Saturday, 29 August 2015

Carcassonne Around the World: South seas... or... How I learned to love (meeple) again!

Carcassonne Around the World: South seas.

Over the past few months I have been quite absent from the hobby. Distracted by the real world and the virtual one and illnesses aplenty, but recently I began attending a gaming club formed by a friend and my interest in all things cardboard has been rekindled. Thus, with an approaching birthday, I requested things of a 'gamey' nature and I was thankfully provided with much in the way of new cardboard and plastic, and thankfully only a little meat!

Enter stage right: Carcassonne Around the World: South Seas. One of the newer offshoots of the much praised intellectual property, and considering the setting the namesake is merely there to tie in to the cash-cow of its elder bretheren!

After the Wife stole my black curtain we herald the return of the slightly creased battlemat. All hail the wrinkly fuzz!!!
The game plays very close to the formulae laid down by the original, draw a tile, place a tile to build, extend or complete a feature, place a meeple and hopefully score ye them points! But this is where the similarity ends. In the South Seas variant the tiles feature sea instead of fields, islands instead of cities and wooden walkways instead of roads. These all come with symbols of wares on them. Bananas for the islands, Fish for the seas and Oyster/Clam shells for the walkways, because now, instead of just moving your meeple down a scoring track things are done a little differently. At any given time there are four boat tiles, drawn randomly from a pile, with varying ammounts of wares on them and a point value. When you complete a feature you now gain those goods in little wooden form. Tiny wooden bananas, fish and shells, which you then use to buy yourself a ship and rake in the points from said vessel.

Wooden Fish? Curious... Wooden Oysters? Intriguing... Wooden 'nanas!?! now you're just being silly.
A new level of strategy is present also as you only have four meeple Islanders at your disposal to gather your 'nanas, fish and shells but you can, instead of placing an Islander, take one back on any of your turns, effectively abandoning their unfinished developement. This can be played with great timing to effectively ditch a claim that's going nowhere and jump on another, more lucrative one, instead of waiting for the duffer to be completed!
Coolest Meeple ever? Possibly, the Bermuda shorts really give them an edge in the category!!!
Bananas and shells are awarded when the islands and bridges respectively have been completed, the fish however are a tad diferent. If an area of sea with a fisherman islander (laid down like a farmer from vanilla) is entirely encircled by islands and bridges then that islander receives a fish for each icon on the fenced area, However, if a tile is played that features a fishing boat (close up) then the present fisherman (men) receive all of the current icons but at the cost of losing one of the higher value icons for future fishing. This means that successive boats could be played on an incomplete fishery and whittle down the fish turn by turn. Good for you if you want to rack up the fish, annoying if someone uses it to crash your perch-party and dangles a line in your pond as you'll be seeing less of those fish you worked for!

Fishing boat tokens. Wicket is present for scale (he wouldn't stop asking for a guest shot after my brothers hand got a picture! Needy Ewoks eh?)
The winner of the game is the one with the most points gained from their boats purchased with the wares and bonus points, one for every three wares they have left over at the end.
You buy boats with wooden seafood and ornamental fruit. The economy in the South seas takes some getting used to!
Carcassonne Around the World: South Seas really surprised me. I LOVE Carcassonne, it remains to this day one of my most played games as I like the simplicity with which it can be taught, the ease of play and the overall look of the game, but now it has been ousted from my affections by an exotic young upstart! The tactile element of the wooden wares tokens, the Islander meeple in their shorts, the look of the tiles, which look more vibrant and colourful, to the new scoring system removing the scoring track, which was one of the only things I wasn't keen on from vanilla.
Carcassonne Around the world: South Seas is a fantastic game for a varied group and for players of any age, My six year old got it within three or four turns, and I happily recommend it.


Friday, 22 August 2014

Trading card games.... Crack would be cheaper, less addictive and less impactful on your life!

