Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Avalon Hill's Dune

About every 2-3 years I go through a period where I get momentarily re-obsessed with the Dune universe. I break out the whole series of novels and re-read them; I watch a version or two of the movie; and, of course, I try to do some form of Dune gaming. For some reason this has always meant Dune computer games, most likely because I never thought I'd have potential opponents to play anything else with. So, until now I had never owned or played Avalon Hill's Dune board game, which typically goes for $40-100 on E-Bay, depending on quality.

Recently, seeing the high quality homemade reproductions of the out-of-print AH game inspired me to perhaps produce one of my own. All the components, including those for the expansions, are readily available for download, and with the help of a color printer, lamination machine, and some free time I thought having a decent quality copy was well within my grasp. I also just picked up an official copy from E-Bay for less than the range listed above. My plan is to selectively upgrade some of the original AH components using better looking graphics, tokens, cards, etc.

Does anyone else have experience playing this game? Any interest in trying it out sometime? If anyone else is interested in making a copy for yourself, I can share with you the files I've gathered thus far, most of which are on BGG.

Oh, by the way... do you think there are any ethical/legal problems with reproducing such an out-of-print, abandoned game? I feel better now that I own an official copy, but I'm still not 100% clear on this issue.


At 4:24 PM, August 23, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

PS: I just had to get Romulus and Remus off the top of our page. They were just grossing me out.

At 4:36 PM, August 23, 2006, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

How odd -- I've been saving cereal boxes for the last couple of weeks for this very purpose. I have a copy of Dune sitting by my bed which I pick up from time to time, just to flip to a random page.

I've only played the game once; I was Bene Gesserit, and missed the prediction victory condition by one turn. I wasn't sure how popular it was with others here, but from the way BGG people talk it up, it's a mortal sin to play anything else with six.

At 6:45 PM, August 23, 2006, Blogger Jonathan W. said...

I am up for playing the game, let me know the time and I will be there.

At 8:04 PM, August 23, 2006, Blogger Chad said...

Its been, like, ten years since I last played Dune, so I'm all for playing it again.

At 8:42 PM, August 23, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

I'm definitely in being a longtime Frank Herbert fan.

At 8:53 PM, August 23, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

Ok, so I rushed in to sign myself into a Dune game and just went back and read your post, Ben.

I have to say the Dune RTS game was the shiz back in the day - and quite possibly the first incarnation that inspired the genre (but I could, and probably am, wrong). I wasted hours away on the Sega at a mere decade and few years old after school with it easily. -I bet I just made you all feel old!

As for reproducing games, I see it more as an abandonware type thing. If it's been around for a really long time, no one supports it or plans on doing anything with the license / original product - then it's enough into the gray area to where I can feel comfortable with it. Then again, I've thought about reproducing games that are cheap and easy to make of current board games... So I may not be the best legal/ethical compass (studying business law makes me respect it less and less).

At 8:55 PM, August 23, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

I'm SIX! sorry Michael.

Big fan as you already know Ben. Have read Frank's 6 books, the new prequel trilogy, and will be getting Butlerian Jihad (Legends of Dune trilogy) soon.

And I completely understand the computer game stuff you mentioned... It brought me a smile to read that. I could even hear "Dune..... the building of a dynasty". Dune 2000 was cool too.

Have the original movie, will get the Scifi series someday.

BTW fellow Dune fans, check this out.

At 9:00 PM, August 23, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Simon, I did feel old there for a sec. I played Dune RTS (The Building of a Dynasty) back in 1992 when it came out. I was 15-16. Great game. I spent hours and hours and hours.... those were the days of The Building of an Obsessive Personality.

At 9:17 PM, August 23, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

And if you were a fan of Dune RTS, you probably were a fan of Command and Conquer too. If you were, check out what will be coming out soon.

At 7:42 AM, August 24, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

I'm still waiting on my E-Bay copy to arrive, and I need to take my updated mapboard to the printer, hopefully Saturday. Expect a game to be scheduled soon!

At 7:55 AM, August 25, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Ok Ben, thanks a lot. I just bought Butlerian Jihad.... money that I could've used for games.

At 2:13 PM, August 26, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

I haven't actually read any of the prequels. Are they worth reading?

I just picked up a copy of the Descartes (i.e., French published) edition of the game (which includes both expansions) at a bargain price. I wanted the expansion sets, plus the art is a bit better than in the US version. All of the components are downloadable though, so unless you spot a good deal, I would just print it.

At 6:32 PM, August 26, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Well, as long as you accept the fact that NO this is not Frank Herbert writing, you'll enjoy them. It's just like all the different writers that write Dragonlance or Forgotten Realm novels; they all use very different writing styles to portay the stories for these fantasy worlds. Brian and the "other writer" are not Frank, but they are good.

The "Dune houses" trilogy does shine IMO because it provides a LOT of interesting background details to the characters involved in the orignal Dune series: Duke Leto's father's history, Lady Jessica and how she was conceived, how she betrayed the Benne Gesserit by having a boy instead of a girl, why Baron Harkonnen looks like he does (chubby nastiness), Duncan Idaho and how he became a Swordmaster and commander of House Atreides' army, etc etc etc.

The Butlerian Jihad novel has all the story about the notorious war (mentioned many times in the original series) I'm looking forward to reading it.

At 4:37 AM, August 27, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Ben, if you look up Hunters of Dune, the first part of the "7th Dune book", on Amazon and browse down to the reviews, you'll find a guy that echoes my thoughts somewhat. For your convenience, here it is:

I won't try and improve on the several thoughtful reviews that preceed mine. This book in entertaining in the same way a comic book is entertaining. It is all exposition and the characters are like card board cutouts. Brian and Kevin - I have read every Frank Herbert novel, most of them three and four times. Gentlemen, you are not Frank Herbert. I for one would appreciate it if Brian would stop kicking his father's bloated corpse down the beach, and try and make it on his own.

Unnecessarily harsh there at the end IMO. Again, not Frank (don't even try to expect a little bit of Frank), but the books are great in their own right.

At 4:51 AM, August 27, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

So I kept reading the reviews, and it's funny how the guy with the LOOOOONG review of this new book (Hunters of Dune) says something I deleted from my first reply to your question. I had concluded that the difference between Frank and Brian was that Frank wrote a deeper more complex story. You frequently had to stop and analyze the story to see what he meant with what he presents. God Emperor of Dune anyone????

Brian/Kevin are a lot more superficial. They write as if writing the script for an action movie like say "Jurassic Park".... more bells and whistles than an actual deep and thought-provoking literary masterpiece.

But long as you are ok with that, you'll enjoy them.

Ok, shift is over. Going home.


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