Gassing Up the Embermobile – Fireball Island Design Diary 5

In Posts by Justin Jacobson62 Comments

We’re one week away, folks. Next Tuesday, April 3rd, hopefully around noon EST, we’ll be launching the Kickstarter for Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar. We’ve ordered the giant ribbon and are sharpening the giant scissors. We’re excited to send this out in the world, this thing we’ve been working so hard on for the past year or more.

So let’s talk about something that’s very important to us and plays a central role in this Kickstarter: fun.

Sometimes in this business, it seems, people can lose sight of the whole point of games, and that’s having fun. Not me. I practiced law for 20-odd years before I started Restoration Games. I’m still grateful I get to spend my days bringing fun to people all over the world. Everyone on the team has their own reasons, but that feeling is something we all share. That’s why we were so excited when we got the chance to bring back Fireball Island, a game that so many were so fond of. So when it came time to start putting the Kickstarter together, we wanted to make sure we made it as much fun as the game itself. We’re hoping this Kickstarter can help build a community of Fireball Island fans, who can share stories and memories and laughs. We’ve got a bunch of little ideas to make the Kickstarter as much fun as possible, but today I want to mention two of them: The Fireball Island Tour and our Silly Stretch Goals.

In a lot of Kickstarters, the publisher sends out preview copies to various reviewers so they have nice videos to post on the campaign page. Unfortunately, that’s just not possible with Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar. The single prototype costs several thousands of dollars, so we couldn’t very well do that a dozen times. Of course, we wanted people to be able to see it and play with it and see people playing with it. What to do? Our Tinker-in-Chief, J.R. Honeycutt, came up with a great idea: What if we took our prototype on a big road trip? After he said it, it seemed so obvious. And J.R., who is a bit of kook when it comes to driving long distances, took the idea and ran with it. So, without further ado, we are excited to formally announce the 2018 Fireball Island Tour.

We’ve rented J.R. a swanky SUV we’re temporarily calling the Embermobile. We’ve kitted out the prototype with a tactical-grade footlocker for transport. We got bright car magnets so passers-by can gawk. We’ve got tour t-shirts. And fancy pens so everyone who stops by can sign the footlocker. We got a GoPro so J.R. can record himself playing the game with folks all over the country, and we lined up the Brothers Murph to do some daily video edits so we can post it to our YouTube channel. And, most importantly, we’ve lined up an amazing list of cities and sites.

J.R. starts his adventure at PAX East, where you’ll find us in the First Look area of open gaming and in the Kickstarter Room from 4-6 PM. He’s hitting the Secret Cabal meetup at Beer Mongers in Dallastown, PA on the 10th. And Snakes and Lattes north of the border. There’s Atomic Empire down in North Carolina, and Pieces in St. Louis. Just to name a few. We’re expecting a lot of local content creators to attend as well, so don’t be surprised if you see some of your favorite tabletop celebrities. If you’re in the neighborhood for any of these dates, we encourage you to show up, play the game, get some goodies, and – that’s right – have some fun. And if you see J.R. on the road, buy him a Dr. Pepper, snap a selfie with him, and make sure you tag us and use #FireballIsland in your posts.

Honk if you’re on fire!

The other thing a lot of Kickstarters do is have stretch goals that bling out the game. Again, though, that’s not something we can really do with Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar. Sure, we’ve got a few little upgrades we’ll be putting in as early stretch goals. But the fact is, we’ve already unlocked the Mother of all Stretch Goals: the board itself. We’re also planning on doing an “expansion deck”, which adds new cards to the game. The more stretch goals we unlock, the more cards that end up in the deck. (Backers will get this expansion deck for free, but it will be available for purchase after the campaign on our website and through other channels.) That’s great. But we wanted to come up with some stretch goals that were, more than anything else, just about having fun. For example, Jason, our Visual Restoration Wizard, personally developed the font you see on the cover of the game. If we hit one of our early stretch goals, we’ll release that font for free. Maybe you’ll use it on your invitations to game night when you get the game? We’ve got a stretch goal, where Rob and I will write up a D&D 5e scenario featuring a certain evil island totem. For awhile now, Rob and I have been going back and forth on who’s the better chef. Well, if we hit a certain stretch goal, we’ll finally do the throwdown and find out. And then there’s the biggie.

