Edit: Hmm, now that I look at it. It's anything but a quick
When you first start the game you'll have to generate a world, which can take anywhere from fifteen minutes to quite a bit longer if its having bad luck.
Before even talking about what starting setup is optimal for your journey, let's begin with an overview of the goals you'll need to accomplish within the first year:
3. Build a Trade Depot (road will come later)
4. Create trade goods
Obviously, without food your dwarves will go into a feral state of hunting vermin and eating other unsanitary objects before losing all sanity and turning on one another. To obtain said food, there are five methods available.
: Farming is the most productive method of creating a sustainable foodsource for your fort but also hard to pull off for new players. To begin, farms must be built on top of mud which is washed onto the cavern floor either by natural or artificial floods. To create an artifical flood chamber you'll need the following: 5 mechanisms(mechanics workshop), 2 floodgates(mason's workshop), door(s)(mason's workshop).
After finding the interior river, dig out a room making sure it is completely inclosed and not touching the river (build a bridge across if you can't see EXACTLY how the river is bending). Now, you'll need to build the chamber as follows:
X - floodgate
L - Lever
D - Door
W - Wall
~ - River
Note that this is far smaller than what you'll need but it'll show you the general design idea.
1. Dig out room and spaces for the flood gates.
2. Install floodgate closest to the river.
3. Install the lever someplace outside of the room.
4. Go to the lever and "link" it to the installed floodgate.
5. Attach the door so that the water can't escape the room.
6. After the lever is linked (the mechanic will take a mechanism to the lever and the floodgate), install the second floodgate.
7. Link this second floodgate to the lever.
8. Make sure everyone is out of the room, go to the door with Q and LOCK it.
9. Go to the lever and give it a Pull job.
10. Wait for water to fill the chamber and then assign a second pull job.
11. Unlock the door.
12. Assign plots under the B menu, look for Farm Plot. Use U/M to change its height and K/H to change its width. Each plot can only be seeded by a single plant type at a time so make multiple plots.
13. Dwarves with the Farming(Fields) job activated in their list will automatically plant seeds into the plots. Different plants grow in different seasons (Plump Helmet grows in all but winter).
The mud will last until the winter and must be reflooded during the next spring.
: Fishing is the easiest method of gaining food and is as easily done as assigning dwarves the Fish job in their list. The fish they catch are in a "raw" state and must be cleaned at a Fishery built from the B menu. Only those dwarves with the Fish(Cleaning) will process the raw fish into a useable form. Most maps will have an abundance of fish but some more extreme environments (glacier/desert) will be unfishable from the outside.
: An incredibly involved method of obtaining food and other materials (leather,bones,fat). First, dwarves who you wish to go hunting must have the Hunting job activated on their job list. These dwarves will then go out with their weapon (*M*ilitary, *W*eapons) and hunt the local fauna. Make sure to take a look at what animals exist in your local environment from the *U*nits screen. Remember your starting dwarves are undertrained and likely unarmed and wouldn't stand a chance against a Sasquatch, Elephant, or many other animals but a gopher is reasonable. Once slain, the hunter will drag the corpse back to the nearest butcher shop. There, the corpse must be butchered while its still fresh to obtain meat, leather, bones, fat, and skulls.
: One of the slowest and least effective means of gathering food, designate shrubs (default ") using the *D*esignations and any dwarves with the Plant Gathering job enabled will go around to collect the shrubs. Not every shrub yields an item. One particularly useful item to look for is the Quarry Bush grown inside of caves, once found you can process these at a Farmer's Workshop and plant the resulting seed inside your fields.
: Most of the visitors to your fortress will bring food along with them for trading(but don't depend on it).
Alcohol can be made from the various crops and gathered plants at a Still from the Site a *B*uilding menu, under workshops. Each plant unit that goes into the creation will yield five units of alcohol. You'll need barrels (Carpenter's Shop) to store the alcohol in. If your dwarves go for a long period without anything to drink but water they WILL get a bit unruly so keep that in mind and keep it flowing.
Trade goods can be created from any number of sources but the most commonly used ones are made from Stone, Bone, and Shell depending on whatever is on hand. Do not use light or dark stones for trade goods (despite their higher value) because they can be used for more useful purposes. Obsidian for obsidian swords that have the same damage as Steel and Limestone for Fertilizer and Steel.
Now, for something a bit more advanced, City Planning
There are some critical concepts that must be understood if you want to have your fortress running like a well oiled machine.
: Like data travelling through your modem, there is a limit to how many people can move through your cooridors. If two dwarves (or everything else that moves) meets and must travel past one another, one will take a long time to lay down upon the ground while the other passes. To a lesser extent, if there is space to move, two units will sidestep one another to pass (still takes time). For these reasons, you want to have wide, regularly spaced hallways running through your fortress so that there are no bottlenecks present. Also keep this in mind for rooms, they'll need to have more than one entrance otherwise they'll face the same bottleneck trying to get in and out.
: Put related industries close to one another so that there is less time spent traveling from one location to the next. This includes the relevant stockpiles (Even better with custom stockpiles). For instance, it's a good idea to keep your Farmer's Workshop close to the farms to spin pigtail thread, a loom nearby to turn that thread into cloth, then finally the clothier to turn that cloth into useable items. There are a great number of interdependencies in the game and as you play through you'll figure out what needs to be near what.
