“The House that controls the most spice will control Dune”
An early access guide to the new Dune.
If you’re reading this guide to decide if you want to play this game then you need to realize Dune: Spice wars is not a traditional RTS. This will make some people angry.
Unit caps overall are very small and you need multiple towns and research to be able to afford the upkeep of several units.You need research to get more military units.
The game is pretty unique in that the political aspect of the game can greatly hinder or help your efforts. Every so often there is a “vote” with three aspects that are chosen. One of these is a construction reduction cost by 20% but makes your HQ unable to attack. You might want to select this to change a building from 1500 “gold” to 1200 but in so doing the enemy can assault your HQ.
Normally it is extremely difficult to kill your main building. You must have a town nearby so your units can refill their supply and health. The only times I have made it easy where when I owned a town directly adjacent to a HQ and attacked with about 8 units (several of which were the max tier).
Picking this political event on an enemy could let you kill them after a half hour of gameplay instead of three to four hours.
There are four factions and they are very different in how they play.
Atreides- “Nice guys” who benefit from treaties.
Harkonnen- “Bad guys” who are basically conquerers.
These two factions have an advantage in the Landstraad resolutions (vote system). These factions start with free “votes”. To make a long story short the Landstraad system gives you votes based on your standing. The other two factions dont start with standing so they have to get all their voting power from influence (more on this later).
The Smugglers – stealthy faction (think Ordos if you are a Dune II fan)
The Fremen – Native faction
For whatever faction you pick you will select two bonuses for that house. Each faction has radically different options to pick from. Note : if you spy on an enemy faction you can see which councilors they selected.
1. Lady Jessica : can force factions into treaties for influence but the opponent can spend authority to refuse.
This is useful to hurt enemy Landstraad standing if they want to attack you (breaking the treaty). If they decline it will sap their authority which is vital for military expansion. This is more valuable than it seems because the Atreides benefit from treaties (with research).
2. Duncan Idaho: You get 100% faster trading benefits with Fremen (once befriended and allied they stop attacking you). He also grants a 10% reduction in annex cost for villages.
This is a bad choice from what I have seen. You can get this same benefit from a tech and the 10% annex cost is not worth losing out on a better option.
3. Thurfur Hawat: Your agents (spies) get +1 trait. Villages targeted by operations give +20% production for two days.
The spy bonuses range so much that this can be very minimal.
4. Gurney Halleck: Unlocks Veteran Militia unit. Military units start with +1 experience level.
Always take this councilor. He is that good. Veteran military units are insanely strong and otherwise take a long time to keep alive.
1. Feyd-Rautha : can corrupt a Landstraad voting option. You gain +10 influence by killing rebels.
This is an “always” pick option if you ask me. If someone is beating you in Landstraad standing you can corrupt an option and force them to take it. Later when MP is a thing you can let someone win an option and they won’t know they are voting to lose Landtraad standing (which is very hard to get overall until late game you only get it from paying taxes). You can also cheese influence by making your cities rebel and giving you free influence. If you control the vote then you win the game.
2. Piter De Vries: Unlocks the stealth probe (which you get from research anyway). Makes your Ornithopters generate intel in enemy territory and disguises which faction they belong to unless close.
Intel is not very good currently. Maybe it will be better later. It is a “dump” currency I use to trade the AI my intel for his “concrete”. This could be valuable to do that faster. The real value here would be to have invisible spies and extra intel. Maybe when intel means more this would suck less.
3. Rabban Harkonnen : +1 Militia slot. Increases the duration of oppression by the number of militias (making it better).
Never play Harkonnen without this councilor. Why? You get extra production based on how many militias your cities have. You also get more duration for oppression – meaning you can get spies faster.
4. Iakin Nefud: refunds 50% of unit prices on death. Makes the combat drugs intelligence option cheaper.
I’ve never bothered to use combat drugs and instead won fights with micro/tactics as it has a huge problem of draining their supply. Making that better is nearly pointless. Getting lots of “refunds” on death should not happen often vs AI. This might get much better in a year when MP exists.
