Thursday, July 1, 2021

Game Report--Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar

(Image from Restoration Games)

A couple weeks ago, I got together with my friend Joe.  Instead of playing any of our usual wargames of military mayhem, we opted for the more family friendly adventure game Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar.

This is a remake of the 1986 Milton Bradley game, now published by Restoration Games.

(Image from Milton Bradley)

Back in 1986, I I felt I was “too old” to play such “kiddie games.”

Fast-forward a few decades—add one pandemic—and what free time I may have to gather with friends, evaporates.

So I'm desperate  willing enough play anything.

No matter which version you have, think of Fireball Island as “Indiana Jones on the Volcanic Island of Chutes and Ladders.”

Up to four players are dropped off with the mission of collecting all sorts of treasure, pictures and souvenirs.  All while dodging “fireballs” (marbles), and their light-fingered fellow players, who can swipe an item from you as they run past.  

The game’s big MacGuffin is The Heart of Vul-Kar, a large red jewel prominently placed on the island’s summit.  Because The Heart is the single largest source of points, it can have a mesmerizing effect similar to “The Precious-s-s-s.”

But the Geological Clock is ticking, so players can’t dawdle. Sooner or later the island’s volcano god, Vul-Kar, will get fed-up with the foreign devil fortune hunters, and unleash a cataclysmic eruption.  


(Image from:  Krakatoa East of Java)


Ars Technica
 has a full review, and there’s a How-to-Play video, along with one of several play-through videos available on YouTube.

The game is rated for anyone age 7 years or older.  Joe’s two boys are about 5 & 6 years old and seemed to grasp the basics of the game rather well.

However, when playing with younglings, adults need to forgo their usual desire to “...crush your enemies, see them driven before you...”.  

Instead, us grups have to encourage fun & fair play, even as fireballs are flying and the island is coming apart at the fault lines. 


(Image from Ars Technica)

Our game session lasted over a couple of hours due to explaining the rules and breaking for lunch about half-way through the table-top treasure hunt. 

I can’t remember who ended up with “The Precious-s-s-s,” but it changed hands a time or two before the Final Cataclysm.  

I didn’t bother going after it, and instead contented myself with swiping all the minor jewels I could get my hands on.  

I was also the first one to get to the choppa before the island blew, and got the “lucky penny,” worth some bonus points.  Joe’s boys were right behind me and piled into the helicopter. 

(Image from:  Jurassic Park)


What about Joe?

Alas, Joe was hit solid by a fireball as he sprinted to the helipad.  The boulder pushed him down to the very bottom of the hill.  As a result of this critical hit, he didn’t have enough movement points to get off the island... 

(Image from: Raiders of the Lost Ark)


So if this sort of fast & furious looting-spree sounds like more fun than another plodding round of  “...do not pass Go...”, consider adding Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar to your family’s Game Night Library. 


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