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Dune: Imperium

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RRP £52.99
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Dune Imperium is a new game based in the universe Frank Herbert created and coming back to the big screens soon. There is already one Dune game – the reprint of the well regarded older title simply named Dune, but Imperium brings a new experience to the tabletop.Each player will take control of a leader of one of the Great Houses and use a combination of deck building and work…
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Awards

Golden Geek
Dice Tower

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • The way the various systems interlock and work together
  • The cards have multiple functions to consider when adding them to your deck
  • Every turn has interesting decisions to consider
  • Easy to learn and play despite its intricacies

Might Not Like

  • Drab board and components
  • The theme, if you don’t know Dune, it will not add anything to the game
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Description

Dune: Imperium

Dune Imperium is a new game based in the universe Frank Herbert created and coming back to the big screens soon. There is already one Dune game - the reprint of the well regarded older title simply named Dune, but Imperium brings a new experience to the tabletop.

Each player will take control of a leader of one of the Great Houses and use a combination of deck building and worker placement. Each player starts with a deck of cards, that they can improve during the game. These cards have a few functions. First you cannot place a worker without using a card. Each card will have one or more symbols related to areas of the board. To place a worker in one of the spots in that area you will need to play a card with a matching symbol.

Some of these cards also have bonus icons which will give you extra actions or resources. You hand limit is 5 but the most workers you will have is three so you will also have at least two cards left. Thankfully the bottom of some cards contains more actions that trigger when you reveal the rest of your hand gaining all the actions on the bottom of your unused cards. You are free too do this before you have placed workers and use all your cards for this.

During the course of a round you will be gaining resources, and also deploying troops to the conflict zone or your barracks for future conflicts. Each troop is worth two military strength and this can be improved further through unused cards.

The game play is really smooth with a bot used in two and one player games that is really easy to use. In fact one player simulates a multiplayer game really well. Dune Imperium is already being called the game of 2020 and with the smooth mix of worker placement and deck building it is easy to see why.

Dune: Imperium Rulebook

Players: 1-4
Time: 60-120 mins
Age: 14+

 

dune imperium feature

I am sure most people reading this have heard of Dune Imperium. It seems every man, woman and their respective dogs are talking about it online and in my opinion, there are valid reasons why. So, Dune Imperium, set in the sci-fi universe of Dune, sees you vying for the favours of four factions, battling over spice and fighting other players for ever-changing rewards. There’s deck-building. There’s worker placement. Even player vs player combat. Has someone been peeking at my Christmas list?

A Nice Mix Of Genres

Dune Imperium is mainly a worker placement game. Yes, it has deck-building. Yes, it has combat, but the main focus is worker placement. What makes this game tick though – and what makes it stand out – is that your hand of cards governs which spaces you can send your workers (or ‘agents’) to. Each of your cards has two functions: an agent function and a reveal function.

Let’s take a step back. Your turn is made up of two phases: an agent phase and a reveal phase. In your agent phase, you can send one of your available agents, of which you start with just two, to a space on the board. The trouble is, each space is governed by a symbol and you must have the relevant card in hand to send them there. After everyone has passed or used all their agents, you do the reveal phase and you reveal all your remaining hand of unused cards.

Cards With Multiple Functions

This reveal phase determines what you can add to your deck from the small selection of new cards and, if you have any, add power to your army for the battle phase. After everyone has taken agent turns and spent their influence points on new cards, any players involved in the skirmish at the bottom of the board take part in a battle of the fittest for varying rewards. Each round, a list of rewards for the end-of-turn battle is revealed from the conflict deck and it is one of the game’s small nuances that you must pick your battles wisely. Not all battles are created equal.

dune imperium setup

Fighting Amongst The Sand

While moving agents to spaces on the board, you can move troops between your reserve, garrison, and the battlefield. The reserves do nothing, the garrison is where troops are posted, waiting to get stuck in and the battlefield is where they add to your battle score and hopefully win you some sweet sweet rewards. Whatever troops you have on the battlefield are added to battle points left on your cards revealed in your reveal turn and the winner is declared.

