40d:Starting build design

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This article is about an older version of DF.

These are personal builds suggested by various players. Their style may not be your style - consider the reasoning offered, your embark site, and your own playstyle - mix and match, adopt, adapt or reject as you please.

See starting builds for a general discussion of this topic.

Tricks and Tactics[edit]

Many of these can be adapted into most any other build philosophy.

Free Equipment[edit]

See Starting_build#Free_Equipment

(War)dogs as (early) military[edit]

Rather than worry about risking your dwarves, take 2 dozen or more dogs or wardogs - or a mix. While a pair of wardogs is hardly a match for a goblin ambush, a dozen will tear them apart and send them running while your dwarves do something more important, like drink, or just keep breathing. The breeding stock (and casualties) provide a great supply of leather, bones and meat, and the fights can tend to be epic. Once you have full-time soldiers, a pair of wardogs each make a great boost to their combat effectiveness.

Training dogs into wardogs is fast enough even for no-skill dwarf, maybe 3 per week, and they'll tend to follow the trainer around until officially assigned to a permanent owner. Have your outdoors/military dwarves do the training, obviously, or any who have a preference for dogs "for their loyalty", to give them an additional happy thought.

Everyone Mines[edit]

One build that is actually very easy to use is to take no mining skills and 7 (or more) copper picks. Then, choose a site with a type of soil, which is extremely easy to mine. Assign all of your dwarves except your woodcutter to mining, and dig out some big storage areas to begin with in the sand. By the time you have a basic fort laid out (less than a season) they will all have plenty of skill ups and attribute gains, and will be able to go through regular rock quite quickly. Then you can turn them off mining, and turn any immigrants on mining and have them do the same. This allows you to rapidly increase dwarf attributes, so they can later learn some other skill which aligns well with their attribute bonuses. Also, it makes them more dwarfy!

(Compare with DIY, next)

DIY Tools & Weapons[edit]

Rather than buy no-quality copper picks and a no-quality steel axe, some players choose to save money and forge some (or all) of these on site. The savings of buying the ore (or just the metal bars) can be huge, and with a proficient weaponsmith the improvement in quality can be significant. It also adds to created wealth instead of imported wealth.

See Do it yourself for a full discussion.

(Note: A single copper pick is cheap and not a bad investment, unless looking for a challenge.)

Chopping wood is dangerous![edit]

Buy wood - a LOT of wood. Don't worry about an axe (at first), don't worry about chopping wood, or hauling it from the scary outdoors to inside your nice safe fortress. 100 wood only costs 300 pts, will last for years, and that's just the price of one of your two axes.

Booze by popular demand[edit]

Many of your starting 7 dwarves may show a preference for one booze over all others. Since it all costs the same, bringing more of those types of booze can give them slightly happier thoughts (until that type runs out). Be cautious of bringing too much dwarven wine if you are going to rely heavily on plump helmets for food and drink - dwarves don't like drinking the same wine all the time (even their favorite?) so bringing variety now is a good call.

Full Builds[edit]

Many of these builds are extremely specific, some overly so. Some have good reasons (and hopefully those are stated), but thoughtfully adapting and tweaking to your playstyle and preferences is encouraged.

A basic build[edit]

The first order of business is simply to survive. Here is a simple, somewhat paranoid, way to do this.


  • 2 miner/X (digging stone can be slow - this gets you into the ground asap)
  • 1 mason/mechanic
  • 1 carpenter/woodcutter
  • 1 grower/brewer/cook. He's responsible for making prepared meals and drinks.
  • either a herbalist/grower, or a fisherdwarf/X, or a hunter/X. The first gets you lots of brewable plants on maps with plants, the second gets you food and bones on maps with water (in maps with dangerous fish such as carp fishing is suicidal so be careful), and the third gets you meat and bones on maps with animals. Herbalism is usually the safest of the three.
  • 1 spare dwarf. You might make him the leader and broker; if so, give him at least novice appraiser skill so you know what stuff is worth. You might make him responsible for making trade goods, or turn him into your first soldier, or you might just give him some skills you want to experiment with.

