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This article is about the current version of DF.
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This article is about training the dwarven military in fortress mode.

Outside of actual mortal combat, training is how you improve the combat skills of your soldiers in fortress mode. Training takes many forms, from a solo practice to group sparring, from individual instruction to actual live combat in a controlled, (hopefully) non-dangerous environment.

Organized squad training[edit]

Military training takes place in barracks in the form of group demonstrations, individual training and sparring, and in archery ranges for Archery training.

  • Demonstrations are group training sessions for a specific skill, led by a teacher with experience in that skill and observed by one or more squad members. Demonstrations need to be organized and require that all are students present for the demonstration to begin, those already present will wait or do individual training until that happens. In addition to the skill demonstrated, dwarves gain some teacher and student experience, causing future demonstrations to become more effective.
Dwarves will only attend a demonstration if it teaches a fighting skill or the weapon they're currently equipped with (that is to say, if you have a squad of two dwarves, one with a spear, and one with an axe, you'll never get axe or spear demonstrations). Ranged dwarves will attend demonstrations for their weapons base skill; so marksdwarves will attend hammer demonstrations with archery demonstrations happening rarely. They will also start and attend wrestling demonstrations as all dwarves can wrestle; this is also why wrestling levels up as fast as it does via demonstrations; a dwarf can always wrestle.[1]
When a squad leader completes a demonstration, it fulfils the "help somebody" need.
  • Sparring is a form of practice melee combat performed by two or more members of a squad, and possibly others choosing to watch the match. Sparring is a mostly-safe way to get experienced soldiers. Sparring appears to train every usable combat skill (weapon, Fighting, Wrestling, Discipline, etc.) even when dwarves have weapons equipped. Sparring tends to confer skill increases faster than Demonstrations. Despite their name, training weapons are not necessary for this purpose: all weapons are safe for sparring, even the sharpest of short swords. So there is no need to change weapon assignment.
Dwarves will only begin sparring when there are at least 2 dwarves with at least 'competent' skill level in their fighter skill. It appears that Dwarves with unequal skill levels will spar, but not frequently. If two dwarves are very close in skill levels, they spar much more frequently, this may be maximized by using position assigning.[2] It is currently believed that the best way to encourage sparring (rather than demonstrations) is to use 2 (or 3)-dwarf squads for training. Both dwarves should have the same weapon, to minimize useless cross-weapon teaching. It appears that the more experienced the training military dwarves are, the more likely they are to spar. However, sparring management is still a poorly understood science.
  • Individual Training slowly improves one skill at time through self-training. Squad members may choose to conduct individual training ("Individual Combat Drill") when there is no one else to train with or on their spare time when there are no scheduled orders. The latter might be tied to motivated[Verify] and disciplined[Verify] dwarves.

Designating a barracks and assigning a squad to train in it will allow squad members to train there individually instead of going idle, but they will never spar/demonstrate. In order to make them spar/demonstrate you need to activate the squad, either via the Ui q.pngq squad menu and then clicking the 'axe' training button, or by activating a routine with training orders in the "Schedule" submenu.

Setup Walkthrough[edit]

In order to train, your soldiers will need to be organized into squads. To create your first squad, a Militia Commander must be appointed from the Ui n.pngn nobles screen. Once you have a commander, you can go to the Ui q.pngq squad menu and click "Create new squad." You will be asked to pick a uniform from the default set, and your militia commander will automatically be assigned to the first squad position. You can assign more dwarves to the squad by clicking the 'positions' bearded face icon, then "Assign position X," and you can rename the squad with the 'customize name' icon: Quill.png. To create subsequent squads, click "Create new squad" again and select a uniform, then assign dwarves to the squad. The first position in these subsequent squads will have the title militia captain.

You can directly assign a squad to train constantly with active orders. For a more complex passive training regimen, you need to schedule the squad to train. This is accomplished by opening the Ui q.pngq squad menu, selecting an existing squad or squads with the checkbox next to their name(s), and clicking "Schedule." From here you can assign the squad to "Staggered Training," "Constant Training," or establish a more complex routine.

Now open the Ui z.pngz zone menu and begin designating a "Barracks" by clicking the blue banner icon. Select an area on the map to define the barracks' boundaries and click "Accept." Beds, weapon racks, containers, and/or armor stands are all useful within a barracks, and you may consider designating your zone around some of those pieces of furniture, but they are not necessary to begin training. While still in the Ui z.pngz zone menu, click the barracks zone you just made and look at the barracks configuration menu which appears. From here, you can click the 'choose squads' button, which is a blue banner with a plus, and begin assigning squads to use the barracks by clicking the 'training' axe button next to the squad name. Now your squad is set to begin training, and has a place to train in.

A squad set to the default "Constant Training" routine (or a more complicated schedule using the advanced calendar system) will train in their assigned barracks. A squad with active orders delivered through the squad menu will carry out those orders, taking breaks to eat or sleep, but will not stop following another order to train.

  1. Form a squad with members (equip with whatever armor and weapons you like)
  2. Designate a barracks and have the squad set to train there.
  3. Using the Ui q.pngq squad "Schedule" system, assign the squad to "Constant Training."

See also: Military frequent asked questions.


The weapons you wish your soldiers to use can be chosen through the Ui q.pngq squad menu, and then the "Equip" button. When soldiers spar or perform weapon drills, they practice (and thereby gain experience) with whatever weapon (plus armor and shield in the case of sparring) they currently have equipped. Your soldiers will eventually pick up the equipment assigned in the equipment menu, though it is not uncommon to find them wandering around weaponless and half-armored when first drafted. Aside from a few specific circumstances, wooden training weapons are not necessary for training, and can actually be counterproductive.

Other Notes[edit]


Dwarves do not hurt each other directly while sparring with any type of weapon. They can however have accidents due to certain Wrestling move(s), namely throwing. A thrown dwarf may skid along the ground and sustain injury. It can be lethal to a dwarf if their head skids on the ground or they slam into a wall, so have your sparring dwarves wear helmets and spar in open rooms. Note: all sparring dwarves may decide to do a bit of Wrestling, even if they have weapons equipped.

Also make sure they have a safe environment to train in. Avoid having your barracks near high cliffs, stairs, open water, and wells because dwarves have a habit of dodging off of cliffs and injuring themselves or dodging into water and becoming stunned, which leads to drowning. Also, dwarves can dodge up one level if they are next to a wall. Make sure they can walk back down or build a roof, because otherwise you risk a military dwarf trapping himself and starving to death.

Default Schedule[edit]

The default Off Duty routine tells the squad to remain in civilian clothes and does not tell them to actively train. This can be changed from the Scheduling menu, if for some reason you only want part of a squad to train, or only to train during certain months, etc.

Happy Soldiers[edit]

Be kind to your soldiers. Civilians with no military experience will get bad thoughts from going on duty. Soldiers will get a bad thought when going off duty if they don't have any civilian skills (if their title becomes "peasant"). In either case, cross-training can raise attributes while providing a larger and more flexible military.

Live training on disarmed prisoners[edit]

A very effective way to train your dwarves is to equip them with training weapons and full armor and let them fight unarmed prisoners. This allows your dwarves to be "attacked" in real combat with relative safety, increasing their defensive skills rapidly. In other words: if you're interested in having your dwarves quickly train as Dodgers, Armor Users and Shield Users, it'll be worth the effort to set up some live training exercises. Keep in mind though that all combat in Dwarf Fortress comes with risks, and even a Legendary Axedwarf can be killed by an unlikely wrestling move or infected scratch.

See Remotely Opening Cages for information on how to arrange for the training.

See also[edit]