Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Gaming Materials: Forbidden Desert

I've been a fan of Forbidden Island for a bit now or one could be more precise and just call it the whole genre of cooperative board games.  I'm unsure as to why, if it is the nature of cooperative games to be like roleplaying games or if I just like playing games where people don't compete, but work together.  I'd like to think its the later.  Here are my thoughts on Forbidden Desert.

Forbidden Island's appeal comes from its modular nature, which lends easily to a sort of re-playability.  In my collection of co-op games it takes a nice spot.  Like Pandemic though, I've found it possible to master the puzzle central to Forbidden Island.  Or at least, I think, to find its harder difficulties appealing.  Core to why Forbidden Island is a success is its modular design, clever card mechanics and great structure for teamwork in-game.

(As an aside, the art to me is also a neat reason to play it too.)

Forbidden Desert picks up where Forbidden Island leaves off: modular board, cooperative mechanics and card mechanics to deal with.  At first blush it looks complicated, or somewhat silly, but then one get the pieces all assembled... and the cleverness of the game comes out and whacks one upside the head.

Like Forbidden Island, Forbidden Desert makes use of a modular board: double-sided tiles that have to be excavated to reveal what is hidden under the desert sand.  A storm mechanic kicks up sand, burying things one has found or putting up a barrier to get to a necessary part of the board.  Each tile has its own flavor.  Each tile also has the same mysterious art style as its previous version.

Forbidden Desert is like a sequel to Forbidden Island, but not thematic- technical, somewhat in its inheritance to its original.  The feel of the two games is alike, though.  Exploration and moving between tiles is ramped up even more in its importance.  One has to excavate tiles.  One can't let things spiral out of control.

My group hasn't quite figured out the right balance of actions to take to get control over the game.  The Storm is a horrible beast that covers all found in sand.  The sun emerges to burn skin, driving one to use the meager gear found in excavations.  Maybe this is a clue, maybe it isn't it.

But then a clue is found.  And a second, and the game takes off.  It becomes a mad rush to grab and save the parts needed to make the flying machine.  Each moment is more dire.  Things spiral out of control.  Hold on tight as one might, tunnels can't help, gear can't buy enough time, the storm just bears down.  Howling as hard as it can.

Thrilling excitement. 

I liked it.  Forbidden Desert deserves some more repeat play from me.  I like have multiple options for the variety of cooperative games I have. 

Tried Forbidden Desert?  Any thoughts on it?  What do others think about it?