Playing Dwarf Fortress can be like jumping into the deep end of a swimming pool—it’s sink or swim, with no help if you’re not careful. But we’re here to throw you a life preserver in the form of a quick guide to what to build when you first start. Here’s our getting started guide in Dwarf Fortress that tells you what to build first!
A Trading Post
One of the first things you should construct is a Trading Post. It doesn’t matter if your first trading post isn’t in the most secure area, the important thing is getting it up. A good first trade and trade agreement with your Outpost Liaison will make or break your fortress. This means that as soon as the first dwarf caravan arrives, you can set up a trade agreement to fill in some of the missing materials you might have. If you’ve embarked without an anvil, for instance, this is your chance to secure one.
A Stonecutter and Carpenter Workshop
You’ll need a Stonecutter (Mason for players of Dwarf Fortress Classic) and a Carpenter’s Workshop almost immediately. This is because, without beds and other furnishings, your dwarves will quickly get upset and angry. The beds are essential for a lot of reasons, as beyond just making bedrooms, you can make several beds to serve in hospitals and dormitories.
Dormitories and bedrooms
With beds constructed, you’ll want to assign some zones to bedrooms. Alternatively, if you’re just rushing to get dwarves happy and inside and out of inclement weather conditions, a dormitory can provide temporary housing. A dormitory is always a good idea in general, as you can’t always predict when a big influx of migrants will come. Having 20 or so beds in a dormitory will prepare you for migrations, meaning new dwarves have beds to sleep in.
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One of the things that cause dwarf happiness to fall quickly is a lack of readily available booze. As a result, you’ll need to make sure you have as much alcohol on tap as you do food. So build a Still! In many cases, it’s more important to have access to alcohol than access to fresh water.
Bridges, weapon traps, and closable doors are some of the simplest and most effective early defenses. Until you get a large enough standing military or an elaborate trap room or something else, it's best to make sure you have a way to at least shut dwarves in and keep bad things out. This will usually need a Mechanic’s Workshop as well to make sure you can build the lever and mechanisms required for bridge operation.
A Meeting Hall
Dwarves will need a place to hang out when they’re not working on tasks. Until you deconstruct it, dwarves will hang around the wagon. Deconstructing it will remove their primary, default meeting hall. So it's best to build a few meeting halls, dining rooms, and other social areas.
All those materials need to go somewhere! We suggest building a Wood stockpile, a Stone stockpile, and a General stockpile to start out. From there, making sure you have a stockpile for each type of material close to workshops is essential.
And those are the things to build first in Dwarf Fortress. For more game info, check out How do I get more dwarves in Dwarf Fortress?on Pro Game Guides.