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Frank Herbert's classic science fiction novel DUNE will live for many generations as a masterpiece of creative imagination. In this game you can bring to life the forbidding alien planet and the swirling intrigues of all the book's major characters.
DUNE--the very name conjures up desolation. Desert sandscapes cover most of the planet surface, broken only by great rock ridges. Giant worms a quarter mile long live beneath the sand and attack any who linger in it. Human life exists in a few scattered places where precious water is available, but even those settlements are buffeted by terrifying coriolis storms.
Yet the planet is crucial to the destiny of a galactic empire. Because only on DUNE can spice be harvested. Spice is the key to interstellar travel. Only by ingesting the addicitve drug can the Guild Steersman continue to experience visions of the future, enabling them to plot a safe path through hyperspace. Spice is also a geriatric medicine which prolongs life. Only by assuring a stable supply of it throughout the galaxy can any Emperor avoid civil revolt. With spice, in short, one can buy whatever he wants.
Powerful forces struggle for control of DUNE. Imperial troops, aristocratic families, Guildsmen, a secret sisterhood, and the nomadic native Fremen all vie for power on the planet. All are subject to the rigid economics of their joint merchant combine, CHOAM; resources are expensive, shipping is costly, excellence has a price. And that price must be paid in the universal currency, the measure of all value: spice.
All need spice. Some will harvest it directly when it blows in an isolated area of sand, risking the onslaught of worm and storm alike. But others will take it violently in battle, or quietly in taxes and fees.
Those controlling large settlements will have access to ornithopters and cover great distances quickly. Others will have to pick their way slowly across sand and rock. And all anxiously await the decision-making nexus signaled by the sudden appearance of the great sand worm Shai-Hulud.
Massive battles will occur, but often can be decided by a single brilliant leader or an act of low treachery. But death on DUNE need never be tragic. The dead are routinely rendered up for their body's water--so that life on the arid planet may continue. And even one surviving cell of an individual may be cultured by the Tleilaxu technicians until the original person is regrown.
You will be one of these characters:
- The youthful Paul Atreides (Muad'dib)
Rightful heir to the planet, gifted with valiant lieutenants and a strange partial awareness of the future, but beset by more powerful and treacherous opponents.
- The decadent Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
Master of treachery and cruel deeds.
- His majesty the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV
Keen and efficient, yet easily lulled into complacency by his own trappings of power.
- Guild Steersman Edric (in league with smuggler bands)
Monopolist of transport, yet addicted to ever increasing spice flows.
- Fremen ecologist Liet-Kynes
Commanding fierce hordes of natives, adept at life and travel on the planet, and dedicated to preventing any outside control while bringing about DUNE's own natural regeneration.
- Gaius Helen Mohiam, Reverend Mother of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood
Ancient and inscrutable, carefully trained in psychological control and a genius at achieving her ends through the efforts of others.
Optional Houses not included in the game:
- Speaker of the Lansraad House
With the Great Houses of the Lansraad, the Imperial governing body, behind you the benefits of numbers and the advantages of the legal system make others wary of your power.
- Scytale of the Bene Tleilax
As a force beyond the Imperium's normal boundaries you delve into a good deal, from recreating the dead from as little as a single cell, your mystical presence is pervasive.
- Inquisitor of Ix
You come from a system whose strength is derived from manufacturing things, from the exotic to the mundane. You find mobility and technology easy to come by and hold the keys to the new frontiers.
In DUNE you can explore many of the possible interactions which might have taken place among these fascinating characters with their own drives, needs and special advantages. DUNE has been divided into a Basic Game, and Advanced Game, and Optional Rules. Learn and play the Basic Game several times before venturing into the Advanced Game. The Optional Rules add extra flavor to the game.
NOTE: This is a French language edition of DUNE. The components are all in French. However, the Rule Book and the play aids it contains, make the game very easy to understand. Most of the components in the game are fairly language-neutral, or are in the language of Frank Herbert's DUNE, so no difficult translation is necessary.
This edition of DUNE was produced under license from Avalon Hill and is the same game as the original Avalon Hill edition that was produced in 10+ years ago. However, this edition includes both of the hard-to-find expansions Spice Harvest and The Duel. Also included in the translation are three new Houses that were published as variant rules in Avalon Hill's GENERAL and HEROES magazines.
