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Rex in Review- the Dune Ghola

Fantasy Flight’s Rex: Last Days of an Empire has been out for about a month now and I’ve put it through its paces. It’s a nominal reprint of Avalon Hill’s classic Dune board game, but since FFG couldn’t get the license they reskinned the whole thing to fit their proprietary (and uninspired) Twilight Imperium setting. To FFG’s credit, they were sort of in a no-win situation with not being able to get the rights to the IP, and likely did the best they could.

The result is a surrogate Dune. It’s the guts of Dune, it plays like Dune, but it isn’t Dune. It doesn’t have Dune’s heart and soul. It’s a clone with metal eyes- like the Gholas in Herbert’s novels. Instead of Houses Atreides and Harkonnen clashing over Spice blows on the sands of Arrakis, you’ve got space turtles and space cats duking it out over abstract number chits in a space city that’s more or less a rip off of Coruscant.

You can buy this game and experience- at least mechanically- why Dune is one of the best games ever published. But the make-it-fit setting, horrendously misguided map redesign, and needless alterations spoil the experience to a degree. Review is at Gameshark. Prognosis? Just play Dune, if that’s an option for you.

Oh, I was also on Chick’s podcast last night. It was fun. We rap about Sine Mora, Mass Effect 3, Journey, Mage Knight and the upcoming Sour Patch Kids game. Chick stumps me with a movie question, which is hugely embarassing.


READ ALSO:  Mage Wars Review

Michael Barnes

Games writer Michael Barnes is a co-founder of as well as His trolling has been published on the Web and in print in at least two languages and in three countries. His special ability is to cheese off nerds using the power of the Internet and his deep, dark secret is that he's actually terrible at games. Before you ask, no, the avatar is not him. It's Mark E. Smith of The Fall.

8 thoughts to “Rex in Review- the Dune Ghola”

  1. Thank you for your review. As someone who has never played Dune and doesn’t really care about flavor all that much I’m going to check this game out for sure. The mechanics sound intact and awesome still so I’m going to dive in shortly.

  2. Speaking of board games, I hope we get to hear the results of AbnerCon West on this week’s podcast. I’m specifically curious how Eclipse went over with a large group who had apparently not played it before, and whether or not Billy was able to coerce everyone into playing Battlestar despite their attempts to head him off.

  3. I can honestly say this is the most disappointed I have ever been in Todd’s sense of decor.

    At least E3 is right around the corner. They have pretty big tables at CPK, don’t they?

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