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The elven ambassador keeps insisting I limit my wood harvesting to just over 100 trees per year. This is highly disruptive to my alcohol industry, as I require wood to make barrels for my brew. What happens if I disregard his requests and put my woodcutters in high gear?

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Fun happens.... –  tzenes Aug 3 '10 at 17:10
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Depends. Sometimes the elves will notice and take action, and other times they will ignore it.

If they do notice, it is also possible that the worst that can happen is that they leave as soon as they arrive. In a worst-case scenario, I think they can be provoked into outright fighting you. (Not sure if that counts as a war / siege)

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Don't forget you can also build barrels out of metal if you are in a biome with plenty of ore. In some biomes, metal is as close to infinite as you're likely to need when you consider how many z-levels down the map goes. Fuel may be less infinite, so magma becomes important quickly!

Two other advantages: metal barrels sell for more (and elves will buy them), and the metal industry employs more dwarves than the wood industry so you can support a larger population.

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I didn't know I could make metal barrels. –  antony.trupe Aug 3 '10 at 18:13
    
Then I'm glad I said something. :) You need a forge, 1 metal bar, and a dwarf with Blacksmithing. (I'm pretty sure Blacksmithing is the skill used.) –  JavadocMD Aug 3 '10 at 18:38
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Addendum: As of 31.25 or so you can make large stone pots at the craftsdwarf's workshop that also function as barrels. –  Shadur May 29 '11 at 11:59
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Note that both metal barrels and stone pots are heavier than wooden barrels, with is a minor factor but does matter (it affects how fast your haulers move). Of course, pots also have a higher capacity (when storing solid food). –  Brilliand May 21 '13 at 1:40
    
What is this? Pandering to the tree huggers? I say, bring it on! If those walking twigs got a problem with it, too bad! Make barrels out of WOOD. Sure, the stone pots are prettier, and more convenient... but let's not ignore the most important factor here: pissing off those snotty little tree huggers! –  KillEmAll Mar 17 at 19:28
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