The Spice Must Flow

There’s nothing like a good quote from a Sci-fi book to spice up your blog entry but how about a photo as well?


I first read Dune by Frank Herbert many years ago while I was still in high school and still read it now and then, I’ve seen the film umpteen times, played various computer games, own trading cards blah blah blah… yeah I like the stories and there’s something awesome about guys riding giant worms and fighting over spice which is made from the poop of baby worms and water. Oh and the politics and characters are pretty good as well, its not all about worms and spice.

Old Spice

Several months ago I got to see, hear, touch and smell an original copy of the 1979 boardgame based on Dune (I would have licked it if I had the chance). It was a thing of beauty… even though it was fairly beaten up and well played. It’s filled with 70’s artwork which sets a different mood to everything that came ‘post Lynch’ that most people know and I really wanted to play it… badly. Unfortunately it wasn’t possible, but I did some digging and managed to turn up a reprint which was released short after the film came out and was almost the same except it had a figure on the front based on Feyd-Rautha/Sting from the film. While my finger hovered over the ‘buy’ button I couldn’t find it in me to click it… something was nagging at me. While reading up on the game earlier I had uncovered a lot of info about the game and the three main bits that I turned up was that the company which made it (Avalon Hill) had gone out of business years before, another company had bought the rights to the rules but couldn’t get the theme so they released it as Rex: Final Days of an Empire and that the rules and there is a wealth of details about Dune available on board game geek. While the possibility to buy an updated version in the form of Rex seemed tempting, I was left cold by the theme and the more I thought about it, the more I realised that I could work on making my own copy based on the resources available to me. What I would hope to end up with was a unique piece that reflected some of the love

I decided to wait while we went on holiday for two weeks and that would allow me a cooling off period which didn’t work as all I could think about was how I would make it. I know printers in the Ipswich area so I knew I could easily get them to run off anything I sent them but that seemed too easy, where was my involvement? I needed to make something and just having it all printed by someone else seemed too simple for me.

The Sleeper Must Awaken

The first thing was to find out exactly what I needed in terms of board, cards, counters and rules. Scouring the Dune section of BGG I found a couple of places which had the full set of resources and settled on the set by Ilya 77 which quite a few people seem to have used and there’s it’s a wonderful design which has a art deco/20’s feel to it which fits with the abandonment of technology that the books have. One chap has even collected all of the cards into three artscow galleries for ease of printing so theres a big time saver thanks to the hard work of kevintlee for pulling these together.

cardsI ordered the cards (sorry, a touch blurry. I will take some better photos when the whole thing is finished) and they came in a couple of weeks which isn’t bad going as they came all the way from Hong Kong.

While that was all in transit I picked up some wooden discs and some mosaic tiles to use as counters in the game as the troops/spice.


The discs got coated in sanding sealer, rubbed down, coated again, sanded, coated, sanded… on and on until they became smooth and then I glued the front and back of the leader discs to each one.

spice tokens

I bought seven colours of the mosaic tiles and they match the colours of the six houses well, and another pack being used for the Spice tokens. All of the troop tokens are clear but the spice tokens have gold and brown flecks in them which really helps to make them look like compressed packets of Spice Melange.

For the map I could have gone the easy route of printing it on a large printout via a local printer but wanted the board to be unique. I’d been toying with the idea of a wooden one as several people on BGG had posted photos of homemade wooden boards and I’d already made contact with Kieron at Funky Lemon Design over finding out his pricing for laser cutting on something else previously. That didn’t go through but and I got back in touch to work out how the board could be done. After a quick chat, I found a copy of the board file as a coraldraw file (which I had to convert to .ai) and I then set about turning it into a version I could pass on for engraving. Some of the details didn’t survive the conversion (no text, some of the shapes) and I made a few changes to the design such as the same font over the whole thing and moving some bits around. One of thoughts that came up at one point (not sure where) was to have the map raised above the base to give it a slightly extruded feel so I supplied the final artwork as two files. One base, one map.

and what came back?


Which is actually two bits and ready for staining like this:


and the map goes from this:


to this:


The middle bit (the polar cap) is just sanding sealer over the bare wood, the sand, mountains and sietch spaces are all different coloured wood stains and finally it will look like this when it is glued together:


But it isn’t glued together, not yet, as I have one more thing to do to it. I’m going to mix up some easyflo and some brass powder and fill the engravings in the wood. I was going insane just staining the base so I’m not looking forward to the metal stage as that will be quite a bit to do. I also don’t have the final bits just yet as Funky Lemon are putting together a carefully put together box which will act as storage and a base for the map, this will need gluing and staining to match the base. The one last thing will be to play test to make sure I have every last bit, at which point I find out I’m missing some massive piece but at least I’ll have a funky map. I can theoretically have more of the map/board pieces made up now that one has been done so I’ll be fine if it ever gets damaged, I’ll also post some better pictures of the final setup when the whole thing is finished.

20 thoughts on “The Spice Must Flow

  1. Bob Schrempp

    Beautiful, just beautiful.

    I wanted to thank you for the AI files you provided of the Dune board. I was able to adjust the files and make them laser ready and cut a board for Kolby Reddish. I have posted some pictures of the cut board on BGG.


  2. Kirkd Post author

    Thanks Bob, I’m glad the files are getting some use and that looks great. I should get some of my photos on the BGG gallery.

  3. Kirkd Post author

    A couple of hundred pounds (don’t tell the missus).

    A big chunk of it was the cost of the laser work but also the cost of printing the cards and the materials to make the pieces.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.