The Spice of Life
A slightly reduced collection of nobles, mostly long-time
players, battled for control of Arrakis this year. However, we
still played nine qualification games (right on par) with a mean
duration of 4.9 game turns in 2.7 hours, our speediest tournament
yet. Feedback on the Shield Wall and spice exchange restriction
house rules has continued to be unanimously positive.
Most of the games were won by two-player alliances, with the
Harkonnens sharing in five victories, continuing their trend
as "winning-est faction". The others followed with
the Emperor getting four, Atreides three, Guild and BG two, and
Fremen only one. The only non-alliance win this year was a Turn
1 Harkonnen solo victory by Jean-Francois Gagne, repeating this
amazing accomplishment for the second year in a row. I'm pretty
sure no one will trade the Harkonnen to him next year!
I again awarded my 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. Matt Fagan received Best Atreides (to add to his Best
Emperor and Best BG from previous years); Phil Barcafer, this
year's Best BG; Bill Dyer, Best Guild; and three plaques were
taken to Canada this year, Best Emperor by Benoit Groulx, and
Best Fremen and Best Harkonnen by Jean-Francois Gagne.
In the Final, Glenn McMaster drew the Atreides; Kevin Sudy,
the BG; Phil Barcafer, the Emperor; Jean-Francois Gagne, the
Fremen; Brian Jones, the Guild; and Bill Dyer, the Harkonnen.
All of these players had previous Final experience and competition
was expected to be fierce.
In the early game, the Fremen moved to control two sietches
and were threatening a very possible early solo win. At that
point, the Atreides acted to eject the Fremen from Habbanya Ridge
Sietch while the Emperor made his appearance on Arrakis by taking
Tuek's Sietch from the Guild. When alliances were formed, the
financial power of the Emperor and Guild squared off against
the military force of the Atreides and Harkonnen. The latter
alliance took the lead in Turn 4, but could not close the deal
on a fourth stronghold. The tide turned in Turn 5 with the Guild
taking Carthag from the Harkonnen. In the end, superior funding,
card knowledge, and military presence enabled the Emperor and
Guild to decisively control Arrakis with full ownership of five
of the six available strongholds.
Last year, Phil Barcafer also won the Final game with his
ally, but missed the wood by the tie-breaker. This year, Phil
prevailed by controlling three strongholds on his own for a clear
1st place finish, his first after many years of excellent Dune
play. Congratulations to Phil and all the other excellent and
For next year, we are continuing to consider possible house
rules to further level the playing field among the different
factions. Based on my records over five years, the faction most
in need of some assistance is the Fremen, and the best idea we
have at this time is to allow them to fight at full strength
without paying spice. This idea seems to be simple, elegant,
fitting, and hopefully effective. The Guild also needs a boost,
but alternatives are still being discussed. Please feel free
to contact Brad Johnson at the address below with comments, ideas,
or playtest assistance.