Monday 9 June 2014

Forbidden Desert

In this cooperative board game, your team of explorers have to find and put together pieces of an airship before the raging sand storm that made you crash land in the first place finishes the job and buries you all. It sounds so simple and also has simple mechanics that are easy to understand and teach but difficulty wise the game is HARD. Just to give you an indication: So far we have had two wins on "Novice", and around twelve loses on "Normal" difficulty.

The "board" is made from a randomly shuffled set of face down tiles in a 5x5 configuration with one empty spot marking the eye of the storm. The tiles are double sided too with the "back" usually just being an empty desert and the "front" being a piece of the fantastic city underneath. Some of the city cards indicate where you might be able to find a piece of the airship, and you need to locate two such cards (for x and y axis) before you can spawn the part. After finding all four parts, everyone needs to get to the airship hangar bay to escape and win the game.

A picture of our first victory! :P

After each players move though, that dastardly storm moves around the board using its own card deck and piling up tiles of sand all over the place, often on spots you've already excavated and on spots you need to go. As you progress the storm gains more and more strength too making it even deadlier. If the storm reaches the maximum intensity, or you run out of sand tiles, or ONE player dies of thirst then EVERYONE loses.

Despite our current win/loss ratio I really like this game. It's fast to setup, fast to play (under 1 hour) and easy to learn. The variety of character choices is also a bonus. Perhaps the only thing I don't like is the 5 player limit as sometimes we have more players than that but otherwise I think it's great! Four out of five airships from me! :)

Score after re-review: Five out of five airships!


  1. This is an interesting concept, one player dies and the game is immediatly lost. It seems to enforce that no one is more expendable than the other, and that all are in this predicament together. I like that. It plays on the note of cooperation between the players.

    1. Yup yup! Keeping everyone supplied with water really adds to the pressure as some characters are specifically built with smaller reserves. It works because you all die by inches - usually giving enough time for your allies to save you (not always).

      The same system won't work in games where you can die suddenly like Arkham Horror or the next one I'll be reviewing, Eldritch Horror. In that last one you can flip a card and die instantly (or worse, pick someone else to die instantly). ;P

  2. Fantastic and challenging game. Our family likes both this one and Forbidden Island, which is very similar.

    1. Is Forbidden Island any easier? :D (I don't have it)