v0.31:Military guide

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This article is about an older version of DF.

[edit] The material in this page has now been incorporated into the main military page in greater detail and legibility!

Forming Squads

  • Before you can do ANYTHING with your military, you need to designate a militia commander in the nobles screen (n). Don't worry, he doesn't have any requirements and doesn't set mandates. If you're playing a version older than 0.31.09, designate an arsenal dwarf too, and give him an office somewhere - he's the fortress quartermaster, and without him your squads won't end up with any equipment other than what they were already wearing. Note that if you don't have an option for Arsenal Dwarf, it just means your fort isn't big enough to need one yet. Dwarves will equip themselves until your fortress grows too large - just keep an eye on the nobles screen every time you get migrants, and assign an arsenal dwarf when you need one.
  • Currently every squad leader is designated in the noble screen - once you designate a militia commander it will open up a slot for a "Militia captain", and once you designate one of those it opens another captain slot, etc. These roles are all functionally equivalent.
  • Once you've designated a commander/captain, going to the military screen (m) will show that dwarf under the "Squads/Leaders" heading and you'll notice an option to create a new squad. Doing that changes the the display of the dwarf from his name to the squad's name. You can then fill out the squad from anyone in the fort by filling in the "Squad Positions" heading.
  • Okay, here's where people seem to start getting lost: Equipping your squad. The first thing you should look at is the "Uniforms" tab. You don't actually need to change anything here, but it's good to understand how just in case you want to. Each option under the "Uniforms" heading is essentially a pre-designed set of equipment that you can quickly apply to any individual soldier or entire squad. You can create new uniforms if you want and add or remove items from any uniform by navigating this menu.
  • Now go over to the "Equip" tab. Here's where you can apply those uniforms to individuals or squads. You can also straight edit a dwarf's equipment from this screen - if you want to give someone an artifact for instance, you can just select him, go over to his equipment list, get rid of whatever the normal uniform option is for that slot, and hit the hot-key listed at the top for whatever type of item the artifact is - if you select "Specific X" it will give you another list of all the items of that type in the fort (I believe it sorts by highest quality at the top, so you don't need to hunt around for the best stuff). If your squad is using ranged weapons, head over to the "Ammunition" tab and assign them something from there (If you don't care what they use, you still need to give them ammo - just pick "Bolts" and it will default to any bolts they can find).
  • If you have an arsenal dwarf with an office, your squad should now retrieve their assigned equipment as soon as the arsenal dwarf signs off on it (Assuming they can find any that meet the types you set).

Getting your Squad to do Something

  • Here's another big stumbling block a lot of people are having - training. It's not quite so simple as just designating a barracks and letting your dwarves have at it anymore - though once you know what to do it's not that complicated, and it gives you a LOT more control over military behavior than before.
  • First thing you should do is designate a barracks somewhere, the same way you would have in the previous version (Though you can also designate barracks from a lot of other object types than beds now - any storage object can also be used to designate a barracks or armory room).
  • Once you've designated a barracks, you'll notice a list of the squads in your fort in the info pane. This is where you set how the squad uses the barracks - it defaults to empty so if you don't do anything here, your squad won't even know the barracks exists. You probably want to at least enable "Train" and "Sleep", though really what you set here is up to you, it's more important that you know it exists. If you don't have the squad set to "Train" at any of your designated barracks, they won't train. There are also options for storing equipment here - I haven't seen my dwarves doing this but I've got them all set to just leave their stuff on even off-duty, so I imagine it's more meaningful if they switch to civvies. There's also a "Position" option where you can assign specific beds/storage to specific dwarves. I don't think this is too important unless you REALLY want a particular dwarf to have the NICE armor rack. If they aren't assigned they'll just use whatever they feel like, as normal.
  • Now, just designating the barracks won't get them to train - because they're still off-duty. Head back to the military screen and go to the "Alerts" tab. This is sort of like the uniform tab in that it's a way to quickly assign specific behaviors to a squad - though unlike the uniform tab you really HAVE to use this one. All squads default to inactive until you set them to an alert level - you can create your own custom alerts but to keep it simple for now, just set a squad to "Active/Training". Note that to set a squad alert level, first you scroll down to the alert, then you scroll across to the squad, THEN you hit enter. If you just hit enter on the alert itself, it will set the civilians in the fort to this - for "Active/Training" it's essentially meaningless, but you can use this to order civilians to a safe area in the event of an attack (Kind of like the old "Keep indoors" option, but much better since they don't keep trying to run out the front door and turning around).
  • Once you've set the squad's alert level, head over to the "Schedule" tab. Along the top you'll have a list of all the squads in your fort, and on the side will be a list of the game months. Now, this is important, on the VERY top of the screen, above the squad list, is the name of the currently selected alert level. You can change this with the */ buttons on the numpad - what you're doing here is setting the squad's orders for each month when they're set to the selected alert level. If you're on "Active/Training", every month probably says "Train".
  • Here's the thing - the game defaults to a REALLY stupid option that most people are probably going to miss - notice on the bottom, in blue, how it says "Train, 10 minimum"? What that means is that if you have less 10 dwarves in that squad set to training (Which will always be the case since squads max out at 10), it will FORCE members of the squad to train, even when they're exhausted or starving. If you don't change this, your dwarves will be EXTREMELY miserable after a while - they might even starve to death while training - I'm not sure. Either way, hit e to edit the order, and use the /*-+ buttons to set the minimum to something like 1 or 2 less than the number of dwarves you have in your squad.
  • If you hit "o" while on this screen, you can scroll through all the other options for orders you can give your squads. All of them except for Train will require you to set either burrows or notes which I'll explain in the next section. For now just leave it on train.
  • Don't forget that orders are set per month - so you only set the minimum down for one month. Copy/paste the order into all the other months. Alternatively, if you want to give your dwarves time off, you can just hit x on an order and it will set them to inactive for that month. You can also use "o" to give them more than one order during a given month, though I'm not sure how this works (My guess is that if you set your minimums properly, the squad will split evenly between the two activities to maintain the minimum values of both).
  • After following the steps listed above, your dwarves SHOULD spend some time training in the barracks now. Bear in mind the current release is pretty buggy, and dwarves weren't exactly rocket scientists in the last version either, so it might seem like they spend a lot of time waiting around for an instructor or instructee. If you just leave them alone and don't worry about it, eventually they'll figure it out and start getting some training done.
  • Some quick notes about training: When dwarves are in the military but not on active duty, dwarves with good self-discipline will visit the barracks and train themselves in their spare time - if you see a dwarf doing "Individual training" when you have them off-duty, that's what's happening. When dwarves are being ordered to train, squad leaders will set up training classes for particular skills, or they will have dwarves spar. Any dwarves in the squad that don't qualify for these will default to individual training. In the current release, training classes are bugged where if a squad leader sets up a training class, he will wait forever (Or until you change his orders) for students, even if nobody shows up. Likewise, if students decide to request a class and the squad leader is doing individual training, they will wait for him to finish, even if they start starving. Thus, at the moment it's best to alternate your forced training schedules with downtime so the longest a dwarf will be stuck waiting is a game month (Which isn't long enough to die), or just leave them off duty all the time and have them do individual training only, at least until this issue is fixed.

