Dune: Imperium is set to have two-player and single-player modes supported by a companion app.
In a recent blog post, publisher Dire Wolf revealed how the design team, led by Paul Dennen, was worried that fewer players would result in a loss of essential moments of player interaction that brought tension to the deckbuilder.
“With fewer players, there is a risk that the tension and drama fizzles out,” said Dennen. “The solution that was most appropriate for Dune: Imperium has also been done by other games: use automated opponents.”
Imperium involves two major mechanics; worker placement and conflict. Throughout the game, players will use their cards to move their units to different locations, thereby reducing space for their opponents. With fewer players, this aspect of racing to place workers on certain places before an opponent is somewhat lessened. Conflict involves players engaging in a ‘free-for-all’ system where combatants are still rewarded even if they achieve second place in a battle. Having fewer than three players means that this aspect of the game is also less effective than it otherwise might be.
According to the blog, by introducing an automated opponent, a two-player game of Imperium will still retain the tension of a three or four-player game. In a two-player match of Imperium the automated opponent is House Hagal, which has its own deck and does not collect victory points or resources. House Hagal cannot win, however it does perform actions that limit the player’s options and challenges them - such as taking up space on locations and engaging in combat. There are even certain special abilities that cause House Hagal to be a more formidable opponent, such as being able to increase combat strength during a battle.
The solo game mode in Imperium will have automated opponents that will attempt to win the game. Players will have four different difficulty levels to choose from, with the option to choose two of the game’s rival houses to compete against. These houses can collect and convert resources in victory points, as well as collect victory points by winning conflicts, just as human players do.
The Dire Wolf blog also confirmed that a companion app would be releasing for Dune: Imperium that will help players run the two-player and solo game modes. With the companion app, players will be able to control House Hagal’s deck through their tablet or mobile, with other features also being teased.
Dune: Imperium is a board game partially based on the works of Frank Herbert - the author behind the original series of science-fiction books - and the upcoming film adaptation directed by Denis Villeneuve and starring Timothée Chalomet, Zendaya and Oscar Isaac set to be released sometime next year. In the game, players control powerful houses that are vying for control of the universe’s Spice trade, which is a powerful and rare substance, and the planet of Arrakis.
Dennen is best known for creating deckbuilding game Clank! and co-designing Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated. Both games were co-published by Dire Wolf, which is otherwise recognised for its work on digital board games such as the video game versions of Raiders of the North Sea, Root and the recently released A Game of Thrones: The Board Game.
A release date and retail price for Dune: Imperium is yet to be confirmed.