A lot of my gaming time over the years has been taken up with collectable/trading card games. I have quite a lot of them and I thought instead of doing individual reviews for them, as that would be very time consuming and boring for those who’s preference is not having their wallet savaged on a quarterly basis, I would instead have a little waffle about my experience and opinion on them. This is more of a ramble so apologise if it seems unpolished!
A selection of my cardboard crack! for illustrative purposes!
At the beginning of my gaming life I, like many, forayed into the world of Trading Card Games (TCGs) initially by the purchase of a starter set, in my case of Digimon the TCG. I bought the set for the franchise and not the game but soon had a game or two and enjoyed the gameplay and followed my friend into the murky world of the Pokémon TCG soon after, spending much of my teenage earnings on cards that to this day take up space in my house. We also picked up some Marvel Overpower sets but to this day I have never played a single game.
I gave up on TCGs after a relatively short time until some years ago the same friend with whom played Pokémon handed me five starter decks of Magic the Gathering cards he had recently come into possession of, and not having any interest hadn’t even de-shrink-wrapped them.
I had, over the years of being a comic book collector and comic shop regular, had some knowledge of this Magic beast being a popular game and even had a few cards knocking around that often popped up in promotional packs with comics/magazines. With this knowledge I thought ‘what could be the harm in giving it a whirl?’............ Thus began the accumulation and addiction to which I still occasionally relapse into!

Magic the Gathering, for those two and a half people who do not know, is the granddaddy of what you would call a TCG these days. Designed by Richard Garfield and first released in 1993 to much fan fair Magic the Gathering quickly spawned many imitators and would be rivals but would hold fast and be one of the most popular and most played TCGs up to and including now as you read this. I had dabbled with what I later found out to be one or two derivatives of the MTG formula but now I was playing with Genesis and I was quickly hooked. I still state that my friend needs to suffer some form of recompense for passing me those five packs of cards. Supply with intent is easily punishable!

I set about inducting others into the cult of cardboard and quickly had a sizeable group of fellow addicts and my addiction flowed into other TCGs, amassing a formidable assortment of games, many of which never got past the first purchase of starter box and a couple of boosters (I always had to buy at least two boosters to go along with any starter) but some became regular purchase games such as Pokémon, my partner being the bigger collector as is proven by the thousands of cards she owns, the VS. System both DC and Marvel varieties, Duel Masters, now rebranded as Kaijudo, WCW Nitro, My Little Pony (really, I’m serious, it’s a good game but don’t take it to the pub for an afternoon game over a pint, you’ll draw the wrong sort of looks, especially if you a a large hairy man such as I!) Star Trek CCG, and I will also include the Pocket model TCG system in this list as it still is a TCG despite featuring small models.

A Couple of years ago I began to purchase board games, starting with an old copy of Heroquest and moving up to Descent and Talisman before discovering Euro games. Soon the budget for both collections began to clash. I was often faced with a choice of a new board game that I liked the look of or a new wave of MTG cards and this was when the realization of my addiction came into focus. I realized what most TCGs, MTG, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh etc, did and why my money seemed to disappear at regular intervals.
Every three months there is a new wave of cards released. These cards more often than not totally overpower the majority of the prior releases cards or relegate them to a lesser standard so you buy new and tweak your deck to use the new hotness, if you have any competitive players in your group or you wish to play at a higher level than your kitchen table you also find yourself looking at buying singles from dealers to build yourself a competition quality deck which can cost a fortune dependant on which cards you need for any given theme. This is where they have you! You throw money at each new release without question, the majority of which you’ll never even play with if you buy boosters, and build/tweak your deck, play with it for a few months then the next release drops. Rinse and repeat. When faced with this realisation I made the difficult decision to cut TCGs for the most part and concentrate on more complete games. Deck builders, board games etc.

I have friends whose ONLY gaming choice is a TCG/CCG (trying to get them to play anything else can be difficult) and the monetary output to keep the decks viable is enough to make a politicians accountant short of breath!

