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How should I learn to play Dwarf Fortress?

I am having some trouble breaking in to Dwarf Fortress.

I booted up the game for the first time and there were soooo many options for my new game. And when I started playing, it appeared like the game would play itself for hours and hours and I hardly had to lift a finger.

What is a good initial setup for a player that wants to learn the game? Do I want to start with a big world with very few beasts? A small world with lots of minerals? What is the best initial combo?

(My goal here is just to learn, I am not interested in the long-term viability of my world.)


3 Answers 3


The first few times I played, I followed the quickstart guide from the Dwarf Fortress wiki, located here. It's extremely helpful, and walks you through the UI, controls, and world generation, as well as getting a fortress started.

There is also an e-book: Getting Started with Dwarf Fortress. There was a coupon code for 40% off, but I can't remember what it was, and I'm not sure if it's still active. If I find it, I'll add it here.

  • 2
    use TIM40 for 40%
    – mxmissile
    Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 16:51
  • 1
    @mxmissile - Ah, thanks, I hadn't been able to find it again.
    – SaintWacko
    Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 16:52

You'll probably want to install the lazy newb pack, and then start following this quick start guide to the letter. It includes these topics, among many others:

  • World Generation
  • Pre-Embark
    • Choosing a Good Site
    • Skills and Equipment
  • A Minimal Fortress
  • I did this and recommend it. Read the wiki, keep it open as you play.
    – ohmi
    Commented Aug 10, 2012 at 20:33
  • 1
    Unfortunately, I am not playing on Windows, so I cannot use this game extension. Commented Aug 11, 2012 at 20:52
  • 1
    @theJollySin - Ah, that's how I started out playing DF, on my Linux install, so I've never gotten in to using the lazy newb pack. I'd definitely recommend installing a tileset, it makes the game much more enjoyable. If you're on Ubuntu, there is a early beta version of Dwarf Therapist built for it here. Dwarf Therapist is extremely helpful. I didn't start using it til recently, and it makes the game so much more fun. Besides that, the book and guide still work on other OS's :)
    – SaintWacko
    Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 15:17
  • @SaintWacko Yup, I'm on Ubuntu. I will try Dwarf Therapist tonight. Thanks! Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 16:21

I suggest you watch Captnduck's videos.

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