WBG Score: 8 or10*
Player Count: 2-4
You’ll like this if you like: The Andor games, The Adventures of Robin Hood
Published by: KOSMOS
Designed by: Michael Menzel
This is a review copy. See our review policy here
This will be a spoiler free review bar one minor spoiler, clearly labelled below and easily avoided if you choose.
There have been a number of games in the Andor range. Starting with Legends of Andor which you can see a brief one minute overview of here. Since then, there have been a number of expansions such as 2017 release Legends of Andor: Dark Heroes and stand alone sequel's such as the 2014 success Journey to the North. It has been a bit quiet recently but 2023 saw the release of a new stand alone sequel, Eternal Frost. It uses the same mechanics and ruleset as the previous Andor, but with four new legends to play through, and let's be honest, feels a bit Games of Thronesy! Let's get it to the table to see how it plays.
How To Set Up The Legends of Andor: The Eternal Frost
Place the main board out with the castle showing and the lake face down. This is the board used for your first game. Then, I suggest you put the main rule book away, you really will not need it at all. And simply follow the quick-start guide instructions. It's very simple and means you learn as you play. You really can just get cracking with it.
The main thing you need to do is pick a character and get ready for some adventuring! They are all double sided to offer a variation on gender.
How To Play The Legends of Andor: The Eternal Frost
Once you are done, take the first legend card and begin reading. This will describe what you need to do next both in terms of the mechanics, rules, but also goals and objectives. It will teach you how to move and fight as you play, which is a lot better than reading it here or in the rule book.
Is It Fun? The Legends of Andor: The Eternal Frost Review
First up, to manage expectations, it needs to be said, there are four legends in this game. Each legend will be one complete game. Roughly lasting an hour. If you lose one, you will need to reply it until you win. And the final legend has three different endings, dictated by a die role. And you can of course replay the whole thing again very easily. There are also ways to add additional enemies and make the game harder by reading additional red cards when prompted. Or, you can simply avoid them if you prefer.
As you play through the game, your main options on your turn are to move or fight. Alternatives will present themselves as you play, but this will remain your primary choice. The game works, like the others in the series, on a game clock. Each movement or single round of combat costs you an hour. And as we all know, there are only so many hours in a day. You will have more than one day to complete your objectives, but at sunset each day, the monsters activate. And if too many make it to your base, the game is lost. Their movement can surprise you as well, as they often jump each others locations and progress a lot faster than you initially thought. Careful calculation of this during the day phase is crucial to your success.
Which brings to me to my main concern with these games. The main way to win here seems to be about working out the number of monsters you have to kill. You cannot have too many infiltrate your base, but there is some leeway. But you cannot fight too many either, as it will use up all your time, both in the game clock, but also as it progresses the story too. Each time a monster is banished through battle you must move the marker on the right of the board one space up. When you get to the top the game is over, and if you have not completed your goals you will fail. This moves every night as well, but you can really accelerate the game and hugely reduce your available turns by fighting too much. But, if you can work out the right balance, you will invariably win, subject to a few good rolls. Other than that, there is not too much strategy in the game other than working out the shortest route to certain parts of the board. But the story will make up for this for most of you.
However, there are moments when you do something clever that keeps you going. There are ways to spend willpower to gain extra hours. Some items will help with this, as well as clever use of your own character powers. Deciding who will do what, and working together on occasions to fight the harder monsters will greatly increase your chances of victory. And these smart choices will make you thirst for more. I do wish there was a little in the way of dice manipulation, or more special powers though. The game does a great job of creating tension and making the legends all hard enough to make victories feel satisfying. But I think one or two more ways to influence your luck a little more would be interesting. Sometimes, a game can be won or lost by the roll of a single die, or the placement of a random item. This can be frustrating if it causes you to lose near the end of a game, when other than this, you played flawlessly. But this is just because I find repeating legends annoying and a bit of a waste of time. If you enjoy repeating missions, you will love this.
On one occasion, legend three, a monster spawned in a random location that was quite a way away from where we were. We had no way to get to it in time and the mission was essentially lost. The location of where the monster spawned was determined by a die roll, so we decided to roll again. We did, the monster spawned somewhere else. We won with ease and plenty of time to spare. This is cheating. Unquestionably. But I did not want to repeat the entire mission based on the roll of one dice. Some of you may enjoy repeating missions. Some may find the above admission of cheating abhorrent! I mention only as this is a key part of if you will enjoy this game or not.
Tooling up your heroes is a lot of fun. There are a number of ways to gain additional weapons and items that will aid your cause. It's fun to physically place them on your hero mat as you acquire them, and it works well as a visual aid, reminding you what options you have available to you.
Combat works well too. It is a combination of you current strength, added to your highest dice roll, the quantity of which will be determined by your current will power. You must spend an hour of your day as well, so it really becomes a resource management game. Your highest roll plus your strength will then go against the monsters equivalent number, and the difference between the two is removed from the losing players will power. This continues until one players will power is reduced to zero. At which point, if you win, you claim the bonus will power or strength and the monster is banished. If you lose, you lose one strength, but more importantly, have wasted a lot of time. This is all clearly labelled on the board with this clever chart.
MINOR SPOILER - scroll down to below the picture if you want to avoid.
The monsters you face will mostly be the first three shown on this chart, but the odd bigger monster will appear along the way. Including one of three in the final battle in legend four. This is a minor spoiler I suppose but you pop them all out at the start of the game, and see them. The only thing that is a minor spoiler is that you will only face one of these, not all three. They all offer a quite different final battle experience which does make replaying the final legend worth while. Two of the monsters below will come up, the other is a character you will work with to avoid the picture being too much of a spoiler for anyone who scrolled passed this paragraph.
I would recommend this game to anyone who was a fan of the original Andor games. If you haven't played them yet, you do not need to play them in order, although I would suggest you do. If this intrigues you, I would get the first game before getting this.
However if you have not played Andor, like the idea of this, and prefer the theme of the eternal frost in this game, then by all means, go ahead and jump right in. This game will not spoil any other game in the series.
The story is the main thing that will pull you in. And I love the way the cards that detail the story and your game objectives work so well. The experience is close to flawless as you traverse the four legends. When you get to this encounter token on space 450 for example, read the matching card with the same image. It all works so well. However, there were two moments when the name of the card that was referenced for me to go read was simply wrong. I presume a translation error? It was frustrating to take my head out of the game on these two occasions and have to work out which card they meant. It wasn't hard to do this, there was only one other card it could have been and the names were similar. But in a game all about the story, you want to stay in it at all times.
But when you are in the story, which is 99% of the time, it is absorbing, exciting, intriguing, and a lot of fun to play. I am unsure how soon it will be until I try these four legends again, but the four legends in the box were excellent and a 10/10 experience for me. I score this an 8 simply as I ask the question, is four legends enough?