of the Rietburg draws on a certain variance in terms of the level of difficulty. The basic variant is probably too easy for experienced groups, by reducing the number of narrator cards you can provide more of a challenge - and in fact "Andor light" is anything but easy. In any case, the luck factor remains. In the best case, an unfortunate combination of task cards mixed together ensures that the battle for the Rietburg becomes a walk in the park for the heroic troupe, in the worst case a task combination is almost impossible to achieve. Nevertheless: The variety at least ensures that you can play more than just one game if you have found the game concept good enough.
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 one of the central tactics in The Liberation of Rietburg anyway. Players should always fight, but rarely wait. Sometimes the encounter stacks grow rapidly, sometimes it is foreseeable early on that the task in one place will hardly be solvable - unless a bit of luck ensures that players can still work down card stacks that are supposedly too high. “Work” is one of the key words in The Liberation of Rietburg.
The game works mechanically well, but often feels that way. Too often everything revolves around the question of whether you can still complete a "quest" in a location at all or whether you simply ignore a location from now on because it is probably more efficient. Then there are the fights, which are basically none. It's about comparing values, sometimes with a small element of luck, which is almost annoying because you often can't use it.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, as it shows how well the individual elements can be combined, but it doesn't do justice to 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", describes the publisher Kosmos the card-heavy board game. It's correct.
Number of players: 2 to 4 players
Age: from 10 years
Playing time: 30 to 45 minutes
Long-term motivation: low
Author: Gerhard Hecht
Graphics: Michaela Kienle
Illustration: Michael Menzel
Year of publication: 2019
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 basically any fun does not do justice to those elements that function like royalty. What is meant by this is primarily the interaction between the players. In every move, before every action, the members of the heroic troupe talk to each other - because they have to, but also because you can bring clever moves to the table. That motivates and sometimes even pleases. About variance comes into play through the different heroes, especially the "magical specialist".
In any case, The Liberation of Rietburg has the right framework: good material, the usual atmospheric illustrations, fast construction, fast gameplay and the limited number of rounds. The missing story? You get it because the short Rietburg adventure makes you want to play 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 gamers are not the core target group of this title anyway - and above all beginners or family gamers will have fun with a round of The Liberation of Rietburg and can simply start playing at a fun-challenging level.
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