The Spice of Life
There were a total of eight preliminary games played by 29
different players which saw four two-player alliance wins, two
three-player alliance wins, one Guild default win, and one BG
prediction win. On average, these games finished in 9.67 turns
and lasted 5.5 hours.
The BG and the Harkonnen seemed to be the most-favored factions
during the preliminaries, sharing in four wins apiece. Behind
them were the Atreides and Emperor with three wins each, and
the Guild with two wins (including the one default). Sadly, the
Fremen were completely winless during the preliminary heats.
In a new attraction this year, the GM awarded special Best
Faction plaques to the players who gave the best single-game
performance with each faction during the preliminary heats, measured
in terms of strongholds controlled per turn:
Atreides - Tony Burke in a five-turn win with the Emperor.
Bene Gesserit - Phil Barcafer in a nine-turn win with the Atreides.
Emperor - Henry Rice III in a ten-turn loss to the Atreides/Harkonnen
where he nonetheless held Carthag and Habbanya Ridge Sietch for
a good portion of the game.
Fremen - Paul Saunders in the same game with Henry, where he
held Tabr for the whole game until the last turn.
Guild - Rob Barnes, holding Tuek's and Tabr most of the game,
only to lose to the BG prediction in the end. Ironically, Rob
just narrowly edged out his sister, Malinda, who was also playing
the Guild at the next table.
Harkonnen - Steve Koehler in game where he never lost Carthag
and held Habbanya Ridge most of the game before the Guild got
his default win. This score and the 2nd-highest Harkonnen score
were the two highest in the tournament.
All of the factions scored similarly on average, except the
Fremen's average turned out to be half of the other factions,
probably further reflecting the fact that they were losing every
There was no need to resort to tie-breakers to select the
six top winners to advance to the final:
Atreides - Bill Dyer
Bene Gesserit - Chip Collins
Emperor - Phil Barcafer
Fremen - Tony Burke
Guild - Brian Jones
Harkonnen - Christopher Bodkin
1st alternate - Glenn McMaster
2nd alternate - Henry Rice III
Bill was the only returning finalist from last year, but all
of the finalists were very experienced players, even though a
couple were first timers at the tournament.
The first two turns of the final saw the factions collecting
spice and establishing position. The first Nexus came up on turn
3, and play immediately polarized into three 2-faction alliances
which would hold until mid-game: Atreides-Harkonnen, Emperor-BG,
and Fremen-Guild. Turn 5 saw the first serious attempt to win
by the Emperor-BG alliance, beaten only at the expense of a huge
Guild army. Turns 6 and 7 were spent re-grouping, and then in
turn 8, the BG and Fremen allied, leaving the Guild and Emperor
to ally and try for the win. It might have worked but the Harkonnen
pulled the old Karama hand snatch that gutted the Guild's ability
to fight. To add insult to injury, the Harkonnen destroyed the
bulk of the Guild's forces in Tuek's Sietch when the Guild Rep
was called traitor.
Then it was the Atreides-Harkonnen alliance's turn to try
in turn 9. They came up just one token short in a battle vs.
the BG in Sietch Tabr. Spice was tight for everyone, but the
Harkonnen really felt it here, not having the two necessary to
revive one extra token. After this, the Atreides and Harkonnen
had several outside chances to win, looking for key traitors
to be played by the Guild, Fremen, and Emperor, but they just
wouldn't come up.
In turn 11, the Fremen-BG had a chance to win, but accidentally
voiced the Harkonnen to play the Lazgun, resulting in total destruction
of Habbanya Ridge Sietch.
turn 13, everyone knew it would be a default victory, either
Fremen or Guild. Turn 14 saw all factions jockeying for position,
and then a final Nexus in turn 15 forced the Guild to ally with
the BG and the Harkonnen with the Fremen. The Harkonnen and BG
were fighting for control of Habbanya Ridge Sietch and Tuek's
Sietch to determine which default victory conditions would be
met. With the help of a second Karama hand snatch against the
Guild, the Harkonnen won both battles and successfully eradicated
his own tokens, leaving himself and the Fremen victorious after
eight hours and 15 turns. The irony of the Fremen winning in
the final after never winning during the qualifying rounds was
sweet, and the Fremen default win was a subtle change of pace
from the Guild default wins of the past three years.
Christopher Bodkin (right) shares in the
win. Dune is often stalemated and won by a coalition of players
as opposed to a single winner.