This is not a guide for getting good at Dune: Spice Wars. This is a guide to getting less bad faster. If you enjoy finding things out the hard way, putting in six to eight hours of gameplay only to find you’ve missed a critical element, then please skip this guide.
If, instead, you want to maybe not replay the first six hours over and over until you figure out the basic mechanics, and you’re thirsting for a slightly more comprehensive tutorial than the absolute riddles the tooltips provide, then read on.
Intro: Things I Wish I Knew Right Away
From the jump: The advisors straight up tell you which of them are Hard to use and which are Easy. Maybe take that advice the first time.
Your spice mining comes in as spice by default. The little white horizontal line to the left of your Stockpile info, in the top left, just to the right of your spice income?
That’s a vertical slider. You can slide it down to get some Solaris instead when you harvest, or slide it all the way up to get OnlySpice. If I’m stupid, I slide it all the way up for OnlySpice until I have at least as much spice as the next tax amount, then I slide it all the way down to Maximum Solaris until the next tax season. If I’m smart, I slide it up to where the red pie in the bottom right turns green- that means I’ll make enough spice in time for tax season. (Thanks, Red Dragon!)
You can only convert spice to Solaris at the time of harvest- once you harvest the spice, you’ll have to trade it with other folks to turn it into something else.
On that note, pretty much any faction will trade with you pretty much whenever. Take an Atreides village in the morning, trade them some spice for plascrete at lunchtime and they’re like sure yeah whatever. They won’t trade you as much though because they hate you. Keep your relations positive and you’ll get good deals. (Thanks again, Red Dragon!)
You don’t need a special technology to add your first crew to your harvester, but it goes out without a crew by default. Spend the 50 manpower on that crew, military can wait!
If you set your harvester to auto-recall, you collect 5% less spice.
If you don’t have enough Authority to take a village, you can only Pillage it, and that’ll make it harder to take next time. Maybe mouse over the village first and see what it needs.
That buried Ornithopter? Don’t send a military unit to go get it right away unless you control that region. They will run out of supplies and die before completing that search… but you *can* do it to about 33%, run back home, and come back later, if you like doing things the hard way.
Once You’ve Started: Stuff I Wish I Knew A Few Hours In
If you don’t have enough spice for the spice tax, your spice-to-gold conversion rate suffers for next time, you lose a bit of Authority, but it’s not the end of the universe. It just feels that way because of the ticking doom timer.
If you *do* have enough spice, you get influence, which is extra votes during voting time.
Militia cost way less gold and manpower than roving armies, plus once they’re in they don’t require regular upkeep.
Army units cost regular water *and* regular manpower. I guess people just leave all the time, probably because you’re making them march all over the desert.
You can only have 10 Agents max, and Eye of the Council gives you two, so if you want to try for that, maybe start working on it once you have 5 or so, not once you have 10.
Assassination attempts are *not* one and done- they’re each a three-part mission. Have a Snickers, you’ll be there awhile.
Sietches want a completely idle Agent, not one that’s doing any kind of job. Apparently you can right-click an Agent to send them back to the Unassigned zone, where the Agent can then be assigned to a Sietch. This was the most helpful part of the Tutorial, Shiro! Thanks to Lima for finding this before I could.
If you don’t care much about the Council votes, you can buy Landsraad Standing with the spare Influence or trade it away. The AI loves that stuff.
Infiltration levels are almost entirely dependent on how many Agents you have in that spot. If you have Arrakis Infiltration level 2 with two Agents and you remove one, you’ll go to level 1 almost instantly.
Arrakis Infiltration Agents give you a +20% bonus to Sietch detection. If you wanna make sandy buddies, infiltrate Arrakis first, I guess.
Special Regions have a little four-pointed star you can mouse over to see what they do. Some let you build Processing Plants, which generate +30 Solaris. The Polar Sink lets you build a Water Extractor for a whopping +1000 Hegemony and +30 Water.
If Raiders are overwhelming you, maybe scout out the Discoveries that increase your Sietch detection chances. Once you find em, just trade em whatever they want so they leave you alone. It’s usually a pretty good deal. Sietches are like an angry cat: You don’t have to be the one the cat’s favorite, just not the cat’s least favorite.
If you hate someone’s charter election bid but you don’t have a better option, you can vote Decline and toss votes behind that. Just because a charter is up doesn’t mean any candidate who qualifies gets the job. Sometimes the Minor Houses vote for no governor.
Smugglers: Wait, This Faction Wasn’t In the Movie
So I’ve only played Smugglers so far, and I’ve played enough to realize I need to play the other factions in order to actually win, but I also like Smugglers too much to play other factions just yet, so here’s some things I’ve learned so far.
-Lingar Bewt is a trap. Sure you can get cheaper village annexation and cheaper Underworlds with more Water, but in order to get that more Water, you either have to take over a bunch of windy places or control the Polar Sink. Holding the Polar Sink is like wearing a white suit to teach a dozen toddlers to fingerpaint: real messy real quick. I feel like Smugglers like to be on the fringes, not the frontlines.
