Forbidden Desert FINALLY won with 4 players

by ahmad_nz. Posted on Jun 30, 2020    45    16

I was about to give up on this game. We got totally stuck on our first (learning) play through. Piles of sand EVERYWHERE blocking paths, only a single tunnel excavated, playing Solar Shields incorrectly (thinking that these were played reactively to “Sun Beats Down” rather than in advance of storm cards), and not getting even a single part (all buried in inaccessible places).

I didn’t realise how hard the game was before buying it based on good online opinions of the game, but when I went looking online after playing another Beat Down, I discovered that difficulty really does ramp up hard at higher player counts.

One game we almost lost before the first player had a second turn due to no tunnels, Solar Shields, and a series of SBD cards.

Tonight we tried again and I’m not sure if due to luck or a combination of luck and smarter management (although I think we generally were pretty smart on earlier play throughs), we managed to win! When we excavated a second clue, the piece was quite often nearby and not buried. We found tunnels early and avoided enough SBD for water not to be too much of a problem even without a Water Carrier. We were close to a tower of sand on a tile (that we didn’t even end up excavating) that allowed a Dune Blaster to return a stack of sand back. And critically there was an unblocked tunnel adjacent to the launch pad.

Here is the proof/final position!

We ALMOST didn’t win. We were ONE MOVE short of winning because the unblocked launch pad suddenly got a heap of sand on it. And with the storm meter at 5-6 we almost ran out of sand for the 5-6 cards. There were some Storm Picks Up cards that scared us as the Storm meter almost hit the top, but actually this saved us from more sand being removed from the reserves.

It would have sucked so bad to lose this close to winning so we were all pretty relieved that we lived to win this with only a few sand markers remaining. Very satisfying to finally win but I’m not sure how we would have done with less luck! After the game we realised we didn’t even use a single Solar Shield - and then on counting cards we realised we sold ourselves short as we only picked up 6 equipment cards when we have excavated 9 tiles with equipment symbols 😅


Berentski 1

HATE that game! Love Forbidden Island, but not FD. Glad you eeked out a win.

  ahmad_nz 8

What do you hate? I read that there are similarities so decided only to buy one of the two and FI was regarded by many as lesser/easier?

Cubbyish 3

For me, I find Island’s mechanics to be less involved than Desert. But that’s a good thing. Desert is fun, but it feels like someone took Island and said “how can I make something new” instead of thinking about a new game inspired by Island, if that makes sense? Which then lead to Island with just more mechanics across the board.

But even on Island, I find that more players does make it harder, so that just a feature of these kinds of games. Buffy the board game has a similar feel to Island and has the same difficulty scaling element with more players.

Gogogo9 2

I feel like just playing Pandemic or Horrified is the move if you want more Forbidden Island.

Dice_and_Dragons 1

How would you compare dessert to island

  ahmad_nz 1

I can't because I don't have Island, but maybe someone else can comment?

S0avocado 2

Love this game! Congrats

popskiller20 2

Dang I haven’t played this game since I first bought it.

And quite honestly I don’t think I win with more than 2 people cause we’d just get buried in the end. So winning with 4 is just super nuts.

This game was okay but so hard to break out at the table when pandemic was an option. Since then I’ve got horrified and it’s even better as far as co-ops go.

readinstructionsb4 2

The storm movement/sand build up mechanics are so much fun. It adds so much to the immersion of playing this game and really feeling like you are stuck in a giant sand storm. Great game.

AndaliteLBJ 4

What's wrong with playing solar shields after sun beats down?

BurningEmbyr 6

Once the Sun Beats Down card is drawn, the effects take place immediately. A Solar Shield card is a preventative measure, that, if in effect, negates any Sun Beats Down card drawn during it's duration, but it won't negate the effects of a Sun Beats Down card drawn before it was played, if I remember the rules correctly.

BeifongWingedBoar 4

Correct, according to clarification from Gamewright, the Solar Shield cannot be played as a reaction to a Storm card, but can be played in between resolving one Storm card and drawing another, i.e. it can’t reverse the effects of a storm card after its been drawn.

greencurtains2 2

In general you can play equipment cards at any time, right? Including on other people's turns? I always found that in the late game everyone is jetpacking all over the map to hide under solar shields and in tunnels.

thewells 3

Yes, unless the card specifically says you can only use it at a particular time, but you have to play it before seeing which card will be drawn, so if a sun beats down card causes you to get close to death, you can then play a card to get out of harms way for the next card(s), but you can’t play a card to stop yourself from getting close to death after it’s been revealed

greencurtains2 1


Farnsworthson 6

Hmm. I've only ever played it four-handed - about six months ago - and we won (from memory) 3 games out of 4. I remember most of us spending quite a lot of time in tunnels, and personally deciding that it was definitely a game about getting the right role(s) doing what needed to be done, and the other people supporting and not exposing themselves more than necessary. Forbidden Sky is a bit like that as well, but FD seemed easier to control in that respect, and I enjoyed it more. (Oh - I remember that we made quite a lot of use of the free "Share Water"/"Pass Equipment" options, too.)

As for ALMOST not winning - most of Matt Leacock's games are tuned to be a bit like that, in my experience. That's half the fun.