So we celebrated my fiance's birthday yesterday. We invited a few good friends and coworkers over and busted out the board, card, and dice games. We played our usual favorites; Munchkin, Liar's Dice, Boss Monster, et cetera, but a friend of ours came over with a new game for us to play as a birthday gift. It was called Forbidden Desert. We up it over to the table and he began to explain to us how it worked and all the fun he'd had playing it at home.
He explained to me that essentially, you play as a group of steampunk-esque explorers in search of a lost city hidden by the sands of a desert. A storm picks up and your airship crash lands amidst the dunes, at which point you must survive the storm as you excavate the city in search for ancient technology while you repair your ship and escape. Needless to say, I was instantly intrigued. I love cooperative games like X-Com or Pandemic, and the steampunk aesthetic is just gravy on the cake. So, we cracked the box open, read the rules, and set the game up at the table.
Sitting down, we were each randomly doled out a sort of class card. I was the miner. Being the only character capable of climbing over tiles that had been buried in sand, I was responsible for bringing my friends through the most treacherous areas that the storm had hit. We began excavating, collecting equipment from the city ruins under the sand. Our archaeologist dug up jet packs, desert-clearing duneblasters, and solar shields as our meteorologist tried his best to keep the sandstorm at bay.
But try as we might, the sun beat down on us harder and harder as our cantines grew drier and drier. As we treaded towards our final hope; an oasis, brimming with fresh water. We clambered towards this little paradise in the desert as the storm picked up but it faded away; a mirage in the desert. We were tiles and tiles away from the next closest water source as the sun beat down on us once more. It was over.
So we died in the desert, but the table didn't erupt with frustrated groans and disappointment. Rather, we cheered at how far we'd gotten on our first go and we were raring to start the next round. The game was challenging, even on the lowest possible difficulty, and challenged you to really strategize as a team (as all good cooperative board games should). For only $20 (depending on where you buy), Forbidden Desert is pretty affordable.
Of course, as is oft the case with board games the balance of the game is not perfect (is it ever, though?). Even after my first few rounds I could see factors that have the potential to throw off the games balance, but I would argue that it is a negligible level. My only real complaint about this game is that there isn't more of it. I'm thirsty for content that adds new flavor to the game.
In conclusion, I'm not very good at closing reviews like this, so I'm just sort of going to leave it hanging in the air.
See you next week!