v0.34:Micromanaging tricks

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This article is about an older version of DF.

While some aspects of Dwarf Fortress appear to be designed to discourage micromanagement, others reward or require constant user manipulation. This page is a collection of tricks to micromanage your dwarves and compensate for Dwarven AI.


  • Use a civilian alert burrow to keep your dwarves in - and out of - specific locations.
  • Instantly locking doors can reliably keep a dwarf in a specific location (and doing a specific job), or prevent them from doing something ridiculously stupid.
  • Order a dwarf to go to a specific location by building an unconnected lever, setting the profile on the lever to the specific dwarf, then ordering the lever be pulled. This works for Nobles too, but can be delayed by any other jobs the dwarf is currently tasked with, and is ineffective while a dwarf is on break.
  • Order a dwarf to go to a specific area by drafting him into the military and issuing a "move" (station) order. Note that this can make your dwarf charge *towards* any nearby enemies, and also results in a bad thought if the dwarf has no prior military experience.
  • You can distract children wandering into danger by mass-designating constructions for removal--you'll need to create a large number of constructions in a safe area beforehand, and it's best to distract the rest of your dwarves with stockpile reordering or mass dumping first (leaving the deconstruction jobs to the children). You can cancel the deconstruction once the children reach the safe area (and preferably lock them in until the danger has passed). You might also consider stocking the safe room with food, drink, and beds and leaving the children there permanently.
  • Cancel a "Store item in stockpile" job by finding the item in question and forbidding it. This can keep your dwarves from running through an active battlefield to collect the enemy's severed limbs. You can also set the default status for some items to forbidden under the standing orders menu.
  • If you stop an active task in progress via joblist j-r the dwarf may not accept similar jobs for about a week.


  • Miners will select mining jobs with priority based on 1) decreasing Z coordinates (lower first), 2) increasing X coordinates (West first), and 3) increasing Y coordinates (North first).
  • Avoid mining designations that will cause your miners to run back and forth between job sites repeatedly (such as channeling a moat in the North and South simultaneously).
  • Use a locked door or burrows to limit mining in a specific area to a single dwarf (reliably prevents channeling "accidents"). Designate one tile for mining, wait until your dwarf is through the door, then lock it and designate all the tiles to be mined. Don't forget to free your miner after the work is complete.
  • Remove a mining designation then re-designate it to transfer the job from a distant/slow dwarf to a close/fast dwarf who has already completed all the other mining in a specific area (will not work if the nearby dwarf has already taken another job elsewhere).
  • After finishing a mining job, miners will automatically accept any adjacent mining jobs before reevaluating jobs by priority. Note that this does not work if the adjacent job has already been claimed by a different miner. (To avoid that you can distract your other miners with higher-priority designations elsewhere.)
  • Single-tile wide tunnels are the most efficient designation. Use diagonal corners to avoid exposing two designated tiles (which will result in another free miner taking one of the two and potentially delaying mining significantly).
  • To keep a single miner working in one area, you can manually designate one new mining tile immediately after he completes the previous one. (Best for limited jobs in high-risk areas; for larger jobs a locked door or burrow is highly recommended.)


  • Buildings are prioritized according to a LIFO (last in first out) queue, meaning your most recently ordered construction will be built first. To increase priority on a previously-ordered construction, cancel it and re-order the construction.
  • Designate a stockpile/dump near large construction projects so your masons/carpenters/metalworkers don't have to carry the construction materials across the map by themselves.
  • If using a local stockpile, only order construction of as many buildings as can be supplied by your stockpile--any additional constructions will A) result in your builders dragging material across the map, and B) be completed *first*, so your stockpile won't deplete and your haulers won't be able to haul any more materials.
  • Items (such as blocks) that are currently selected for a hauling task are unavailable for use in buildings. To free an item, pause the game, forbid the item, unforbid it, then issue the build order using the item before unpausing the game. You can also forbid an item that is currently being hauled and the hauler will drop it when he realizes it is forbidden.


  • Use the 'z' Kitchen tab to select exactly which ingredients you want cooked--but make sure you set the cooking preferences before you issue the cooking job; otherwise the cook will cancel the job when one of his already-selected ingredients is disallowed.
  • Combine large stacks of meat with a dwarf's "preferred" ingredient to create a large stack of "preferred" meals (for more happy thoughts).
  • While there are hundreds of different ingredients for dwarves to prefer, there are only about 16 different drinks. Meals cooked with alcohol are therefore more likely to include a preferred ingredient and therefore give a happy thought.


  • Move (Station) orders only cause your dwarves to move to a 7x7 non-contiguous area around the location selected. To force them to move to a specific location (such as adjacent to a fortification), build statues (preferred), walls, or designate restricted traffic areas then order your dwarves to move from one side to the other.
  • Alternatively, the move command does guarantee your dwarves will move to the Z-level selected. You can build your fortifications such that the only passable tiles on that Z-level are in the positions that you desire. (Note that dwarves will also run outside your fortifications to stand on any free tiles if possible.)

Strange Moods[edit]

  • Dwarves will honor "forbidden" workshop settings before they decide which workshop to claim. You can still forbid all the relevant moodable workshops when the game pauses with notice of the strange mood.
  • If you construct all the moodable workshops in your fortress with a specific type of material (e.g. chalk blocks), you can use the 'z' stocks menu to quickly forbid all your moodable workshops.
  • Placing unforbidden moodable workshops behind a locking door with stockpiles/dumps of your most valuable materials will result in high-value artifacts. You can even select the specific items used by forbidding all the items in the locked room, then unforbidding those you want your moody dwarf to use.