In the same vein as the question "What are some good general strategies for Pandemic?", and what the consensus is on the luck-difficulty curve (how luck-based the game is as a function of difficulty) of Forbidden Desert. In this context "difficulty" includes the initial storm level, however one could also make an argument for how difficulty scales with player count. It would be interesting to consider this for all of the Matt Leacock games or the Forbidden series itself.
Generally the game seems to be more manageable at higher difficulty settings for lower player counts, since for example in a 2p game there is less variation of the board state between turns. The two largest effects of this is
- when spending a turn outside a tunnel (or solar shield) you have fewer opportunities to be exposed to Sun Beats Down cards before being given another chance to move again.
- the board changes less between your turns, so your plans don't need to account for as many changes (and less variance allows leads to lower risks).
However this second effect could be a downside if strategies which take advantage of variance prove to be highly effective. Strategies which rely on near-static board states are simpler however they fail to utilise a part of the game's environment.
Higher player counts start with higher storm levels, however they also have a more reliable draw of the different player roles. Further, with more players it's possible to spread them out further. This can be advantageous, such as allowing for faster exploration, however to me aspect of this which opens up new strategic decisions as player count increases is the exploitation of tile movements. With enough players you can place someone on tiles in each cardinal direction of the storm (or further out) to "ride the storm". Whilst this is random, players can use knowledge of storm cards already drawn and tiles they'd rather get closer to improve their odds of getting a favourable outcome. However this might be a weak strategy as it requires taking on risk of sun exposure to get everyone into position, although depending on the position of the tunnels it may be worthwhile (such as if tunnels are of little use for transport).