Dune

For years, the most common grail game among gamers, the one game that was the most desired and unattainable, was the infamous Dune (1979) board game from publisher Avalon Hill and designers Bill Eberle, Jack Kitteredge, and Peter Olatka. This classic game involved negotiation, area control, asymmetric player factions in Frank Herbert’s Dune universe, and a hidden bid battle system. Dune had not seen a reprint since 1984, excepting a rare French release in 1993. Fantasy Flight released Rex (2012), capturing most of the elements of the Dune game, except for any actual Dune license or content. Last week all of this changed.

Dune had hit a lull of licensing, but recently things got exciting again. A new movie from Legendary Entertainment is due to hit in 2020, and last August, Gale Force 9 announced they had acquired a multi year licensing deal with the Frank Herbert Estate and Legendary Pictures to create Dune board games. Last week at the GAMA trade show, Gale Force 9 announced they were bringing back the classic game Dune, with later twitter confirmation by the designers.

The interesting part of the GF9 presentation was the slide used to show the game. For years, Dune has had an active print and play audience for people wanting to update the board, cards, and components of their old Dune copies. One of the most popular artists was boardgamegeek user Ilya, and it appears GF9 used this art in their presentation. If this is an indication that the official reprint will use this spectacular art, it would make many people very happy, but at this point it is highly speculative.

Legendary Entertainment and The Frank Herbert Estate have announced they awarding Gale Force Nine a license to begin creating new tabletop games based in the popular DUNE universe. Gale Force Nine have announced that they are ready to release a role-playing game in late 2019 with original table time games to follow.

Jamie Kampel, Vice President of Licensing & Partnerships for Legendary, commented that:

Gale Force Nine has consistently demonstrated a skill and passion for building successful tabletop game series alongside category leading partners and we are thrilled to announce this exciting addition to the Dune licensing program. Legendary looks forward to a fun and meaningful contribution to this revered legacy property.

The agreement allows Gale Force Nine to produce new tabletop games drawing from the entire scope of the Dune franchise. This will include drawing on publications not just from Frank Herbert but also works by Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson. New games will also feature direct tie-ins with the films being produced by Denis Villeneuve for Legendary.

A full slate of games, including role playing games, board games, and miniatures games, are planned for a release just prior to Legendary’s theatrical release of DUNE in 2020. John- Paul Brisigotti, CEO of Gale Force Nine, described this as just being a start for the new material, “This is only the beginning of our big plans in tabletop for this captivating franchise. Dune is a rich and wonderful universe, and we expect to produce an equally expansive and inspired line of games for years to come.”

Gale Force Nine isn’t planning on stewarding this planet of material alone. The license allows Gale Force Nine to partner with other companies to produce new products. The first collaboration is planned to be a tabletop role-playing game from Modiphius, who has published other IP based games including Star Trek AdventuresFallout: Wasteland WarfareConan, Achtung! Cthulhu, and Tales from the Loop.

About Dune

Frank Herbert published in the original Dune science fiction novel in 1965 as two separate serials in Analog magazine. The book was the first installment of the Dune series, and in 2003 was cited as the world’s best-selling science fiction novel.

The book is set in the distant future populated by a feudal interstellar society where noble houses control individual planets. Dune follows the story of Paul Atreides and the noble family that accepts the stewardship of the planet Arrakis. Arrakis is the only source of the melange, a rare oracular spice, and the most valuable substance in the universe. The full story explores everything fro politics to religion and ecology to technology as factions seek control of Arrakis and melange.

Following the popularity of Dune, Herbert ended up writing five sequels. The first novel inspired a 1984 David Lynch film, computer games, board games, songs and more. In 1999 Kevin J Anderson and Frank Herbert’s son Brian Herbert began publishing a series os prequels and sequels to the original book.

Picture of Snakes & Lattes in Canada

Picture of Snakes & Lattes in Canada

There’s something about the board game hobby that solicits compulsive acquisition. Many of us are able to tame those impulses through sheer force of will or financial necessity, but for the rest, learning about, commenting on, obsessing over, and ultimately acquiring board games is more than just a hobby.