Items You want picks, food, and drink. Everything else is optional. The suggestions below assume you spent the maximum possible on skills. We'll pack lots just to be safe.

If the map is treeless, remove the battle axe and spend the freed points on more plump helmets and logs (you're going to run out however many you bring...).

If you're willing to wait a year or two to do any metalworking and you're sure traders will come, remove the anvil and spend the freed points on such things as skills, food and drink, wood, leather, raw materials, or weapons.


Heavy metalbashing and glassworking requires a site with 1) abundant fuel and 2) raw materials - ores and sand. Magma is ideal as well but large coal seams or a forest will also suffice. A site with sedimentary layers and flux should mean nearly unlimited steel. Any site with sand (not "loamy sand" or the like) will permit glassworking. Your biggest choice when setting up is whether to optimize for a fast start or long-term success.


  • A Carpenter/Woodcutter/Leader: A bunch of nobles' skills, including at least novice Negotiator and Appraiser. This dwarf should have good inter-personal personality.
  • A Mason/Mechanic/Building designer: Adding more points to Mason gets construction materials and furniture faster. More points to Mechanic allows faster trap-setting. Adding Appraiser and/or Negotiator skills gives you a back-up leader or broker. A boost to Wrestling gets you better on-call defense.
  • A Farmer/Herbalist: This dwarf will gather the plant material you need to brew drinks. Leftover skill raises should be invested in a valuable, hard to raise trade skill such as Blacksmith, Metal Crafter, or perhaps Glassmaker or Clothier.
  • A Farmer/Brewer/(Cook): This dwarf is responsible for keeping your community fed and liquored up - the cook is optional. Leftover skill raises should be invested as for the Farmer/Herbalist.
  • A Craftsdwarf: Points into whatever hard-to-raise skills you most want. Armorsmith, Weaponsmith, Bowyer, Glassmaker, and even Siege Engineer, Clothier, or Gem Setter can all be good choices depending on your setup. If you plan to bash metal, remember to spend a few points on Furnace Operator and (if needed) Wood Burning.
  • 2 Miners/Soldiers: Points into both mining and military skills. The miners first get legendary and then become extremely powerful fighters. Remember that it's much easier to increase Mining skill than most of the military skills (especially Armor User), but also that you'll want capable miners immediately.

With this setup, you have several ways to make the trade goods you'll need to buy what you lack. Metal goblets, stone mugs, handwear, footwear, mechanisms, bone or wood crossbows, prepared meals, or bone and shell crafts are all solid choices.

Food and drink for the first few seasons are assured by first cooking all the meat to free up barrels, then brewing your plump helmets (and any gathered plants) to make booze.

Core Items (all starts)

  • 2 picks
  • 6 or 11 of each of dwarven ale, dwarven beer, and dwarven rum. With abundant brewable plants and lots of wood you don't actually need any starting booze, but it's nice to have a backup.
  • at least 11 plump helmets. Bring a lot more if you anticipate problems with gathering brewable plants.
  • at least 6 turtles. Not only are they good eating, they ensure you have the shells and bones needed to satisfy strange moods. 11 give 2 barrels.
  • 1 of every kind of meat that costs 2 or 4, as each type of meat will be packed in its own free barrel and cooking the meat will release that barrel for use. If you don't like this feature, bring more turtles or plump helmets instead.
  • Unless the map is glacial, or you intend only outdoor agriculture, bring plenty of seeds as well. A minimum of 15 plump helmet spawn are essential for a quick start to underground agriculture; rock nuts, sweet pod seeds, pig tail seeds, and cave wheat seeds will diversify your meals and drinks and let you set up for clothes-making. Seeds are packed in bags.
  • (optional) some cheap (5 point) leather to make quivers and bags and such

& Items (fast start)

  • 1 Anvil
  • no battle axe - you'll save points by making it yourself.
  • only a few logs (just enough to get started with), unless the map has no trees

See Make Your Own Weapons for more details on what to bring and how to make the battle axes you need to chop wood.

