Assuming a fair and ordered universe, you should be reading this
article just as the limited edition of Dune Eye of the Storm appears in
your local game or hobby store. Although the game is outwardly
simple, you'll quickly notice a depth of strategy unusual in the realm
of TCGs. As you delve deeper into the nuances of Eye of the
Storm, keep some of the following tips in mind. They'll make the
spice flow a little easier...
Don't simply gloss over the creation processit's included for a
reason. Your purchases during house creation will bear directly on
your strategy during the early turns of the game. In a tight game, an
extra unit of spice or a couple of additional solaris taken during
house creation can often make a crucial difference in later turns.
House creation should play off your preferred strategy. Is your
Imperial Deck solari-intensive? If so, taking an extra five solaris at
the outset can give you an important boost during your first few
turns. It can mean getting an additional charter, persona, or both into
play early. By using favor to make up the cost difference on another
persona or two, you'll be able to quickly get some serious firepower
on the table.
If, on the other hand, you've created a "race to the spice" deck,
you'll probably want to spend three of your points to begin the game
with a unit of spice. While this might not seem like much, we've
found that players sometimes overlook this aspect of their victory
Start with a unit of spice, begin buying on the exchange during your
first turn, and try to move quickly through your deck to some of
your spice-related cards. An early Spice Blow or two can move you
well along your path to victory during the first few turns of the game.
If it's so central to the game, why do so many players seem to suffer
temporary spice amnesia as they send legion after legion to decimate
their opponent's homeworld? Don't make this mistake. Remember
the spice. You only need ten units of spice to win the game, and an
intelligent opening strategy can set you ahead of the pack in the race
to accumulate it.
Buy, buy, buy. An intelligent player can use the CHOAM Exchange
to his advantage, and the option to purchase spice should always be
in the forefront of your mind. As you become more familiar with the
game, you'll find that there are a number of ways to accomplish this.
Certain charter and plan cards directly affect the fluctuation of the
spice market, and certain events can alter the market drastically in
the space of a single turn. Always keep an eye on the CHOAM
exchange and remember: buy low, sell high.
When considering spice and the spice market, you should formulate
both an overall accumulation strategy and an opening strategy. A
smart player who takes full advantage of his first few turns can gain
an early lead. Your overall accumulation strategy will often target
one or two possible methods (i.e. purchasing spice, stealing it,
interrupting transfers, playing events, etc.). Depending on your
preferred method of gathering spice, your card choices will follow
Charters that affect the market, such CHOAM Directorship or
Guild Stockpiling, will aid in the purchase of spice and affect your
buying strategy. Plans such as Sand Scrub and Silo Destruction will
allow you to discard or destroy an opponent's spice. Finally, if
you're attempting a straight-up accumulation on Dune itself, Spice
Blow events coupled with Sandcrawlers and Carryalls will let you
transfer spice from your ergs into your hoard more quickly. After all,
there's always the danger of attracting a worm...
As you've probably figured out by now, Dune uses a fluid turn
sequence. The player with the highest favor goes first, followed in
descending order by the other players. There are also numerous
game cards that affect ranking and turn order. Going first one turn
never means you'll automatically go first during the next turn.
So what does this mean for you, the player? Well, if you're smart
you'll use it to your advantage. If you plan on buying spice or playing
a specific event during your next turn, you probably want to go first.
If you want to get specific Imperial cards into play, you may want to
allow your opponent to take the first turn. Assuming he uses most of
his resources to bring his own cards into play, he'll have a tough time
outbidding you when you petition your assembly cards.
Taking the last turn can also affect your performance in conflict. By
going last, you'll probably have the option of initiating a rite against
cards that have already been engaged. Depending on what tactics
you have at your disposal, this can give you a significant advantage.
Finally, since each turn's sequence of play changes according to the
whim of imperial favor, it is possible to take two turns in a row. If
you go last one turn, you will often have the ability to make sure you
go first during the next turn (by purchasing favor or gaining it through
a rite). This strategy can be useful in a number of situations,
especially when bringing multiple cards into play. You can sap your
resources at the close of the previous turn, knowing that you'll
generate them again at the beginning of the next.
However, always remember that no strategy is foolproof. You never
know what your opponent is holding in his hand; a good tactic that
affects ranking or initiative can be the bane of the "two turns"
strategy. Keep an eye on your favor.
