Dune: Imperium is finally here and, aside from the movie’s trailer, it is one of our best looks yet at the upcoming Dune film! Dire Wolf Digital and designer Paul Dennen, who together brought us the popular deck-building dungeon-crawler Clank!, have delivered the first new Dune game in over forty years and it is more addicting than the spice melange.
This is a beautiful game with art directly from the upcoming film and a minimalist, efficient board layout. Not only will Dune fans enjoy their new adventures and battles in the Imperium, but they can get their first looks at some characters and designs unreleased until now. Piter De Vries makes his first appearance and looks sinister as ever. Leaders from House Thorvold and House Richese make their way from the expanded Dune novels to vie for victory among the Landsraad. And as Dune fans explore their card decks further, they will be treated to some of their favorite scenes from the novels.
Dune: Imperium incorporates plenty of mechanics that avid board gamers will be familiar with, but its unique combination of deck-building and worker placement makes this game stand out. Players take turns sending their House agents to various locations in the Imperium to either gain political favor or scarce resources. Resources like Solari, spice, and water. But it’s not just a simple race to get to the best spots on the board. Players begin with a simple card deck, allowing and restricting movement to certain locations.
As the game progresses, each player can expand their personal deck to concentrate their agents and hone their strategies. Main characters from Dune’s story appear on either a leader card, granting a player specific abilities for their House, or an Imperium card, with tailored character abilities and traits that can be activated once added to a player’s deck.
But any Dune game wouldn’t be a Dune game without some devastating battles and Dune: Imperium doesn’t disappoint. Each turn, players can battle for valuable prizes by recruiting and deploying troops to combat. Battle turns into a brutal all-or-nothing race to amass the most troops. Even then, an opponent can still add surprise reinforcements from their card decks. Dune: Imperium provides many routes to victory, but just as many to lose.
Now if quarantine makes it difficult to collect four players together, or if Dune lore is a little too dense for your gaming friends, Dire Wolf Digital has included solo and two-player modes with the addition of the House Hagal deck. This deck provides automated actions for either one or two House leaders so that players can always have a minimum 3-player game. Dire Wolf Digital has also created a companion app for your PC, smartphone, or tablet that can draw cards and explain actions.
I’ve collected and played nearly every tabletop Dune game and Dune: Imperium is a refreshing addition. Go check out Paul Dennen’s Designer Diaries from Dire Wolf Digital where he discusses his approach to creating a faster and more streamlined Dune game. Unlike previous Dune games that can take an entire afternoon to explain the rules, Dune: Imperium is easy to teach and can provide 1-2 hours of play for up to four players. Simple on its surface, Dune: Imperium is a different game each time I’ve played, with an intricate system of checks and balances and a multitude of strategies.
Starting October 29th, Dune: Imperium is available for pre-order from Dire Wolf Digital and costs $50. Just a few days ago, Dire Wolf Digital announced a new Lady Jessica promotional card for pre-orders through your local game store. Also available soon is a $55 upgrade kit that includes over 60 plastic miniatures to enhance each faction and provides an even closer look at the designs for Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, coming in 2021. If you get your hands on a copy of Dune: Imperium this holiday season, let us know what you think and enjoy playing!