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Subject: Pug's Guide to Dune - Guild Strategy rss

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Jeffrey Vaca
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Let me begin by giving you a frame of reference. I play with the Basic Rules plus Optional Rules – no Advanced Rules and no expansions. If you play by a different ruleset, then what I have to say may or may not be helpful – but if you play with different rules then you’ve got bigger problems than the details of my little strategy article!

[I’m sorry, but I don’t make the rules.]

With that said, let’s talk turkey…

The Guild is one of the easier factions to play. It takes a bit to learn to play them well, but the endless spice makes for a cushy ride for new players.

The Guild’s disadvantages are his lack of any combat abilities and poor leaders. Of all of the factions in the game, the Guild stands out as being worst in combat.

The advantages of the Guild are:
1) Spice for shipping (the Guild collects all spice spent on shipping by other players).
2) Cheap shipping (the Guild only pays ½ cost for shipping).
3) Special shipping (the Guild may ship tokens off planet or from one location on the planet to another).
4) Variable turn order (the Guild can take their turn whenever they want).
5) End-of-game win (the Guild wins at the end of the game if no one else has won).

A pile of spice and fancy movement. Is that enough to take the game? Let’s find out…

HOW TO BEGIN
Unlike the Emperor, the Guild has assets on planet. This means that the Guild player, while having a similar situation to the Emperor, has to be a little more careful about how to begin.

The first order of business is to pick up some good cards (of course). The Guild will usually receive plenty of spice during shipping to cover any shipping of their own, so all 5 spice can go toward cards on turn one. Guild players should spend the first few turns making sure that they have a handful of good cards.

First turn movement options are generally fairly limited for the Guild. Starting spice of 5 will often only allow for the purchase of one card and, unless the Guild is very lucky, their hand won’t be strong enough to go looking for trouble.

A good first turn move is usually to ship extra tokens (maybe 5) into Tuek’s Sietch. It makes Tuek’s a less desirable target for predators and makes the force in Tuek’s far more useful for cross-planet attacks. If someone insists on attacking you on turn one, you’ll have to evaluate your cards-in-hand to assess your chances. If you can’t beat the attacker and don’t think you have a good shot at one of the other strongholds then just pull your tokens back to your reserves and save your resources.

MOVING OUT OF TURN
The importance of this rule can’t be overstated, but don’t sweat it if you get it wrong the first few times. New players will tend to wield this power as a blunt instrument rather than the scalpel that it is.

Going last is usually great. You get to react to what the other players have done – avoiding battle if necessary – and you get to take advantage of the opportunities left by other (especially their mistakes). The flip side is that you can also deny yourself opportunities. Spice that you didn’t feel like fighting over may be spoken for and, more importantly, you may find yourself locked out of the strongholds that you wanted to attack.

Going first, however, allows you to take advantage of the current board situation without interference.

Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but having your choice between them (or anything in between) is a tremendous advantage. The power of this flexibility will reveal itself to new players over time – but it should never be underestimated.

GLOBAL POLICE FORCE
The Guild’s ability to move on any turn he want means that he’ll be going last a lot. This also means that the rest of the table will usually pass the buck to the Guild when it comes to stopping the win. Any self-respecting Guild player (or any Guild player who wants to use his resources for his own nefarious purposes) will come to resent this fairly quickly.
There is a delicate balance to be struck between wanting the game to continue and letting people know that they can’t always lean on the Guild to make sure that this happens. To add insult to injury, the other players will often blame the Guild if someone manages to sneak in and take the win (or even go for it, sometimes) if the Guild could have done something about it. That just comes with the territory.

Sometimes going earlier in the turn will actually force someone else to get off their tuchas and take the initiative themselves. You can even help them out by subsidizing their shipping (which will come back to you anyways). What you don’t want to do is take up the mantle and allow the other players to burden you with this responsibility on a regular basis.

On a personal note, I simply love getting the Guild to play policeman. If I can coerce the Guild player into wasting his precious resources on stopping the win, then I’ve killed two birds with one stone – AND the Guild has to busy himself on his turn fiddling with someone else instead of improving his own position. Sucker.

On the upside, the Guild can always go first and lock the contender out of the winning stronghold, which is often enough to ensure the game goes on. Just make sure to make the appropriate deals in advance so that you don’t have to suffer any more losses than necessary.

