(I posted this in the Dune forum originally, but I figured I'd ask here as well)
I've recently been building a board game collection, and I was hoping to add an area control/light war/diplomacy game. I currently have Cyclades, but was thinking of something with a bit more player interaction and deal making. To fill this role I've been considering the A Game of Thrones board game and Rex. That is, until I stumbled upon the print and play versions of Dune today.
I'm a much bigger fan of the Dune universe than Twilight Imperium's, and the idea of making a game myself--or at least constructing the components--seems like a fun, if time consuming, project. That said, I'm currently a 3rd year PhD student, and don't necessarily have a huge amount of spare time to spend on extra-curriculars. So, considering all of this leaves me with a number of questions:
Just how much time and money would a print and play copy of Dune take up and cost? Is it worth the extra effort to make a copy of the game just for the Dune theme/differences in rules? Does Fantasy Flight's Rex make any appreciable improvements to the formula, or does their "stream-lining" of the game system work to its detriment? Is Dune/Rex the right game for me in the first place, or might A Game of Thrones be better?
Obviously these are subjective quandaries, but do people here have any thoughts on them?
Things to keep in mind:
1) I've recently been playing with a group of fellow grad students who aren't super hardcore about board games, though they are certainly willing to learn and play them. So far there has been four of us, but there are some other people in the department/my girlfriend who would probably be willing to play. (I've also been thinking about trying to meet some other gamers in my area. I don't, however, always get along with the typical "Magic the Gathering" crowd--perhaps I'm unfairly stereotyping--and don't have time to play games more than a few times a month.)
2) I realize these tend to be long games, but shorter is probably better. Around the three to three and a half hour mark would be best.
3) I haven't read or seen any of A Game of Thrones, though my girlfriend and I have considered starting the HBO series.
4) It may have been a group dynamic issue, but I never really enjoyed Cosmic Encounters--it felt a bit too random, and king makery.
5) One of the guys I've been playing with is a big fan of Diplomacy.
6) I realize this is an incredibly long post, so thanks for reading it!
Luck in games, in measured doses, is the catalyst which enables shocking game-changers that you'll remember and talk about forever.
Let the Lord of Chaos rule.
All 3 of Dune, Rex, AGoT play best with 6. Are you wedded to and confident of getting 6, or would you like more flexibility with number of players?
I think Dune and Rex are perfectly fine games of their own, and one shouldn't worry about the theme. In fact, when I play Rex, I silently tell myself, "Tell me this is Sol with the Hylar Cannon all you want, you can't fool me, I know it's the Fremen with the Family Atomics!" and it works just fine for me. Maybe it will for you, especially if your friends don't know Dune anyway, because I do prefer Rex mechanically. That said, there are ways to purchase a PnP copy of Dune if you don't want to go through it yourself.
1) I'll generalize too: I find that grad students are often patient enough to learn anything as long as you present it well, and especially if you cater to a thematic setting they know and love (e.g. Dune, A Game of Thrones, not Rex)
2) 3.5hr mark depends on number of players too, hence I asked for that.
3) AGoT is good enough mechanically to stand on its own without knowledge of the setting, which is a plus for you and a negative for me (I wish it 'dripped with theme' more).
4) The designers of CE also designed Dune, which I'm sure you're aware of since you mentioned that. One can see the common design sensibilities but I think they cater to different crowds (Dune is more of a 'game' while CE is more of a sandbox).
5) Most people recommend AGoT (simultaneous orders) as the next step after Diplomacy. Imperial 2030 (world map, deterministic combat), Shogun/Wallenstein (simultaneous orders), Runewars (simultaneous order) and Starcraft (secret orders) might also convey a similar feel.
6) I too like to worry about what my friends like and how to stealthily make them like increasingly involved board games so I wish you success!
- Last edited Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:38 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:37 am
Ljubljana (Colonia Iulia Aemona, Roman Empire 1st-5th century AD)
John Company (2017) by Cole Wehrle, Sierra Madre Games
If you worry about the sci-fi or fantasy theme, perhaps the following game would be more acceptable to your group: Fief: France 1429.
Some have compared the game to Dune/Rex, Diplomacy, and GoT. I have not played it, but it is receiving high praise. Its 4th? edition was published this year and re-implements previous editions, which date back to 1981, making it almost as old as Dune.
- Last edited Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:04 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:00 am
Thanks for the detailed reply.
As far as player count, the thing is I can pretty much guarantee four players but more might be sporadic. Thus, a certain level of flexibility would be nice.
As far as theme, I think many of them have seen AGoT, it's less likely they've read Dune.
