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Subject: Historical take on Dune by an old-time grognard rss

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I suppose that it shows my age, but as I sat with my family the other night playing a game of Dune, I was reminded of a fine wine that just gets finer with age. On turn 5, the Harkonnen player, allied with the Emperor, and standing against the other four players, decided to go for the throat. The BG had declared open warfare on two cities, but the Harkie was surprised how easily the BG (that's me) rolled over. A final battle came down to a traitor in the Fremen ranks, and when it was over, the Harkie/Emperor alliance won. Or would have, if I had not chosen the Harkonnen as my prediction, on the right turn no less (even the blind hen finds the corn once in a while). The family sat there stunned, and I was whisked back in my mind to the Oshkosh, Wisconsin public library, in the year 1983.

Sitting around a large library table is a group of older wargamers, and myself, and one other high-school age student. We had worn ourselves out playing "normal" wargames, particularly Victory in the Pacific (which I could not then figure out, and which probably would still frustrate me) and Wooden Ships and Iron Men (which, surprisingly enough, I defeated the club champion at, primarily through guessing with uncanny luck the tack he would take, and then positioning to rake him) for many hours. Then came the time for the crowd kook to bring out his kooky game, Dune, and for us to gather around and to think differently.

I say differently because Dune was everything wargames of that era were not--it was area movement (where are the hexes?), diceless (where are the dice?), and fluid in a way that, quite frankly, scared most grognards. The "each faction may break a rule" seemed almost heterodox to us, especially in an era when different games used the same standard CRT, and I could sense the frustration and angst build as we took out the tiny map and set up the factions. Most of us consoled ourselves that what this really was was Cosmic Encounter with a literary bent, so we played, although I think the only two reasons we played were because 1) the crowd kook was a genuinely nice guy, and we hated to disappoint him, and 2) after we played, we had enjoyed ourselves, despite our discomfort. The variable length of play didn't scare most people away; in fact, since we were playing wargames all Saturday, a much more common reaction was the frustration of having a game end early. It threw off your schedule, and made you unsure, and combined with the other novelties of the game, made you wonder if, somehow, this wasn't all just some kind of lousy Commie plot.

But it wasn't. Rather, it was a deep and layered gaming experience which is most akin to a Euro-game, before Euro-gaming existed (at least in Oshkosh, Wisconsin). It was so unusual, and so different, that it defied all description. It was not just a game, it was an experience. And it still is today, based on my daughter, the Fat Baron Harkonnen's words, "That was the best game ever!"
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Ian Allen
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nicely put.

Which makes playing REX all that much more painful. It is like introducing people to food by taking them to McDonalds instead of to Outback Steakhouse.
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Jonathan Harrison
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So long ...
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... and thanks for all the fish.
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You are the reason I just had my third child. One to go ...
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michael confoy
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Fortunately, I have an AH order form in one of my Generals and it's only $27.00! Check is in the mail first thing in the morning!
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Chris Geggus
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I'm just about to start my first game of this by mail and am looking forward to it. Your brief review reinforces why I bought the AH original game a few months back and why I'm now chomping at the bit for the game to get going.

Thanks.

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Randy Brown
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Gee, I thought those witches would put up more of a fight...hey! devil
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Brad Johnson
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philreh wrote:
I suppose that it shows my age, but as I sat with my family the other night playing a game of Dune, I was reminded of a fine wine that just gets finer with age. On turn 5, the Harkonnen player, allied with the Emperor, and standing against the other four players, decided to go for the throat. The BG had declared open warfare on two cities, but the Harkie was surprised how easily the BG (that's me) rolled over. A final battle came down to a traitor in the Fremen ranks, and when it was over, the Harkie/Emperor alliance won. Or would have, if I had not chosen the Harkonnen as my prediction, on the right turn no less (even the blind hen finds the corn once in a while).



Thanks for the nice Dune story! Two things, though:

1) How do you get your *family* to play Dune?? I guess I have 1 kid who likes it, but after the one time I got my wife to try it, she almost killed me. She's still upset about the whole thing 20 years later...

2) Your players aren't nearly paranoid enough about the BG prediction. It's become pretty much de rigeur in our group for someone to hold onto a Truthtrance just to ask the BG about their prediction if/when someone goes for the win. The last 2 times I played the BG (one in online game #10 here if you want to go check it out), I've been burned by that. Both times I had great opportunities to make my prediction come true, and not just through luck, but something I said or did tipped someone off and that was the end of that! Granted, I might just need to figure out how to be more subtle about it, but where I come from, the BG losing a battle that they "should" have won would immediately trigger an assumption about the prediction!


Still, a great story!
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Actually, believe it or not, Dune was the second game our family played together, right after UNO and just before "Here I Stand." We did it in little parts, doing first some combat, and then some movement, and some bidding, etc, then combined all the pieces. My son always got the Fremen, so he could be militaristic. It probably took 10 or so sessions before we could put together a full game. But this was the *FIRST* time the BG won by prediction, so I think that the family had mostly discounted this power overall. Probably not so much from now on...
 
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David Jackman
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philreh wrote:
Actually, believe it or not, Dune was the second game our family played together, right after UNO and just before "Here I Stand." We did it in little parts, doing first some combat, and then some movement, and some bidding, etc, then combined all the pieces. My son always got the Fremen, so he could be militaristic. It probably took 10 or so sessions before we could put together a full game. But this was the *FIRST* time the BG won by prediction, so I think that the family had mostly discounted this power overall. Probably not so much from now on...

Uno, then Dune, then Here I Stand?!

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From a weight point of view, sure. From a thematic point of view, which we really, really love, not so much...
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