40d:How to safely start fortress mode

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This article is about an older version of DF.

Dwarf goods[edit]

This section explains the relative importance of various goods in the early and late game.

Starting equipment[edit]

See also: Starting builds

You should not start without an ample supply of food and drink. Booze should be brought in larger quantities than food, since it is easier to produce food (it does not necessarily need to be stored in barrels), and dwarves drink twice as often as they eat. Approximately 60 drink and 20-30 food is a safe startup supply.

Every five units of food or drink (rounded up) will come in its own barrel, included for free. (This does not include seeds.) Different types of food will be stored in separate barrels, meaning that you can get a free barrel for each new food you buy. A single unit of each of the cheap (2☼) meats is recommended, and for whatever other food and drink you buy, try to have the quantity end in 1 or 6 (11, 16, 21, etc.) to get an extra barrel.

It is recommended to bring an equal amount of each type of alcohol (wine, rum, ale, and beer) to avoid dwarves getting "tired of the same old booze lately". If bringing meat, turtle is recommended, as it leaves behind one bone and one shell when consumed, which can be turned into bolts, crossbows, armor, and other goods.

You might also consider bringing plump helmets; when brewed, each unit of plant turns into five units of alcohol and one to two seeds. This approach requires that you be able to cut down trees to make barrels shortly after your arrival (required for brewing), although you can also free up all those "free" barrels you brought by cooking the food and drink in them into prepared meals.

Farming is the most dependable method of food production, so you should bring some seeds on embark. If you plan to make large farms from the get-go, you should bring 50 seeds or more. Brewing, processing, and milling plants all produce seeds; if you process your plants as you go along, your seed stockpiles will grow exponentially.

Plump helmets are the most useful crop, as they grow quickly, in any season, and are edible raw, making them the staple of the dwarven diet. But it is recommended you also bring at least five each of pig tail, cave wheat, and sweet pod seeds -- their respective crops can all be brewed, giving your dwarves access to a variety of alcohols, which makes them happy. All alcohol can also be turned into food via cooking, making them all viable food crops. Pig tails can additionally be turned into cloth, from which you can make bags, which are critical to several industries, or ropes, which are good for cheap restraints. Bringing a few dimple cup spawn also allows you to start a dyeing industry at any point, and rock nuts grow into quarry bushes, allowing for even greater variety in the dwarven diet.

Bring one copper pick for each miner you have and one steel battle axe for every woodcutter you have. They're gonna be no good without their tools.

Whether or not to bring an anvil to start out with is a pretty contentious issue. It's largely up to your playstyle, and the conditions surrounding the site you come up with. Generally, if you are settling an area that is very mountainous with lots of ore around and some magma to make production easy, you are definitely going to want to bring an anvil. If not, you may end up not using a forge for many seasons, so you can comfortably purchase one from the dwarven caravan before it's needed.

Bringing wood in your starting wagon is more important the less heavily forested your surroundings are. Even sparsely-wooded areas will provide enough wood to fuel your initial fortress, but woodcutting will take time. Another consideration is that if you make enough room to bring 30 logs or so, you will probably be able to sidestep having a dedicated woodcutter entirely, which will free up the 300 points you would have spent on a steel battle axe for other purposes. It is your call.

If you do bring an anvil and want to be really crafty with your points, don't bring any axes -- instead, forge them on-site. If you don't bring any wood, you'll need to first deconstruct the wagon (t-x: Remove Building), which will produce three logs. Build a wood furnace, smelter, and forge, and turn two of the logs into charcoal. Scan the mountain's edge for exposed veins of ore and have your miners dig out a few tiles. Smelt one piece of ore (either copper or iron will do), then forge the resulting bar into an axe. Chop down more wood, make more charcoal, and repeat the process until you have as many axes as you want.

Always make room for at least two dogs. Always. Dogs are a critical part of any fortress and bringing a breeding pair to start out with will help a lot. Bringing more than two will greatly speed the breeding process (10 dogs can turn into 50 within a few years), and are a very effective early defense.

Build a kennel and train the dogs as early as possible; war dogs are far more effective in combat than regular dogs. War dogs will follow their trainers around, so have dwarves with high-risk jobs train them (such as woodcutters or wood haulers, who encounter a lot of wildlife). A stream of dogs criss-crossing the outdoors is also a very effective early warning system and first line of defense against ambushers and other dangerous creatures.

