23a:Siege

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This article is about an older version of DF.
(If looking for articles on catapults and ballistae, see Siege Engines.)

A siege is a special, fun time in Fortress mode when an army attempts to attack and kill all of your dwarves. It is at this time you should activate your military, keep civilians indoors, raise the drawbridges and pray you have your defenses ready.

During a siege, the option on the main menu 'Abandon Fortress' changes to 'Succumb to Siege'.

A siege is not to be confused with other types of hostile encounters - if you are besieged you will know. If you are unsure, you are not under siege. When you receive a siege, you receive a full-screen message "A vile force of darkness has arrived!" and the top of the screen reads "SIEGE" in yellow and red. Siegers are immediately visible at the map edge, whereas ambushers or thieves are not.

During a siege, supply lines are cut, and no caravans will visit your fortress. During a siege, traders don't appear on the map at all, and no message informs you of this. However, caravans that are already on the map will continue to your fortress as normal, assuming the besiegers don't kill them.

Siegers[edit]

Goblins[edit]

Once you have a Mayor, Trade minister, or Treasurer, the Goblins will begin to attack you. Every season they have a 50% chance to attack you, and while the first two attacks will always consist of babysnatchers, subsequent attacks have an additional 50% chance to be all-out sieges.

Goblins arrive in squads of 16 (consisting a leader and 15 followers), sometimes mounted on beak dogs, and sometimes accompanied by trolls in squads of 8 (with 1 leader and 7 followers). They are split into separate squads scattered along the left edge of the map. The first siege you see with a given fort will consist of a single unmounted squad, but the goblin forces escalate in size as the game progresses. Later on you may be seeing close to 100 goblins show up in a single siege, all mounted, with dozens of trolls.

Trolls are the goblin "siege engines" - they are faster than beak dogs and will make for buildings and start demolishing. Locked doors will keep the goblins out, but trolls will quickly break them down.

Your first siege will consist of a single unmounted squad, led by an ordinary mounted soldier, and no trolls will be present. The second siege will have 2-3 fully mounted squads, all led by elite soldiers, along with a squad of trolls. Beginning at the third siege, you can expect 3-5 mounted squads, each led by trained soldiers from the goblin civilization (oddly enough, beginning with the civilization's Ruler), along with 1-3 squads of trolls. Normal goblin soldiers will only wield axes, swords, maces, pikes, spears, bows, and crossbows, but historical squad leaders may also wield whips.

Note that not all goblin civilizations have access to beak dogs or trolls - in these cases, sieging goblins simply will not bring them along with them.

Goblins are less than stalwart, and once a siege sustains significant casualties, there will come a rousing cry of "Screw you guys, I'm going home" as the survivors retreat at full pelt.

Humans[edit]

Humans will attack you if you anger them - see Diplomacy for more details. Their large stature allows them to swing heavy mauls, and they can bypass any traps spied out by their diplomats.

When a Human civilization decides to attack you, they will lay siege to your fortress - upon arriving, each squad of soldiers will set up a campfire near the map edge and wait there for an entire year, attacking any dwarves who go outside (e.g. wood cutters, herbalists, fishers, or hunters) and preventing any caravans from arriving, effectively isolating your fortress from the rest of the world and putting it at risk of starvation if its industries are not sufficiently developed.

A single siege consists of 5-10 squads of soldiers, each led either by a random Elite soldier or a historical figure from the nearby Human civilization. Each squad consists of an additional 15 soldiers wielding the same weapon as its leader (e.g. an Axe Lord will be followed by 15 Axemen).

Elves[edit]

Elves may attack you if you make them angry - see Diplomacy for more details. In particular, their current level of Anger influences the magnitude of their attacks.

At lower levels of anger, the Elves will send several squads of bowmen (bowelves?) to sneak up on your Dwarves and turn them into pincushions. This is not strictly a siege as they will lie in ambush in the forest rather than enter your filthy meat-strewn smoking hole in the ground. Each squad consists of an Elite Bowman leading 4-6 additional Elite Bowmen, all waiting in ambush.

The number of squads depends on how much you've managed to anger them:

  • Anger 14 or less: 2-3 squads
  • Anger 15-29: 4-5 squads
  • Anger 30-44: 6-7 squads
  • Anger 45 or more: 8 squads

At anger level 45 or higher, the Elves will additionally send 1-3 Druids of potentially historical origin, each leading 2-4 additional Elite Bowmen, who will openly attack anybody who approaches them. The druids themselves don't really do anything - in the distant past (predating even version 0.21.93.19a), they would cast spells and animate the nearby trees to attack the fortress, but now they just stand around and do nothing. Once the attackers run out of arrows, they will flee the map and return to the forest from which they came.

Kobolds[edit]

Similar to Goblins, Kobolds will first send thieves once you have a manager, bookkeeper, or broker. Unlike goblins, however, the severity of kobold attacks is based solely on the number of items they have stolen.

Kobolds always send 1-3 thieves to your fortress, adding more depending on how many items their last raid managed to steal:

  • exactly 1 theft - add 1-2 more thieves
  • 3 or more thefts - add 1-4 more thieves
  • 5 or more thefts - add 1-4 more thieves
  • 10 or more thefts - add 1-4 more thieves

All of the above checks are cumulative, so if the Kobolds manage to steal 10 items in a single raid you can expect them to send up to 15 thieves next time. Due to what is likely a bug, Kobolds who successfully steal exactly two items will still only send 1-3 thieves.

