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v0.31:Important advice

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This article is about an older version of DF.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when playing Dwarf Fortress.

Above all, one must remember that losing is fun! Be prepared to lose a few fortresses before you get the hang of things – it can be easy to accidentally kill the entire fortress while playing around with the different mechanics. But remember: losing means that next time, you'll remember how you lost! In a big way, Dwarf Fortress uses the principle of learning from one's mistakes.

If you cannot find your answer on this wiki, check out the forums at Bay12games.com

DF 2010 Advice[edit]

  • Soap is very important now. If a dwarf is injured, soap will be necessary to clean the wound, otherwise infection will set in.
  • Do not take on an armoured opponent with your fists; you will lose. Wrestling is no longer very effective and the use of quality weapons is strongly encouraged. It is still faster than using training weapons of any type, though.
  • Don't dig too greedily or too deep without a proper army - expecting a couple rookies to fend off a Giant cave spider (or worse) results in much fun. Make sure to properly train and equip your soldiers before breaching the depths. Equipment is much more important than before.
  • The new resource allocation defaults (defined in init) means that dwarves stack resources far more efficiently into barrels than they used to. The net result is that the average number of barrels/bins you need has roughly halved compared to 40d. This means that you can put more of that precious wood towards beds in the early game as opposed to logging half the map to supply containers for your precious booze.


  • Keep in mind that Dwarf Fortress doesn't have a "win" condition. It just has a long series of "lose" conditions.
    • (Well, really just one lose condition {all your dwarves die}, but many ways to accomplish it.)
    • Not a loss if you only have children and insane adults left. Migrants might come and kids might live long enough to grow up.
    • What about {Abandon Fortress}?
  • Learn the controls. There are lots, and learning them may seem daunting at first, but once you get the basics down (like how to check the status of your dwarves or the hotkeys for building certain structures), you'll find yourself playing much more efficiently.
  • Save often! Although it can be a hassle to have to quit out and get back in, it's a lot better than after crash having to build that long hallway of stone-fall traps, plant the whole bag of plump helmet seeds, and make that shipment of steel battleaxes for the caravan next year, all over again.
    • In this version, there is a seasonal auto-save feature which you can turn on by editing your /data/init/d_init.txt file.
  • Plan ahead a little during construction. When building your first couple dozen rooms, consider that in the future you might want to make certain busy hallways wider so dwarves aren't always climbing over each other. This will be a lot easier if you put rooms back an extra tile so you don't have to rebuild everything.
  • Think three-dimensionally. You have a Z-axis. Things will be much closer when they're downstairs one floor than if they're 20 tiles away down the hallway. Also note that, with the default tileset, your display of the fortress is not square, so north/south distances will appear longer than east/west distances -- they aren't.


  • Dwarves thrive on alcohol. If a dwarf drinks only water, the rate at which he gets tasks done decreases. If the fortress has no alcohol for years, things will slow down quite a bit.
  • Dwarves also need food, obviously - and a good cook (and a nice dining hall) go a long way towards keeping your fortress happy.
    • Don't cook all your alcohol or all your seeds (or all the things that leave seeds). (z >> Kitchen).
  • Dwarves tend to get trapped easily. They like building and digging things from certain directions, so try to make sure there is a way out (and keep an eye on them just in case they try something crazy). Also keep in mind that workshops block certain squares, so if you ever notice that your jeweler dies after constructing a workshop with a door on the east side, that's why.
  • Digging, wood cutting, and engraving are noisy. Keep your sleeping areas away from noise and your dwarves will get a good night's rest.
  • Workshops will become cluttered once they have 15 average goods in them (more for crafts, less for siege weapons). Make stockpiles to receive the goods, and have ample haulers, and/or more than one of a workshop that's likely to get cluttered.
  • Traps can help take care of invaders at no risk to your dwarves. Any fortress can build a bunch of stone-fall traps. Cage traps are also easy (you can make cages out of wood).
  • Having a dwarf with the Appraiser skill to be your broker will help a lot when trading. Otherwise, you can't see how much an item is worth.
  • Chaining some dogs by your front door may deter thieves.
  • Remember that dwarves can be assigned new jobs at any time. If your carpenter has died, your farmer can start making beds. (He won't be good at it, since he doesn't have the skill, but lowest-quality beds are better than sleeping on the ground.)
  • Idle carpenters? It's hard to have too many barrels (or too many bins... beds for the next wave of immigrants are pretty handy too). Idle masons? You can fit a lot of doors into your fortress, and buildings constructed from blocks add value over rough stone.
  • Too many immigrants? Don't know what to do with them? Have you started an army yet?
  • When setting a water source (for designated drinking zones) or a fishing zone, remember that only walkable tiles are valid - you need only mark the shore.
  • When in doubt, wall off the outside world and do soldier training for a year.