Smugglers: Overall they have very nice well rounded options.
1. Staban Tuek: Makes underground HQ better.
This is why you play smugglers – to leech off enemy villages. When MP rolls around this will let you “leech” from the “winning” players. It wont do a lot vs the AI when you can easily push their territories.
2. Lingar Bewt : Makes annexing villages cheaper if you have extra water.
This will help you grow larger as you control more territory; it will be more valuable as you control more land. Local Dialect research is a -15% annex bonus. Trying to annex a 94 cost village we get : -18 authority from Dialect, -6 from water production (21).
3. Drisq: gives your spies the “merchant” attribute. All infiltration levels are set to 1 (even with no spy).
The infiltration level bonus is an “early game” boost. If it were +1 that would be crazy powerful but that is not the same. The merchant attribute gives you +1% Solari global production per Infiltration level. All of your spies will have this trait with no variation unless you get “event spies”. So you will make more Solari than other factions but less “other things”.
This seems “ok” except that spies are slow and you can’t slot them quickly. Eight spies in two of each main infiltration will give you an 8% production increase. Money is the only infinite resource but I would rather have something else.
4. Bannerjee: Gain 30% more from pillaging villages. Gain plascrete (concrete) when you pillage a viillage.
This is how the AI funds its wars. I was wondering how this faction was getting nearly infinite concrete as the AI.
This would be my second “always pick”
1. Chani Kynes : Like the Harkonnen corrupt power this will link an election result with a rebellion.
If you give the AI intel an they have this option they will cause rebellions. You can potentially milk this if you are playing the Harkonnens.
2. Stilgar : +1 Authority per spice field exploited.
Authority is hard to get, caps at 500 and since spice fields are limited this would be hard to make good use of unless playing on a large map.
3. Mother Ramallo : Starts with the temple unlocked and reveals all spice field locations.
You can find them fast with an extra flying scout (Ornithopter) so the vision aspect is pretty wasteful. Picking this lets you make the temple early on so you can make extra resources faster but it does not give you the other benefits of the tech (liberating a village gives +1000 Solari).
4. Otheym : +10% unit speed and units gain 20% power/armor if alone.
Unit speed is good because nothing else in the game gives that bonus. The “lone warrior” trait can decide battles and is a lot better than it sounds due to how melee units work.
Atreides Faction Bonuses
Default bonuses :
- Peaceful Annexation is only valuable to take far away locations without connection “trash provinces”.
The problem with this is that you can already use the support drone to help you get to far away places.
- Other factions lose no Authority when they have treaties with you (but you still lose the Authority). So you’re really helping the enemy with this trait.
- Get more votes with a high Landstraad standing.
Finally – here’s a reason to play this faction. If you control the vote then you can use that to win the game.
- Cannot pillage neutral villages.
After playing the Harkonnens first I realized this was a very strong penalty.
5k Hegemony Bonuses:
- Positive resolutions give +10 credit income.
- Negative resolutions give +10% unit power.
Useful but not game changing.
10k Hegemony Bonuses
You can ignore the necessary requirements for charters except for Landstraad standing. In short this means you can take Landstraad positions when they randomly appear without filling the requirements.
This is powerful because you can always hold every office if you are in high standing. And you will be by playing house good guy – right?
House Strategy / Breakdown
The game was simple with this faction. Eliminate the Harkonnens and then you control the vote. You can have such a voting advantage that you can choose everything once the Harkonnens are gone. Your next biggest threat are the Smugglers who can be siphoning income from your expansions.
The “no pillage” penalty makes you poor. Expand towards someone you want to fight and chain pillage them. You might want to “treaty up” until you unlock the better units.
Veteran AI units make you really tough to beat in combat.
Your top tier unit (warden) gives all nearby units +2 armor. There is a research option to make it have an extra level of experience. So you can be popping these out with +2 levels of XP. This is hard to beat once they are on the field.
