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TOPIC: Let's Talk: Dune (or Rex)

Let's Talk: Dune (or Rex) 24 Oct 2016 14:29 #236810

Stormcow wrote:
. One uncommon house rule that we have is to allow multiple players to contest a single territory in one turn; battles are simply resolved one at a time in turn order, with the active player chooses who to fight first.

Strormcow, I'm very interested in this - do you mean you allow multiple battles in Strongholds? (Because you can have more than 2 players contesting a desert/rock area as per original rules). The 2-player limit and consequent "sietch blocking" tactic is, in my opinion, the weakest, most annoying and non-thematic part of Dune design (which is actually a testament to how neatly Dune is designed), but I could not convince the rest of the players to house rule that when I was playing Dune (and Rex doesn't have that issue). I don't know how it may affect the game balance, though, it definitely disrupts the shipping costs rules.
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Let's Talk: Dune (or Rex) 24 Oct 2016 22:16 #236856

Bojack wrote:
sorry dude, thats a long, long way away from me, sounds fun though!
AHH, I thought you were the OP of the link you posted.
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Let's Talk: Dune (or Rex) 25 Oct 2016 03:52 #236864

Vlad wrote:
do you mean you allow multiple battles in Strongholds? (Because you can have more than 2 players contesting a desert/rock area as per original rules). The 2-player limit and consequent "sietch blocking" tactic is, in my opinion, the weakest, most annoying and non-thematic part of Dune design (which is actually a testament to how neatly Dune is designed), but I could not convince the rest of the players to house rule that when I was playing Dune (and Rex doesn't have that issue). I don't know how it may affect the game balance, though, it definitely disrupts the shipping costs rules.

Yup, I'm talking about removing that restriction and therefore just removing the "sietch blocking" tactic entirely. It makes the game go faster, since it effectively compresses the number of turns in a game - battles that would otherwise have resolved over two or three turns will all be resolved in a single turn instead. It works great for us and as far as I can tell the game balance is still stable.

My Dune set is based on Scott E's PnP files. It cost about a $25 to print the cards, dials, and map on photopaper, plus maybe another $10 in colored sleeves (necessary for single sided photopaper cards). I also stole a pile of credit tokens from my extra Netrunner core sets to represent spice. The troop tokens looked like they would be a hassle, so I just used my FFG Cosmic Encounter spaceships - they stack, they come in groups of 20, and with a couple of expansions you can have all six colors (or even eight if you want to get fancy with your Sardaukar and Fedaykin tokens).

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Let's Talk: Dune (or Rex) 25 Oct 2016 11:41 #236876

My initial thought is that removing that restriction would take SO much out of the importance of turn order which is such a critical element in the game. Fremen use it to leverage storm movement information, the guild's power of acting out of turn, forcing BG to make coexisting decisions to act as blockers or non-blockers, never would a player ship the turn before to a near stronghold at extra spice cost, etc. Basically the theme from Dune of knowing when to make your ploy would be lost. I personally would not want any part of that variant, although I do think it would make the game faster.

There could be other issues such as guild income changing as well... but those are small issues considering the loss of the above features.
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Let's Talk: Dune (or Rex) 25 Oct 2016 19:32 #236929

It is funny that there are so many ways to play Dune and obviously every group thinks that theirs is the best. And I include myself here, because Rex is a Dune variant after all.

I think it has to do with the fact that the most important thing about Dune are the people you're playing it with. I think I'd enjoy any variant of it with the right group - if players are friends or at least people I like. By the same token, it can be excruciating if played with a wrong crowd.
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Let's Talk: Dune (or Rex) 26 Oct 2016 15:48 #237002

I think Dune is a great game, but the variation in rulesets with which people play indicates that it’s far from perfect.