& Items (slow start) Warning: Going without an anvil will slow you down until you get one in trade (which can take 6 or 7 seasons) and might even cost you a failed strange mood.

  • no Anvil
  • no battle axes
  • with the points you save by not bringing an anvil, ores or bars of metals, and (if needed) coal (for fuel and coke) and/or flux.
  • lots of logs - at least 25 on a heavily forested map. Note that you could get a free barrel (normal cost 10/) for every 5 units of alcohol (cost 2/) or 10 food (or part thereof), but the barrels are not empty until that alcohol or food is consumed.

A "moderate start" would split the differences.

Do it yourself[edit]

This is based on taking only the minimum needed to get things started, plus some hard-to-find items in case they are needed later. This is both weapons/tools and seeds - you just don't need a lot of seeds if you have a half-decent Grower. Read the Make your own weapons article for more info and possible variations on the tools, and grower for an idea of how fast seeds can multiply.

The skill mix leans toward military and metal bashing, but has room for something else.


  • Ambush 1, Axedwarf 1, Appraise 1, Judge of Intent 1, Building designer 1, & 5 more points in any military skills - your Leader, Outdoors, Security
  • Miner 5/Siege Engineer 5
  • Mason 5/Stone Crafter 5
  • Armorsmith 5/Cook 5
  • Mechanic 5/Brewer 5
  • Weaponsmith 5/Leather worker 4/Armor User 1 (Leather stays smaller than weaponsmith for moods)
  • Grower 5/____ 5 (skilled profession of your choice - Gems, Glass, Bowyer, Carpenter, Clothier, you name it. Part-time is better paired w/ Grower.)

This mix tries to put one moodable skill with one non-moodable. The Mason/StoneCrafter gets pulled in two directions sometimes, but Mason stays higher than StoneCraft for moods, and the latter has a high chance for an immigrant mood to create a Legendary in another dwarf, at which point this Mason is free to focus on that full time.

The one Miner dives into soil first, only mining stone as needed, and is Legendary by mid-summer, ready to haul and build siege engines while other dwarves take their turns training up to about Proficient Miner (again, to not interfere with chosen moodable skills). The Leader/Outdoors dwarf does untrained Wood Cutting and Plant Gathering, and all Animal Training so the 4 wardogs stay with him until assigned or restrained. Someone covers Carpenter and untrained, and several part-time Wood Burners, Furnace Operators and Butchers/Tanners cover those areas for the first year until immigrants arrive to specialize the support workforce.

(Note that no axe is brought, but the skill mix provides the Ambusher dwarf with one free set of leather armor, crossbow and about 30 steel bolts (that any dwarf can then use). If danger is expected immediately (a terrifying biome, for instance), the 300 additional points for an axe will not allow this item mix as presented below.)


  • Tools:
  • Anvil
  • 1 copper pick (to get digging with no delay)
  • Alcohol:
  • 16 alcohol A (4 barrels)
  • 16 alcohol B (4 barrels)
  • 11 alcohol C (3 barrels)
  • 6 Dwarven wine (2 barrels) (more can be quickly brewed from Plump helmets, below)
  • Seeds:
  • 3 Plump Helmet spawn (solid starting crop; you'll have more seeds after brewing the PH's below)
  • 3 seeds each x other 4 crop seeds for the rest (enough to get started, they'll multiply after season one)
  • 2 Dimple cup seeds (not a food crop, just enough to get started)
  • Food:
  • 11 Plump helmets (2 barrels)
  • 11 Turtle (2 barrels)
  • 2 Cave lobster (for rare shells)
  • 1 each fish or meat that costs less than 8 pts (availability will vary depending on civilization)
  • Raw Materials:
  • Misc:
  • 3 cheap leather (to be made into bags)
  • 1 cheap leather bag (for immediate use)
  • Animals:
  • 4 dogs (outdoor dwarf will train)
  • 2 cats (for breeding, to produce leather, bones, meat)

The 3 alcohols (A, B and C) are non-wine (you'll brew more of that yourself, as your 11 Plump Helmets will make 55 wine), the final mix based on any dwarves' preferences for alcohol. If you wish to change the mix, that's fine - 49 total, 13 barrels (including wine), in lots of 1, 6, 11, 16, or 21 each.

