Dune: Spice Wars – Overview of the Factions

I will go over the various factions and give you a general idea what to expect from them and what strategies they excel at.

Finding Your Faction

Starting the game without any idea of the game mechanics can be a challenge.

Let’s look at a quick overview before going into depth to help you decide what faction to play!

Faction Overview

When you first start your game, you will be greeted by this selection.

WIthout any knowledge of the game, let me give you a quick and dirty idea how these factions play.

House Atreides

The baseline faction, in my opinion. Their military is solid, their economy is solid, but their political game is very strong. They are geared towards dominating the Landsraad and going for Hegemony/Political victories.

House Harkonnen

This house is actually very capable in the military and political sectors, although they have an uphill battle to gain enough Landsraad Standing and overtake Atreides. Their economy revolves around oppressing their villages, letting them churn out buildings and resources. They always have something to do and they can gain resources very rapidly. Their spy game is also quite strong, so look out for those opportunities.

The Smugglers

This faction will require you to seek out enemy villages and build underground headquarters to make money off of their production, gain intel and influence or other effects. One of them lets you booby trap the village for future conquest. Very underhanded. Your army will be weaker in a regular confrontation, but you have ways to sap their supplies and gain damage buffs based on your opponents’ missing supply status. You will be trying to create situations where you can either win over the opposition forces or play the economic game to drain them dry.

The Fremen

Hit and run, the desert is your home. Their spice harvesters will be unbothered by sandworms. You’re going to have solid military units and dangerous assassins that need some babysitting to tickle out their full strength. You’ll be attacking via unusual angles because of the Fremen’s excellent supplies. They pretty much hard-counter the Smugglers. Not the best defensively, but you can keep your opponents on their toes.

House Atreides

Here is good old Leto representing his house.

  • Can use the Peaceful Annexation Ability:

This is the most important one. Each neutral village controls a region on the map. To access the resources within and to build up to five buildings on solid ground near them, you have to either conquer their militia with your own troops or use the Peaceful Annexation ability. This will cost Influence, Water and Authority. More on the resources in a later section. Conquering a village removes the Influence cost but seems to calculate the Authority cost differently. No hard numbers on how these costs are determined but expect to pay more for villages that are more distant from your home base.

This significantly changes how you approach expansion in the game and allows you to avoid using troops until you make contact with a hostile faction. I like to peacefully annex some villages when I am floating enough Influence to tide me over to the next Landsraad Council. Influence can be spent to gain more votes on proposals that will have various beneficial or negative effects.

  • Other factions lose no Authority from treaties with you:

Every time you propose a treaty with another player (Non-Aggression Pact, Research Agreement, Trade Agreement), it will cost both signatories one Authority per income tick. With this perk, whoever signs an agreement with you does not need to pay that upkeep. It is free for them, making it more desirable to sign a treaty with you. You still need to pay the upkeep, however. Choose your treaty partners wisely.

  • Benefits more from a high Landsraad Standing:

Your Landsraad Standing is lost through certain activities against factions, such as breaking treaties or using Atomics and gained through successful participation in the Landsraad votes as well as managing to pay your Spice taxes on time. A highLandsraad Standing gives you various bonuses. For Atreides, it’s better prices for selling your Spice, permanent extra votes for Council sessions, extra Influence income, and more Hegemony. Small but useful bonus for playing political.

  • Cannot pillage neutral villages:

This is a downside that leans into House Atreides’ playstyle. You can normally raid neutral villages for various benefits like Solari and other resources they may produce. As Atreides, that option is no longer open to you. Not the biggest loss, honestly, but it does fit into the less militaristic playstyle.

At 5k and 10k Hegemony, each faction gains another permanent benefit. Hegemony is the victory score. During a normal game, you will win at 25k Hegemony.

At 5k Hegemony you gain bonuses according to what Resolutions were passed in the Landsraad Council during the last cycle. As Resolutions are reset between cycles (Except for Charters, more on that later), none of these bonuses stick around for too long. Nice to haves, but otherwise forgettable. You may want to bulk up with negative resolutions on yourself to attack, but you’re going to cripple your economy to do so.

At 10k Hegemony, the Charter prerequisites can be ignored by House Atreides. Charters are permanent (until revoked by a Resolution) positions of power that give you additional benefits like rerolling a proposal you don’t like, or getting access to free extra Agents. This one cements the Atreides playstyle, letting you beeline for Charters that are otherwise unavailable at the time. Some of the prerequisites are actually quite stringent.

House Atreides Councilors

To the right of Leto Atreides on the same screen are the four Councilors Lady Jessica, Duncan Idaho, Thufir Hawat and Gurney Halleck, of which you may choose only two per game to gain their bonuses. You cannot change them once your game has started, so this is a decision you need to make now.

