Board Game Review – Forbidden Desert

I’m excited to talk about another fantastic Gamewright game, Forbidden Desert. Just like Forbidden Island that I wrote about in a previous post, Forbidden Desert is a very easy to learn game. It is quick and simple to play, and we use it as a mini-break after finishing a more complex game.

Forbidden Desert Game Start


In Forbidden Desert, your goal is to find four pieces of a Leonardo Davinci style flying machine and escape from a desert sandstorm. Players must work quickly to figure out the location of the missing parts. The location tiles slowly (or quickly) get covered with layers of sand. The players must also keep an eye on their water supply, as dehydration is a killer. Sharing water with each other becomes necessary for survival.

Forbidden Desert - Gameplay Example

There are different item cards that allow you to do things like protect yourself from the sun or remove multiple layers of sand from a location tile. Each player is assigned a different character role. The different roles will help you move quicker around the board, remove sand from location tiles, or share water with teammates.

Forbidden Desert - Player Roles

Each player will begin their turn by taking actions such as moving, searching, or removing sand. Next, that player will then draw cards to move the eye of the sandstorm around and add sand to location tiles that shifted. All players win if they can find the missing parts and gather together to escape. All players lose if all of the sand tiles run out, or if a player dies of dehydration.

The best part:

Forbidden Desert is a great example of a game with easy-to-learn rules and mechanics. It is a fantastic way to teach “board game logic” to an adult or child new to gaming. I like Forbidden Desert more than Forbidden Island, and I’m not quite sure why. Maybe it’s because the location tiles move around on the table. Possibly because the dehydration factor adds some complexity to the game. It could just be the adorable flying machine.


I am a big fan of the company that makes Forbidden Desert, as they are a great publisher of family games.  I use Gamewright games frequently in my job as a speech pathologist and always snap them up if I see them at a thrift store. Another really cool thing is that many of their games use the same basic game play rules as the cooperative game Pandemic. Pandemic is insanely successful and  spawned a huge series of expansions, stand-alone games, and legacy games. So, if you learn how to play Forbidden Desert,  you can easily transfer your knowledge to other Forbidden games and the Pandemic suite of games.

Players and ages:

Forbidden Desert is a cooperative game is for 2-4 players. The manufacturer recommends ages 10+. Because the game is so simple to learn, it is very appropriate for children aged 8+. Each round of play will last about 30 minutes.


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