There are other nuances to the game like intrigue cards that offer one time bonuses or end game points, standard resource collecting, deck building and other standard worker placement functions. What I find fascinating is how all these systems work together. When you are building your deck or looking at your hand, everything has two functions and you must plod your way through this murky puzzle to maximise your chances of getting to ten victory points first.

Faction Relations

Apart from the combat rewards, the other main way to earn victory points is by aligning yourself to one of the game’s four factions. They sit on the left side of the board and, as you use their worker placement spaces, you earn their favour and move up their respective tracks. At two points on these tracks, you earn rewards and victory points. It’s another cog in this intricate machine to navigate as you try to outwit your opponents.

There are various cards to move you up and down these faction tracks as well as combat rewards. The first to the top makes an alliance with the faction and cannot be overtaken. Be wary though; if someone overtakes you towards the top, they can take the token and the lovely victory point from you. It’s a beautiful thing to watch players battling for favour over these four factions and reaping the unique rewards each one offers.

Components

If I have one negative to bring to this Dune Imperium review, it is the components – not the quality, that is fine, but the design of them. Your troops are cubes, your agents are uninspiring and the board could look a tad better. There is a deluxe component upgrade, which I have bought, but you should not have to do that. Don’t get me wrong, the game functions and is a lot of fun, there is nothing wrong with the components, but they could be a little bit snazzier.

The deluxe upgrade looks fantastic (shown below) replacing everything with miniatures and giving players a new box to keep it all in, but when you have forked out for an already quite expensive game, you should not have to hand over another bag of coin for ‘better’ components. That being said, I cannot wait for mine to turn up; they are arriving in March apparently. So, overall, the components are serviceable but nothing to write home about. The cards are nice though, using art from the upcoming Dune film, due this year. You may even recognize some of the people on the cards. My son said, “Isn’t that Drax, dad, from Guardians of the Galaxy?” Yes, son, yes it is.

dune imperium meeples

Gameplay Flow and Ease of Play

I love how Dune Imperium plays! It’s a constant battle for spaces on the board, using your abilities, buying the right cards and choosing when to battle. Factor in that every card has two functions, intrigue cards, the faction tracks and all the resource management and you have a spiderweb of decisions every turn. I like that. I like having to make tough decisions and spending every turn trying to maximise my small hand of cards to either win the battle, increase my influence with certain factions, or collect resources.

Choosing your battles is very worthwhile. At the start of every turn, a conflict card is revealed and if the winner gets victory points then I am all in and my turn may be focused on getting troops into the battlefield. Otherwise, depending on the rewards, I may hold troops back for another turn. Once your troops have been involved in a fight, they return to your reserves, so it’s another system to negotiate in this web of decisions. It’s all good fun though.

Maybe it’s down to my explanation, but it does sound complicated on the surface. However, even my son loves the game. Once you know the basics, everything fits together like a well-constructed sci-fi jigsaw. All the symbols are easy to recognise, the board is laid out well and the cards all make sense. It is an easy-to-play game, full of options and rewards for you to manage. I love the game arc too. It starts out slow to earn victory points but, as the battle rewards ramp up towards the end, it really ends in a nice crescendo of players trying to wring out every victory point they can.

Dune Imperium: Final Thoughts

My family and I love Dune Imperium. It has all the things we like: deck-building, worker placement and combat. It ties them all up together in a way that feels different and new. When buying new cards, you have multiple things to consider: factions, spaces you can visit, abilities and battle bonuses. Normally, cards in deck-builders serve one function; in Dune Imperium they serve multiple. The deck-building may only be a small part of the game but it is certainly a vital one.

