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Subject: Basic three-point strategies for Atreides and Fremen rss

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Klaude Thomas
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GENERAL
1. Dune is won most easily when you are moving last in the turn. A position holding one sietch can frequently at that point find a way to gain the other two. The best single sietches to hold are Arrakeen or Carthag, due to 'thoptors.
2. Battles advance the game strongly, and thus are nearly always best fought 'heads-up': meaning fight to win them. Bluffing or 'throwing' a fight seldom works well. Be conservative in choosing your battles; avoid fighting on a whim and where you feel less than very confident of victory. Especially be careful of fights in the early game with Harkonnen, who will harm your leader pool.
3. People most often lose by failing to appreciate the game balance. Don't help an opponent win by hurting the player most critical to preventing their victory. Players most threaten to win when they are moving last, so watch for potential jumps for victory. The simplest tactic to block them is to move before them to block any free sietches with battles: they can't enter sietches in which a fight is already occurring. Remember, you can agree--even pre-agree--to fight such battles leaderless. For this reason a player who finds themselves ahead in materiel may be forced to seek victory when the are moving first; contrary to point 1. above. Such a move becomes very desirable if any sietch is being held by a much weaker opponent who is also moving late in the turn (and thus will block it from stronger replacements, if attacked). It is an error in Dune to allow weak stacks to sit scattered upon the board, and most especially when they are on key locations.

ATREIDES
1. Write down the cards in players' hands, and the cards remaining in the deck (crossing the latter off as they are bought). Mark '?' in spaces for cards in players' hands that are not known to you (those dealt in setup, and those Harkonnen draws for free). Fill those in once you know what they must be. This will mostly count against Harkonnen, which is important.
2. There is no need to bluff; instead value cards at what they are worth to you, not the other players. However, do bid tactically to maintain holes in other player's hands, e.g. do bid on a shield even if you have one if that will maintain a hole for the Maula Pistol you already possess. Do bid on a Karama whatever is needed to prevent Harkonnen obtaining it, otherwise do not bid on a Karama.
3. Play conservatively, chasing spice and not worrying overmuch about retaining Arrakeen, until you can gain the Kwisatz Haderach. This means picking fights you know to be safe. Avoid early losses to Harkonnen, which will harm your leader pool. Work towards the 'perfect hand' (each weapon and each defence) and to creating holes in your opponents' hands. This will allow you to reach a point in the mid-to-late game when you can auto-win fights against certain opponents. Pursue them ruthlessly for value and to prevent wins, and concentrate on holding just one of Carthag or Arrakeen until a turn begins in which you will move last. In that turn jump for victory, landing in a second sietch and moving onto a third.

FREMEN
1. In setup deploy 10 tokens to False Wall South, including 1 Fedaykin. The greatest mistake people make with Fremen is splitting their forces. You can appear later anywhere near the Great Flat, so starting on False Wall uniquely extends your reach for spice hunting, which you must do. Some strategists suggest a 5 and 5 setup: they are mistaken.
2. Your forces are most threatening when they are not in play. When you do bring them into play, concentrate them: do not scatter your forces. You can win battles with numbers when all else fails, as it will in the early game.
3. Your best chance to win is to ride a worm into Arrakeen, to suddenly gain a sietch and ornithoptors for the beginning of a turn when you will be moving last. You will then be positioned to bring forces from reserve directly into Tabr, and then split or move a second force into one of the remaining sietches. Until then prepare by chasing spice and buying cards, avoiding fights and maintaining just 1-2 stacks of 6-8 tokens on planet, including 1 Fedaykin per stack. A similar chance to win can be gained with the Hajr card: so value that card highly. Notice that you have no need to hold even one sietch prior to going for game: you can jump to three from zero either via a worm or the Hajr card.

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Ken
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vonklaude wrote:
Remember, you can agree--even pre-agree--to fight such battles leaderless.


I haven't gotten my copy of Dune out anywhere near enough to call myself an expert in the rules, but this seemed just completely wrong to me. I believe that you're required to use a leader or Cheap Hero/Heroine in every battle you fight without exception if the player had one available.

This isn't a big deal, necessarily - if neither side uses treachery cards, then the leaders are safe, so you could agree not to play any of those for the purposes of producing the same effect: a battle that really does nothing but lock a sietch out of play. But you always fling a leader out and strange things may happen if that leader happens to be a traitor.

Quote:
ATREIDES
1. Write down the cards in players' hands, and the cards remaining in the deck (crossing the latter off as they are bought). Mark '?' in spaces for cards in players' hands that are not known to you (those dealt in setup, and those Harkonnen draws for free). Fill those in once you know what they must be. This will mostly count against Harkonnen, which is important.


And be sure to ask if folks mind such record-keeping pre-game. Many will object to this if you're playing the game seriously so it would be good to make sure that you're not creating an intergalactic incident by deciding this unilaterally.
 
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Brad Johnson
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Ken is right - You can't agree to not play a leader unless you are physically unable to play one - see rule X.C.9. [edit: I was wrong about this - see below.] However, it's quite common in our games to agree for one player to throw the battle to another, playing no weapons and calling no traitors, so leaders are safe.

We've always allowed Atreides to keep written records of cards (because otherwise their main power in the game can quickly lose its punch due to human frailty) but again Ken is right - some groups may not allow this. (There are tons of rulings besides just this that you'll probably want to verify if you're playing with a new group, of course.)
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Klaude Thomas
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Thank you for bringing the 'leaderless' point to my intention. According to the rules 'by common concent, players may choose not to play a leader even if available'. This text is found in the Questions & Answers section of the published rules. It would be interesting to know who penned it, but as it stands the meaning I favour is that the Basic Game rules contain the default case, and that the 'common concent' (sic) needed to overwrite it is that of the two players involved in the battle: they must both agree and and must both play leaderless if agreed.