-Staban Tuek is hard to use correctly because it costs a TON of Solaris to set up. You want a bunch of Underworld HQ, right? That means letting everyone else have a bunch of adjacent villages. Once you get enough of them, they’ll start paying for each other, especially if you can siphon off Solaris from the right ones, but it takes awhile before that really pays off. Also, if you take over a village with an Underworld HQ, you’ve essentially deprived yourself of an income source, so maybe think carefully about that.
-Smugglers are great at defense but not great on offense, since their advantages depend on depriving enemies of Supplies. This means you’ll want to keep a Poison the Reserves operation on tap when you’re ready to go on the offense- pop it when you cross the border, and they’ll be good and hungry by the time you get to the village proper. This also means you probably don’t want to mess with the Fremen ever.
-The Fremen Do Not Care about your Supply shenanigans. It’s important enough to say twice.
-Smugglers can scout out Black Market opportunities to sell 200 Spice for like 900 Solaris. If you pay attention to the CHOAM exchange rate, it means a 1 spice to 4.5 Solari ratio, which is WAY BETTER than whatever CHOAM will give you. If you max out your Ornithopters ASAP, you can probably run on a Solari deficit and survive purely on finding those Black Markets, pillaging, and siphoning off of your enemies.
-Your Snipers are sneaky little gits, which means someone can easily misjudge how many armies they need to send to take one of your villages. If a Sniper arrives even a little after four raiders take on a 3-militia village, the Sniper can usually clean up just fine.
-Putting a Bounty on a vote is a fixed upfront cost. You don’t also have to pay off all the 5-credit minibribes. I sure hope I’m not wrong about that.
-You’re not gonna win on military so don’t try. Once the villages are mostly spoken for, plant missile bases on your spice refineries near the edges, plant rebellions on border villages to keep them free for pillaging, and if someone bothers you, tag em with Wreckers and run. Either they chase you and ignore your militias, or they focus on your militias and you can just come back and keep tagging em with Wreckers until they run out of supplies and die.
-You get Hegemony from pillaging villages. You can get an advisor who will also throw in some Plascrete. Pillaging a few early on will get you to 2k hegemony faster, which lets you start building the big buildings faster. Y’know, like Intelligence Agency, the one that gives you +100% Agent recruitment rate.
-Spying Logistics also gives you +100% Agent recruiment rate. You know what’s nice? Having triple the Agent recruitment rate.
-Not sure what to spend Intel on? Ghost Markets is 200 Solaris for 50% of a village’s production, and that’s not limited by range. If you have 50% of their production from Ghost Markets and 30% of their production from your Underworld HQ’s upgrade, it’s like it’s your village and they’re just taking a 20% cut to protect it from the other factions and getting the privilege of paying the maintenance fees.
Atreides: If Golden Retrievers were an Imperial House
OK, so House Atreides is just literally the goodest of bois. Have some headpats, Leto.
-Peaceful Annexation is paying the water and authority you would’ve paid to beat them up first, plus 50 Influence, to take a village over V E R Y S L O W L Y. Like, 3x the time it would’ve taken to build an army, send it over, and roflstomp them. I love me a good pacifism, but dang. At least the village brings a full complement of militia along, so it’s kinda like you’re spending 50 Influence to get 150 Solaris and 15 manpower. (Ugh “manpower”, what do sweaty dudes grunting about the Super Bowl have to do with recruitment) It’s best for calling dibs on a village that’s awkward for you to take while your actual armies go take something else. Definitely make sure you factor this into your vote planning, don’t blow all your Influence if you’ve got your eye on a shiny village.
-Atreides only gets 3 unique techs, and none of them are anything to write home about IMO. One literally pays you Solaris when people and sietches really like you, one makes it way easier to defend, and one gives you extra Influence for having Special Regions. Just take your vanilla faction and go ugh. At least you can build a Water Extractor so there’s a reason to go to the Polar Sink, and you can hold it with your superior Missile Batteries once you have it, with +20% Power cause you Understand the Beauty of a polar icecap. Hmm, maybe that’s what Atreides is supposed to be doing the whole time…
-Since other factions don’t lose Authority for treaties with you, they will throw those in like candy in most trade agreements. You still lose it though, so maybe wait until you’ve grabbed all the villages you can first.
-Atreides gets a nifty Intel project, Arrakis Diplomacy. It disbands raiders and increases sietch relations, so that’s nice.
-Atreides gets focus fire benefits, so keeping all your troops together in a big deathball is gonna do better than spreading out like the Fremen do.
Atreides would like very much to win by Governance please but who the heck is gonna let them, good luck getting enough Influence together to beat out the Smuggler bounties
Fremen: Only Played Em For An Hour
Fun facts about the Fremen:
-Fremen don’t care about Fuel Cells. They smoke the fuel and it makes them go berserk in combat or something. They skim a little Spice off the top when collecting, but who cares since they’re not doing much else with it anyway. They refit their ornithopters with, I dunno, hamster wheels or something. So go nuts with those thopters.
-Fremen don’t care about sandworms when collecting spice. They don’t use harvesters, so they never get attacked while collecting spice. Just chilling out in the desert forever, picking up spice. So that’s cool.
