02nd Jun2022

‘Dune: Imperium Deluxe Upgrade Pack’ Board Game Review

by Matthew Smail

Not all remakes are good, but sometimes a modern take on a classic movie, game or story can bring a vast improvement. For me, the new Dune movie is far, far better than the original (which was just a bit before my time) and as such, it deserves only the best when it comes to licensed products. Thankfully, Dune: Imperium from Direwolf Digital (who also happened to make Clank! and Clank! In! Space!) was one of the standout board games of 2020. Sadly, like the desert planet of Dune itself, Dune: Imperium could be accused of being a bit “dry.” Basic wooden pieces and a muted colour palette do little to draw the passer-by in, but perhaps that was part of the plan all along – because today’s review is Dune: Imperium Deluxe Upgrade Pack.

In short, the Dune: Imperium Deluxe Upgrade Pack is a large box that contains a ton of completely unnecessary but nonetheless lovely components that really, really enhance the on-table experience and aid in the organisation and setup of the game. In particular, it should be noted that the components and trays included in Dune: Imperium Deluxe Upgrade Pack accommodate either the base game on its own or the base game plus the Dune: Imperium: Rise of IX expansion with or without sleeved cards. Personally, I don’t have either the expansion or sleeved cards, but I will make the upgrade at some point and it’s good to know that the Dune: Imperium Deluxe Upgrade Pack has all the space I’ll need.

However, Dune: Imperium Deluxe Upgrade Pack is much more than a bigger box with a few trays to accommodate and organise your pieces. More importantly, is what it does to your game on the table. In short, each of the four colours now has access to a selection of miniatures that act as troops, replacing the dull-as-ditchwater cubes that feature in the base game. Also included are several larger grey miniatures to represent the different alliances available, and twelve agent miniatures that can be slotted into coloured bases depending on who controls them. The final, and perhaps nicest component of all, is a heavy, metallic coin featuring a sandworm – this replaces the standard first player token.

It’s not reasonable to suggest that the Dune: Imperium Deluxe Upgrade Pack actually transforms Dune: Imperium‘s core gameplay because that has always been extremely solid. Dune: Imperium is a game of deck-building, worker placement and shifting alliances which has always been incredibly compelling – especially for fans of the movie. However, that dryness I mentioned earlier has always been there, and I’ve had a few games of Dune: Imperium where players actually struggled to see the cubes as “troops” at all and claimed to have made errors as a result.

The Dune: Imperium Deluxe Upgrade Pack really does do an excellent job of changing how the game feels – making it more visually exciting and adding visible, tangible reminders of how the players are progressing in terms of allegiances and/or power level. The trays that organise the pieces within the box are extremely helpful in speeding up the set-up and teardown of the game and the whole package is very impressive indeed.

In short, Dune: Imperium Deluxe Upgrade Pack is a very worthwhile upgrade for fans of the base game, almost to the extent that it’s a no-brainer if you can afford it. On that note, with an RRP of sixty-five pounds and being generally available at about forty-five, Dune: Imperium Deluxe Upgrade Pack is more expensive than many games are. I definitely appreciate the fact that it has been made available separately so that the base game could be bought at a sensible price, but Dune: Imperium Deluxe Upgrade Pack is still a big investment. If you’re undecided on Dune: Imperium, then I would genuinely suggest you try and play it with Dune: Imperium Deluxe Upgrade Pack – because it makes more of a difference than you might think.

****½  4.5/5

Dune: Imperium Deluxe Upgrade Pack is available online at 365Games.co.uk, or at your local games store. Don’t know where yours is? Try this handy games store locator


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