SPICE MANAGEMENT
Your spice resources are great, but not infinite. Do not squander them. There will be a time when the well runs dry (players have little spice to spend on shipping) and you’ll need a reserve to carry you through.

Actually, it’s even worse than that. As players get mauled, they will have less and less tokens to ship, so the Guild will suffer a drop in income as the game goes along even if the players are brimming over in spice (which they won’t be). Also, the Emperor’s ability to do dole out treachery cards is better than your ability to dole out shipping, and after the Emperor gets some good cards he won’t be blowing spice on cards every turn, whereas you’ll be paying to ship your troops around the map and for fishing your pathetic losers out of the tanks – but more on that under “You Suck at Combat”. The upshot is that you’ll probably be going through spice quicker than the Emperor and will need to manage your spice well. The glut that you get at the beginning of the game shouldn’t be squandered, and you really need to avoid giving the Emperor any more than you absolutely have to (i.e., don’t over-bid).

But don’t be afraid to throw a little spice around to make things happen. If the Guild is only spending his spice on cards, revival and shipping then he is doing something horribly wrong. You have the resources to influence people and buy information. Often the Atreides will sell you information on Treachery cards up for bid (or in people's hands) for one or two spice, or even let you know where the spice will be blowing (and he may be less afraid of you than the Emperor). The Fremen may tell you where the storm will be going for a small price. And the options for deals are only as limited as your imagination. Don’t let the Emperor be the only faction at the table handing out the spice to make sure things go his way.

YOU SUCK AT COMBAT
Is that clear enough?
The Guild has a mountain of spice, but no special combat powers like Prescience or the Voice, no starred tokens like the Emperor or Fremen, and a set of truly craptastic leaders.

When the Guild fights, its all about the tokens – and winning is difficult when you can’t keep tokens on the board. Fortunately, there is no such thing as over-commitment for the Guild and so the Guild can feel free to drop large numbers of tokens into their strongholds to discourage predators.

What the Guild player really has on his side is his wily nature – which is to say, his ability to go last and avoid any battle that he doesn’t feel like fighting. When the Guild player goes last he has the freedom to move an entire stack that is under attack from one location to another, and the spice to pay for the move often comes from the player attacking him! Usually the move is made to another stronghold that represents a better-odds battle, but dodging the battle can also allow you to go for spice or simply move away until you decide what it is you want to be doing.

The point is that the Guild player should always consider whether or not they want to be in a battle. With a hand of good cards and a pile of tokens, odds can be good – but care must always be taken and unnecessary battles should be avoided or you may just find yourself the leaderless whipping boy of the other players.

NAVIGATION 101
Deploy minions – Shipping is the source of your wealth and so you don’t want to make a habit of granting ‘free’ (or even cheap) shipping, but it is often very helpful to subsidize the shipping of other players. Often this will be to send others to deal with situations that you don’t want to risk your tokens/leaders on. After all, you suck at combat, right? So sending a faction with strong combat abilities and a few tokens will often be enough to deal with a faction moving in on the win (or on something that you want), and poor factions are often willing to play along for the chance to get tokens on the planet
The Loaded Gun – If you can manage to hold two strongholds and keep a sizable number of tokens in one of them, you’ll frequently be presented with opportunities to go for the win. If the other players aren’t paying careful attention to you, then sometimes they will miss the fact that you are ready to cross-planet ship into your third stronghold. Be careful though, as large piles of Guild tokens are often the targets of small attacks. Perceptive players will be wary of your cross-planet ability and will attempt to 'thin the herd' every chance they get.
Running away – Sometimes the best defense is to not be there. Don’t forget that you can actually ship your tokens from the planet back to your reserves. Use your massive mobility to ensure that they can’t ever kick you while you are down.
Karama – The Guild can use a Karama card to prevent the shipping of another player. Holding onto this card can allow for extreme surprises, especially around the time you are planning on going for the win. The player that is planning on dealing harshly with you may just find themselves sitting on the sidelines while you make good your push for victory.
Deals – As one of the two richest factions at the table, and the one that people look to less for deals, you should make a point of seizing the ‘master of deals’ mantle away from the Emperor. Make sure to craft your deals carefully and don’t allow the other players to extort more from you than you want to pay. And most importantly – don’t get in the habit of allowing the spice to flow to generously. Keeping the other players poor is part of your strategy, so try to make the best deals with the players who are in the worst position to do you harm.