  • To find a dead dwarf, go under status (z), then select stock>>corpses. Hit tab, and use z to zoom to the particular dwarf to find a hint on where and how he died.
  • Don't like all the stone laying around? Instead of using a stone stockpile create a 1-square garbage zone and dump (d,b,d) the stone. Reclaim (d,b,c) the stone after it's been dumped. This way, you can store an unlimited amount of stone in just 1 tile! (This is especially useful when the tile in question is next to your mason shop). Also use the mouse to paint which stones to dump.
    • Miasma from the garbage zone won't spread diagonally. Making your garbage dump a 1-tile room dug diagonally into a corner means you won't even need a door.
  • Usually the closest available material is used for tasks such as (for example) building a floodgate, but not always. To prevent frustration, you can make a custom stockpile (e.g. for bauxite) next to your workshop and close the dwarf in. Don't forget there's a z-axis, so make sure there aren't unwanted materials above/below your workshop.
    • Lock your gem setter in a room with some cut gems and a stockpile set to gather quality furniture, so that he doesn't waste time (and valuables) encrusting stupid things like barrels.
  • The Standing Orders (o) screen can be used for a variety of useful settings, like having your dwarves temporarily ignore wood and refuse or making your weavers stop heading outside all the time to collect spiderwebs and get slaughtered by wild animals.
  • Hitting x when building a building (especially a cage) expands the list of items, so you can pick one with a specific quality (a nice bed for a noble's bedroom, or a cheap door for the garbage room).
  • If you're scanning the outdoors for your next swath of trees, move your view up one level. They will appear as little rectangles on a field of dots and will be easier to spot.
    • Speaking of timber, try designating some high-traffic lanes (d o h) outside radiating away from your front door to the trees. Your dwarves will stick to the paths somewhat, and probably trample fewer saplings. (They also won't mess up the ground and leave a bunch of ugly sand spots scattered around on a sandy map.)
  • Take preventative measures to avoid cave adaptation. Only one of these is necessary.
    • Build a walled statue garden outside your fortress.
    • A protective wall around an outdoor well or other meeting area also works well.
    • In any central stairways dig up to the surface. Any dwarves moving through that central stairway will receive their daily dose of sunlight. You could do the same for a meeting hall or statue garden, but just do it underground.
    • You could even rely on the one activity that every dwarf does with regularity - drinking. Store the fortress's booze supplies in a well-defended tower atop your fortress.
    • Keep in mind that you still probably want to minimize access points to your fortress. Really, any opening could be used by animals or enemies to get into your fortress. You should be able to close it in again afterwards, and the light will remain anyways, as once a tile becomes light, it doesn't stop being so. (Well, not yet anyways; though putting in a glass roof might not be a bad idea if you feel like it)
  • Trade for basic items like meat and wood. They're cheap, and it's easier than gathering them yourself. It's amazing how many logs you can get for a couple mugs. Keep plenty of valuable supplies for trading; a single skilled craftsdwarf with a steady supply of stone can potentially take every single item of value from every caravan that stops by.