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Subject: A lesson learned... rss

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Charles Reinert
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So we were playing a five player game the other night. We all agreed to leave Atreides out as no one wanted to be stuck with that loser. After winning two games with Guild and then Emperor, I had to try to hang on in the third game as Bene. I was dealt a weapon and all was well, but my friend who was playing Emperor slipped me up in a battle for spice. He had moved first with one token in the Oh Gap. I'm thinking this was easy pickings, and put two tokens in there as well. Conventional wisdom says I only have to dial one, because I can ensure I kill his leader, and he wouldn't dial one, because then he couldn't collect the spice. Foolishness on my part as he was more than happy to dial on and beat me in the tie as we killed each others leaders and both dialed one. This cost me my weapon and prevented me from keeping him out of spice blows I wanted until much later when I finally got another weapon. He got five spice for my leader plus two for his which was better than the six spice he would get from oh gap. All ended well as no one was able to win the third game, so I kept my trophy, but I won't get burned like that again.
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Joy Cohn
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I've found the Atreeides player to be a bit more than a loser.

They can take notes, they have Prescience, and get to look at the Treachery cards before bidding.

Once equipped, the Kwisatz Haderach is very powerful ally, and paired with the Bene Gesserit and the Fremen, formidable.
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Charles Reinert
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Well, in a perfect world they have the possibility of being a threat, but so much has to go right for them. They are definitely stronger the fewer players there are, and a very good character to ally with. It seems the creators of the game kept it pretty close to the book. Atreides was capable of power but ultimately would have died without allying themselves with Fremen.
A case in point: The other night we played a six player game. Since I had won the previous month I got to (had to) pick first. I hate picking first because I rarely get a character I like when I do. True to form, I picked Atreides. Now I know the pitfalls of Atreides better than most. I know that if I am Emperor, I take Atreides out the first turn. So one of the keys is to get past the first turn. Luck was somewhat on my side as the first storm blow landed right on Arrakeen. No worries of Emperor coming in to wipe me out, so I did my best to solidify my resources. I got good cards and picked up spice. I took good notes for the most part too, which definitely helped me win a few battles. So come the fourth turn, I wasn't card tight but I had two weapons and a defense. I was pretty strong and my turn was second to last (Guild). Foolishly I went for the win, and I was smacked down viciously by my opponents. Although I took good notes, Emperor played a defense that he must have been dealt and beat me. This weakened me severely and then Guild busted me good. So I made it three turns longer than I should have, and if I hadn't gone for the win, I might have survived a few more turns, but it is very hard to win with Atriedes. Atreides can be strong, but let's face it, Emperor and Guild will almost always be stronger. Harkonnen can call you for traitor and has up to four cards you know nothing about. Bene's voice is infinitely better than prescience, and even Fremen after a few turns can give Atreides a run for their money.
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Charles Reinert
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For the record, the Fremen won our game which is unusual. After the fourth turn I was a non-factor, doing what little I could to get spice and cards but having no chance since I only had one leader left. Harkonen, Emperor, Guild and Bene all were fairly strong, and yet Fremen got a worm and a favorable storm over their sietch, and that was that. A darn good win by fremen.
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Dan Freedman
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Interesting take...I'd rather play Atreides than Fremen. And we don't even allow note taking. Emperor wiping out Atreides on Turn 1 is not a sure bet. Win or lose, I have no problems dialing 7+ in this battle to get KH...and ensure that if I do lose, it damages whomever attacks...so the emperor cannot hold it easily.

Unless the Guild is helping the Emperor ship down and/or Emperor is willing to go "all in", I don't see this as an auto win for the Emperor...especially given prescience.
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Charles Reinert
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Well if Emperor wants to do this, they have to be committed. And if I'm not committed there are those who think I should be. But when I am Emperor, I just don't buy any cards on the first turn. I will bid at least three to ensure I get lots of spice, but I don't buy. I also keep track of how much Atreides spends. If Atreides truly wants to keep Arrakeen he has to choose to not buy cards either and not ship, which would leave him vulnerable to attack from Harkonnen. But in a six player game with cards being bought for 3-4 spice, I should have at least a minimum of 28 spice counting the ten I start with. Ship five Sardaukar and five regular armies (10 spice)to Arrakeen, and he can feel free to play any cards he likes, but he won't be able to out dial me. If he chooses to not buy cards then he is toast anyway. I may not attack him on the first turn then, but what chance will he have with no cards? And if I am dealt a karama card (ship at Guild rate)or a ghola (get by sardaukar back)it is even better. I have yet to lose to Atreides on the first turn when I am Emperor, and although I lose some armies it is worth it to get the mobility that Arakeen provides. This has been my experience, and again we don't play with alliances. I hear what you are saying about Atreides over Fremen, but the Fremen mobility, no shipping costs, and three free revivals, not to mention the Fedaykin, make them a more viable option.
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Brad Johnson
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Hi Charles - you know we've disagreed on this before, and I really would love to get our groups mixed together to see how it plays out!

