Epic 5-hour Dune CCG game on OCTGN.

So I spent 5 hours yesterday having an epic session in the Dune CCG on OCTGN. I was playing with two old timers of the game, JP and flaney and the game took far more than any of us expected, primarily because of the kind of decks everyone was playing.  Namely all of us where in some way focused in battle so there was a lot of pitched encounters.

I haven’t mentioned yet my work on Dune CCG and I’ve done with Doomtown and 7th Sea, but I plan to do that in the future. Suffice to say that Dune is a very deep game on a strategic level and it really supports backstabbing, scheming and careful plotting, as befits the universe of Dune. Thus the game we played yesterday.

There were 3 minor houses duking it out to see which would ascend to the high council. I was backed by the Water Sellers, JP was backed by House Corrino and flaney was backed by the Dune Smugglers with a heavy Corrino support.

Things started out fairly quickly, with JP managing to secure access to Imperial Revenues on the first turn which provided significant funding throughout the game given the amount of battles ongoing. Then on the same turn secured Carthag along with a Carthag privateer who became an instant cash cow. I was able to grab Arrakeen instead and was lucky to get a Patriarch to go with it, setting me up for the same combo that JP did, but for less money. I eventually also managed to bring in some heave defense against battles in the form of my House Shield Generator, which I foolishly hoped would make my homeworld impervious to assault. Flaney on the other hand started out slower, opting out to bring in Corrino firepower first and realizing that he’s messed his deck construction quite a bit :)

How the game looked like on turn 3 or so

My deck was trying to set-up command based combos. Specifically using cards which increase my persona’s command and having personas or other cards which are based on such command rank. Thus I had one Persona stealing solaris (The currency of the game) from other players equal to his command, another giving me favour the same way, and yet another who I engaged (i.e. turned sideways to mark as “used”) to get Solaris equal to his command. My hand was fairly nice to me in this way, so I ended up with a nice money-making machine that started making the two other players very nervous. So much so that by the 3rd turn, they were already scheming to take me down.

Fortunately, I had forecasted and brought a lot of battle defenses out to stave off such problems. Unfortunately, against 2 players it’s almost impossible to hold out. I was at least secure in my thoughts that my primary money maker, my own homeworld, would be secure by being backed by a house shield generator. Unfortunately disaster struck (certainly brought about by the cunning Corrino spies)

Noooo! My wonderful Shield!

Cackling with evil excitement, JP on the bottom started his offensive on the peaceful Water Sellers. I had quite a lot of defense to handle one attacker, but seeing as both other players were already planning as a team to take me down, I didn’t hold much hope.

The Sardaukar Assault begins. Already Arrakeen has fallen.

Flaney’s Smuggler backed house followed suit, no doubt while being covertly financed by the Emperor, given that Sardaukar commanders could be seen leading their troops. Under their combined assault, even my homeworld protected by a Palace Fortress was eventually pillaged.

The Norther Pollar Sink falls

Being thoroughly subdued, I was hoping to get a breath of air, but unfortunately that was not to be. The assault continued relentless into the next round after I managed to recover Arrakeen and my Homeworld by performing an honest trade in water selling (to JP specifically). Honestly could not understand why I was being focused on so heavily, even though I was completely peaceful. After another round of Sardaukar raids, I was left once again completely subdued.

Further to my aggravation, the other player’s colluding went much further than simply ganging up on the honest merchants. Flaney was letting JP petition the imperial assembly for resources and major house allies, without the slightest of resistance. JP was getting everything dirt cheap! At this point I must admit that I started being a bit annoyed as it seemed to me that I was truly playing a 2v1 game. The only thing they weren’t doing was giving money to each other! It started looking as if all that mattered was that just that I wouldn’t win, no matter what, which is a bit unfair to tell the truth.

Unfortunately after the second round of assault, JP petitioned for Arrakeen (which he got for bargain price of course) and locked me out completely out of my money making scheme. That achieved, both players were ready to start working on their victory rather than just beating up on me, until I managed to sneak past JP’s defenses and reclaim Arrakeen by sending out my Marshal and his Laser-bearing Guard Commander flunky to restore order. This was primarily because due to a mistake, JP has forgotten to restore his House Agent, which then allowed me to poison his defending Guard.

