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DUNE
Variant for the board game invented by Future Pastimes and published by Avalon Hill, 1979
Introduction
This expansion introduces two new player sides: the Bene Tleilaxu and Ix. We learned about both these peoples in Frank Herbert's God Emperor of Dune which takes place some 3,000 years after the action in the game. Fortunately, they do not seem to have changed significantly over this period. While neither made a major appearance in the first book, the Bene Tleilaxu played a significant role in Dune Messiah while the Ixians certainly could have done so also.

Because both sides are basically "leeches," i.e. depend on the actions of other players for income, it is recommended that if either or both of these sides are used, there are at least six players and preferably more.

Another adaptation that must be made stems from the Bene Tleilaxu's ability to coexist. The Bene Tleilaxu declare where they are coexisting before the Bene Gesserit do. If there are two active sides in a sector due to the Bene Tleilaxu no longer coexisting in the sector, any coexisting Bene Gesserit in the area must continue to coexist.


Bene Tleilaxu: Background
The Bene Tleilaxu fail to put in an appearance in Dune, the first book of Herbert's tetralogy, however, readers of Dune Messiah and God Emperor of Dune will remember the active role they played in those books.

Perhaps the Bene Tleilaxu are best known for their three primary exports. Among these are artificial eyes such as those provided to the victims of the stone-burner near the end of Dune Messiah. Second, the Bene Tleilaxu were the source of twisted mentats, human-computers like Piter de Vries who directed their tremendous skill to evil purposes. Finally, the axolotl tanks on Tleilax were the destination of corpses who were to see new life as gholas. The most famous of these was Duncan Idaho who actually regained the memories of his previous life. It is characteristic of Tleilaxan insidiousness that they programmed Idaho to turn traitor and assassinate his master.

Only two Tleilaxans from the time-period of the game are described in the books. The more important of these was Scytale who held a position roughly equivalent to foreign minister. Like many of the Bene Tleilaxu, he was a Face Dancer. These individuals were capable of shifting their features to completely duplicate those of another person. Thus, Face Dancers made excellent spies since they could go anywhere or climb aboard any ship. Scytale supplemented this important ability with mastery in diplomacy and strategy. His verbal fencing with Paul Muad'Dib is one of the more intriguing sections of Dune Messiah.

However, not all Tleilaxans were Face Dancers. One who lacked this talent was Bijaz, the dwarf. Paul recognized that Bijaz was himself an oracle when he realized that the dwarf had not appeared in his divination of the future. In Dune Messiah, Bijaz was the catalyst that motivated the Duncan Idaho ghola to attempt to assassinate Paul.

In Dune Messiah, the Bene Tleilaxu form a secret alliance with the Guild and Bene Gesserit. In this attempt to dethrone the Atreides dynasty, the Bene Tleilaxu were the main executors, while Guild steersmen provided secrecy for the plan. The Bene Gesserit, following their usual practice, took no direct action.


Bene Tleilaxu: Rules
  1. Character Identity: Duke of Tleilaxu.
  2. Leaders: Scytale - 5; Twisted Mentat - 4; Ambassador - 3; Bijaz - 2; Face Dancer - 1
  3. Initial Spice Allotment : 10.
  4. Initial Troop Deployment: 1 token in Polar Sink, 19 tokens in off-planet Reserve.
  5. Revival Rate: 3 free per turn.
  6. Special Character Abilities:
    1. You need wait only 1 full turn to revive one of your dead leaders. Your other leaders need not be dead for you to do this.
    2. When other players pay spice to revive dead tokens and leaders, this spice goes to you, not to the spice bank.
    3. When you choose leaders for traitors initially, you choose 5 leaders and pick 2 of them for your traitors.
  7. Additional Character Advantages:
    1. You are never required to answer truthfully regarding the leader you are using in battle. This applies both to Truth Trance and Atreides prescience.
    2. In a battle in which your opponent has fewer tokens than you and you are victorious, you and your opponent must secretly dial a whole number on the Battle Wheels. These numbers are simultaneously revealed. If the difference between them is less than or equal to 2, your opponent may either remove from the tanks at no charge his leader killed in the battle OR move up to two of the tokens killed in the battle to the Polar Sink.
    3. Your 3 starred tokens may coexist under the Bene Gesserit rules. They may ship in with other players in a manner similar to spiritual advisors, although they are actually Face Dancers who have disguised themselves to look like the local population.
  8. Regular Karama Powers:
    7. Prevents Bene Tleilaxu from reviving any leader once or forces Bene Tleilaxu to answer truthfully about his combat leader once.
  9. Special Karama Powers:
    7. You may revive for your own use any other player's leader currently in the axolotl tanks and thereafter use him as your own leader. This may be done irrespective of how many of the original owner's leaders have been lost (may only be used once per game).
  10. Alliance: Your allies can revive leaders as you do.