Troopers have better damage but low survivability. If you did a 2 trooper opening you can later make 2 wardens and split them into a new force. Now you can have tanky troopers that do tons of damage. Troopers with a mixed unit force do a ton of extra damage.
Warden+ trooper+sniper+heavy weapon+ support drone = GG. The support drone is the last part I add so they have better mobility in deep desert. The drone will heal them after defeating city militias meaning if a counter attack comes they will be full health.
If you replaced a trooper with Landstraad guard then you would have an 8 armor unit.
Default Bonuses: Overall very strong base bonuses
- Can use Oppression on Harkonnen Buildings
Gives you bonuses to production and build speed. Keep an army between three cities and cycle the ability. One army of 3-4 units can handle revolts for three nearby cities.
- +5% village resource production per active militia.
- -10% village production
This means you start with -10% production on villages. You can eventually go up to +6 Militia slots. This means you can have +20 production when you have a city with 6 filled militia slots.
This means you have a slower start but a stronger late game.
- Always know the influence gain of other factions
Without spying you can know how much voting power the other factions have. You can win the vote system without save scumming because you know their income and influence totals.
5k Hegemony bonus
- If any village is oppressed you gain +10% unit power. You gain +100% agent recruit speed.
Oppress a village right before you fight. They won’t potentially revolt until later anyway. Cycle this bonus and you can get agents much faster than the other factions. This is a very strong mid game bonus.
- Kill a friendly agent to reduce its cost and preparation time
This is something I have never used because of the whole “kill an agent” aspect. No thanks.
House Strategy / Breakdown
Find a village you never want to own and pillage it as often as possible. You will suffer a 5% annex penalty if you decide to take it later. Eventually you can get a bonus for having pillaged a village several times through research (there is a several minute cooldown timer between pillages).
Use the corrupt ability to lower the Landstraad standing of House Atreides. Then the voting becomes simple because you can have about 120 “free votes” and everyone else has 50-60 or 0 votes.
Revolts can be your friend. You can cause your city to rebel and get experience/influence from killing the rebellion. If people coordinate and use multiple revolts on you at once you could be in trouble.
Never build the Vanguard unit. It has terrible armor but can gain power based on the number of kills it gets. It has the same upkeep as a trooper/gunner and is far worse.
Troopers are a great melee unit. They get extra damage when they have health missing.
Gunners are a fantastic ranged unit as they deal 30% damage to an adjacent target and their attacks have a 30% chance to break armor. Overall your military units are great with no research required.
House Guards are super strong. They have 6 armor and when they get to 20% health they gain +5 armor and +50% power. So right when they are about to die they suddenly are not about to die. Without armor breaking units nearby these units are nearly invincible. These are weak to the smuggler “demo” unit so eliminate that faction quickly.
Unit composition. Start with 2 troopers then add a gunner or two. Unlock house guards and split your army. Create two groups of : House guard+trooper+ 2x gunner.
If possible take over the Landstraad Guard position so you can make a cheaper tank unit (3 command vs 5 command). These only cost 1 influence to upkeep so you can use several late game to bulk up your army.
If you didn’t take the councilor for stealth probes then I would not bother using them.
Your main threat are the Smugglers/Atreides.
Your unique tech: instill fear can make villages 25% cheaper to annex if you have pillaged them 5 times.
-What happens if you use combat drugs when you are attacked in your own city? The unit can’t die and slowly loses supply. Does it become immortal because the city gives it supply?
- Can install underground headquarters in enemy villages
These let you profit from enemy expansion. They cost Solari and authority (the first was 90 solari and 3 authority).
There are 6 options.
- can place Bounty on Landstraad resolutions.
During a vote you select one option and that option gains a bounty. All other factions will gain 5 Solari per vote on the targeted choice. In other words you “bribe” the other factions to vote the way you want. You can entice the other factions to trade their votes for Solari.
- Improved access with black market access
Paying off your bribes (delivering your spice Quota) gives you +2 influence production.
