Strategy For Forbidden Desert Board Game | Triumph Over The Forbidden Desert

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As all survival games should be, Forbidden Desert is a challenging game. The storm doesn’t seem that bad. Your water is OK. You’re doing great and in a couple of turns you’ve lost.

That is what makes Forbidden Desert so much fun. As you play through you can feel the tension and excitement rising with every turn of the storm cards.

Here you will find strategy for Forbidden Desert board game that will help you win.

This article is perfect for you if you are struggling to build your steampunk airship and escape. I will reveal secrets and strategies to help you escape the Forbidden Desert. You’ll feel that rush of accomplishment every challenging game gives with success.

The game does become harder with more players. Due to more storm cards that get turned over during each round. Read the section for those playing 5 players to help you achieve victory over the storm.

Can you beat Forbidden Desert and escape? The answer is a resounding yes! Let’s begin with some general tips and then some specific strategies. Your win to loss ratio will be improving in no time.

Strategy for Forbidden Desert board game

Table of Contents

General tips

There are 3 ways to die: dying of thirst, buried in sand, or the storm rises and sweeps you away. You are likely to lose from those in that order: Water, Sand, Storm.


You only need one player to die of thirst and the game is over. This is likely to happen before you get buried or swept away. So make sure you have a plan to replenish you water reserves for every player.

Identify the three potential water hole tiles and make a plan to meet at one of them within a few turns. If you are lucky enough to get a terrascope you can use it. Check if the water tile actually is mirage or will give you water.

Always have a plan to get all your adventurers onto a water tile to excavate it and top up your water by two.

Forbidden Desert Water Carrier
Water Carrier


The next most likely way to die is if there are no sand markers to use and the storm needs to lay one on a tile. If you can’t do that then you’re buried alive!

If you have the archeologist adventurer then he can remove two sand markers for one turn. This is a huge benefit as he could return 8 sand markers to the pile in one turn.

If you don’t have the archeologist then keep an eye on the sand pile and keep removing sand. As the storm rises you will find that you will run out of sand super quick.


If you actually ever get blown away then you should at least console yourselves. You did an amazing job lasting that long.

The storm rising is a kind of timer which also increases the difficulty. Most of the games I have played got to Storm meter level of 4 or 5 and we died of thirst or getting buried.

In which case I would recommend keeping hydrated and clearing sand markers.

Maximise your perks and gear

Each of your adventurers has a perk and you should be using them as much as possible. If it is the archeologist then clear two sand markers, if the climber then get your teammate out of a blocked tile.

I have discussed each adventurer later on. Make sure you understand their strengths, weaknesses and how best to play them.

Along with this you will be picking up some cool steampunk gear. Remember that you can share any gear item at any time with another player on your tile.

This costs you nothing and some of the gear can definitely be more useful to other players. An example is the Dune Blaster in the hands of Explorer can allow them to clear a sand dune that is diagonal to them.

Only use gear if it gives you a nice big reward. It should be either getting you water, removing large dunes or bagging you a sweet piece of airship. An example would be to waste Dune Blaster on two sand markers when the Climber could do that for one action.


The whole game design is so you will collaborate. So act as a team, discuss options, make plans and share gear. If the Climber is running on water fumes.

Then work together as a team to make sure the Water Carrier gets him (and as many others as possible) some water. If he dies you all lose.

Part of the fun of this game for me is that there are so many possible ways of using your adventurers at every action. Each will bring you closer to death or closer to escape. Discuss, should you go for water, clear sand, excavate or all three?

The best way to improve your chances in this game is to work together.

How to win Forbidden Desert with 5 players

Forbidden Desert is tough to play with more than 4 players and it is common to lose the game. So relax and know that you are likely to all perish.

It is the journey that is as important as the destination. When you actually beat Forbidden Desert it will make that victory even sweeter!

This technique will be useful for any number of players but especially for more than 4 players. It breaks the game into three phases: beginning, middle and endgame.

Phase 1 – Game start

At the beginning you are all starting on the same crashed helicopter tile. The underlying aim during this strategy is that no one dies of thirst.

Make a plan together and nominate a well tile. Then how you are going to get to and excavate it.

The idea is for all adventurers to stay within reach of this tile and work around it. Ensuring that everyone can move to the tile within one turn should water become depleted. Excavating and clearing sand until someone’s water runs low.

Tip: If you have a Terrascope gear then you can use it to make sure the well is not a mirage. If it is then great, your job has got a lot easier, you now know the other tiles are wells.

If you don’t have the Terrascope then you will need to be more careful with water. You may need to excavate the well tile, find it is dry and make your way to one of the other well tiles. So plan for that eventuality.

When you decide to move to the well, each player makes their way there and receives the 2 water top up when you excavate. Especially keep an eye on the Climber and Archeologist if they are in your team. They have the lowest water available.

Once you have survived a few rounds and turned over the first well you move into phase 2.

Phase 2 – Excavate

You have topped up everyones water and are ready to head out again. With a bit of luck you have identified the dry well. Which means the only well tile left contains that lovely life giving water. As before, make this your meeting point.

Now everyone can work around the board excavating tiles. It is likely you will need to excavate all the tiles to find the airship pieces. So plan for that scenario.

If you have excavated some tunnels during the first round use them to conserve water. You will need to begin to think about water after a few rounds so go for the more distant tiles first. Then work your way back towards the well.

Keep an eye on sand markers and make sure you balance excavation with sand removal. Your archeologist should be pulling their weight if you have them.

Once an adventurer needs water everyone heads back to the well. Excavate it and top up your water. Feel free to share water around if needed.

Phase 3 – End game

If you have got this far you are doing great. But you can still die really quick, so be careful.

Once you have used the last well you are into the end game. It’s win or lose now. All three ways to die could come and bite you as the Storm rising meter is probably getting pretty high. This means more sand and sun beats down.

Forbidden Desert Strategy - Steam Punk Airship

You should only have one or two airship pieces to find now. Make a plan to collect these and get everyone to the launch pad.

Ensure you balance sand removal with excavation and work together.

The wonderful thing about Forbidden Desert is that every game will be so different. This makes it difficult to give you hard and fast steps. Work as a team, discuss every action and use your adventurers abilities wisely.

It is up to you now. Good luck.

If you lose….

There is still a chance you could play the perfect game and still lose. That’s OK. The best thing here is to go over the game play and think about what would have happened if you had done it differently.

  • What would have happened if I had made this move instead?
  • Would I have won if I had kept that dune blaster for later in the game?

You get the idea. The best way to learn is to lose.


Forbidden Desert is a wonderous and challenging game. With these strategies and tips you will be sure to see victory. Escaping in your sensationally repaired steampunk airship.

Remember that the journey is as important as the destination. It will then be as much fun losing as it is winning.

If you like this then you might also like another survival game called Pandemic. The article What Is The Difference Between Pandemic & Pandemic Legacy helps explain the difference between the two types.

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