27th Jun2018

‘Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice’ Board Game Review

by Matthew Smail

luchador-box

Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice is, as the name suggests, a dice game that recreates the chaotic and exciting fun of Mexican Wrestling. Like all dice games, Luchador! includes a huge amount of luck, but thanks to the way different dice rolls interact with each other and due to the inclusion of some advanced rules, there is at least some strategy and the game rarely feels truly unbalanced.

The game supports up to six players with several possible variations. The most likely version that you’ll play will be either a straight one vs one match or a four or six person tag team match. Based on which setup chosen, each player will simply pick a wrestler (from the impressive array of nine male and female standees) as well as a stamina card and and then get rolling. At two players, each wrestler has twenty one health, whilst at higher player counts, health is reduced accordingly. The objective of the game is to either reduce opponent health to zero or to pin them, which is only possible once their strength is reduced.

Aside from the excellent wrestler standees (that have fantastic, characterful artwork) the main event in Luchador! is the presence of a three dimensional ring that is constructed from several pieces of cardboard and even a couple of strings to simulate ropes. I shouldn’t forget the masses of colourful custom dice either though; these are rolled directly and simultaneously into the ring by both players. This leads to lots of leaning over to compare results – hits can be blocked or countered, whilst pins can be rerolled once if you can’t (or choose not to) pin your opponent.

Every time a hit lands and isn’t countered (or every time a hit is countered and becomes a hit for the other player) the, erm, hit die is rolled. When this happens, between one and three damage is dealt to the opponent and play continues with another roll off. Sometimes, a player may choose to swap two successful hits for a roll of the luchador dice, which allows them to perform special moves that deliver even more damage, albeit at the risk of potentially missing completely or even worse being stunned (which costs them a dice for the next roll.)

When a pin is rolled against an eligible opponent, the player who rolled it will roll the pin die. At this point the match is far from over – the pin can fail completely, or on some occasions the wrestler will simply showboat instead, which raises their health but cancels the pin attempt. Even when a pin is successful, the defending player has the chance to survive a three count by rolling her dice until she rolls three blocks or counters over three consecutive rolls – if she fails, she is pinned. On each subsequent pin attempt, one fewer die will be rolled in defense, which really does make the game increasingly tense.

Luchador! most definitely works best when the die rolls end up balanced (which is most of the time) because as you would expect, the health of both players will chip down pretty steadily. This leads to some real back and forth matches that are only enhanced by some of the very thematic events that can happen in relation to showboating, escaping nearly certain pin situations and so on. In tag team mode, players do have the option to tag their team mate in, but again failure to roll the right dice can result in a stun, which is another thematic twist.

There is an advanced mode, which allows players to set aside dice from one roll to the next in order to make specific combinations that allow their wrestler to perform one of a handful of signature combos. There aren’t many tough decisions to make in Luchador!, but this is certainly one of them – rolling fewer dice for sometimes one or two turns can be costly if you don’t get the outcome you want, but much like a successful finishing move, the reward for such a risk can be quite powerful. Whilst it isn’t a game play feature, wrestling fans will appreciate the evocative descriptions of each wrestler and especially their moves – this is especially exciting to children, I found.

Luchador! is, as I’ve said, a dice rolling game and as such, it has the limitations of one. That said, I don’t think I’ve seen a much better implementation of dice in relation to theme. The bonkers nature of luchador wrestling is well represented here, with features like the showboating action on the pin die, the luchador die and the advanced rules really enabling some raucous reactions. The game is exceptionally well presented by the quality standees, the fantastic three dimensional ring and the superb, weighty dice.

Games of Luchador! take just ten or fifteen minutes at most, which makes them very easy to jump in and out of. The incredible look of the game is likely to peak anyone’s interest, which means that it’s almost always possible to convince people to play. It’s the perfect game to play with a few friends and a couple of beers, whilst equally, it is just as good when played with kids of around eight years and older. Wrestling fans will really love the theme (as well as the look) but in actual fact, the game is a lot of fun for just about anyone.

***½  3.5/5

A copy of Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice was provided directly by Backspindle Games.

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