Let's assume Emperor was dealt a weapon and Atreides does not have the matching defense (~24% chance, if I'm doing that right?) and he assumes the Atreides leader is dead. Even IF Atreides buys no cards, you still can't guarantee he didn't get dealt a weapon, so you'd have to dial 10.5 (or 11) to guarantee the win. That leaves 4 tokens in Arrakeen for turn 2, and Emperor is down 44% of his force (not to mention 15 spice and possibly a leader) after 1 turn of play. And still an off chance that Atreides actually does have the matching defense and breaks the whole thing. On a quick analysis, I think this is your BEST case.

Even if it plays out exactly this way, this seems like it would be a HUGE boon to Harkonnen, who is just waiting for something like this to happen. Unmolested (presumably) by both Emperor and Atreides, he's probably picked up some spice, bought a couple cards, and is ready to kick some ass. I'd say the number one reason this gambit rarely happens in our groups is this fear of leaving a big power vacuum.

If Emperor does NOT have a weapon, he has to dial 15.5 (or 16) to guarantee a win. (Now costing 64% of your total force and 20 spice.) Clearly not good. (Granted, as you said, this kind of risk can also be mitigated by having a Truthtrance, Karama, or Ghola instead.)

BTW, If I'm Atreides in one of these situations, I almost assuredly look at your number dialed so you can't get off cheaply by dialing low under the assumption I'm not going to spend my money.

I'm not saying it's not possible for Emperor to emasculate Atreides in turn 1. I'm just saying it's likely to be a Pyrrhic victory and a huge gamble - offhand, I estimate about a 25% chance of working out ok for Emperor, 25% chance of being a catastrophe for the Emperor, and 50% chance of something in between. No matter what happens, if the other players are paying attention, I don't really like the Emperor's chances in turns 2 and 3.

But I do realize this whole contrast in our position is groupthink vs. groupthink. Which is why I'd love to see the different styles mixed in action. Please try to get to WBC some day!
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Charles Reinert
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Interesting points. I'm not sure I would be as worried about as Harkonnen as I would be guild, because I am obviously giving them lots of spice, but so far this strategy has worked well for me. A point of clarification. If I have a weapon that's ok but would much rather have a ghola card or Karama card dealt to me. Now I don't buy any cards unless I can get one ridiculously cheap (three spice and only if Atreides doesn't have enough money to buy it or else it is worthless). Now with no weapon or defense I go against Atreides who has both a weapon and a defense (as long as it isn't Lasgun and shield). I dial as high as I need to, to ensure victory and no higher. It usually costs me in the neighborhood of 5-7 spice and that's after I have already spent 10 to ship the men to Arakeen. Seemingly this is a pretty high price to pay, but I get one Sardaukar back next turn, and still have ten in reserve. As far as losing spice I get two for holding Arrakeen and possibly two more if Atreides kills my leader. People will still by cards the next turn, so I am doing pretty well, and I just demonstrated that I am willing to go the distance to beat down anyone who crosses my path. Guild would be a concern but they would lose a lot of armies fighting me, and they can not afford to lose as many men as I can since they don't have Sardaukar. Harkonnen is a threat because of traitors, but that's the case no matter what. Harkonnen is much more likely to go after Fremen and/or spice, because unless he got a lot of spice that first turn, he is probably ill suited to fight me. How much spice did he spend to get cards? You know I am not going to let him pay any less than three and more likely four. I'm not saying this is 100% fool proof, but if you know Atreides has paid four spice for a card or six or more for two cards, you would be crazy not to go in there and take him out.
For the truly bold if you knew your #2 leader was safe, you could do the same to Harkonnen first turn, but that might create too big of a power gap.
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Charles Reinert
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My group lives in Louisville, but it would be cool toget oour two groups together to play. This forum is great because it is nice to see new strategies that my group hasn't thought of yet.
Then again, if we were able to combine our groups it would probably take a few days to agree on common rules.
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Dan Freedman
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I want to play with you guys some time. Darn, I need to make it up to WBC one of these years.

