El Luchador Fantastico Grande (ELFG) is a Lucha Libre-styled dice & card game for 2-4 players. Despite appearances, the game has very little to do with Mexican wrestling – that’s just there to provide an amusing framework.
In ELFG, your goal is to eliminate all other players by reducing their HP to zero. In a standard game all players are equal; however, there are also advanced rules that introduce special skills to facilitate more strategic play.
Gameplay is straightforward and easy to learn. Players take turns rolling four d6 – the result of which determines their actions. Rolling a 1 or a 2 deals damage, 3 or a 4 equals a miss, and 5 or 6 allows you to heal. You have three rolls to get the best result you can, but there’s a catch – you must roll three of a specific move type for it to take effect, and each time you choose to re-roll you must re-roll all dice. This isn’t Yahtzee, so no putting aside a couple of 5s and trying to roll for some more. (Author’s Note: We’ve since clarified the instructions with the developer. You actually choose which dice to re-roll which, in my opinion, makes for a much better experience). In an interesting design choice, HP is monitored using a 20-sided die. We felt this was a little cumbersome, prone to error, and hard for other players to see clearly, so we used the old pen and paper scoring method instead.
At the start of each turn, you may either draw or exchange a card from a communal deck. The cards vary in strength and effect, allowing you to boost/modify your roll or perform various actions. Cards are played after a dice roll has been chosen, but before it takes effect. So, for example, if I rolled an attack that would deal 5 damage, the person I attack could choose to play a heal card before the damage takes effect – and this is where the fun begins. Once a dice roll is decided or cards are played, all players have the option to play their cards, regardless of whose turn it is. With some cards able to negate or even counter damage, you can never assume victory as given. Quite often, fortune can turn at a moment’s notice, making for a fast-paced and often changing game.
In addition, ELFG also provides wrestler cards and a title belt card. The title belt card introduces a great mechanic where the holder deals additional damage, but cannot heal. If you are hit whilst holding the belt, you can either pass the belt on or hold onto it for the damage boost. This adds an element of greed to the game, which more often than not also helps determine the final outcome. The wrestler cards are of no importance in the normal game, but detail special skills if playing advanced. Personally, I found the skills to be a bit lacklustre and unbalanced. For example, Mr Big Business Man always takes one less damage from attacks, while Mother Russia is able to re-roll one die once per game. I know which I’d choose.
Whilst the gameplay was simple, we found some of the rules a little ambiguous at first. Luckily we had access to the game’s developer so we could ask questions; however, clarification or a summary of each card’s use would be beneficial for the final version. When playing with first timers or younger players, we also found that the dice rolls confused people. The concept is simple, once you’re used to it, but the game would certainly benefit from custom dice or die stickers.
When all is said and done, El Luchador Fantastico Grande is still an enjoyable game to play. The artwork is immaculate and works well with the game’s pervasive sense of humour, providing the player with a polished and entertaining product. Keep an eye out for a full review once the game is officially released.
If you’re interested in El Luchador Fantastico Grande, be sure to check out the website at http://senyacgames.hittincrits.com/elfg/. Whilst the 2014 KickStarter project did not come to fruition, the game will be released February 2015.
This preview was written using a print-and-play promotional copy of El Luchador Fantastico Grande provided to us by Senyac Games.