It's possible that "too many" cheap food/fish may be available and you will not be able to afford them all - you're looking for at least 30 food, 35-40 is better, and any more are for the cheap barrels.

On a low-wood map, a few more wood and less ore. If one or more ores are unavailable, buy more food, wood or other ores.

When you embark, first make 2-3 charcoal, smelt the copper ore and one cassiterite together to make 2 bronze bars (1st charcoal) - use one bar for an axe (2nd charcoal), the other for a second axe or pick if desired (3rd charcoal, optional). (Forbid the tetrahedrite - smelting it into bronze will lose any chance for the silver, and that's why you pay more for it!)

Later, smelt the tetrahedrite and galena into bars - odds are very good that you'll get at least two bars of silver for lowest-damage practice weapons, plus the copper (for quick chains) & lead (for grates). The silver weapons will be made by non-weaponsmiths for lowest quality - you don't want high quality, that's dangerous! Forbid or stash the unusual ores (and shells) for later moods & mandates.

Build a kennel and have the outdoors dwarf do the training for wardogs asap, or as need/opportunity arises.

With the low number of starting seeds, a skilled Grower is mandatory to get the crops up to speed, but that's advised for any fortress that is going to have an agriculture. The rest of the skills are easily tweaked to suit.

A Generalist Build[edit]

This build sacrifices an anvil for highly skilled dwarves and plenty of other equipment. With 4 free "slots" to buy to max proficiency, this can form the backbone of a build for nearly any playing style.


Each dwarf receives 5 points to each of their 2 primary skills, except for the Broker.

  • Dwarf 1 - Miner/Stone Crafter
This guy will be your mining foreman while establishing a fortress, and will reach legendary soon enough to not waste too much ore, gems, etc. 5 points into Stone Crafter may seem like a waste given how common the material is, but a Proficient Stone Crafter will create items over 3 times as valuable, on average, as a no-skill one. On more difficult maps, tripling the stuff you get from the first caravan may be the difference between starvation and glory. If you're trying to get a metal industry up fast, quality crafts will make trading for an anvil much easier.
  • Dwarf 2 - Carpenter/Mechanic
Beds, beds, beds! A skilled carpenter will make higher quality beds faster than a no-skill one. Decent quality beds can go a long way towards keeping your starting 7 and early immigrants from tantruming. Once the fortress is established, he will also make quality mechanisms for traps and constructions. Carpentry and Mechanics are both relatively low priority jobs most of the time, so this dwarf should also often be available for hauling and odd jobs.
  • Dwarves 3 and 4 - Mason/Other
Rock furniture is quite important in most forts, and once again, high quality means happy dwarves. Possible pairings for these two are:
  • Siege Engineer - If you'll be using siege engines at all, starting with the skill is much less painful than training it up from scratch.
  • Bowyer - Wood and bone crossbows tend to be very useful in the early game, whether for traps or for arming marksdwarves. There's absolutely no benefit to using metal crossbows over bone or wood ones in weapon traps, so high quality bone/wood bows can easily be a staple for traps, through the entire game.
  • Weaponsmith - Weapons are (obviously) important for defense, whether they're placed in traps, or in the hands of military dwarves. They're also half-decent trade items.
  • Armorsmith - If you'll be relying on a military at all, metal armor is a must. Otherwise, not necessary.
  • Crafting skills - These dwarves could also turn out large quantities of valuable trade goods. Metalsmithing, Metal Crafting, and Gem Cutting are difficult and expensive to train up. Leatherworker and Clothier use common and cheap materials, and can produce decent value goods.
  • Cooking or Brewing - Easy to train, but high quality comestibles help keep your dwarves happy.
  • Dwarves 5 and 6 - Grower/Other
Farming is the lifeblood of most fortresses, and two skilled farmers are be a good idea if your dwarves like to eat and drink. It may be easy to train Growing, but starting with the skill means larger stacks and less clutter starting out--potentially very important when you've got rocks all over the place. Good choices for secondary skills include any of the ones listed above for the Masons.
  • Dwarf 7 - Broker
This guy will be your trader and most likely Expedition Leader. It's not really necessary to buy any managerial skills (Organizer or Record Keeper) as those are very easy to train. A good mix would be Intimidator 5, Appraiser 2, Judge of Intent 1, and 2 points to other social skills, such as Negotiator and Persuader. It may also be helpful to activate his Wood Cutter labor, as that will cause him to carry a battleaxe everywhere, including to the trade depot. Proficient Intimidation combined with a large, shiny axe may help convince penny-pinching merchants to give him better deals.


  • 7 copper picks
A pick for everyone can make early excavations much faster, with your Proficient Miner leading the way.
  • 0 to 2 steel battleaxes
Depending on how much early wood cutting you plan on doing. If there are no trees, the points can probably be better spent elsewhere (such as on more wood).
  • Wood
Even if you'll be on a heavily forested map, starting with wood will save time, as unskilled wood cutting is rather slow, and skipping early cutting allows all 7 dwarves to dig. At only 3 units per log, why not put your leftover points here? If your embark site has no trees, buy as much wood as you can afford.
  • 1-2 cages
You cannot cage animals too early, if you don't want to be up to your ears in puppies and kittens.
  • 1-2 ropes
For tying guard animals near your fortress entrance. Kobold thieves can begin showing up quite early.
  • 2 or more dogs and/or war dogs
Man's best friend, and dwarves' too. Protection, companionship, meat, bones, hides; there is almost nothing your dwarves lack which dogs cannot provide.
  • 1-2 cats
Be very careful if you embark with 2 cats! If you do, you may want to construct a cage and cage one of the cats immediately, to avoid a catsplosion. That way, if the other cat meets with misfortune, you still have a spare.
  • Food, drink, and seeds
Fairly self-explanatory.

Yet another basic build[edit]

Because everybody else on the internet is wrong, you know.


Dwarf 1: Competent Miner / Gem Cutter / Glassmaker (if sand) / Stone Crafter (if not) Since mining is not a full-time job, allowing one of your miners to either make glass, stone crafts or cut gems is a good way to stop them from slacking off.

Dwarf 2: Competent Miner / Furnace Operator / Novice Building Designer / Metal Crafter / Metalsmithing Again, your miner isn't always busy, so let them handle the furnace and make some nice metal stuff.

Dwarf 3: Competent Wood Cutter / Herbalist / Competent Axedwarf / (Ambusher / Thresher / Cook) Your woodcutter should collect outside plants, to allow saplings to grow. Axedwarf means thieves and wild animals can be dealt with. Ambusher is useful for supplying you with meat and leather, while Thresher and Cook allow for a variety of crops to be used.

Dwarf 4: Skilled Grower / Skilled Brewer / (Thresher / Cook) Growing and brewing are both part-time jobs, so combine them. Depending on what you gave your woodcutter, give the farmer the other option between threshing and cooking.

Dwarf 5: Competent Mason / Mechanic / (Stone Crafter / Gem Cutter) A mason should be busy making furniture, but mechanisms are always important, especially before you have a military. Stone Crafter or Gem Cutter are filler, but don't use them if you have them on a miner.

Dwarf 6: Competent Carpenter / Wood Crafter / (Competent Bowyer / Proficent Siege Engineer) Carpenting, wood crafting and either crossbow-making or siege engineering go hand in hand. Make sure your dwarf has good siege engineering, quality is important and wood is limited.

