Dune: The Boardgame Online

I’ve been hunting around online for all of the graphic elements and documentation I need to build my own version of the 1979 Avalon Hill classic boardgame Dune, since I gave my copy away and all of the copies I find on Ebay are going for more money than I can afford. In the course of my hunt I came across the Dune Emulator, one of those virtual boardgames that lets you play against other people online, so I just wanted to point it out to other Qt3 ludophiles who might be interested.

Dune is a classic from the golden age of American boardgame design, authored by the same folks who were behind Cosmic Encounter. For its time (and especially for an AH game), it was a model marriage of elegant design, high-stakes player interaction and rich theme. Along with CE, it had a big impact on budding European game designers, who borrowed or expanded upon many of the core mechanics and have now reintroduced them to us via the current boardgame renaissance. Games like Citadels, Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation, and A Game of Thrones all owe something to Dune.

It’s been out of print in English since 1979, and is a coveted collector’s item for boardgame geeks. The best part is that it’s not just a nostalgia trip, either; with a full group, the game is still a blast to play.

The English translation in the recent French version is pretty solid, if you’re still looking to pick up the boardgame.

The French board kinda sucks, apparently, according to folks on the 'Geek. It’s smaller and flimsier than the American one (though it does have the decided advantage of being in print). I prefer the art on the AH edition, too.

Awesome game, though. I wish I still had my copy. A showcase for ideas that ended up developing into Cosmic Encounter.

Dune rules.

I was intrigued by this, but lemme ask you: how do they handle diplomacy? I hear it is vital to proper enjoyment of Dune. Also, does it have the special rules wherein alliances grant powers to the members?

Does this mean there will be another Seattle boardgame party to unveil the Lutes version of Dune?

I would say that diplomacy the linchpin at the heart of Dune, and is a huge part of what makes the game so fun. I haven’t actually tried this emulator yet, so I don’t know how diplomacy works with it. There is a rule that says only players in an Alliance can discuss plans secretly, so they may have some sort of private Alliance chat. If you used the emulator for pbem, you could of course discuss secret plans via regular email.

According to the feature list, the special Alliance powers are indeed implemented.

You know it. I’m itchin’ to play it again, and hopefully I’ll get the thing done by the end of August. Should I put you on the invite list, Mr. Akiyama?

yes please!

I’ll be practicing my best Baron Harkonnen impersonation in the mean time.

Wow this sounds very cool! I’ve always enjoyed the David Lynch movie but I had never read the novels until recently. Ohhh boy what a fantastic universe Frank Herbert created. I just started reading the last in the series, Chapterhouse: Dune.

All I want for Christmas is an Honored Matre.

So how do these boardgames play out? My only boardgame experience is Monopoly and Chutes and Ladders =O

Frankly, I think the boardgame is better than the book and the movie (I admit, I dislike the movie).

The game plays out a little like one of the modern multiplayer Euro type games, except it’s loaded with theme, and is asymetrical. It’s also more complicated than most Euro fare, but not bad for experienced gamers. It’s not much like Monopoly. If you want to learn more about this one, I advise checking out its entry at Boardgamegeek.

You might want to start boardgaming with something a little lighter than Dune, if Monopoly is the extent of your experience…

Dune isn’t a particularly complicated game, though. I think it’s fine for a newbie boardgamer, provided you can find a copy.

Monopoly, on the other hand, is the “Deer Hunter” of the board gaming world. Unequivocally popular, and unequivocally awful.

You know, when played according to the rules (meaning following the auctioning process when somebody decides not to buy a property), Monopoly is a pretty good game. It’s just that everybody played it when they were five years old and developed some ridiculous set of house rules that invariably manage to stretch the game to an interminable length.

Risk really blows, though. Way too long and way too boring. In university, we devised a ruleset for Risk that streamlined it to about a forty-five minute game, which became our default beer & pretzels pastime for almost a whole term. Then we discovered Cosmic Encounter, and never went back.

I love Monopoly. I play by the rules, except for two things:

  1. Anyone can make any deal, or build, between any two turns.

  2. It’s up to you to collect your rent when someone lands on your space. If the next person rolls before you ask for it, you lose it.

To make it shorter, we just deal out more properties at the beginning.

I disagree. I mean, the auctions make the game a little more interesting, but only a little. The game is still almost entirely random, though. The only decisions a player ever makes is whether or not to buy property (and you always want to buy property if you have the money, so it isn’t much of a decision), what to build, and how to get out of jail. The “what to build” (and when) decision is the only interesting one, but it’s not enough to carry the game, at least for me. Everything else that happens in the game is completely random, a result of either die rolls or card draws.

Clue crushes Monopoly like a grape.

I totally agree. Playing Monoply is a boring slog. I like a little randomness in my boardgames, but if I want an experience built around rolling dice, I’ll go to a casino.

It’s no World in Flames, but the version I have still has 20 pages of small type rules, with numbered sections and lettered subsections.

If you’re looking to take a step up from Monopoly, check out one of the more popular “German” boardgames such as Settlers or Puerto Rico.

Wow, it sounds like the French really complexified it. The original AH version had eight pages of rules, and only the first three were about how to play the basic game. The rest were optional and advanced rules, a section on gameplay strategies, and a synopsis of the Dune novels.

Here’s a cool thing, though, for English-speaking folks that want to try the game. BGG has a PDF of the original (out of print) AH game rules, as well as scans of all the game components that you can print out and mount. I’m not sure of the legality of the thing (does Hasbro own the rights to the original game?), though BGG doesn’t typically host files that aren’t kosher with game publishers. In any event, if you want to check it out, it’s here.

Hmmm, you’re probably right. The page count I mentioned included optional rules, and also translation of play aids (but IIRC these contain player specific rules).