Dune Imperium is easy to play, even for my kids. It’s rewarding and a lot of fun. You have the normal tension of hoping no one takes the space on the board you want. You have ways to draw cards, scrap cards and increase your number of workers. So, if you have played deck builders or worker placement games before, you will slide straight into this intriguing game. I just wish the base components were a tad better. Roll on that deluxe upgrade pack.

Editors note: This blog was originally published on February 23rd, 2021. Updated on Feb 28th, 2024 to improve the information available.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. At least that’s how I feel when I’m sitting on nine victory points in Dune Imperium, knowing that getting one more should and could bring me the victory I covet. A metaphorical sandstorm is coming though, and one I hadn’t anticipated as my opponent wins the final combat round, advancing up tracks I thought I held and snatching allegiances away from me that I thought I had secured. From victory to defeat, but what a game!

With the trailer dropping for the second instalment of the new Dune films I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to revisit one of the best games of the past couple of years to see if it has stood up to the sands of time.

Dune Imperium, is based on both a combination of the old book and the new film. Not to be confused with the other Dune game based on the old book but not the new film. This game combines some of my favourite mechanisms in games, deck building and worker placement with a side serving of combat to boot, as you control a leader from one of the great houses seeking to control the desert planet.

Each player begins with the same deck of cards and a unique leader card. The cards that start in your deck and those you add to it have two uses, either taking actions or revealing at the end of their turn to various effects but predominantly can be used to purchase new cards and upgrade your deck. Each card has a symbol denoting where you can send your limited number of workers, and if you don’t have the right cards or if those spaces are taken, you will have to take a different path. You also begin with only a couple of workers to place each round, meaning you have to think very carefully about what you’re trying to achieve that round and what goals you are working towards.

Despite the mix of mechanisms and game types that can be found elsewhere, each time I play Dune Imperium it feels fresh and new, with each game presenting a new challenge to face with multiple routes to victory. Do you focus on combat, advancing up a certain track, or seeking synergy in the cards you purchase at the end of the round. Even with the limited number of workers you have to place each round, there always seems to be a wealth of options open to you with difficult decisions to be made each turn.

Once all players have completed their available actions and purchased cards to add to their deck, a combat phase occurs where troops you have amassed, or decided to hold back, are counted and given an attack value, with the additional opportunity to play intrigue cards affecting the outcome. The rewards for the combat round vary depending on the deck and therefore knowing when to push for an ‘all in’ offensive and when to hold back, or put just enough in to claim second place is a delicate balance that adds to the tension of the game.

Final Thoughts

If I have a couple of criticisms of the game, they are small, firstly the graphic design of the board and the quality of the components could be better, although a deluxe upgrade pack is available should you wish to invest in it. Secondly if playing with just the base game, the deck building doesn’t feel as strong as it could be, although having played the game with the excellent Rise of Ix expansion, I feel the expansion cards resolve that specific problem for me.

The multiple leader cards, not knowing what will come up for purchase each round to add to your deck and knowing when to make that push for the end of round combat goals means that this is a game that shifts and changes each time you play it, like the sands of the desert planet. Dune Imperium is a game where each time I play it, it feels better than the last as if you’re learning a little more each time on how to negotiate the game that lies ahead of you knowing that for you to achieve victory the spice must flow.

 

Dune Imperium is a worker placement / deck building game inspired by the universe of Frank Herbert. Its game mechanics will be familiar to those who have played other board games, though it’s quite quick to learn if you are new to games as well.

I have played Dune Imperium numerous times and it has become one of my favourite games. Throughout many hours of gameplay, I have found myself repeatedly utilising a few key strategies to try and get the edge over my opponents. This blog will provide my own rating of how easy each strategy is to pull off in the game, though note that this is only a rough guide as the many combinations of cards and variable availability of resources can result in widely different games.

I split the game up into 3 main phases; the opening (first two rounds), mid-game (all subsequent rounds up to the Conflict III rounds), and the endgame (the Conflict III rounds). This is largely due to the acceleration of victory points after the first few rounds, once you start to consistently draw the new cards you have bought, and the 2VP rewards in most of the Conflict III cards.

