The Spice Must Flow!
Now we were a complete group we moved onto the main events. First up I wanted to play Dune: The Dice Game. This is a print and play game that I had made a couple of years ago but never been able to play much. I know Ian and Simon are fans of Dune so this seemed like a good opportunity. I myself love Dune – it’s the book that got me reading – so I couldn’t wait to play this.
I gave Martin a brief explanation of the Dune universe. The game is set on Arrakis with the Houses battling over control of the planet and, therefore, the spice. The game is played by rolling a set of dice and freezing at least one. Then re-rolling any unfrozen dice, freezing at least one and re-rolling, etc.
Most dice show the flag of a house. If it’s your house you can recruit troops. If it’s an opponents you can ally with them for a turn. Other dice show a quantity of spice (to be used for shipping troops to the planet), a number (to show which region you can move to) or items (which can be used for protecting your troops or killing off opponent’s troops).
Victory goes to whoever controls three strategic regions at the end of their turn. If they are allied then it takes four to win if any of them are shared with their ally.
There’s a lot of combat in this. This is resolved by players hiding their troops and then putting a number in their fist. Players open their fist at the same time. Whoever has the most wins. There are leaders that help. All troops used in combat are lost, so some interesting decisions must be made.
It took about a round for people to ‘get’ what was going on. Simon, playing the native Fremen soon set about gaining control of a couple of strategic regions. His giant cubes (they count double in combat) looked very intimidating so no-one messed with him.
Ian, playing the Harkonnen got settled into the non-strategic area of region 2 on the map. However, the sandstorm kept revisiting him decimating his troops. I then took the opportunity to hop in with my Atreides troops and finish the job but couldn’t then use my position to get control of somewhere strategic.
Martin, playing the Tleilax, seemed to struggle to get going at all. Their facedancing ability, whereby he could replace an opponent’s cube with his own before battle, proved useful. The sandstorm ground him down eventually and he never recovered.
Simon won comfortably by the fifth round. By that point I was the only other player with much of a presence on the board but I’d been floundering and had achieved nothing.
We found the game made it quite hard to get any troops on the board. In hindsight, I believe this was because we weren’t negotiating as much as we could have done. Allies can recruit troops and ship them on the active player’s turn and I think we missed this as a way of getting more troops out there. I would love to play this again soon and try and force more negotiation.
Fast Food Competition
Now came the main dish of the day – Food Chain Magnate (for a description of play, see my first impressions post). Ian had never played this before so a quick rules rundown was required. With that out of the way we got our restaurants on the map and started play.
I was really impressed with how the game played out – and really impressed with Ian’s ability to pick it up quickly! I tried a different tack this game of being the first person to throw away food and therefore being the guy with the freezer. Everybody else seemed to go straight in with advertising! This led to a game where three of the four players had eternal advertising which felt like a very strange state of affairs.
Martin and Ian soon got themselves satisfying customers (oo-er!) and selling either beer to a house (Martin) or burgers (Ian). The name of this game is disruption, though. Very soon, Simon had got Ian’s target house wanting pizza and I had Martin’s target wanting lemonade. This slowed those two down and enabled Simon and me to catch up.
Things ticked along nicely. I started to compete on price whilst trying to offer healthy lemonade to the town. Martin kept the beer flowing and was only really competing with me. Simon and Ian were caught in a massive tussle in one corner of the board.
Ian broke through the $100 mark first giving his CEO the power of a CFO – a 50% bonus on all money made! Ian started to look like he was breaking away. In addition to this, he was laying out more houses on the board and so developing more business. Was this going to be Ian’s game?
Unnoticed by everyone, though, Martin had trained up a Guru. These are powerful as they let you train the same person twice in one round. He soon had a Marketing Director which allow the player to place a radio tower. Martin dropped this right into the centre of all those houses in Ian and Simon’s corner of the board. Suddenly the town just wanted beer!
Well, beer and lemonade. On the same round I had got my marketing team trained up enough to send up a plane. I wanted to keep the lemonade flowing! With the radio and aeroplane advertising happening first each round, the town soon lost interest in burgers and pizza. I truly hoped this would block Ian and Simon out of the game leaving me to compete with Martin on price.
Alas, Martin was able to react too well. I soon ran out of stock leaving plenty of properties still wanted their thirsts quenched. And Martin (thanks to a couple of truck drivers) had loads of drink for them! He was receiving big bonuses on his deliveries as well and soon the bank broke a second time signalling the end of the game.
The final scores were Simon on $225, me on $259, Ian with $390 (well done!) and Martin on a massive $698! For my part I know that I struggled as I didn’t get any of the bonuses on sales for being the first to advertise a product. I hope to play this again soon so that I can try to do better.
There ended the night. Everyone left with the brains feeling a bit fuzzy but feeling happy and satisfied. I look forward to doing this again!