HOW TO WIN
Dune is a game of opportunism, and nothing is a sure thing, so there’s really no way to make grand strategies. Everything depends on the moves (and especially the mis-moves) of your opponents. Learning to stalk your prey carefully and striking when the time is right is the most important (and difficult) thing that you will learn in this game.

Even more than the Emperor, the Guild must recognize his limitations in combat and try to avoid unnecessary combat. Why do I make this comparison with the Emperor? Because it is important that the Guild player not mistake his situation for that of the Emperor. The similarities between the two factions can lead to a player thinking that the two can be played similarly, but this is simply not the case.

Frequently the “Loaded Gun” trick will allow you to pull of the win. Have this ready to go whenever you have good cards and tokens to spare. But because the other players will sometimes be watching out for this trick, the Guild should avoid trying to hold two strongholds when they are weak. The other players, not knowing your cards, will be afraid of you going for the win and smack you down just to be safe.

Other than that, keep your leaders alive and your tokens available (by avoiding unnecessary battles). If you do these things well, and keep your eyes open, you’ll be in position to seize the game-winning moment when it presents itself.

END OF GAME WIN
If the game drags on long enough, the Guild chances of making it to the end of the game skyrocket. All the Guild needs to do at this point is mess with the other factions just enough to prevent the win, and hold everything else in reserve for a last turn push. What push?
As the game approaches turn 15 the Fremen will begin to position themselves for their own end-of-game win – but the Fremen win is much more difficult to pull off. All the Guild needs to do is take either Sietch Tabyr or Habbanya Ridge Sietch away from the Fremen (or prevent the Fremen from taking them) on turn 15 and the Guild victory is guaranteed.

It’s a cheesy win, but a win nonetheless.


IN SUMMARY

• Get a handful of cards.
• Don’t get crazy with spice.
• Get your tokens on the planet.
• Buy the cooperation of other players.
• Be prepared for a cross-planet win.



Note: This strategy article is intended primarily for new-ish players. The game is far too fluid to allow any definitive statements on strategy, and it may vary a lot depending on the group you play with. Experience is the best guide (as the old timers will tell you), but I just wanted to point the newbs in the right direction.


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Jeffrey Vaca
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Only one more to go!
I was going to put something in about the Emperor being a pain-in-the-butt for the Guild, but I’ll add that in later. I don’t want to screw that part up and give people false impressions.

This one is the least proofread to date. Woo hoo! blush
…but I’ll just go back and fix it later.

If any of the non-native speakers need translations of words like tuchas or craptastic – that can be provided.


Note: I almost titled this “Pug’s Guild to Dune – Guide Strategy”, but only the few who have been paying attention to my typos would get it.


The comments must flow!
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Matt Spence
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Nicely done. A fun read.
 
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Dan Freedman
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Another good one Pug. IMO, I think the Guild is the strongest faction. The ability to stay out of battles, and let the others do the dirty work is strong.

The only negative about the game IMO is a Turn 15 stalemate victory for the Guild. It seems to happen more often with moderately experienced players. If I'm the Guild, I refuse to drive the game towards this end. To play all those hours and it have end this way is anti-climatic. I almost wish the rule wasn't in the game. But it does fit thematically.
 
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Jeffrey Vaca
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Double Dan wrote:
Another good one Pug. IMO, I think the Guild is the strongest faction. The ability to stay out of battles, and let the others do the dirty work is strong.

Sometimes I feel like the Guild is almost unstopable, but other times I see the Guild deflated and pathetic. I guess it's just balanced like all the others.

Double Dan wrote:
The only negative about the game IMO is a Turn 15 stalemate victory for the Guild. It seems to happen more often with moderately experienced players. If I'm the Guild, I refuse to drive the game towards this end. To play all those hours and it have end this way is anti-climatic. I almost wish the rule wasn't in the game. But it does fit thematically.

I tend to agree (but I had to address it anyways since it's a viable strategy). The end-of-game victory is a cheesy one, but not a foregone conclusion just because the game is running long - but it sure is likely.

