How To Win As The Smugglers In Dune: Spice Wars

Quick Links

  • Smuggler Traits
  • Smuggler Councilors
  • Smuggler Developments
  • Early Game Strategies And Tips
  • Late Game Strategies And Tips

The Smugglers in Dune: Spice Wars rely on turning their rivals' prosperity into their own. While they might not have the mightiest armies or votes in the Landsraad (at first, anyway), their unique power to skim off of other players' economies helps them keep up and eventually outpace their competitors.

Letting other players do the work for you is not without risk, and you'll need to be aware of the political situation on Arrakis at all times. Make yourself indispensable to the Great Houses, then use their own resources to steal the planet out from under them.

Updated on June 3, 2022 by Matt Arnold: The first Community Update for Dune: Spice Wars added several new Underworld buildings for the Smugglers to exploit, even within an enemy capital! We've added these new buildings to the guide.

Smuggler Traits

The Smugglers' unique ability allows them to construct Underworld Headquarters in other factions' Villages. This requires a decent investment of Solari and a small amount of Authority, but once established an Underworld Headquarters can have exclusive buildings that provide benefits to the Smugglers for as long as they remain in play.

An Underworld Headquarters can have one building for each building in the host Village. Each costs two hundred Solari and takes two days (one minute at normal speed) to construct, but Underworld buildings have no upkeep.

Once the Smugglers have accumulated ten thousand Hegemony, they can also build Underworld Headquarters in the Main Bases of their enemies for powerful new effects.

Underworld Buildings (Villages)

Activist Quarters
  • Each Activist Quarter guarantees that the Minor Houses will contribute five votes to any Landsraad Resolution on which the Smugglers have placed a Bounty.
Back-Alley Doctor
  • Units belonging to the Smugglers and their allies regain Health and Supply while near the host Village, regardless of their diplomatic status with the Village's controller.
Bootleg Market
  • The Smugglers gain Solari income equal thirty percent of the host Village's Spice, Plascrete, and Water production.
Clandestine Scouts
  • Units belonging to the Smugglers and their allies get a ten-percent bonus to their Combat Power in the Village's region.
Contraband Cache
  • Creates a stockpile in the host Village of up to five hundred each Solari, Spice, and Plascrete.
  • The stockpiles fill at a rate equal to thirty percent of the host Village's production of the appropriate resources.
  • The Smugglers can claim the stockpiled resources by pillaging the host Village.
Hidden Explosives
  • Sets a bomb that will explode when the host Village is attacked by the Smugglers or their allies.
  • The bomb deals damage to the host Village's militia units equal to half their maximum Health.
  • Each day, the Smugglers gain progress on a random Development that they have not discovered but that the host Village's controller has.
  • The advanced Development is chosen at random each day from among those eligible.
Whisperers' Lair
  • Produces half a point each of Influence and Intel for the Smugglers daily.
Worker's Guild
  • The Village containing the Underworld Headquarters produces twenty percent more resources for its owner.
  • By extension, this increases the number of resources siphoned into a Contraband Cache and the output of a Bootleg Market in the same Village.

Underworld Buildings (Capitals)

Contraband Hub
  • The Smugglers get thirty percent more resources when pillaging Villages owned by the same player as the Contraband Hub's Village.
Laundering Network
  • The Smugglers gain thrity Solari per day per level of the capital's largest Economy District.
Hidden Explosives
  • When the Smugglers or their allies attack the capital, the Hidden Explosive are destroyed and the Main Base immediately loses twenty Armor.
Weapon Dealers
  • Smuggler units get three percent more Combat Power per level of the capital's largest Military District.
Whisperer's Hub
  • Automatically produces ten Infiltration against the capital's owner per day, up to the normal limit allowed by assigned Agents.
  • Smuggler Agents captured by the capital's owner are twice as likely to escape each day.
Activist Headquarters
  • The Smugglers' maximum Influence is increase by twenty per level of the capital's largest Statecraft District.

Landsraad Bounties

While the Smugglers don't start with votes in the Landsraad, they can pay Solari to place a Bounty on one Resolution at the beginning of each session. Rival factions who vote as directed by the Bounty receive five Solari per vote if it passes.

One way to exploit this is to sell Influence for Solari to other factions just before the vote. With their coffers suddenly emptied, your opponents might consider voting your way with the Influence they just bought. Even if they don't, you'll still have cash from the sale – just don't try this with high-impact Resolutions like Charter nominations.

Arrakis Black Markets

The Smugglers can find Arrakis Black Markets across the map by scouting with their Ornithopters. Black Markets allow the Smugglers to sell two hundred Spice for quick cash, or to send an Agent to demand a cut, earning a one-time influx of Spice.

Hegemony Bonuses

At five thousand Hegemony score, the Smugglers get a seat at the table, earning fifty votes in the Landsraad and the ability to gain and lose Landsraad Standing.

At ten thousand Hegemony score, the Smugglers gain the ability to train powerful Mercenary units without the need for the Economic Lobbying Development. They also gain the ability to establish Underworld Headquarters in enemy capitals, allowing powerful buildings unavailable in normal Underworld Headquarters.

Smuggler Councilors

At the start of the campaign, you'll be able to select two Councilors from a group of four, earning their permanent bonuses throughout the game.

