When Frank Herbert published his first Dune novel back in 1965, he took the first step towards building a vast and immersive Sci-fi universe that would later be the main inspiration of many adaptations and entries. Perhaps most of the people nowadays recognize this franchise with the latest cinematic take staring Oscar Isaac, Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya. However, Dune has been growing for ages now and its proven to be a brilliant setting for some of the most memorable board game experiences.
In today’s article I will take a deeper look into the Dune franchise and discuss its best branches, the reason behind their insane popularity as well as a little summary for each game to help you understand the general premise of the universe.
These are games that take place within the world of Herbert’s Dune and manage to provide a fun, challenging gaming session while remaining loyal to their origins. Fans of sci-fi franchises strategic games, politics and deserts are going to appreciate not only the endless world of Dune but also each one of the unique board games contributing to it.
What You Should Know
So what is the franchise all about? Firstly, you should know that the dune refers to the desert planet of Arrakis. This planet contains the only source of the most valuable natural resource of the Duniverse, Spice Melange. Whoever, or more accurately whichever house, that controls the biggest Spice harvesting business holds the most power and influence and so, the noble houses of planet Arrakis are always looking for ways to expand their affairs. And all of this happens tens of thousands of years into the future.
Extracting Spice however, is no easy task. The desert is filled with dangers and unexpected threats such as the desert wandering natives, harsh conditions and the planet’s wildlife, namely the famous gigantic sand worms that crawl under the ground, that protect their home’s precious assets.
The population of the Duniverse have issued a ban on all “thinking machines” such as computers and artificial intelligence and instead have focused their knowledge and skills on making advancements to their lifestyle rather than having the computers do things for them. You’ll notice this fact in their clothing, transportation and futuristic warfare. It’s a little twist on the rules of the science fiction genre that makes all the difference in how this society works.
Dune, Across the Media
The tales of the Dune have been retold in many different shapes and forms throughout the years. Frank Herbert’s franchise has so far been adapted into the silver screen as well as television, video game and then of course our very own board game titles. Here are just a few of the works that Dune has been adapted into.
3. Dune (1984), Directed by David Lynch
This movie was famous movie director, David Lynch’s vision of the Duniverse and it was released in 1984. It features an all-star cast including Kyle MacLachlan, Sting (Yes, THE Sting), Max von Sydow, and Sir Patrick Stewart. It is known for its intricate sets and costumes, which were designed to reflect the complex and exotic world of Herbert’s Dune.
Despite its impressive visuals and all-star cast, the movie was a bit of a flop when it was first released. Some fans of the book were disappointed with the small alterations of the story, while most of the others were just confused by the giant sandworms and the fact that the bad guys all wear very-out-of-style red leather.
Nevertheless, over the years, the movie has gained a cult following for itself and is now considered a classic of the science fiction genre. It has influenced many other adaptations and remains a beloved part of David Lynch’s remarkable career of filmography.
2. Dune (2021), Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Dune (2021) is the latest adaptation of Frank Herbert’s iconic science fiction novel. Directed by Denis Villeneuve and starring Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, and Oscar Isaac, this movie follows the story of our familiar protagonist Paul Atreides, the heir to the Atreides throne, as he struggles to fit in his new home and is influenced by all the politics revolving around the precious substance of Spice.
Seemingly doomed, our hero find himself betrayed and stranded in the middle of the desert. He soon realizes that his best chance at surviving the desert is to cooperate with the mysterious native tribes who know their way around the desert and more importantly, the sandworms.
With a top-notch cast, stunning visuals, and a director who knows how to handle big-budget sci-fi (hello, Blade Runner 2049), Dune very quickly took over the box office with its release and its already made a place in our hearts. The sequel has already been confirmed and is set out to hit the theaters later this year.
1. Dune II, Developed by Westwood Studios
Dune II is a real-time strategy video game released in 1992 by Westwood Studios and is considered to be a pioneer in the RTS genre. The game features three factions – House Atreides, House Harkonnen, and House Ordos – who battle for control of the desert planet Arrakis and its valuable Spice resources.
