Dune: Spice Wars - Managing the Spice Market
As one would expect from a 4X strategy game based on Frank Herbert's Dune, spice is an extremely important resource that you must find and manage. Dea...
As one would expect from a 4X strategy game based on Frank Herbert's Dune, spice is an extremely important resource that you must find and manage. Dealing with spice and the spice market is a task you have to handle throughout the game, and it's a mechanism that lends itself to exploitation.
The spice market will likely be your main source of income, but it is subject to significant fluctuations. In addition, you must also deal with the constantly changing Imperial tax, so you can't simply ignore the spice once you have a few sources.
Updated on September 14, 2023: Dune: Spice Wars has exited Early Access. We have updated this guide to include the mechanism of CHOAM shares and the economic victory.
How To Get Spice
Obtaining spice is a simple matter of exploring the surface of Arrakis for the violet deposits of the resource. You can identify them by the symbol that looks like a pile of purple dust.
To actually harvest this spice, you need to take over a village in the same region and establish a refinery within it. Refineries have some solari and plascrete operational costs, but the spice you obtain from the harvesting machines produced by the refinery outweighs the costs.
The harvesting machines are occasionally threatened by the giant sandworms of Arrakis. You can set them to be automatically recalled when a worm appears, but it reduces their production by five percent. It's best to manually recall them instead - after all, the spice must flow.
You can enhance your harvesting machines by adding crew members. To do so, click on the "Add Crew" button located in the top right corner of the menu when you have a harvesting machine selected. Hiring a crew member incurs a one-time cost of 40 laborers but does not cause any ongoing expenses. The middle branch of the economic research tree increases the crew capacity of your harvesting machines.
It is also important to note that the Fremen have a slightly different process for spice harvesting compared to the other factions.
The Spice Market
Once you have a spice source being processed by a harvesting machine, you will continuously gain spice. This is tracked in the upper left area of the screen, and there are a few things to note. The large number below the spice symbol is your total spice production, the fruits of your harvesting machines' labor. Next to it, there are two fields, one for CHOAM and one for your stockpile.
- The CHOAM is the Combine Honnete Over Advancer Mercantiles, which acts as the spice market in this game. The current rate for Spice is shown at the top-left corner of the screen.
- Your stockpile, on the other hand, is simply a resource that you pump spice into. It serves two purposes:
- Whenever the deadline for spice taxes is up, the Imperial Tax demand will be taken from your stockpile automatically. If you do not have enough spice in your stockpile, you will incur penalties.
- You can use your stockpile of spice in trades, which is useful for bargaining with spice-poor factions.
You can adjust the ratio of sold spice to stored spice using the slider on the left side, which moves in 10 percent increments. For example, if you decide to sell 20 percent of your spice to CHOAM, it means you will automatically store 80 percent of your spice. It is possible to sell or store 100 percent if you wish.
The exchange rate of spice to solari changes every month, just like the demands of the Imperial tax. The key to playing the spice market is to store as much spice as possible when the market is weak and then sell it when the market is strong. This way, you will have a nice stockpile of spice that you can sell in months when you want to dispose of the majority of it.
Certain technologies and upgrades can increase the selling price of spice. The Great Houses (except House Corrino) also receive better spice prices as long as they pay their taxes on time.
If you click on the "Spice Report" button above the countdown to the Imperial tax deadline, you can read useful information about the current tax cycle and get a preview of the exchange rate for the next month. However, the most important calculation is the "Currently expected stocks for the next tax," which allows you to see if you have enough spice reserves for the end of the current tax cycle. If not, it's a good idea to move the slider on the left side more towards spice storage.
This calculation does not take into account potential disruptions to your spice income, such as invasions from rival factions or threats to your harvesting machines from sandworms. Therefore, always take these numbers with caution.
If you find yourself in a month with very high spice prices and realize that your stockpile is running low, you may want to consider alternative methods to increase your supply before the Imperial tax deadline. These methods include:
- Trading with friendly factions for some of their spice stockpiles.
- Some points of interest have a resolution option that grants you spice, usually a few hundred. Save one or two of these for moments like these.
In summary, it can be said that closely monitoring the spice market and making appropriate adjustments is one of the main strategies in Dune: Spice Wars, and careful exploitation of the system will lead to significant gains.
CHOAM Shares And Economic Victory
Shortly after the first tax cycle, the CHOAM stock market opens. Players can buy and sell shares of CHOAM from the available pool in batches of five or twenty. The stock price fluctuates automatically as they are bought or sold, and you can see the current market trend at a glance on the market button located at the top left.
At the beginning of the game, all CHOAM shares are owned by the Minor Houses. Each time the spice tax is collected, the Minor Houses release a small number of shares for sale. The shares sold by a player are also returned to the pool and can be purchased by anyone.
Once the Minor Houses release shares, they will never repurchase them. This means that over the course of the game, ownership of CHOAM gradually transfers to the players who invest in it.
Possessing a significant percentage of the total number of CHOAM shares can unlock special bonuses:
Prime Investor: The player generates two additional Influence per turn.
Board Member: The player's military units deal twenty percent more damage in combat.
Majority Shareholder: The player immediately wins the game via an Economic Victory.
Shares that are currently not owned by anyone (i.e., available for purchase) do not count towards the total number of shares when calculating this percentage. This means that buying shares can reset another player below the threshold for a bonus! It also means that you must continuously buy shares as they become available from the Minor Houses to maintain your current level.
It is crucial to note that CHOAM shares do not generate income. You can sell them when their value is high to quickly obtain cash, but otherwise, the only reason to own them is to unlock their bonuses and compete for economic victory.