Here’s every Dune game you should know about

Screenshots from Dune 2 and Dune: Spice Wars alongside product shots for Dune Imperium and Dune: A Game of Conquest, Diplomacy & Betrayal
Graphic: Alice Jovanee/Polygon | Source images: Various

Our spicy collection of the best games based on the Dune franchise

With all of its warring houses, assassinations, spycraft, and sandworms, the world of Dune contains no fewer than three of the key ingredients needed for an awesome game. Plenty of developers have drawn inspiration from Frank Herbert’s universe to create some interesting, and occasionally legendary games.

While our list isn’t entirely comprehensive (apologies to Dune Monopoly) and doesn’t include any canceled titles from the Dune franchise, our harvesters have managed to unearth a thorough list of essentials that deserve your attention, along with a few oddities. Below, you’ll find each adaptation listed in chronological order, divided into board games, and video games.

Dune board games

Dune Board Game by Parker Brothers (1984)

A promotional image for the Dune board game from Parker Brothers
Image: Parker Brothers / BoardGameGeek

The Dune board game produced by Parker Bros. feels like something of a misunderstood relic, kind of like David Lynch’s 1984 film adaptation. The game is full of obtuse, poorly explained rules, however, a deeper examination of the rules manages to reveal some interesting, RPG-lite mechanics as players collect equipment and move around a board in an attempt to outwit and eliminate their opponents. While few would consider this discontinued game a classic, it definitely stands as a great example of the weird licensed Dune merchandise, even featuring photos of the cast from the movie on its cards and tokens. —Alice Jovanée

Dune collectible card game (1997)

Art from the Dune CCG by artist, Mark Zug.
Image: Mark Zug

Originally released in 1997 in the wake of the success of Magic: The Gathering, the original collectible card game, Dune is an out-of-print CCG that you can still find here and there on eBay. It’s a relic of a bygone era in tabletop game development where raw complexity was king. Players took on the role of rival houses vying for control of the Landsraad, and even the game’s preconstructed decks featured variations inside each box. The art, inspired by the Lynch film, is striking. –Charlie Hall

Dune: Imperium and Dune: Imperium – Uprising (2020)

A collection of bits from Dune: Imperium - Uprising, including cards depicting Timothy and Zendaya, plus wooden water and spice tokens.
Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

The original Dune: Imperium is apparently MrBeast’s favorite game. If true, he has really good taste in strategy board games. This one’s a slow burn, a spicy melange of deeply interconnected systems that reward repeated play. Dune: Imperium – Uprising is, for all intents and purposes, an upgrade of the original with an emphasis on spycraft and combat. Both games are compatible with all released expansions, including Dune: Imperium – Immortality and Dune: Imperium – Rise of Ix. –CH

Dune: Adventures in the Imperium (2020)

A prisoner kneels before the Emperor. The style is brisk and pixelated, with Middle-eastern motifs in the background of the ornate throne dais.
Image: Eren Arik/Modiphius Entertainment

Modiphius’ 2d20–based tabletop role-playing game is as unique as it is sprawling. That’s because it asks players to create not just a single character but an entire royal house of the Landsraad with many potential characters that can be brought to the table over the course of a campaign. Events can be drawn from virtually any point in the vast Dune timeline. A new expansion, titled Dune: Fall of the Imperium, will closely follow the events of Dune: Part Two. –CH

Dune: A Game of Conquest, Diplomacy & Betrayal (2021)

A game board with the telltale circular form of Arakis, with punchboards filled with chits and a selection of cards. Privacy screens, one for each faction, lay unfolded in the lower left-hand corner.
Image: Gale Force Nine

First published by The Avalon Hill Game Company in 1979 as Frank Herbert’s Dune, this legendary strategy game was re-released exactly 40 years later by Gale Force Nine as Dune: A Game of Conquest, Diplomacy & Betrayal and is still in print. The game is unique in that it asks players to place bets using their available combat troops as currency in a kind of bluffing game, with each player revealing the final disposition of their forces only in the split second before a victor is determined. I spent more than $300 making a copy while it was caught in 40 years of licensing hell, but you can get yours for a fraction of the price. –CH

Dune House Secrets (2021)

Promotional art for the Dune House Secrets board game
Image: Portal Games

Dune: House Secrets is a cooperative, narrative-based card game with some slick artwork, adapted from Portal’s Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game. House Secrets can be played solo, but supports up to four players who take on the role of original characters in a three-part narrative adventure that plays out like a detailed “choose your own adventure”. You’ll utilize assets and chase down leads in an attempt to unravel a labyrinthine plot nestled in the lore of Frank Herbert’s universe. AJ

Dune: War for Arrakis (2024)

A promotional image for Dune: War for Arrakis
Image: Beastie Geeks

Developed by the same team responsible for the popular War of the Ring board game, Dune: War for Arrakis is a miniature-heavy, asymmetric, territory-control game, in the style of Twilight Imperium, or The Game of Thrones Board Game. Players compete for control of Dune as either House Atreides or House Harkonnen. This massive, crowdfunded board game doesn’t launch until Mar. 22, but already has two planned expansions featuring the smugglers and the spacing guild. Pre-orders for the base game are currently available through Asmodee and Miniature Market. —AJ

