Dist of Columbia
I had the honor of competing in the WBC Dune Final this year, what turned out to be a grueling 10.5 hour, 13 turn marathon. At many points, I had to struggle not to throw everything at one small sliver of hope at victory, rather than soldier on with a brain slowly turning to mush... I have no idea how the poker players do it...
This is based off memory and the sietch log, so hopefully I get some of the details right. My apologies for any errors (I did edit twice, but things slip) and inaccuracies.
I drew the Emperor, a nice solid faction, especially when most games must be won in a two-way alliance; in fact, the Emperor won in 2010 as well. WBC plays all optional/advanced rules, including double spice blow and troop support mechanics. Finals Rules dictated only two-faction alliances, additional stronghold needed to win in an alliance, and the Shield Wall becomes a 6th sietch for victory purposes only after the 6th worm revealed from the spice deck. We were also playing a new tweak: Fremen would not need to support their troops with spice in sand territories. A nice boost that I think worked well throughout the tournament to help the faction with the fewest wins...
I had the good fortune to be seated to the right of the Harkonnen player; always nice to have them moving ahead of you most turns. Also nice was the fact that the Harkonnen player dot was the one over Tuek’s Sietch, meaning when he was rarely moving after me, the storm would be right near Carthag/Arrakeen (or even covering Tuek’s). Atreides were to my right, then Fremen, then Guild, and BG were to Harkonnen’s left.
I got a good traitor pull: Alia, Jamis, Burseg and Captain Aramsham! It’s solid gold to pull one of your own best leaders, even better to have 2, and I chose Jamis as my traitor, as the Fremen negate the Imperial Sardaukar bonus, so if I had a showdown there, I might be able to call a timely traitor.
Fremen put 5 troops on False Wall South and 5 in Sietch Tabr; I think the BG started a token in Imperial Basin.
Turn 1: Guild/Emperor Two-Step
Storm: started over Habbanya Ridge Sietch (HRS)!
Spice: in the north, Broken Land and Funeral Plain, I think.
Bidding: as I recall all factions got one card, including Frem/BG. Bidding was fairly standard about 3-4 per card. I only picked up one card, preferring to save cash. I had started with a Poison Weapon as my hidden card, and picked up a Projectile Defense. Very nice start.
Movement: So where should the Emperor ship!?! The Fremen in Sietch Tabr, the traditional Imperial sietch under storm. What to do? Many would argue not to ship at all. But I feel the Emperor must put a presence on the map early, also in order to court alliances during the first Nexus, which can happen quickly with double spice blow rules.
I decided to try and oust the Guild from Tuek’s Sietch. Shipped in 7 tokens, 2 Sardaukar. After some minor blustering by both Guild/Emperor when it came to Guild’s move, the deal was reached that the Guild would walk to Pasty Mesa, in return for the next two year’s income from Tuek’s. I didn’t care about the income, and didn’t want to see a weakened Guild & Emp so early (nor did the Guild player, hence the retreat). But my goal was achieved, solid presence on the map, without weakening anyone too much, or losing anything. Tuek’s is both safer from the Fremen, not to mention the bonus income.
Collection: Hark and Frem collected the spice.
Turn 2: First Nexus
Storm: moved 6 to cover me in Tuek’s! (a theme of the game, with the storm moving FAST).
Spice: I’m pretty sure the first worm came up on Turn 2, and resulted in Hark/Atr and Emp/Guild alliances, with the Frem & BG staying unallied. Spice blows were Hagga Basin and Rock Outcroppings?
Bidding: I believe my only real goal was to keep the Atr with 2 cards. As Emperor, many give their ally ‘free’ cards, but I kept it to where there may be a discount, but nothing free. Alliances shift too easily to give cards for free, without something in return.
Movement: No real attempt was made to move for the win. Can’t really recall if I attacked anywhere, but I don’t think so.
Guild did trans-planet ship to HRS, resulting in simply a ‘swap’ of the traditional sietches of Emp/Guild.
Collection: I think just the Harkonnen and Fremen collected spice, maybe Atreides got a piece of the first 4 blows?