Buy regular dogs at the start, not war dogs or puppies. Untrained dogs cost half as much and are trivial to train. Puppies cannot breed or be trained until they grow up.

Beasts of burden are expensive and not worth the expense at the start. Immigrants will routinely bring their own to your fortress, possibly completing a mating pair for the two animals you automatically begin with. You'll be overrun with pets soon enough. Cram the ones you don't want to breed in a cage to control their population and reduce their impact on your game speed.

Advanced goods[edit]

This section covers advanced goods for the betterment of one's own fortress. Trade goods are covered below, in Dwarven economics.

Statues are one of the better ways to easily increase fortress wealth and improve the mood of the dwarves in the area. It's possible to make a metal statue from the ore of the metal if you turn off economic restrictions on the stone, which not only saves you time in operating the smelter and the fuel in the process, but it also allows you to triple the production potential from a single vein. Statues require 3 bars to make from metal, but only 1 stone to make from ore. Plus, it's easier to train up a high-skill mason to do the job than to train a high-skill metal crafter. Turning off restrictions on economic stone will allow you to make a metal ANYTHING from that ore stone, but statues get the highest multiplier, so they are best used there unless you are trying to impress a noble with a small room.

Stone, as a whole, should be used for everything you can possibly use it for. It's plentiful and it's easy to use.

Metal is required for the dwarven justice system, since cages tend to leave dwarves very unhappy and liable to head right back into jail again, and strong dwarves can tear rope apart. Metal chains are the best way to handle Justice, since the dwarf is active to sleep in an adjacent bed, admire nearby engravings and decorations, and do other things that rehabilitate him from crime.

Cloth is better than leather for making clothing for your dwarves. Cloth can be dyed, which increases its value and impressiveness, and it weighs significantly less, which is an important consideration for soldiers wearing heavy plate mail or haulers that are not strong.

Leather is fantastic for accessible armor. It requires nothing but a tanned hide and a leather works. To boot, masterwork leather armor is as strong as iron, letting you compete on level ground with goblins sporting iron equipment if you do not have access to metal, but do have a legendary leatherworker. Excess leather armor can always be sold as a trade good, so there's no excuse not to make a big surplus of it. A full suit of leather armor is a helm, armor (breastplate), leggings, high boots, and shield.

Shell can make cheap gauntlets using the bone carver skill, which can complete a suit of armor for people wearing leather (there are no handguards for leather wearers). It's also commonly requested by strange moods and is difficult to make quickly, so it's best to keep a stockpile. If you have a large surplus, it's fantastic for decoration.

Bone is the best material to make bolts out of. It's easy to get a hold of, requires no expensive materials, and does fine damage. A masterwork bone bolt hurts just as much as an iron bolt.

Glass is outstanding if you have sand and magma. A powered magma glass furnace with a steady supply of sand can essentially make rough gems, furniture, and cages out of nothing. Plus, green glass has a basic value of 2, the same flux stone. If you have no magma, though, feeding a full-scale glass industry is too expensive to consider, fuel-wise.

Dwarf jobs[edit]

This section encompasses advice for working your dwarves for the betterment of your personal fortress; the merits of various economic professions like craftsdwarves will be covered later.

Fortress startup[edit]

The critical jobs in a fortress are miner, grower, mason, and carpenter. Your first 7 dwarves should always include someone who is proficient at these 4 jobs. The other skills you assign can be whatever you prefer or is most appropriate for your situation, though don't be afraid to double up on these base skills. 2 miners and 2 growers can make the early game much easier. Military skills can be critical in harsh starting locations. Cook and Brewer are only mildly less critical, as good food and drink gives essentially free happy thoughts, and trained kitchen/still staff produce much faster. Mechanic is useful if you intend to use mechanisms as trade goods. Taking a proficient armorsmith and weaponsmith from the start can save a lot of material and time, and could be worthwhile. Woodcutter is also a common, popular choice, especially since it can be cut with axedwarf for some extra security early on. Herbalist can help you get away with bringing less food so you can instead get more durable commodities like picks, armor, or even dogs. Herbalist will also help you harvest the local seeds so you can get above-ground crops going quickly. Once the earth is struck, you should build a mason's and carpenter's workshop and have them start churning out things like tables, chairs and beds as quickly as they possibly can; your fledgling fortress will need lots and lots of basic commodities.