Out of 21 documented games, my group has had...

one turn 10 victory
one turn 11 victory
one turn 13 victory

and three end-of-game victories.

The remaining 15 games have ended on turn 8 or earlier.
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Er heisst
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One Fat Pug wrote:
If any of the non-native speakers need translations of words like tuchas or craptastic – that can be provided.


Hey, I know what "craptastic" means! No idea of the true meaning of "tuchas", though, but it might be because you are talking "turkey" here...
 
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Jeffrey Vaca
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Waldemar wrote:
One Fat Pug wrote:
If any of the non-native speakers need translations of words like tuchas or craptastic – that can be provided.


Hey, I know what "craptastic" means! No idea of the true meaning of "tuchas", though, but it might be because you are talking "turkey" here...


The joke is that neither is English (per se). Craptastic isn't a real word and tuchas is Yiddish for posterior/butt/bottom or whatever you call it.

[pronounced: took-us in English, or with one of your nice German ch sounds in Yiddish]
 
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Armin Sudhoff
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Hey, thanks for the Guide for the Guide... blush ...eh... the guides guild. yes... you know what I mean

Jeffrey, I love your puns... this guide seems to me a bit more "fun to read", than a "real guide"... don't get me wrong, you point out the important things and again showed me new options (eg. the loaded gun) and I prefer great written guides (not to mix up with some Great Britain Guilds!) to "dry mathematical functions".

As you pointed out, the "end-off-game-victories" are very likely to happen... sometimes they are hard-earned by the guild, but sometimes the guild has done NOTHING to prevent other victories... it was just a balanced game between hard battling factions and a sleepy guild, just letting the others go... and these are the victories I hate!
However I love the game and know by myself, that it is solved thematically superb... but maybe the Fremen should have a bigger chance!

Just one thing, I'd love to see changed (yes I know, you are already working on the Atreides Guild):
Quote:
The advantages of the Guild are:
1) Spice for shipping (the Guild collects all spice spent on shipping by other players).
2) Cheap shipping (the Guild only pays ½ cost for shipping).
2) Special shipping (the Guild may ship tokens off planet or from one location on the planet to another).

First: change the second "2" to "3" (nit-picking againcry )
Second: state the "default victory" and the "you-can-take-your-turn-whenever-you-want"-advantage ...then I am happy... laugh

...but of course, you are allowed, to work on the Atreides first... I'd love to know, what tipps you have about deals between them and the Emp/guild concerning their card-knowledge!

@Isaak Sofer: also nice pun! I am always "lost in translation", when trying to write "funny stuff".

btw. my guess on "tuchas": Asses?!
craptastic should be self-explaining... but thanks for taking care of us

Greetz, HivedOne!
 
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Jeffrey Vaca
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It's not nitpicking at all.
That's exactly the kind of proofreading I need!

Corrections made.
 
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Jeffrey Vaca
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Catanarama wrote:
Another interesting Guild strategy: get your tokens off the planet.

That's right, you want to fly those fish-dudes back into space, then spend X number of turns biding your time and hoping the idiots you're playing with your esteemed colleagues weaken each other turn after turn after turn ...

At which point, it's always fun to announce "Death From Above!" and drop 20 guys on a tasty stronghold.

...screaming, "please lasgun-shield me!", at the top of your lungs all the way down.

Catanarama wrote:
(You'll be going for the win on the next turn, just so we're clear ... unless you're in an alliance and can win right now with a DFA).

Unless you are holding a Hajir card and have dropped into Carthag or Arrakeen, how are you going to go for the win on the next turn when holding only one stronghold?

Things to keep in mind:

Catanarama wrote:
1. You'll occasionally need to ship one or two d00dz down to the surface to either A) quickly block a stronghold, or B) go after an uncontested spice blow. Not that you'll need the spice, in theory, but preventing other factions from ever getting it essentially weakens them. Work with me here ...

2. You must pay attention. Trying to win a game without moving any of your pieces on 90 percent of the turns is a delicate operation. Know the stronghold count; know the alliances and how well they are working together; move quickly to block potential game-winning plays and sacrifice a couple of troops, if needed.

3. Prepare to be zapped karama'd and forced to move in normal turn order. Each turn should have two plans ready to go: your annoying move-when-I-want-to move and your move-in-order move.