Dwarf 7: Skilled Weaponsmith / Skilled Armorsmith / (Appraiser / Bookkeeper) High-quality weapons and armor are always a boon to a fortress, but hard to train efficiently. If you aren't going to be forging for a while, make him your broker or bookkeeper.

Items 1 Anvil 1 Steel battle axe 2 Copper picks 21 of each alcohol except dwarven wine 11 Plump helmets 10 Plump hemet spawn 10 Sweet pod seeds / Rock nuts / Pig tail seeds (depending on preference) 1 unit of every 2* meat/fish 1 cat 2 dogs The rest of your points can be spent at your discretion, although I recommend taking wood, ore, pretty colored stone, more alcohol/food or metal bars.

A Military Build[edit]

Embarking on a predictably dangerous area and you ancticipate needing a more serious military presence from the get-go? This build condenses critical skills as much as possible, leaving 3 dwarves ready for full-time duty as needed.


Dwarves receive 5 points to each of their skills, unless otherwise noted.

  • Dwarf 1 - Miner/Mason
This guy digs holes, makes rocks, and turns the rocks into useful things. Very dwarfy.
  • Dwarf 2 - Carpenter/Grower
When he's not making beds for the barracks, he's tilling the fields.
  • Dwarf 3 - Broker/Leatherworker
Leatherworker is vital in the early game, as your dwarves will be dependent on leather armor for quite awhile. Later on, he can make and sell leather crafts. For broker skills, 1 point into Judge of Intent and 2 each to Appraisal and Intimidator should be fine.
  • Dwarf 4 - Weaponsmith/Armorsmith
Early on, put him to work as a wood cutter, miner, or hauler. He'll be worth his weight in adamantine once you acquire an anvil and metal. You could also use him as an unskilled mechanic initially, to help reinforce your fort's defenses.
  • Dwarves 5, 6, and 7 - Soldiers.
Other than weapon skills, Shield User and Armor User are very important, and relatively slow to train. Wrestler can be trained fairly easily by sparring, but is very important in combat. One Weapon skill should be maxed, with the rest of the points going into a mixture of Shield User, Armor User, and Wrestler, depending on your priorities.


  • 1 to 4 copper picks
  • 3 steel weapons, depending on your soldiers' weapon skills
This should usually include at least one axe, so that you can chop wood.
  • Wood
Logs are cheap, and buying some wood at the start means your steel battleaxe can stay in the hands of a soldier, rather than a civilian Wood Cutter. If you're embarking on a map with no trees, you don't really have a choice.
  • 2 Ropes (optional)
Guard animals may or may not be needed, when you start with military dwarves.
  • As many dogs and war dogs as you can afford
All dogs, trained or not, will lay down their lives to protect their dwarven friends, without hesitation. War dogs can inflict some very respectable damage, to boot. With only 3 soldiers, you'll likely be relying on dogs to do much of your early fighting.
  • 0 to 1 cat
You'll need to decide whether vermin or miasma will be a bigger problem, and choose cat or no cat accordingly.
  • Food, drink, and seeds
Fairly self-explanatory.

The fast way to cheap meats[edit]

Many players always start with "1" of as many cheap types of meat and fish as they can, for the barrels. It can save time to create an Embark Profile for this purpose. Edit the following into the profile in .\data\init\embark_profiles.txt, add a significant TITLE if there is not already one, save that file and then close and restart DF.

See Saving a starting mix for more information.

Different starting dwarven civilizations may have different availabilities. When selecting an Embark Profile, the game will automatically direct you to the "Prepare for the Journey Carefully" screen. Items unavailable from a chosen starting profile will be announced in red.

If you wish more than "1" of something - perhaps 11 turtle, for instance, for the shells (and two barrels!), then change the number after "ITEM:" to that value.

Remember - the TITLE is only if you are not adding this to an existing profile!

This first group are all the 2 dwarfbuck meats:





Add the next directly with the above to include all 4 dwarfbuck meats...Verify



Challenge Builds[edit]

If you feel you've got DF mastererd (heh) and really want a challenge, then consider a challenge build.