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Wrestlenomicon Kickstarter Preview

Quick Look:

Designer:  Dennis Detwiller, Rob Heinsoo, Shane Ivey
Artists: Kurt Komoda
Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 2
Ages: 12+
Playing Time: 20-45

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

“Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn. In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”
H.P. Lovecraft, Call of Cthulhu 

“For the things in the chair, perfect to the last, subtle detail of microscopic resemblance--or identity--were the face and hands of Henry Wentworth Akeley.”
H.P. Lovecraft, The Whisperer in Darkness

From the publisher:
Become a Great Old One and slam, smash, and obliterate your opponent. Wrestlenomicon is a throw-down to the doom. This furious card game of squicky battles sets up in seconds and plays in minutes—or longer, if tactics are your thing. This is the definition of brainy beer-and-pretzels fun, with plenty of tentacles. Each deck of cards represents a unique Great Old One. The core game includes a deck for CTHULHU—the Ageless Abomination! the South Seas Smasher!—and another for HASTUR, the insane and unspeakable force behind the King in Yellow. More Great Old Ones are coming.

I have been a wrestling fan on and off since the mid-1980s, which spread into a love for a wrestling game called Fire ProWrestling which, for the longest time, was only available in Japan. I found a bunch of like-minded people in the early days of online communication a formed the Fire Pro club (1993) and we would translate the manual so people in the United States could play this great video game.

I think I first discovered H.P. Lovecraft in college (also in the 1990s) and had been a little more than a casual fan up until recently when I started to do social media work for the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society. Since getting that job, I have re-read almost everything the man has written (The Street is a very underrated poem, in my opinion; you should check it out).

The reason for this personal background information is to tell you that if there was ever a person that needed to play this game, it's me.


Rules and Setup:
Each player chooses a deck (either Cthulhu or Hauster, then lay out the ground zero card as well as track cards 1 through 6 in a line between the two players. Each player then separates out their cultists and sets them aside. Shuffle the remaining cards and randomly set 25 cards aside this will count as your guts (hit points). Draw seven cards for your starting hand.

The game is a wrestling/battle game set in the H.P. Lovecraft mythos.

The game is driven by three main mechanics, variable player power, hand management, rock-paper-scissors and, just like in pro wrestling, there is a good guy and a bad guy and their player powers are adjusted to this. In this game, Hauster plays the role of the villain and his deck, and is geared towards cheating. Hand management games are games with cards that reward players for playing the cards in certain sequences or groups. The optimal sequence/grouping may vary, depending on board position, cards held, and cards played by opponents. Managing your hand means gaining the most value out of available cards under given circumstances. Cards often have multiple uses in the game, further obfuscating an "optimal" sequence. Its defining feature is that there is a circular, non-transitive hierarchy for which pieces win against or capture others. That is, while A might beat B, and B beats C, C beats A. In the case of Wrestlenimicon, this mechanic is done as a bonus after an initial attack. A bizarre attack slams if your foe's most recent attack was dominance; dominance attacks slam ranged attacks; ranged attacks slam viscera attacks, and viscera attacks slam bizarre attacks.

Game Play:
On most of your turn, you play an attack card. But unlike most games, attack cards don’t take effect right when you play them. You can see your enemy’s attacks coming long before they hit you. The attack track has six spaces that count down to Ground Zero. On your turn, you place an attack card onto its starting position on your side of the track(first number box on the card). Then you use that attack card’s momentum (second number box on the card) to move an attack card you already played onto your track. That brings the previously-played card down the track towards ground zero. When an attack card reaches ground zero that's when the attack hits. Your attack's damage reduces your foe's guts (hit points). If it's just the right kind of counter-attack, you get a Slam bonus, too. When your foe runs out of guts, you win.

Artwork and Components:
The art is amazing. Kurt Komoda puts you in the moment of this battle. The pictures look like they were taken right out of a graphic novel. Also, the cards being tarot sized is a huge plus to me.

The Good:
The theme for me is like those old Reese's peanut butter cup commercials. You mixed two things that you did not think belonged together and it came out great.

The Bad:
There is some sophomoric humor on some of these cards (flatulence, genitalia) that will turn some people away, but it's only a few cards. I have not tried to play without them to see if it shifts the balance of the game.

Final Thoughts:
The game has a great flow to it. I really like the cards are not instant attacks but are placed on a track and you have to move them in order to activate the attack. It really makes you think about what cards to play at that time. Another great thing is I never felt out of the game. I took some huge hits early in some games but was able to claw my way back into it, very balanced. I enjoy the overall lightness to the game as far as ease of play and humor, despite the fact you are two elder gods fighting over who gets to destroy the earth. Also, there was a little extra paragraph in the booklet showing victory levels for bragging purposes, which I hope to use on my teenage son, but more than likely will have used against me. The game is a win for me, but not just for theme. The gameplay is balanced between the tow decks and mechanics are strong.

Players Who Like:
Two-player battle games, Lovecraft, humor-based games.

Check out Wrestlenomicon on:

   http://wrestlenomicon.com/home/   https://www.facebook.com/wrestlenomicon      https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/arcdream/wrestlenomicon

On KICKSTARTER now. Campaign ends April 19, 2019.

James Freeman - Reviewer

James is a child of the 80's he grew playing D&D and Stratego. He currently owns more games than his understanding wife of 20+ years thinks he should. James lives in Buffalo, New York with his previously mentioned wife, 2 teenage kids and one Havanese dog. Also, if someone outside of Buffalo says they serve buffalo wings, they are lying.

See James's reviews HERE.
Wrestlenomicon Kickstarter Preview Wrestlenomicon Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by James Freeman on April 02, 2019 Rating: 5

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