The Incredible Hulk Board Game (1978)

Incredible Hulk board game and box cover

The late 70s was a high point for the popularity of the Incredible Hulk, driven by the successful TV show. At that time, a lot of Hulk merchandise was made, including this 1978 board game that also featured the Fantastic Four. This is a simple, easy-to-play game designed for young children, but it can be made tactically interesting with a couple of rule variants.

Hulk board game setup

The game consists of the board, a spinner, Hulk cards, Bruce Banner cards, and tokens for the Hulk and the Fantastic Four. Each player is a member of the Fantastic Four, with the goal being to collect all four Banner cards to complete the face, stopping the rampaging Hulk.

Bruce Banner Face cards

On each spin, you first move the Hulk the designated number of spaces and then your piece. No one can move past the Hulk. You collect Banner cards by landing on a “DRAW” space, but must give up a card if another player or the Hulk lands on you (unless you have a “Safety” card). If the spinner lands on the Hulk, you draw a Hulk card and do what it says.

Hulk spinner and box interior

Playing the game straight is fairly fast, and can be entertaining with three or four players. This game gets low reviews by most board game afficionados, however, because it’s perceived as involving no strategy and being based mostly on luck.

There are in fact two aspects of this game that can make for interesting gameplay. First is the unique feature that you must move both the Hulk and your own piece. Strategic movement can minimize your chances of being landed on and having to give up a card. Second is the fact that you get to choose which pile to discard on top if the Hulk lands on you.

Land on another player and they have to give you a Banner card

The second aspect can be exploited if you stipulate that all players must display their Banner cards face up. This is counterintuitive, since it would seem that actually takes away some strategy. For one thing, everyone will know who has a safety card. In fact, this does not dumb down the game but makes it more interesting, especially if you also allow a player to choose which card he gives to a player who landed on him. This can lead to a much more prolonged, competitive game, where you discard cards you know to be useless to other players on piles they are targeting.

Showing Banner cards face up leads to strategic choices of where to discard

The element of randomness can be further diminished by replacing the spinner with a die, so the Hulk cards are never used. I find, however, that with the above rule variants, the actions on Hulk cards are more tactically interesting.

Giving players more choices in movement can help make this part of the game more tactical, but too many choices will make it too easy to land on a player. I advise treating the spaces linked by the orange double arrow as adjacent, but not those linked by the red X.

Treat spaces linked by orange arrows as adjacent, but not those linked by red X.

A weakness of the game is it becomes significantly less interesting with only two players. For games with only two (or even three) players, it may be useful to make the lower right section of the board (the spaces marked with X) off limits, distributing the Banner cards only among three draw piles. This raises the probability of landing on a player high enough so that movement tactics become important.

For two player games, do not use lower right portion of board.

While even these variants aren’t going to make the game into some kind of cerebral strategy contest, The Incredible Hulk board game can be fun and enjoyable for adults, while still accessible to young children. I find that this game, even without variants, is significantly more sophisticated in its mechanics than simple roll-and-move games, and the designers put a lot of thought into making the game balanced and interesting, with diverse actions, though perhaps the design is too dependent on four-player play.

I encourage people to acquire this game, which has a great look and classic character designs of the Bronze Age Hulk and Fantastic Four. You can playtest it with others, or if you use face-up cards, can try it solitaire using all four players. Let me know in the comments if you come up with any other useful variants.