The Spice of Life
A pair of former champs with a bird's
eye view of Dune - 2009's Glenn McMaster and 1997's Matt Fagan.
Lee Proctor and Robert Powers play
a non-Avalon Hill edition of the game. Lee went on to finish
The tournament this year sadly began with a dedication to
our dear friend Joe Abrams, who passed away last fall. He was
a veteran Dune player who played avidly in the tournament
back to AvalonCon days, and his experience and camaraderie will
With no major rule changes this year, the average game duration
decreased again to 6.4 turns in 3.8 hours, or right around 0.6
hours per game turn. This value has held extremely steady since
2001, when records began. Despite this, three of 12 games had
to be adjudicated after the full 5 hours of play, which is three
more than I would like. However, most feedback I have received
seems to indicate that the amount of negotiation happening during
the games is generally acceptable and desirable, even though
sometimes time-consuming. I continue to monitor these metrics,
but I am avoiding introducing artificial constraints on rate
of play while current levels are maintained.
division of wins by faction returned to a more normal distribution
in 2014. After a 4-year absence, House Harkonnen returned to
the top spot with a 54% win rate. (Interestingly, the last five
years have seen five different factions in the top spot -- all
but the poor Fremen, who have never made it to the top.) House
Atreides, the Bene Gesserit, and the Emperor made up the middle
tier with win rates in the 30-40% range. The Guild and the Fremen
tied at the bottom with a 23% win rate for the year. The Fremen
continue to perform slightly better with the "Desert Power"
house rule. The Guild continued a 3-year slide, even though they
are an overall strong mid-tier performer.
Taken as a whole, the established trends continue, with the Bene
Gesserit maintaining the highest win rate, the Harkonnen, Emperor,
Guild, and Atreides remaining mostly at parity in the middle,
and the Fremen distinctly behind the rest. I welcome suggestions
regarding the possible use of a bidding system for faction assignment.
No tables chose to allow 3-player alliances this year, reinforcing
the decision to eliminate them last year. This resulted in 11
of the 12 qualifying games ending with a 2-player alliance win.
One game saw a BG prediction victory, surprisingly timed at a
fairly early Turn 5. There were no Guild or Fremen default victories
this year, which probably contributed to the overall decrease
in game duration, but it's certainly possible that one or more
of the adjudicated games may have ended in stalemate if permitted
to continue to the bitter end. Only one player, Wray Ferrell,
managed a win in all three heats, a strong accomplishment.
With the abolition of 3-player alliances, 2-player alliance wins
become a near certainty for most games, given the coarse granularity
of the victory conditions. For this reason, I expect to simplify
the tournament rules for qualification for the Final next year.
Alliance wins (of any kind) will count as one win, while solo
wins (of any kind) will count as two wins. The big advantage
is this will eliminate the differences in scoring 5- and 6-player
Best Faction plaques were awarded to Michael Powers for best
Atreides; Wray Ferrell, best BG; Jake Dyer, best Emperor; Adam
Sigal, best Fremen; Bill Dyer, best Guild; and Matt Fagan, best
For the Final, Jean-Francois (JF) Gagne (2010 champion) advanced
with the only solo victory, along with Wray Ferrell, the only
3-game winner. Liam Dyer, Ty Hansen, and Lee Procter with two
wins each also advanced. On the second tie-breaker, the sixth
spot was taken by Jake Dyer (Liam's brother, and 2012 champion.)
Unfortunately, for the second year in a row, Ty was unable to
attend the Final, and we turned to the alternate list. First
and second alternates Adam Sigal and Jon Anderson also failed
to appear, so third alternate Bill Dyer took the remaining seat
at the table. This not only put a 3-time former champion in the
game, but also made it three Dyers vying for the 2014 championship.
Of course, the patron saint of Second Chances immediately took
JF got the Atreides, while Jake drew the Bene Gesserit; Liam,
the Emperor; Wray, the Fremen; Bill, the Guild; and Lee, the
Harkonnen. All players agreed that this game would be played
to the bitter end, regardless of duration (but all secretly hoping
it would not turn into another 14-hour marathon as we saw in
2012.) The game started with a minor shake-up, with the BG playing
an initial (worthless) Karama card to blind the Atreides in the
Turn 1 bidding round. The first Nexus appeared in Turn 2, and
Emperor/Harkonnen and BG/Atreides alliances quickly formed. Not
unusually, the Guild and Fremen remained unallied, and the Fremen
weathered battles with the Atreides, Harkonnen, and Emperor in
Turns 1-3. In Turn 4, the Harkonnen and Guild allied, with the
entire board having deduced that they each held a Karama card,
a force that seemed difficult to stop. (All fear the Harkonnen's
special ability to swap treachery cards, combined with the Guild's
special ability to cancel another player's shipment.) The Emperor
and Atreides ally in defense, while it was the BG's turn to battle
the Fremen. Despite their perceived position of strength, the
Harkonnen/Guild alliance is unable to achieve victory in Turns
4-7. All factions jockey for position and play to block as the
threat of the two Karamas continued to weigh heavily on the game.
In Turn 8, the sixth worm appears, not only triggering the "Shield
Wall" house rule, but also heralding a critical Nexus. A
diplomatic snafu ensued, with everyone knowing that the Harkonnen
could use his Karama to force the Guild to play or swap his Karama.
In the end, the Harkonnen and Guild remained allied, and they
were able to secure victory after a critical error in stronghold
defense by the Fremen. As the dust settled, the Guild held three
strongholds with a mere eight tokens, with his Harkonnen ally
in the fourth, giving Bill Dyer his fourth championship! The
Guild may have underperformed during qualifiers this year, but
they had what it takes to win in the end.
Aidan Powers is flanked by a pair
of formr champs - 2012's Jacob Dyer and 2011's Ty Hansen. The
Grinch nemesis will have his day.
GM Brad Johnson is among the most
senior of WBC GMs with 14 years continuous service. These are
his 2014 finalists.