That being said, and as I previously mentioned, I often relapse into my MTG. Usually when I see some really nice new artwork, Which is one of the greatest thing about MTG, the artwork on most of the cards is absolutely amazing! Or when I have an itch and dare to have a quick game, which turns into a few which then devolves into a wallet assaulting dash to town for a booster fix!

TCGs and CCGs will always be a thorn in my wallet as with many other sufferers, especially if I see a groovy starter set, and I don’t think I will ever be rid of the addiction, but that being said, the games are good enough to keep me coming back and not regretting it either! They represent a gaming dichotomy to which I am hopelessly entwined and more than likely will be for the rest of my gaming life but I say to thee “MEH, Worth it!”

Friday, 16 May 2014

Pleasant Dreams post-kickstarter update

Pleasant Dreams Update: Print n Play goodness! (all pics from my laminated PnP copy)

Following its successful Kickstarter campaign, Aerjen Tammingas Pleasant Dreams has now been forwarded to the eligible backers in print and play format so they can play a few games in preparation for the physical copy being delivered later this year. I was lucky enough to be on that list and here is my opinion on the game....... GOOD GRAVY IT’S GOOD!!!!!

Pleasant Dreams, for those who have yet to read any more about it is a one-to-two player card game in which the players are trying to remain blissfully asleep in the face of a night wrought with terrifying dreams. The players each have a ‘Wakefulness’ card which charts their state from 0 – being fully asleep to 5 – waking up screaming. Each turn a player declares how many ‘Dream Fragments’ they are going to face from the deck of 19 double sided cards, from1 – 5 and then deals them out, resolving them in reverse order. Some of these fragments will increase your wakefulness, taking you one (or two) steps further towards waking up. Others will help lull you back to sleep.

The game isn’t exactly adversarial but there is an element of ‘take that’ gameplay involved. Some of the helpful cards have a ‘flip’ icon on them. If you wish to scare your fellow dreamer, you can flip the card so you both see what the new result is and return it to a secret position in the deck, usually for your opponent to face later!

Each player is also furnished with two bonus cards. The barrier, which allows you to send a fragment to the bottom of the deck instead of facing it, and the Premonition card, which allows you to peek at the top three cards on the deck. Useful if you are close to waking and are unsure of how risky the next step will be.

The game plays in 5 – 10 minutes and can be taught in one turn, it’s that easy a concept. The best challenge is not in the game for the most part but the person you are playing! The deck, when well shuffled (I’ve had a game where I didn’t even make it half way through as I had shuffled most of the positive cards to the bottom and faced all nightmare cards in the first two turns!) offers a challenge in itself, pushing your luck against the nightmares, but your opponent is just as big of a threat. If they flip a card and it is a nightmare, you don’t know where they have placed it. Is it just below the surface or deeper in the dream deck waiting for you? How evil is the person sat across the table from you?

This indirect adversarial gameplay is brilliant and for such a quick game it begs to be replayed many times. My print and play copy has become a surefire hit already and everyone is looking forward to the real deal!

The ‘Lucid Dreams’ expansion has also been funded through stretch goals, adding more bonus cards to be dealt randomly to the players allowing effects such as using the same card twice, flipping the entire deck over (which would be a nightmare, literally, as you would have almost no good cards to look for) and choosing the order in which you deal with the dream fragments. The expansion adds more elements to the strategy and only serve to improve the game.

The game plays equally as well in the solo variant. You play the same way as in the two player game but any flipped cards are inserted ‘somewhere’ in the middle of the deck so you don’t know quite when you’ll see it again. The risk in waking up is just as great and you can make it harder for yourself by starting at a slightly less sleepy position (I tried once and lasted two turns!)

Preorders are now available at and I advise anyone who is a fan of two player games, hell, anyone interested in games at all, to pick yourselves up a copy. This is a very well put together little game and me and my beard FULLY recommend it.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Gosu.... Who's the better goblin-y warlord?