Staban Tuek

The son of the Smuggler leader allows each Underworld Headquarters to produce half a point of Influence per day, in addition to any produced by Whisperers' Lairs. Staban also causes Underworld Headquarters to produce five Solari per day for each adjacent region which also contains an Underworld Headquarters.

Investing heavily in Underworld Headquarters with Staban on your council will give you a massive return on your investment, but you'll need to do what you can to keep the peace between the other factions so that your carefully constructed network isn't destroyed by warfare.

Lingar Bewt

Lingar is a notorious Water Seller, and as such his bonuses scale with the amount of Water you have available. The Authority cost of annexing Villages and creating Underworld Headquarters are reduced proportionally to the amount of unused Water you have during games when Lingar is on your council.

Favor high-wind regions when you expand, as these provide the most Water from Windtraps. If you can take a Special Region with Water Bonuses, especially the Polar Sink, you should make doing so a priority.


Drisq's presence guarantees that all Smuggler Agents have the Merchant trait. While recruiting her for a campaign does eliminate the benefit of other possible Agent traits, she brings consistency to your strategy by allowing you to focus on Solari production. With each of your Agents producing an extra percentage point or two worth of Solari each day, you'll start to see the extra income add up in the late game.


Esmer's security chief is a master of extorting Villages. Pillaging any Village, neutral or otherwise, produces thirty percent more resources and also grants the Smuggler player salvaged Plascrete from the destruction.

Bannerjee is a good choice for a Hegemony run, as each pillaged Village adds to your total Hegemony score. Supplement your economy with raiding, and you'll rarely lack the resources for your next project. Research Underworld Bribes as soon as possible to add Intel to the many benefits of pillaging!

Smuggler Developments

LIke their rivals, the Smugglers have unique Developments scattered throughout their tech tree. Unlike their rivals, the Smugglers get access to their unique techs earlier on.

Underworld BribesStatecraft (Blue), Tier 3Diplomatic Maneuvers
  • The Smugglers' Solari income increases by twenty for each opponent with less Influence stored than the Smugglers.
  • Pillaging a Village grants twenty Intel.
Underground NetworkArrakis (Green), Tier 3Local Hubs
  • The Authority cost penalty of annexing a Village far from your capital is reduced by forty percent.
  • When an enemy unit is killed, all Smuggler units that dealt damage to that unit recover twenty percent of their Supply.
  • Smuggler units get a twenty-percent buff to Combat Power at night.
Guerilla TacticsMilitary (Red), Tier 2Survival Training
  • Smuggler units deal twenty percent more damage to militia.
  • Removes the added cost of annexing a Village you've previously pillaged.
  • Unlocks the Weapons Facility building at the Smugglers' capital, which significantly increases the combat power of your main base and also buffs Smuggler units in your capital region.
Underworld ContactsEconomy (Yellow), Tier 2Composite Materials
  • Pillaging a Village earns twenty percent more Solari.
  • Unlocks Processing Plants in Villages with Rare Element deposits.
  • Unlocks the Black Market Branch building at the Smugglers' capital, which increases the Smugglers' Influence production by one percent of their total Spice production and adds Solari income equal to ten percent of the Smugglers' total Water and Plascrete production.

Early Game Strategies And Tips

Your opening moves as the Smugglers will be fairly standard – establish your first Spice Refinery, get your economy online, and build up Hegemony until you can upgrade your capital. The Smugglers differ in that they need to scout more aggressively with Ornithopters than other factions. The reason for this is that the sooner they find enemy Villages, the sooner they can establish Underworld Headquarters.

Once you've annexed two or three Villages and have a Processing Plant built, consider spending the necessary Solari for a third Ornithopter. This will speed up your scouting of enemy territory and help you watch for raiders.

Try to limit your expansion such that you don't share any borders with other factions unless you plan on going to war. The Smugglers are much better on defense than offense, so it's preferable to sit back and watch the profits roll in until you're ready to fight on your own terms.

The Smugglers gain Hegemony every time they pillage a Village, so it can be useful to have an isolated region on your border that you can repeatedly pillage without Annexing. This gives you a steady stream of Hegemony and Solari.

Once you've found enemy Villages, start establishing Underworld Headquarters everywhere you can. If you're planning an invasion, add a Contraband Cache and Hidden Explosives to your target – otherwise, Bootleg Markets and Whisperers' Lairs are the way to go. They'll provide you with extra Solari, Influence, and Intel, allowing you to maneuver toward the endgame strategy of your choice.

Late Game Strategies And Tips

By the time factions are crossing the ten-thousand-Hegemony threshold you should be positively rolling in resources. From here, you can negotiate frequent deals with the other factions. If you're going for a Political or Hegemony victory, maintain friendly relations with your neighbors by sending gifts often. If your aim is Domination, use your Intel to use frequent Operations, giving your troops an edge when you invade.

If Drisq is in your Council, fully infiltrate CHOAM and start buying shares en masse through the Espionage screen. The amount of Solari you'll be making will be staggering, so you can repeatedly buy CHOAM shares to push yourself over the finish line for a Hegemony victory.

If you're going for a Political victory, be sure to keep your Underworld Headquarters running and defend them as necessary – you'll need the extra Influence to compete with House Atreides in the Landsraad.

Finally, out of all the factions the Smugglers are arguably the most capable of assassinating rival leaders, eliminating players through Infiltration. Don't be afraid to poison the Baron's wine or see that the Duke has an unfortunate fall – this is Dune, after all, and at the end of the day the one who controls the Spice controls the universe.

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