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Subject: A review, but this game is out of print... rss

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Colin Hunter
New Zealand
Auckland
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Dune a is undoubtedly a classic. It was one of the first "serious" boardgames I ever played. I have played this many times over the past seven years (I think) since I first played it. So why a review? Well I felt like it, I also think its a great game and maybe I can convince some one to fork out 299 euros to get the descartes copy new.

The game.

The objective is to capture for sietches (kinda like cities for non-dune people). If you capture for and hold them at the end of the turn you win. Also various powers can win at certain point. Each faction has six personalities (they have number based on how good they are, 7 is the best, 1 is the worst). Each player also has a secret traitor from another players power. If that player has a traitor and you battle them with the personality that is a traitor you automatically loose. . Each plays a different faction (like TI3 except the powers are bit more balanced). There are The Atreides, Harkonnen, The Emperor, The Benne Gesserit, The Guild, and The Fremen. Each faction has unique advantages. Before I explain what the factions do I should explain the card system. The game has cards by the way... Ok each player gets up to four cards which they bid on, blind. Most cards are attack/defence cards for battle. If you play an attack and your opponent doesn't play the right defence you kill your opponent's character. Some card effect the entire game, like blowing up the shield wall or controlling the storm (this goes around the planet destroying exposed troops). Some cards give your power a bonus, like an extra move or the ability to ask a question about your opponent. There are also two Karamas (which are kinda like counter spells for special abilities.)Lastly some cards are worthless. Every turn spice show up on the board. It functions like money and you have to collect it. Here is a brief summary of the factions.

Atreides - Can look at each card before it is bid on. The also in battle can ask their opponent one thing about his battle plan (like what weapon or defence are you using)

Harkonnen - Get an extra card everytime they buy a card and can hold eight. If they win a battle they get to take one of your personalities and use it as their own, once. They Also have 4 traitor instead of one and very powerful karama ability.

Fremen - regenerate troops quickly, ride sand worms, partly immune to the storm, and have good troops. Can win automatically on turn 15 if certain conditions are met. Move two instead of one.

The Emperor - Gets all the money from the bids on card, except the money he bids himself. Has powerful units that can beat everyone but the fremen.

The Guild. Win automatically after 15 turns, if no one else does. They get cheap troops and take their turn at any time. They also have very good karama ability. Very mobile

The Bene Gesserit. Can force their opponent to use or not use a particular card in battle. Can peacefully co-exist (basically can't be attacked unles they want to fight, but mooch ornithopters off you). Win if before the game they can predict what turn another power will win the game (surprising not as hard as it sounds). They are benefiary scam artist, every turn they claim charity despite sometimes being rich (I love choam charitying for my 60th bit of spice).

Last thing I should explain is how the battles work. What happens if you both secretly decide how many troops are taking part in the battle. All troops that take part die (ah so brutal). The leaders number add to this if they don't get killed. Who ever has the most wins. The loser has any remaining troops destroyed. No dice...

Ok hopefully that game any people interested a taste of how the mechanics works. Heres the meat of the Review.

The Good Stuff (I don't completely ascribe to any of this, I am trying to provide balance).Please feel free to comment and villify this game

Dune is mechanically pretty simple once you learn what all the cards do. It has a wonderful simplicity and somewhat, for a wargame, abstract rules set. The auction mechanic is excellent. It add a lot of excitement to the game. Good players can try and read the Atreides (since they get to look at the card). The storm and sand worms, while random, add tension to the game. No player can get game dominance over the other 6 very easily, even two players allied will struggle. The game is reasonaby political, however the non-random element can hinder this as choices tend to be yes/no and fairly rational. It is absolutely critical to plan ahead atleast 1 turn and if possible several. This is very exciting, but makes it hard for newbies. It is really atmospheric, it captures the brutality and onesideness of many of the fights in dune (the book) as capturing the intrigue well. It is really good with six players. Dune is incredibly interactive. It really challenges other players to take action. It has no dice and while aspects are random it certainly is low on the randomness stakes. Any player can probably defeat another player in battle (most of the time) through expenditure of enough resources. Also because you canship down anywhere no place is safe from invasion. This helps the multiplayer mechanic considerably, since a player cannot simply be geographically far a way and in between buffer states. The battling is really exciting and can be very fun as it involves bluffing in order to get the most out of a battle. The spice collection mechanic promotes interaction. Alliances are interesting, but often miss used. The balance between war game and abstract/eurogame is really great.

The Bad Stuff. (I don't completely ascribe to any of this, I am trying to provide balance).Please feel free to comment and defend this game

When players get experienced it gets harder and harder to win, since game domination is usually not an option. Having said that, as you get better the BG win is easier. The winner of Dune can often be doing the worst and win because everyone didn't pay enough attention in one battle (very frustrating if you have played for six hours). The Guild winning at turn 15 happens to much in experienced games. There is no easy way to deal with this, but nothing in my opinion is worse than a game dragging on beyond 11 turns, it usually means the guild will win in turn 15. In all our games I can't think of one that had a result other than that after turn 11. The start can be random. If the Atreides or harkonnen get unluck with cards early, it can easily spell the end for them in the first two turns of the game. However the game does account for this somewhat with the special abilities. Have I mentioned it feels long if it last 15 turns. The game doesn't fit feel of the book enought. It probably should be more ameritrash less euro game. It is definately a eurogame enspired war game, all it need are wood counters It is probably just me, but I want a dripping with chrome dune game. Playing with less than 6 players makes the game easier to resolve, but ruins the multiplayer feel, as the powers start to imbalance I(five is ok any less is unplayable). Some players (not me) dislike alliances.


Conclusion

I like this game. It got over played a bit in our circle , we were playing a game once or twice a week for a while. While It has a few thing I think are not so crash hot, it is truly a master peice of game design, especially since a lot of its mechanics seem so modern and fresh. For me It is one of my favourites. I am not even a huge fan of the books (though they are a good read).
9/10

Colin
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Christian Marcussen
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Odense C
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Great review! I appeciate the rundown of the houses and abilities.cool
 
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