Gosu by Moonster Games

Released in 2010, by French publisher Moonster Games, and designed by Kim Sato, Gosu is a 2-4 player hand management card game where players take part in Great Battles to determine who the greatest Goblin warlord is!

From the first glance I liked this game. Starting with the box and its minimal approach to cover art. Lots of white, blank space here and sometimes this can look lazy or overly pretentious but here it sells the game brilliantly.
The top of the box shows a cadre of different goblins, showing off some of the artwork to be found within. The sides feature just the name on the long side and the publisher logo and age/player info on the short ends. The back is fairly text heavy with a tri-lingual fluff paragraph, contents list and a couple of card images. The minimalist style really helps to make the box pop in a collection and it stands out on the shelf.

The rulebook is really well done with an easy to follow, step by step guide to goblin based warfare. The tokens, 8 activation, 9 victory and 1 advantage token (used mainly for breaking ties and going first in the draw), are printed on some good quality card stock with an ‘okay’ linen finish. The printing and punching are really good. Nice and central and they punched out easily with no mess or tearing.

The 100 goblin cards are the real meat and gravy of this cardboard banquet, and what a tasty bunch they are!
Comparable in quality to almost any card game out at the moment, the card backs have a metallic appearance (although not a metallic finish as many a card gamer will know of the horrendous warping this leads to!) with the logo and a strange goblin faced door knocker thing.

The cards are sorted into five clans. Ancient Goblins (White) Alpha Goblins (green) Dark Goblins (black) Meka Goblins (blue) and Fire Goblins (red) and these clans are further separated into three power levels. Bakuto (Lv.1) Heroes (Lv.2) and Ozekis (Lv.3)

The goblin groups all have a distinctive style and the differing colours between the groups make for an attractive game once on the table. No muted colours here.
The goblins themselves are drawn brilliantly. The art, handled by Bertrand Benoit, Romain Gaschet and Ian Parovel, shows the goblin hordes with unique images, some amusing especially in the case of the cigar chomping, petrol head Fire goblins, to the serene, meditative Ancient Goblins, warlike Alphas, high tech Mekas and the creepy Dark Goblins.
The Bakutos (Lv.1) all have pretty basic names like ‘Dark Goblin Thief’ or ‘Alpha Goblin Shaman’ but the Heroes and Ozekis all have names, and titles in some cases. I really like the fact they went for a completely unique deck with no repetition as that would have been a quick way to bolster the ranks, but the effort in giving us 100 different goblins makes the game all the better for me.

The components in Gosu are great. I think the box could have easily been smaller. I have all of them barring the rule book in an Ultra Pro Deckbox which takes up barely 40% of the available space.

 Shrink the rules and the box could easily have been made more compact. The fact that I really like the rulebook though renders me a little conflicted in this case! Still all great though.


All 100 cards are shuffled together to form one deck from which all players will draw a hand of seven cards. These are the only free cards you will get!
On a players turn they can take the following actions:
1)      Play a Goblin (and use its power if possible)
Each players area is a 5x3 grid in front of them, the first row is for Bakutos, the second for Heroes and the third row (the furthest forward) is for Ozekis. Each player forms their army on this grid.
The first level one goblin you play is free, as are any of the same colour that follow, but for every goblin of a new colour you play you must discard 2 cards from your hand. Heroes and Ozekis require at least one goblin of the same colour be present in the previous layer and as a result they are free to play. Having an assortment of goblins is vital to success so you’ll find yourself discarding quite a lot of cards to build your primary row in the first few turns.

2)      Mutate a Goblin
Some goblins have a special icon, coupled with a number, and this indicates that if you discard the indicated number of cards you may mutate it into any other goblin of the same level. This is a nifty way around the limitation of having to have a matching clan colour in the prior level as you can mutate freely.