I have enjoyed it, but my fun seems very reliant on which faction I am (more even then how well I’m doing). The combat can be rather deterministic, particularly if you have the misfortune of being a spice poor and card-deprived faction. It’s play time can be quite long, and I’ve found games with inexperienced players somewhat dreadful. It’s not all that tantalizing to play Bene Gesserit in a game that will end in 3 or 4 rounds or watch a noob play Emperor and spend too much spice and doesn’t use their position to negotiate with anyone at the table. It’s a diplomacy game, not a war game. The combat system is fine, but not the strongest element of the design. Btw, is it coincidence that whomever is Fremen when I play never wants to play again? I wasn't keen on it after playing Fremen either.
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Let's Talk: Dune (or Rex) 26 Oct 2016 21:18 #237014

Fremen are my favorite faction, but its because each little step feels like a massive win. Wrestling a large spice blow from the off worlders, riding a worm into a massive battle, canceling out Sadukar bonus, trying to figure out why other players keep the weakest factions leaders as traitors; the Fremen feel like they are completely up against it... I imagine like the Fremen in the book feel. You have to take joy in your small victories because the large ones are so tough to come by, but when they do they are so damn sweet. I'll take the uphill route every time, and because as stated its more of a diplomacy game no matter your faction you should be able to wring a lot of value and fun out of your seat at the table.
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Let's Talk: Dune (or Rex) 26 Oct 2016 21:30 #237016

Well, Dune is 37 years old now, and people are still playing it and passionate about it, so there must be something there (even though it is cult rather than mainstream following). I agree that it is not perfect, and probably will never be - it needs house rules and new editions, but that's precisely because it is so good and has been around for 37 years. It is argued that chess needs a new edition at this point, because otherwise the game is becoming stale. I think the same can be said about Dune.

And I agree with Unicorn in that Fremen need a fix - both in the original Dune and Rex. Since I never played Rex-Dune with 6 players, Fremen usually get the boot (unless we get someone who insists that Dune cannot be played without Fremen for purity reasons, and picks them up himself). There are a lot of ideas of how to fix them on BGG forums, but if I remember correctly most involve playing with spice powered battles.

By the way, since we are at it, has anyone tried Dune at Tabletop Simulator?
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Let's Talk: Dune (or Rex) 27 Oct 2016 09:54 #237037

It's probably the best implementation of licensed IP in a game. Teaching one ruleset to everyone, and creating factional asymmetry by giving each player rules to exploit or break is much more refined than 6 factions that have entirely different operations (like in a COIN game). To have that elegant of a design really highlights how each exploit also serves the theme of the game and its fidelity to source material.

I can appreciate the Fremen being the toughest faction to play, because that’s appropriate to the setting, but it needs to be appealing to players. I don’t want to give Fremen to new players, because I’m looking to find new people with whom I can play Dune regularly.
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Let's Talk: Dune (or Rex) 27 Oct 2016 11:56 #237046

Unicron wrote:
I think Dune is a great game, but the variation in rulesets with which people play indicates that it’s far from perfect.

I have enjoyed it, but my fun seems very reliant on which faction I am (more even then how well I’m doing). The combat can be rather deterministic, particularly if you have the misfortune of being a spice poor and card-deprived faction. It’s play time can be quite long, and I’ve found games with inexperienced players somewhat dreadful. It’s not all that tantalizing to play Bene Gesserit in a game that will end in 3 or 4 rounds or watch a noob play Emperor and spend too much spice and doesn’t use their position to negotiate with anyone at the table. It’s a diplomacy game, not a war game. The combat system is fine, but not the strongest element of the design. Btw, is it coincidence that whomever is Fremen when I play never wants to play again? I wasn't keen on it after playing Fremen either.

Yeah, it's very interesting how forgiving we are (myself included) towards it. My last game (In MArch for my birthday) we played double spice blow and also used the Fremen spiceless combat variant and Worthless cards can be used as cheap hero/heroine. What a game changer, the Fremen become a) more dangerous in battles b) more attractive as an ally (conveying worthless card ability)
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Let's Talk: Dune (or Rex) 02 Nov 2016 18:12 #237383

I think Rex is a good game, and I think it is more flexible with player count like Vlad has said. Might even be best NOT with 6, contrary to popular belief.

the thing that has concerned me is something that was mentioned by San Il Defanso -- I'm worried about Hacan's win condition being overpowered, particularly in a 6 player game (Not necessarily Hacan, just whoever has his ability in the current game, since Xxcha can steal that ability for some really stupid reason!)

To win a game of Rex or Dune before the max round limit is hit, you basically need to cripple several players to create neough of a gap to actually win the game. In Rex, since players recover a bit more easily and because there are less rounds and because multiple unallied players can gang up on the would-be winner in one location, I find actually winning the game in a 6 player game with good players without it going to round 8 is HARD. There are simply too many players to beat so this makes the default win likely if you miss your very small window of opportunity.

