09 October 2022
Better masks than COVID-19
It seems prudent to begin with a bit of backstory about the world Lucha Wars! originates from. Whilst the US has done an admirable job of making its homegrown wrestling an international juggernaut, Mexican equivalent Lucha Libre is less of a household name. A pity really, as it’s arguably more flamboyant – and definitely more mask-y – than its continent cousin.
This is actually a reboot of Luchador!, also by BackSpindle, but now for 1-8 players with dice dexterity challenges and fresh characters (known as luchadores). There’s Grippo the Clown – whose signature moves include Jack In The Box. There’s the bat-wielding Sultan of Swing ready to hit a home run. And there’s Marta La Machacadora, who’ll at least win the prize for best hair if nothing else.
Play takes place in a robust cardboard ring. Luchador figures go in opposite corners, but it’s the grapple dice that do all the fighting. Each player simultaneously rolls their five dice into the ring, hoping to A. get five fight symbols and B. knock opponent dice out of the ring. The winner scales up the special attack tracker, leaving sore losers to take a health hit. The special attack tracker has different options at each level, whether it’s playing a weapon or delivering their luchador’s signature move. It’s probably more accurate to say games are lost rather than won – either by the health tracker hitting zero or by being defeated in a pin attack. And that, is the game.
Yet it also isn’t. There’s a selection of match types to choose from; ladder matches, tag teaming, cage and three-player changing alliances. The best? Tag teaming. The rulebook also recommends it as a good way to introduce kids, who, after all, are a gimme target audience. Here, players assume the identity of two luchadores each, ‘tagging’ them in and out of a match depending on their health levels and special moves. This gives kids (and adults) more than one shot at the win and can throw up dramatic comebacks nobody sees coming.
The worst type of match? Ladder. The ladder itself is overly engineered, which makes it tricky to assemble and prone to bending. A redesign is needed here, and probably thicker paper stock too. Another issue in ladder matches is that dice are rolled outside of the ring, rather than in it, making it much harder to bash opponents out the way. Matches can therefore get caught in infinite draws, unresolved by endless rounds of dull re-rolling.
Such boredom is isolated, as the rest of Lucha Wars! is a whole lot of fun and then some. Pushing your luck with the combo die is tense – especially as your opponent takes over on the rolling if you get a miss. The dexterity-testing elements are also super-playful: essentially ridiculous and highly amusing to execute. One of the highlights is the seesaw, where an opponent’s luchador figure is placed on one end of a piece of cardboard, and a dice is dropped on the other side in an attempt to fling it out of the ring.
Lucha Wars! achieves the precarious task of appeasing both the young and old. Kids will love it by day and adults, perhaps after post-dinner tipples, will enjoy it by night. This is a game that never takes itself seriously, although players may become swept up in the competitiveness – which is all the more entertaining for everyone else. Parents shouldn’t be deterred by the theme either because, despite being about fighting, it will cause fewer rows than Monopoly at family gatherings. Plus, who doesn’t need more spandex and sequins to jazz up their board game collection?
PLAY IT? YES
Less about strategy and more about fun, Lucha Wars! makes for wholesome fighting with the family. It’s irreverent and entertaining, the sort of game that lets you switch off the brain, get in the moment and take life less seriously.
TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED: Telestrations
Both are big-family party games with cross-generational appeal, while having the potential to get very silly and create shared ‘do you remember when?’ in-jokes.
Designer: Leonard Boyd, David Brashaw, Mark Rivera
Publisher: BackSpindle Games
Time: 15 minutes
What’s in the box?
- 3D wrestling ring
- 15 Grapple dice
- Combo die
- Tag die
- 8 Luchador special attack dice
- 8 Luchador player cards
- 8 Wrestler standees
- 2 Weapons rule cards
- Punch-out ladder
- Punch-out seesaw
- 8 Weapons tokens
- 16 Score markers
Looking for more?
Find reviews, news, and features in Tabletop Gaming Magazine, which is home to all of the latest and greatest tabletop goodness. Whether you're a board gamer, card gamer, wargamer, RPG player or all of the above, find your copy here.Get your magazine here
A game that hooked a thousand gamers, it's 40 years of Fighting Fantasy! We take a look back at some of the titles and that changed a generation of gaming, and how it became the behemoth it remains.40 Years of Fighting Fantasy
The Countdown Begins!
There's nothing better than unwrapping the perfect game at Christmas, but what about on the 24 days leading up to it? Our elves hand wrap every gift in the Advent Calender, to bring you the best countdown gamers could ask for.Pre-order now!
Have you visited our game store? We have everything from mystery boxes, to games and accessories, so you're bound to find your newest favourite. Head over there now to claim it for yourself!Visit the Game Store
Sometimes we may include links to online retailers, from which we might receive a commission if you make a purchase. Affiliate links do not influence editorial coverage and will only be used when covering relevant products