Forbidden Desert is a cooperative game for 2 to 5 players. The players have crash landed in a mysterious desert as the result of a massive sand storm. The only way to safety is to dig through the desert itself and unearth an ancient civilization that once held a precious flying machine. The players work together to remove sand markers and turn over tiles to reveal clues to find the flying machine’s parts. Once the machine is built the players must get to a landing pad also hidden underneath the sand and take off before running out of drinking water. Sounds easy enough.
Each player has a special ability which help the team reach the goal. Players spend four actions in attempts to unearth the the machine’s pieces. Then storm cards are drawn. The cards have 3 purposes: shift tiles and add sand, increase the number of cards to be drawn through “storm picks up” cards, and decrease each player’s drinking water through cards marked “sun beats down”. If one player’s water depletes then everyone loses. If too many “storm picks up” cards are drawn then everyone loses. If there are no more sand markers then everyone loses. This game is a tough, but fun challenge. The game play is well-balanced and the components are artfully constructed.
Though I’ve never won a game, I enjoy it every time I play. To get close and lose is almost as fun a winning and this game keeps you on the edge of your seat. The game starts out looking very achievable and when you look at the board it doesn’t seem so hard. Even after the first time around the board, winning looks easy. Only until you realize you have to make a pivotal move or you spent too much time removing sand, does the game’s difficulty rear it’s head. Each “oh no” moment had me and my other players resetting the game for another feeble attempt at defeating the deadly desert.
If you like playing with other people and not against them, try Forbidden Desert. Just remember to stick together.