Game Spotlights

October 26, 2021

Devin

Dune Games Galore – Your Guide to Tabletop Dune

It’s time to celebrate—for there are new Dune games available left and right!

We’ve come a long way since Analog Magazine first published Frank Herbert’s science-fiction piece—Dune World—in 1963. Two years later, they would publish his second piece, The Prophet of Dune. These two stories were expanded and reworked into a book that would become one of the world’s most successful sci-fi novels: Dune.

Then, in the 80s, David Lynch gave us Sting in his underwear for some reason.  (We’re not complaining, it’s a cult classic!)

So today, as we celebrate the release of the latest film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s masterpiece, we’re also excited that the tabletop industry has caught Spice Melange fever. There is a bevy of new games focused on the series and we’re going to run down the list for you. We’ll even throw in some classic Dune games you might not even know exist!

We’ve also thrown together a little Dune Games & Books Collection on our website. We’ll keep adding to it as more and more spicy games come out! Plans within plans… At the bottom of this article, you can also find an introduction summary of the setting of Dune and the main factions, for those less familiar with the story.

Board Games

Roleplaying Games


Dune Board Games

First we’ll take a look at the board games on offer.


Dune Arrakis: Dawn of the Fremen board game box image, by Gale Force Nine
Arrakis: Dawn of the Fremen by GF9

Update March 9, 2022

Arrakis: Dawn of the Fremen (2022)

Gale Force Nine Games

Just announced, a new game taking place in the Dune universe is set to release in June of 2022. Arrakis: Dawn of the Fremen promises a brutal, cutthroat game about tribal control of Arrakis, set long before the events of the first novel.

Pre-orders are now available, and more details coming soon!


 

Dune Betrayal board game box by Gale Force 9

Dune – Betrayal (2021)

In this game of tactics and deception, you are secret agents, representing different roles within the famous factions vying for control amid the sands of Dune. The goal is to learn the identities of your foes whilst protecting your nobles, forming alliances, and utilizing tools to gain knowledge, and therefore power. Who are you loyal to?

Pay close attention to determine your allies and enemies. During the course of the game you can then defend your allies, and attack your foes, to secure victory. You’ll need to be convincing, and clever, to take the day! In the end, must trust your gut and let your instincts show you the Golden Path to victory.  Who is a filthy backstabbing traitor, and who an honorable and loyal servant to your noble family?

Dune – Betrayal at its heart a social deduction party game game for 4-8 players, and can be completed in 20-40 minutes. Its a perfect and affordable addition to the shelf for fans of games like Coup, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Sherriff of Nottingham, Spyfall, and Secret Hitler.  It combines elements of strategy and planning with something every Dune fan knows all about: concealing your true plans within plans!

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new dune games house secrets board game

Dune: House Secrets (2021)

Dune: House Secrets is a cooperative story-driven game where you join the resistance against House Harkonnen. You’ll experience a series of Chapters in the world of Dune. You play each Chapter through a series of Encounters trying to reach specific Goals. Your ability to pursue Encounters is limited by Time, making it impossible to experience every Encounter. This limitation means that many of the mysteries within the story must be deduced!

At the end of every Chapter you must complete a Status Report. The reports consist of information you’ve acquired and proposals on how to proceed. These Status Reports influence the overall direction of the story.

There are no winners or losers. Instead, your experiences and decisions create a story all your own!

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conquest diplomacy dune movie

Dune: A Game of Conquest and Diplomacy (2021)

This is not just a movie reskin of the classic Dune game—re-published in 2019—or even a 2nd Edition. It has the same beloved DNA, flavor, tension and themes, but with beautiful new game board design, updated look and feel to reflect the new film, more spice, new streamlined rules, and a new market deck where you can purchase game advantages.

In Dune: A Game of Conquest and Diplomacy, you will take control of one of the four great factions–House Atreides, House Harkonnen, the Fremen, and the Imperium. You vie for control of the most valuable resource in the universe—melange. The mysterious spice is only found, at great cost, on the planet Arrakis.

Ship your forces to Arrakis, harvest spice, seize control of strongholds, and destroy your enemies.

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dune imperium board game dire wolf digital

Dune – Imperium (2020)

Deck-building meets worker-placement in a game of galactic struggle. The iconic universe of Frank Herbert`s Dune inspires a new generation of fans in the upcoming film from Legendary Entertainment, setting the stage for the first new Dune board game in decades.

