theDL

Dune - post-game report

Gameplay

This will be long. tl;dr at the bottom, pics in the comments.

On Friday night we got to play Dune again. I was really looking forward to this. It was only my 2nd time actually playing. My group has played 3 times, but I sat out the first game since we had too many players. Anyway, I got to play this time.


Unfortunately our 6th player had to drop out at the last minute, which meant we played below the recommended full player count, but what else could we do? The rulebook suggests leaving Bene Gesserit out for a 5 player game. We had two first time players, and both had no interest in choosing a faction, so I assigned them randomly. I drew the Fremen, which was probably the faction I most wanted to try, so that was great.

The game started relatively slowly, though we did have at least one battle in every round. The first 2 rounds saw skirmishes between Harkonnen and Atreides over a spice blow and over Arrakeen (a stronghold). For me, the first few rounds were spent traversing the left side of the board, scooping up every spice blow that was there. I quickly built up a tidy sum of money. There Fremen do not have to pay for shipment OR for battle, so all of their money can be left for acquiring treachery cards, bribing other players, and reviving their fallen troops.

It was not until the third round that a "Nexus" occurred (a sandworm/Shai-Hulud card appeared in the spice blow phase). Only at Nexuses can alliances be made OR broken. By this time, the Atreides player was in a fairly weak position after losing a couple of battles. The Emperor and Harkonnen players allied, and the Spacing Guild player and I allied. At this point, I believe every player held one stronghold (there are 5). By the way, the main winning condition is by holding 3 strongholds at the end of a round, or 4 if you are in alliance.

As the game progressed, the Atreides gained the Lasgun treachery card. This card is the most powerful weapon in the game, but also the most dangerous. If used in a battle with a shield present, it causes a nuclear explosion, and everyone in the territory is wiped out. He possessed both the Lasgun AND a shield, which essentially meant that he was a walking nuke, if he wanted to be, and everyone at the table knew it. As I wrote above, he was in a weakened position, having lost a few battles, so he took this opportunity to get himself back into the game. He moved into one of my strongholds with a couple of troops, and made me an offer I couldn't refuse - he wouldn't nuke the stronghold and my ~8 troops in it...for 10 spice. I took the deal.

He tried this again the next round. He came to me and my ally - "For 15 spice, I won't nuke ANY of your 3 strongholds." This was too high a price to pay. We couldn't let him hold this over us indefinitely. We risked not paying it, knowing that if he detonated it, the other alliance wouldn't be able to swoop in and win right away, and then he wouldn't have the Lasgun anymore.

That risk paid off, as he moved in on a Harkonnen stronghold. On the previous round, the Harkonnen player had moved ALL of his troops into Carthag, which is a stronghold within spitting distance of Arrakeen, one of the strongholds I was holed up in. So when the Atreides player shipped one troop into the Harkonnen stronghold of Carthag with it's 20 troops, the Harkonnen player jumped right into Arrakeen with 17 of them. So there would be battles in both Arrakeen and Carthag.

I had something like 11 troops in Arrakeen to his 17, but I had the advantage of being the Fremen player, who does not have to pay spice to have their troops fight at full strength. The Fremen also have 3 Fedaykin soldiers, which count for double the fighting strength of all other soldiers. We dialed up our battle wheels, revealed our battle plans and... TREACHERY! The leader he played was Feyd-Rautha, the strongest of the Harkonnen leaders, and the leader I had drawn as my traitor at the beginning of the game. I won the battle, and he lost EVERYTHING.

This was a huge turning point in the game, because before this, the Emperor and Harkonnen alliance had a lot of troops on the board, and were poised to make some strong moves against myself and my ally. After this battle, I and my ally still held strong positions, and the Harkonnen player had zero troops on the board, after also losing his battle to Atreides. The game was not decided in this round, but this was certainly a major turning point. At the next Nexus, the Emperor broke his alliance with Harkonnen and allied with Atreides, who had clawed himself back into the game with his mercenary activities and selling of information.

That big battle took place at around the midpoint of the game, which ended up going for 9 rounds. For reference, the maximum is 10 rounds, at which point the special victory conditions for Spacing Guild and Fremen are in play. Most of the rest of the game went on without too much excitement, with skirmishes here and there that didn't swing the game too much one way or another.

One exciting thing that happened was that I got to direct a sandworm to a sand territory of my choosing, and I chose a territory where the Emperor had about 10 troops ready to collect some spice, so I killed all of those troops and destroyed the spice. That was another nail in the coffin for the Emperor and his alliance.