When I told the team we got the rights to do Fireball Island, J.R. confidently claimed we’d hit $5 million. I laughed and told him that, if we hit $5 million, I’d buy him a car. It became a running bit for so long that I had to include it as an official stretch goal. It’s legally binding now – I would know. So if you want to see J.R. get a genuine Embermobile, well, we’ve all got some work to do.

J.R.’s future ride hopefully.

If you’re planning on stopping by during the Tour, let us know. If you’ve got any ideas for a Silly Stretch Goal, let us know here. And make sure you’re signed up for our newsletter. On Monday, we’ll send the preview link for the Kickstarter to our subscribers for a sneak peek. Most of all, come join us next week and have some fun.


  1. Awesome! Are there times set for the tour stops yet? Specifically, Columbus, Ohio.

  2. I can’t believe you are coming to Beverly. If the timing works at all, I’ll be there.

  3. Awesome! I’ll see you at Pieces in St Louis! Can’t wait for the campaign to start!

  4. I may have to take a day off of work and take a day trip down to NYC. I’d love to give the game a try.

  5. Will security be guarding the prototype in Toronto? Asking for a friend.

  6. My brothers and I will pitch in what we can when the Kickstarter goes live. I just have a question; how do us California kids get our hands on some of those sweet post cards you’ve been handing out?

  7. APR 27 @ madness – majorly looking forward to this. I can bring my original copy if there’s gonna be a fireball doom-fest.

  8. Hi there, I´m looking forward to april 3rd 🙂 When can I order the game, I´m from Germany.

    1. Author

      You can back the Kickstarter from Germany. If you back, you will get the game when we do fulfillment towards the end of the year.

  9. Great idea with releasing the free font as a stretch goal. It would be even cooler if you could provide backers with templates for the cards, so that we could create some custom ones, and in my case – a localized version of original deck, as many European languages won’t have their offical version. Since this is meant to be a great family game, I’d happily put some effort to prepare cards that my kids would be able to use.. once they learn to read in few years 🙂

  10. My 8 year old has been obsessed with this game since it was announced. He is over the moon that you’ll be coming to Toronto and is already asking “how many more sleeps?” 🙂
    We’ll definitely see you at one, if not both Toronto stops!

    1. Will see you in Toronto too! But I’m attending without the kid. I wanna see his face when this thing arrives on the dinner table unannounced.

  11. Oh wow! I’ll definitely stop by when you come to Cleveland. What time will you guys be at Tabletop?

  12. I am close to the tour stop in Dallastown but it is in a beer shop and I am only 14, do you have to be 21 to get into the Beer Mongers store?

    1. Author

      You have to go with a parent or guardian over 25. I hope that’s not a problem. Obviously, we want to focus on family-friendly spots. But we couldn’t pass up the unofficial home of the Secret Cabal.

  13. The fun stretch goals seem interesting, but seemed a bit too disconnected from the game?

    Can they be things that make the game more fun (even if not related to gameplay if that’s what you are going for), like silly stickers you can put on the board, a silly sock you can put over Vul-Kar so he’s not as scary… silly and fun but still related to the game itself?

    Silly things which don’t have to make it onto the retail as it doesn’t affect gameplay, but still get ppl excited in the game itself?

    Is it worth putting the Design Diaries as a separate section of News? I never knew they existed until I was alerted to them specifically, and finding them all (esp the older ones) required some Google searching.

    1. Author

      No need to worry. We’ve got tons of those things as well. We specifically wanted to add some stuff that was just fun in its own right.

  14. What? No Anchorage, Alaska!? It’s practically on the way to Chicago!

    Oh well! Looking forward to the Kickstarter and hearing with the Secret Cabal crew over at Beer Mongers have to say about it. Drive Safely; make sure Vul-Kar wears a seatbelt.

  15. I’m disappointed Las Vegas didn’t make the cut, BUT, I’m traveling out to San Antonio for work, so if the hours are right, I’ll buy you a Texas-sized Dr. Pepper at Knight Watch games!
    (I think they’re actually the same size down there.)