Back-doors for purchasing Dune might be interesting to look into, though part of the appeal would be putting it together myself.
Thanks for the good wishes!
With Rex and perhaps Dune, I'm going to disagree that it is best with 6, which seems to be the common opinion here. I keep hearing this, but I don't get any reasons why 6 is the best number. For me, I think any player range works in that the game doesn't become worse or better, but that it just becomes different.
In a 3 player game of Rex, Jolnar has a huge advantage initially, so Sol and Lazax must band together early on in some way to bring the game to the middle game, where things are more even.
In a 4 player game, you will likely have a 2v2 situation, so strategies must be changed to reflect this. Alternatively, you could make it a 2v1v1 and take advantage of double striking territories. Mecatol Power South is closed, making each of the other 4 strongholds more valuable.
In a 5 player game, you may see a 3 player alliance being formed. The other 2 players then can either band to make it a 3v2, or they can make it a 3v1v1. Making it a 3v1v1 again allows them to double strike areas. I think this is a very interesting player count.
6 players is the big daddy of the game. 6 players is a lot of players and this can turn into a 3v3, 2v2v2 or something far different. There is a LOT of things to keep in mind here. You now have 5 opponents to keep tabs on whether it's what cards they have, their unit positions and their tendencies. It also takes a long time to get rounds done.
So again, I would say that each player range is DIFFERENT rather than better or worse. I actually prefer 4 players because it allows alliances, but it doesn't take as long as playing with 5 or 6 and there isn't a giant amount of information to analyze as you would in those counts.
As far as choosing between the 3 goes, I would go with Rex. Yes, Dune has that theme, but it's hard to find, expensive and the components are outdated compared to Rex. I feel that Dune gives off nostalgia sure, but Rex is the better "game". And as I said before, you don't need 6 to have a good time. 6 has a lot more players and things to think about, which means it comes with more downtime. It's not better, but rather just different.
Game of Thrones is more of a diplomacy game than about playing the game system well. Proper game analysis is more crucial in GoT as well because with player counts other than 6, certain players get huge advantages because some opponents are missing. If players do not see this and hunt after the benefited players, certain players will get huge advantages and run with the game. This is due to the board being fixed and narrow, whereas in Rex the map is pretty open and easy to traverse, which makes player count not an issue. Rex also does alliances extremely well because it gives you the choice to make them and once they are made, players get additional abilities, which no other game seems to do. Alliances are fixed until certain events pop up, but the fact is that Rex gives the players the flexibility in determining what sort of game it is. You may have a game end up as a 2v2. Another game might be a 1v1v1v1. Or maybe a game could be 2v1v1. It's up to you.
But as far as buying Rex goes... as much as I am a fan of the game, realistically, you probably should not buy it. Rex is a pretty serious game that is about knowing what options your opponents have and winning by a hair. Your player base seems to better fit games that do not deal with the extra dimension of player interaction and patterns that you constantly have to think about in Rex. The game takes a good amount of time and really benefits from committing to the game and playing it frequently. With many Euro games, you don't have to really think about your opponents at all. In a lot of them, the only interaction is blocking a move you might consider. They are much easier and lighter to take in than in Rex.
If you really must get an area control game, I hear good things about 1775: Rebellion. It's a 2-4 player game, pretty easy to understand and is said to be well designed. You don't have insane cards you have to worry about, a ton of different powers to keep in mind and there isn't diplomacy that could go awry. Otherwise, it may be better to buy a Euro that everyone in your group could understand and play well, say Puerto Rico or 7 Wonders. I really like Rex, but I find it's the most fun when I am with those hardcore types that play well. Even though it's one of my favorite games, I know I'm better off playing a game like Splendor with most people I run into because it matches their player ability.
You would have to find big gamers to play Rex well such as Magic players.
- Last edited Fri May 1, 2015 9:33 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Fri May 1, 2015 9:28 am
You might want to consider Kemet as a Segway to AGoT, they share a very similar combat system. I found AGoT interesting, but the whole game really hinges on who can back stab the best. I found it a little too contingent on that, one person could pick a land fight with you and it shuts you down for multiple rounds, another person might be left alone all game and make one move at the last turn and win. Felt too swingy and not strategic enough to to me, you're very constrained by the map.
While I haven't played Fief yet, I have it ordered, it sounds much more dynamic and interesting to me.
Also check out Forbidden Stars which is about to be released.
I should say also that I haven't played Rex yet so that's why I didn't comment there, it's on it's way in a trade so I'm prowling.
- Last edited Sun May 24, 2015 6:04 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sun May 24, 2015 5:54 pm