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Dune: Imperium Plays the Hits - Review

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08 Jan 2021 15:03 #317841 by WadeMonnig
Obviously, I wasn't at the Dune: Imperium pitch meeting but I suspect it went like this:
*Drops Scythe on the Table*
Make this. Combine and streamline some tried and true mechanics into a smooth running game. Give them interesting choices but give them mechanics they can slip into easily. Don't make a gateway game but don't scare anyone off. Slight asymmetry, make the Dune IP fit, we are in for the long game, we want this to sell now and five years from now. We will make an upgrade kit for the KS crowd that is equal to the price of the base game to appease those looking for chrome. We want a damn good game but anything that is going to put this into specialty territory like truly different faction actions/goals in the original game or Root, save that for the expansions. Build an in-game timer, we don't want this running over a couple of hours. And (to steal a line from Josh Look about Terraforming Mars) make them feel smart when they win but make the games close.
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08 Jan 2021 15:41 #317846 by Matt Thrower
Great review.

I'm keen to play this as part of the mop-up I do at the end of every year, trying to make sure I've got sight of the most significant releases of the past 12 months.

You've not put me off. This kind of incremental improvement on existing designs is where 99% of new board games are right now. That's not surprising given the pace of releases and the inherent limitations of the medium. Most just make life difficult for everyone, being trivially better or worse than some existing title.

So when one does break the surface thanks to all the parts coming together, I still feel it's something worth taking note of. It's like sometimes you go into a craft shop and you see something you've seen a million times before: a table, say, or a hat. But this one is so well made, it makes you stop and take notice.

Apropos of nothing, Dune: Imperium is almost impossible to get in the UK right now thanks to Brexit. Direwolf can't be bothered sorting the customs out and even a number of pre-orders have been stalled.

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08 Jan 2021 16:52 #317851 by Msample

WadeMonnig wrote: Obviously, I wasn't at the Dune: Imperium pitch meeting but I suspect it went like this:
*Drops Scythe on the Table*
Make this. Combine and streamline some tried and true mechanics into a smooth running game. Give them interesting choices but give them mechanics they can slip into easily. Don't make a gateway game but don't scare anyone off. Slight asymmetry, make the Dune IP fit, we are in for the long game, we want this to sell now and five years from now. We will make an upgrade kit for the KS crowd that is equal to the price of the base game to appease those looking for chrome. We want a damn good game but anything that is going to put this into specialty territory like truly different faction actions/goals in the original game or Root, save that for the expansions. Build an in-game timer, we don't want this running over a couple of hours. And (to steal a line from Josh Look about Terraforming Mars) make them feel smart when they win but make the games close.


If they used SCYTHE at a pitch meeting I would have walked out.
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08 Jan 2021 17:30 - 08 Jan 2021 17:32 #317854 by Josh Look

Msample wrote:

WadeMonnig wrote: Obviously, I wasn't at the Dune: Imperium pitch meeting but I suspect it went like this:
*Drops Scythe on the Table*
Make this. Combine and streamline some tried and true mechanics into a smooth running game. Give them interesting choices but give them mechanics they can slip into easily. Don't make a gateway game but don't scare anyone off. Slight asymmetry, make the Dune IP fit, we are in for the long game, we want this to sell now and five years from now. We will make an upgrade kit for the KS crowd that is equal to the price of the base game to appease those looking for chrome. We want a damn good game but anything that is going to put this into specialty territory like truly different faction actions/goals in the original game or Root, save that for the expansions. Build an in-game timer, we don't want this running over a couple of hours. And (to steal a line from Josh Look about Terraforming Mars) make them feel smart when they win but make the games close.


If they used SCYTHE at a pitch meeting I would have walked out.


If it was anything like Scythe, I wouldn't like it as much as I do. Though Scythe is like the other outcome, no new ideas AND it's not fun.

Also, this was very good read, Michael, and your point about who else the IP has inspired is very good. My disagreement with the importance of new ideas in games.
Last edit: 08 Jan 2021 17:32 by Josh Look.
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08 Jan 2021 17:31 #317855 by WadeMonnig

Msample wrote: If they used SCYTHE at a pitch meeting I would have walked out.

A game that has sold consistently for the last four years, resided on both the hotness and in the top 20 on BGG for those years, that people still post about to this day and doesn't box out players who are even slightly above casual and literally created a brand for Stonemaier games? Love, hate or feel indifferent about the game itself, anyone who is looking for a success in board game arena can't argue with it's sucess.
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08 Jan 2021 17:31 #317856 by Shellhead
Almost zero games are pretty enough to be Scythe. If Scythe looked like Dune: Imperium, nobody would be talking about Scythe anymore.
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08 Jan 2021 17:40 - 08 Jan 2021 17:41 #317858 by WadeMonnig

Josh Look wrote: If it was anything like Scythe, I wouldn't like it as much as I do.