3)      Spend activation tokens for cards
Players can either pay one of their two activation tokens for one card from the deck or both of them for three cards. Aside from a few card effects this is the only way to gain new cards making your choices all the more important with the deliberate choking of resources.

4)      Spend an activation token to activate a goblins power
Some goblins have powers on their cards that can only be used by spending a token as opposed to being used when the card is placed. These powers tend to be more powerful or more useful than their free counterparts so you are presented with a choice. New cards? Or kicking some ass with activation powers?

5)      Pass
If you choose to pass the round is over for you and you now wait for the other players to finish and pass themselves before moving on to the Great Battle.
(left to right) Alpha Goblins, Ancient Goblins, Dark Goblins
Meka Goblins, Fire Goblins
‘The Great Battle’
Once all the players have finished forming their forces they face off in the Great Battle. Each player totals the values of their entire force, Bakutos are worth 1 point each, Heroes 2 points and Ozekis 5 points each giving a complete 5x3 army a value of 50 points worth of slobbering gobo fury!
The victor (most points) takes a victory token, any ties go in favour of the owner of the Advantage token. Each player then replenishes their two activation tokens and a new round begins building towards the next Great Battle.
The first player to win three Great Battles wins the war and is declared the greatest goblin warlord.

Gosu is a strange fruit of a game. I love the strategy involved in managing your cards, discards and activation tokens each round and the limitations imposed by the draw mechanic adds another level. At first I wasn’t too sure about the gameplay but it works really well and I soon came to really like it.

I give Gosu 6/10. The game is great as is the artwork but it doesn’t stand up to regular play. A great every now and then title for when you have 15-20 minutes.

Monday, 31 March 2014

If Wishes Were Fishes.... You wouldn't find these at the supermarket!

If Wishes Were Fishes by Rio Grande Games

Published in 2007 by Rio Grande Games, and designed by Michael Adams and Pater Sarrett, If Wishes Were Fishes is a hand management game where the 2-5 players are competing to be the greatest fisherman/woman and bring the biggest catch to the market.
The game itself is squarely in my Fiancées portion of the collection as I don’t really like the artwork throughout the game and that detracts from the experience for me when I don’t like what I’m looking at for over an hour!
One of the best, most useful box inserts I have seen!
The board and box are well made, the box itself has one of the best inserts I have seen, taking the shape of a fishing boat with two foot wells giving ample room to store all of the components. The board features a bird’s eye view of the fish market which shows a stall for each of the different species of fish you can catch, a rubbish dump beside the market (hygienic) and the Euro standard of a score tracker around the perimeter.

For the player pieces we first have the markers used to track the score and show what you’ve sold. These are small wooden fish-meeple. These are pretty good quality as most wooden components tend to be, can’t really go wrong with some wood (insert innuendo at your leisure!) There are also five traditionally shaped Meeple in white (x1) grey (x2 and black (x2) these are the ‘Buyers’ and confer a bonus to the market stalls when selling fish.

All the flavours are here! Strawberry, raspberry, lime, lemon and orange!!!

Guest starring Liz' favorite fish, the wounded blue with his deformed tail!
The cards used to show what fish you have in your boat are pretty good quality and feature the eponymous fish and the odd varieties they come in. The names are all normal fish but they are more literal than their real world counterparts, for example, the Monkfish is wearing a monks Habit and sporting the Tonsure haircut, the Angel fish comes replete with flowing robes, wings and a halo. Most of the fish also have an icon showing what ‘wish’ they can grant but more on that later. There are five different coloured boat cards for the players to begin with and four ‘market limit’ cards also which essentially time the game (later).

(Top left to bottom right) Swordfish, Angelfish, Starfish, Catfish, Kingfish and Monkfish
(wishes) Extra boat, Money for Worms, Move buyer + sell multiple fish, Move fish from rubbish and sell one.
Double Monkfish, counts as two.
With the cards I can easily see that this game is geared more to appeal to a younger audience but with an age rating on the box at 10+ I can’t help but feel they’ve put a rather small margin for said appeal on the game as much older and the style will become less appealing to the average child.