  16. I’m so psyched you’ll be in Toronto! Snakes and Lattes has a copy of the original game that is janky as hell, but it’ll be cool to see them together.

  17. As for stretch goals, do you have access to the original art? Alternate retro-art cards might be keen.

  18. Bummer.

    I’ll keep stewing over ideas for stretch goals that are fun but easy to implement.

    Although, honestly, the game looks beautiful and perfect as is. I’m at the point in my KS life that I’d prefer differed shipping costs vs extra “stuff.” We make half a million in funding? Everyone saves $5 on shipping.

  19. When you were on with Tom Vasel and said you would be touring the prototype through the midwest I was hoping to see Indy on the list! Any idea what time you guys are shooting for there?

      1. No worries! People do it all the time….It’s a weird curse I have, noticing it, haha. Can’t wait to check out Fireball Island!

  20. I’ll second the call for the card template as a stretch goal.

    The release of the header font is a nice touch.

    I’ll also second the call for reduced shipping as stretch goals.

    I understand you’re already subsidizing the shipping somewhat, but to me what is really fun, is saving cash by not paying retail price after shipping for giving an interest free loan.

    I remark on that since the only proposed rewards for backers seem to be increased cardcount and a font download.

    I want you to get that $5 mil so you have to buy that car, but that’s more fun for you than those who are investing in your production run.

    1. Author

      I hear you. I’ll just ask that you reserve judgment until you see the campaign. We’ve got a lot more planned than just increased card count and a font download.

      And I really want to stress: The “fun” stretch goals — notably JR’s car — are really just for fun. They’re not taking resources away that would otherwise be going into the game. It’s not like, if we didn’t give JR the car, we’d be able to put better marbles into the game. The fact is, if we hit $5 million, we’ll be doing all sorts of things related to the business.

  21. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d buy a Fireball Island t-shirt if it were an add on. Just sayin, it could help reach the 5 million.

  22. So if you hit 10 million does he have to buy you a car? Because I wouldn’t be surprised if you broke kickstarter with this campaign. The nostalgia is strong with this one.

  23. Will I be able to get my hands on one of those sweet, sweet cursed pins of Vulkar you guys had at conventions on this tour? Cause I will see you in Austin and I will have my original game in hand.

  24. Aw, nowhere near, MN? Hopefully, there’s a tour 2! I know there are at least a few people up here who would be interested to see you guys.

  25. Aww, come on. Detroit is the closest thing the U.S. has to a city that has been razed by Vul-Kar. You can’t get more thematically on point in the continental U.S. than that!

  26. How possible is it for a Painted Figures stretch goal? The figures look okay as-is, but full color would be awesome.

  27. So after tonight, there’s definitely going to be a light up snow globe with Vul Kar happening, right?

  28. Lucky Lucky Friday the 13th!! Today I got a chance to see it in person! Vul-Kar and his Island home were amazing!! Better yet I was in the second group to play. The game went really fast and was a heck of a lot of fun. Even though I did not “GET TO THE CHOPPA” (As young Elliot from the first game said) I ended up with more points somehow than the rest of my game mates. No hidden Bees got found, and the snakes were hiding.. but the Tiger did make a couple of leaps in the first game.. All in all it was an amazing experience, I can’t wait to add my name to the ever growing list of sponsors on the Kickstarter!
    J.R. was an amazing host, and explained the game very well, second round was taken over by one of the adult players as the Officiant and rule teller. (you pick up the basic gameplay very quickly, and I look forward to the added cards, and other hazards of the island in the near future, I can oly imagine them adding the the play)
    I hope that J.R. survives his road trip, keeps plenty of Tums handy, as he is equipped with a rather large stash of Fireball candies) that his co-pilot doesnt tire of the Muppet movie soundtrack,
    I also hope that He is awarded his very own official and well deserved “Embermobile”.
    with all that said, final impression.. I never got the game as a kid, and the kids that did have it never wanted to play when we were hanging out.. SO the larger than life mythos of fireball Island was epic in my mind.. “The Curse” has more than lived up to it.. My greatest moment of joy was being able to scoop all all the marbles from the scar and send them streaming into my opponents… Thank you all so much for all the hard work put into making this game a reality again!!!!

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