Turn 3: Maneuvering
Storm: moved 6 to cover Carthag!
Spice: Can’t remember if there was a Nexus here. I think there wasn’t, and if there was, nothing changed. Blows were Great Flat and somewhere.
Bidding: I believe this bid filled the Guild, I pulled a Karama?
Movement: Hark landed on Sietch Tabr at this point. I think I landed 7 more troops in Tuek’s, and moved them to Pasty Mesa, preparing for the eventual Shield Wall sietch, while not providing a juicy target for a Lazgun/Shield possibilies.
The Frem lost only a Cheap Hero and Oythm to capture.
Collection: Cannot really recall, but I don’t recall anyone but the Guild having more than 15 spice.
Turn 4: Battle with Atreides
Storm: moved 5, leaving the Fremen to move last (other than Guild).
Spice: Spice was at Cielago North and Minor Erg?
Bidding: Guild was full of Treachery cards, so only 5, I worked to keep the Atreides at 2, but he picked up a third, and I got a Truthtrance.
Movement: I moved one regular and one Sardaukar to Cielago North, just to prevent Atr harvesting. Atreides would complain that I was ‘on him the whole game’, but I think this was the single move that was most anti-Atr focused, other than trying to prevent Atr specifically from getting lots of cards.
Battle: I’m pretty sure Atr attacked me with 2 tokens in Tuek’s, but I can’t recall why that wasn’t a true 'go for the win', perhaps it was because we knew the Atr didn’t have enough spice to push home a win, or maybe I had enough to outdial him in Tuek’s no matter if my leader died? He also moved 3 tokens to Ceilago North.
Tuek’s battle with the Atr was simple: I asked a Truthrance "Will you play a Poison Defense?" (WBC allows the Prescience-like use of TT). He said "No", so I knew I killed his leader and needed to dial 2. I played Aramsham, who got killed, but gave me 6 spice with Yueh’s death. Projectile Weapon was discarded by Atr.
I prepared to kill the Atr leader in Ceilago North again (winning on ties), but Atr agreed to throw the battle in Ceilago North (knowing he couldn’t win) in exchange for half the harvesting. Here I wish I had just dialed my tokens, as the goal was to prevent Atr getting spice!
Collection: Frem and Emp (1 going to Atr).
Turn 5: Shifting Alliances
Storm: another 6, thankfully killing my single token in Cielago North, meaning I only had to pay 1 to Atr.
Spice: I think this was where the second worm was seen, and alliances shifted to Atr/BG, Hark/Emp and Guild/Frem. These alliances lasted until Turn 11. No idea where the blows were.
Bidding: For the next couple of turns, a few factions would end up full (always Guild), only allowing 3-5 up for bid. Again, I worked to prevent the Atr getting cards, as well as the BG now. I picked up a Hajr, and then grabbed Aramsham back with my Karama to continue to boost the bidding. Part of my strategy was to never be 'full' until the last card, to prevent cards going for 1 spice... this worked very well.
Also, somewhere in here we learn the Atr had the Lazgun...
Movement: the Frem/Guild were starting to position for a shot at victory, though I don’t think the Frem were in the mood to take on 6 Hark in Tabr yet. There wasn’t a clear front runner. Atr/BG had little money, Hark/Emp didn’t have good enough cards to beat the Prescience/Voice combo, and Frem/Guild couldn’t quite hit 4 sietches.
Collection: Don’t recall.
Turn 6: Shield Wall is blown!
Storm: A single Fremen token on False Wall East blows the Shield Wall, then Weather Control by Guild/Frem moves the storm all the way to Tabr, I think. This clears out Atr and Hark tokens in both cities, as well as 6 BG that marched from Polar Sink to Imperial Basin the turn before. Ouch.
Spice: Sorry, no memory.
Bidding: I’ve used my Hajr by now, but over the next few turns, weapons and defenses are guarded very closely, not being risked in battle unless victory is certain. No Poison Defenses are to be had (Hark have 3 of them), and in the first shuffle I think there is only 1 Projectile Weapon and maybe a Shield.