You have access to a unique HQ building that grants 1% of spice production as influence. (black market branch)
- Limited Lanstraad access
- Now you get 50 Landstraad base standing so you have some votes without influence.
This is more like a penalty because you could have picked a faction that started with votes. But at least you’re not Fremen.
- Allows the training of Mercenary units; Mercenary units get +20% power.
If this is the same unit I got as a reward with another faction then this is a huge let down. That unit was basically the 2.0 vanguard unit (and it still sucked).
You can’t get a ticking +1 landstraad standing with 3 statecraft buildings (like the Harkonnen and Atreides). Instead 3 blue buildings gives you +4 influence production (everything else is the same).
You can get crippled by resolutons that reduce influence production. You must always vote against these because this is how you get voting power.
The smuggler top end melee unit has stealth. It still has low armor and is more of a dps unit than a tank. Overall smuggler units have low armor values and dont “tank” well.
Their drone unit shoots a target and makes it have -power and plus armor. So the idea is you use this to attack ranged units. It has the most armor of any Smuggler unit but has low health so is not suited to tanking. It doesn’t use water and only has Solari as upkeep. It does require fuel cells for continual use. Overall I would have units that focus fire. This unit can backfire tremendously vs heavily armored units.
Their overall unit strategy is about lowering supply and dealing extra damage to low supply units. That’s great if someone is attacking you. The wrecker unit can obliterate enemy unit supply killing them via attrition. It’s interesting but overall a worse plan. You can’t really skip the wrecker because it is your armor breaker/aoe unit.
If you are losing the game as the smugglers you can turn your HQ into an extremely hard to kill bunker. But why would you want to depend on that?
Considering influence has a cap I really dont think this is a very good faction. They have black market events where you can sell spice and get benefits ranging from Solari, hegemony as well as a free military unit.
As soon as one or more factions is eliminated they get a lot less viable because they are really the most viable as a “3rd party threat”.
There was nothing in this faction that made me really want to play them. They have a technology for -40% penalty to annex a city based on distance. When you combine this with the Water anned reduction councilor you can expand like crazy. If you want to get the governor achievement I suggest you try it with this faction.
- -30% daily supply drain for military units
This might seem minor but this adds up with all the other bonuses.
- Can ally with Fremen Sietch (the npc fremen) outside of your territory.
When you ally with them it costs authority and does not cost an agent. This means the fremen can be the “spy masters” because they dont need to waste a slot.
- Can ride worms with Thumpers
They dont get airfields and instead ride worms. Worms travel quite a distance compared to the arifield shuttles. This power is really good for launching distant attacks on territory you want to take or liberate (think deep strike if you are familiar with 40k).
- Limited access to the Landstraad
The Fremen are even more restricted than the Smugglers as they cannot hold council positions.You will never have any “free” votes. Late game you can get a lot of influence votes but it takes a long time to get to that point.
5k Hegemony Bonus:
- You passively generate thumpers. You can call larger worms that will let you travel longer distances.
10k Hegemony bonus:
- Military units gain power according to your Hegemony (+20% At 25k Hegemony)
House Strategy/ Breakdown
Why Play Fremen? They have an insane building they can make in their HQ that lets you double the bonus from one district. I found that +4 armor made the top tier unit incredibly hard to kill. This gives them versatility even though they start as an underdog in the Landstraad standings. Their starting melee unit is quite strong but late game I found myself deleting several veteran units to make the tier 4 unit instead (which can be produced with +1 level of xp with tech unlocks).
Worm travel lets them strike far offensively; this is the opposite of arifields which let you react to defend from attacks.
Like the smugglers they can build a lot of influence once they have allied with the lesser npc fremen.
They have an “assassin” unit that can hit for a ton of damage out of stealth. While that sounds great and all it’s a glass cannon unit.
I didn’t bother with the support unit because I just didn’t need it.
Basic army composition was base melee unit+ranged unit. Once you get the tier 4 unit replace your t1 infantry with better units that only require one more command point.
I will add more when I’ve played through the other factions.
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