Finally comes the oddest part of the contents. The currency in which you deal to get the fish you want is worms. Big, rubbery, odd feeling worms. These will invariably garner a chuckle from a player the first time they see them, even a squeal or two from those inclined to do so and ALL players will find themselves playing with them for the entirety of the game. Twanging them, wiggling them, squishing them, stretching them, It’s almost worth playing the game just to fiddle around with them!
They are a very weird thing to put in though. It feels as though someone at the office said “This game isn’t silly enough...... Make something out of purple rubber, that’ll do it!” It certainly adds to the whimsical appeal of the game though I will admit.
These are bloody weird!

This is where the game puts in some legwork and redeems itself in my eyes.
In the set up each player is furnished with a card showing two boats in their colour, each boat capable of holding one fish, and six worms for fishing. The fish cards are shuffled and four cards are dealt out in a line leading away from the deck. This forms the ocean, the card furthest from the deck being the shallows and closest the deep sea.
On a players turn they may take ONE of the following actions:

The ocean in play
1)      Take a fish from the ocean and put it in one of their boat.
To do this they can take one of the four fish visible in the ocean, the first being free and having to pay one worm to each fish they pass over if they wish to take one from deeper afield. The ocean is then moved up and a new fish is dealt into the deep ocean. If you take a fish with worms on the card, paid by previous players skipping said fish, you keep the worms. One way to gain new worms if you find yourself running low.

2)      Take a fish from the ocean and throw it back.
This may sound like a waste but as I mentioned before, most of the fish have a wish they can grant. Freeing a fish, to the haven of the discard pile, allows you to use the wish and there are quite a few different ones to use from selling multiple fish at the same time (very useful as you can normally only sell one) gaining an extra boat, awarding you cash equal to your worm stock and moving the ‘buyers’ around the markets.

3)      Sell a single fish to the market.
If you do not want to take a fish from the ocean, nor have any use for a wish, you can take one fish from your haul and sell it to the relevant market stall to score some cash.
Each market has a base value of two ‘money’ (there isn’t a defined currency, just notes with numbers!) so the managing of the Buyers locations comes in here. The small black buyers confer a +1to the price of each fish sold to a market they are stood on, grey a +2 and white a +3. It is possible, through clever use of wishes, to stack multiple buyers on one market stall to greatly inflate the value of the fish, this combined with a ‘sell multiple fish’ wish can really give you a massive cash injection!

Starting set up for five players
For each fish sold to a market the selling player places one of their wooden fish markers on the stall to show the total that market has bought. Once a stall has reached the topmost amount shown on the ‘Market Limit’ cards, which start at 4 fish then 5,6 and finally 7, that market is closed and the players with the two highest amounts of fish there get a monetary bonus. Any other fish sold there above the limit are thrown n the rubbish pile. Starting with a lower amount means that one stall WILL close quite soon into the game, I really like this as it means you have to be careful what fish you catch and sell. Too any in the rubbish pile and it’s game over! And not all of the fish have wishes to grant meaning sometimes selling to a closed market is necessary if you don’t want to permanently clog up one of your boats!

The game ends when either all four Market Limit thresholds have been met, in which case the player with the most money wins, simple! Or the Rubbish pile has ten or more fish present. If this happens the top Market limit card is applied to the pile instead of a market stall, but the players LOSE the bonuses instead of gain them, meaning the players with the two highest amounts of fish thrown away will take a pretty hefty hit to their score. The player with the highest score after this deficit is applied is the winner.