Furthermore, if at least 3 items were stolen in the last raid, the kobolds will send squads of archers to defend their thieves:

  • 3 or 4 thefts: 1-2 squads
  • 5 to 9 thefts: 2-4 squads
  • 10 thefts or more: 3-6 squads

Each squad consists of a Bowman leading 4-6 additional Bowmen. If at least 5 items were stolen during the last raid, the squads will be led by historical Elite Bowmen if any still exist - if you manage to kill all of them, future squads will have a 10% chance to be led by an Elite Bowman.

Kobold archers tend not to directly siege your fort, but prefer to pick off individual dwarves who may be working in the surrounding wilderness. They will leave once their arrows have been exhausted.

Unlike attacks from other entities, Kobolds effectively start from scratch after each raid - if they steal a dozen items in one raid and their followup raid fails to steal anything, their next raid will consist of only 1-3 thieves.

Megabeasts[edit]

Megabeasts are a siege consisting of a single, enormously powerful enemy creature. A megabeast, such as a bronze colossus, dragon, or titan, will arrive on the map and tend to mill around near their entrance location, killing anything that happens to be nearby.

Defending against a Siege[edit]

Active Defense[edit]

  • Put your entire military on duty. With luck, most of them are not sleeping, eating, or drinking. If a squad leader is doing anything of that sort, replace him with a more alert squad member (the squad always clusters about the leader. If the leader's eating, the squad will guard the table). Place melee units at major chokepoints, so they can meet the enemy head on, but try to keep them out of direct fire from enemy missile users. Place your own marksdwarves where they can rain death on the enemies without being shot themselves (this is why you carve fortifications).
  • War dogs are valuable, but shouldn't be the first line of defense, because the enemy bowmen will quickly take care of them. Assign them to your military dwarves, or cage them before the siege, and release them via lever/pressure plate as the enemy is rounding a blind corner. They're also useful for clearing the field once the siege ends.
  • Siege weapons can be effective during a siege, but can also be entirely useless. They don't have a wide field of fire, so you'll need to design your fortress ahead of time to funnel your attackers into the weapons' field of fire and then delay them with winding passages while in range. To use them effectively, you really need trained Siege Operators for the task, since siege weapons take unacceptably long times for inexperienced operators to load, and the weapons cannot be fired at a precise time; they will fire whenever the operator shows up. Fire early and often: siege operators are civilians, and will run away once the oncoming hordes get too close.

Passive Defense[edit]

  • If you have no trust in your military's power, keep all the dwarves inside and draw the besiegers into corridors with traps. Stone-fall traps are cheap and easy, but work only once before needing to be reset; weapon traps require weapons (and ammunition, in the case of ranged weapon traps), but reload themselves after a few seconds, until their components eventually get stuck due to all the gore. A 10-square-long entry hall filled with weapon traps will break most goblin sieges without any help. Cage traps are one guaranteed removal in most cases and there are a lot of entertaining ways of dealing with captured creatures once their friends have been beaten back.
  • Locked doors will keep invaders out indefinitely, if locked before they seize the door. Doors won't keep siege trolls out, but drawbridges will. Closing all entrances will result in enemies milling around outside your walls without a destination. The siege will end after some (LONG) time have passed (3 months for goblins/elves/kobolds, 1 year for humans), but if you intend to sit it through, make sure you have enough wood and a food source.
  • A moat can provide a decent defense when combined with a drawbridge to either keep the goblins from entering, or to drop them right into the water. Magma may be substituted for far more lethal results.
  • Yet another strategy for dealing with sieges is building a magma moat around the entire outer border of the map at least 2-3 tiles wide - this will end all sieges instantly, but it will also end all elven caravans just as quickly. Thankfully, the human and dwarven caravans always seem to show up at your road (and the elves just don't matter), so with the addition of the occasional bridge (and perhaps more channels to funnel anything spawning on the bridges through a trapped hallway just to be sure) you can have your instant-win sieges AND not infuriate your neighbors. You may wish to drain the magma from time to time to collect the staggering amounts of weapons and armor that get left behind. Also, this will greatly reduce the amount of wildlife you encounter, for good or ill.

Avoidance[edit]

Avoiding sieges from Goblins is all but impossible - they know where you live, they want you dead, and there's nothing you can do to stop them. Similarly, you cannot avoid hostilies from the Kobolds, but you can keep them from getting too ambitious by keeping your goods secure and keeping the landscape clear of garbage. With all other civilizations, however, you can engage in diplomacy by the actions you take toward them - see Diplomat for more information.

Civilians[edit]

  • Your dwarves will still attempt to do their jobs during a siege, including cutting down trees or hauling in items and corpses from outdoors. Since many of your major defenses will be inside the fortress, this is only somewhat useful. Dwarves will run from invaders, but only after getting within crossbow-range, so their self-preservation skills are lackluster when the enemy has ranged weapons, or moves more quickly than them. The Options->Dwarves Stay Inside option will prevent them from going outside, but only after walking to the entrance.
  • Providing indoor pastimes (like statue gardens, zoos, or meeting halls) will make dwarves spend their break time in the fortress rather than outside. This at least reduces the number of dwarves hanging out in front of the gates. Hunters, woodcutters, haulers and other dwarves who have business outside will still be at risk.
  • Lock the front doors. If you still have valuable dwarves outside looking for a way in, you might try locking and unlocking doors just as dwarves arrive so as to keep as many dwarves in as possible.