I don't typically play with Advanced rule of spice in combat. I think you guys are playing that way. With that rule, I think the emperor does get a bit of a leg up since he has more at his disposal. But still I agree with Brad.

Emperor is going to be a sitting duck for a Harkonnen player that plays after him. And if it isn't him, it could be Fremen (depending on initial token placement). I'd be less concerned about Guild. Harks coming in after will knock out the rest of emperor, plus steal a leader. That could be the 3rd leader lost by the Emperor if things went poorly.

But I'll admit I do see your point. A emperor hell-bent on taking Arakeen on turn 1 can probably do so and sacrifice position. But I'd say they could do the same to Carthag...maybe even easier due to Harks not having prescience. It might even be the better play. Always battle the Harks from a position of strength...or flee. That's my motto anyhow. I never want to leave myself a sitting duck for the Harks.
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Brad Johnson
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Dan, yes we do play nothing but Advanced rules (as does Charles, I believe.) Nonetheless, your words could have been my words - exact same line of reasoning. Except for assaulting Harkonnen in Carthag on turn 1 - I usually find there's a lot more hesitation going up against a 2-1, 3-1, or even 6-1 card advantage and the strong likelihood of losing 2 leaders. Prescience is scary too, but maybe not quite as scary.
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Glenn McMaster
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TheDuneDude wrote:
I know that if I am Emperor, I take Atreides out the first turn. So one of the keys is to get past the first turn.


Brad and I often play, and this is rarely seen. So, if you were Emperor and I was Atreides, I would be taken by surprise the first time you did this.

But the second time, during setup I would, as Atreides simply make BG a deal to get them set up their intial token in Arrakeen for the block. Since an Emperor hammer on Turn 1 basically takes Atreides out of the game, this deal could be pretty lucrative for BG, until Emperor agreed not to attack.
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Charles Reinert
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Like Ali, Harkonnen is a bad man! But if he has bought cards then he has made Emperor stronger, and Sardaukar are hard to beat, unless you are Fremen. Got to have a safe leader though, and preferably a low one since it is probably going to die.
Man I love talking Dune!
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Dan Freedman
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GLENN239 wrote:
TheDuneDude wrote:
I know that if I am Emperor, I take Atreides out the first turn. So one of the keys is to get past the first turn.


Brad and I often play, and this is rarely seen. So, if you were Emperor and I was Atreides, I would be taken by surprise the first time you did this.

But the second time, during setup I would, as Atreides simply make BG a deal to get them set up their intial token in Arrakeen for the block. Since an Emperor hammer on Turn 1 basically takes Atreides out of the game, this deal could be pretty lucrative for BG, until Emperor agreed not to attack.


It's a messy deal though. BG setup in Arakeen, declare to not be co-existing. Then we both dial 0 w/no cards, Atreides is allowed to play leader, and no one calls traitor. Then Atreides agrees to transfer 2 spice to BG. Assuming BG goes before Emperor next turn repeat for X amount of turns?

These kind of messy deals (which could be a lot more complex than above) are part of what hurts the game IMO. Too long to work out. Too balancing.

If it can be worked out in under a minute, I guess it's good. Otherwise, I'd rather just see Atreides take their lumps, get the KH, and inflict as much as possible. Nurse wounds and come back strong later. Sell card info to everyone but emperor..emperor will look great donning his new jubba cloak. Or if moving after Emperor who comes in with 20 tokens, possibly just flee and look for alternate/future strategy (lazgun/shield, atomics, spice blows).
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Brad Johnson
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Glenn's suggestion would be an easy, fast deal for us to negotiate -- We have a shorthand for it called "The Standard Deal", as in "BG, would you give me The Standard Deal to block Arrakeen for me for X spice?"

Standard Deal =
* Blocker puts in 1 token
* Blocker purposely loses the battle
* Blocker dials 0, plays lowest leader
* Blockee dials whatever he wants, plays higher leader if possible
* No weapons may be played
* No traitors are called

Standard Deal is also frequently used to dump worthless cards.

