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New Dune expansion adds cyborg and genetic engineer player races

Walk without rhythm and you won't attract the worm.

The Dune board game is getting two new player races as part of an upcoming expansion, adding the houses Tleilaxu and Ixian. Both feature in the original books by Frank Herbert.

The Tleilaxu (also known as the Bene Tleilax) are an extremely xenophobic society with a penchant for trafficing biological goods. In the books, they have Face Dancer servants - genetically engineered horrors that can imitate anyone’s visage.

According to the Dune board game expansion notes, the Tleilaxu were tolerated due to their genetic engineering superiority, but are generally loathed and also have plans to someday “Dominate all”. They do not feature in the first Dune book, but do play an active role in later instalments of the tetralogy.

Meanwhile, the Ixian effectively work as the cyborg society of the Dune universe. They make the best machines, but also sometimes push anti-technology limits that seek to prevent the creation of conscious robots and thinking machines. Ix technology features in the first 1965 Dune novel, although the society itself does not make an appearance until later in the series.

In the Dune board game, you all play characters from the original novel, such as hero Paul Atreides, or antagonist Baron Harkonnen. Everyone has unique skills and plays by different rules. Alliances are encouraged through bribery, and all players can secretly wager units during certain phases of game-play.

The Dune board game was initially released in 1979 by Avalon Hill. Created by the same group who made Cosmic Encounter, its 1984 second edition was intended to tie in with David Lynch’s Dune film - which was a critical and commercial failure.

Although the Dune board game was popular (one of those rare movie board games that's actually good), the film’s failure killed it. No further reprints happened, and second-hand copies sold online for hundreds of pounds. Despite this, it remained popular with fans, who created their own copies and expansions over the years.

After more than 30 years, Dune got its first reprint in 2019 - and a modern revision - via board game studio Gale Force Nine. Just like the original, the Dune board game features plentiful spice, sand worms and storms.

In addition, a new Dune film coming out in December 2020.

The new Dune board game House expansion is landing on 15th May 2020 and will retail for $20 (£15.26).

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Sara Elsam avatar
Sara Elsam: Sara has been writing since 2017, contributing news, features and more to outlets including Eurogamer, Rock Paper Shotgun, Variety, The Guardian, BBC and Tabletop Gaming magazine. An expert in Dungeons & Dragons, they’re also a fan of all things horror and psychedelia both on and off the table. They are happiest rolling big dice, raising mobs and rocking out with their Bard-Lock.
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