Bene Tleilaxu: Player Notes
The Bene Tleilaxu are the perfect spies. The Face Dancers (starred tokens) have the ability to assume the appearance and manners of anyone. Their deceptiveness and ability to control the game without direct use of force is near that of the Bene Gesserit.

As the proprietors of the axolotl tanks, the Bene Tleilaxu are similar to the Guild. Their primary source of income stems largely from death in battle. For both players, the Emperor is the best customer while the Fremen rarely pay anything.

However, unlike the Guild who can frequently bide his time in the early stages of the game, the Bene Tleilaxu must take direct action to be a viable player. For while the Guild will receive spice to transport initial forces to the planet, the Bene Tleilaxu must wait until significant forces reach the tanks for like funds to pour in.

The Tleilaxu's greatest weakness is lack of income. In the early game his income is virtually nil. The 10 starting spice will not last long. Later, after there have been battles and token losses, especially among the Guild and Emperor who are more likely to buy tokens, spice problems lessen.

To alleviate this difficulty, the Bene Tleilaxu can do several things. First, of course, picking up a spice blow can be helpful. Second, use of the starred tokens as advisors will get forces down to the planet free of charge. Since revival requires token loss, the Tleilaxu player should attempt to foment conflicts, possibly (but not exclusively) by initiating them himself. Because of his substantial revival abilities, the Bene Tleilaxu player is able to withstand possible combat losses better than other players while a victory will have the advantage of sending enemy tokens (and leaders) to the tanks.

Two other advantages can help see the Bene Tleilaxu through the red. First, there are the starred tokens that ship down without cost. Second, and especially in the middle and late game, he is often sought as an ally, most frequently by those seeking to replace lost leaders.

The Bene Tleilaxu Karama power which allows him to revive anyone's leader for his own use can be quite useful in improving the Tleilaxan battle outcomes. This is particularly true if it can be determined, either from the initial draw or from comparing notes with an ally, that the leader in question is not a traitor.

Losing battles has little effect on the Tleilaxu player. His revival rate of 3 free per turn will quickly replace token losses. Leaders lost in battle can be replaced next turn provided he has the money. These abilities make the Tleilaxu player an excellent assassin. He can afford to use 1 token (usually starred), along with his 1 leader and a weapon card to try to assassinate an enemy leader. The cost to the Tleilaxu player is low: nothing to replace and ship a starred token and a large cost to the losing leader. The major cost would be the loss of the treachery card for losing the battle.

Other players must be careful because the Tleilaxu player can just as easily play a 5 leader and try to win the battle. Even the Atreides never knows which will be tried because the Tleilaxu player is never required to answer truthfully about his leader (unless a Karama card is used).

Since the Bene Tleilaxu are primarily a late-game side, they should be effective planners in the early stages. Remember that your chief customers will be those with low revival rates and significant treasuries: the Guild and the Emperor. Thus, your choice of traitors may well belong to those players (if possible) since you will attempt to cause the death of their tokens. Similarly, since you have only 3 starred tokens, you should carefully weigh when and where to ship them in. Because of the limited quantity, they should not be used as a matter of course in every situation as is often the case with the Bene Gesserit.

In the early game, the Bene Tleilaxu should use their initial funds to obtain at least one more treachery card. Remaining funds should be used for transport to collect spice or attack or both. The objective is to gain spice either directly or by causing the death of tokens who must subsequently be revived. Of course, treachery cards like Family Atomics and Weather Control can be used for a similar effect.

The Bene Tleilaxu can be valuable in alliance for any of the the players because of your ability to revive dead leaders before all 5 leaders have been lost. From the Tleilaxan point of view, valuable allies are likely to be the enemies of the Emperor or the Guild. Frequently this will mean the Fremen. Alternatively, the Harkonnens or Atreides or Bene Gesserit also make good partners, the former because he makes possibilities for traitors tremendous and the latter two because of their combat talents. Of course, there are no hard-and-fast rules; paired with one of the "moneyed" powers, you need not worry about your spice supply while your ally can depend on always having his best leader.

Overall, this is a good character to choose for those who would like a cross between the treachery of the Harkonnen and the manipulative abilities of the Bene Gesserit.


Ix: Background
Although briefly mentioned in the first three Dune books, Ix and it inhabitants are not described in depth until God Emperor of Dune. Fortunately they do not seem to have changed much and thus we can easily surmise what they must have been in the time of Paul Muad'dib.