Advanced jobs[edit]

These are jobs that are important building blocks to your finished civilization, but are better handled by immigrants.

Fishing is one of the better industries to found with your first wave of immigrants. The most useful 'fish' to capture is the turtle, which spawns as vermin in any still pool of water, including flooded cisterns inside your fortress. Turtle production provides bones and shell, which are common requests in strange moods, and also provide an alternate food source for your dwarves in case your farms fail for whatever reason. To boot, fisherdwarves require no special equipment and can just jump right to work. Fishing should not, however, be relied on as the primary food source for any fortress in the long term; it is far less efficient than farming, and sources of fish can become temporarily exhausted at inopportune times.

Hunting is good for many of the same reasons. Animal kills produce meat, bones, skin, and fat. The meat is directly edible, even without cooking; the bones can be used to create bolts, armor, and crafts; the skin can be tanned into leather; and the fat can be rendered into tallow at the kitchen, which can then be turned into more food in the form of prepared meals. Leather is outstandingly useful as cheap armor for your military and bags. Animal skulls are also useful for making the totem trade good, but that is a separate consideration.

Hunters will require weapons to be most effective. Build a Bowyer's workshop to construct a bone or wood crossbow, and a Craftsdwarf's workshop to stamp out bolts. This will require either bone carving or woodcrafting, depending on if you use bone or wood bolts. Bone carvers tend to be fairly common in immigrant waves, but a hunter can handle most animals even with normal-quality bolts. Also be sure to have a tanner designated so you can process the hides, and a leatherworker designated who can construct some leather armor for your hunter as you get some hides to use.

Siege operators are important for the long-term survival of your fortress. Siege engines are the only safe way to deal with the biggest threats you will face, like megabeasts and goblins riding beak dogs as cavalry. They take a long time to train, so you need to plan well ahead. Designate some early and have them start training on throwaway catapults as soon as you can spare the labor.

Your standing military should also be a consideration from your first immigrant wave. Consider starting a cross-training program to get the flabby, untrained Peasants that immigrate into shape for military service.

The cloth industry is also a good one to establish if you get things like weavers and clothiers with your first immigrant wave. The cloth industry lets you create ropes (critical for building wells) and bags in the short term, and good finished clothing in the longer term to keep your dwarves happier. Pig tails will provide an easy early cloth supply if you bring some seeds along when you embark.

Using the cloth industry, it is worth it to mass-produce some ropes and honeycomb a large (5x5 or larger) room with them, then assign many beasts of burden to them. This works as a corral, keeping the animals contained and not clogging up traffic while at the same time allowing them to breed to become an emergency supply of food. For performance considerations, it's highly suggested you cage newborn animals in any cage you have available, to keep them from eating up CPU by wandering aimlessly around the fortress. This goes double for cats, who randomly adopt dwarves and become unkillable.

Dwarf happiness and domestics[edit]

This section will cover how to keep your dwarves happy and satisfied in the early and late games.

Fortress startup[edit]

Early fortresses are usually pretty placid. There are not that many unhappy thoughts to go around, so dwarves generally do not get too angry at anything. However, it will certainly not remain that way, so you should plan for the eventual 200 mark from the get-go. A legendary dining room is a great place to start. Something as simple as a 5x5 room with a few very impressive things in the middle (such as an expensive statue or a furniture artifact) will induce the 'legendary dining room' happy thought in dwarves even without engraving (though smoothing doesn't hurt). Dwarves get harder and harder to impress as the game goes on, though, so be certain to engrave it once your engravers are legendary or close to it.

A legendary dining room is usually all the more you need to keep the peace in the early going. One powerful happy thought without many things to dampen the mood will keep everyone smiling wide.

Early on, you should plan ahead for the late game, though. Figure out where your heavy traffic areas are going to be, and make the hallway at least 3 squares wide. Cramped hallways slow down dwarves and make unhappy thoughts more likely after the economy activates. Designate a large (5x5 minimum) barracks and line only 2 sides with beds. Peasants will no longer use undesignated 'hospital beds' for sleeping after the economy activates, but at the same time, sparring soldiers will be hurt and accidentally killed much more often in very crowded barrack rooms. You need to provide large tracts empty space to keep sparring non-lethal. Plus, huge barracks are more impressive, which is another easy happy thought.