As I said earlier, the game redeems itself somewhat with its gameplay. The tactical choices used in deciding when to use a wish, selling a boat full, chipping away a single fish at a time and the use of the worms for better fish cards make this a pretty good hand management game and surprisingly deep at times. Forward thinking is key for planning your sales.
I still can’t get past the look though! I really dislike the art direction.
I give If Wishes Were Fishes 5/10. Recommended mainly for groups with a few casual gamers in the mix as it’s one that anyone can get into and enjoy, just not really one for the hardcore heavy gamer.

As a side note, for those put off, as I, by the art, it may be worth looking at a game called Morels by Two Lantern Games. It features a similar play style and gameplay mechanic but is themed around gathering mushrooms! Again, not one for the hardcore but I prefer the look of that one!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Kickstarter Preview.... Pleasant Dreams

 Pleasant dreams – Kickstarter Preview

Currently doing the rounds on Kickstarter is a game that caught my eye immediately!
Pleasant Dreams is a two player tactical card game from the mind of Aerjen Tamminga and the beautiful artwork of Wayne Dorrington.

The art was the first thing to catch my eye with its dark, creepy-cute appearance (the bear with spider legs erupting from its eyes and mouth is my current favorite!)

Based on this first impression I looked further into the game and found a great card game in which the players (or player if you play the solo variant) are children striving to stay asleep in the face of encroaching nightmares!

To play the game each player faces a deck of 19 ‘Dream Fragments’ which are double sided, tarot sized, cards which can either increase or decrease your ‘Wakefulness’, pushing you further towards waking up screaming, in a cold sweat, the victim of a nightmare!
The wakefulness is tracked on a player card with a track from 0-5 with 0 being a deep, peaceful sleep. Players also have two, one use, bonus help cards in the forms of Premonition, allowing you to view the next three cards to help you decide how to deal with the upcoming turn and the Barrier card which allows you to return a drawn card to the bottom of the deck, just in case you pushed a little too far!
The game info on the cards is perfectly balanced against the artwork, neither of which pushing the other out of the way.

You can download a PDF of the rules to peruse at As well as visit Aerjens site to look at Pleasant Dreams and some other games that may be in the pipeline in the future.

The Kickstarter, at the time of posting this has 26 days remaining and has already met its funding goal, just the stretch goals to push for now and the money from the stretch goals goes towards the ‘Lucid Dreams’ expansion that Aerjen is working on which adds six new cards that are used to expand the gameplay of Pleasant Dreams. The first goal card ‘Deep Sleep’ has already been reached. If this looks to be up your alley get yourself over to Kickstarter and prepare for a rough nights sleep!!!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Luchador!.... Roll 'em. Suplex 'em and pin 'em!

Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice by Backspindle Games Ltd.

Before I start I feel I should warn you, I LOVE this game. This will essentially take the form of a love letter to a small box of cardboard and plastic.

Starting with the box, while smaller than I expected, is perfectly sized for the contents. Space wastage has been kept to a minimum for once. The box, as does all the card elements, has a linen finish to it and has a realy high quality feel. The cover art features a very stylistic Luchador, and this is the style throughout, and it seems to fit perfectly. I feel that if the designers went for a more realistic appearance it would not have gelled as well with the game.

The players character cards feature six Luchadors, four male and two female, all of which feature the same game related info (the damage/results of the Luchador dice when rolled) but all have individual flavour text describing each of the grapplers signature moves as they sail around the ring kicking their opponents squarely in the mask!

Each player also has a strength tracker (essentially a health bar) with a track beginning at 21 and descending to K.O. (0), the progress of which is marked using small wooden discs. These cards also have a quick reference guide showing how uch damage the basic attacks deal to your opponent.

The board is my second favorite piece of this game. A really high quality feel, four-fold board resplendent with an aerial view of a wrestling ring complete with ropes, turnbuckles and bingo hall floorboards on the outside. Two of the opposing corners are decorated with red and blue padding indicating where the two teams roll from.

