Dune Spice Wars in a Real Time Strategy game that plays four factions against each other on the world of Arrakis. Whomever controls the spice fields holds the keys to controlling the entire galaxy through this substance. The Smugglers are a faction who must rely on a more underhanded approach to achieving their goals than outright conflict with the other major powers.
The Smugglers represent the Underworld of Arrakis. While they pack a significant offensive punch they are not well known for their defensive skills. Their strength lies in establishing Underworld Headquarters underneath opposing faction’s villages.
The Smugglers are very strong offensively and can pack a strong offensive punch, but they can’t last long in a firefight due to their lack of armor. They are better suited for hit and run tactics than for extended battles. One of their best strengths is their Underworld Headquarters. The Smugglers also have excellent Black Market access, allowing them to gain cash quickly when needed. Scout early, scout often as a Smuggler.
Smuggler Underworld Headquarters
The Smuggler’s specialty is their Underworld Headquarters, and their number is only limited by the number of opposing faction villages they’ve located although they can’t build an Underground Headworld under neutral village.
In the early game establishing an Underworld Headquarters can be less than 100 Solari, can cost 10 Authority and can be built in as little as .2 days. Once built they have as many building slots available as there are buildings in the Village they are located in. Two Economy, Military, and Statecraft buildings are available in each branch of Development for construction, and the same as a village, only one can be constructed at a time. A Bootleg Market provides the Smugglers with 30% of the Village’s Spice, Plascrete and Water production that is converted into Solari. The other Economy building that can be constructed is the Contraband Cache. This takes 30% of the Villages Solari, Spice and Plascrete and stores it for the Smugglers until they can Pillage or Annex the Village. The storage cap is 500 for each resource.
There are also two Military Underworld buildings. The Back-Alley Doctor is an underworld facility that restores the health of any friendly units close by, plus it resupplies them. There’s nothing nicer than having some friendly locals in a nearby Village. Hidden Explosives is a little less subtle. You can use these to damage a Village’s Militia by up to 50%, but since it’s a demolition building, it’s destroyed whenever you or an ally lays siege to the Village.
There are two Statecraft buildings. The first one is Spyware and is one of the Underworld buildings I find myself using the most often. This advances a random Smuggler development a little bit each day. There’s nothing like getting free tech! The second Statecraft building is a Whisperer’s Lair. It provides .5 Influence and Intel production.
Like all the factions they have four Councilors available at the start of the game. These Councilors can provide unique advantages like increased Solari production or reducing the cost of annexing Villages. You can read about all the Counselors at my Dune factions page.
The development tree has four branches, Statecraft, a green branch I’ll call “Generalized (for lack of a better term) Economic (yellow) and Military (red) and the layout is the same for each faction. The Smugglers have four unique Developments available to them. You can see the details about those also at my Dune Factions page.
The Landsraad council is where resolutions get passed affecting the entire world of Arrakis, some beneficial to all, some not so beneficial to everyone, and some are directed at only one faction. These can also be either good or bad so representation on the Council is important.
The Smugglers have no official standing in the Landsraad Council although they hope to someday achieve that distinction. They are limited to using Influence to sway votes and to placing Bounties on resolutions they the want to influence the outcome of. Once they reach 5K of Hegemony, they are granted 50 votes in the Landsraad. Hegemony represents the overall power of the factions on Arrakis. The higher the Hegemony the more benefits the Smugglers receive.
Playing as the Smugglers
The start of the game is the same as for every other faction, annex the village with the visible Spice field and get the spice rolling in so you can pay your bribes (for the Smugglers it’s bribes, not taxes). In order to annex their first Village the Smugglers will need two Military units to handle the local Militia with. I generally build two Scavengers. They are superior to the local Militia melee units and can easily handle any ranged units stationed in the village. Sometimes you’ll run into a village with only ranged units, making them much easier to handle.
As a general rule I’ll scout for a Village that has rare elements in its region. If I find one, I generally go after two of the earlier tier developments in the Economic (yellow) branch, Composite Materials and Underworld Contacts. Composite Materials is a prerequisite for developing Underworld Contacts. Once that’s fully researched the Processing Plant building becomes available, which allows you to process those rare elements into Solari for a gain in Solari income. For the Smugglers this also unlocks the Black Market Branch building.
The best overall strategy for the Smugglers is to stay as far away from the other factions as possible in the early game, especially House Harkonnen. House Harkonnen will steamroll right over them in the early game despite their best efforts and defenses. Better to stay away from others and develop their strength through Underworld Headquarters and subterfuge before bumping into someone else’s borders.
During the early game having three Ornithopters is a good choice, if the situation allows it. Doing more scouting more quickly will reveal enemy borders faster, allowing you to expand in the best direction without bumping into someone else before you’re ready.
More scouting will also reveal enemy villages faster, allowing you to establish Underworld Headquarters sooner, which is one of the Smuggler’s strengths. There’s nothing more satisfying for a Smuggler than stealing someone else’s tech and getting it for free, or blowing up buildings.