The Opening

This is usually where you want to focus on one strategy and carefully manage your cards and hand to ensure you have the highest chance of it working.

Tip 1 (Easy) – Picking A Strategy Based On Cards In Your Starting Hand

I will usually pick one of the strategies below, based on the cards in my starting hand. If my cards don’t match any of the strategies, then I have a couple options available. Either I can use my first agent to draw cards at Arrakeen (requiring Reconnaissance) and pick a strategy based on the cards I didn’t draw (as now I only have one agent left), or I can choose a strategy and make a filler move which doesn’t draw cards with my second agent (making it certain that I will be able to complete the strategy in the following round unless it is taken by another player).

Tip 2 (Medium/Hard) – Memorise The Starting Cards & Their Movement Options

This has huge value in the early game as it means you know for certain your options for movement in the second round, and you have a good idea of your movement options in the third round too, as you cycle round your pack for a second time. Consequently you can plan your moves in advance and react to any unexpected moves opponents may make. Moreover, you will be able to predict to some extent your opponents’ moves in the second round, as their drawing of all of one movement type (for example green) in their first move will make it impossible for them to move there next round, unless they choose an action allowing the drawing of cards. This is still possible in later stages of the game, but it becomes increasingly unreliable as players’ decks develop.

To get you started, here is the movement of the Dune Imperium starting cards: 2xNone, 2xYellow, 2xGreen, 1xBlue, 1xYellow/Green/Blue, and 2xFremen/Bene Gesserit/Space Guild/Emperor

Tip 3 (Medium) – The Third Agent

The acquisition of your third agent is a hugely important strategy, as it not only means you get more actions on the board but also allows you to play more cards, gaining more resources and cycling through your deck faster. Note that, by drawing cards in Round 1, you make it potentially impossible to get your third agent on the second round as you may draw all your green movement cards and there is a relatively small chance of drawing the relevant movement actions once the pack has been reshuffled.

The fastest combination of moves to get the third agent is the placement of an agent on the Hagga Basin (requiring either Signet Ring or Dune: The Desert Planet), then the placement of the second agent on the Sell Melange (requiring either Signet Ring or Dune: The Desert Planet), and finally the placement of your first agent in the following round onto the Swordmaster (requiring either Signet Ring or Dagger)

Tip 4 (Easy) – Research Station Utilisation

Another great way to cycle quickly through your deck and generate more Persuasion in Dune Imperium is through the utilisation of the Research Station. This also generates more options of where to play your remaining agents and so makes your plans easier to enact. This tactic works throughout the game, though its high water cost may make it less appealing.

The fastest way to use this action is through the placement of your first agent on Stillsuits (requires Diplomacy or Seek Allies), then your second agent on Research Station (requires Signet Ring or Reconnaissance)

The Mid-Game

This is where you need to build up your deck and start developing some form of engine or symbiosis between your cards to set you up for the later rounds. By the end of this phase most players are probably sitting at around 5/6 VPs.

Tip 5 (Medium/Hard) – Unlocking Sietch Tabr

Sietch Tabr is a very useful action space as it allows the generation of water without the requirement of a Fremen movement option. This makes it a much more accessible space, and consequently more worthwhile to unlock first. With this unlocked, you will be able to get someone into the conflict and so (almost) guarantee a reward, whilst building up large amounts of spice faster than the other players through your superior water supplies.

The fastest way to use this action space is by placing your first round agents on Stillsuits and Hardy Warriors. Order doesn’t matter here, though if you want to build up spice then prioritise Stillsuits (requires both Diplomacy and Seek Allies).