4. Your really do suck at fighting ... that's why you retreated back into space, pal. Avoid the temptation to get involved in any tangential battles. If it's not a blocking move, doesn't gain you free spice, or otherwise serve some direct strategic purpose, your role is not to fight.

5. You'll be needing some good cards for the end-game, so make sure you're active in the bidding. It's quite possible — not to mention embarrassing — to do a DFA on someone's head and still lose the battle if you can't attack aggressively and defend your leader.


I think this kind of thing works much better in online games than FtF. Messing this up would be utterly crippling, and I know that I cherish my FtF gaming time (especially my Dune time) far too much to put all my eggs into one basket - not to mention sitting out most of the game doing almost nothing.
 
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Ted Kim
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About having adequate passenger traffic ... there can be dry spells. But a moderate amount of combat is generally good for business. It usually means the same people (from the tanks) need a ride over and over.

 
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Jeffrey Vaca
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tedhkim wrote:
About having adequate passenger traffic ... there can be dry spells. But a moderate amount of combat is generally good for business. It usually means the same people (from the tanks) need a ride over and over.


Indeed it does, but the numbers of tokens that they ship decreases over time and so the Guild won't have the massive income that he enjoys early in the game.

It's all about spice management.

There are few things more pathetic than a poor Guild player - but I've seen both the Emperor and Guild call for CHOAM in relatively recent games. Much mocking was heard.
 
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Jeffrey Vaca
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The las-shield comment was more flippant than serious, although it's always a possibility and the lasgun can be notoriously difficult to track.

Catanarama wrote:
One Fat Pug wrote:
Unless you are holding a Hajir card and have dropped into Carthag or Arrakeen, how are you going to go for the win on the next turn when holding only one stronghold?

[edited to change a generic example to a specific one:]

No Hajr is needed with cross-planet shipping. For example (just picking numbers out of the air):

Turn 10: end the movement phase by shipping 20 into Carthag.

Turn 11: ship 8 from Carthag to Tuek's; move 7 from Carthag to Arrakeen.

Final totals: Carthag 5, Tuek's 8, Arrakeen 7. Three strongholds.

Right. That was my point. Your first description just said to drop into a stronghold, but what you meant was drop into a city (Carthag or Arrakeen). You couldn't do it any other way (at least not in two turns). Of course, this reduces your options as you only have two viable targets.


Catanarama wrote:
One Fat Pug wrote:
... not to mention sitting out most of the game doing almost nothing.

Ah, well, there's the problem. That's not at all what you're doing, actually. You're just not moving very much in the first half of the game. Other than that, though, you need to be heavily involved in the game, monitoring and analyzing just about every development, especially as other players catch on to your reluctance to visit the surface. Without constant attention to detail, it's likely that the game will end with your 20 Guild guys up on their ships wondering what just happened.

In fact, the last two times I've used the stay-in-space strategy, I was more heavily involved in every phase of the game than I was the last two times I played a combat-heavy faction. The comparison isn't even close, actually.

Different styles, I guess, or different definitions of "doing nothing."

So you probably wouldn't mind playing the tokenless Bene Tleilaxu, or the Kibitzer in Cosmic.

Different people have different play styles. I guess I just have to be pushing tokens around to really feel like I'm doing something.
 
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Armin Sudhoff
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Catanarama wrote:

I also think the Guild is a great faction for newcomers. It's relatively easy to grasp the advantages, it's a faction that's almost never broke (a big turn-off to newcomers in any game), and it usually gives the player a lot to do, which might help keep them interested.

I agree, it's quite good for newbs, but I don't agree with your last arguement: Most newbs don't know, what to do with the guild. Some try to collect spice, fighting the Harkonnen, loosing two leaders and cards for nothing. Others only run away and play "last move" until they have to "play police", loosing many tokens to prevent a solo-victory. The fewest (to be honest, I have seen no single guild-newb so long) use the "bribes"-rule.
However my wife once won with them a surprising turn three victory (although "hating" the game and playing seldomly), using a truthtrance to check, if Staban is a traitor!
...and also another "newb" made two guild victories in a row... but that often was because one or two players were already sleeping snore!

Greetz, HivedOne!

 
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Glenn McMaster
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Quote:
And the options for deals are only as limited as your imagination.