So it's easy to negotiate. But interestingly, I totally agree with your point that this kind of deal has a very balancing effect on the game, and is very possibly the main reason our games frequently turn into stalemates. These deals are very common. But admittedly boring! Unfortunately, I don't feel there's a real organic way to eliminate or limit these kinds of deals. I'm pretty sure no matter what kinds of restrictions I might think of putting on this, players would find ways around it. I'd be interested to hear suggestions...
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Charles Reinert
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So make a deal with BG. Awesome. As long as BG is willing of course, but Atreides would have to be ahead of BG in the storm or at least dial 1 to beat them since BG's leaders are all five. Great strategy that I will try to employ if I ever have the misfortune of being Atreides again. I usually do your latter option of getting as many good cards as I can and vacating the premises, or leave 7 tokens there with the plan to lose Yueh and get KH.
LOL-I love the Emperor enjoying his new jubba cloak. It comes in handy on those cold trips to Gamont.
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Charles Reinert
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So I have to ask, when and where is the WBC held and played. I might not be able to make it but one of my group members might. Also, the standard deal is interesting. So does BG always get 2 spice out of the deal? Seems like it would be well worth two spice to avoid the Emperor hostile takeover and keep Arrakeen. BG would be guaranteed four spice for that turn and losing nothing since they get the one free revival. I don't think my group would have ever thought of this. I know I had never considered this option. My friends ten to be independent types but I don't see any down side here.
Once again, thanks for this forum. Really cool to see how others play the game.
 
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Glenn McMaster
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TheDuneDude wrote:
So make a deal with BG. Awesome. As long as BG is willing of course, but Atreides would have to be ahead of BG in the storm or at least dial 1 to beat them since BG's leaders are all five. Great strategy that I will try to employ if I ever have the misfortune of being Atreides again. I usually do your latter option of getting as many good cards as I can and vacating the premises, or leave 7 tokens there with the plan to lose Yueh and get KH.
LOL-I love the Emperor enjoying his new jubba cloak. It comes in handy on those cold trips to Gamont.


The BG turn one token is an underutilized resource. There's starting to get more action on it lately, but with Atreides Arrakeen is an easy purchase because of the card knowledge. Dial one worse case, which is better than dialling all ten against the Emperor!
 
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Dan Freedman
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tempus42 wrote:
Glenn's suggestion would be an easy, fast deal for us to negotiate -- We have a shorthand for it called "The Standard Deal", as in "BG, would you give me The Standard Deal to block Arrakeen for me for X spice?"

Standard Deal =
* Blocker puts in 1 token
* Blocker purposely loses the battle
* Blocker dials 0, plays lowest leader
* Blockee dials whatever he wants, plays higher leader if possible
* No weapons may be played
* No traitors are called

Standard Deal is also frequently used to dump worthless cards.

So it's easy to negotiate. But interestingly, I totally agree with your point that this kind of deal has a very balancing effect on the game, and is very possibly the main reason our games frequently turn into stalemates. These deals are very common. But admittedly boring! Unfortunately, I don't feel there's a real organic way to eliminate or limit these kinds of deals. I'm pretty sure no matter what kinds of restrictions I might think of putting on this, players would find ways around it. I'd be interested to hear suggestions...


I agree, this definitely speeds up play. But like you said...common, predefined, complicated deals make balancing even more likely. Also, if you have a new player to your group, you'll still have delays while the details are worked out.

It would be interesting to play it with an egg timer set to 30 seconds. As soon as a player is about to move, the timer is started. Each player has 30 seconds to ship and move. When the timer ends, no more pieces may be shipped or moved. Feel free to negotiate all you want regardless of who's turn it is, but the game will not delay for deals to be worked out. It could also be a strategy to try to throw some deals at someone to distract them from their move. When it comes time to battle, you have 10 seconds each to voice/prescience/truthtrance (karama cancelling must be played immediately) and 30 seconds to set battle plans.

The idea here is that the game does not delay and forces players to make mistakes and not dwell on solving with perfect or near-perfect information. Admittedly this will not sit well with some players. I could see myself getting frustrated at not having the time to work out the deal or converse in private. But with repeated plays, gradually adapting and accepting the new style, mindset could change.

The logistical challenge of starting/resetting the timer might take away from the fun if the same person has to do it all the time. So probably should be the person to the left of the active player (since he has made his decision most recently).
 
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Charles Reinert
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Kind of like speed chess, but I wouldn't care for it. I like to take all variables (or as many as I can) into account and be sure of victory. Sometimes I'm just pretty sure, but the timer itself would probably be enough to make me an angry player.
 
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Dan Freedman
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TheDuneDude wrote:
Kind of like speed chess, but I wouldn't care for it. I like to take all variables (or as many as I can) into account and be sure of victory. Sometimes I'm just pretty sure, but the timer itself would probably be enough to make me an angry player.