By round 9, most forces had dwindled to the point that there were only a handful of troops in each stronghold, but my ally and I held 3 of the 4 we needed to win. He shipped into a fourth and took it without any problem, and the Emperor player shipped into one of mine to try to stop us from winning the game that round.

I had 4 troops to his 3 in the stronghold, so I had the slight numbers advantage, but there were still leaders and treachery cards (weapons) to account for. Until this time I had been hesitant to use my strongest leader, Stilgar, who also happens to be the best leader in the game. See, when cards traitor cards get dealt out at the beginning of the game, it's highly likely that any one leader was dealt, and considering that Stilgar is the most powerful leader in the game, you can bet that anyone who was dealt Stilgar chose him as their traitor. As you can see, the risk/reward for using your strongest leader is high. Unfortunately for me, I had only two options - my strongest leader and my weakest leader. The rest had been killed. I had a hunch, however, that the Emperor player had Stilgar as his traitor. Luckily, I had won a truthtrance card in the bidding phase a couple of rounds earlier. Before the battle:

Me: "I'm using my truthtrance card - do you have Stilgar as your traitor?"

Emperor: closes eyes and tilts head back in defeat - "YES"

I used my weaker leader and was able to win the battle anyway - game over - we had control of 4 strongholds. If I had used Stilgar in the battle, I would have lost.

So that's the long story of this long game. All in all, it took 9 rounds, 5 1/2 hours, and many, many troops were lost along the way, but I think everyone had a good time, including the two first-timers, which is a big win in my book.


tl;dr - played Dune at 5p. I played as Fremen - a clutch traitor and a clutch Truthtrance card gave me and my ally (Spacing Guild) the victory in round 9. It was really fun and I'm excited to play again.

I'll post some pics in the comments.

3 points by theDL - updated 11 days ago | 50 comments | report | subscribe

nealkfrank 13 days ago | 2 points[-]

That was a fantastic write up! Thank you for sharing! It sounds like there was a good amount of drama in the game, which helps with a 5.5 hour game! Super cool. I have always heard the Fremen are underpowered in the competitive circuit, I was pleased to hear you pulled off the win with them!

theDL 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Thanks! That surprises me about the Fremen, actually. I know nothing about the competitive circuit, and I've only played a couple of times, but the Fremen definitely felt powerful to me. The fact that they don't have to spend spice for shipment or battle is huge. Plus they have the strongest leaders and troops in the game, and have higher mobility. Beyond that, I can see how maybe some of their special abilities aren't as useful as others, such as the sandworm, which is only useful once in a while.

nealkfrank 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

After I heard their powers, I was surprised when I heard it too, but the numbers dont lie!

theDL 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Just curious about this, where do you find the numbers?

Marshwiggle92 Supporter13 days ago | 2 points[-]

Great story. So glad it still went well at 5 players. I would love to play this sometime. 

theDL 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Thanks! I'd say it actually works well at 5 players, except that when it comes time for alliances, someone will always be left without a partner, and that player probably has no chance while they are not in an alliance. So better than I expected, but still best at 6.

Marshwiggle92 Supporter13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Makes sense. Can you only have two people in a alliance? Or could you have a three person powerhouse? 

theDL 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

By default, yes. You can tweak the game how you want - there are variant rules on the back of the rulebook. For example, the default is: 2 players per alliance, 3 strongholds to win by yourself, 4 strongholds to win with an alliance. But you can adjust those numbers any way you want to give yourself a longer or shorter game, or one with more battles, etc.

Marshwiggle92 Supporter13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Gotcha

philryuh Supporter11 days ago | 1 point[-]

Finally got around to reading this! It was a great read. And it sure tells about the game if I could feel the story and its emotions unfolding just from reading your recap.

theDL 11 days ago | 1 point[-]

Thanks for reading, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

sdirrane Supporter11 days ago | 1 point[-]

Not only do I love the way the game looks, and love the source for the theme but I love the details that come along with talking about the game.  I love a game that sits with you after it's been played.  Maybe one day when I have a lot more time.  Sounds awesome though.

theDL 11 days ago | 1 point[-]

Oh this game DEFINITELY sits with you after you play it. It does with me, anyway. I'm still thinking about the game from Friday, lol.

sdirrane Supporter11 days ago | 1 point[-]

That's one of my favorite things about a game.  Do I think about it for games after.  Do I regret decisions?  Am I particularly happy about them?  How will post game discussions go with the other players.  Will they happen?  I always hope so.

theDL 11 days ago | 1 point[-]

Yep. I'm still figuring out rules I got wrong, too, haha. Oh well.

theDL 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

The Truthtrance card that eventually sealed our victory.


theDL 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Tried editing this comment and the photo disappeared...trying it again here

Marshwiggle92 Supporter13 days ago | 1 point[-]

How do you like the art? I think I like it, but I think I would have liked it to be more stylized or more detailed. 

theDL 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

I would say it's fine. I love the box art, and I like the art on the board. The cards are okay, and the leaders are okay. Actually the main complaint I have with regard to the components is that the board and troop tokens are too small.

