Home Game Review Dune: Imperium – Why Own It? Mechanics & Theme Board Game Review

Dune: Imperium – Why Own It? Mechanics & Theme Board Game Review


We’re in space and the only thing holding us back from gaining all of the most powerful spice riches are our meddling combat-happy opponents, and being able to place our two ‘workers’ exactly where they need to be by opportunistically by using areas of the boards activated by the cards in our hand (OK I tried with the theme but couldn’t get through to the end of the sentence – Amy). Join us for our review of Dune Imperium (the game, not the movie, Oz is not THAT far in the future :D).

00:00 Introduction
01:52 Theme overview (Themer)
05:03 Mechanics overview (Thinker)
09:56 Themer thoughts
11:56 Thinker thoughts
13:46 Solo gameplay (Themer)
16:40 Why own it?

Designer: Paul Dennen
Players: 1-4
Play time: 60-120min
Publisher: Dire Wolf + 3 more

For more game info: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/316554/dune-imperium

Thanks for stopping by for our mechanics & theme board game review of Dune Imperium. We’re Amy & Maggie aka ThinkerThemer. We’re an Australian couple with two very different perspectives of what makes a great board game – Amy (Thinker) is all about the mechanics and enjoys tight, competitive games, and Maggie (Themer) is all about the storytelling and the theme of the game, and the ‘world’ that the designer is trying to create. Subscribe to our channel to hear us talk about these two elements of a game, and how well integrated we feel these are in delivering a cohesive and wonderful game experience.
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  1. Sorry about the start of the video – not sure why that happened with the camera but it corrects itself….! 🙂

  2. I think Dune Imperium is a great game, one of the best for 2020 for me. The components could be better, but my daughter and I really enjoy it. The solo mode is pretty good too (but a little easy).

  3. Thanks for the review. I played this only solo thus far and loved it. I found that even on Novice I was pretty close with the AI. So I’m thinking you might not be adding VP to the automa when they go up on the house tracks? But I could be wrong and you just really kickass and I suck lol. Anyway great opinions! Love the channel. Also, Direwolf has a different app called Direwolf games that is a little different than the dune imperium companion app. It adds in a few cards that take away cards from the market deck.

  4. Thank you for the feedback! I especially appreciate the brief Dune synopsis. I really don't have a desire to read Dune and I know all about spice but never what was so important about it. Have either of you played Dune The Board game or its clone before it was reprinted "Rex"?

  5. I love that yiu not only took over mom's living room, but you set up an overhead camera too! Talk about making content fever lol
    I really want this game, but with the additional backlog of games I now have from Christmas (with more coming) and the lack of people to play with, this may have to wait awhile. Maybe when the upgrade kit comes out.
    Hope you had an amazing Christmas!

  6. From what I remember of Dune the book series, it is very heavy on the political maneuvering and intrigue, did you find that aspect coming through in this game? I think it is one that I'd be very happy to learn and play, but wouldn't want to own. Hope you guys are having a lovely holiday!

  7. Good overview. I've run through 3 novice solo games (using the app) and finding it pretty good. I've found it very thematic but then I'm a fan of the original book. During my last play through i noted all the actions etc and found it did hang together as a narrative. I like the art work as i'm getting sick and tired of over saturated graphic design of board games at the moment which make it really hard for me to see whats going on. Signet abilities arent earth shattering but have definitely focussed my play so far, perhaps because i have been able to work ways of getting through my deck and trashing a few cards. It's going to be interesting to see what expansions come out in the future. I'm slightly tempted b y the forthcoming deluxe upgrade pack though all the minis might overcrowd the board from what i've seen.

  8. Game looks really interesting to me, but after watching it played and seeing this review, I think I agree with your take that it might be a touch too light for me. But o do think this game is going to be massively popular.

  9. Have you both tried lost ruins of arnak? Many say they prefer that one over dune imperium.they both came out same time and both are worker placement with deck building.Lost ruins already comes with the upgraded components unlike dune.

  10. Great review, love the professionalism of your reviews that you put together, all the best for the holidays!

  11. Great review as always! I pre-ordered this and wound up liking it well enough, but it wasn't the be-all-end-all that I thought it was going to be based on the release description from the publisher (imagine that!). I definitely agree with Maggie that managing two sequential players in solo mode can contribute to temporary forgetfulness of what your tactical plan was from before their management, I had the same issue. The stark and basic theme ironically fits the universe pretty well, to be backed up by the gameplay and interaction.

