El Luchador Fantastico Grande – PAXAus Review

Luke playing El Luchador Fantastico Grande with Craig and Yolanda at PAXAus.
Luke playing El Luchador Fantastico Grande with Craig and Yolanda at PAXAus. Source: Al Caynes

Many games were available to play at PAXAus earlier this month, one of which being a prototype copy of El Luchador Fantastico Grande. Luke Snadden takes us through his experience with the game.

Being a massive gamer/sometimes cosplayer/general nerd culture participant, PAX Aus was the only place I could be over the first weekend of November. While I was mostly there for the video games and the awesome people, I had been keeping track of El Luchador Fantastico Grande (ELFG) through twitter via creator Al Caynes and was very keen to head to the tabletop area and give it a crack!

After being drawn to ELFG online by the electrifying artwork Al had shared of the game, seeing the cards in person was everything I had imagined. They were vibrant, outlandish and just screamed excitement. The wrestlers were somehow both elegant and ridiculous at the same time, and the action cards were all kinds of over the top fun with cards such as “Tiro Al Eagle Huevos” depicting a Luchador copping one square in the family jewels. It didn’t take long for Al to explain the rules to our little group of three (myself, my friend Craig and his girlfriend Yolanda) and the game seemed like it was going to live up to the excitement that the artwork had promised.

The premise of the game was simple – assume the role of a Mexican wrestling superstar and defeat all other opponents in order to take home the championship title belt. This was achieved through an action card and dice rolling combo that was easy to learn and fast to execute. Your wrestler’s health was scored on a D20, damage dealin’ n’ healin was achieved through rolling four D6’s and each player had two action cards usable during each turn. Al had successfully explained all the rules to Craig, Yolanda and myself within a couple of minutes (although I’m fairly sure Craig was thinking about how much bacon he’d eaten for breakfast and not actually listening).

One of the funkiest parts of the game was the fact that the championship belt that you were aiming to win was actually a pivotal card during game play. At all times one player had possession of the card which granted them +1 damage to their dice rolls, but denied them the ability to heal themself. The belt could be offloaded onto an opponent only if they dealt damage to you. While it was powerful to have, it was a balancing act to make sure you didn’t get KO’d holding it too long and missing opportunities to keep your health up.

I started round one with the belt and got off to a flying start, pummelling both Craig and Yolanda left, right and centre. Ultimately my cockiness was my downfall, with both of them teaming up on me and taking me down with relative ease. Due to my excitement, I even managed to screw up a couple of attempted action card plays in the process and became the laughing stock of the Mexican wrestling world. With a couple of jerk plays from Craig, using his action cards to continuously deny Yolanda from attacking him, he went on to take out the first round.

Round two saw Yolanda start with the belt, which combined with my embarrassing first round had basically removed any threat my Luchador posed, allowing me to fly under the radar. Thanks to Craig’s continued luck in pulling action cards that were both denying opponents actions and also dealing damage, he managed to keep Yolanda at bay for the first half of the game – a move which probably ended with him sleeping on the floor that night. She tried offloading the belt back onto Craig in order to heal, but he somehow continued to find ways to mess with her using his action cards to great cheers from myself and Al. Craig had found his calling – the jerk who was happy to knock his own girlfriend out in the ring. Thanks to those two being pre-occupied with each other’s Luchadors, I was able to waltz in and take home the belt this round, capping off a really fun experience with the game.

As someone who doesn’t play a lot of tabletop games, I really loved ELFG. The outlandish nature of the game, the dazzling cards, the fast paced action and the ample opportunities to be a jerk to your mates were more than enough to have me hooked. Even though the concept is fairly simple, the combination of dealing damage while balancing your own health, timing your action card usage and working out how best to use the belt all made for a lot of tactical play. We all had a great time playing even when at the receiving end of a tag team slaughtering, because ultimately it was hilarious.

ELFG is currently on Kickstarter and has just under 2 weeks left to reach its modest target. I have already gone ahead and backed it after playing at PAX and would definitely recommend it to anyone else looking for a radically fun little filler game. Head over to their page and check it out!

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