Tom vs Bruce: Dune Wars

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IV. Bruce’s second term: The Space Bahrain Era

It’s interesting that in an imaginary world where two autocrats alternate power for five hundred years with no chance of overthrow and guaranteed reinstatement, Tom still feels he has to give a campaign speech.

If I can just get all real-life introspective for a moment, I think the one thing that sums up Tom’s and my philosophical differences is probably the divergent conclusions we drew from our experiences in prison. Tom’s strategy of accommodation with the authorities may have won him his freedom, but it didn’t win him many friends, leaving him tied to the current power structures for protection from those whose trust he betrayed in order to save his skin. While my skin may have not been spared, my soul remained intact, and it’s this moral center which allows me to make the difficult decisions in our game which Tom avoided, likely out of deference to the autocratic phantoms which still haunt his dreams.

You know how old people sometimes tell you stories that you probably heard before but you listen politely anyway? Watch this. A long time ago (I’m talking over ten real American years) Tom Chick and I played a PBEM game of Alpha Centauri with some other people. Some of them might be reading this right now. I remember it was long ago because I installed it on my lab computer in grad school and used to fiddle with turns late at night when I was running Western blots. Anyway, one of the players, and I honestly can’t remember who, got put off by himself on a giant continent or Pangaea or something, and merrily expanded without any interference for about six Cretaceous Zones. He was so far ahead that it took a real in-game extinction event in the form of a show-stopping bug — which permanently corrupted the save as soon as the first player was eliminated — to bring the game to a crashing (ha! I kill me) halt.

The point of that story is that sometimes in Civilization games or their close ancestors, people win unfairly. Paul Muad’Dib and his Fremen have over twice our score, and are in no danger of losing that lead. Thanks to the absolute fidelity to the worlds of Philip K. Dick demonstrated by the Dune Wars modders, the Arrakis map does not wrap around like a normal Civilization map. Do you know why that is? Since you have not just spent the last 90 days reviewing every source of Dune information you could find, from the Dune: Heroes series to the dune buggy in Final Fantasy VII, let me tell you: you’re only playing on one planetary hemisphere. Why is that? Because that’s the way it was in those times.

And if you’re wondering where the line crosses from unfairness and maybe favoritism to outright corruption and perhaps five-to-fifteen at Riker’s Island, that line is just north and slightly east of the Atreides city of DFW. Past that, you’re in Fremen territory. Oh, and there’s another line south of Kotaku Rock. That’s all House Corrino. If you’re saying to yourself, Bruce, how can you possibly take advantage of the map edges if you have other civs to your north and south, you’re a long way to understanding the secret of the Bene Gesserit.

So we’re locked in, with a nice spice field to the east and another to the west, but without the cultural superiority to push our borders, we’re well on the way to becoming Space Bahrain. While that may sound great from an income perspective, the Fremen are the real Space Saudis here. At least I’ve grabbed the points lead from Tom again. The spice must flow!

Atreides score: 1554
Tom: 752, Bruce: 802

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