Wednesday, May 15, 1996

Dune Game (5/25/1996)

Players: Allan (Fremen), Joshua (Harkonnen), Mike B. (Emporer), Mike C. (Bene Gesserit), Scott (Atreides)

The Spice Harvest add-on provided some suspense to the opening of Dune and was quite enjoyable to boot. We started out with five Fremen in Carthag, ten Harkonnen troops in Tuek's Sietch, Bene Gesserit in control of Sietch Tabr and Habbanya Ridge Sietch, The Emporer in charge of Arrakeen, and Atreides off-planet with 37 spice in hand. Atreides immediately attacked The Emperor's forces in Arrakeen with 14 men and turned down the Fremen offer to identify a "non-traitor" leader -- so when Lady Jessica turned out to be in The Emperor's employ, Atreides regretted it mightily (as did his tanked troops).

The next turn brought no true action. The Fremen picked up some spice while the other players sat tight. However, during the following round, Bene Gesserit played the Thumper card to call forth a worm, which ate that Fremen spice and caused a nexus, during which the Bene Gesserit and Fremen allied (read that sentence again if you don't get the irony). In fact, this allowed The Fremen troops to reinforce Carthag by riding the worm, which, along with the two two Bene Gesserit strongholds, would have provided victory for the new alliance. In response, The Emperor and Harkonnen allied, leaving Atreides to pick up what scraps it could find. With these two superpowers going at it, the fate of Dune seemed sure to be decided quickly and not quietly -- and it was.

After lengthy negotiations with the Emperor/Harkonnen alliance, Atreides attacked Arrakeen with one troop (for 10 spice -- and no guarantee of throwing the fight), and with that city secure, The Emperor went after Sietch Tabr and Harkonnen tried his luck in Habbanya. Bene Gesserit fortified Sietch Tabr, and The Fremen moved four troops into Tuek's Sietch, leaving Carthag as the only non- contested city on the planet. Atreides continued their theme of total destruction with an Arrakeen Shield/Lasegun, and Sietch Tabr went to The Emperor, which portended a speedy win; however, Harkonnen lost Habbanya to a traitor while holding Tuek's with ease.

Atreides relieved the overburdened tanks with a Ghola (took a total of seven men out) and immediately claimed the newly-vacant Arrakeen with ten troops. With most of the other players licking their wounds, Harkonnen sent four of his best warriors into Habbanya to face down eight Bene Gesserit. It shouldn't have worked, but did. The B. G. miscalculated and allowed the Emperor/Harkonnen alliance to prevail before 11:00 when we should've played well past midnight. But as Harkonnen said, "Half the battle is showing up, and that's what I did." And we congratulate him on that accomplishment.

A word from our winners, Joshua & Mike B.

1. "It is a good thing to be a rich Emperor in Arrakeen when beginning a game."
2. "It is also a good thing to be a card-tight, rich Harkonnen with Tuek's Sietch."
3. "It is a bad thing to form an alliance early in the game that forces the strongest other players to ally before something's had a chance to weaken them."
4. "It is an even worse thing to bank on the survival of your two-previously-used-card Bene Gesserit leader against an opposing eight-card Harkonnen leader when you have more than twice the opposing troop strength."
5. "Summation: Don't allow a soak-off to become a hosing." - Joshua

"With both Harkonen and the Emporer entering the game already rich, their alliance was virtually unstoppable. In an all out final battle scenario like the one we entered on the third round, it is vital to attack wherever it is feasible, especially when you are loaded with treachery cards, like we were." - Mike B.

Scott's words to live by:
- When played well (read: "when played by Mike or Allan"), the Bene Gesserit are a formidable force, especially in an alliance. Maybe we should use them rather than the Guild when we have five players
- Two spice for the identity of a loyal leader seems like a bargain now
- Knowing that the Bene Gesserit are alergic to Dune (in the spring) might change my strategy in the future

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