OBJECTIVE OF THE FORBIDDEN DESERT: Assemble the flying machine and escape before the desert kills you

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2-5 players


  • 24 Desert tiles
  • 48 Sand markers
  • 6 wooden Adventurer pawns
  • 6 Adventurer cards
  • 5 Water level clip markers
  • 1 Flying Machine hull and its four missing parts
  • 1 Sandstorm ladder with its base and Storm level clip marker
  • 31 Sandstorm cards
  • 12 Gear cards

TYPE OF GAME: Cooperative action management game

AUDIENCE: teens, adults


The Forbidden Desert is part of the Forbidden trilogy, three family-friendly games that are nonetheless challenging. In this game, a team of explorers find themselves trapped in the ruins of an extraordinarily advanced city buried in the desert sands. With their helicopter wrecked, they have no choice but to rebuild a mythical flying machine from this lost civilisation to get out of this sandy hell alive. To win, the players will have to recover the 4 missing elements of the machine: the propeller, the engine, the crystal (solar generator) and the compass, then they will have to take off from the runway where the rest of the machine is located. But their water resources are limited and a sandstorm rages in the region…


  1. The Desert: shuffle all the 24 Desert tiles and place them face down in a square patter with 5 tiles by side, leaving an empty space in the center. That’s where the storm is at the beginning of the game. Then place 8 Sand tiles on Desert tiles in a diamond pattern as shown on the photo below. Also, notice that three tiles have a water drop icon, those are the wells, but one of them will reveal to be dried up. There is also a tile with a crash site. 
  2. The Flying Machine: place the flying machine and the 4 parts separately, next to the Desert.
  3. The Sandstorm: place the Storm clip marker on the Storm Ladder depending on the number of players and the chosen difficulty level, then fix the Storm Ladder to its base.
  4. The cards: sort the cards by type, then place the Storm cards and the Gear cards in two separated piles face down.
  5. The Adventurers: Deal (or choose, if you prefer) one Adventurer card per player, then each player attaches a Water clip marker on the highest value of the Water ladder displayed on his Adventurer card.
  6. The Crash: Each player takes the pawn of his Adventurer colour and places it on the crash site Desert tile.
Example of a four players game setup


Each player is a character with a special power, that he must use efficiently and in coordination with other players.

The game turn is as follows:

  • Active player actions (4)
  • Sandstorm

On his turn, the player can do 4 actions among the following options: 

  • move his pawn to an orthogonally adjacent square (not the eye of the Storm!)
  • clear his tile or an orthogonally adjacent tile by one level
  • turn over (reveal) a completely cleared tile
  • recover a Machine part on the square where it was discovered (it must have no sand marker on it)

It is also possible to use a Gear card without it costing an action.

Flipping a tile can have several effects.

  • Flipping a well tile allows you to refill 2 water levels for the characters whose pawns are on the well. Be careful! Of the 3 wells, one of them is dried up and therefore does not allow you to recover water.
  • Other tiles allow you to collect a Gear card. Some of them reveal a tunnel that allows you to move from one tunnel to another in one move and protect you from the sun. More importantly, there are 2 tiles per element, which are used as abscissa and ordinate to reveal the tile where the concerned element will appear. When that happens, place the corresponding machine part on the correct tile.
  • the last tile is the take-off runway from which you can escape and win the game.

Once his four actions have been completed, the player must draw as many cards from the Sandstorm pile as indicated on the Storm ladder. The cards drawn are of 3 types:

  • “heat wave” causes each player who is not on a tunnel to lose 1 level of water
  • “storm intensifies” causes the storm ladder marker to rise by 1 level
  • “silting”: the eye of the storm moves, adding more sand on its way

The silting cards show an arrow and a number of spaces. The player must move as many squares as indicated by the arrow to fill the hole in the square of tiles, teasingly. If you can’t, because the hole is to one side of the Desert, don’t move any tile and enjoy the lull. Each tile moved gains 1 level of silting. As soon as a tile is covered by at least 2 levels, the sand marker is placed on the dark side to show that the tile is blocked. You can’t go on a blocked tile, and if you are on a blocked tile, all you can do during your turn is removing sand until there is one or less sand tile on it.

Starting his turn in the top right corner of the desert, the Alpinist reveals the tile he is on, which gives him a draw in the Gear pile, and then moves one square down, reveals the tile on that square, which gives him another Gear card, and finally removes one Sand marker on the square to his left.

Sharing Water

Any player on the same square as another player may give any amount of his water to that player, as a free action, at any time.

The Adventurers

  • The Archaeologist removes 2 Sand markers per action instead of one.
  • The Alpinist can move on blocked Desert tiles and can bring one other Adventurer with him/her.
  • The Explorator can move, remove sand markers and use Blaster Gear cards diagonally.
  • The Meteorologist can spend any number of his/her actions to decrease by the same amount the number of Sandstorm cards drawn at the end of his turn. S/he can also spend also spend one action to look at the first cards of the Sandstorm pile (depending on the Sandstorm level) and choose to put one under the pile.
  • The Navigator can spend one action to move any other player by three squares. If by doing so se moves the Alpinist or the Explorator, he can apply their movement special rules.
  • The Water Bearer can spend one action on revealed Well tiles to increase his/her Water level by 2. He may also share Water with players on orthogonally adjacent tiles.


If one of the characters dies, if there are not enough sand tiles left to meet the demand, or if the storm reaches the deadly level on the Storm ladder, the players lose. If the players manage to get all 4 elements together, meet on the runway and take an action to get airborne, they win the game.

Unfortunately, the Alpinist’s turn ended not well: he had no more and drew a Heat Wave card. He therefore died of thirst, and the team lost the game! Maybe next time…
Nakoa Davis