  12. Hope you two have been having a great Xmas holidays with family. Did you pick up any games on sale this Boxing Day?

    Thanks for the review. Dune: Imperium was really interesting to me after I heard how much Rodney from Watch it Played liked it (plus the positive reviews from everyone at Dice Tower) but heard mixed things about it at 2 Player with the AI. It's a shame the movie got delayed because I think it would have sold much better on release.

  13. Thanks as always for your review. It is nice to see again your ability to be empathetic with the different facets of the game, without giving them an easy pass. It is easy as a reviewer to just say "I liked the game", without specifically pointing out the areas where there could be either improvements, or simply differences in taste. You both have consistently being able to do this, and I hope you keep on getting more and more subscribers so that this manner of review becomes better know.
    Happy holidays, have lots of fun playing games!

  14. Hi girls, this is the best review of this game I have seen. I don't think I will get it.
    I am curious if you got the game as a xmas presen? I don't remember you guys packing it for your trip in your video…. and all the games behind you 😉
    Merry Christmas 🎅

  15. Great video (watch out Tom Vasel). I appreciate that you take time to zoom into the section of the.board when making references. I agree with Maggie that when i play solo in games I wonder if i am playing correctly. I wonder sometimes, perhaps the leader board should be designed more like a player board (like Scythe) therefore providing more realistate for the game board. Additionally i feel there is allot.of room for this game to grow in an expansion (https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2565585/wants-first-expansion). I could not get my own copy of the game, so this year I picked up Viscounts of the West Kingdom to try to learn more about deck building and worker placement.

  16. For me, this seems about right: great theme ( absolutely love sci-fi AND Dune) and good mechanics (as an Abstract gamer, an absolute must for me), so your review has pushed me over the edge to order a copy. Thanks !

  17. Thank you for the review!
    The artwork/graphic design was what really killed any kind of buzz for this game for me personally, I think even the characters look as if they were taken from some badly animated 3D-game (obviously subjective). In your review they looked overall decent and I'm usually a fan of clear and easy-to-read symbology. Gameplay looks interesting enough but there really isn't anything that makes me want to play this game over either Lost Ruins of Arnak (where I love the artstyle) and probably Endless Winter.
    I do enjoy Dune as a theme though so I'm a bit disappointed, but maybe some expansions will spice up the game (with more asymmetry between players? >__>).
    Hope you had some calm, relaxing and enjoyable holidays with your families! 🙂

  18. Maggie summarize the genres towards the end and I was like bam I don’t like these kind of games too.
    I was not so intrigued by Dune Imperium & lost ruins of Arnak (theme looks good) but they have been soooo popular, hard to find and I have been hearing rave reviews.

    Great review, helped me determine that I should (NOT) get it 😂😂😂

  19. “Can we talk about the art!”. Amy, you had me laughing out loud with that comment and your expression. As for the intrigue cards, i love them too. My favorite content creators out there. Another solid review ladies. Yes, this one is so far in my top 5 maybe top 3 of 2020 but still working through some others.

  20. @ThinkerThemer I appreciate your intuitive and honest review and how you admit that while it may not be your cup of tea, you provide reasons on why others may like it. I've subscribed to your channel and encourage you to keep producing content. I like your take of mechanics and theme.
    Question: what do you do with the games you decided not to keep? Trade, sell, give away?

  21. Another amazing review! I’ll be staying away from this one because we’re “care bear” gamers but I WOULD like to know what you think of Rival Restaurants! I’ve got this preordered with GameSteward and am just impatiently waiting for it to arrive now 🙂 thank you for taking the time to make these wonderful videos!