Movement: I ship 6-7 troops into Carthag, now that the storm is by for a while.
I know the 6th worm is coming, and that the Shield Wall will be a sietch soon, and I’ll be one of the only ones able to reach it with a good force.
The Guild lands in force in Arrakeen.
Atr land in force in Tuek’s sietch, and I lose the battle, the Voice is used to kill Burseg, probably with the Lazgun, so maybe that’s how we know where it is... I don't lose any cards that I can recall
Collection: No memory.
Turn 7: Memory is getting blurry...
Storm: moves past HRS.
Spice: No idea, but if worms came up, there were no shifts in alliance. I don’t recall the Frem getting to ride any worms...
Bidding: Atr used an interesting tactic these next few turns, to try and get a few worthless into the BG hand. He would show us all what it was. However, the rest of us still would not let one go for 1 spice, preferring to pay 1 ourselves to keep the power out of the BG hands. He still was able to get 1 or two over a couple of turns...
Movement: I don’t recall really ever being that close to a win with Hark, nor fearing a BG/Atr win. There wasn’t a clear 'for-the-game' battle that I can recall. The Frem didn’t have the cards to move for a sietch, let alone 2 that his ally needed him to grab. I still want balanced stacks, so I move some from Carthag to the Shield Wall. Now I’ve got roughly 7 strength on Pasty Mesa and Shield Wall, and maybe 5-6 in Carthag.
Collection: No memory
Turn 8: BG Tiger turns into a kitten
Storm: Weather Control by BG/Atr moves the storm over Carthag.
Spice: No idea
Movement: BG get 6 tokens to the Shield Wall (with a Karama? or from Polar Sink over a couple turns) and is fighting in HRS, enough to threaten for the win. Atr land in Arrakeen to fight the Guild and still holds Tuek’s.
Here is where important deals began between the Emp and Guild/Frem. Negotiations result in a bribe of about 15 spice, after which I have bought a Truthtrance that asks the BG "Will you play a Projectile Weapon in the Battle at Shield Wall?", answered YES, the knowledge that neither the Guild nor Fremen have the 4th Snooper, and finally, in the battle, the Guild Karama-s the Voice, meaning Aramsham will live, but I can outdial the BG since he's got the Snooper, and the BG will lose their weapon! Atr/BG power blunted, as now the BG will have no weapon...
After all this, I turn around now, and deal with the BG!! (The Fremen player was shocked at this, and later remarked that is one of the lessons he’ll take from the game, that if he’s bribed to give up the Truthtrance/Karama and such, then a real battle must be fought as part of the deal! He just wanted 5-6 of my tokens to get killed as well)
The BG see they’ve lost, and agree to throw the battle; I agree not to kill their leader and to 'buy a card of their choice, but one they cannot have seen first' next turn. This causes a lot of trouble with following through, when we realize I cannot give spice to the BG, it has to go on their player dot (WBC rules)! Hence that is spice the BG won’t have available for the turn, if he simply bids high... We eventually work it out they get a card I reimburse them for, I think on Turn 10...
The loss of the weapon also means the BG cannot win in HRS, which was held almost the whole game by 6 Guild tokens.
Collection: Probably Frem or none, as most of us were fighting.
Turn 9: Sardaukar ARE a match for the Fremen
Storm: moves just past Tabr.
Spice: Rock Outcroppings and ?.
Bidding: Can’t really remember, other than still, weapons/defenses were at a premium.
Movement: Hark end up with 10 tokens in Tabr and a handful in Arrakeen. Atr drops in Tabr with 3, and moves the 2 to Rock Outcroppings to harvest, as well as moves via Hajr from Arrakeen to Carthag, allowing the Guild to hit Hark in Arrakeen.
I’ve land in Tuek’s Sietch and hold Shield Wall, we’re going for the win! But we know the Atr can bomb a spot (Tabr/Tuek’s), so we probably can’t win...
The Frem attack the Shield Wall with 11 strength.
Guild hits Arrakeen.
