The classic 1979 board game based on Frank Herbert’s epic sci-fi novel Dune is getting a new re-release later this year featuring simplified rules, faster gameplay and a reduced player count, with publisher Gale Force Nine insisting it is not a second edition or reskinned movie tie-in.
Originally created by Peter Olotka, Jack Kitteredge and Bill Eberle - best known as the designers behind the hugely influential sci-fi game Cosmic Encounter - Dune was first released in 1979, before seeing a second edition to tie in with David Lynch’s ill-fated big-screen adaptation of Herbert’s book in the mid-eighties.
Following the game’s 1984 re-release and two expansions, Dune fell out of print for 35 years in the English language as the result of licensing disputes and complications, before finally seeing a reprint in 2019 under publisher Gale Force Nine. The reprint was mechanically all but identical to the original game, with efforts to streamline the game’s rules and the artwork refreshed by Ilya Baranovsky.
The Dune board game sees players take on the role of the various houses warring over the planet Arrakis. Each player faction has a unique ability, from the Fremen’s control of the storm circling the map board (and the sandworm that follows it) to the Bene Gesserit’s ability to pull a surprise victory by predicting the winner at the start of the game. The houses can form alliances to pool their forces and seek a shared victory, often subsequently breaking them to ensure they come out on top. Battles are resolved using hidden combat wheels revealed simultaneously by players, with each side deciding how many troops they wish to contribute.
The new edition of Dune: A Game of Conquest & Diplomacy is described as sharing the “DNA, flavour, tension and themes” of the original game. Gale Force Nine stressed that the re-release will not be a full second edition of the board game nor a simple reskin based on Denis Villeneuve’s approaching film reboot starring Timothée Chalamet, which is due for release this October.
Details about the upcoming board game were leaked via an information sheet and images provided to retailers, which revealed that the new Dune will feature new artwork drawn from Villeneuve’s movie, as well as streamlined rules and the addition of a market deck from which players can buy “game advantages”.
The game will add a new two-player variant and cap the maximum player count at four, rather than the original game’s six players. The available player factions will be House Atreides, House Harkonnen, the Fremen and the Imperium.
“This new game builds on 40 years of development, refinement and evolution from the original classic Dune game,” Gale Force Nine said in the retail sheet.
As a result of the simplified rules and reduced player count, the revised Dune will be a shorter game than the original, with play time estimated to be between 30 minutes and an hour, compared to its predecessor’s often hours-long clashes.
Dune: A Game of Conquest & Diplomacy will be released this September, costing £40/$50.