I haven't made up my mind on this (not enough plays), and hope I am wrong because the game is great. Not as good as Dune with a good ruleset I think, but certainly more accessible and playable

To me, the biggest design flaws in Rex are:

1) Hacan SVC -- is it too strong in 6 player? Vlad? Hope I'm wrong about this one
2) Xxcha being able to steal Hacan's SVC. Boring. He should basically do this every game.
3) Rulebook telling you you are not allowed to take notes. This rule is easily ignored rule but might cause some arguments; FFG has no business telling you not to use notes if you like memory aids in a game where memory/notes are basically NEEDED to be strategic. I find a ruling on something like notes to be outside of things the game rulebook should rule on
3) Betrayal Cards (dumb and add no meaningful gameplay but luckily these are optional)
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Let's Talk: Dune (or Rex) 02 Nov 2016 23:51 #237391

Hi Oatmeal, good post!

I never played Rex with 6. The sweet spot for people I played with is 4. This is due to time constraints, mainly - a game that goes over 3 hours is taxing (players get tired and unfocused, babysitters are angry, etc), and because every time we had a 5 player it coincided with 1 player being completely new to the game (an average newbie needs to play it at least 2-3 times to fully grok and enjoy).

I firmly believe that Hacan/Guild default victory is a travesty, and should be terminated by a house-rule. And not only in Rex, in Dune as well. It is frustrating and boring, because Guild players who know what they're doing will play the procrastination game very well, adding A LOT of time to the proceedings. In Rex this is exacerbated by the quicker recovery of the troops and the Bene Gesserit/Space Turtles prediction. Just get rid of it and you won't miss it.

What you say about notes... funny thing, I played Dune with an established group of players and they had house-ruled notes out. So I didn't miss that aspect when I started to play Rex (and introduced it to new players). Maybe we should try bringing the notes in. I think some players will enjoy the game more, myself included (terrible memory here).

We played with Betrayal Cards once, and I agree they're dumb and not interesting enough to add another layer of complexity to the game.

I would also add the 2-phase combat to your list of Rex's design flaws. For some stupid reason, FFG loves putting this kind of unnecessary complexity into almost all of their designs (which is particularly annoying when they apply it to older and supposedly streamlined games). It adds at least a couple minutes to each encounter and makes the battles messier and less comprehensible for new players. I am trying to house rule this one out, but the problem is that people got used to play it that way, and old habits die hard. If you're starting with a new group or with old Dune players, my advice just get rid of it. It is cleaner the old way.
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Let's Talk: Dune (or Rex) 10 Aug 2017 08:54 #252325

Vlad, after playing more Dune AND Rex lately, I really get your point about Rex being more playable. I remember your claims about that standing out to me before, but I really get it now.

Trying to play Dune with the uninitiated can be fucking disastrous. Rex is way more flexible and playable with diverse groups (being more flexible on player count helps too). And if you end up playing with a bad group for the game and the session turns cancerous, with Rex you can at least rest easy that the game will actually end

Still think "good game of Dune with a great group" is a better game than Rex, but if you don't have easy access to that and just want to play a lot more Dune (even Dune-lite*) then Rex is actually the game that will give you that

*Yeah, it's more forgiving and has less stuff you can do, but luckily it's not THAT lite -- most of the fun is intact
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Let's Talk: Dune (or Rex) 10 Aug 2017 11:02 #252329

I'm not familiar with this sietch blocking tactic. Where in the rules does it say that only one combat per turn can be resolved in a sietch? I have the original AH edition.

The only unthematic rule in the game in my opinion is the one about paying spice to support troops in combat. Spice is really expensive in the books, you wouldn't just dole it out to an army like rations.
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Let's Talk: Dune (or Rex) 10 Aug 2017 11:31 #252332

Shellhead wrote:
The only unthematic rule in the game in my opinion is the one about paying spice to support troops in combat. Spice is really expensive in the books, you wouldn't just dole it out to an army like rations.

I completely agree. That's why I can't get behind it. I do like the worthless card/cheap hero for Fremen option though. That is really nice.
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