I'm not saying it is anything like Scythe in anything but the idea to combine some good/tried and true game mechanics into something that allows it to be a success on a higher level than a typical hotness release. Apparently, I am awful at explaining this.
P.S. Really digging Dune: Imperium from what I have played so far.
Last edit: 08 Jan 2021 17:41 by WadeMonnig.
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08 Jan 2021 17:49 #317859 by Jexik
I'm not a big WP fan at all, and I still haven't read Dune, so the odds of me picking this up are pretty low.

If we still had regular game meetups, the odds of me playing it would probably be high though. Not sure when that'll be.

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08 Jan 2021 19:47 #317871 by Jackwraith

WadeMonnig wrote: A game that has sold consistently for the last four years, resided on both the hotness and in the top 20 on BGG for those years, that people still post about to this day and doesn't box out players who are even slightly above casual and literally created a brand for Stonemaier games? Love, hate or feel indifferent about the game itself, anyone who is looking for a success in board game arena can't argue with it's sucess.


Exactly. This is what I was suggesting their design goals may have been. They may have hit higher than intended, but they may have been trying to keep it in a space that hit for a lot of people by not trying to break the box (in a manner of speaking.)
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08 Jan 2021 20:42 #317873 by Josh Look

WadeMonnig wrote:

Josh Look wrote: If it was anything like Scythe, I wouldn't like it as much as I do.


I'm not saying it is anything like Scythe in anything but the idea to combine some good/tried and true game mechanics into something that allows it to be a success on a higher level than a typical hotness release. Apparently, I am awful at explaining this.
P.S. Really digging Dune: Imperium from what I have played so far.


No sweat, I got you, fam.
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09 Jan 2021 10:28 #317882 by hotseatgames

WadeMonnig wrote: Obviously, I wasn't at the Dune: Imperium pitch meeting but I suspect it went like this:
*Drops Scythe on the Table*
Make this. Combine and streamline some tried and true mechanics into a smooth running game. Give them interesting choices but give them mechanics they can slip into easily. Don't make a gateway game but don't scare anyone off. Slight asymmetry, make the Dune IP fit, we are in for the long game, we want this to sell now and five years from now. We will make an upgrade kit for the KS crowd that is equal to the price of the base game to appease those looking for chrome. We want a damn good game but anything that is going to put this into specialty territory like truly different faction actions/goals in the original game or Root, save that for the expansions. Build an in-game timer, we don't want this running over a couple of hours. And (to steal a line from Josh Look about Terraforming Mars) make them feel smart when they win but make the games close.


This has about 10x more detail than any pitch meeting I’ve ever heard :D
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24 Feb 2021 11:47 #319601 by Msample
I was prepared not to like this game due to the usually dull mechanics of worker placement and deck builders. However after the first game I felt pulled back into playing it again and have come away fairly impressed. Sure it will never be as iconic as the original DUNE but the fact that it can be played at lower player counts and in a shorter time frame is a huge plus. Thematically it goes both ways - while it seems weird to play as Paul Atreides while a different player has your father, the abilities on the cards reflect their proper book counterpart. In my first came I quickly got an extra pawn per turn as the Swordaster was bought, but I neglected Diplomacy and came in last. The second game I went all in on Diplomacy and picked my conflict engagements more carefully; going into the 8th turn I had my entire garrison on the board as well as a deck ruthlessly pruned to about 11 cards, many of which gave me combat boosts . This allowed me to win by 2 points, mainly by virtue of maxing out two diplomatic tracks, allying on a third and scoring 1VP on the fourth.
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24 Feb 2021 12:13 #319608 by Gary Sax
I had this completely at 0 off my radar but the more I'm hearing the more interesting it is. Thanks reviewers and commenters!

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24 Feb 2021 12:16 #319611 by Josh Look
We just recorded an episode of ICFTT about Dune Imperium. I may be biased, but I think it's a really, really good episode.
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01 Apr 2021 23:15 #321599 by Jackwraith
Just FYI, Al and Josh: Finally got around to listening to your episode about this game. (Sorry. I've kind of been off my podcasts for a few weeks for some reason.) I enjoyed it. I think you highlighted a lot of the game's strong points. Thinking back on my one play so far, I guess I'm a little put off by the game's seeming lack of character. I've mentioned my problems with the board (way too boxy and mechanical) and I feel like that kind of extends to the presentation, overall. The gameplay is still great, but it feels like it lacks the "character' of Dune that, for example, you almost always get with Avalon Hill's game because of the decent amount of special abilities that are always present, rather than just played with the signet ring card, and the amount of negotiation and general talking that is essential to that game. That talkativeness is absent from Imperium and it feels like the politicking nature of the story is absent with it.

That said, I still really enjoyed the game and want to try it with more people to get a clearer image of what I think they were trying to convey.
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