Awards won by DUNE:
Selected: Golden Ace Award Cannes Internataional Games Festival, France 1993
Selected: Games 100 "Best Games" 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985 Games Magazine
Voted: (Top 2) Science Fiction Board Games 1980 Space Gamer Magazine
Players: 2 - 6
Time: 120 - 180 minutes
Ages: 14 and up
Weight: 1,560 grams
Language Requirements: An English translation of the rules is provided. Game components contain some foreign text, possibly requiring occasional reference to rules translation.
Average Rating: 4.2 in 10 reviews
The game has a cult following, not as big as that of Diplomacy but more fanatical. Previous reviews generally hit the nail on the head regarding DUNE being for the gamer who likes negotiations and is mature enough to separate the hard feelings that can arise at the gaming table from the real world.
My own opinion regarding this is that because the majority of gamers feel uncomfortable putting themselves in a role that requires distributive bargaining, that the wave of kinder, gentler German games serve as pablum for the masses. E.g. Settlers of Catan being a refitting of Eon's 'Borderlands' but with all of the nastiness removed for the rated PG audience. It shouldn't be a surprise that DUNE and BORDERLANDS were designed by the Eon design team. However, there have been some German games that encourage the same type of nastiness, such as Europa, Intrigue and Rette Sich Wer Kann, so my criticism may be somewhat unfair. Then again, life on DUNE is unfair ;-)
One reviewer commented that the mechanics are not streamlined compared to the newer German games. I would like to respond that this is just a preference. The DUNE sequence of play is spelled out on a player aid like it is in most other games, and several of the phases do not take up much time.
It definitely is a game that sets some people off, similar to the way people refuse to play Diplomacy. One criticism is that in a DUNE battle, a player can win on the strength of only a leader (dialing zero troop strength), and this is difficult for many wargamers to accept. It isn't easy to pull this off in the game, as it requires a lot of intelligence gathering (knowing which defense and attack cards to play, as well as keeping your eye on the storm position so as to time the attack correctly).
Where does DUNE truly shine? In addition to the diplomatic aspects, it is the customized powers and role playing. The book's spirit comes alive in a well-played game. The tension draws players into the game and gets them to sit on the edge of their seats. They interact with each other, rather than the game system. The players can also picture themselves in the role of Paul, the Baron, Liet Kynes, Edric, the Bene Gesserit power brokers and Shaddam IV. In most of today's games, each person plays an identical position. DUNE manages to create an environment of six very different and complex powers where each one at times can be considered 'too powerful'. None of the other games based upon the Dune books seem to pull this off as well as 'Frank Herbert's DUNE'.
The game also plays well even with just the basic rules. So it is customizable for the crowd you are playing with. Newer gamers can get their feet wet with the basic game, and as players get more comfortable with a distributive bargaining game, more complexity can be added and the rules regarding alliances can be tweaked to suit the group's taste. I think it is necessary to do this for newer players because they have an awful lot to get used to all at once. The advanced and optional rules also shine when the players have similar skill levels.
I would like to add my voice to those giving adulation to this game. One thing that I would add, is that, along the lines of the Avalon Hill classics Diplomacy and Machiavelli, Dune has a wonderful system of interactive intriguing and scheming. Joint plotting is highly encouraged in the game, and various elegant and simple rules are included to foster such. To illustrate: alliances play an important part in the game; pacts can be made in secret during the 'nexus' (after a worm appears), or must be made openly at other times - but both are binding; various unique powers of each house become available to their allies; and so on.
Further, the combat system in the game does everything to promote diplomacy, as there is essentially no chance involved in the outcome of battles.
In short, for those for whom the Dune theme appeals, as well as an elegant level of diplomacy, this game succeeds excellently on both counts.
nb: I have no idea why it has not been rereleased. Anyone?
Using a rule structure and game mechanic similar to Avalon Hill's own Cosmic Encounter, the designers at Avalon Hill created the best version of a Dune board game ever made to this day (much better than the Parker Brothers game that followed a few years later). Based on the book, rather than the film, Frank Herbert's Dune sees the players each taking control of a faction which boasts its own special skill or power. Utilizing these powers to your advantage is the key to winning the game, and some of the races even have extra victory conditions allowing them to win in more than one way. The players get to attack each other, fight for land areas, mine spice whilst evading the destructive storms and sand worms, and they can even use treachery cards to kill off each other's leaders. It has always amazed my gaming group just how easily the tactical advantages can swing around in favour of each race as the game progresses. Game length is highly variable, as I have seen the game end on the 15th (last) turn, but also as early as the second. Highly recommended for Dune fans, but any science fiction buff should get a kick out of this one.
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