Burrows and Notes

  • This is a more advanced feature of the new military options - it's similar to the old station and patrol options, but a lot more flexible because of the new alert level settings.
  • First things first - if you want your dwarves to guard an area, you need to set a burrow. It's pretty self-explanatory how to do that once you hit "w" from the main menu - just cover the area you want the dwarves to defend. Note that bigger is better here, at least if you want your dwarves to cover a wide area. Dwarves will detect intrusions into a burrow, and if they're set to guard that burrow, they'll immediately run to the point of the intrusion - so don't set the burrow to one square to try to get the dwarves to stand at the entrance or something. Just set it to the area you want guarded.
  • Burrows have a few other uses as well - you can assign civilians to burrows and what that means is that they'll only use things that are in that burrow - workshops, dining rooms, etc. Note that they'll still gather material from outside the burrow if it's not close at hand, so don't worry about dwarves starving in a burrow because there's no food in it.
  • Notes are how you set a patrol route. This is a bit more complicated than it used to be, but essentially, first you have to plant notes at all the points you want the dwarves to patrol, then you need to hit "r" from the note menu to bring up the routes list, and create a new patrol route and then add waypoints to it. It might seem excessively cumbersome, but the reason behind this is that you can use the same points for multiple patrol routes, if you want different squads to follow different paths.
  • For either of these, once you've set up the burrow/route, you can set a squad to use them via the "Schedule" screen, the same way you edit their training schedule. You can also set dwarves to just stand at a particular note like the old station option, but honestly using burrows sounds better to me. A good idea is probably to create a new alert level for "Active" duty versus just training, so you can quickly have switch your dwarves between patrolling and training.
  • There's also a "Burrows" header on the alerts tab of the military menu. It is used to set which burrows apply to which alerts. Select an alert, then use the arrow keys to select a burrow and hit enter. Now any squads or civilians set to that alert will be restricted to that burrow. Multiple burrows can be set to the same alert.

Direct Control

  • To issue a direct control order, first open the squad menu with s and select a squad with a,b,c etc. (You can also select multiple squads by holding down shift and selecting squads). Honestly, from here it's pretty intuitive. Just hit the appropriate button for the order you want to give, pick a target, and watch them go. This is a new feature in v0.31 that allows you to single out a critter for death.
  • You can also give orders to individual members of squads by toggling from "Select squads" to "Select individuals" with p, then selecting a squad and picking someone/multiple people from inside it.

Miscellaneous Tips

  • You should set some off duty time for your squads - even if they get enough time to take care of their needs, dwarves will still get an unhappy thought from a "Long patrol". Having two squads alternate is a good way to keep your fortress covered while also keeping your military happy.
  • No matter how good your military is, some enemies are just ridiculously strong in the new version - several people have mentioned bronze colossuses being particularly unstoppable. Having a "Dump it in the magma" backup plan never hurts.
  • If you want your dwarves to be wrestlers, change their equipment profile in the military menu to include no weapons or shields (If they have a shield they'll use it to bash enemies which is extremely ineffective). A word of warning: Heat and contamination can transfer through wrestling now, so having your dwarves wrestle fire imps is a good way to get set on fire. Stuck in weapons will also transfer temperature, but not contamination (Technically, the contamination will transfer to the weapon, but the wielder of the weapon won't be affected by it - weapons will only transfer contamination when striking something).
  • Sometimes your soldiers will stand around in your barracks in civilian clothes, refusing to spar or attend training. You can keep them from doing this by designating two overlapping barracks and assigning them to both.
  • Note that when using the specific KILL order, the order does not automatically cancel after the target is killed or otherwise lost. The squad will stand around the last known location until you manually cancel the current kill order or set them a new order.
  • There are now generic "Ranged attack" and "Melee attack" skills alongside weapon specific skills. They stack with weapon specific skills for combat rolls. Additionally, creatures can become "Familiar" with specific items, which improves their roles with them. The message "X has become attached to Y" is not based on this specifically, but it's a good indicator; becoming attached means that the creature will refuse upgrades because they prefer that specific item.
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