Game play in Dune occurs on many levels, and players need to keep
this in mind when formulating their strategy. There are often at least
two ways to approach a particular problem, and you don't need to
cover every base in order to build a winning deck. This section gives
you a few of the basics.
First, concentrate on specific talents. We're talking about offense
here; obviously, you're going to need to spread yourself a bit more
thin as far as defense goes. However, we've found it's usually best to
stress no more than two or three offensive talents. Because talents
dictate the type of rites that are possible (i.e. CHOAM or
Landsraad), try to include talents that let you initiate at least one of
each type of rite. For example, an Atreides deck might stress Battle
and Arbitration while a Harkonnen deck could target Dueling and
Intrigue. And remember to cover your bases on defenseyou're
powerless if your characters can't defend themselves.
Second, don't let the nature of certain talents or rites fool you. While
battle is certainly a more in-your-face approach to a problem, it's
not necessarily a better solution than arbitration. Certain factions and
houses naturally gravitate toward certain talents, and players need to
keep this in mind as they build their decks. Use the natural abilities
of your allies as a foundation.
We were very careful to make sure that all of the rites and talents
were balanced within the card mix. Although certain plans might
seem better than others, chances are they are countered elsewhere
in the game. Remember, the essence of Dune is "plans within plans";
most of the cards and card combos reflect this depth.
Finally, think about your rite rewards when designing your overall
strategy. Does your deck emphasize CHOAM rites or Landsraad
rites? Will you be winning more solaris or favor? A good deck will
probably cover both major types of rite to some extent, but you can
choose to concentrate on one or the other. Strength in either area
will allow you to further tweak your strategy in specific ways.
If your deck is generally stronger in CHOAM rites, you'll need to
keep a closer eye on your favor. Instead of spending it to bring
allied cards into play, hold it in reserve and include some good
petitioning tactics in your deck. If you're hit hard later in the game,
you can always use the solaris generated by your CHOAM rites to
purchase additional favor.
A strong Landsraad deck probably has your favor covered, but you
may need to keep an eye on your treasury. Make sure to include an
extra charter or two, in addition to tactics that target your
opponents' treasury. A few petitioning tactics that reduce calling
costs are also a good idea. And spend your solaris a bit more
conservatively; you never know when a crucial bid might be just
around the corner.
Dune is a game of allegiances and alliances. Your sponsor dictates
not only what other powers you may work with, but also who your
enemies are. Pay close attention to these relationships; they'll affect
both your deck-building strategy and your overall game strategy.
Remember that you can always spend favor to bring allied cards into
play from your Imperial Deck. In a deck that only includes
characters allied with your sponsor, use favor when you can (but
don't spend it allyou can easily lose the game this way) to bring the
more valuable cards into the game. Bluff a charter to get your
opponent to commit solaris, and then spend favor to bring the
character you really wanted into your territory. Spend the solaris
you saved during the bidding process to immediately place important
resources on the character.
While such "alliance only" decks can work well, "dual allegiance"
decks are often even more effective. Since each house or faction
concentrates on specific talents and abilities, including two in your
deck instead of one will broaden your opportunities considerably.
Although you cannot spend favor to bring non-allied cards into the
game, you can enhance their effectiveness by changing their
allegiance once they are in your territory. Resources such as Secret
Allegiance allow you to declare a new allegiance for a card once it is
in play. Once this occurs, allegiance-specific enhancements and
personnel can be attached to the card.
Finally, "ancillary powers" decks can present some unique solutions
to allegiance problems. As long as cards are not considered enemies
of your sponsor, you may include them in your deck. Thus, it is
possible to make crossover Atreides-Fremen decks or
Harkonnen-Corrino decks. The advantages of doing this are
obviousyou'll be able to take advantage of each faction's strengths.
However, you'll also be forced to apportion additional cards and
resources more carefully, especially those that bear specific
allegiance. It's definitely a trade-off, but if you can find the middle
ground it can work very well.
Hopefully, these tips have provided prospective players with some
insight into both the structure of Dune and its fundamental strategies.
In the future, watch for articles that delve further into game strategy
and deck-building. Also, be sure to check out the Landsraad
Assembly, the official Dune players' organization. We've got the
some exciting plans for the coming year; to be a part of it, contact
Five Rings Publishing or refer to the information provided in the
back of the rulebook. See ya around the universe!
Text originated in Scrye Magazine