35 years later, the extremely rare, extremely good Dune board game is finally getting a reprint
After decades as one of the legendary holy grail games of the tabletop, Frank Herbert’s Dune is coming back.
Based on the epic sci-fi novel and originally published in 1979, Dune was created by the trio of designers behind the hugely influential Cosmic Encounter – Bill Eberle, Jack Kittredge and Peter Olotka – who evolved elements of their earlier design to fit Herbert’s visionary universe of spice and sandworms.
The first edition was followed by a second edition in 1984 to tie in with David Lynch’s troubled Dune film, accompanied by two official expansion packs: The Duel and Spice Harvest. Two more rules variants were published in gaming magazines, the last being 1990’s The Landsraad Maneuver.
Despite widespread acclaim among players, the 1984 reissue of Dune was the game’s death knell. After the movie flopped in cinemas, the board game’s sales suddenly dropped off. The second edition would be the last available English-language version of the original game for more than 30 years. (A French edition published in the early nineties would be the final re-release of any kind.)
In the meantime, the combination of Dune’s high reputation and low availability meant that copies became treasured artefacts among collectors, fetching up to hundreds of pounds on site such as eBay and forcing avid fans to seek out print-and-play alternates to get a taste of the original.
While licensing issues would mean that Dune as it was originally published wouldn’t return for decades, its deception- and diplomacy-heavy gameplay was reimagined for the universe of Twilight Imperium in 2012’s Rex: Final Days of an Empire.
Now, what seemed impossible for so long has finally happened: Dune is getting a reprint.
Behind the upcoming new edition is Gale Force Nine, the well-regarded studio behind licensed games such as Firefly Adventures, Star Trek Ascendancy and Sons of Anarchy: Men of Mayhem, which announced last summer that it was working on multiple tabletop games set in the Dune universe.
As well as original games “drawing from the full scope of the Dune franchise”, Gale Force Nine confirmed it would also produce several direct tie-ins to the upcoming cinematic reboot of Dune from Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve due for release next year.
Gale Force Nine’s announcement of its Dune reprint at the GAMA trade fair was initially reported by There Will Be Games, before original co-designer Peter Olotka subsequently confirmed the news on Twitter, teasing that the revised edition will be “better than ever”. The first image of the new edition appears to show revised artwork for the box and map board – further details are yet to be announced.
The release date for the Dune reprint is still to be confirmed, and Gale Force Nine has not revealed any of its other upcoming titles set in the universe.