I’m not ashamed to admit it – I love me some wrestling. Whether it’s classic WWF events from the eighties or the latest Japanese Puroresu stuff, I’ll pretty much watch anything if you put it in front of me. Hell, I was even up in Manchester recently for the Raw and Smackdown tapings when the WWE visited the UK – and yes, I had an amazing time doing so. Of course, for many people, wrestling equates to the high-flying Mexican style of masked Luchadors performing incredible moves that boggle the mind. Translating these amazing matches into a game is a challenge that not many people have attempted – until now. Prepare to throw yourself off the top rope with Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice!
(Now, I admit a small interest in this one – Luchador! was designed by my friend Mark Rivera, who I collaborated with on our Ace of Spies game. However, The Little Metal Dog Show is always impartial, so despite the fact that it was created by a mate and it’s a subject I hold dearly I guarantee that this write up is straight down the line.)
Luchador! is silly. Very silly indeed, in fact, but that doesn’t mean that it’s rubbish. Luchador! is a raucous extravaganza of a game where battles take minutes and sure, while much is left to chance thanks to the entire thing being dice-based, the fun and the joy comes from the story of the match that you and your opponent create. Six superstar Luchadors are included in the game and each player takes one to represent them in this epic fight. Two wrestlers (or two pairs, functioning as a tag team – more on that in a moment) will face off in a battle to see who’s the greatest, and victory is yours if you manage to pin your opponent or knock them down to zero energy. This is achieved by the players rolling their own specially coloured sets of four Wrestling Dice onto the ring, which is represented by a small fold-out board. Results are then worked out, with Hits being mainly what you’re looking for. These can be neutralised by Blocks or even reversed with… umm… Reversals…
Anyhow, once you work out how many total Hits you’ve both managed, it’s time to see exactly what damage you’ve done by rolling the green Hit Dice. These determine how much damage you’ve done to the opponent and can be anything from a lowly 1 point for a Ric Flair-style Backhand (Woooooooooo!) to slamming them through a table for 3. Should you have two hits available to you, you can choose to trade these in for a risky roll of the Luchador Dice, and it’s here where everything goes a bit extreme. Rolling this monstrous dice (seriously, it’s way bigger than the others in the box) could see your wrestler fire off one of their signature moves, all of which are detailed on your player card. However, with such an action there’s always the risk of failing or even injuring yourself, meaning you roll less Wrestling Dice on the next round. Manage to pull off one your big moves though and you’ll put a rather large dent into your opposition!
As the game progresses, the wrestlers will tire and lose energy, eventually finding themselves possibly succumbing to being pinned. Should you roll at least one PIN symbol when the other player is weak – as shown on their Strength card – you get the chance to put their shoulders on the mat and aim for the victory… Grabbing your Pin Dice, you see it bounce across the table and you hope to see the PIN appear again. Your attempt could still fail, or your wrestler may choose to take the opportunity to show off to the crowd (and get a boost in their own strength), but should you be lucky enough to roll the right symbol, it’s time to start the Three Count.
Every wrestling fan knows that this is where the excitement lies. In real matched you’ll see countless two-counts that build up the excitement and make that final victory so much sweeter, and in Luchador! it’s a very similar situation. The pinned wrestler has to roll their Wrestling Dice a maximum of three times as they attempt to keep themselves in the match by rolling Blocks or Counter symbols. Do so and you fight on – fail and you taste bitter defeat.
A battered and bruised wrestler can, of course, rely on their tag team partner, and it’s here where Luchador! shines for me. The four player rules are exactly the same except for one thing – if you wish, you may attempt to bring your partner in at the end of any round by ACTUALLY REACHING FOR THE TAG, then rolling a single dice. Anything bar a MISS brings the other player in and gives you a point a strength back, but man… being on the brink of defeat, going for the tag and screwing it up? There have been few more painful gaming experiences all year than getting dragged back in for another beating after some particularly crappy rolls. It’s made even worse when your tag partner is a shining picture of health…
Anyway. That, basically, is it. Lots of dice rolling means – of course – that there’s not a huge amount of decision making to be done, but as I’ve stated before: that doesn’t make it a bad game. Luchador!, is actually ridiculously entertaining, as long as you see it for what it is – something that will make you laugh and shout and swear and curse and demand that you get your own back on the terrible dice rolls that plagued your previous match. In all the games I’ve played myself and watched others playing, there’s always this hive of activity about the board, a buzz that you don’t often get in gaming. Normally we’re a quiet bunch, us gamers, concentrating on our next moves and contemplating past and future decisions, but in Luchador! all that goes out the window – and that is a bloody wonderful thing.
A spare fifteen minutes is plenty of time to get yourself into the ring and beat your opposition senseless. It’s a lovely little package too, with a lovely quality feel from the screen printed dice to the thick ring board… everything just feels so nice. The art matches the game perfectly as well, with the various wrestlers portrayed precisely how they should be shown – over the top superheroes who pull of incredible feats of daring, hurricanranas from the top rope and death defying dives into the crowd… and the fact that it’s all tucked into a tiny package means that it’s an ideal filler game to just chuck into the bag before you leave the house for your games night.
Basically, If you’re any kind of wrestling fan, get yourself a copy – I’d say it’s an essential. If you’re not, give the game a try anyway and see just how much fun you can have when smashing La Cobra Vuelo over the head with a chair. And remember, if this is me being impartial, what would this write up be like if I was playing favourites?
Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice was designed by Mark Rivera and was released at Essen 2013. Published by Backspindle Games, either two or four people can play (but I’ve heard rumours that folks are working on rules for other match types!). Should you desire a copy, have a look here: you can get one directly from the Backspindle boys for £25.