Yes, Dune players want that near-perfect information/deal. I'm the same way when I play. And I'm not sure that it would even work. But just spitballing an idea to prevent the Guild default win that happens way too many times with experienced deal-makers/players. That's a real kink in an otherwise fantastic game IMO.
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Charles Reinert
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Double Dan wrote:
TheDuneDude wrote:
Kind of like speed chess, but I wouldn't care for it. I like to take all variables (or as many as I can) into account and be sure of victory. Sometimes I'm just pretty sure, but the timer itself would probably be enough to make me an angry player.


Yes, Dune players want that near-perfect information/deal. I'm the same way when I play. And I'm not sure that it would even work. But just spitballing an idea to prevent the Guild default win that happens way too many times with experienced deal-makers/players. That's a real kink in an otherwise fantastic game IMO.


Yes. They made Atreides somewhat weaker and needing an alliance which is true to the book, and of course Harkonnen and Emperor were in an alliance although both schemed to take control singly. Fremen were not strong enough until Paul Maud Dib joined them, which leaves the Guild. The book implied they were strong, but not as strong as the game makes them. Going last is a huge advantage. Oh I left out Bene. They were always on their own, but not above using others to meet their ends.
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Brad Johnson
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TheDuneDude wrote:
So I have to ask, when and where is the WBC held and played.


WBC 2017 will be July 22-30 at Seven Springs Mountain Resort (which is outside of Pittsburgh, PA.)

We just moved to this site last year, and it was pretty nice. WBC gets about 1500-2000 attendees (I think), so it's not gigantic, but it's 100% focused on playing boardgames, organized tournaments and open play, unlike some conventions where it's mostly a trade show with gaming crammed in on small tables. I've been going for 18 years now, I think? It's really a good time. If you're going for only one tournament, honestly I'm not sure how good of a deal you would consider it to be, but if you're going to play multiple tournaments and stay the week to game with friends and strangers alike, I don't think you can beat it.
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Brad Johnson
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TheDuneDude wrote:
Also, the standard deal is interesting. So does BG always get 2 spice out of the deal? Seems like it would be well worth two spice to avoid the Emperor hostile takeover and keep Arrakeen. BG would be guaranteed four spice for that turn and losing nothing since they get the one free revival. I don't think my group would have ever thought of this. I know I had never considered this option. My friends ten to be independent types but I don't see any down side here.
Once again, thanks for this forum. Really cool to see how others play the game.


The "Standard Deal" only specifies the criteria, not the value. That would be highly dependent on context. I've seen people *beg* to be allowed to block a stronghold with a standard deal, just to keep the game going, and I've seen blockers demand 10 spice or maybe card knowledge or traitor knowledge, or something of that sort. Totally up to the players.
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Charles Reinert
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tempus42 wrote:
TheDuneDude wrote:
Also, the standard deal is interesting. So does BG always get 2 spice out of the deal? Seems like it would be well worth two spice to avoid the Emperor hostile takeover and keep Arrakeen. BG would be guaranteed four spice for that turn and losing nothing since they get the one free revival. I don't think my group would have ever thought of this. I know I had never considered this option. My friends ten to be independent types but I don't see any down side here.
Once again, thanks for this forum. Really cool to see how others play the game.


The "Standard Deal" only specifies the criteria, not the value. That would be highly dependent on context. I've seen people *beg* to be allowed to block a stronghold with a standard deal, just to keep the game going, and I've seen blockers demand 10 spice or maybe card knowledge or traitor knowledge, or something of that sort. Totally up to the players.

LOL-10 spice? I doubt many people have that kind of spice, so they might as well as for the moon. I saw on Pug's Emperor strategy that you advocate Emperor taking Carthag or Arrakeen (at least way back then), but I guess you meant at a later turn. While Harkonnen may be at his strongest in the first turn, Atreides is usually a good way away from being at their strength and it seems an opportune to get them out of the way. I saw others suggest going after Guild in the first turn, but that seems like a much riskier option. Although Guild is likely to turn tail and run, you just never know if they have a lasgun, or are crazy enough to out army you. And even if you get thopters, any armies there are certainly stranded. Seeing as you would have to use some Sardaukar to take it (if Guild decides to battle) then those Sardaukar are stuck there if Guild decides they don't want to battle. I say take Arrakeen or Carthag 1st turn if you are the aggressive type, or go for HRS if you are the less aggressive type. HRS is a fairly safe option that provides a possible big spice blow if Emperor ever needs spice.
 
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