How To Play: Forbidden Desert – Setup, rule summary and strategy

Embarking on the treacherous trek through Forbidden Desert requires a shrewd understanding of each character's unique abilities, prudent water resource management, and impeccable team coordination. From setup to gameplay, special rules to winning strategies, this guide is your compass in the shifting sands of adventure.


Welcome adventurers! This guide unfurls the mysteries of the game followed by top strategies to guide you past swirling sandstorms to victory. I’ve braved the perilous desert myself and am eager to share the essence of what I’ve learned. Get comfortable as this ‘How To Play Forbidden Desert’ guide starts with a clear outline of the rules and then dives into winning tactics forged from my own desert escapades with friends.

What’s in the box

  • 49 Cards
  • 48 Sand Markers
  • 24 Tiles
  • 6 Pawns
  • 6 Meter Clips
  • 4 Flying Machine Parts
  • 1 Flying Machine Model
  • 1 Sand Storm Meter
  • 1 Sand Storm Meter Stand
  • 1 Sand Storm Level Marker

How To Play Forbidden Desert: Rules Summary


  1. Place tiles in a grid to form the desert.
  2. Shuffle the storm cards and place them in a deck.
  3. Distribute water rations and pawns matching each player’s role.
  4. Set the storm level marker according to the number of players.


  1. On your turn, perform up to four actions: move, dig, share water, or use a special action of a discovered gear.
  2. After your actions, draw storm cards equal to the storm level marker and apply their effects.
  3. Adjust the storm’s intensity based on the revealed cards.

Winning the Game

  1. Locate and excavate the flying machine parts scattered around the board.
  2. Bring all parts to the launch pad tile without dying from thirst.
  3. Escape as a team aboard the flying machine to win.

Special Rules & Conditions

  1. If a player runs out of water they are ‘thirsty’, and the group loses.
  2. Use sand markers to indicate places where players have dug or where sandstorm has buried tiles.
  3. Roles have unique abilities; using them in synergy with teammates enhances chances of success.

Best Forbidden Desert Strategies

Mastering Your Team’s Potential

Every role in ‘Forbidden Desert’ brings unique strengths critical to survival and ultimate victory. Firstly,

Understanding the Explorer

  1. Embrace their versatility to navigate through sand with ease.


The Water Carrier’s Necessity

  1. Utilize their water-gathering ability to sustain your team in critical moments.


Leveraging the Navigator

  1. Efficiently move other players, saving precious turns in dire situations.

Synthesizing these abilities, your team can adeptly manage the desert’s challenges, optimizing each move towards a collaborative escape. Successful strategy hinges on understanding and properly deploying each character’s special powers.

Essential Hydration Tactics in Forbidden Desert

Savvy water resource management is key for survival in How To Play Forbidden Desert. Here are vital strategies:

Conserve Diligently

  1. Plan each move considering your team’s water levels, prioritizing actions that allow for rationed consumption.

Seek Water Relentlessly

  1. Continuously search for water caches and coordinate with teammates to revive them consequently avoiding dire thirst.

Share Generously

  1. Utilize the Water Carrier’s strengths to distribute water evenly, ensuring that all players can outlast the scorching desert.

Mastering the Sands: Synchronized Movement Strategies

How To Play Forbidden Desert often pivots on the delicate art of movement—it’s like a dance on ever-shifting sands. Below, I’ll share some moves from my own playbook.

Scout Ahead, Stay Within Reach

  1. Pioneers achieve little if lost. Send scouts, but keep the rest a move away.
  2. Artifacts aren’t going anywhere; safety first!

Group Up for Gear Ups

  1. When gear is nearby, bunching up can be your jackpot.

Spread Out Against the Storm

  1. Too close, and the storm will drain you all. Moderate your distances!

Conquering the Sands: Victory Achieved

Embarking upon the journey through the perilous dunes in ‘How To Play Forbidden Desert’ can seem daunting at first. Yet, with a grasp of your character’s unique strengths, wise water resource management, and adept team coordination, you greatly enhance your chances of an epic win. Remember to adapt to the shifting sands, use your water wisely, and move strategically. Forge your path through the desert, find the legendary flying machine, and escape to tell the tale of your daring adventure!

Want to know what we think of Forbidden Desert? Read our detailed review of Forbidden Desert here

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.