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Subject: Spicey Goodness - One of my top ten games rss

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Ken Nicholson
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There are four elements that I seek in a game:

- Theme
- Attraction
- Mechanic
- Engagement

If a game scores high in any one of these areas then I'll enjoy it and more than likely want to play it again. But if a game comes along that scores highly in all of these then that is a truly great game that'll I'll always want to play again.

From my subject line you've already guessed the ending of this story and maybe you agree with my sentiment, maybe you don't share my view or maybe you're undecided. I hope that if you agree with me you'll enjoy my observations, if you don't agree hopefully I can encourage you to take another look and if you're undecided then this is a chance to influence you.

Dune

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration...."

Dune is just one of those games to misquote Douglas Adams. It doesn’t seem it; it seems simplistically complicated in that the basic aim is take 3 or more of the key locations on the planet Arrakis and the games a good-un. But the various rules that surround this simple aim can seem needlessly complex until you get used to it and then it all falls into place. Dune is a state of mind and one that ideally should never be played with less than 6 people.

Theme 10/10

I don’t tend to enjoy tie-ins I think they generally fall a bit flat but this game really deserves its setting, as the lesser Rex shows, without the Dune background and the ridiculous imbalances that are the very nature of the battle for Arrakis then this game just wouldn’t work. You play one of the factions trying to wrestle control of Spice (oil in real world comparison) production which just happens to be only produced on one planet Arrakis or Dune. To do this you have various advantages given to your faction; this can be really unfair depending on the situation but this is why the game works so well with its theme. This imbalance creates huge shifts in situation and can depend on small choices. This forces you to be careful and that is what politics and the world of Dune is all about.

Attraction 10/10

I love the world of Dune so this game was always going to be attractive to me. I managed to get a copy in a charity shop (yeah I know lucky eh) but it took quite a while for me to play it as the rules suggested it wasn’t that great, beware quick judgements I guess. But I stuck at it and got it to the table and that’s when the magic happened. With the right players who try to win no matter what and who are willing to except imbalance in games that when this game comes alive. And it’s mainly about the tension that builds with everyone trying to work out where to go and when to go. The other key element is the alliance mechanism which creates strong but breakable alliances and it’s these shifting sands that make the game so fun and make sure you always have something to offer an alliance.

Mechanic 10/10

There are several bits to this game that make it both really clever and fun to play. I’ve mentioned the alliances which work brilliantly and the hugely imbalanced factions (I’m quite a fan of these, though it’s difficult to achieve the balanced imbalance that Dune pulls off). The other two mechanics that make up this great game are those for combat and card acquisition. The combat system is the renowned dial based combat where you commit a force with a leader, a potential weapon and/or defence and you have to beat your opponents dialled force; this is brilliant because you can never be certain (out with your house powers) about what’s going on and you can be tricked every which way. It really makes for a semi-realistic fight and can lead to huge shifts in position again like reality. The card acquisition involves bidding but is imbalanced by three of the houses getting advantages in being able to either see the cards, getting more cards or getting the money back this leads to interesting situations within alliances which again just adds to the politics of the game.

Engagement 10/10

I certainly feel this game when I play it. I’m in the game as a faction trying by hook or by crook to take the planet for my own ends. This game has it all the back biting and horse trading to get the best concessions, the best alliances, the best cards and all to the detriment of someone else. The joy it gives you when you get your way when an alliance breaks up and you form a new one that means certain victory. But equally the annoyance when someone does it to you and you end up with nothing except a hope that you can grab one of the territories and hold it ready for the next alliance change so you can get back in with the big boys. This is by far the best political game I’ve played though Game of Thrones is pretty close and I love it.

Conclusion

I can see why some wouldn’t like this game. The imbalance can be hard on people they can fall well behind and feel like they have no chance. The game can balance on a knife edge where just one or two moves can make the difference and that can bug people too. For me these are the reasons to play this game; these reasons and the way the game makes politics come alive are why I think this is a great game. It does take a while to play and it does need to be played with the maximum players to get all of the balanced imbalance to work which I know is a drawback but its worth it for the end result of Duney goodness.
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Tim K
United States
Urbandale
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Great review and perfect quote from the book. I'd love the play the original. I'll have to settle for FFG re-branding.

Tim.
 
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RJ
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warmachine519 wrote:
Great review and perfect quote from the book. I'd love the play the original. I'll have to settle for FFG re-branding.

Tim.


There are several good print and play remake files with links on this very site. A neat little hobby project could get you playing the original.
 
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Ken Nicholson
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rjphelan wrote:
warmachine519 wrote:
Great review and perfect quote from the book. I'd love the play the original. I'll have to settle for FFG re-branding.

Tim.


There are several good print and play remake files with links on this very site. A neat little hobby project could get you playing the original.


I agree. I printed off the cards again as the small cards in the original are a bit small. Glad you liked the review. I've done one for Adv Civ and Brass too.
 
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jay murphy

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Print it, play it, love it!
 
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