Plan an apartment complex from the get-go. Private bedrooms are a huge part of the late game, and will help keep everyone peaceful until the late game arrives, so there's no reason not to do it. The bedroom design article can help you more. Resist the urge to smooth and engrave EVERY apartment you make. When the economy activates, a bunch of people living above their means are going to get evicted, and they're going to need affordable housing to move into.

In other considerations, cats are almost certain to come to your fortress with immigrants, even if you didn't start with them. Since they arrive as pets, keeping them from breeding is impossible.

Advanced domestics[edit]

Happiness becomes one of your primary considerations when lots of dwarves are around and the economy has activated. The economy brings about a whole new truckload of possible unhappy thoughts in addition to the ones you've already been dealing with, so you need to use everything in your power to combat them. A cross-training program becomes a serious benefit here, since legendary dwarves are exempt from the economy and continue living large without any interference from the nobles.

Private bedrooms are key. In addition to the happy thought that dwarves get from sleeping in a place that's theirs, having their own place with their own chest and cabinet will stave off unhappy thoughts they get from not having a place to store their acquisitions. You may also consider installing a table and chair in each bedroom; happy thoughts on par with or better than 'legendary dining room' are gained from eating at a high-quality table that the dwarf owns. Be sure that you have a lot of affordable housing; 300☼ is all the more most joe-dwarves with steady work can afford before they are evicted.

A high-quality recreational pursuit is very important. The easiest is probably a statue garden. Mine or import a chunk of native platinum or native aluminum (native aluminum is better for importing), and build a private mason's workshop for your best mason. Move the ore to a stockpile right outside the mason's workshop and provide enough doors to lock the mason in. Order a stone statue built and wait for your mason to respond. Your mason will bring an ordinary stone to the workshop. Once he is in the workshop, pause, lock the doors, and lift the restrictions on the platinum/aluminum nuggets as an economic stone. Order a few more statues built until your mason makes a statue with the ore. You now have an extremely high value platinum/aluminum statue (worth about 3000☼). Place the statue in its own room and flank it with the plain rock statues that your mason made. Then, make a sculpture garden room centered on the platinum/aluminum statue. Your dwarves will now come in to admire the 'completely sublime, tastefully arranged Statue', which can take them from unhappy to ecstatic in one fell swoop.

Another thing you may consider is getting your dwarves pets. Assigning trained war dogs to peasants makes the peasant adopt them as a pet, which not only makes them more safe from goblin attacks while they are milling about outside, it also gives them an instant happy thought if they ever become unhappy ('comforted by a beloved pet recently'). The downside, of course, is that if the war dog ever has to lay down its life for its master, the dwarf will become very upset, and doubly upset if you don't have the tombs to lay the pet to rest.

Making catacombs is another good way to provide some stability to your fortress. Unlike bedrooms, dwarves do not have to pay for their own tombs, and get a yearly happy thought from them that lasts almost a whole season. Catacombs are also fairly easy to furnish, requiring little more than coffins and engravings. Some statues can also be good if you are going that route. Be sure to allot some coffins for pet burial, too; dwarves are just as upset about their pets dying as they are about their friends. It's best not to compound the problem by letting pets rot.

Cave adaptation creates some powerful unhappy feelings (as powerful as the thought from a legendary dining room). Unfortunately, making a greenhouse that is indoors and lighted will NOT fight cave adaptation. Your only bet is to make a walled-in meeting hall on the surface, preferably above the ground z level so attacking goblins have no chance of getting in. Decorate it lavishly so your dwarves have something to counteract the unhappy thoughts in a controlled manner. Do NOT, under any circumstances, make your main meeting hall indoor/lighted/aboveground by making its roof a bunch of Floor constructions. This will make that area forbidden when "Dwarves stay indoors" is on and make controlling your civilians during a siege much harder.

Keep people busy. Not having enough work to do will induce an unhappy thought, and idlers will make friends very quickly. An unhappy dwarf that tantrums will spread his unhappiness to all his friends when he is imprisoned or killed, and that is how death spirals start. You should never have more than 5-10 people idle at any one time (for hauling duties).