Tip 6 (Easy) – Hand Optimisation

I prioritise Hand Optimisation in many games and, in Dune Imperium, it’s very helpful as a secondary strategy. It enables you to maximise the use of any cards you have bought as you cycle through the deck quickly while also meaning you can discard the starting cards which, as you near the end of the game, will probably slow you down. However, be careful to balance the range of movement options your new cards have, as a deficit in any area could result in the failure of your plans if you need to change tactic suddenly.

You can optimise your hand by sending an agent to Selective Breeding or with Fedaykin Death Commando, Gene Manipulation, Guild Administrator, Seitch Reverend Mother

Tip 7 (Easy) – Acquiring Your High Council Seat

A great way to boost your Persuasion at the end of the Dune Imperium round is through the High Council seat. This action is worth taking early in the game as the extra two Persuasion makes a lot of difference to the quality of cards you will be able to purchase.

Tip 8 (Hard) – Setting Up Bene Gesserit Symbiosis

If played successfully, the interdependencies of Bene Gesserit cards such as Missionaria Protectiva and Reverend Mother Mohiam can make them incredibly powerful. However they don’t always appear regularly in games. Consequently, they are only worth the investment if you are able to acquire lots of Bene Gesserit cards to increase the likelihood of drawing multiples in one hand.

Tip 9 (Moderate) – Utilising Fremen Bond

Some Fremen cards are vastly improved through the use of the Fremen Bond (Fedaykin Death Commando and Worm Riders). This is easier to use than the Bene Gesserit symbiosis due to the constant availability of Arrakis Liaison which is a Fremen faction card. However, as with the Bene Gesserit symbiosis, this works best if you have an optimised deck and multiple Fremen cards to maximise your chances of the bond working. Moreover, Fremen Bond is easier to use because it counts cards played in your Reveal phase as well as in your Play Area, unlike the Bene Gesserit symbiosis.

The End-Game

Three of the four Combat III cards in this section of the game give 2VPs, and the other gives you two moves on a faction track, so most of the strategies for this phase revolve around winning the combat. By this point hopefully your deck is optimised, and you are playing your new, stronger cards semi-regularly. You have also hopefully claimed at least one faction alliance and are well-placed on the other tracks, so here are my final tips to cement your winning position.

Tip 10 (Easy/Moderate) – Keeping Your Garrison Stocked

Dune Imperium has conflict cards. The Conflict cards in this phase are so strong that there will certainly be competition every round. Consequently, it is essential to have troops in your garrison (at least 2 but ideally 4), as many actions that you may take in this phase will allow you to add troops from your garrison into the fight. The main action to stock your garrison is Rally Troops, although cards such as Gurney Halleck, Fremen Camp, Sardauker Legion, and Gunthopter will either reduce the military strength of your opponents or increase your own strength.

Tip 11 (Moderate) – Saving Spice For The Heighliner

Costing 6 spice, this is the most expensive action space on the board but it is almost always worth it as it immediately allows you to place five troops into the combat, establishing you as a major contender for that round, and you can also add two from your garrison. The space also gives you two water, which will come in very useful in gathering more spice to take the action again as soon as possible. Alongside this, the Carryall is a very powerful card, as it can provide you with up to six spice, allowing you to do the action again as soon as it is free. The Kwizatz Haderach is also a very useful card to have in this situation, as it enables you to gain access to the Heighliner even if another player has taken the action.

Tip 12 (Medium) – Use Of Intrigue Cards In Conflict

Certain intrigue cards such as Ambush, or Private Army are very good at turning the tide of a battle as they are played in the combat phase, so your opponents can do very little to stop their effects. I normally wouldn’t bother keeping back Master Tactician unless it looks like I’m going to lose a round by a long way and I’m not interested in second place, as its three swords are quite easy to counter in the main phase of the round through cards like Double Cross or Reinforcements.

Tip 13 (Hard) – Streamlining The Spice Must Flow

If you are not interested in trying to win the Conflict III cards then you can try and optimise your hand to get enough Persuasion each round to purchase a Spice Must Flow. To achieve this you should secure a High Council Seat and obtain cards such as Firm Grip, Sietch Reverend Mother, and Liet Kynes.