Battle: Hark start, and choose to fight in Tabr first. There is a lot of discussion on how to proceed, as Hark doesn’t want a Lazgun/Shield explosion, in addition to losing in Arrakeen, for fear I will dump him in the next round.
But he has Duncan as a traitor!! So if the Atr try to Lazgun/Shield with Duncan, surely he won’t use the Kwisatz Hadderach, and we can win on a traitor call!
He doesn’t really see how I can win my battles...
So he makes two deals, one to keep Tabr intact, and the other loses Arrakeen. No 1/4 chance at victory (Hark told me after the game, he had divulged Duncan was a traitor to the Atr, so it was 0% chance, but he couldn’t tell me that...).
The deal with the Atr is that at the next Nexus, the Hark will ally with Atr, if the Atr wants him (Atr choice). This in exchange for not hitting the Lazgun/Shield button.
I remember a slight game interruption, as I swear I have 12 tokens, in order to outdial the Frem on Shield Wall and have one left to keep control; but an extra is finally discovered in the tanks. (My guess is one got stuck to a revealed battleplan hand during the Hark/Guild battle in Arrakeen, and accidentally moved there when leaders died and disks were moved to the tanks).
It ends up making no difference as here I decide to gamble slightly. I know the Frem leader is dead (no poison defense), and I know where 3 of 4 poison weapons are: but who has the 4th? Frem or Guild? I highly suspect the Guild (otherwise he would’ve been trying harder all game to get a new card or two), and so line up Aramsham, Poison Weapon, Projectile Defense, and dial 7. Bingo! Shadout Mapes dies, the Fremen Projectile weapon is blunted (and lost) and 4 Imperial tokens remain on the Shield Wall (including 3 Sardaukar!).
Collection: sees Atr get richer, but I’m still pretty flush, though that 7 dial on Shield Wall was costly.
Turn 10: No Nexus, still friends, but not so friendly
Storm: I think only 1?
Spice: No memory
Bidding: Very chilled, as everybody mistrusts their friends, except for Guild/Frem. I got the Ghola at some point, I think here, in order to offset some of my Frem/Atr battle losses.
Movement: With the Hark/Atr deal in place, I was only going to make moves that were backed up by the full force of Hark going for the win. I ship more into Tuek’s, about 6-7 strength and I think everything else is cold-war non-aggression...
Guild reinforces Arrakeen from HRS, as they know how far the storm will move.
Collection: No idea.
Turn 11: Abandoned by the Hark
Storm: moves to cover HRS. Worm shows up and a Nexus results in the Hark/Atr joining forces. Frem/Guild are still happy together, both looking to make the game last to Turn 15 and win together, on one residual condition or another. So Emp/BG ally to counter Hark/Atr... still, not bad news for me. The Voice!
Bidding: I picked up a Karama in the bid, nice to know where it is, as the other was in the discard, can't recall why. BG got something, Hark picked up a card and a free draw, but no danger of a Karama...
Movement: No strongholds change hands. Everybody is pretty much out of cash and on their last legs of troops.
Collection: No clue, don't know why I continue to have this in the report.
Turn 12: BG take the Lazgun hit
Storm: Weather control keeps HRS locked, covering 1 Guild token (making it hard for winning moves).
Spice: I cannot recall, maybe Shiya Ridge and Red Chasm?
Bidding: First, Atr use a Truthtrance to ask the BG "Will you NOT coexist this entire turn in Carthag?" BG answer YES, meaning he’ll be fighting there, whoever if someone is still there with him.
The discard pile is not reshuffled yet, and had 11 cards in it...
Movement: the second Truthtrance is played by Hark, asking the BG "Will you Voice the Atr to PLAY the Lazgun in Carthag?" Again, the answer is YES, and now the Atr either have to abandon Carthag or see an explosion, as the BG have a Shield.
I think Atr/Hark team chose to have the explosion, as otherwise they couldn’t really go for a win, as the BG could counter with such an explosion.
BG lands 8 tokens in Arrakeen for only Guild rates with a Worthless-Karama.
Guild decides to fight me on Shield Wall, rather than the BG.