Nobles need their own quarter away from everything because they get the unhappy thoughts about their 'lessers' pretentious lodgings'. Integrating them into normal society is too much of a pain to bother with. Plus making a designated noble's quarter means they're easier to kill if the need arises. As far as can be determined right now, the Tax Collector, Hammerer, and Dungeon Master all consider themselves fairly equal, while the Baron/Count/Duke and consorts consider themselves a step up, with the King/Queen and consort a step above that. Build four 3x3 rooms for each low rung noble (bedroom, office, dining room, tomb), 7 slightly larger (3x4, 4x4, your call) rooms for the second rung (2 bedrooms, 2 dining rooms, 2 tombs, 1 office. The consort does not require an office), and 7 still larger rooms for the king/queen and consort (again, 2 bedrooms, 2 dining rooms, 2 tombs, 1 office). Turn off all engravers except for your one best one for engraving; engravings are extremely variable in impressiveness so you need to keep the worker constant and count on the fact that the rooms are larger to keep the net wealth from engravings from varying too much. Finally, if you really want to keep your nobles stupidly happy, dig out a 1x2 area near their bed, smooth it, and place an Aluminum or Platinum statue next to a stone statue (import aluminum from the dwarven caravan if you can't find any. It's only about 250 for some nuggets and it's much lighter than platinum). Make sure the statues are a part of the bedroom. The noble will now admire his 'own completely sublime tastefully arranged statue' every time he wakes up, for a massive mood spike that can take a dwarf from unhappy to ecstatic.

Dwarven economics[edit]

This topic encompasses effective trading.

Fortress startup[edit]

Your first year in the fortress is likely to be really sparse on trading. You won't have much to trade, and the dwarven caravan doesn't know your requests, so it's unlikely to be terribly helpful, anyway.

Prepared meals are the trade good of choice for many fortresses: a tall stack of high-quality roasts can be worth 5,000☼ or more, depending on your cook's skill. Don't trade away meals unless you have a substantial food surplus, however; no amount of trade goods is worth a fortress of hungry dwarves. (Trading prepared meals in exchange for a larger quantity of cheaper foods is just fine, though.)

After your first immigrant wave arrives, you can concentrate on some specific trade goods. Stonecrafters are best for this, as they can produce crafts, mugs, and toys very quickly with the spare stone lying around.

There are a few things you should almost always be maxing out your requests for:

  • Wood. Whether it be above-ground logs from the human caravan or tower-cap logs from the dwarven caravan, they will happily bring anywhere from 20 to 40 logs per visit and sell them for a mere 6☼ apiece. The less you have to touch your own trees, the better you will be able to react to a sudden demand for wood, and not chopping down trees keeps the elves from whining too much.
  • Barrels. Again to decrease your demand for domestic wood. You need barrels to store food and booze, and you can get a 10 or so normal-quality barrels per caravan for 20☼ apiece quite easily. Be warned, the humans have a tendency to bring ones that have been decorated with expensive gems and so on, and those are not smart buys.
  • Dogs. More dogs = more war animals. Better security, more pets for dwarves, at only 70☼ apiece. Plus, you get to keep the cages they come in!
  • Fuel. Charcoal from both the human and dwarven caravans, and liginite and bituminous coal from the dwarven caravan. You will not get that much of this, but it will be enough to keep up with basic demands for metal items, and is sold for a pittance when you consider how costly it is in terms of labor to produce fuel. Even if you have magma, you'll want to request it so you have something to use for steel production.

The only reason you should not be maxing requests for these items is if the demand is totally saturated: a full stockpile of 100+ wood, no place to put any more empty barrels, a war dog on every dwarf in the fortress, etc. The cost you pay to the benefit you get is just too fantastic to pass up.

Past that, you may want to consider some conditional buying:

  • Flux stone from the dwarven caravan. This will be critical to making steel if you don't have flux on your map. Unrefined stone is very cheap, but because of the weight of the rock you won't get too much of it.
  • Silk cloth. This is commonly requested by strange moods and your chances of being able to produce it yourself are almost nil. Buy only cave spider silk cloth early on. The giant cave spider variety is almost 10 times more expensive, which is great if you want massive value artifacts, but you've got bigger fish to fry this early on. In addition, you can turn a tidy profit by turning most of your silk cloth into socks. Socks are made in pairs, each worth at least 60☼ for a plain silk sock.
  • Bauxite from the dwarven caravan, if you're needing magma-safe stone components.

There's also a number of things that make good one-time buys. Seed bags are cheap and come with enough seeds to start a thriving crop of the associated plant. Plus, you get to keep the bag. You will need to buy your first anvil from the caravans if you did not bring one, too. You may decide to put this off for a couple years, until you have more dwarves and can get into advanced trading.

Advanced trading[edit]

A larger fort has a few new ways to make money on the menu:

  • Mechanisms. Masterwork mechanisms made from obsidian or a flux stone can sell for as much as 1,080☼. Mechanisms are easy to produce and are already needed in your fortress. However, they are fairly heavy, requiring you to manage weight issues, especially when trading with the elves. Buy out any high-weight, low-cost items the traders have at the beginning of trading and you should be okay. Use high-value stone and a high-skill mechanic and weight will become a non-issue.
  • Bone goods. Bone carvers are useful any time you have a half-decent hunter, and can be stellar under certain circumstances. You want a high-skill bone carver for producing bolts and armor, and if your map has certain high-value exotic creatures (ogres, unicorns, trolls, etc.), a stack of bolts made from their bones can be worth hundreds or even thousands. A stack of 100 masterwork dragon or hydra bone bolts is worth 60,000☼. Totems made from of the skulls of exotic creatures are also worth quite a bit, as are their hides, meat, and fat, if they are butcherable.
  • Clothing. Dimple cups provide a dye when milled, which can be used to drastically increase the finished value of finished cloth goods. You can also sew images (whether leather, or more cloth) into the clothing to increase it further. Merchants will love it, and your dwarves will want new clothes as the economy kicks in, too. The downside is that this approach is labor-intensive, requiring a thresher, weaver, miller, dyer, clothier, and maybe a leatherworker or another clothier to pull off. Still, in larger fortresses, there's usually plenty of labor to spare. You can also cut the thresher and weaver out of the equation by simply importing the raw cloth you want to use.
  • Captured equipment. Goblin attacks will usually leave your store rooms awash in captured goblin equipment. Goblins often wear giant cave spider clothing, which sells very well. You can sew images into the cloth, and stud the metal equipment with bone or shell, to increase their trading value and 'naturalize' them, making them acceptable to offer to caravans for good will.
  • Armor or weapons. If you are trying to train up a high-skill armorsmith or weaponsmith, you will have to create hundreds of items. What better way to get rid of them than to trade them? For trading and training purposes, silver is the best metal to use. Silver has a value multiplier of ×10, making a masterpiece silver weapon worth 1200☼, and silver has little utility except for trading anyway. For armor, low boots are best; they are comparatively light and are produced in pairs, effectively doubling their value. If you have cassiterite in your fortress, train your armorsmith using bronze (or better still, bismuth bronze). But even copper has a good enough price-to-weight ratio to be worth trading. An added advantage of armor and weapons is that traders usually put a premium on one or more types of them. Note what specific types they want when forging your trade agreements and you can further double the value you receive for them.

As your fortress grows, you will have a large enough economic engine to eliminate the unproductive parts of your products' life cycles. Leather and cloth, especially, are very cheap to buy en-masse. 10 units of leather, plus the bin they came in, sells for 150-200☼ on caravans. 10 units of plant fiber cloth, plus the bin they came in, sells for 400☼. The best part is that humans and dwarves will usually bring 50 to 80 units of both cloth and leather per trip without you requesting it, letting you get cut rates on the merchandise. Note, however, that the plant fiber cloth tends to be of relatively low quality, which puts a legendary weaver to waste. However, the fact that you get so much cloth, plus a durable, always-useful bin, probably overrides this.

With so much economic muscle in your fortress, you shouldn't be scared of making extravagant or lazy requests of traders. Aluminum nuggets are always useful for spiking the wealth of your fortress and making ridiculously elaborate tombs or meeting halls. Request mining picks instead of making them yourself. Demand various animals you don't have any of to populate zoos. Ask for pearlash and rock crystal to make crystal glass. Too lazy to mine for gems? Just ask for them. Large dwarven fortresses have the ability to kick out huge amounts of wealth. Ask for exotic metal bars like rose gold just because they look cool. By this point, you are officially rich. Act like it! If you're impressed with your fortress, your dwarves probably will be, too.

Fortress Defense[edit]

Please see the Military page and the ones like it for more details on this.