Tip 14 (Moderate) – Cementing Control Of Faction Alliances

You should also focus on getting at least two spaces ahead or to the top of any factions you have an alliance with, as this VP can be vital in securing victory.

Tip 15 (Moderate/Hard) – Acquiring The Right Cards For Your Strategy

My final tip is about efficiency. Buying too many cards will pad out your deck too much and you will draw your better cards more infrequently. It is also important to buy cards which work with your strategy, as many cards won’t contribute usefully to your deck. However, there are some cards which it is usually a good idea to acquire. These include the Carryall (very useful for gathering spice, giving you the upper hand in a race for the heighliner), Stilgar (water generation without an action space designated to it), Chani (saving troops if you are losing the round, or making another player over-deploy their troops to win), Shifting Allegiances (sudden moves on a faction track to secure an alliance or gain VPs), and Guild Bankers (useful for purchasing SMF).

Conclusion

There are many different strategies in Dune Imperium, I have only scratched the surface here, and the balance of deck building and worker placement means that it’s a very accessible game, with strong replayability.

Dune imperium Preview

Despite all the hold ups, cancellations and delays that have been the underlying theme of 2020, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune has been a beacon, something to… oh wait, that’s been delayed too. Well, that really is a mind-killer.

Do not despair, my Fremen warriors, because despite this delay, there is something to be excited about on the near horizon, and though it may not be the Kwizatz Haderach, it is something very good indeed: Dune Imperium from Direwolf Games.

Variety Is The Melange of Life

Now you don’t need to be a mentat to realise that there is already one Dune game available. Gale Force Nine re-released 1979s classic Dune, a game of strategy, intrigue and betrayal, at the tail end of 2019. This was very well received as many of the gaming community had heard of it but never actually seen it. It was also a game designed to be played best with the full complement of six players – which is why I haven’t been able to play my copy yet this year.

Enter Direwolf, best known for the games Clank! and Clank! In! Space! They wanted to capture a similar Dune feel to the GF9 game, but wanted to make it playable (and fun) for fewer players. To this end, rather than go for a strategy-heavy game, they have taken a similar approach as Clank! by combining deck-building and board-based play. To be more specific, deck-building and worker placement. All you fans of Temp Worker Assassins out there, calm yourselves!

Everybody in the House of Landsraad…

They have also made the Emperor, the Spacing Guild, the Fremen and the Bene Gesserit elements something that all players can have access to, rather than separate players. Player characters are based around four houses of the Landsraad – so far we know that House Atreides and House Harkonnen will be present, and a third ‘automated’ house, House Hagal, has been mentioned, but whether House Ix or House Tleilaxu appear remains to be seen.

Each house will have two characters that the player will use throughout the game, for instance, House Atreides will have Paul and Leto Atreides. Each of these characters will have special abilities, one ongoing and one ‘signet’, which will enhance the players ability to place ‘agents’ (workers), draw cards or get discounts on actions/resources. The ongoing ability is… as you’d expect, but the signet ability only activates when the signet card is played from your deck. This is, however, not the only use for the card, as the cards are how you do everything in this game, from sending out agents to battling for the supremacy of Dune!

Dune Imperium Components

Sardauker is The Only Game in Town…

As in any deck-builder, players draw a hand (of five cards) from their deck and play what they get. Unlike other deck builders, players have two options to choose from for what their cards do. The first option is to use the cards to send out agents. Each player starts with two agents – the card they play has to match the place on the board where they are sending the agent. Once all players have despatched their agents, they can use the remaining cards to purchase new cards for their deck (the blue diamonds, called ‘persuasion’) or battle (more on this later).

This mechanic of send or purchase means that players have to balance their agent placement against their purchasing power – your opponent may have agents all over the board, but if they’ve nothing left to buy or battle with… that could be fatal.

