In December 2020, Dire Wolf Digital released Paul Dennen’s Dune: Imperium, which I reviewed on GeekDad. I awarded it with a GeekDad Approved badge, and it went on to be my favorite game of 2021. I wasn’t alone in my enjoyment of the game; it went on to win several awards, including our own GeekDad Game of the Year.
Since the game’s release, Dire Wolf Digital has released two additional products for Dune: Imperium. Today, I’ll be looking at the first of those, the Dune: Imperium Deluxe Upgrade Pack.
What Is the Dune: Imperium Deluxe Upgrade Pack?
The Deluxe Upgrade Pack contains both component upgrades for Dune: Imperium and an organization and storage solution for both the base game and the recently released Rise of Ix expansion. It retails for $60 for the base set, and can be purchased on the Dire Wolf Digital webstore. At the time of this writing, the Deluxe Upgrade Pack is sold out, but they are expecting a new shipment within the next week or two. For an additional cost, you can also include with the Deluxe Upgrade Pack 2 packs of card sleeves: either Arrakis sleeves featuring the iconic desert planet, or The Spice Must Flow featuring the fearsome sandworms of Dune.
Dire Wolf Digital sent me the Dune: Imperium Deluxe Upgrade Pack along with 2 packs of The Spice Must Flow card sleeves.
Dune: Imperium Deluxe Upgrade Pack Components
The base Deluxe Upgrade Pack contains the following:
- 4 Alliance Token miniatures
- 12 Agent miniatures with base rings
- 1 Mentat miniature
- 48 Troop miniatures
- 1 First Player coin
- Card and component trays
- 2 Corrected Missionaria Protectiva cards
The box itself(as pictured above) is much deeper than the box for Dune: Imperium. This is because it can store both the old components and new ones from the base game, as well as all of the components from the Rise of Ix expansion. When you open the box, you’ll find two layers of component trays.
The top level is a single tray that contains all of the new miniatures and the metal First Player coin. It’s also where you’ll store the components for each of the players. The clear plastic lid for this tray is molded to securely hold not just the game board, but also the 2 new, smaller boards from the Rise of Ix expansion.
Instead of colored wooden meeples, each player will now get 3 miniatures for their Agents, marked with plastic rings in the 4 player colors. The miniatures are all nicely sculpted, and faithful to the designs from the recent Denis Villeneuve film adaptation of Dune.
Similarly, players will replace their wooden cubes with 12 small plastic Troop miniatures. These are molded in the player colors, with a different sculpt for each color.
A Mentat miniature, in the same scale as the Agents, replaces the black wooden meeple from Dune: Imperium. This figure bears a loose resemblance to Thufir Hawat, the House Atreides Mentat from the Villeneuve Dune film.
Four detailed miniatures replace the cardboard Faction Alliance tokens. Three combat-ready Sardaukar represent the Emperor, a Guild Heighliner represents the Spacing Guild, and a Bene Gesserit and a Fremen represent their respective factions. Each of the models has sculpted onto their bases the symbol for their factions.
The last component from the top tray, this bas-relief metal coin replace a cardboard token as the First Player marker.
Removing the top tray, you’ll find several smaller trays below. The clear tray lids form a picture of a sandworm.
The card tray has space to hold all of the sleeved cards from both the base Dune: Imperium as well as Rise of Ix. Additionally, you can also store the new technology tiles from Rise of Ix.
A slim tray holds all of the leader cards from both the base game and the expansion. As you can see, there’s room even if you’ve sleeved those cards.
Underneath the leader tray is another, larger tray which I used to hold all of the resource tokens from the game. When you play, you can simply place the tray on the table to act as the bank.
Finally, there’s a tray that I used to store all of the pieces from Dune: Imperium which had been replaced with the upgraded ones, as well as the House Hagal deck for 1-2 player games. Underneath the House Hagal deck there are 4 slots for the player starting decks. Unfortunately, those slots are just a bit undersized for holding sleeved cards, and will result in bent corners on your cards during storage.
Dire Wolf Digital has also included two updated cards, to replace a misprint in the first printing of Dune: Imperium. The original version of the Missionaria Protectiva cards are lacking the “Bene Gesserit” keyword.
A Note On Sleeving
Sleeving game cards is a surprisingly divisive practice in the board gaming hobby. There are some people that sleeve their cards religiously, and others that absolutely hate the feel of holding those plastic sleeves in your hands.
Certainly, if a game has cards that see a lot of use, like in Dune: Imperium, then card sleeves will extend the lifespan of your game.
For sleeving the player cards, Dire Wolf Digital sent me The Spice Must Flow sleeves, as pictured below:
Dire Wolf Digital also sells Arrakis sleeves, which feature the same artwork as that which already appears on the backs of the cards themselves.
As I was already sleeving the player cards, I decided to go ahead and sleeve all the rest of the cards in the game as well. Should you also want to sleeve everything, here’s what I used:
- Conflict and Intrigue cards: Gamegenic Mini European sleeves (2 packs of 50)
- Leader cards: Sleeve Kings XXL Super Large sleeves (1 pack)
- House Hagal cards: Gamegenic Standard Card Sleeves (1 pack)
Be aware that you will need to trim the Sleeve Kings XXL Super Large sleeves by about 1/4 of an inch to fit them into the tray.
Why You Should Get the Dune: Imperium Deluxe Upgrade Pack
First off, if you’re a fan of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune film, then the Deluxe Upgrade Pack will really add to the immersiveness of the game. The screen-accurate costumes on the highly-detailed miniatures really add to the table presence. And if you like to paint, then I imagine a fully-painted set of them would look quite impressive on your gaming table. It’s also much more satisfying having actual troops to fight it out in the combat round instead of wooden cubes.
The added value to the Dune: Imperium Deluxe Upgrade Pack is in its utility as an organizer and storage solution for your game. This is especially evident when you add in the Rise of Ix expansion, as the Deluxe Upgrade Pack was designed with the expansion in mind. I’ve already gotten rid of the empty boxes from the Dune: Imperium base game and the Rise of Ix expansion.
It’s very helpful to be able to pull out some of the trays from the game and put them on the table for use during play. In my last game, we simply drew cards directly from the card tray, and resources from the token tray.
Any nitpicks I have are relatively minor. As the Deluxe Upgrade Pack was designed with the expansion in mind, it would have been nice if they’d also included plastic models of the Rise of Ix dreadnoughts. The wooden dreadnoughts from the expansion look out of place alongside the plastic miniatures. It’s also unfortunate that the cards slots in that one tray aren’t deep enough to truly accommodate the starting player decks if they’re sleeved.
All in all, though, this is a fantastic upgrade for Dune: Imperium. It’s also completely optional, so your enjoyment of the Deluxe Upgrade Pack will likely run along the same lines as how much you enjoy playing Dune: Imperium. Having already expressed my love for the game, you can probably guess that I’m really happy to have the Dune: Imperium Deluxe Upgrade Pack to go with it.
If you’re interested in the Deluxe Upgrade Pack, head over to Dire Wolf Digital’s Dune: Imperium webpage. And if you’d like to know more about the Rise of Ix expansion, I’m currently in the process of reviewing it, so expect my opinions soon.
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes. As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn a small commission on qualified purchases.