In God Emperor of Dune, we discover that Ix (the ninth planet) is the leading technology producer for all the worlds. Their inventions include dictatels, the Ixian Globe, Leto II's royal cart whose anti-gravity devices worked by thought control, lasguns, thought transmitters, weather control satellites, navigation machines, brain probes and many other devices. In fact, it is hinted that the Ixians defied the provisions of the Butlerian Jihad and created artificially intelligent machines.

In God Emperor of Dune, both Ambassador Malky and his "niece" Hwi Noree are Ixian. In addition we meet, briefly, an Inquisitor of Ix, one of the men who directs the destiny of that planet. The picture revealed is that of very subtle enemies of the Emperor (except for Noree) who supply him with the technology he demands, yet plot his destruction. In fact, it can be argued that of all the major powers in that time, only Ix was an opponent worthy of Leto's fear and, given the outcome, that fear would have been justified.


Ix: Rules
  1. Character Identity: Earl of Ix.
  2. Leaders: Ambassador - 5; Bronso - 3; Georad - 2; Tagir Mohandis - 2; Implementor - 2.
  3. Initial Spice Allotment : 7.
  4. Initial Troop Deployment: 1 token in Polar Sink, 19 tokens in off-planet Reserve.
  5. Revival Rate: 1 free per turn.
  6. Special Character Abilities:
    1. When any player except Ix plays a weapon, defense or Weather Control card, Ix receives 1 spice from the spice bank. When Ix plays such a card, no spice is received.
    2. You receive 2 treachery cards initially, instead of the usual one.
    3. You may hold up to 5 treachery cards at any time.
  7. Additional Character Advantages:
    1. When you play the Weather Control card, you have two options. You may use it as described on the Player Aid Pad or you may place (not move) the storm into any territory you desire.
    2. In combat, your computational abilities give you an added advantage. You may request of your opponent the number he has dialed on the Battle Wheel; your opponent must answer truthfully. If this power is used in conjunction with the Voice and/or prescience, it must follow the uses of those powers.
    3. Your armies are always supplied for combat. You need not expend spice to do so.
  8. Regular Karama Powers:
    8. Prevents Ix from placing Storm freely or forces Ix to pay spice to supply his units in combat.
  9. Special Karama Powers:
    8. Allows Ix to play a Karama card as a Projectile, Shield, Poison, Snooper or Lasgun card and not declare which until both Battle Wheels have been revealed, once.
  10. Alliance: Your allies may use your Computational Abilities in battle.

Ix: Player Notes
The technology peddlers of Dune start with only 7 spice. After purchase of a treachery card, probably not much will remain. Nor does Ix have the ability to ship free as the Bene Gesserit or Bene Tleilaxu do. Thus, spice supply becomes a primary consideration.

One of Ix's chief sources of income is the play of certain treachery cards in battle. Thus, it is in Ix's interest to encourage combat as much as possible. Helpful advice to other players during the Movement Phase can prove quite profitable.

A second, more obvious technique is to collect on spice blows. True, this often requires combat, but here you has several advantages. First, you will probably have more treachery cards than your opponent (Harkonnen excepted) since initially you have two and can hold five. Second, you will know the number he dialed, often a good indicator of your opponent's entire battle plan. Third, you are always supplied for combat and thus needn't expend additional spice. And fourth, you stand to gain spice from the death of leaders as well as the use of cards that provide you with spice.

Your Karama card power, which allows you to decide what weapon or defense it represents after the battle, is perhaps the most effective of all the Karama powers. It can completely turn the battle around and often is a game-winning ploy.

You will often be sought as an ally, even if you are spice-poor or have many tokens in the tanks. Most frequently, Ix's allies are powers that lack combat abilities, but have sizeable spice supplies, e.g. the Emperor and the Guild. This is because Ix, like the Atreides and Bene Gesserit, have an effective combat ability that translates to your allies.

However, it is still a good idea to avoid squandering spice in useless activities, for it will quickly be depleted. Because your armies need no spice for supply, you will discover a dangerous tendency to dial higher than you need to in combat. This leads to the second potential problem: having too many tokens in the tanks. With Ix's slow revival rate and possible spice shortage, this is a very difficult predicament.


Logistics
When playing with more than six players, there will be an insufficient number of player dots. Simply allow some players to use the "slits" where the two parts of the board join as dots.

Although the leader illustrations are the same size as the existing ones, it will be difficult to achieve the same thickness, which causes problems for the initial traitor draw. To address this, print out this leader table, cut out the names to form leader cards and draw from these instead.

For player shields, the easiest thing to do is trace around one of the existing shields onto thin cardboard, cut it out and thereby construct a new shield.

