Can you pull off the great escape?

I’m hesitant to recommend Forbidden Desert: Thirst for Survival to you.

Not because you won’t have fun playing it. It will most definitely fill the many indoor hours that need to be filled.

I’m just a little nervous that by the fifth or sixth (or seventh or eighth) time this game beats you, you’ll be knocking on my door looking to let go of a little frustration.

Forbidden Desert is the second in the series of “Forbidden” games following the freshman title Forbidden Island. Both were created by Matt Leacock, one of the top American tabletop game designers today. Leacock is best known for his breakthrough cooperative game, Pandemic, in which players must stop the spread of four deadly diseases spreading across the globe.

Work together to win

Forbidden Desert is a cooperative game as well. Two to 5 players must work together to retrieve the missing pieces of your crashed airship to escape the sweltering heat and deadly sand storms before the dangerous desert elements get the better of you. On each player’s turn, you move around the board and dig through the sand in an effort to find your ship pieces and useful gear.

But it’s not as easy as it sounds. The board moves with the storm, and you have to hurriedly repair your airship before you are buried in sand or perish from thirst.

A winning scenario will take you about 60 minutes to complete. But you could easily lose the game in as quick as 20 minutes.

Instant hit

You don’t need to have played the first entry in the series to enjoy this one. In fact, I’ve played both and would say Forbidden Desert is a better game experience than Forbidden Island thanks to some of the rules enhancements and additional elements in the second instalment.

This game was instant hit with my family from our first time playthrough. My kids often request to play it. This could be because we have not yet beaten the game. (But we came ever so close the last time we played!)  

More cooperative fun

If the theme of Forbidden Desert doesn’t interest you or you want something a little more topical, Pandemic is considered modern classic in the world of tabletop games. It’s a little more abstract and can be a bit less accessible at first to younger players or people with limited board game experience than something like Forbidden Desert, but it’s a fun title that demands a great deal of strategy and teamwork. It’s also the game you are going to love to hate and will most likely lose more often than win. So keep that in mind.

Forbidden Desert and Pandemic are most likely available at your local game store — both are popular games. But if you’re unable to get out to a physical store, they’re also available on websites for large retailers like Toys R Us and Walmart, as well as Amazon.

Like this article? Check out our review of Century Spice Road.

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  • Work together to win
  • Instant hit
  • More cooperative fun