Back in the day, I was a huge fan of Avalon Hill's Dune. I must have played it a hundred times in the late 80s to mid 90s, enough to even have played the lousy Spice Harvest, The Duel, Landsraad, and Tleilaxu variants several times (you have to be pretty desperate for some variety to do that). Whenever someone designs some kind of stupid multi-way free-for-all euroish wargame these days (Antike, Space Empires, Sid Meier's Civilization, RuneWars, Conan, etc., etc.) I always feel like screaming “Hey! Dune did this right in 1979! Why are you still doing it wrong?” A terrific combat system, interesting deal-making diplomacy without backstabbing or force-of-personality persuasion, well-paced, with players able to come back after being out of it, and of course a colorfully drawn and faithful interpretation of Herbert's book are amongst the game's great strengths.
Firstly is the expected Fantasy Flight horrifically bad graphic design. Compare the Dune map to the Rex map. Can you even easily see where the 5 victory strongholds are on the Rex map? Game-centric information is lost in a sea of visual clutter. The point-to-point map makes visualization of where the Sol Fleet is going next and which territories are at risk of bombardment hard to see. Again, compare to how clearly the same information (the Storm) is presented on the Dune map. As many will surely point out, it's fine when you get used to it, but graphical missteps pervade the design and introduce a non-trivial risk of game-breaking errors. Case in point: the last game I played, the Jol-Nar player played the whole game thinking she had the Emperor top leader for her traitor because the card background colors are not suitability distinct and not a strong element of the visual design, the reference sheet is unhelpful (the Emperor and Letnev both have 6s for their top leader and the sheet doesn't give names), and leader names have been completely genericized. It's not a mistake you make twice, but lousy presentation design basically ruined the game for her. This mistake would have been completely impossible to make in Dune. While this is a particularly egregious example, there are plenty of ways in which the presentation makes it more likely errors will occur.
|Chani vs. General|