  22. Great review as always! My copy is ready for pickup at my FLGS. I pre-ordered it based on positive buzz, but I suspect I will be turned off by the combat as I'm more in line with Rahdo when it comes to conflict in most games. The other games you mentioned, Arnak and Endless Winter, will probably be more up my alley. However, my two friends in my 3-player game group do like conflict, so I'd like to try this game with them. I may have to try the solo version as I won't see until we're all vaccinated.
    As for the theme, I remember really liking the first book in the original series by Frank Herbert. I never finished the 6 books he wrote as I didn't like the next couple of books in the series. Maybe I should give them another try. Or maybe I'll just wait for the movie. Villeneuve did a great job with Arrival and Bladerunner.
    Hope you both are having fun with the family! 😀

  23. Great review. I got the game and really enjoy it,but I think all of your points are great info. Thanks for such a thoughtful review.

  24. Great review! I tried this on TTS the other night and to be honest found it pretty lackluster. As a theme-fiend and a fan of Dune I didn't find it particularly immersive here and the separate mechanics seemed pretty run-of-the-mill independent of each other. But glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  25. I agree 100% about deck thinning. The Trash a Card ability is only one 1 board space and few cards. I found it definitely improves the fun and score if you get a Trash a Card card early. I am tempted to house rule that the Signet Ring has the optional ability to Trash a Card.
    I also agree about the app. I use it to help me remember all the steps per card. Hopefully the app is upgraded. The fact that it asks which leader are being used suggests they will have their signet ring abilities, etc. included.
    But, I disagree about keeping the game. It's one of the best I've played in 2020, so I'll keep it. Hopefully there will be expansions.

  26. Great review! I just stumbled on your channel a couple of days ago and have been binge watching your videos since – I love the perspectives that you both bring to the games! I just got my copy of Dune delivered today so am excited to give it a try. This usually isn't a theme I go for either, but all of the hype on year end top 10 lists made me want to give it a try.

  27. I was really hyped for this game, but your review has put my expectations on a more sane level. A middleweight worker placement where the assymetry doesn't do much to change the strategy sounds a bit so so. Of course being a Dune fan does help, will see if I end up adding it to my collection. Great review though I think you nailed it pretty much.

  28. Great review! I really want to experience a deck builder/worker placement game. I love those mechanics. I really like the Dune series, and my wife and I really like scifi themes, but we also always look for beautiful art/components. I know it seems shallow, but that might keep this game out of our shelves. :/

  29. I understand you would have wanted it to be more of a deckbuilder but for me that would be a bit of a turn off. Maybe after playing it for some time I would like it too. Maybe a future expansion/enhancement package can make it a little bit more robust in designing/thinning/drawing your own little deck and maybe deepen the worker placement interaction as well.

  30. Thanks for this review! I've been on the edge about this one, since I'm completely uninformed about the Dune universe. But, gameplay looks fun! However, also sounds like maybe I should wait for newer version, with minis and upgraded components…

  31. For me, Amy, this is best of 2020. And I’m not even a Dune fan, but this may very well turn me into one. Board art definitely leaves a lot to be desired, but the game design easily overcomes the drawbacks in the art dept. I don’t know, maybe as I age, my appreciation for lighter weight games is growing. Certainly easier to get folks to play this over Lisboa or On Mars. But then, Calico was your 2020 favorite, right? That one’s fairly rules light. (Though hard on the brain.)

    On a separate note, may be getting Obsession and Upstairs Downstairs for my birthday. Here’s hoping!

    Thirdly, took a closer look at Darwin’s Journey after watching your video and others. I think that one just needs a few more icons to really flesh it out. 😉 I guess I really am gravitating toward more medium weighters. That one just wasn’t for me.

    Have you and Maggie played Dwellings of Everdale? I can definitely see you having backed that one on KS. The hype finally caught up with me, and I ordered a copy. Why not? It’s my birthday! 🙂

    Anyway, sorry to sound so disagreeable in this post. But the variety is what makes this hobby so interesting! Happy New Year to the two of you!

  32. Nice video! Still don't get the concept of the mentat as you waste an action to get an action and a card – stalling the action you want by turn.

  33. We played this on TTS yesterday and really enjoyed it so of course I had to see what you both thought 😂. I really wanted to hear Maggie's thoughts about the solo mode because I had played it solo and was pretty disappointed. I haaated the double ai even though they were quick turns. I kept saying to myself that I think it really needed real people to play and luckily I was right. I do miss the deck optimization you talk about but It definitely has a place in my collection because we were able to play it with a euro gamer (me), a deck builder fan and a non gamer so I think it will hit the table often.

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