Arrakeen then allowed me to quickly spawn 21 Solaris from it, which were primarily went to recovering from the last assault. And yet, both other players were outraged at how Solaris much my perfectly honest trading was producing, and were determined to destroy the growing free market of Arrakis. As soon as their turn came about, Saurdaukar legions once more descended and razed my Arrakeen headquarters to the round, followed by yet another Smuggler assault on my homeworld. This time I wasn’t going to recover that easily.

It was obvious that the Corrino player was working towards gaining admission to the high council by sheer force, as they quickly accumulated control of all the major deserts on Dune and both cities. Only the Dune seat of Governorship still remained in my hands. I was urgently pressing Flaney to reconsider his alliance with JP who was one single battle away from winning the game. All JP had to do, was pry the Dune Regency out of my cold dead fingers. JP knew that as well, so the first order of business after grabbing Arrakeen, was to turn on his ally.

Smuggler homeworld goes down. They retaliate on Corrino outposts and deserts

Hostilities quickly escalated to full-blown war, but I doubted Flaney could halt the progress of the Corrino who were by now making obscene amounts of money (In one turn one he brought in something like 3 Saurdaukar battalions and 2 commanders) and had significant defenses set up to prevent all assault.

At this point were going on for 4 hours of game or so. This was primarily because the other players were not so familiar with the OCTGN engine, so figuring out how to do some things, along with the general thought required from the game was taking its toll. We had all far exceeded our alloted time. I had to go to bed, Flaney had to go to work and JP had to do something as well, don’t remember what :) We were all eager to see the game finished, regardless of how awesome it was, but it felt like it would go on forever.

I'm back in the fight!

Fortunately for me, JP did a fatal mistake. After the Smuggler assaults, he completely forgot to reclaim control of Carthag. I assumed because he didn’t want to destroyed again, but he told me later that it slipped his mind. So on my turn I petitioned its governorship from the Imperial Assembly after making sure that I couldn’t be opposed financially (see: Selling others some more water). This allowed me another bout of money-making, which was lower than with Arrakeen, but still significant. This in turn allowed me to recover to a large extend and start aggressively collecting spice for my admission to the high council.

Given that I sneaked this by after the Corrino player had finished, I was not in fear of being run over by the Saurdaukar again for a while, and the smugglers just didn’t have the firepower to get through my defenses. So I quickly purchased the Imperial Favor to get the initiative next turn, and with my newly controlled deserts I produced and bought the spice I needed to win before the others could mount an effective offense.

The Water Sellers achieve admission to the high council.

Through the rubble I managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Rising through my burnt cities like a water phoenix. Free Trade thriumphant!

All jokes aside, there were certainly a few combos I abused in my deck to make obscene amounts of money but it wasn’t as overpowered as it seemed. There was a lot of investment in my personas and they all took multiple turns to recover the money I spent on them. The Corrino were making use of the same combos, albeit not so refined, and having similar money production each turn, which is why on the last turn they had something like 70 Solaris worth or cards on the table. They will undoubtedly say that even after all the beating I got, I still won, which is a testament to how overpowered my cards were, but I’ll say that to my defense they had decks that played to my strengths and I only won because of 2 key mistakes on their part.

The game ended at around the 5-hour mark, which was already stretching it. It was however such a great and thoughtful experience that we couldn’t just abandon it. You should have seen how the other 2 players were cheering each other on as they figured out a way to break through my defenses and raze everything to the ground, and then do it again each turn >_<

In the end, I only won because of 2 crucial mistakes done by the others due to tiredness. If I hadn’t secured Carthag on the last turn, there was no way I was going to be able to make enough money to recover my defenses and buy favour and spice on top of that. On the other hand, player mistakes were the only thing going for me in that game, given just how brutally I had been put in the corner and beat upon.

In the end, my victory was just as well, since JP was about to concede due to time constraints, and so was I and Flaney, so maybe they (subconsciously) let me win, who knows? I’ll take my victories where I can get them, and after being the punching-bag in such a heated game, I think I deserved it. :)