Kevan Davis
United Kingdom
London
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[Update: This is a review of the first edition; have edited the subject line to clarify.]

This was picked out of a pile at a games afternoon yesterday by four people who'd never played it before, but one who'd heard how it had been wildly popular at some convention or other recently. We broke it out and played it through, and it quietly fell apart before our eyes.

Players roll four custom dice each onto a cardboard playing mat, then match their icons up to work out what happened that round - a HIT gets through unless the opponent rolled a BLOCK or a COUNTER, a MISS does nothing, a PIN either gives you a reroll of that die, or lets you roll the special PIN die. If some hits got through, you can either roll one regular green damage die (1/1/1/2/2/3) per hit, or one riskier black damage die (0/4/5/7/stun-yourself-instead) per two hits. If you choose to roll the special pin die, you might trigger an insta-kill sequence, reduce your opponent to three dice next round, heal back up 1 point, or have nothing happen. There's also a dexterity element in that only dice that land on the board are counted.

(With four players the game plays out the same, except two players sit out the gameplay until they are "tagged in" by their teammate, at which point they become the active player for that team. If your teammate has a game-long lucky streak, you may never get to roll a single die.)

It became apparent after a couple of rounds that the only actual decisions being made by the players are:-

* Whether to roll the green or black damage dice in the rounds where they deal 2+ hits.
* Whether to reroll a PIN result or to try the special pin die instead.
* Whether to hold a BLOCK over to the next round instead.
* With four players, whether and when to "tag out". (There's always a D6 chance that a tag-out attempt fails and punishes you instead.)

And that's it. The remaining 95% of the game is just awkwardly generating random numbers and computing the only logical outcome for them, to set up one of the four trivial push-your-luck decisions above. There's never any reason not to assign your COUNTER rolls to HITs, then all but one BLOCK to any remaining HITs. Even the insta-kill pin sequence has no player input - the victim just has to score three BLOCK/COUNTER results on three rerolls of four dice, Yahtzee style. No decisions, just roll once, keep your blocks and counters, reroll the others, keep the blocks and counters, reroll the others, then count your blocks and counters. Tellingly, BGG has no "Strategy" threads for this game; I suspect optimum play just requires a basic equation working from current players' hit points and dice on the table, with no need to worry about bluffing or long-term strategies because the game doesn't support any.

The rules talk up the atmosphere, enforcing physical high-fives when tagging out, and encouraging onlookers to count out the insta-kill rerolls ("One...! Two...!") as if they're shouting along with the imaginary referee. Reading other reviews to check that I hadn't completely misunderstood the game - no, Luchador's appeal seems to be that you can shout at each other in-character and put on bad accents and maybe wear a funny mask while you roll the dice and work out which results block which others. I'm sure that's fun, but you can do this with rock-paper-scissors or thumb wrestling or anything.
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Luke Hector
United Kingdom
Portsmouth
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Re: A wafer-thin push-your-luck dice game, but in a funny mask
Was this the first edition that you played? The second edition is meant to bring in a little bit more, but to be honest it's not enough. I agree that the first edition is basically how you described it, don't understand the hype nor enjoy the "ham" of shouting at each other in bad accents.
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Kevan Davis
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Re: A wafer-thin push-your-luck dice game, but in a funny mask
Yes, it looks like I was playing the first edition. (So far as I can see the second edition was Kickstartered last month and isn't out yet.)
 
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