Dune – Imperium breaks new board game ground with an innovative design from Paul Dennen and the team at Dire Wolf —also behind the award-winning Clank! game series. How will you seize power?

Lead a Great House to glory on the hostile planet Dune, where subtlety can be more important than strength. Purchase cards to increase your options, then strategically commit your resources for maximum gain. Military conflict & political intrigue provide many paths to victory. Harvest spice from the deep desert, and leverage your spoils into economic might. Gain influence with powerful factions who can aid your victory – or guarantee your doom.

The choices are yours: the cards are dealt, and the Imperium awaits. Control the Spice. Control the Universe.

Also check out the Rise of Ix expansion now available for preorder!

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new dune games conquest diplomacy betrayal

Dune (2019)

In this game, you will become the leader of one of six great factions. Each wishes to control the most valuable resource in the universe—melange. The mysterious spice is only found, at great cost, on the planet Arrakis.

As Duke Leto Atreides says, “All fades before melange. A handful of spice will buy a home on Tupile. It cannot be manufactured and it must be mined on Arrakis. It is unique and it has true geriatric properties.”

And without melange, space travel would be impossible. Only by ingesting the addictive drug can the Guild Steersman continue to experience visions of the future. These visions enable them to plot a safe path through hyperspace.

This version of Dune also came with an expansion: Ixians & Tleilaxu House, and a custom game mat.

Gale Force Nine’s game is a reissue of the 1979 Avalon Hill Dune game.

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new dune games parker brothers board game

Dune (1984)

Based on the 1984 movie by David Lynch, this game features photos of the stars on pawns divided into teams of three. Each character has its own strength and guile values.

Players can move around the outer desert spaces to harvest monetary units of spice or can move around the inner castle spaces to build up strength. Use spice to buy random equipment cards, spice harvesters, or extra boosts of guile when under attack. You can also invest in the craps-like commodity markets that pay off on certain dice rolls.

This version is a definite collector’s item now!

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frank herbert herbert's dune avalon hill board game

Dune (1979)

Set thousands of years in the future, Dune the board game is based on the Frank Herbert novels about an arid planet at the heart of the human space empire’s political machinations.

Players each take the role of one of the factions attempting to control the planet Arrakis. Each faction has special powers that overlook certain rules in the game. Each turn, players move about the map attempting to pick up valuable spice while dealing with giant sandworms, deadly storms, and other players’ military forces. The factions form a delicate political balance to prevent any one side from becoming too strong. When a challenge is made in a territory, combat takes the form of hidden bids with additional treachery cards to further the uncertainty.

The game concludes when one faction is able to control a certain number of strongholds on the planet.

To pair with the excitement around the 1984 Dune film, Avalon Hill released a 2nd edition of the Dune game. This edition came with an alternate cover featuring Sting’s character Feyd.

There were also two expansions for the 2nd edition: The Duel, and Spice Harvest.

This game served as the mechanical basis for the later GF9 release, Dune (2019)

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Roleplaying Dune Games

It’s not just the board gamers who benefit from all of these new Dune games! They haven’t forgotten about the roleplayers!

 


dune adventures imperium rpg core rule book rulebook

Dune: Adventures in the Imperium (2021)

Also check out the Collector’s Edition!

The Dune roleplaying game takes you into a far future where fear is the mind killer so be sure to keep your wits about you. The Imperium is a place of deadly duels, feudal politics, and mysterious abilities; noble Houses politic constantly for power, influence, and vengeance in a universe where a blade can change the fortunes of millions. Build your House and carve your place in the universe, or rebuild an ancient lineage and fight for the Imperial throne.

Take your characters on a journey through the storied worlds of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi masterpiece. Inhabit elite agents working for noble Houses where Mentats, Swordmasters, Spies, Bene Gesserit Sisters, Devious Advisors, or even desert Fremen join together to follow your banner. Whomever you choose to be, remember that those that control the spice, control the universe.

Adventures in the Imperium also now has an Arrakis Sourcebook: Sand and Dust available for preorder! There is a Collector’s Edition for that one as well!

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dune chronicles imperium rpg book

Dune: Chronicles of the Imperium (Limited Edition) (2000)

Chronicles of the Imperium is a role-playing game based on Frank Herbert’s legendary series of Dune. Last Unicorn Games developed this game shortly before Wizards of the Coast(WotC) took over the company. While WotC was in the middle of releasing Dungeons & Dragons’ Third Edition—and had just adopted d20 as a house system—they didn’t want to support a game line which used Last Unicorn’s Icon system. WotC mad 3,000 copies of the finished core book; most of them sold at GenCon.

