FTW Staff Picks - Forbidden Desert

For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new.

Forbidden Desert

Designer: Matt Leacock

Genre: Cooperative 

Player Size: 1 to 5 Players

Game Length: 45 minutes

For fans of: Pandemic, Forbidden Island

Matt Leacock will forever be etched in game designer history for his contributions to the industry. He may not have an extensive or even consistent output, but he certainly has earned an air of prominence. Though he's made attempts to diversify his catalog, he is likely still primarily recognized as the "coop guy". From Pandemic to Forbidden Island to Forbidden Desert, he built a formula that is proven and even imitated.

 The Leacock formula is simple. It revolves around a 2-step system (sometimes 3): 1) perform actions 2) progress the bad thing. It sounds plain, but it works to create randomness that can still be somewhat planned around. In Forbidden Desert, players attempt to retrieve 4 parts of an airship in order to restore it and fly to safety. Like its predecessor, Forbidden Island, the unique element to the game is its evolving board. Instead of tiles drowning and being removed from the game forever, in Desert the tiles shift revolving around the "eye of the storm". 

The excavation process allows players to gradually reveal the ship parts as the game goes on. It feels like a more natural progression compared to collecting card sets in Pandemic Forbidden Island. There's a sense of mystery at the games' onset. Not everything is revealed to the players. It all unravels as they move towards the conclusion. This is what really separates Desert from Leacock's other cooperative games. 


It's been fun to see Matt Leacock try his hand at other genre's with his most recent outputs, Knit Wit and Chariot Race. And while both of those games have proven his ability to create outside of his box, it's still exciting to wonder what his next Leacockian experience will be like. I'm certain he will inevitably revisit what he has mastered. 

Earl OliverosComment