Counters in this game carry no information and so may be easily borrowed from some other game, e.g. Risk. Or, use coins. Three different types are needed, one for each of the new sides and a third kind for the Bene Tleilaxu starred tokens.


Sources
The newest books are the prequels by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson:
  1. Dune: House Atreides (also audio)
  2. Dune: House Harkonnen (also paperback, audio)
  3. Dune: House Corrino (also paperback, audio)
They are based on the notes of Frank Herbert.

By the way, if you don't already know, the game Dune is still being published in a French edition by Eurogames/Descartes.

The books by science fiction author Frank Herbert:

  1. Dune
  2. Dune Messiah
  3. Children of Dune
  4. God Emperor of Dune
  5. Heretics of Dune
  6. Chapterhouse: Dune
  7. Eye
See also The Dune Encyclopedia by Willis McNelly; The Notebooks of Frank Herbert's Dune by Frank Herbert, Brian Herbert and Raquel Jaramillo; and The Making of Dune (the movie) by Ed Naha.

Music to play the game by:

Frank Herbert's Dune (2000 mini-series): DVD · VHS

Dune (1984 Film): DVD · DVD (with production notes) · VHS · VHS widescreen


Still Not Happy?
At least seven other similar variants have been designed:
  1. Bene Tleilaxu and Ix: A variant by Richard Vickery adds these same two powers as well as several new Treachery cards.

  2. Bene Tleilaxu: A Bene Tleilaxu variant was also published in The General (volume 18, no. 5). This variant also has tank costs being paid to the Bene Tleilaxu plus sneak attacks on enemy leaders and Bene Tleilaxu conversion of revived leaders to traitors. The Bene Tleilaxu also have a special spice accumulation victory condition. [Comments on the Internet were "Wonderful. It keeps the play balance and adds a fearful sense to the game."]

  3. Bene Tleilax: This variant by Brenton Webber varies the variant found on this page, but seems to go on to enumerate quite a lengthy list of rules. Wonder if any player can remember them all.

  4. Landsraad: The General volume 26, no. 1 featured "The Landsraad Maneuver," a variant adding the eponymous power to the game (by Kenneth Burke). The Landsraad begin with 30 spice and the special ability to freeze either the revival/movement or battle of any non-Fremen side. This variant appears to be unbalancing – giving the new power an excellent chance of winning the game outright early, disruptive to the extant rules (as a sietch may end a turn still in dispute) and not much in keeping with the Landsraad of the novel, seemingly a more internally-disputatious and hands-off body. Other comments: "I guess it does not keep the game balance. It may be more interesting to consider playing 6 players with this faction and removing another one." –Joan C. Artés

  5. Ix and Landsraad: The General Volume 32, no. 1 is said to contain Ixian leader shields (including 10 leader), Landsraad 10 leader, Ixian and Landsraad counters, and 2 treachery cards (the only items that might have game quality). This issue also contains rules to scale back the earlier Landsraad variant by disabling their ability to use their freeze power on the same player in two consecutive turns and to limit the no battle option to only the Bene Tleilaxu.

  6. Ix: Another variant for Ix appeared in the magazine Heroes (volume 1, no. 1) In this variant, Ix forces have an on-planet movement rate of two, 10 free spice each turn and free leader revival.

  7. Dune for Three: This variant appeared in the Spanish Magazine Troll no. 20, November/December 1989; it tries to represent the alliances and situation of the first novel. At the start of the game, the Atreides are fixed in alliance with the Fremen while the Emperor is allied with the Harkonnen. The Bene Gesserit are not a separate side, but their counters belong to the Guild who form the third side. The leaders of the Bene Gesserit are split between the Atreides/Fremen and the Emperor/Harkonnen. Requires the Dune expansion kit, The Duel. Created by Mmolgthar, Enric Grau and J.C. Artés, the full rules may be found at the website of J.C. Artés.

  8. Variants by Boycat: Devised for IX, Landsraad, Tleilaxu.

  9. Cards: A Treachery cards-only variant by Timothy Paul Coram adds eight such. These cards, which were published in The VIP of Gaming, (October 1986 -- this was the successor to the combined Space Gamer/Fantasy Gamer published out of Los Angeles by Diverse Talents, Inc.) include Weather Scanner, Troop Transport, Dust Chasm, Smuggler, Imperial Conditioning, Break Imperial Conditioning, Juice of Sapho and Weirding Way.

  10. Play by Mail: Finally, a variant for playing the game by mail (PBM) appeared in The General Volume 20, no. 4.
You might find the text for some of these variants at the website of Colin Stobbe.

Thanks to the playtesters of Conflict Simulations at UCD (the University of California at Davis).
This variant devised 1983.
Mon Jul 1 18:23:22 PDT 2002
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