Dwarf Fortress – Guide to Surviving the First Year

I have finals this week. But I have been playing this game for 4 years almost every day, so I want to give a few macro pointers for new people.

How to Survive the First Year

All credit goes to Great Dog!

Things Your Dwarves Need

Move all your stuff into a safe spot, preferably underground.


You will always need

  • Beds.
  • Booze.
  • Fresh Water Source in case ♥♥♥ freezes (it can be dirty just get it done indoors and underground).
  • Food source -fish,meat, or veggies/fruit.

Kind of important

  • Make sure your animals are penned under grass if they are the kind that eat grass.
  • Try and aquire cloth of each type, try to have several gems cut and uncut, and anything else you need for strange moods.
  • Build a door, and use it to cover your dwarves hidey hole (you can manually lock enemies out).
  • Designate a broker before autumn (assuming you are connected to your civ [islands are not]).
  • Make some barrels.
  • Make some tables.
  • Make some chairs.
  • Make some wheelbarrows (great for trading and easy to make[although this version makes them heavy and trade caravans have a weight limit]).
  • Make some crafts (for elves).
  • Make a manager.
  • Make large custom stockpiles that dont include corpses, stone, or wood.
  • Make large seperate indoor stockpiles that include stone and wood.
  • Make a hidden outdoor stockpile that includes corpses.
  • Make a few coffins and manually place them, and designate them as a tomb so you dont forget.

Not important but do it anyway

  • Make a hospital, figure out how to make hospital staff work in this verison.
  • Make a meeting hall.
  • Make a temple.
  • Make a library.
  • Make a military.
  • Make well.
  • Aquire gypsum plaster.
  • Make prepared food with a cook.
  • Make a lot of crafts.

Cats and Dogs

Do not pen Cats and Dogs unless you have several petlocked doors where they cant see things or go places. your dwarves will constantly have to corral them back to the pens.

Also, make sure you geld your animals when you have plenty, you can only geld males, and cannot spay females. There is a good chance your female animals are already pregnant by the time the last male is gelded, which means the babies need to be gelded too.

Final Notes

  • Everything that moves slows the game down.
  • 200 dwarves is the max, and is way too many
  • More than 100 animals pathing is dangerous and dumb.
  • Beware cat explosions (so many babies).
  • Do not underestimate water. The movement of ground water is so strange and occult, that to try and govern it will only lead to your eventual demise. Also water movement slows your game.

Have fun, don’t get into the habit of save scumming, the game is better as a story game than a construction and management game. The end of your fortress is a story, and therefore fun.

Egor Opleuha
About Egor Opleuha 7714 Articles
Egor Opleuha, also known as Juzzzie, is the Editor-in-Chief of Gameplay Tips. He is a writer with more than 12 years of experience in writing and editing online content. His favorite game was and still is the third part of the legendary Heroes of Might and Magic saga. He prefers to spend all his free time playing retro games and new indie games.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for this primer! Very informative.

    Good luck with finals. I need to create my exam… wonder if any of my students are too busy playing DF to take the exam just as I’m too busy to make it. Lmao

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