Dune video games

Dune (DOS, Amiga, Sega CD) (1992)

A screenshot of the 1992 Dune adventure game
Image: Cryo Interactive

The original Dune video game is something of a curio that takes elements of turn-based strategy games and combines them with some lean adventure-game mechanics to play through the events of the first book. Players take on the role of Paul Atreides, traveling to different sietches and interacting with characters to move the story along. Eventually, you’ll be responsible for handling spice production and managing armies as you earn the trust of the Fremen to retake Arrakis. While ambitious, the cumbersome gameplay and wild voice-acting make it difficult to recommend, however, if you’re feeling particularly patient, you can try the game out for yourself by downloading it from your favorite abandonware site. —AJ

Dune 2: Building of a Dynasty / Dune 2: Battle for Arrakis / Dune Legacy (1992)

A screenshot from Dune 2: The Building of a Dynasty
Image: Westwood Studios

Dune 2, my liege, my king, my emperor of the known universe. Dune 2 by Westwood Studios (R.I.P.) is the title many people will point to as popularizing the real-time strategy genre. Playable on DOS, Amiga, or Sega Genesis, Dune 2 let you build bases and control units through a rudimentary sidebar interface that would become a staple of Westwood’s Command & Conquer franchise. Dune 2 is abandonware and can be downloaded for free, however, the best way to play this historical title is through the Dune Legacy fan project.

Legacy keeps all of the original assets in place, but emulates them for current-gen hardware. Legacy also sands down some of the rough edges from the original release, by modernizing the interface and controls to be more in line with what you’d expect from a contemporary RTS title. —AJ

Dune 2000 (1998)

A screenshot from Dune 2000
Image: Westwood Studios

The 1998 remake of the original 1992 game that jump-started the real-time strategy genre, Dune 2000 added a streamlined interface, FMV cutscenes featuring the irreplaceable John Rhys-Davies, a remastered soundtrack, and support for a whopping 640×480 resolution. Dune 2000 launched about a year after the original Command & Conquer: Red Alert, and uses a similar interface to modernize the classic Dune with a fresh coat of paint and faster gameplay. Dune 2000 has been made compatible with modern systems thanks to the OpenRA fan project. The source files required to play are considered abandonware, and available to download for free online. —AJ

Emperor: Battle for Dune (2001)

A screenshot from Emperor: Battle for Dune
Image: EA / Westwood Studios

Emperor: Battle for Dune was the last RTS developed by the legendary Westwood Studios, but was largely lost in the shadow of the far more popular Red Alert 2, which launched around the same time. Emperor still includes Westwood’s trademark FMV cutscenes (with Michael Dorn filling the role of Duke Atreides), but features dynamic, non-linear campaigns that allow you to ally with different factions to customize your army. Emperor’s graphics have aged like milk and the gameplay has some rough spots, but it still includes some interesting ideas and a killer soundtrack. While the game is downloadable from a variety of abandonware sites, getting the game to run on modern systems is a complicated process. AJ

Frank Herbert’s Dune (2001)

A screenshot from the 2001 game, Frank Herbert’s Dune
Image: Widescreen Games

If the legacy of Dune games had a black sheep, it’d be Frank Herbert’s Dune from 2001. This third-person shooter made for PC and PlayStation 2 loosely follows the events of the book and was intended to capitalize on renewed interest in the franchise following the release of a three-part Dune miniseries produced for the Sci-Fi channel a year prior. The gameplay for Frank Herbert’s Dune is a highlight reel for early-2000’s licensed tie-in shovelware, complete with terrible voice acting, awkward gameplay, and goofy animations. If you’d like to experience this fever dream of a game for yourself, and attempt to get it running on modern hardware, you can download it for free from a host of abandonware sites. AJ

Dune Wars Revival (Civ 4 Mod) (2009)

A screenshot from the Dune Wars Revival mod for Sid Meier’s Civilization 4: Beyond the Sword
Image: Dune Wars Team / Firaxis

A truly exhaustive mod originally released in 2009 for Sid Meier’s Civilization 4: Beyond the Sword, Dune Wars Revival is still receiving continued support and updates at the time of this post with refreshed assets inspired by the Villeneuve Dune films. Dune Wars features a reworked tech tree, buildings, wonders, and unique units for each of its seven factions. While Dune Wars is technically a total conversion, it still relies on classic Civ rules, making it accessible to anyone who remembers Civ before it became six-sided. Dune Wars is available to download from ModDB, but also requires Civilization 4, and the Beyond the Sword expansion which can be purchased via Steam. —AJ

Dune: Spice Wars (2022)

Armies cross a desert terrain in Dune: Spice Wars
Image: Shiro Games/Funcom

Where to play: Windows, Xbox Series X/S

The most recent video game in the Dune franchise might actually be its best. Dune: Spice Wars is a real-time strategy game that uses a host of mechanics typically reserved for titles in the turn-based Civilization franchise. In addition to raising armies and capturing territories, players will have to contend with managing diplomacy and spycraft to get an edge on competing houses. Spice Wars is best experienced on PC, but is also available on Game Pass and plays reasonably well with a controller. —AJ