  • Lady Jessica

She allows you to impose any treaty upon other factions for 50 Influence. They will need 100 Authority to refuse. Stards with Non-Aggression pact unlocked.

Normally you need to research Diplomatic Maneuvers in order to unlock the pact option, she starts with it. Not a big bonus as you will want to research that development regardless, but it’s nice to force your opponent’s hand. Imposing a treaty is interesting and lets you set up advanced strategies by sapping their Authority. Authority is spent to expand, simply put, and without it you cannot expand. Influence on the other hand is much easier to gain. Might be more powerful against human opponents. I’ve seen the AI break treaties even at highest relation scores (which will tank their Landsraad Standing, if they have any!), so your mileage may vary.

  • Duncan Idaho

All relation gains with Sietch are increased by 100%.

-10% Authority cost to annex a Village.

Duncan is a good pick for me as Authority is so precious and hard to come by, especially if you play with a lot of treaties. Sietch are hidden communities of the Fremen, guarded by sizable armies. Until you detect them, you cannot interact with them. But once you do, you can trade 10 water for a relations and resource gain. At 100 relations, you can secure an alliance to stop them from raiding you, and gain an additional benefit. Having Sietch allies is a requirement for the Governor of Dune victory condition. Being able to juggle more water around by making the relations trickle faster is definitely useful!

  • Thufir Hawat

Your Agents have 1 additional trait.

Your Villages gain 20% resource production for 2 days when their region is targeted by one or more operations..

Agents are recruited each with a random trait, with Thufir, they have two. Simple as that. Not terrible but since you have no control over what you actually get, this is just rolling the dice twice. Fortunately, there are no negative traits from what I can tell.

The second ability is so-so. Operations are basically spells you prepare by paying Intel (and Solari on higher tiers) to be cast on a region of your choice when they’re ready. Some of the nastier operations like Crowd Manipulation, which spawns a revolt that disables your village for quite some time, force the bonus to run out before it can actually start to produce again, negating this benefit. He might need a second balancing pass. I’d pick him for the extra Agent trait right now, if at all.

  • Gurney Halleck

Unlocks the Veteran Militia unit.

Military Units start with 1 more Experience level.

You gain Heavy Militia through research, which do the job I need militia to do. Veteran Militia are nice to have but won’t change the course of battle during a dedicated attack.

Starting with an experience level is actually quite nice, allowing you to punch harder and take more damage as you would expect. Hard to tell if this is worth it, because I tend to attack with overwhelming numbers if I do attack.

House Harkonnen

Vladimir Butterball Harkonnen preparing to gracefully cower beneath the ceiling.

  • Can use the Oppression Ability on Harkonnen villages:

As with Atreides’ Peaceful Annexation ability, this one defines Harkonnen’s playstyle greatly. You will use this ability on villages you already own to gain a 200% production and build speed bonus for 60 seconds regularly, I usually boost my first village to get the Spice harvester up and churning away in the opening minutes of a game. Once the initial boost is over, you are saddled with a penalty for a while. You can Oppress the village again once the boost runs out, but the penalties will stack with each expired bonus timer. The penalty also has a chance to spawn rebels, which can be a chore to deal with.

This significantly changes how you approach expansion in the game and allows you to avoid using troops until you make contact with a hostile faction. I like to peacefully annex some villages when I am floating enough Influence to tide me over to the next Landsraad Council. Influence can be spent to gain more votes on proposals that will have various beneficial or negative effects.

  • +5% Village resource production per active Militia:

Pretty self-explanatory. What you need to know is that the standard amount of militia units you can have per Village is 3, but it can be increased via research by one.

  • Always knows the Influence flows of the other factions:

Normally you need infiltration levels to see the resource income of other factions, this benefit removes that need. Can be useful to gauge how many votes your opponents have access to in the Landsraad, in case there is a Resolution you want to claim for yourself with minimal investment.

  • -10% Village resource production:

What it says on the tin. At the time of writing I don’t know if modifers to production are additive or multiplicative. I suspect that this is negated by two militia units in a Village and any extra Militia above that ends up being a resource production bonus for you.

At 5k Hegemony you gain global unit power and double Agent recruitment speed while any Village is currently under Oppression. Negligible benefit, unless you intend to chain-oppress your Villages and hunt down Rebels for the rest of your life.

At 10k Hegemony you can discount your Agent activities by sacrificing one. Useful, if you want to spam your favorite operation over and over and pairs well with the Oppression spam play.

House Harkonnen Councilors

  • Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen

Can use Corruption on Landsraad resolutions, causing a loss of Landsraad Standing for the elected faction.

