Dune: A Game of Conquests and Diplomacy, the review

Dune: A Game of Conquests and Diplomacy, the review


Each board game has a setting, a tone, a purpose and an audience foreseen from its design. This does not mean that it cannot be played even outside of its initial configuration, but usually when a title satisfies the intentions of the designer, the theme and the mechanisms this allows to bring the players inside a narrative, social or strategic challenge. outlined. One of the most emblematic cases of this initial preamble was with Dune, the official game of the well-known sci-fi literary saga by Frank Herbert (which you can find on Amazon) first published in 1979 by Avalon Hill. At that time, board games were entering a phase with epic stories of all genres through the use of mechanics from RPGs or with a strong strategic implantation between bonuses and penalties.

Unfortunately the pace of play back then barely keeps pace with the myriad of distractions that today's players are subjected to and even 120 minutes (1979 Dune average length) may seem too much to some. Yet, many times, those players are the same ones who crave the feeling that a longer epic title could deliver and that's why many publishers have tried to redesign and repackage longer games in a shorter time frame via card games, roll-and -write or two-player titles. Probably with this goal in mind, Gale Force Nine and creators Peter Olotka, Jack Kittredge, Bill Eberle, Greg Olotka and Jack Reda decided to redesign the original Dune game by conceiving Dune: A Game of Conquest and Diplomacy by acquiring the rights to author of Legendary Pictures. The game arrives in Italy thanks to Asmodee and with this review we will try to answer an important question: with the reduction of the average playing time, complexity and number of players, is it still epic?

Dune: A Game of Conquest and Diplomacy - unboxing and materials

In addition to the graphics of the box , the entire graphic system recalls Villeneuve's film and this, beyond a purely marketing choice, also allows the casual player to approach the game. As for the quality of the materials, it is impossible not to notice a certain fragility in the cards that forces the player to use protective sleeves to prevent them from being damaged after a few plays. Interesting, however, the boards and functional and well structured to accommodate all the cards necessary to indicate the peculiarities of your faction. Finally, although there are many game elements, there is a very handy organizer to store them comfortably at the end of the game without the risk of losing them while on the move.

A 5-round long challenge and 7 game phases

Storm: The storm sector moves across the map as determined by an 8-sided die roll. If a specific die face is rolled, the first player can choose how far the storm moves, ideally destroying the opposing unprotected forces. In any case, the storm brings destruction, both of spices and of troops physically present in the sandy sectors where the atmospheric event passes. Spice Explosion: a card is drawn at random from the appropriate deck and the related Spice tokens are placed in the territories indicated by the card. Be careful, because a “Sand Worm” card could also be drawn and in this case all the troops and Spices extracted in the previous round are destroyed. The exception is the Fremen troops who can ride the fearsome worm. Acquisition of Cards: you can draw up to 4 Battle cards, but you can also appear up to 3 Market cards by paying two Spices for each card. The first cards are used to enhance the commanders during the clashes with the opponents, the ones purchased instead represent bonuses to be used during the various phases. Awakening: Destroyed troops or leaders are not gone forever. During this phase, players can pay Spices to return units to their reserves, waiting to be deployed or reused. Transfer and Movement: by paying a Spice, players can choose to move and deploy units on the map differently except for the sectors where the storm is taking place. Moving, on the other hand, allows you to move the troops of up to three adjacent territories with the exception of strongholds occupied by another faction. Battle: If the units of two or more factions occupy the same territory, a battle occurs. Each player takes a Battle Disc and secretly indicates how many troops they are engaging in the fight. This is also the maximum number of units that can be defeated. Additionally, players can select one of their leader discs and any Battle cards they wish to commit. Both can also increase their strength by using any bonus cards. Winning the battle guarantees the acquisition of Spices, but the Traitor card can also be used during the battle. If a player has the commander indicated by the opponent among his "traitor" cards, this immediately wins the battle and loses neither troops nor cards. Spice Gathering: The final stage of the round allows players in Spice territories to collect one Spice for every two troops in the territory.

In addition to this, player-specific asymmetric abilities must also be considered. One of the main skills of the Fremen, for example, is not to be destroyed by the storm, but each faction has a particular set of skills that make them unique and fundamental in every phase of the game. In any case, the game continues until the fifth round, unless by the third one of the players has three strongholds, then at that point the game ends and he is automatically the winner. In a normal game, you go up to the fifth round and score points by adding the strongholds owned and the amount of Spices total. Whoever has the most points is the winner of the game.

Everything perfect, but the true soul of Dune is missing

Overall, however, it's really hard to find a single thing that doesn't work. The art sector is good, the game mechanics are interesting and intriguing, the battles are lively and the laughs are guaranteed. Everything rotates very well, but perhaps this is the real problem: the game runs so well that surely you could have dared more. The willingness to scale a noble title to meet the limits of the player's attention span or the competition of much shorter games is not always the best choice because, inevitably, somewhere it touches to cut. For example, the diplomatic sector is manifested only in the traitors' cards and the strategic sector is limited to effectively moving and organizing troops, avoiding being caught by the storm. There is also the random factor given by the extraction of the cards, the equipment and the launch of the given storm which give a certain liveliness to the game, but which do not have much to do with a purely strategic game.


In conclusion, Gale Force Nine has produced a fairly good new version of the original 1979 board game. Dune: A Conquest and Diplomacy Game offers good tension and great replayability thanks to the various asymmetrical factors . However, by greatly reducing the unique characteristics of the original game, the epicness and overall experience of the game has also been reduced. With the limitation of rounds and the overall number of players, the tone of the battles and overall strategy has also decreased. In addition to this purely "sensorial" and emotional factor, Dune: A Game of Conquest and Diplomacy runs very well, is easy to learn and ensures evenings of great fun.

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