Avalon Hill, 1979, 2-6 players, ages 12 and up. I'm not a huge fan of the Dune books, although I did quite enjoy the first one when I read it back in high school. This game supposedly captures the essence of the Dune universe, although you can certainly play and enjoy it without being some kind of Dune fanatic (lord knows I'm not). The game was designed by the same Eon folks that brought us Cosmic Encounter and it shows. Each player takes on the role of one of the major factions within the Dune universe, each with its own unique strengths and special abilities (that "break" the general rules of the game). The ultimate goal is to control 3 of the 5 "strongholds" on the planet. This is accomplished by landing and marshalling a limited number of personnel units on the game board (used to hold strategic positions and capture Spice). Treachery cards are bought during auctions and paid for using the currency of the game - Spice, and are used to foil one's enemies. An ever moving sandstorm often throws a monkey wrench into even the best laid plans, as does the occasional appearance of a dreaded sandworm. Combat between factions is handled using an interesting bluffing method where battle plans are drawn up in secret and then simultaneously revealed. There is no dice rolling, so random chance is limited to what cards get drawn each turn. Overall it's a pretty fun and interesting game, although it does appear to work best with at least 4, and preferably 6, players. We played a three player game where one person got weak right away, while a different player became overly strong right away (me playing the Fremen). The game was pretty much over at that point and we called it. The rules are pretty long, but are written such that you can get started playing while reading them (always a plus). For the most part they were clear, although we did run into a few ambiguities that we had to resolve with in-house rulings (boo!). The game pieces are just OK - not exceedingly cheap, but not particularly impressive either.

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