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Subject: Dune: Week after Week rss

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Rob Olsson
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VuduJoie and Perigee had been looking to get a game of Dune on the table at Bobby Tweak's Wednesday night gaming session for as long as I could remember. So long, in fact, that it began to become something of an inside joke. Last week, VuduJoie went full court press and actually sent out the rules to folks who had expressed an interest. Following a 1.5 hour review of the rules, we started the game.

VuduJoie was the Benegeserit, for which he took much good-hearted ribbing over the two four-hour sessions of our game. Perigee was Atreides. Malloc played Harkonnen with zest. John H. was the Emporer, Wargaming Jason was Fremen, and I had the Guild.

I had a chance to read a strategy piece on the Guild that VuduJoie had pointed to me, and the two pieces of advice I remembered were essentially "avoid fights because your troops are wimps" and "hang in there until turn 15 and the game is yours." With these words of advice, I was ready to go.

Although I am tempted to go into tortuous detail over the entire eight-hour gaming experience, reminiscent of our first outing in Twilight Imperium a few years back, I don't have the total recall to give you all the good one-liners, but I will try to capture the spirit of the game.

Tuek's Sieth was where the Guild began and quickly pulled out when the Emperor came to visit. Soon there were 10 Imperials sitting in Tuek's, along with the Benegesserit spiritual advisers. This is how Tuek's Sietch would remain for most of the game. The Emperor and Benegesserits would also ally at the first Nexus.

The Emperor landed ten more troops in Habbanyaba Ridge Sietch, leaving him no one off board and no one in the tanks to ship on planet.

Atreides began in Arrakeen and did not lose it to invaders. Perigee dropped troops in and fought off invaders to collect his two spice. He would ally with Harkonnen and the two of them would enjoy a partnership of shared prescience and limited treachery.

That left Wargaming Jason's Fremen and the Guild to join together in the shared goal of having this game run on as long as possible.

Highlights? Well, when the Fremen (who, like most of us, was new to the game) accidentally nuked an invading Harkonnen force by playing the lazgun and a shield together, it was just too awesome. And of course the trash talking. The Guild was very militant and managed to keep the other alliances from gaining too much ground. Similarly, the other groups were militant and kept the Fremen and Guild in check.

Apart from the Benegesserit and the Emporer (who essentially did not attack anyone) the rest of us had a majority of our troops and leaders in the tank by the end of our first evening of gaming. I took three turns to amass an army to drop in for the second day.

At the end of my first day of Dune, my impressions remained positive. But how would the treachery of the Harkonnen play out? Could we pull the game to turn 15 where the Fremen and Guild as allies would win by default? How does one deal with the Benegesserit who can tell you what defense or offense not to play or the Atreides who can look at your weapon or shield?

In week two, we started at turn 7. The Emperor marched, the Benegesserit amassed, the Haronnens fumed, the Fremen struck, and the Atreides read cards and advised the Harkonnen.

The Emperor moved five more troops in Tuek's Sietch and then, with no one in the tanks, had to slow march to Arrakeen (where Areides swiftly dispatched the invaders).

Our alliances switched once when the Emperor and Fremen had four sietches between them, but due to the continuous attacks, they could not hold the sietches (lost two of them in fact) so that the alliances went back to our original configuration.

In the second day, I learned the value of the Cheap Hero, and I got that card a lot. I amassed troops, dropped them in with a weapon, and did not worry about traitors or anything getting through my shields. The Guild pulled off a nuke of its own, and by turn 13 things were pretty stalemated. Many people were not available to continue for a third week, so we called it a draw. Harkonnen and Atreides were rich in spice but short on board presence. The Emporer was rich in spice but needed to pull some troops out of the tanks,

Highlights? Harkonnen pulling the "I get five troops for free" card twice.

At the end of the night, VuduJoie asked how each of us felt about the game. Everyone liked it and would like to play again, but my main feeling was one of exhaustion. I hope that my next opportunity will be on a long Saturday afternoon with no hard stops for time.
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