A good fun co-operative game … for both casuals & keenies!

Being a cooperative game, the focus of attention may be different to what we’re used to.

Rather than trying to do better than each other in some way or other, adventurers want to collaborate, co-operate, and share. The habit of competing with colleagues may make this feel a little strange at first.

A plane with intrepid adventurers aboard has crashed landed in a desert. Beneath the desert a lost city is buried – which they had set out to locate and reveal.

But things have changed. Now, as their focal aim, they must find a way back to civilisation before the desert claims their lives. The only way is for them to locate the parts of an ancient flying machine that is known to lie somewhere within the city, buried beneath the sands.

They will have to explore, dig, and collect the bit and pieces of the flying machine. Once that’s done, and once they can all assemble on the launch pad, they can fly off to safety.

It’s no walkover ❗

There’s no board as such in Forbidden Desert, but there’s a definite play area – and that’s an array of desert-sand tiles laid randomly out in a 5 by 5 matrix with a gap in the centre. That gap is the current eye of the desert storm.

Atop eight of the tiles is a marker that represents a dune – a sand marker. These are not not too big to begin with: just one marker high.

But the sands get blown about by desert storms. They get deeper: more markers pile up. Deeper means danger, and more sand to shift if adventurers want to excavate the section of city lying on the other side of the desert-sand tile.

Yes, on the other side of each of the desert sand tiles is a section of the hidden city. This has to be investigated in order to find the flying machine’s parts.

And in many parts of the city, invaluable pieces of equipment can be found – all designed to help fight the battle against the sands and winds.

If ever a desert sand tile gets two or more sand markers on it, it becomes too high to be climbed, and is blocked to all the adventurers except one with special abilities – the Climber.

When the winds blow, it causes the eye of the storm to shift, and that means that the empty space has to move – tiles need to be moved to accomodate its changed position. So all the tiles can change their position in relation to others – it truly is a world of shifting sands. The sands don’t just grow higher – as they move, they move everything else around.

There’s a constant demand, then, for some adventurers to try to keep the sands at bay, whilst others seek to set about exploring and excavating. The adventurers all have different skills and abilities, and it’s the team’s job to try to make the most of them in a collaborative fashion.

So they’re not afraid to ask for or to offer advice (nicely). The adventurers need to be happy to work with each other as they take a look at how the land lies, and consider possible next steps.

And there are no secrets between them.

Each player takes on the character of an adventurer, and they are …..
An Archaeologist.
A Climber – who can scale high dunes.
An Explorer
A Meteorologist
A Navigator
A Water Carrier

They’ve all got quite different skills and abilities, suited to their role in life. These come into play continuously, as they pit their team-wits against the desert’s devious ways, trying to get the flying machine’s parts and get away. Of course, there will only be as many adventurers as there are players.

► The desert will try to make them run out of water, and that’s the way that most teams come to their end.

► Or the team may be worn down by the repetitive storms and their constantly increasing strength.

► Or they may be overwhelmed by the sands.

Forbidden Desert is a kind of giant juggling act. All the time, the water supplies have to be maintained, and the sands have to be kept at bay. And whilst that’s going on, there has to be excavation so that the parts can be found, and then collected for use.

As a result there are always loads of things that need to be done. This demands that each adventurer scratches their chin a bit, trying to decide which actions could be the best to apply on their turn.

Whilst others may make useful observations, there is no easy answer most of the time.

For players that love a good challenge and good fun, Forbidden Desert will provide plenty.