-Fremen don’t care about Water Extractors, which is super weird in the lore but this is a Video Game so don’t get your knickers in a twist about it. This means the Polar Sink is pretty useless to you, unless you enjoy denying everyone else the Water Extractor.
-Fremen don’t care about the Landsraad. They’re not handing spice over to the Empire for spice tax, they’re bribing the Spacing Guild to look the other way while they’re up to shenanigans elsewhere on the planet. That’s rad. If they make the Spice Tax, they get Authority instead, which is just as well, since…
-Fremen don’t care about sending Agents to sietches. Everyone else has to use up one of their precious agents, the Fremen just… kinda… spend some Authority and call it a day.
-Fremen don’t care about airfields, either. They don’t know what those are. They just get Thumpers and ride worms to stuff. They can stack up to 3 of em, they can bring folks from one sandy place to another. Worms can’t travel onto hard rock though, so make sure enemy troops are moving across the desert before ambushing them. Also, it’s not an immediate thing, they have time to move, so it’s not the SURPRISE YA GOT GOT maneuver you wish it was.
-So what DO the Fremen care about? They care about PLASCRETE. Holy God-Emperor do they care about Plascrete. I can never seem to make enough.
-Fremen care about being unseen. They have a special Intel project that makes their Allied units invisible for 2 days, their Infiltrators have Camouflage, they can tech up to everything being camouflaged in the Deep Desert, their Agents can be made harder to capture if you invest wayyy hard into spy tech. Great. We get it, Fremen. Nerds.
-Fremen also care about having more Supply than you. They just do. They really want to park an army in the Deep Desert for days, waiting for you to cross, then murder you there. Why would you try that though? Nerds.
-They also care about killing. Most of their Sietch bonuses revolve around stone cold murder, getting extra Fedaykin boots on the ground, whatever. Fremen seem super hard geared towards a Military victory, what with huffing fuel cells and sending people deep into the desert and all. Also, BigTasty says winning is way easier than sending wave after wave of my own warriors into someone else’s sietch:
“When you see the “administrative” landsraad thing, target your closest enemy, group your troops, prep sabotage defence and supply drop. It prevents that factions sietch from firing on your troops and you do double damage to it. For a MONTH. You can essentially teleport right in there with one thumper with your entire army. The AI on any difficulty cannot handle this.”
While I appreciate Big Tasty’s creative naming conventions, I’m pretty sure it’s actually called Architectural Surveys, so don’t miss your shot on account of that.
I gotta win with Snugglers first, so this will probably be all I write about the Fremen for awhile. Too bad you don’t just want to liberate villages all day from the get-go, Fremen. Be a lot cooler if you did. Instead I gotta wait until the Spreading the Faith tech all the way at the bottom of the economy tech tree to get paid for telling people not to help the Harkonnen. Nerds.
Harkonnen: The Other Ones
OK I’m a big coward I don’t enjoy oppressing people so I’m not gonna get real into the Harkonnen. Thankfully a buddy of mine is big into them so I don’t have to be. Here’s a bunch of stuff I learned from them, and from fighting against them:
-Harkonnen just really love being huge jerks. Even to themselves. They can poison Council resolutions, they hit their allies with friendly fire on purpose, they oppress villages for crazy resource boosts, and so forth.
-What’s even more gross? One of the Harkonnen advisors gives them extra militia slots, which combines with a tech they have that gives more resource production for every militia in a village. At the default 3 militia, that tech only gives a 5% production bonus- whatever. At +2 slots between the advisor and war tech, you can get up to 5 militia, which means a 15% production bonus with no buildings required beyond militia which are pretty cheap anyway.
-Combat Drugs makes their units unkillable. COMBAT DRUGS MAKES THEIR UNITS UNKILLABLE.
-Their advanced unit, the Vanguard, starts stacking armor the more things die around them. If you don’t focus them down early, they get like 11 armor which means you’re doing like 1 or 2 per hit. Does it ever wear off? I don’t think so. Your worthless anti-armor dweebs you kinda forget about in midgame? They’re for these jerks.
-That said, extra militia is kind of their only real defensive thing. Smugglers can get easy intel to wreck gear, Fremen have sandworms to repel attackers, and Atreides gets all sorts of defensive boosts, but Harkonnen really just rely on a terrifying offense to keep from having to go on the defensive.
-This also means they need lots of Manpower (UGH MANPOWER AGAIN). They’re hungry for Manpower. They just gobble it up. I guess if they are relying on a special region to get double recruitment, you can focus on that village and try to cripple them there, but generally if you ignore them they will just become a bunch of unstoppable 11 armor juggernauts lategame.
Conclusion: You Can Pretty Much Stop Reading Now
You made it to the end, eh? Here’s a tiny bonus tidbit for your trouble: Troops who are going to die by sandworm have an X on them. Move them into a village or sietch until the X goes away and they’re safe.
This game is in Early Access, so half of this will be outdated by the time you read it. I will definitely have forgotten about this by the time you comment with all the things I’ve gotten wrong, so comment away and know that you’re better at the Internet than I am.
Found out more cool stuff about Smugglers that I missed that isn’t easily discoverable by reading tooltips? Comment that too, I love finding out more Smuggler tactics.
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