Dale Yu: Review of Luchador: Mexican Wrestling Dice

 

Luchador: Mexican Wrestling Dice

  • Designer: Mark Rivera
  • Publisher: Game Salute / Backspindle Games
  • Players: 2-6
  • Ages: 8+
  • Time: 15-20 minutes
  • Times Played: 5 sessions with newest edition from Game Salute, a few demos in Essen a few years ago with the original

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I first ran across Luchador in the noisy halls of the Spiel fair in Essen – I think the year was 2013, but given my faulty memory, it might have actually been 2012. Despite the omnipresent crowd noise and bustle, I remember hearing the cheers and groans of people watching the game being demoed – and going over to see what all the fuss was about.

Luchador is a game set in the world of lucha libre, or Mexican Wrestling.  Each player takes on the role of a masked wrestler (or luchador) – each with their own skills, super combos, strengths and weaknesses.  While the game is meant for any even number of players (well, up to 6) – wrestling is mostly a 1-on-1 endeavor, and all of my games have also been 1v1.

To start the game, each player takes a luchador card and a strength card – each wrestler starts with 21 points of strength. You get a set of 4 wrestling dice (either red or blue) as well as a green HIT die and a yellow PIN die.  You construct the wrestling ring from the cardboard components and, for some flair, place a standup version of your wrestler in the ring.  The game will be played over a number of rounds until one of the win conditions is reached.

2 example wrestlers

2 example wrestlers

Each round, players take their Wrestling dice and roll them.  These are rolled in the ring, care should be taken with the roll because only dice which come to rest on part of the board will count in this round.  Then, without changing the die roll, the valid dice are lined up in the ring.

Wrestling dice in 4 player colors

Wrestling dice in 4 player colors

There are a number of possible roll outcomes on the Wrestling Dice

  • Hit – the player will get one HIT die unless this is countered
  • Block –  this blocks a HIT result of your opponent (only has effect if played against a HIT result of your opponent)
  • Counter – this blocks a HIT result of your opponent AND gains you 1 HIT die (only has effect if played against a HIT result of your opponent)
  • Miss – Nothing happens and this die is removed from the ring
  • Pin – You may try to PIN your opponent at the end of the round.  If you do not want to try to PIN, you can re-roll this die once and then you must accept the new result.

The Wrestling dice are resolved, and each player calculates how many times they get to roll their HIT die.  Note that it is possible, and actually likely, that both players will roll their HIT die.  If a player has 2 or more HIT dice, they can choose to trade 2 of those HIT dice for a roll of the special black Luchador die.  The green HIT die can cause 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, or 3 points of damage to the opponent.  The black Luchador die can cause 0, 0, 4, 5, 7 or an injury.  If you hurt yourself, you only roll 3 Wrestling dice in the next round.  Each player reduces their strength score on their health chart equal to the points their opponent scored against them that round.  Finally, if either player has a Block result that was not used against the opponent, they could choose to set this aside and keep the Block for the next round.  It is placed to the side of the board, and it will not be re-rolled in the next round.  After the dice are rolled, it will simply be added to that player’s pool of dice as a Block.

Once the damage has been doled out for the round, then it’s time to see if either player wants to try to PIN the other.  For starters, an opponent must be weak enough to even have the attempt happen.  Your opponent must be at 14 or lower in order for you to try a PIN.  Additionally, you have to have a PIN results on one of your Wrestling dice showing from the roll at the start of the turn.

If all those criteria are met, you then roll the yellow PIN die to try to pin your opponent.  This will result in:

  • No Pin: nothing happens
  • Viva Luchador!  You show off instead of pinning your man.  There is no pin, but you do gain 1 strength back for showing off to the crowd
  • Stun: your opponent will only roll 3 dice next round
  • PIN: You pin your opponent, and the 3 count starts.  Your opponent now takes his 4 Wrestling dice and rolls them.  He sets aside any Blocks or Counters rolled.  He has up to 3 rolls total in order to set aside 3 Blocks or Counters.  If he is able to do so, the PIN is broken and the game continues.  If he cannot make 3 saves, then he is pinned and the match is over!  To keep things exciting – if on the first save roll, the player is able to roll 3 identical saves (3 Blocks or 3 Counters), he reverses the pin and the originally pinning player is now the one who must save himself.

If there are multiple PIN results rolled, they must all be countered.  The first PIN attempt is fought off as noted above – you get 3 rolls of all 4 dice to get 3 saving rolls.  However, this tires out the wrestler, and any future PIN attempts IN THIS round are countered with only 3 Wrestling dice – therefore, you have to get a save roll on all three of the dice to be rolled in order to save yourself.

If there is not a successful pin, the game continues on.  You check to see if either wrestler loses (because his health is at zero).  If both wrestlers are at zero, the player who inflicted the most damage this turn is the winner.  Otherwise, you collect all the dice (except for set aside Blocks) and roll again for the next round.

The above description is for the basic game.  There are also a few advanced rules which build upon the Basic rules above.  The biggest change is that you get to use the advanced rules for each Luchador.  Each Luchadoe has a special killer combination which can be triggered if you roll a certain pattern on your Wrestling dice.  Additionally, each fighter has a unique strength or weakness that give you special abilities or change how certain dice rolls affect you.   

A Wrestler with his advanced card

A Wrestler with his advanced card

My thoughts on the game

Luchador: Mexican Wrestling Dice is a fun little dice fest.  The rules are really easy to explain, and we were able to get started with a game in less than 5 minutes of explanation.  There are a number of different dice which have to be rolled, but the results are easy to remember and resolve.

Thus far, we’ve only played in a 1v1 battle as usually it’s been me and my two boys – but this works out really well as most matches are over in about 10-15 minutes – so it’s no big deal for the person sitting out to watch the match in progress or to peruse the different Luchador cards to pick out his preferred fighter for the next round.

Like most dice games, the best strategy is to roll well…  Certainly, in the beginning, you hope to line up HITs and BLOCKs – and the main strategic decision is to decide when you want to try for the Luchador dice (but, you can only do this on rounds where you have at least 2 HITs to roll).  The expected value of a green HIT roll is 1.66 while the black Luchador die is at 2.66 – but with higher variance as well as a chance of injuring yourself.

Later in the match, once players are closer to the PIN zone, then you also have to decide whether you’d rather keep PIN results on your wrestling dice or re-roll them in the chance to help you attack or defense. We’ve found that players are fairly likely to escape from a single PIN attempt in a round, but it’s much harder to escape multiple ones because of the one-die penalty suffered when trying to save yourself from multiple PINs.

The components are well done – the custom dice have a nice heft to them, and the icons are all easy to read.  The icons are printed on the dice, not etched – but thus far, there are no signs of wear on them.  We’ll have to see over time whether or not the printing rubs off.  The wrestling ring is a nice touch, and if you really want to glam it up, they even give you stanchions and elastic strings to do it up right.  As a nice final touch, you even get cardboard championship belts to proudly hold over your head when you’re declared the winner!  Luchador: Mexican Wrestling Dice is a nice light romp of a game, and it serves as a really nice 2p filler for me.

 

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!
  • I like it. Dale Y
  • Neutral.
  • Not for me…

 

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About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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