First Look: ‘Dune: Betrayal’ Game, Coming October

Gale Force Nine have just revealed a very first look at Dune: Betrayal. In this brand-new social deduction game, showcasing stunning visuals of the 2021 movie, you’ll play as secret agents engaged in the bitter feud between great Houses vying for control of Dune. It’s a fast-paced experience, revolving around tactics and deception, with play sessions that run for around 30 minutes. The game will be released October 2021, with a recommend retail price of $25 (USD).

Box for Gale Force Nine's 'Dune: Betrayal' game, featuring visuals from the Dune movie: Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides and Dave Bautista as Rabban "The Beast" Harkonnen.

Designed by Don Eskridge (The Resistance), Dune: Betrayal can be enjoyed by groups of 4-8. Players take on the identity of one of the iconic characters of Dune—such as Rabban, Harkonnen Noble, or Duncan Idaho, Atreides Fighter—each having a distinct role to play. The objective is to discover the identities of your enemies, while forming alliances and leveraging action cards to gain knowledge…and power. In the ensuing battle, players will have to be cunning as they attack targets and concurrently ensure the survival of their own House’s nobles.

Contents of 'Dune: Betrayal, A Game of Intrigue, Tactics, and Deception', from Gale Force Nine.
Contents of Dune: Betrayal, including the rule booklet, game play tracker, and sets of cards.

Here’s the official description for the game:

Are you loyal to the noble House Atreides or a secret agent for the treacherous House Harkonnen?

In this game of tactics and deception you are secret agents amid the sands of Dune.

Your goal is to learn the identities of your foes while protecting your nobles. Enact the aid of strange new tools and allies to gain power and knowledge.

Be clever, practical, and convincing! Hide your true nature while learning theirs.

In the final rounds of battle, you must trust your gut.

Whose back will you choose to defend and whose will you stab? The fate of Dune will come down to you.

Q&A with Don Eskridge

This is fun social gaming, that’s easy to learn, however also presents a unique experience to fans. Below Q&A with the designer offers helpful insights into the creation and what we can expect from the actual game play:

Q: You’re known for creating one of the best known deductive reasoning card games on the market, The Resistance, What are the similarities & differences in Dune: Betrayal?

Great question! I’m proud of both The Resistance and Avalon, which are games of pure social deduction, with the tactics coming in through how to vote, what to say, and when to Succeed and Fail Missions. On the other hand, Dune: Betrayal has a ton of social deduction, but with significantly more tactics. The player must make smaller but important decisions every round, and every decision undoubtedly affects the outcome of the game. In Resistance/Avalon, the result of the game comes down to a few moments of trust; in Dune, you will make a half-dozen or more decisions, all of which will add to the outcome. Every one of them is important, and it’s your job to convince (or trap) your friends into the right one.

Don Eskridge
Game play of Dune: Betrayal, Gale Force Nine. The different types of cards—actions, traits, identities, and targets, feature characters and visuals from the Dune movie (2021).

Q: Were you a fan of the Dune IP before getting involved in the game design?

I was and I am a fan of the original series! I read all six of the Frank Herbert books years ago, and I have been fascinated by the universe since. The chance to make this game, to dive into a complete and growing universe full of the weird and inspired, is awesome. I like that the series evolves in such strange ways with every book; the characters change, and the universe does too. I hope that as players engage with Dune: Betrayal they find similar evolutions in their tactics and strategy.

Q: What considerations did you take when incorporating the theme into the game?

Dune is a dramatic series about the planet of utmost power and potential. There are tons of texture points, like the Fremen with their own long history on the planet, secrecies, desires for the future, and the spice they control. Likewise, to avail is the long, tech and human drama-filled feud between the Atreides and Harkonnen. The books are full of engaging scenes and mechanics that seem ready-written for exploration through other media, to which this game aspires. My goal with this design was to bring through the intrigue between the houses within the texture of the planet and the people (and sand worms) struggling, striving, and thriving there.

Q: What did you enjoy most about designing the game?

People are whom I enjoy most, and they are naturally my friends. For over a year I invited my pals over to try out weird and ridiculous designs. The game versions started like all do, which is to say charitably not great, and grew from their suggestions and my own inspiration. Every designer does it differently; personally, I need and welcome the thoughts of my friends who regularly break and celebrate the game with me. Whether we’ve been playing together for years or met once in a random city, every play-tester’s opinion matters and affects the final version of the game that they helped make.

Q: Do you have a favorite faction you prefer to play & why?

What I like about Dune: Betrayal is that there are actually four different, very important roles to play. So it’s not just a matter of faction, but which duty within the faction (such as Atreides Noble and Harkonnen Fighter). If I had to choose, I would say I most enjoy the Harkonnen Fighter. Their job is a hard but worthwhile one: they must clue-in to the signals from their Harkonnen Noble (who knows who they are and ought to signal) while remaining hidden and attempting to find out the identity of the Atreides Noble, who will take the most damage from their Attack. So, a pursuit of truth while keeping up lies. It is a job that takes a lot, but it’s fun and spicy.

Q: How was working with Gale Force Nine on this project?

Working with GF9 on Dune: Betrayal has been a blast. Everyone is just as excited as I am about this game and the potential series, and we worked hard to make it just right. They’ve also allowed the creative freedom to make the game I’ve been dreaming of. The rules I designed have come through exactly as written. Gale Force Nine has been a welcoming and ambitious partner, and we really think is the start of a new dance in the social deduction sphere. Looking forward to Betrayal coming out to players around the world and to continuing the exploration of this wide-branching, dynamic Dune universe!

Stay tuned for more details to come, including when and where to pre-order.