Wizards of the Coast hoped to release a d20 version of this Dune game. However, the license expired and they decided not to take the trouble of renewing it—possibly because of trouble with the Herbert Estate, or the cost of the license which had increased in value due to the commercial success of the miniseries and the pending prequel novels by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.

News that there would not be a d20 Dune contributed to the notoriety and collectability of the Icon version, making it the only Dune RPG in existence (until now!). Ironically, this may be the one tangible product to come out of WotC’s acquisition of Last Unicorn Games.

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What is Dune about?

For those who might not have grown up reading these weird and wonderful novels, you might be looking for a little crumb of context. We’re happy to oblige!

Setting the Stage

As a summary for the setting, (spoiler free) Dune takes place in Earth’s far future. We’ve left our home planet far behind, having expanded across the universe along with help from the advanced Artificial Intelligences we designed. But, if you’ve ever read or seen any sci-fi tales involving humanity becoming dependent on AI, you know what is about to happen next.  Yep, machine revolt.

Humans won the conflict with the AIs, but just barely. In the wake of this devastation, it was decided to henceforth forbid the creation of machines after the likeness of a human mind. No more AI meant that new means were required in order to sustain advanced technology sufficient for a space-born civilization. And so, for centuries, people have been selectively breeding for traits to advance the human race’s mental and physical abilities. Various factions focus on different types of human development, each with their own goals.

The Story Begins

And now the story of Dune begins. Yes, that was just the background.  You’ll find yourself in a world of highly advanced technology, and people who have evolved far beyond humanity’s current abilities, yet it is simultaneously a world of low-tech. Computation, space travel, social manipulation and more are controlled manually, and it lends Dune a strange and almost steam-punk touch.

But none of these advanced future humans can accomplish their feats without the help of a little thing called the Spice Melange. Spice, as it happens, is a mysterious dust like (and drug-like) substance found on only one planet in the known universe: Arrakis. Also known as Dune, it is not a very friendly planet. Scorching hot, predominantly covered by the vast deserts that give it its name, it is home to dangerous sandstorms and even more dangerous giant sandworms. Not a single drop of standing water exists on Dune, and mining the spice from the sands is a dangerous endeavor indeed, for worms will come…

Spice. Everyone wants it, everyone needs it. Its something like a combination of our civilization’s dependence on fossil fuels, but if oil were also a psychoactive mystery drug. What could go wrong? Dune portrays the power struggles for Arrakis’ wealth as a backdrop to a central character, Paul Atreides, who finds a fate and a people on Arrakis that will change the course of human history.

Its a story filled with intrigue, backstabbing, loyalty, love, death, and mystical powers. Its a story of choices, and how they effect not only your life, but the entire universe. If that sounds like a Special Boy Chosen Savior story, it sure seems that way at first. As the story and books progress… well, you’ll have to judge for yourself if Paul is a stereotype savior or not.

The main factions and forces of Dune:

The Noble Houses, including House Atreides, House Harkonnen, and House Corrino. Paul is the son of Duke Leto Atreides, whose ancestral home and seat of power is a watery planet far from Arrakis.  The Padishah Emperor, ruler of the known universe, is of House Corrino and is himself a cousin of Duke Leto Atreides. House Harkonnen, at the Emperor’s behest, has been mining Arrakis for Spice for decades, all the while feuding with House Atreides. We’ll just say that historically, the Harkonnen aren’t exactly the nicest folks.

The Bene Gesserit, a sisterhood of women who possess strange and powerful abilities. including precognition and the ability to control others with a skill called The Voice. They have been selectively breeding humanity for millennia with the goal of creating a super-human they call the Kwisatz Haderach. Paul’s mother, Jessica, is a powerful member of the Bene Gesserit.

The Spacing Guild, who control all means of interstellar space travel. The Guild’s Navigators are the only ones able to plot travel between the stars, and they require tremendous amounts of Spice to accomplish this feat.

The Mentats, a group dedicated to training the human mind to perform high level calculations at speed. They are effectively humanity’s best low-tech option for adaptive computation in the absence of AI.

The Fremen, the native human civilization on Arrakis. Somehow, it seems there are more of them on that desert planet than expected.  How do they survive in the desert filled with aggressive sandworms and no water? You, and Paul, will have to find out…

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