Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar: Ten Things to Know

Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar

Genre: 80’s/90’s Nostalgic Dexterity Game

Player Count: 2 – 4

Play Count as of Review: 9

  1. Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar is a remake of the 1986 Fireball Island. Besides the edition I am reviewing, there is also a version called Fireball Island: Race to Adventure that streamlines Vul-Kar and creates a smaller and tighter experience for considerably less money. I can only speak on the Vul-Kar edition of Fireball Island for purposes of this review. Also important to note, I never played the original.
  1. For those familiar with the original (and those that are not), the biggest change is moving away from using dice rolls and instead having players choose their movement from a hand of cards. This change cannot be understated as it gives players a choice of what to do each turn and slightly helps mitigate any possible bad rolls that may happen when using dice.
  2. I want to say upfront that I enjoy Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar for what it is but I also am constantly critiquing it. For example, the change away from dice rolls to cards is great. But…only having two action cards in your hand doesn’t really give you much of a choice. The game is meant to be light and breezy but it can be frustratingly light when none of your options are helpful.
  3. I want to get my biggest gripe out of the way: the box that houses the base game is a piece of shit. It’s flimsy and thin and only meets the requirements of being called a box because it meets the side requirements. With the board being so fragile due to the materials used, I am constantly reminded of my disappointment as I cannot store anything else on top of this massive box. If this is my biggest gripe though, then things are looking good for Fireball Island mostly.
  1. The flimsy board also means you need to be aware of anything bumping the table as even the slightest breath may be enough to send the marbles careening down their closest pathway. It’s a game made for a family (which typically means children) but keeping players from bumping the table or board is a game upon itself.
  2. Even though the new and improved Fireball Island gives players the choice in what they’re doing, please do not mistake this for a highly strategic use of forty minutes. The game is incredibly chaotic and random. Players will have whatever loosely held together plans ruined by errant marbles.
  3. Fireball Island is an easy game to grasp and the actual gameplay is incredibly silly. It is the perfect game for a family get-together or a night of drinks or other substances. You do not take yourself seriously and you want to watch the marbles run roughshod over the terrain. You will laugh when your opponents adventurer gets demolished by Vul-Kar and feel super bummed when it happens to you. The game gets you invested in the gameplay even when you’re not doing much and that’s honestly what all games strive to do but few achieve.
  1. I unfortunately think this game is too difficult for the young audience that would be wowed by it and too simple for those that can play it. I’ve never had the game on my table and regretted playing it but it is also never anyone’s first, second or third choice for a game night.
  2. If this game appeals to you (and you’ll know if it does probably just by looking at the box), the good news is that there is a plethora of expansions available that add to the experience in some way.
  3. If I wanted to play a more strategic board game along the same lines as Fireball Island, I would direct players towards Survive: Escape from Atlantis!. But…you’re choosing to play Fireball Island because of the table presence, nostalgia kick and random chaos that may occur on each turn and no other game that I know of really provides that. Actually, you’re choosing to play Fireball Island because you want to drop marbles down from a god-like head onto unsuspecting adventurers and that makes the entire experience worthwhile.

Author: Two off the Top

Just a guy that wants to talk about board games more than his significant other tolerates.

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