The game’s mechanics include base building, resource management, and tactical combat. Players must gather spice, build structures, all while they also train units to defend their base and attack other factions. Each of the houses has unique units and abilities, which adds another layer of depth and strategy to the gameplay.
Dune II was a commercial and critical success and was followed by many other RTS games that took inspiration from its gameplay and mechanics. Its legacy can still be found today in RTS games like Starcraft and Age of Empires. This game will appeal to all of the fans of the franchise for its immersive experience of harvesting Spice and battling it out on planet Arrakis.
The Most Popular Dune Board Games
The Dune gods have blessed board gamers with their sandstorms more than once. The original board game of Dune was record-breakingly successful, so designers did not miss out. All the Dune board games are good enough to make creating this list very difficult but here are our picks for the best board games set in the universe of Frank Herbert’s Dune.
3. Dune: Imperium
Dune Imperium is a board game created by Dire Wolf Digital and published in 2020. It combines deck-building and worker placement mechanics and is set in the world of Frank Herbert’s Dune novels, featuring iconic characters and factions from the series.
In Dune Imperium, players assume the roles of leaders from one of the five factions competing to gain control of Arrakis. To achieve this, they must gather resources, recruit followers, and construct certain buildings to earn points and advance their empire. The game also incorporates combat mechanics, which enable players to engage in battles to seize territories and materials. Players must use their strategic skills to overcome over their opponents and dominate the planet and its wealth.
This title has received many positive reviews for its atmosphere, engaging gameplay, thematic elements, and strategic depth. It is a must-try for lovers of the franchise and all board game enthusiasts alike. With its unique mixture of different mechanics and its immersive gameplay, Dune Imperium is one of the best Dune board games out there.
2. Dune: A Game of Conquest and Diplomacy
Dune: Conquest and Diplomacy is a board game that lets players experience the political intrigue and battles of the Dune universe. Published by Gale Force Nine in 2022, the game can be played by 2 to 4 players. Players take on the task of leading one of the noble houses of planet Arrakis to wealth and influence.
You and your friends must use your diplomatic skills to form alliances and negotiate with each other while building up your armies and resources. The game features a unique deck-building system that allows players to customize their decks to their own play style and gain the upper hand accordingly.
Dune: Conquest and Diplomacy has received astounding reviews from geeks and it’s a great choice for fans of the Dune series and board gamers who enjoy strategic games with a strong touch of space deserts in the theme. If you’re looking for a board game that combines politics and strategy in a futuristic space odyssey, Dune: Conquest and Diplomacy is just the game for you.
1. Dune: The Board Game (2nd Edition)
Dune: The Board Game is a strategy game published by Gale Force Nine in 2019 that retells Frank Herbert’s epic tale of negotiation, action and betrayal in the best tabletop form possible. This game takes a lot longer to finish compared to the other titles and it can be played by 2-6 players, every one of whom could be the future ruler of planet Arrakis and its rich soil.
In Dune, players must use their wits to gain control of the valuable spice Melange and conquer as much land as they can. They are free to form alliances with other players, engage in battles with opponents, and use their designated abilities and special skills to win this race of critical thinking and real-time strategy. Dune features asymmetrical gameplay, meaning that each faction has its own strengths and weaknesses and its own valid reason to take over the kingdom.
The 2nd edition of Dune is undoubtedly where you will uncover the most amount of fun competing for power in the Duniverse as well as the most pleasantly complex mechanics that should appeal to board game veterans. All the components of the game are of the highest quality, assuring the best tabletop experience possible on planet Arrakis. The only possible downside of this game is the long playtime which will definitely be worth it once you learn your way around the desert.
Dune is one of those franchises that has rarely missed a shot in trying to engage its ever-growing population of fans and audience. This universe has been of great popularity since its introduction and it has only gotten better since. The world of entertainment and specially the Sci-Fi genre are forever in Frank Herbert’s debt, for it was his skillful writing that brought Dune to life and paved the way for many other similar titles to arise.
Which one is your favorite interpretation of Dune? Share your opinion with us down in the comments!