Board Game Review: Dune: War for Arrakis

Board Game Review: Dune: War for Arrakis

Posted by Gamelandia on 9th May 2024

Published by CMON, Dune: War for Arrakis delivers an engaging experience that captures the essence of Frank Herbert's rich universe in a board game format. Though it may not reach the epic scope of War of the Ring (WotR), its accessibility and pace ensure it sees more playtime, likely appealing to both hardcore strategists and casual gamers. Plus, it comes with a collection of excellently crafted miniatures and game components that really spice up the gameplay. 

Gameplay Overview

The game mechanics are straightforward yet offer deep strategic possibilities. Players can choose between the Atreides and the Harkonnens, each with unique strategies and objectives. The Atreides focus on completing prophecies and managing ecological stations, while the Harkonnens aim to destroy sietches for supremacy. 

Both sides offer a dynamic play style, influenced by the random setup of each game, ensuring a fresh experience every time.

The game's depth becomes apparent after the initial playthrough, as you'll discover multiple pathways to victory. This variability, combined with the flavorful theme of the Dune series—where every military action from the books is possible—makes it a standout for fans of the franchise.

Key Features and Gameplay Experience

  1. Game Length and Setup: The first game may take around three hours, but with experience, it can be reduced to about an hour, making it an ideal evening game post-work. Setup is notably quicker than its counterparts like WotR or "Star Wars: Rebellion".
  2. Combat System: Combat in Dune: War for Arrakis is swift and decisive, relying heavily on the initial dice roll without rerolls or dice modifications. This makes each combat encounter significant and potentially game-altering.
  3. Card Dynamics: The cards in the game are situational yet impactful, allowing for strategic plays that can drastically shift the balance in a single turn. This element introduces a layer of tactical depth that rewards both planning and adaptability.
  4. Asymmetrical Play: Each faction not only feels unique but also challenges players to adapt their strategies in response to their opponents’ moves. This asymmetry extends to the game's radial map design, which influences movement and strategy.
  5. Randomness: The game incorporates randomness through dice rolls and card draws, but it's managed in a way that emphasizes strategic planning over luck. This aspect can be both a pro and a con, as high-stakes moments can hinge on a single dice roll or card draw.

The addition of expansions like the Spacing Guild enhances gameplay significantly, introducing new rules that have a profound impact without overwhelming the base game's mechanics. This allows for extended replayability and strategic depth, although the base game already stands strong on its own.

Pros and Cons

  • Pros: Engaging and thematic gameplay, swift and meaningful combat, fresh game setup in each play, impactful card mechanics, and quick setup time.
  • Cons: The game’s shorter length may not satisfy those seeking an epic narrative depth. Additionally, without expansions, some game strategies might feel limited.


Dune: War for Arrakis earns a solid 9 out of 10. 

It might not replace War of the Ring for its fans but serves as a fantastic supplement, offering a more streamlined and faster-paced strategic experience. It's a game that will likely hit the table often, proving that sometimes, an "8 on the table is far better than a 9 on the shelf." 

This game is not only a worthy addition to any board game collection but also a testament to the potential of adapting complex universes into accessible and enjoyable game formats.

You can get your own copy of Dune: War for Arrakis for your next game night right here!