Finally (deep breath) the dice (swoon) These are the best proprietary dice I have. I have some awesome standard d6’s but for a handful meant for one purpose these are fan-fricking-tastic!
They feel great and are the perfect size, the printing looks well done and looks to be able to stand up to many games.
Each player is equipped with four ‘Wrestle Dice’ in their corners colour, showing the results of Hits, misses, blocks, counter and pin. One green ‘attack dice’ to determine how you assault your rival Luchador and one yellow ‘Pin Dice’ for when you feel you can make an attempt to win. Finally there is one black ‘Luchador Dice’ which is 50% larger than the rest, used as a gamble to go for a high risk signature maneuver with the risk being a miss or a fail, injuring you and depleting your possible attacks later.
Hit x2, Block, Counter, Pin and Miss

Pin x2 and No pin x2
Viva Luchador! and Stun

For the components alone I am leaning heavily towards a perfect score. There is no unnecessary gubbins, everything is used well and I can find no fault with any of it. Great quality throughout.


To begin a round each player simultaneously rolls all four of their ‘Wrestle Dice’ into the centre of the ring, with any of the dice coming to rest off the board being discarded and not counting this round. This is where one element of dexterity and strategy come in as a sly attempt to jostle your rivals dice with your roll, knocking them from the board can be a tactical risk worth trying, just be sure not to be too over-zealous and send your own die flying out of play!
Players then pair off the dice in play, hoping for some hits to make it through. A hit can be blocked simply negating it, Countered which turns the attack back on you. Misses are simply discarded.
Pins when rolled can be dealt with one of two ways.
If your opponent is not weak enough to succumb to a pin or you simply do not wish to go for one you may re-roll any Pin Dice once each.
If you wish to attempt a pin you set them aside until the attacks have been dealt with.

Any successful attacks and counters now allow you to roll the Attack Dice to see how you assault your rival. These attacks are a Backhand Chop, Forearm Smash and Drop Kick each dealing one damage, A Choke Hold and Chair Smash dealing two damage and a Table Slam for three. When taking damage you move your wooden disc down the track.
If you have two matching attacks or counter attacks you can trade them for a roll of the Luchador dice giving you one chance each of dealing 4,5 & 6 damage, two misses and a fail which means you are stunned and lose a dice next round.

Once your opponent is below 14 strength and you rolled a Pin result you can now roll the Pin Dice and go for the win.
The Pin Dice has four Icons. 2 Pins, which forces your opponent to face a three count. 2 No pins, essentially a miss. Stun, the pinned opponent suffers a loss of one dice next round instead and lastly ‘Viva Luchador!’, you pose for the crowd and regain one health/strength.
To answer a three count when pinned you have three re-rolls to gather a mix of three blocks or counters, saving your successes and re-rolling the rest. If you gain three blocks/counters you kick out, if not. you have been pinned and you lose.
If you are lucky enough to roll three matching successes, blocks or counters, on the first count you reverse the pin attempt, forcing your rival to face a three count regardless of their remaining strength. (I did this just last night for a cheeky win after my Fiancée battered me for the entire game and almost K.O’d me!)

If at the end of the round no-one has been pinned or KO’d you gather and roll your wrestle dice again and lock up for another round. The first to score a pin fall or KO their opponent wins and gets to parade around the table playing their theme music (Wolfpack for me, N.W.O 4 life!)

Being both a lifelong wrestling fan and a man with a big thing for dice I had to try this game. The hobby is poorly stoced with wrestling themed games save for some card games, only one or two worth even looking at let alone playing.
I was a little unsure as to how the dice mechanic would fit but I was pleasantly surprised with how well it plays and all comes together.

This game isn’t going to float everyone’s boat but, personally, I love everything this game brings to the table. Theme, components, gameplay, replayability, ease of tutorial, everything. This game is going to see the table a phenomenal amount of times as it makes a stonking start to a game night or a halfway palette cleanser to put in between heavier games. Quick, easy and a fun as hell game that has already become a favorite.

10/10.... Viva Luchador!