With regard to keeping notes, in his later extended FAQ responses Kittredge clarified that

'47) Which players, if any, are allowed to keep written notes of who holds which treachery cards during the game?
a) None.
*b) Only the Atreides.
c) All players.
C'

I want to draw your attention to a discrepancy here. He starred b) meaning he confirmed Atreides, but then beneath the list he noted 'C'. This is the only question I've noticed in his FAQ where he starred one letter and noted underneath it a different one. However you want to interpret that, it does mean that one of the game designers confirmed that players can keep written notes.

I personally resolve the discrepancy as meaning that Atreides alone can keep notes. He is limited to recording 'who holds which treachery cards', so players could object to him also noting the full deck. I allow it, because I judge it to be 'a means of noting who holds unrevealed treachery cards', so within the scope of the permit. The benefit is not pronounced, and it does not in my experience slow down the game.

In older sets you should also allow Atreides to note Emperor's loans to the bank, when those become necessary.
 
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Brad Johnson
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Klaude:
Thanks for setting me straight on the leader issue. I actually did think I remembered seeing something about that in the Q&A, but when I checked I couldn't find the ruling at first. I see it now buried in XXV.B.7. (It's amazing to me that after playing and analyzing this game for 30 years, I still miss little rules! New questions come up in the tournament almost every year! This is why I've always wished Dune could have been republished with a complete rules overhaul, but it's starting to look like whatever FFG produces for Rex is going to be very different from Dune, and knowing FFG, could have even worse rules...)

And re: the Q&A from Jack Kittredge that you're referring to, I think I can clear up your confusion a bit -- that actually originally came from me quite a few years ago, when the internet was young and I was just starting to GM some online games. The asterisked answer was my preferred answer when I sent the list of questions to Mr. Kittredge. The letter below the choices is his response. There were a few cases, such as the one you note, where he did not confirm my guess. It's interesting that the original designer (or at least one of them) had no trouble with everyone at the table keeping written notes, but almost all of the people I ran into over the years had either been playing that only the Atreides could keep notes, or else no one could. To avoid the game devolving down into a tedious record-keeping exercise during the tournaments, I chose to stick with the rule that only Atreides can keep notes about cards.
 
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Klaude Thomas
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tempus42 wrote:
...I couldn't find the ruling at first. I see it now buried in XXV.B.7. (It's amazing to me that after playing and analyzing this game for 30 years, I still miss little rules!

I share your experience on that. When I first read Ken's reply I was momentarily uncertain myself, and had to go look for it. Dune is one of those rare works that will still yield up secrets even after the closest scrutiny over many years. I've been reading your clarifications from 2009 and one of your statements on coexistence gave me a nice moment of elucidation. (I differ on some of the implications for Alliances BTW. Is that something you'd be happy to discuss in geekmail? I am also interested in the Fremen 'problem', so we can chew over that too if you are willing?)

tempus42 wrote:
I've always wished Dune could have been republished with a complete rules overhaul, but it's starting to look like whatever FFG produces for Rex is going to be very different from Dune, and knowing FFG, could have even worse rules...)

It does look that way, and it is a great shame. I too have long wished for an authoritative rewrite.

tempus42 wrote:
The asterisked answer was my preferred answer when I sent the list of questions to Mr. Kittredge. The letter below the choices is his response. ...but almost all of the people I ran into over the years had either been playing that only the Atreides could keep notes, or else no one could. To avoid the game devolving down into a tedious record-keeping exercise during the tournaments, I chose to stick with the rule that only Atreides can keep notes about cards.

Of course! I should have realised you were that same Brad. It is good to meet you In a way, I am sad to learn Kittredge answered only C, because B has always felt better to me, and plays nicely. Nevertheless, thank you for clearing that up for me. It is helpful to know.
 
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Brad Johnson
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vonklaude wrote:
(I differ on some of the implications for Alliances BTW. Is that something you'd be happy to discuss in geekmail? I am also interested in the Fremen 'problem', so we can chew over that too if you are willing?)


Any time you like! I love to talk Dune....
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Matt Smith
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vonklaude wrote:
(I differ on some of the implications for Alliances BTW. Is that something you'd be happy to discuss in geekmail?

What? No! Discuss it here so the rest of us can chime in and mull it over, too. Dune rules discussions are always very stimulating

For instance, this whole not playing a leader thing is very odd because it conflicts with the prior ruling that a player can never choose not to play a leader. Oh dear.
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Klaude Thomas
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Jormungandr83 wrote:
vonklaude wrote:
(I differ on some of the implications for Alliances BTW. Is that something you'd be happy to discuss in geekmail?

What? No! Discuss it here so the rest of us can chime in and mull it over, too. Dune rules discussions are always very stimulating

Okay, I will copy our discussion on co-existence into a new thread. Brad has a great handle on the relevant rules and his thoughts are worth reading. I will also raise some other issues in separate threads.

Jormungandr83 wrote:
this whole not playing a leader thing is very odd because it conflicts with the prior ruling that a player can never choose not to play a leader. Oh dear.

Oh dear indeed! The Questions & Answers in the published rulebook are canonical, certainly, and yet they do operate in ways that would desirably have been integrated into the Basic Game rules. I suspect the designers--perhaps the AH designers--added the Q&A based on their playtest notes to help future players. A laudable objective; but then they went beyond that remit to add and extend rules rather than solely clarify them. I don't blame them: some of my favourite embellishments would appear to have been added by Mick Uhl's team.
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