This touches upon an aspect of strategy that probably could have an entire chapter of its own in the ‘Dune guide’. Deals made at the table in Dune are binding, and this rule makes the art of dealing a powerful offensive/defensive weapon. You must know the relative value of ‘stuff’. This is easy to say but it can be really, really hard to do in practice if the deals get ‘interesting’. For example, a new Fremen might naively inquire to the Atreides as to whether he can see a card or get a spice for looking at the storm marker. Newbie Fremen will rapidly learn a basic lesson – the storm marker ain’t worth much most of the time. But what if Atreides counters with – if you let me see the storm marker twice during the game at a point in time of my choice, then I will pay you two spice or you can see one card. Harder to tell whose getting the advantage now. If you are good and know the relative value of ‘stuff’, you can trick someone into thinking that they’ve got the better end of a deal.

Alliances can be particularly susceptible. I was Harkonnen. Emp had already moved and Atreides was yet to come. I started counting tokens in Arrakeen and mulling. Atreides didn’t want this battle – I explained we were wanting to prevent the win. She agreed not to try to win and I agreed not to attack her. Over goes one spice. Then, I attack her ally the Emperor in two places, who then suddenly becomes very interested in the precise terms of the binding spice deal just made. Atreides was tricked in a moment of weakness into a deal made very quickly where the implications of what was being agreed to weren’t fully understood.

Another example from the WBC this year. I’m Guild, allied with BG and we are dominant. There are three alliances and ours is dominant. The Emperor’s can get the cards but they don’t have the leaders. The Harkonnen’s has tokens but they need a Karama in the Harkonnen’s hands to break my hand. The net effect is a bidding war where we allow all powers to freely bid uncontested except the Harkonnen, who we always outbid. It’s pretty expensive business. I make an offer to Harkonnen after about 4 turns of this – we will cease our efforts to block your attempts to get a Karama and in exchange you will not use a Karama card-swap against Guild or BG for the rest of the game. Harkonnen is game but BG is not, so the deal isn’t made. But an interesting question – who wins that deal? If you know the answer when negotiating and the other guy doesn’t, you have a serious advantage.
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Bart Lidofsky
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OK, here's a fun trick you can do. Play with the advanced and extended rules. Try to ensure that either Atreides and/or Harkonnen is not in the game. Guild wins in the first turn, and it's virtually impossible to stop them.

It's been a while, but the trick has to do with this: Guild chooses it's turn. Have Guild move first in the pre-game, and take over the empty ornithopter city. Move last in the first turn. The rest should be obvious.
 
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Greg Todd
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Quote:
Try to ensure that either Atreides and/or Harkonnen is not in the game.


So if I've got 5 people coming over to play Dune, how do I put your tactic into action? Cut someone's brakes? That would seem to be taking meta-strategy too far.
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Charles Reinert
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The Loaded Gun – If you can manage to hold two strongholds and keep a sizable number of tokens in one of them, you’ll frequently be presented with opportunities to go for the win. If the other players aren’t paying careful attention to you, then sometimes they will miss the fact that you are ready to cross-planet ship into your third stronghold. Be careful though, as large piles of Guild tokens are often the targets of small attacks. Perceptive players will be wary of your cross-planet ability and will attempt to 'thin the herd' every chance they get.

Frequently the “Loaded Gun” trick will allow you to pull of the win. Have this ready to go whenever you have good cards and tokens to spare. But because the other players will sometimes be watching out for this trick, the Guild should avoid trying to hold two strongholds when they are weak. The other players, not knowing your cards, will be afraid of you going for the win and smack you down just to be safe.

Ok, so my version of the loaded gun is this: On the first turn guild ships all 15 of his reserves into Sietch Tabr, and then moves all 15 into the Plastic Basin. From now on, his opponents have to police him rather than the other way around. If they get complacent, neglectful, or just plain selfish, the Guild can ship across planet any number of tokens to an open sietch (or one he knows he can win) and move the rest into Sietch Tabr. I have won on turn two this way a couple of times, but have had to wait until turn four or five on occasion when people were being wary of me early on. The thing is Sietch Tabr and Habannya Ridge Sietch may not be occupied, or they may be occupied by weak Fremen. So BOOM!, you go in and knock them off with superior numbers if you were not lucky enough to get decent cards.












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