Dune Imperium solo mode – first impressions

I first played Dune Imperium a couple of years ago in a 3 player game. I loved it. I have always loved Dune as a franchise (my dad read all the books, but I never got far in as I hated Paul Atreides in Dune Messiah). I would have bought the game following that play but my one friend who played it said she wouldn’t play it again as she didn’t like the theme, and she’s the person I play with most often. She apparently loves the game now, so I really should have bought it at the time.

But when it came up recently in a sale at Game, I got a friend to get it for me. £20 for a game I would mainly be buying for solo. Yup. Count me in.

The final board for my Dune Imperium game

So last weekend I cracked it open, installed the Dire Wolf app, and played a solo game on normal mode, with both the bot and I playing from the least complex characters.

The game itself is a mix of worker placement and deck building. The cards in your deck determine what worker placement spots you can go on at any one turn. They also give you benefits when you play them. But unlike most deck builders you don’t buy cards during your usual turns. After you’ve played all the workers you want to play you then use your left-over cards for other benefits. These benefits will generally be resources for getting new cards or for combat.

After everyone has played their turns then there is a combat to win the benefits on special cards – these combats being one of the ways of getting points (the other way being getting influence with specific factions). But you can only take place in the combats if you used certain actions which let you get people from your barracks into the fight (assuming you had people in your barracks in the first place).

There were 6 green cubes in the final battle and no yellow or red cubes which were all in their garrisons. Giving green two points for the win.

That’s a very quick overview of the main game.

The solo bots (you play with two as the game doesn’t work well at 2 player – in a 2 player game you play with one bot) simply works by turning special cards. If it’s a worker phase the card tells you the action they go to. If it’s combat phase you use the other half of the card which gives extra combat points. It is incredibly simple to run.

The bots don’t use resources for normal actions as a human player will. But they collect certain resources and if they get a set number they convert these resources to points.

The game ends at the end of the round that someone gets 10 points, or after a set number of rounds.

Early in the game I thought I had no chance. The bots were getting points from resources quite frequently. But then I started winning more combats and getting more influence with factions and quickly took over and had a quite convincing win. So convincing I’m not 100% I was playing properly.

Interestingly I found I didn’t buy many cards. I didn’t always have enough to buy cards and there weren’t many I wanted. Using the app for the solo mode means that every so often cards from the offer row will get cycled (this doesn’t happen with the base game solo mode but was introduced with one of the expansions I don’t own). Despite this cycling (which was definitely needed) I still didn’t find the need to purchase a ton of cards. I need to play it more to decide if this is was just because of the game I played or is something that will happen more often.

In summary though, first impressions is that the solo mode is smooth and easy to run, but maybe too easy to beat on normal – either that or I fluked it. I am glad I have the game in my collection and it was worth it for £20 but the usual £50 would have been too much as it’s just not the complex type of solo mode I tend to love.

Game Details
NameDune: Imperium (2020)
ComplexityMedium [3.05]
BGG Rank6 [8.43]
Player Count1-4
Designer(s)Paul Dennen
Mechanism(s)Card Play Conflict Resolution, Deck, Bag, and Pool Building, Delayed Purchase, Force Commitment, Increase Value of Unchosen Resources, Multi-Use Cards, Open Drafting, Race, Solo / Solitaire Game, Tags, Take That, Turn Order: Progressive, Variable Player Powers and Worker Placement

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