TABLE GAME REVIEW: Forbidden Desert


This week at GS Table Games, we look at the follow-up game to Forbidden Island: Gamewright’s Forbidden Desert!





Gamewright’s 2010 sleeper hit Forbidden Island was a little gaming gem: very simple, but forcing the players into a strategy of working together to beat the game itself. And if you haven’t played it already, I heartily recommend the iPad app, which eliminates beautifully the hard work of flipping over all the tiles which make up the island’s landscape yourself.

So just a few years later, designer Matt Leacock was challenged to create a game that would contain familiar elements (cooperative play, modular board) while offering up a completely different in-game experience. In addition, Gamewright wanted it to be simultaneously approachable to new players while upping the ante for those who felt they had mastered Forbidden Island. All this has resulted in a fresh new game with an innovative set of mechanics, such as an ever-shifting desert plains board, individual resource management (water is the life-blood commodity), and unique method for locating the flying machine parts (which moves as the storm winds change the landscape of the desert)!



Gear up for a thrilling adventure to recover a legendary flying machine buried deep in the ruins of an ancient desert city. You’ll need to coordinate with your teammates and use every available resource if you hope to survive the scorching heat and relentless sandstorm. Find the flying machine and escape before you all become permanent artifacts of the Forbidden Desert!



The basic rules are very simple: the island is laid out as a tile grid. Players get to flip an untainted tile just once, revealing hidden tunnels, the option to find useful game equipment, water oasis to replenish your supplies, and markers to the whereabouts of the machine parts – however, sand drifts can accumulate, meaning tile revelation takes longer. At the same time, game-round challenges come in form the eye of the storm moving around the grid, adding more sand on top of every tile it touches, as well as the sun beating down, which depletes your precious water supply. The objective is to locate all the machine parts and re-assemble the flying machine to escape the desert.

The game is suitable for ages 10 and up, 2 to 5 players, and takes roughly 45 minutes. It is, in truth, every bit as good as its sister Forbidden Island, except it does lack the urgency: sand is accumulating and the landscape is changing, but it lacks the finality that you experience when the island tiles disappear completely into the sea. That said, if you have and enjoy Forbidden Island, you simply HAVE to have Forbidden Desert as well!

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Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: SilverFox

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