Small World caught my eye

Small World caught my eye

Falling Through the Ice

My introduction to board games happened only a few years ago. I was already interested in roleplaying and comic books, and was a regular at The Source Comics & Games in Roseville, MN (highly recommended if you find yourself in the Twin Cities). Despite the floor space that board games occupied in that amazing store, I hardly noticed as I perused comic book back issues and the latest Pathfinder sourcebooks. I remember at one point Small World caught my eye for its whimsical fantasy art, but one look at the price tag and I was right back to the comic book bargain bin. I was sure those big pricey boxes just weren’t for me.

Like so many before me, it took just one great board game experience to open the floodgates. One of my good friends, someone I met though comic books and roleplaying incidentally, invited me over for an evening of board games. We played Dominion and Tales of the Arabian Nights, and I was utterly mesmerized by the clever designs and interesting decisions. It’s funny that neither of these games are really my cup of tea today, but at the time, I was truly spellbound.

Shortly thereafter, I moved away from Minnesota and found myself in a new city: Portland, OR. For some strange, wonderful reason, that evening of deckbuilding and storytelling stayed with me. Wanting to meet fellow geeks like me, I signed up for a local board gaming meet-up group and quickly got deeper and deeper into the hobby. Hours perusing BoardGameGeek lead to me to discover The Dice Tower and it’s wonderful network. I watched countless reviews and top 10 lists, obsessively consumed podcasts and articles, and began filling online retailer shopping carts with a dazzling array of games (Dominion and Tales of the Arabian Nights among them).

Paralyzed by the Cold

I definitely overextended myself in those early days. My collection grew more quickly than my discipline to make informed decisions about what sorts of games I really liked. It was all about theme then, and plastic bits. Some of those early purchases are still in my collection today, but the vast majority never even got a chance at my gaming table.

On top of pining after new games, I had discovered a hard truth: there were some really good games that came out long before I had even a passing interest in the hobby, and that some of those games were *gasp* sold out! Never to be reprinted again. I was devastated; my compulsive need to acquire could not abide something so tempting being so desperately out of reach. Game like Merchant of Venus and Fury of Dracula were the sort of theme-rich experiences I craved, but even on the secondary market, they were just too difficult or costly to attain.

My list of grail games grew long and longer: Endeavor, Age of Discovery III, Fief, Starcraft, War of the Ring: The Collector’s Edition, Kremlin, Dune, Glory to Rome: Black Box edition, and so many others. Occasionally I would get lucky and find one of these enigmatic lost treasures through a geeklist auction or a local seller, but more often than not, I was left to dream and lament my limited funds.

Fury of Dracula is being reprinted by FFG

Fury of Dracula is being reprinted by FFG

Swimming for the Surface

At the height of my frustration, I remember an episode The Dice Tower podcast in which Tom Vasel emphatically encouraged the board game community to be patient when it comes to difficult-to-find games. Whether they were out-of-print, temporarily sold out, awaiting domestic distribution, or missed Kickstarters, there were mountains of other available board games that deserved our attention. He was completely right, of course, and the last several months have really proven him out. For example:

It’s incredible how much previous editions of some of these games commanded on the secondary market, only to be replaced with, in many cases, superior versions. As Tom implied in that wise podcast segment: patience is a virtue.

Breathing the Air

Patience is exactly what helped me overcome my compulsive acquisition. I began making more considerate decisions about the games I order, and awaiting sales so that I could pay less even if that meant trying out the new hotness a few months later. I parted with a lot of the games in my collection that just weren’t good fits for myself or my game group (again, Dominion and Tales of the Arabian Nights among them), and began removing games from the grail list knowing that the cream of that crop would see life again in one form or another.

It’s not that I did something other gamers didn’t. In fact the bell curve of my board gaming addiction is very reminiscent of the stories I hear from my fellow game group collectors. They ramped up quickly only to learn that quality meant more than quantity, and that being part of this hobby isn’t a competition. I still get excited and place the occasional preorder, but I’ve gotten much closer to finding a balance and if you think you compulsive acquisition is out of control, you can too.