Gain 10 Influence upon killing Rebel

Corruption is a hit-and-miss kind of deal since you can’t really tell who will win a vote, but it’s a nice ability to mess with your opponents. If you see Atreides run away with votes, Corruption may be a good way to tank their Landsraad Standing and sabotage their voting power.

The Influence gain on Rebel kills is actually quite nice. If you’re a good Harkonnen and oppress your subjects consistently, you will basically spawn these unhappy, sapient Influence chunks forever. Sure they may ruin some of your Villages, but Influence!

  • Piter De Vries

The abilities you unlock for your ornithopters and the probes are quite nice. No supply limit for the probe means it can roam around the map without fear of running out of supplies. The extra intel gain from sitting around in an enemy region is nice when you have nothing better to do with probes and Ornithopters.

  • Rabban Harkonnen

+1 Militia slot.

Oppression duration increased by +5s per militia in the village.

At base level, Oppression lasts for 60 seconds. With the extra militia slot from research and Rabban’s bonus, you get up to 25 seconds on top of that. He also helps with the basic faction bonus of extra resources per militia in a village.

  • Iakin Nefud

50% of all your Military Units costs is refunded upon their death.

-50% Combat Drugs mission cost.

Your units will die. Especially if you play fast and loose with your army. Iakin helps a lot with this strategy.

The Smugglers

W.I.P.

Smugglers Councilors

W.I.P.

The Fremen

The true ruler of Dune.

  • Military units have -30% Supply drain:

Very powerful to start with. While you can improve your supply drain via research, starting out with extra Supply means you can reach more distant villages more easily. It also allows you to survive through deep desert and similar tiles that are very harsh on supply, opening up new angles of attack.

  • Allows you to form alliances with Sietch outside of your territory:

Normally, to ally with a Sietch you need to actually own the region they’re in. This is a very powerful benefit as you can cherry-pick which bonuses to grab from alliances, ignoring others. This makes you less dependant on map generation.

  • May use Thumpers for Worm Riding:

While other factions can build Airfields for fast travel between them, the Fremen call upon the Sandworms to fast travel from one location to another. Allows for precision strikes with your forces.

  • Limited access to the Landsraad:

This is a big downside. You do not have Landsraad Standing and thus cannot gain votes naturally. All your voting power comes from your banked influence in between sessions. With some good building management and techs, you can save enough to make a difference in votes. You are also not allowed to gain Charters, except the governorship of Dune, which is one of the victory conditions of the game.

At 5k Hegemony you start gaining Thumpers passively. Until you reach this threshold, you have only three Thumpers available, so plan very carefully. It’s possible to be left high and dry without a fast travel option until you hit this threshold.

At 10k Hegemony, you start scaling your army towards your victory score. This is where I go on the offensive and start causing trouble.

Fremen Councilors

  • Chani Kynes

Can use Incite Rebellion on Landsraad resolutions, generating rebellions in other factions if the targeted resolution passes.

+0.5 Intel per adjacent neutral Region.

Incite Rebellion is similar to Harkonnen’s Corruption ability. It costs precious Authority to do it, and the benefits are just as unreliable as the Harkonnen’s ability. Not a fan.

The intel gain is negligible starting mid-game when there are precious few neutral regions left. Overall not a good choice.

  • Stilgar Ben Fifrawi

Every new village capture increases Sietch detection progress.

+1 Authority per exploited Spice Field.

Stilgar is as amazing as you would expect. In order to befriend and ally with a Sietch, you need to first detect them. Normally you get raided by them and each wave you clear gives you invisible progress towards detecting that Sietch. With Stilgar you can be proactive and find them without having to wait for raids. +1 Authority per Spice field is fantastic. Authority is precious.

  • Mother Ramallo

Start with the Shal-hulud Temple unlocked.

Reveals the position of all Spice Fields.

The temple alone is worth picking Ramallo up. You will have Ornithopters scouting out tiles and the first spice field is always visible to you at game start, so her second bonus is not all that urgent. The Shal-hulud Temple is an economic building that boots resource production on its tile and all tiles that surround it. I spread those around to cover as many regions as possible. It is locked behind a late technology that is otherwise not as useful at that stage of the game, so having Ramallo unlock this early is an incredible boon.

  • Otheym

+10% units Speed.

Units gain Sand Killers when no allies are nearby.

Normally you will march your armies in a blob, because for Atreides and Harkonnen, there are good synergies between them but for the Fremen, you will want to space out your units. Sand Killers makes them stronger but it’s not always clear when the bonus is active and what radius it has, so your mileage may vary. Very nasty on Fedaykin and Infiltrators that were buffed by the Desert Command technology, which allows them to practically ignore supply issues while standing still.

Extra unit speed is always useful to intercept raids and attacks, and to get through deep deserts quicker.

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