Forbidden desert

Designer: Matt Leacock

Artwork: Tylor Edlin, C.B. Canga

Forbidden Desert is a cooperative game where players are on a thrilling adventure to recover a legendary flying machine buried deep in the ruins of an ancient desert city. Players must coordinate with their teammates and use every available resource if they hope to survive the scorching heat and relentless sandstorm. Find the flying machine and escape before everyone becomes permanent artifacts of the Forbidden Desert!

Game Overview

  • Play Time:  45 minutes
  • Player Count:  2-5 players
  • Ages:  10+
  • Complexity of Rules:  Medium/Low
  • Setup Time:  Medium/Low
  • Direct Conflict: None
  • Replay Value:  Medium - There are six different adventurers with special abilities to choose from.

How It Plays

  • Game Mechanics:  This is a cooperative, action point, hand management game.   Players work together to find 4 buried aircraft parts in the shifting sand and escape the desert before the blowing sand or heat kills them.  Each turn players gets 4 action points to spend moving, removing sand, excavating, or picking up parts.  At the end of each turn, storm cards are revealed that shift the desert tiles and pile sand higher.
  • Turn Summery:
    1. Take up to 4 of the following actions:
      • Move pawn to an adjacent unblocked tile. A tile with 2 or more sand markers on it is considered blocked.  Players may also move between any two excavated tunnel tiles for 1 action.
      • Remove 1 sand marker on the pawn's tile or an adjacent tile.  If there are 2 or more sand markers on a tile with a pawn, that player is buried and must dig down to 1 sand marker before taking any other actions.
      • Excavate the pawn's tile if there are no sand markers on it by flipping it to it's excavated side.
        • If it has a a gear symbol, draw a card from the equipment deck.
        • if it has a water symbol then any player on that tile may immediately add 2 water to their canteens.
        • If it reveals the second symbol of one of the flying machine parts, the part has been located.  Place the part on the tile where the two parts tile's direction arrows intersect.
      • Pick up a revealed flying machine part on an unblocked and excavated tile.
    2.  Draw Storm cards equal to the number shown on the Sand Storm Meter and take the following actions:
      • Wind Blows card - Move the storm space the distance and direction shown by shifting the tiles.  Add 1 sand marker to any tile that is shifted.  If the storm space can't be moved any farther in the direction shown, leave it where it is.
      • Sun beats Down card - all players lower their canteen water 1 level.
      • Storm Picks Up card - Move the Sand Storm Meter up 1 level.
  • Game End/Victory: 
    • The game is won if all 4 flying machine parts are picked up and all players make it back to the Launch Pad tile before any of the following things occur:
      • Any player dies of thirst by having their canteen level reach the death symbol.
      • If you are required to add a sand marker but none are left.
      • The Sand Storm Meter reaches the death symbol.


Video Overview

Digital App

Buy on Amazon

Check Prices on

Publisher: Gamewright

Dig Deeper


A post shared by @boardgamebriefs on


More Great Games: