v0.31:Squad

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This article is about an older version of DF.


Squads are a fundamental part of your fortress' military - they are the units who carry out all the orders you give them. Your ability to manage these iron-blooded dwarves could spell the difference between a healthy fort's life and death.

For quick reference: from the main menu the military screen is accessible through the m key and the squads screen is accessible through the s key. The military screen and all its tabs are mouse-compatible, and can be navigated through mouse clicks rather than strictly keys (when in windowed mode).

For a simple, very basic, unarmed/unarmoured "How to attack a creature", see attack.

Creating a Militia[edit]

While quite confusing, the military system makes up for its initial impenetrability with its versatility. Squads can be assigned, reordered(how?) and restructured(how?) at will, and each soldier can be set to equip a highly-specified uniform along with the rest of their squad or stand out and equip something unique.

Forming Squads[edit]

Before you can do anything with your military you will want to go into the noble screen (n) and designate a militia commander. Subsequent squad leaders can also be designated through the nobles 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.

When you have designated a commander/captain, going to the military screen will show that dwarf under the "Squads/Leaders" heading and you'll notice an option to create a new squad. You can also create a new squad before you designate your militia commander; the first dwarf you choose will automatically be thrust into the position. Creating the squad moves the display of the dwarf from the 'available' heading to the squad heading. You can then fill out the squad with any dwarf in the fort. No more than ten dwarves can be assigned to any one squad. When you add a dwarf to one squad they will be removed from another; for this reason you will always see the majority of your dwarves in the rightmost pane. Dwarves that are already in a military squad will have the name of that squad in the uppermost box, allowing you to skip them over if necessary.

Equipping Soldiers[edit]

In the military screen, press n to open the uniforms tab. Each listing under the 'Uniforms' header is essentially a pre-designed set of equipment that you can quickly apply to any individual soldier or entire squad, much like a template. You can create new uniforms if you want and add or remove items from any uniform set by navigating this menu. Uniform templates are only created in this tab, not applied.

While still in the military screen, press e to open the equipment tab. The default sub-tab, 'View/Customize will be open. In this screen you can select individual dwarves and apply individual pieces of equipment to them, from Armor, Leggings, Helms, Gloves, Boots, Shields, and Weapons, as well as Material and Color depending on the piece of equipment highlighted. To select a specific piece of equipment (such as an artifact), select 'specific _____' under that equipment type (eg. 'specific armor' in the Armor field); for your convenience, highest-quality equipment is listed first.

To apply your preset uniform templates, press U in the equipment tab to open the Assign Uniforms sub-tab and move the selector to the Position Uniform header. Pressing enter will apply the selected uniform to the individual dwarf of your choosing, and shift+enter will apply the selected uniform to the entire squad. If you edit a uniform while it is equipped, you will need to reselect the uniform for the dwarves to recognise the changes.

You have the option to wear equipment over clothing or to replace clothing using the r key on the equipment screen. Wearing armor over clothing can cause problems if the soldier is wearing many items of clothing on a particular body part, causing the soldier to repeatedly drop and reacquire equipment, with the resulting hauling jobs preventing training and other duties. If your soldiers are constantly shuffling equipment, order them to replace clothing.

For ranged soldiers, open the ammunition (f) 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. Assigning at least TWO piles of ammunition with two separate use designations is recommended. Assign one pile for training and one for fighting, or they will use all of their bolts training and end up attempting to whack enemies with their crossbows. By default, both training and combat use is turned on. Use C and T to toggle these settings. If the letter is present next to the ammunition, the use is turned on.

Soldiers who have more than one item to put on will not use distance to determine which of the remaining items will be equipped next. Therefore it it best to keep all dwarf-useable equipment within a small area.


Changing from Leather to Metal[edit]

If you start with leather armor and then smith some metal armor, you'll want to change your squads to the metal armor. From the military screen m, access the equipment view e. Then open the uniforms sub-view U which will show the standard leather, metal, and archer on the right (if you haven't deleted them). Now to change a full squad, select the squad on the left, then select the uniform (metal) on the right, and hit shift-enter (if you only hit enter it will only apply the change to the lone selected squad member). Now just hope you have enough metal armor and that Urist goes and picks it up!

Equipping Bone and Shell Armor[edit]

One peculiarity for equipping bone and shell armor is that, for the purposes of the equipment and uniforms tabs, bone and shell are metals. Further, they are not explicitly listed in the Material of the View/Customize sub-tab. A workaround for this problem is that bone and shell are the only "metals" that are both white colored and can be used to make armor by default. So, to add bone or shell armor items to a preset uniform template, you need to add a specific type of armor (a helm, for instance) with the modifiers of "white metal" (thus, a "white metal helm"). This workaround is ONLY effective if you also have no unique artifact armor made out of a white metal (such as an Aluminum Breastplate, Platinum Helm, or Silver Low Boot). It also requires that the armor template be for "Exact matches" (not "Partial matches") using the m in the Uniforms tab.

Direct Commands[edit]

Getting your military to actually do something is a lot less difficult than it once was; gone are the days of stationing a squad near the enemy and hoping for the best. You can now give direct orders to attack one or more specific targets or to move to a specific location at will through the squads menu.

There is now a clear discrepancy between active orders and passive orders-- the latter is programming that a dwarf will follow to the letter and acts more as a defense method, and the former is used for taking the fight to the enemy. The squads menu is predominantly used for active commands, and the alert and scheduling menus are used for passive commands. This article will focus on the active commands you can issue your squads.

A squad that is following an active command is free to go wherever it is ordered to go unhindered by any burrow restrictions.

For more information on passive commands, see Scheduling.

Selecting Squads/Soldiers[edit]

In the military, soldiers operate much more like part-time militia than full-time warriors. When soldiers are not passively doing their civilian duties or following their schedule programming, they can be actively sent to do small tasks to aggressively defend your fortress. After these orders have been carried out or cancelled, your dwarves will happily return to their passive programming as if they were never interrupted.

In the squad menu, you can press either a/b/c/etc to select the squad that will execute an order, or hold shift to select multiple at once. You may press p if you want to toggle between having an individual dwarf or the squad perform the order.

There are two types of active orders that can be given to your dwarves:

Move Order[edit]

A move order is issued by pressing m, choosing an area, and pressing enter after you have selected a squad. Soldiers on a move order will attack any hostiles they encounter on their way to their destination as well as wild animals and whatever other creatures they might encounter, whether you like it or not. This replaces the previous version's 'Station Squad' command and can be used to control squads in a similar manner as in 40d.

Attack Order[edit]

The attack order, or kill command, allows your military to focus their attack on one or more specific targets. It is a very unsubtle way of beating into your dwarves' booze-addled minds that they are to kill your target or be killed in the attempt. It may very well be your last command to your dwarves if things are getting desperate.

After selecting which dwarves will execute the kill order, press k to 'Attack'. Now you have several options: you can move the cursor to what you want to attack and press enter, press list and select what you want to attack from a list, or rectangle to select an area of things you want dead. Upon pressing enter your dwarves will happily run off to execute the order by executing the target. This order will remain after the intended victim is killed, leaving your squad standing over the corpse of their slain enemy waiting for new orders. Similar behavior will emerge if the intended target is caught in a cage trap; when the caged target is hauled to the animal stockpile, the dwarves given the orders to kill it will follow the cage as it is hauled and wait around it once it is stockpiled until the kill order is canceled.

Currently dwarves go about this with a little more vigor than required and will also attack any other creatures nearby. As a result it is very difficult to attack members of an enemy group with any sort of precision, and if your dwarves cannot take down their target there is no real way to get them out of combat; it's do-or-die. It is unknown whether this is a bug or a feature.

Cancelling Orders[edit]

Pressing the o key in the squad screen will cancel the selected dwarves' active orders, sending them back to their civilian or pre-scheduled military lives. It appears that this does not always work properly; as a result, your over-eager dwarves may get themselves into some trouble. Take caution when sending them deep into unfamiliar territory.

Order Scheduling[edit]

Full article: Scheduling

Squads can also be assigned order schedules which are passive commands that can be set for each month of the year which they will automatically perform whenever they are not busy with any active commands you are issuing. From the squad menu you can toggle through any order schedules you have defined quite quickly by pressing t. This will set the order schedule for the entire squad even if you only have a single dwarf selected.

To edit an existing order schedule or create a new one you need to visit the military-schedule screen. This can be done directly from the squad menu by pressing s or alternatively you can back out of the squad menu and use m,s to get to the schedule page from the military screen. The details of setting up an order schedule are described on the schedule page.

Reported Squad-Related Bugs[edit]

  • When selecting new dwarves to place in a squad the cursor always returns to the first available dwarf instead of remaining where it is.
  • Soldiers who have completed a kill task do not cancel their kill task. This may be intentional. Workaround - set a m-move task, then o-cancel it.