Going back to placing workers on the board, this is where players do their politicking and try to influence the non-player powers or carry out their resource gathering and trading. The Emperor, the Landsraad and CHOAM are at the top of the board, the Spacing Guild, the Bene Gesserit and the Fremen are down the side – the middle of the board is reserved for places on Dune itself.

Sending agents to the different powers will gain Influence or an Alliance, which can unlock abilities on cards later (similar to Shards of Infinity’s mastery mechanic) but also gain cards and immediate actions – for instance, the Bene Gesserit will give out ‘Intrigue’ cards that can be used in play, in combat or at the end of the game to gain victory points. If you have more than three, though, they can be stolen by other players. Sending agents will require resources, and this is where gathering and trading comes in. The three resources are water, spice and solari (cash) – having enough of each of these is essential for doing anything in the game.

The cards you buy can also bring you resources, but offer so much more. They can power up your drawing ability, increase your Influence when played with an agent, block the actions of other players or just make you a force to be reckoned with in battle. As mentioned earlier, there are certain cards that gain more power depending on your political influence – for instance, the Worm Rider card starts by giving you two spice, but with two influence with the Fremen you get four ‘daggers’ and with an Alliance you get six. Big fight time.

Let’s Get Ready To Thumper!

Each round will have a battle – whether you decide to join is up to you.

The battle is determined by the conflict card, drawn at the beginning of the round. These range from basic skirmishes and raids to full out battles for locations on Dune. The spoils can be very beneficial, giving a player control of locations on the map, but the consequences can be costly as all troops are lost in the battle.

To enter battle, players need troops and ways to deploy them – this can be by sending agents to particular locations including the overpowered Heighliner (Baron Harkonnen has a particular nasty ability that can be linked with this), which sends out six troops and gains you two water. It is a costly gambit and can be blocked by certain cards. Once the troops have been deployed, the ‘dagger’ cards are added to the troops and whoever has the highest total wins – there are prizes for first and second in a three-player stand-off and even a consolation prize for third in a four player game.

The battles get more intense and more important as the game proceeds, with the final battles reaping the most benefits and most victory points. It is the victory points that determine the winner of the game, so you’ll be needing plenty of them. The only question is: will you bide your time and play the political game or will you wade in and go full Sardauker? Decisions, decisions…

Dune Box Art

An Arrakis Made for Two (Or One)

As mentioned at the beginning, Direwolf wanted to make a game that was fun for all player counts, including solo, without taking away from the play experience. To achieve this, they have included an automated player, House Hagal, who acts as a foil when two players are playing (curses to you, House Hagal and your objective-blocking agents). In a solo game, House Hagal goes more on the offensive and will try and win the game instead. To do this, they have their own set of cards and characters that deploy agents and troops, gain Influence and Alliances and gather resources and victory points.

Direwolf have also promised an app-based AP to confound your plans – there aren’t any details of how this will work as yet, but they are wanting to make it as intelligent and involved as possible.

A Last View from the Shield Wall

Dune was probably my first introduction to serious science fiction, even though it took me an age to read, and has always been special for me. It is a rich story that has not quite been fully realised on the screen, but has always tempted the brave and foolhardy director to have a go. With GF9s game, you got the chance to play in the universe of Dune and make your own fate. Direwolf’s Dune Imperium seems to give you all that but also give you more of the narrative – the art, inspired by the new film, certainly helps, but also the actions and abilities on the board and the cards. It also helps that this is a deck-builder and I love a deck-builder. There’s still a lot to work out, so there isn’t a release date yet, but I am definitely there – Shai Hulud!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • The way the various systems interlock and work together
  • The cards have multiple functions to consider when adding them to your deck
  • Every turn has interesting decisions to consider
  • Easy to learn and play despite its intricacies

Might not like

  • Drab board and components
  • The theme, if you dont know Dune, it will not add anything to the game