forbidden desert forbidden sky

From Forbidden Island to Forbidden Desert to Forbidden Sky

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I have been playing a fair amount of Forbidden Island recently. As I have said in my review, I think it’s a well-designed game and I am enjoying it. So I was curious if there is something more on offer – and sure there is. Forbidden Island has received two “sequels“: Forbidden Desert and Forbidden Sky

They aren’t really sequels in a strict sense of the word, more like spiritual successors. Designed by Matt Leacock and published by Gamewright, they use the same cooperative principle of trying to achieve a common goal while fighting the game, while each of them is sufficiently different and fresh.

Titles are connected by the story-line. The helicopter you used to escape the Island, crash-lands in the Desert and you must build an ancient flying machine to escape. With this flying machine, you then fly to a secret power platform 7000ft in the air to launch a rocket, which will take you to find an ancient Archean civilization (whatever that may be).

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Forbidden Desert

Forbidden Desert

BoardGameGeek link

In Forbidden Desert, the board is pre-build out of tiles in a 5×5 shape. What is different compared to the Island, is that here the tiles get buried in sand instead of getting flooded by water. This is done by placing sand markers on tiles.

Like shoring flooded tiles, players can remove sand from buried tiles. Tiles are no longer removed from the board, but if they have two or more sand tokens on them, they become impassable.

Starting tiles are also placed face-down and must be excavated to show their faces. That adds a completely new aspect of exploration and brings a well-needed element of hidden-information. It means there are no longer optimal moves, as you never know what you will find.

That should create a healthier discussion between players, with less chance for alpha players to dominate the decision-making. There are now 4 action points instead of 3, which further adds to the flexibility and variability of possible moves.

Setting up opportunities to share treasure cards was one of the more frustrating experiences of Forbidden Island. You had to be on the same tile and then pay one action for each card you wanted to give. You could only receive cards on opponent’s turns, which would often lead to unwanted discarding of treasure cards.

This mechanism is now completely gone. First of all, there are no treasure cards. Treasure locations (or parts of the flying machine, as they are known here) are found by excavating two of its corresponding tiles (giving coordinates in a very clever way). Now you can only transfer gear and water (it works like health points), and you can transfer both of them for free at any time, as long as you are on the same tile, of course.

Click here to check out the price for Forbidden Desert on Amazon

Desert is Angry

Desert has several tools at its disposal to hinder your progress:

  • the wind blows to move certain tiles on the board,
  • more sand is added on the tiles and
  • you lose water as a result of thirst.

If you draw a “Storm Picks Up” card, storm meter will move one notch higher and you will possibly draw more storm cards in the future.

There are six adventurers with their unique abilities. Abilities seem very potent. I expect them to create a unique experience with every new combination you try.

Check out my list of top 12 board games for couples

Forbidden Sky

Forbidden Sky

BoardGameGeek link

The third game in the series is also the one that appears most different. For start, the grid of tiles is not pre-build. You start with a 4×1 starting tile. The rest of the tiles are placed by the players as the game progresses.

The goal of the game is to launch a rocket. You do this by building a complete electrical circuit (how many elements must be included is dictated by the difficulty) from one side of the launch platform to the other.

Elements that make the circuit are actually conductors itself and the rocket works on batteries – so you will know right away if the circuit is complete or not. It’s a nice touch and something that adds to the immersion.

Speaking of immersion – the theme and artwork do look less compelling than previous titles. Tiles are covered with cables and the completed board does not look like a coherent platform has been build, but rather a bunch of random tiles thrown together. The colors are in order with the theme, but the theme is not in order with previous themes – going from exploring ancient lands to now science fiction. A lot of players will be put off by that.

Click here to check out the price for Forbidden Sky on Amazon

Sky is Angry

There are now even more ways to lose:

  • losing your hit points from getting struck by lightning and
  • losing your rope points from being blown away by the wind.
  • You also lose if the storm meter reaches the top or if
  • the rocket leaves anyone behind.

Wind can change direction and lighting rods get placed automatically (if you place a tile that has them). All that combined, I’d immediately say the game is harder to win than it’s predecessors. Some reviewers have marked its ability to die so suddenly and unexpectedly as not fun.

As with Desert, you also have 4 action points. They can be used to

  • take a new tile,
  • place a tile,
  • move and
  • add a wire.

You can have as many as three tiles in front of you and then decide, which one you want to place. You can also share equipment for free if you are on the same tile (they’ve kept the Desert approach here).

Adventurer’s abilities seem nicely balanced, although a healer will probably be the first choice of many.

Forbidden Sky might again be susceptible to the alpha-gamer syndrome as there are normally very few (sensible) choices on how to place tiles and build the wire circuit and there is no hidden information. If they partially addressed this in Forbidden Desert, Forbidden Sky goes back to the roots of Forbidden Island.

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Conclusion

I really like new gameplay mechanisms, that the Desert and the Sky bring to the table. I believe they make each game feel as it’s own, but still keep enough of similarities to make the series feel connected.

Although I haven’t yet played the Forbidden Desert and Forbidden Sky, based on the gameplay of Forbidden Island and the research I have done, I already have a pretty good picture of how they play and what to expect.

I believe the Desert is the better of the two and that’s the one I intend to get in the future. It may even be the best of the trilogy.

Click here to check out Forbidden Desert on Amazon.

Have you played any of the “Forbidden” saga games? What are your thoughts?

Vasilij

Forbidden Desert

4

Theme and Art

3.9/5

Game Mechanics

4.0/5

Replay Value

4.1/5

4 thoughts on “From Forbidden Island to Forbidden Desert to Forbidden Sky”

  1. Hello, Vasilij!  I appreciate your review of Forbidden Island.  While I have never played these games, it does spark an interest.  Your review makes it sound like a fun and challenging game.  I’m sure, as you say, the other games are similar.  I might have to check them out!  Thank you for the detailed review and for suggesting it!

    Reply
  2. Hello Vasilij – To answer your question, no I haven’t played the games you’ve described yet.  But they sound interesting.  I like sequels and continuing themes.  I like the idea of not knowing what happens next with the potential to discover the outcome at some point.  My favorite board game of all time is Monopoly!  I’ve been involved in games that lasted into the wee hours of the morning.  I’ve Googled Forbidden Island and Amazon has it.  I’m going to start with that.

    Thanks for the opportunity

    Reply

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