Marshwiggle92 Supporter13 days ago | 1 point[-]

I wondered about that as well. It's there any sort of storage solution in the box? Or did they go back to the '70's for storage solution? 

theDL 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

They have a decent insert, but it doesn't accommodate sleeved cards, so I tossed it. I'm using dollar store containers for each faction's components, and for the spice tokens (which you can see in some of the posted pics). For the cards I just used 2 deckboxes. Doing this will also allow me to store the upcoming expansion in the main box as well, which is pretty valuable to me.

Marshwiggle92 Supporter13 days ago | 1 point[-]

That's nice 

theDL 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Nearing the endgame. Lots of battles have been fought...as you can tell from the "Tleilaxu Tanks" (holding ground for killed troops and leaders) in the bottom right of the photo.


nealkfrank 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Man it really is a beautiful game!

theDL 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

I love the art on the board but I wish it was bigger :/

nealkfrank 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

It does not look too small, but pictures can deceive. Is it a small board? 

theDL 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

It's not tiny, roughly 20" x 18", but the territories on the map, specifically the strongholds, are just not big enough to put a bunch of troops in them. At 6 players, it's just not a big enough board.

nealkfrank 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

That is a good point, I did not think about the high conflict areas like the strongohlds. Lots of stacking!

nealkfrank 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

I was talking like I knew numbers lol, I listen to the Game Brain podcast and those guys compete in tournaments, they said some single digit number represented the Fremen victories. All the other factions were fairly even but Fremen was the lowest. 

theDL 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Interesting. Well I'm definitely not experienced enough to know why, and I'm sure whatever it is, it won't be an issue in my group since we'll probably only play a handful of times a year.

nealkfrank 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Oh ya for sure, these are people that live for this game lol. 

theDL 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Yep. Stacking, and knocking over. The troop tokens aren't big enough either :/

nealkfrank 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

I blame the 70s for creating a small board and tokens...then the new publisher for not fixing it lol. 

theDL 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Haha, I know it's mainly for box size reasons, but we could've had a 6 section board instead of a 4 and the box would've only had to be a bit deeper. Or do what they did with Scythe and print it double sided with an optional extra piece for purchase to make a larger map.

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Marshwiggle92 Supporter13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Is the map fairly easy to read? It looks like troops etc... Could cover up region names pretty easily. 

theDL 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Yeah, per my other comment, the map is too small. It's not super important to be able to read the map at any given time, but it would be nice if the whole thing were bigger. The bigger problem than the reading issue is that it just feels cramped. Having battles in these tiny strongholds is ridiculous because you are trying to put these stacks of troops in and constantly knocking them over. Oh well  :/

Marshwiggle92 Supporter13 days ago | 1 point[-]

That's a pity. I guess this way they can come out in a year or two with the Deluxe Edition. 

theDL 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

If they released a big neoprene mat version or even just a bigger board, I'd buy it in a heartbeat, haha. I've got a feeling we'll be playing this one for a while. I hope so, anyway.

Marshwiggle92 Supporter13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Don't worry, I'm sure they'll do something like that. 

theDL 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Fingers crossed!

Marshwiggle92 Supporter13 days ago | 1 point[-]

You could go the expensive route and do something yourself. 

theDL 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Oh believe me...I'm looking into it, haha

Marshwiggle92 Supporter13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Fun times. 

theDL 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Yep

theDL 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Fairly early in the game - troops all over the board.


nealkfrank 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

I like those little organizers, super clutch. 

theDL 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Yeah they're great! The little containers are just from Dollar Tree, and the white trays were 3D printed by my friend.

nealkfrank 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

Specifically for Dune, Or just games?

theDL 13 days ago | 1 point[-]

The 3D printed trays I just use for any game. Those don't get stored away in a game box or anything, just sit on the shelf next to the games.

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