Battle: Kaaaa-BOOM goes the dynamite in Carthag, and finally that club is no longer available! Guild beats me, but without being able to kill my leader (voice), so he has to dial high, leaving only 1 token.
Turn ends with HRS (G), Tuek’s (E), Arrakeen (BG), Carthag (Empty), Tabr (H) and Shield Wall (G)
Collection: Why do I bother.
Turn 13: Win pushed home!
Storm: what luck, it moves 6, right over Tuek’s again! I know I only have to fight one battle, and Aramsham is my man. I also know I move first, with the Guild in HRS with one token (no block possibl), so there’s my target.
Spice: Great Flat and Funeral Plain?
Bidding: I believe the BG pick up 2-3 of 4 cards. I was full, so it was up to the BG to make sure the Harkonnen couldn’t take a card cheap. As the last card came up for bid, I decided to use the Karama to make sure the Harkonnen didn’t get a card for 1, which would give him a cheap draw of a reshuffled discard pile. He did end up winning the bid (for 4, I think), and thus got a 2/12 chance at a reshuffled deck for the Karama Hand Swap, as well as a chance at the Lazgun, though I don't think that would've prevented the win. Lucky for my alliance, he didn’t get either!
Movement: Tuek’s safe under storm, I landed as much as I could in HRS - no chance for the Guild. Atr landed more troops in Carthag and moved to spice near Tabr. The Frem locked Carthag from attack and went for the other spice blow. Guild deferred, and the BG landed in Arrakeen, bringing their total to 11 troops, I think. He had also gotten the Ghola at some point? They had to split their force and did so 6/5 between Shield Wall and Arrakeen. The Guild only had 3 tokens in space, so 6 would be enough on Shield Wall, where BG could dial 4.5, and insure a killed leader. The Guild landed on Shield Wall (3 tokens), and then the Hark made to land one more troop of his own on Shield Wall! Would’ve proven a disaster, as with mutually killed leaders (if he drew the Lazgun), and only 1 token surviving from the Guild battle, now that 1 token would need to be dialed against the Harkonnen! But wait!!! Hark only had ONE spice, and couldn’t afford to ship to Shield Wall! He instead put a single token in Arrakeen, which unless a traitor surfaced, would not be enough.
Battle in HRS (8 Emp/1 Guild): no problem, I won the battle without losses.
Battle in Carthag: (Frem throw it to Atr).
Battle for Shield Wall (6 BG/4 Guild): goes to plan, both leaders die, BG wins 4.5 to 4. Here the BG did have to play a leader he was unsure of their loyalty... no traitor.
Battle for Arrakeen (5 BG/1 Hark): a done deal, unless there was a Karama swap?! Nope, so safe Alia fights (and actually lives) against a dead Capt Nefud, and so the BG/Emp alliance has won with 4 sietches!!
In strange, tournament-necessary tie-breakers, Emperor is declared first-place, because of having more troops on the planet. First tie-breaker is if one faction holds more sietches, but we were 2-2. A shame WBC won’t allow 2 first-place plaques
There it is, what I can remember (and wrongly remember too )
-Drawing both Burseg and Aramsham was KEY. I felt safe going into any battle, either willing to have Burseg die without being a traitor, or make sure Aramsham was protected and have a 5, which often outclassed my enemy.
-Storm moving 6 on Turn 2 and Turn 13, covering my troops in Tuek’s... let me only need to fight one battle, where I could make sure I could win.
-Drawing Alia in my traitor draw, gave my late-game BG ally an extra leader against the Atr/Hark 5 traitors.
-No Poison Weapon in the Fremen hand, at decisive battle on Shield Wall. I was 85% sure he didn’t have one, but I could only be certain of 3 of 4, not all four...
Part luck / part strategy
-Choosing Jamis as my traitor, meant I could face a whole stack of Fremen hopefully, and pull an upset - never really got an opportunity.
-My first turn move to Tuek’s could’ve blown up in my face if the Guild had fought.
