After almost 20 years, the underground (both literally and figuratively) simulation game smash hit Dwarf Fortress is finally available on Steam in a complete package. No more ASCII art, and much more guidance in how to play the game. However, maybe not enough guidance by default.
Dwarf Fortress’s simulation is almost unfathomable in its depth. The game keeps track of everything down to every tooth in each of your dwarf’s heads. It’s pretty intense, but it is also one of the finest video game experiences you can have right now if you’re into simulation and city-building games.
For that reason, it would be a shame for anyone to miss out on Dwarf Fortress because it seems overwhelming. To make your introduction to the game as smooth as possible, we have created this beginner’s guide to get you through those opening hours. It still won’t be easy, but as long as you stay focused, you’ll be a master dwarf maker in no time. So grab your pickaxes, whistle a fun tune, and let’s get started!
Too Much Power
First things first. If you’re playing Dwarf Fortress on a powerful gaming PC, you might notice that things seem to be happening pretty quickly. That’s because the speed of the game’s simulation is tied to the framerate the game is being run at. So if you’re running the game at 100+ FPS, it might all be too fast. You can limit the framerate to 60 in the game’s main menu, and we would heavily recommend doing this.
Limiting the framerate will make the game much more evenly balanced, and it’s not a game that is heavily reliant on high frame rates anyway, so there’s no point getting your hardware all worked up for some 2D sprites.
If there’s one thing dwarves like, it’s booze, and you’re going to need an awful lot of the stuff to keep your community happy while they toil away on a new home. The game’s tutorial will have you build a Still, which they can use to ferment resources they find into booze, and that will be fine for a while.
But keep in mind that once your population begins to grow, you’re going to need more. Dwarves can drink water to get by, but extended periods without booze will make them incredibly unhappy. You can mitigate extra alcohol loss by making sure your kitchens don’t use booze for cooking with the associated setting. This will make sure all booze being produced is used for its primary purpose, rather than to make a fancy dish.
While they’ll spend their days mining, crafting, and building, your dwarves are going to want a nice place to lay their heads at the end of a long day. You might have some bedrooms built already, but are they too big? Dwarves are perfectly fine with a single-tile room with just a bed and a door to sleep peacefully. At the max, a 2×2 bedroom is what you should be building for the common dwarf, and it’ll still get them fully energized and ready to go.
Bigger rooms can be built when you start to host dignitaries and other high-status dwarves, but you can save room for more important things by making smaller bedrooms. Or, you could build one big area and fill it with beds to create a mass sleeping area. It all depends on how you’ve designed your fortress.
Growing Your Community
Once you are settled and begin to produce goods, you should think about building some kind of trade port, something big enough for a 3×3 wagon to pull up in. You’ll receive a variety of visitors to trade ports, including elves, humans, and other dwarves from the mountainhomes your colony disbanded from.
It’s not shady to show these fellow dwarves how well you’re doing without them. In fact, the dwarves that visit will report your level of success back to the mountainhomes, which will in turn result in more dwarves moving into your fortress. If you want to build the ultimate dwarf community, this is one of the best ways to do that in Dwarf Fortress.
Clean Those Dwarves
One of the most important things you should do (I know, there are many), is make soap for your dwarves. Soap isn’t only important to keep those dirty dwarves happy and clean, but it is also critically important to clean wounds to prevent infection and death.
To make soap, you’ll need a Wood Furnace, a Kitchen, an Ashery, and finally a Soap Maker’s Workshop. All of these things will work together to make all the soap you’ll need for your community.