CONTRACTING THE EXPANSION
By Stuart K. Tucker(from The General vol.32 no.1)
Sometimes it is hard to find the time or opponents to play the full-fledged game of DUNE, with all of its expansions and variants. Even with the time, differences in player knowledge may lead to unsatisfactory imbalances. Yet, you'd like to use more than just the Treachery cards from the expansion. Here are a few suggestions to make more palatable the use of these extra goodies.
While THE SPICE HARVEST module adds an enjoyable dimension to DUNE, it adds considerably to the playing time. You can "spice up" your play of the game without adding much to the playing time by altering the use of Access cards in THE SPICE HARVEST to establish a variable setup. No longer do you have to start each game in the same setup locations, nor do you have to take the time to play through five spice harvests to alter the setup. This variant has the advantage of allowing players to initially jockey for their stronghold starting positions, while only adding a few minutes to basic game playing time.
Ignore rules IV through V.3 of THE SPICE HARVEST. Instead, shuffle the Access card deck and deal an equal number of cards to each player (but no more than five cards with six or fewer players and no nave than four cards with seven or more players). The Bene Tleilaxu receives none. The Emperor then draws one extra card. The Atreides player then may pick a random card from any other player, giving that player a chosen card from his own hand. The Harkonnen player may decide to receive two extra cards, but in that case must draw a card randomly from the Harvest deck. If that card is a worm, he forfeits and discards his Access cards, including the extra draws. The Fremen player then openly selects one of the discarded Access cards and adds it to his hand.
Play then proceeds immediately to "IV. 4) Trading" and continues as described in the rules of THE SPICE HARVEST. After all players have placed their tokens in strongholds they have won (and negated tokens into reserve), the Fremen may place additional tokens on False Walls West or South, as long as he retains at least ten tokens in reserve.
Players should beware taking all of their Access points as Spice, as this may open the way to a first turn victory, especially by a Guild player using a Karama card to stop one shipment. Early stronghold access, no matter how risky, should not be undervalued.
The Lansraad powers, as published, upset the delicate balance of the game. The following changes bring the powers into better balance.
The Lansraad does have Influence over the Ixians.
The Lansraad remains a potent player to be watched carefully in a game using alliance rules. At least with this rule, he can't bludgeon one player out of the game, though the every-other-turn use of Influence against one player can still be a mighty inducement to join the Lansraad in alliance.