-We all were VERY weapon/defense conservative, only playing them if we were nearly certain we would win a battle. This meant the first reshuffle only saw one Proj Weap in the deck, and even after that, NO Snooper was EVER discarded until turn 13, and only 1-2 Shields. Harkonnen holding onto 3 Snoopers the whole game, and then determining BG had the 4th was both luck and wisdom. Before Turn 13, I think there were only 5-6 leaders actually killed.
-I had a Poison Weapon, and a Projectile Defense from Turn 1. This combined with Atreides Proj Weap (Lazgun)/no Poison Defense meant the BG/Atr alliance wasn’t as threatening to me, as I could plan for either both safe/dead and work on the dial. The Atreides held the Lazgun club for a long time, but could never fully use that threat against my medium stacks, as to use it meant he had to be able to outdial me, and was never rich enough.
-I think concentrating east, on Shield Wall, Pasty Mesa and Tuek’s was sound strategy for the Emperor, keeping my troops jockeying between two victory spots, with another stack in between able to reinforce either. I tried to keep my stacks even, about 7 with 1-2 Sardaukar, to not make a juicy Lazgun target, nor stack the Sardaukar to encourage Fremen aggression. I was never overly vulnerable in Arrakeen/Carthag to the storm, and where others (Atr/Hark, even Frem) eye...
It also kept me away from the Fremen for most of the game.
-I didn’t give anything away for free. No free cards really, even if that meant my ally was weakened without spice - hey, I could always give it to them if they needed it! But it meant I had probably 10-15 spice more over the course of the game, that otherwise would’ve been Harkonnen or Guild (coincidence I ended the game with 12 spice?).
-Kept the Atreides without cards, after they allied. This meant even with the Voice, we knew he couldn’t both protect his leader and kill ours. Part of this was the Harkonnen not using/losing any of his 3 Snoopers, while we had 3 of 4 Poison Weapons...
-Allying with Harkonnen (over Guild or Fremen). The added possible traitors and card knowledge brought more than the Fremen harvesting ability or Guild mobility.
-Deal, deal, deal. Always make deals if you can. It usually saves resources at the end of the day. Especially as the Emperor, you should have the Spice others want to make a deal profitable enough. Also, rather than gut an enemy sometimes, it is better to let them withdraw, to help you against a different enemy then next turn.
Whew! Finally got this done; it's only been a month.
A Big Thanks to the other players: Joe H., Joe D., James, Matt, and Wray! I had a great time playing and hope you all did as well (unlike the heated Risk game behind us ).
Good summary... I really enjoyed the one game I played, as well as watching the other two heats and this phenomenal final (although, I didn't attend all 10.5 hrs.).
That Risk game was ridiculous. I want a copy of the transcript from that game, as it was being recorded!
Great report Ty.
FYI to everyone else. Ty was earmarked years ago by some of the other members of the tournament as an up and coming WBC champion. As you can see, his ability to track large amounts of information in real time is terrifying if opposed to you, and a massive boon if allied.
Ty mentioned in passing his minor alteration in Emperor playing 'doctrine' from WBC norm - charging his allies at a discounted price for cards. This is a big difference from ealier tournament habit, and was noticed with approval by some of the bystanders. I expect next year more Emperors will be imitating Ty's lead on that one.
Many thanks to Ty for this excellent write-up. I already turned in my official WBC report with a much-much-abbreviated summary of the final game (plus some notes on the rest of the tournament), but I'd like to see if I can get this linked from the BPA Dune website somehow. I was unable to make a detailed record of the final myself this year because my team game final (Roborally) overlapped. (Which happens at least half of the time, despite my requests. I know the tournament schedulers have their hands full and then some, but I would love to be able to get Dune and Roborally, the only 2 tournaments I'm really involved with, to not coincide.) Thanks to my Assistant GMs and the dedicated players themselves for keeping things rolling while I was away from the table.
Dune is definitely a game of endurance when everyone is playing as hard as they can to win, avoiding mistakes that might let anyone else win. We calculated that some players may have spent up to 25 hrs of playing (10.5 hr final plus three 5 hr heats) over the course of 4 days. That final was truly grueling, and the mental state of the players definitely becomes a factor at some point!