A few years ago I showed Shannon a video of the game Forbidden Island. When I asked her if it looked fun, she replied: “Maybe, but it looks too hard to win. There are so many ways to lose!”
Last year we got the opportunity to play that game at a game fair, and she did enjoy it. The fact that we won did help, although it was a close call.
Shannon: It was a VERY close call, nearly everything was flooded!
At that same fair we noticed posters of another game called Forbidden Desert. I explained that this was kind of a sequel to Forbidden Island. “Dad, I want that game!” she exclaimed instantly. Now almost half a year later, we tried it out for the first time.
Shannon (looking over my shoulder): Dad, don’t forget to put “The Game” in bold letters.
Me: Okay, but I would have done all that in the end.
Forbidden Desert is, like its predecessor, a cooperative game for 2 to 5 players.
Shannon: Wait, what’s cooperative?
Me: That means everybody plays together to beat the game, instead of against each other.
The players are adventurers who are searching the desert for a legendary flying machine, buried deep in the ruins of an ancient desert city. They have to work together to collect all four missing parts of the machine, and fly away in it before they get buried in the sand, or die of thirst.
Shannon: I was the water carrier.
Me: Right, but hold on, I’ve only just started.
During their turn each player can perform four actions, like removing sand, moving to a neighboring tile, or digging up part of the city. With the latter action, he could find a clue to where a piece of the machine is hidden, or discover a special invention like a Sand Blower or a Time Machine!
But after a player’s turn he has to draw Storm Cards that influence the game and make the desert a much more dangerous place. Most of the time the sandstorm will move and cover tiles with sand. More that two sand tiles on a location means that location is blocked. Sometimes the sun will burn so hot that players who aren’t protected must use up one portion of water from their water supply. And when the sandstorm gets worse, you’ll be drawing more Storm Cards each turn!
Shannon: That’s why it was handy that I was the water carrier.
Me: Stop mentioning that you were the water carrier!
Fortunately the players aren’t your everyday tourists. Each has a special skill that will prove useful during the game. For example, the archeologist can remove not one but two sand tiles at once, while the meteorologist may draw one fewer Storm Card, plus he can use an action to peek at the top Storm Card and can put that at the bottom of the deck.
Shannon: Dad, you forgot to tell about the others, like the water carrier.
Me (after a pause): I will get to the water carrier LATER! And I’m not going to explain everything, I’m just giving a few examples.
We started the game straight away without looking at all the rules, that’s the greatest way to do it! All the cards were shuffled, the desert was prepared, and we each got a random character. I was the climber: I could climb over blocked tiles and could take one person along. Shannon was the water carrier, which proved to be immensely useful! She started with two water portions more than me, could extract extra water from the well, and was allowed to share her water with persons on the tile next to hers.
Shannon smiles proudly.
We immediately started removing sand and flipping over tiles, earning a nice stash of useful objects. The storm didn’t get stronger during the first turns, and often the sand storm didn’t move at all. When I started running low on water, we looked for the well, where Shannon collected some extra water and shared it with me.
We were planning together during the entire game, like: I’ll go this way, you try flipping the tiles on the other side. I was glad the game wasn’t complicated at all, so I wasn’t the one who had to pull the strings. Shannon came up with some great ideas, and sometimes she just wanted to do her own thing.
Shannon: “Pull the strings?”
Me: Yeah, i could have been bossy saying: you should do this now, and do that afterwards. But that wouldn’t have been as fun for you.
Eventually we managed to escape the Forbidden Desert without too much trouble. There was one tense moment when I was out of water and had to use my heat shield to avoid dying from dehydration, but the rest was easy going.
The game is well thought out. The theme speaks to the imagination, and there’s a lot of interaction between the players. It was a little too easy but then we did play the novice level. Next time we’ll try out the normal level, where you start drawing 3 Storm Cards instead of 2!
Me: But you also told me you thought the game was too easy!
Shannon: But then it’ll be too difficult!
Me: Let’s just give it a try next time. I’d rather have a close win than not having to put much effort into it.
The game has plenty of variety, partly because you can play a different character every game. I have to admit that some adventurers are more useful than others. Shannon used her abilities multiple times, while I only had to climb once near the end of the game (and even without my climbing skills we probably would have had an easy win).
Shannon: There are some characters that make it super easy to win!
Me: But if you play at the normal level, maybe it won’t be so easy and you’ll need those special skills to survive.
In my opinion Forbidden Desert is a worthy follow-up to Forbidden Island. My final score is 8 out of 10.
Shannon: I liked the game better than Forbidden island because we played that at the novice level too, and still had a hard time winning. We played that with three players, and I think we would have lost that game with only two players.
Forbidden Desert is a quick game, and we still flipped almost all the cards. A small tip for others who haven’t played it yet: there are three water tiles. If you find the well and there are still water tiles left, do NOT flip them, because they’re only a mirage.
Me: The future players of this game will definitely appreciate your tip. So what’s your score for this game?
Shannon: It was fun to play, and could be fun with more players. I give it 9.5 out of 10.
My oldest daughter has asked me if she can be in a review. She doesn’t enjoy board games as much as Shannon though, but she loves playing party games like Dixit, Pictionary, The Resistance, Taboo,…
I’ll see if I can find something she’ll enjoy. Maybe this is our chance to test out a game for three players or more?
Want to read more father-daughter reviews?
Check out our Geeklist!
- Last edited Tue Feb 24, 2015 8:56 am (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Wed Mar 12, 2014 11:17 pm
Nothing will come of nothing.
Note: There are two water cards, so just the one mirage.
Excellent Review! Now I know I want to play the follow up to Forbidden Island!
I can imagine one of my write-ups reading like this if I let the Grasshopper (age 8) look over my shoulder while I was working on it.
Join our Berks Boardgamers group (Hamburg, Pa) via Facebook!
Ah, the diabolical Dice … a word of caution; don't throw them when you're alone. The fiends lack loyalty, and their notion of nourishment is quite disturbing.
Very weird as MY daughter Shannon saw the video for this game some time ago, wanted it, and just got it for her 8th birthday. Now I'm looking at how to play it.
- Last edited Wed Apr 9, 2014 7:05 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Wed Apr 9, 2014 7:05 pm
Hello, I just wanted to tell you that I have translated it into spanish I'm a fan of you two it's at wargarage.org