May Game of the Month – Forbidden Desert

The Game of the Month series highlights one of the many games in our library at Ravenwood Castle. We will briefly describe the game, how to play it, and why we like it.

This month’s Game of the Month post is written by our Assistant Innkeeper and Chief Game Instructor, Karington.

Game: Forbidden Desert

Publisher: Gamewright

As winter finally releases Ravenwood Castle form its icy grip, we may begin to think warmer thoughts. Warm sand, a warm summer breeze, the blazing sun beating down, sandstorms threatening to cover up our only means of escape. Wait… That doesn’t sound very relaxing… We must be trapped in the Forbidden Desert! We are going to have to work together to get out of this one!

Published by Gamewright, in Forbidden Desert players take on the roles of adventurers who are trapped in a constantly shifting arid landscape. Their only hope for survival is to work together to reconstruct a legendary flying machine buried in the desert. They must do this before they run out of water or become buried in the shifting sands.

Set up is very simple. Shuffle the desert tiles together and place them in a 5×5 grid leaving one empty space in the middle, which represents the eye of the storm. Players choose the role they wish to play, take the appropriate token and adventure card, and place a marker on their card to track the water in their canteen. Sand tokens are placed in a diamond shape on the board, the storm track is placed next to the board, and a crash site tile is placed to denote the player’s starting location. The cards are shuffled and placed in their appropriate decks and we are ready to start.

Turns are divided into two phases. During the first phase, players take up to four actions. They use these actions to move around the board, dig through the sands to reveal buried pieces of the flying machine, or pick up revealed parts or equipment. Players may also trade items and share water with other players during this phase. In the second phase, players draw a number of storm cards equal to the current storm level. These cards move the eye of the storm around the board, add sand tiles to the board, or force players to expend water to fend off the merciless sun.

Once all of the pieces of the flying machine have been discovered and the players have gathered at the launch pad, they victoriously escape the Forbidden Desert! If however any adventurer runs out of water or the board is overrun by sand tiles, then the game is lost and the adventurers remain trapped in the Forbidden Desert forever!

The cooperative nature of game play in Forbidden Desert makes it a family favorite, and is the reason that Forbidden Desert is our Game of the Month for May. Be sure to ask about it the next time you visit Ravenwood Castle, we’ll be glad to take you on a quick tour through the desert sands!

Jim Reed

Jim Reed is a lifelong gamer who started with the original red box Dungeons & Dragons. After spending 20 years in the corporate world, he decided it was high time that work be fun and struck out on his own. Jim now owns and operates Ravenwood Castle, and spends his days ensuring his guests have as much fun as he does.