Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice, Mark Rivera

Following on from my last post, I am going to be talking a little bit about Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice. As I mentioned in my unboxing video I’m not particularly clued up on wrestling these days, in any way, shape or form. I was attracted to the fun theme, the cool components and what I describe (I’m not sure if anyone else would describe) as kitsch. So I was pretty pleased to receive a copy to review.

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I played it a few times on the weekend, and I had a lot of fun with it. You choose to play as one of the many bizarrely cool characters (complete with awesome costumes of my dreams,) and each comes with its own stand up and ability card. You have a whole bunch of lovely coloured dice depicting various symbols, which a first I was unsure if I’d remember, but it all became clear as we started playing.

 In a two-player game you roll your own set of dice each round to initiate the fight. You then have the green dice that represent the moves you can make when you hit an ‘attack’ or ‘counter’ roll. There’s yellow dice for ‘pinning’ moves, and the black/gold dice that can be used to trigger the character’s special moves. So each round you and your opponent(s) roll at the same time, see what’s been rolled and whether you’re blocking, countering, attacking or pinning. Following on from this you roll your green dice to see what moves you can make and how much damage they shell out to your opponent- this information is clearly laid out on the character card. A separate player card depicts how much damage you can take. When you fall below a certain level you are ‘pin-able’. This means when you roll a ‘pin’ symbol during the initial fighting phase you go on to roll your yellow dice to discover the outcome of the ‘pinning’ move. You can roll your player dice up to three times to see if you can escape the pin, but much like in real life this could spell a K.O if you’re unlucky. The black dice come into play when you trade two of your original ‘hit’ rolls to use these bad boys, and depending which symbol you roll you may be able to make a special character move, all of which deliver an almighty blow. You can either lose the game by falling all the way down the damage track, or you can be K.O’d by a pin.

This all sounds like a lot of dice rolling, and well, it is! The clue is kind if in the title. I know from my previous videos I’ve mentioned I don’t like dice rolling too much. Let’s say for movement in a dungeon crawler, a game that lasts for an hour or more, for me it’s quite tedious. I guess that’s why I’m not a huge fan of dungeon crawling games. I also don’t like dice rolling when I’m playing a game I’ve put my heart, soul and best strategy into- and then it’s going to come crashing down with a bad roll. That bothers me. A game like this, and, for example Marvel Dicemasters, I have enjoyed the dice rolling aspect because they’re not meant to be anything more that some lighthearted fun. I played this 5 times in a row because it was short and sweet and I wanted to keep on trying ‘just one more gaaaaame!’ I do have horrible luck, so of course I was getting K.O’d all over the place.

With the right people and setting it’s a lot of harmless fun, the symbols don’t take long to figure out, so when you’re away you can just keep on playing until you’re all wrestled out. The rather fetching cardboard ring and gorgeous stand ups didn’t serve much of a function in our two-player game. You can just as easily roll onto one of the boards provided or the table. So I guess it depends on how much you want to get into and play with it. I can imagine for a wrestling fanatic or for younger players this would just be a lot of fun. But again, as with Codinca, you can pretty much bag it up with the dice and cards and take it anywhere if you enjoy the game but don’t want to ham it up too much.

So that’s Luchador! Again, this perhaps it isn’t one I’d play every weekend, but it will be fun to take away somewhere or play when I need a game related break from gaming (if you know what I mean?) and when I play with newcomers that aren’t full time hardcore board gamers. I was really happy with it.

If you want to know more, please see here for more info or pay a visit to the Backspindle website.

 

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Not included in the game, but sent to me as a meeple lover, sorry but how cute???

Sandcastles, Andrew Harman

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I spotted Sandcastles  by YAY Games on Twitter and really fancied it, and for a mere £13, I thought why the hell not?  It’s amazing how much fun can be packed into a small box with cards.
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If you saw my unboxing video then you may have seen that these cards are more like square tiles and have various graphics depicting buckets, crabs and seagulls. They have different patterns around the outside that are the ‘walls’ and you use these to build and connect your sandcastles. In a two player game you randomly choose ‘objective’ cards that will score you points e.g-  ‘largest’ sandcastle, the ‘tallest’ sandcastle, a sandcastle featuring 4 bucket cards etc. You play by selecting a card each turn, either by drafting from three central cards, or from the draw deck in order to build your castle. Some of these cards are attack cards and these can be used to mess with your opponent, steal their cards and ruin their glorious sandcastle. When an opponent attacks you can play a card back on them to deflect their attempt, e.g – they play a crab to poke your castle, but you reveal a seagull to eat their crab, but they happen to have a bucket to throw at your seagull, so it’s like rock/paper/scissors and really fun!
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 You can build several sandcastles at once, but you can only set aside your sandcastle for scoring when it’s been completed and all of your sandcastle walls are joined up and closed off. A two player game finishes when the wave card appears. It took about half an hour to play and I never got bored or found it repetitive. It was really genuinely good fun!
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There’s a variant for 3-7 players and for solo play. I’m really looking forward to playing solo, in fact it was the main reason I bought this game as it has a solo option.  Unfortunately spare moments are few and far between, because my current life situation just doesn’t include alone/down time really. I remind myself that it’s not going to last forever and it’s nice to have games with solo play for when the time is right.
Sandcastles is a very good and worthwhile purchase in my opinion, and you can buy directly from the YAY website or from Square Orange. More info on the game here.