: For the most part, dwarves are perfectly happy living in a 1x1 room on a decent bed and can be crammed like sardines into a big room. However, make sure that these rooms are away from digging and workshops as these will interrupt your dwarves' sleep. Nobles, on the other hand, require multiple rooms to house their study, dining room, and bedroom and there are a LOT of nobles. Make certain to keep space allocated for these snobby headaches.
If and when Toady finally releases the 3d Dwarf Fortress, a lot of the old paradigms designed by us veterans will have be shattered completely. But for now, this is MY starting build/strategy and my dwarves are never wiped out. (Usually I'll abandon if the area isn't challening enough or the river is too close to the front of the fort due to aesthetic reasons).
Proficient Miner, Proficient Mason
Proficient Miner, Novice Mechanic
Proficient Carpenter, Novice Woodcutter
16 Plump Helmet Spawn
8 Pig Tail Seed
8 Cave Wheat Seed
8 Sweet Pod Seed
8 Dimple Dye Spawn
11 of each Dwarven Booze
Rest of the points go to getting more of the above but those are a minimum
Animals are expensive and immigrants always bring a ton of the things with them anyways so I don't bother with them. Some say to take one of each meat to get extra barrels, but unless you're on a really wood scarce map, it's not that hard to get barrels.
As for choice of map, it's really up to you. Stay away from glaciers, deserts, maps with no trees, untamed wildernesses/protected wilds/sinister/terrifying maps unless you're in for a real
challenge as these will prevent you from harnessing resources that are plentiful on other maps.
The First Year in Detail:
First, designate a 3 wide cooridor from the front of the fortress straight inward until the miners hit the river. This normally takes anywhere from a month to two months. I undesignate every job on the miners except for their Masonry/Mechanics so that they can focus on digging exclusively.
The carpenter is set to destroy the wagons, build a carpenter's shop, and 7 beds. The beds won't take too long so after that I have him make trade goods out of shells and Crossbows/Bolts out of fish bones.
The fisherdwarves fish.
For now, the growers are used as porters and fish cleaners, moving the food into stockpiles indoors and away from would be thieves.
After finally finding the river, I set up a 1 wide bridge to get a way across/reveal the river better. I then design something like this(I actually keep the main cooridor 5 tiles high so I offset the farm by one when designing it):
While the miners are preparing the farm as described above (I'll usually build 4 tables and chairs at this time), the rest continue to fish, process, and make trade goods/ammo. The farm is usually ready by late spring/early summer. The 2 growers become exclusive planters (remove all their other jobs).
Sometime in the summer, a blacksmith will arrive, possibly with a small entourage. The small amount of booze won't hold out through the winter so I'll usually convert the blacksmith into a brewer (Seriously, who can possibly even think of blacksmithing this early?). The accompanying peasant will become a cook/fish cleaner/whatever else needs to be done. I'll usually build a trade depot right outside the fort around this time.
In the fall, dwarves from your capital will arrive bringing food, leather, cloth, etc. Meat is cheap, cheese is very expensive. Unfortunately, until you get the manager (book keeper?) you won't be able to see the prices of the items, so just barter the best you can. They won't get angry at bad deals on your end.
Its then all up to the random number generator as to when your first immigrants arrive. In the last game (I played exactly as above), I had something like 200 Fish/Edible Plants/Meals and 75 booze at the start of winter although my first immigrants didn't arrive until Spring. Winter is usually the time I set the fisherdwarves and growers to full time porters to get everything organized. Then I'll just have them mass detail (1st level only) my fortress to give them something to do. Both of my miners were legendary by the end of winter despite taking breaks to do masonry and trap making.
Be prepared for incoming immigrants, they'll often come in groups of greater than 20 when you're least expecting it. Build beds ahead of time, keep large stockpiles of food and alcohol on hand. As you get more dwarves, make sure to specialize them by focusing them on only one or two jobs. Try to get an idea of how many dwarves it takes to perform a certain task. Ex: Making leather objects requires: Hunters, Butcher, Tanner, and a Leatherworker. And never underestimate the value of peasants. For the most part, I disable hauling on most of my dwarves except for a sizable group of porters. This allows the other dwarves to focus on their jobs rather than running around doing one job, then going all the way across it to do another, etc etc. It should also be noted that workshops and other jobs look for available dwarves, not the other way around. So if you need something done right now and there's an idle dwarf that should
be doing it. Try cancelling the job and setting it again, this will usually grab that dwarf.
Beginning of Spring, Year 2:
To be honest, I don't think I've ever scratched the surface of the complexities of DF. So I'll just say to try to play the game slowly and in stages, learning from your mistakes. The stages go as follows:
1. Small fortress - Micromanagement, diversified workforce.
2. Small to medium fortress - Macromanagement, more specialized workforce.
3. Medium to large fortress - Macroeconomic, demanding nobles, sieges. (Don't mint coins until you've gotten a hang of the game, the start of the economy can and will cripple your fortress if you don't understand it.) For example, royal rooms with masterwork furniture and double detailed walls might be great before the economy, but few dwarves will be unable to afford such a room afterwards.
TL : DR
God, I don't blame you. This is what happens when you really want to put off studying.