Board game reviews, strategy tips & session reports
No. of players: 2-5
Amount of time to play: 45-60 min
Age requirements: 10+
Set-up time: 5 min
Forbidden Desert is a cooperative board game in which you must find a flying machine and escape the desert. But be warned the sand and heat will try to defeat you.
To win Forbidden Desert you must collect four parts to the flying machine and get to the launching pad tile. Like many cooperative games, there are a few ways to lose. If you run out of sand markers, the sand meter gets too high or a player runs out of water, you lose.
You play on a five by five grid made up of tiles, but the center of the grid is left empty. Some tiles begin with sand markers on them. You need to excavate tiles to find the parts you need to win.
You begin by randomly selecting an adventurer. Each adventurer is unique and has a special ability. It also determines your pawn’s color.
On your turn you take up to four actions. These are move, excavate, remove sand or pick up a part. You may move one tile orthogonally with one action. If a tile has more than one sand marker on it is blocked and you cannot move onto it. When you excavate, you flip the tile you are on. But you can only flip tiles that have no sand markers on them. You can remove one sand marker for each action you spend. For each part there are two tiles. One shows the column the part is in and the other shows the row it is in. You may use an action to pick up the revealed part on an unblocked and excavated tile.
You can also share water or pass equipment to any player you share a tile with for free. Equipment helps you deal with the desert or find parts and are found on some of the tiles.
After each player’s turn the game responds. You must draw and resolve sand storm cards based on the level of the storm meter. Many of these sand storm cards show arrows. This represents the wind blowing. For each square on the card you move a tile toward the “hole” in the grid. After moving the tiles you add a sand marker to them. There are also cards that move the storm meter upward and some that sap your water.
Forbidden Desert is fun, accessible and plays quick. This is a cooperative game that is great for kids and families. Both gamers and non-gamers enjoy this game.
The components for this game are excellent. Everything is well-made and looks great. There is even a small, plastic flying machine that you add parts to as you find them. The rules are well written with lots of examples.
I like how the unique roles give players something they are really good at, but don’t pigeon-hole them. I am not sure the roles all have equal value, but they are all unique and useful.
Forbidden Desert is great for kids from five to ten. Younger kids may need some help reading the cards, but they can learn the actions and basics of this game pretty easily. The game is still challenging and you can change the difficulty to your taste.
If you are looking for a fun, cooperative board game to play with young kids, you should pick this up. It is also very good to play with family members and non-gamers. If your game group likes cooperative games they should give this one a try.
Score and synopsis: (Click here for an explanation of these review categories.)
Strategy 3 out of 6
Luck 4 out of 6
Player Interaction 5 out of 6
Replay Value 4 out of 6
Complexity 3 out of 6
Fun 5 out of 6
Overall 5 out of 6