Back This! Mint Works, Justin Blaske

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Meet Justin Blaske, a designer from Nebraska, USA. I originally spied Justin’s latest game Mint Works on Instagram and I was really drawn to its quaint low key design and quirky name. I thought it looked super cool and wanted to find out more. Mr Blaske kindly allowed me the PnP, which I did indeed print and play. I’m happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it, as did the other players. For me this is an absolutely lovely and beautifully designed little gem. A cute filler and perfect travel game, easy to teach for new gamers but enough strategic decision making and minty rewards for more experienced players to get their teeth into. Yes I loved Mint Works, and hope very much to get a finished copy arriving on my door step in the near future. It went live on Kickstarter today, it’s a great campaign (I love the promo video, it’s perfect) and you can find the link at the bottom of the page. 

I’ll leave it to Justin to tell you more…

What was the inspiration for Mint Works and can you tell us what it’s all about?

Well, this game came about very differently than my typical game ideas. Mint works ended up being created in response to a design contest on BGG. The contest, run by R4D6, was to create a game that, with all of it’s components, would fit within a mint tin. When I saw the competition, I thought it was really neat, but had no ideas what I could do for that. So I subscribed to the thread to see what came of it, and moved on. A few days later while I was relaxing around the house the idea came to me. Why not make game that used the mints themselves as components! From there, worker placement seemed like a good direction to go. That’s when I locked the name “Mint Works” down, since your mints were doing your work for you, ha! From that point, I started throwing together ideas, realized I could make it simple enough that it could be a gateway style game, and being pocket sized in a little metal tin made it even better for that idea. People could carry this around in their pocket and the game wouldn’t get damaged!

Is this the first game you’ve designed and what lead you up to this point as a games designer? 

Nope, My first game was Area 1851, and I was lucky enough to get that published! It’s had pretty mixed reviews so far. Some people love it, some people think it’s ok, and some people hate that it exists.  If I look at my projects listing Mint Works is my 7th design. Which now that I look at this list, kind of blows my mind how many different projects I have going.

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How did you find creating the campaign? 

Well I had created one campaign before this, for Area 1851, and that was a bit of a mess. I had no idea what I was doing, both in term of Kickstarer design, or the game design industry as a whole. So it’s a good thing that it failed initially, I think – it gave me time to get a better context for Kickstarter and game design as a whole. The Mint Works campaign I think will be much better, and I dare say successfully fund. My abilities as a graphic designer have improved over the years and I’ve done a lot more research into creating a campaign. Not to mention actually being a part of the gaming ecosystem now for several years. When all is said and done, When you buy a copy of Mint Works from your FLGS store you’ll find a ton of fun, in a tiny little tin. The final graphics haven’t been submitted to the manufacturer yet, so it’s possible for things to change a slight amount, but what you see in the campaign page, and in review videos will be pretty close to what you get at the end.

Have you got anything else in the pipeline for Mint Works such as expansions or any future games you’re working on?

Mint Works is so small and compact, I’m not sure what would be a good expansion or addition to it. I struggled to come up with meaningful stretch goals for the campaign, that would still fit in the tin!

I’m not opposed to expanding on it, introducing more advanced concepts and leading new player deeper into this wonderful hobby we all enjoy. However, I don’t think it would work well in the mint tin form factor, an expansion for Mint Works would likely be a little bigger box, that accepts all of the original mint works components. As for other games, yes there are lots in the pipeline, and having my buddy Mel join up with me has brought even more creative engergy to the mix. We are pitching a game we initially called “Dungeon Town” during the publisher speed dating event at GenCon this year. I’m also working on a few other projects to potentially release from Five24 Labs, as well as projects directly with other publishers.

 

I love the simple but attractive illustration and design, was this all created by you?

I wish it was! The game’s initial layout was my idea, and a friendly BGG user by the name of Felix (BGG user ID skoll) offered to do some layout/design for a small project for a geek gold donation. I messaged him and he came up with what became the final design/layout. After that, I’ve made a few tweaks here and there. All of the central images on the cards are from the amazing artists over at Game-Icons.netI’ve attached an image to show you the evolution of the cards from initial PnP to near final design.

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Lastly I’d love some advice as an aspiring designer myself, any hints, tips, and ways not to go mad in the process? 

I guess, my best advice is, make things you love playing, or wish you could play. If you aren’t enjoying the game, it becomes much more difficult to finish the project. Also, don’t be afraid to collaborate and worth with other people. Participate on design forums, both on BGG and Facebook – there’s a lot of people out there doing a lot of neat things. Do a competition or two as well, the constraints can really bring out neat ideas.

Most of all though, just stick with it – and if you find yourself in a rut, shelf it for a bit, maybe it isn’t as amazing as you thought it was, maybe it is. Coming back a few weeks/months later will really shed fresh light on on it. Also, if you plan on going to Kickstarter, read Jamey Stegmaier’s book and blogs, and James Mathe’s blogs as well. Really crucial stuff in there to at least see, even if you don’t want to follow it to the letter.

Thanks to Justin for talking to me, and take a look at the finished product here!