If you haven’t heard, Dwarf Fortress is the latest and greatest game to be released that looks like it was made on a

Yes this is really what the game looks like.

commodore 64. Yes that is really what the game looks like on the right. No it wasn’t made in the late 80s. We are talking about a game that had its last update only months ago.

Yet, despite its unimaginably terrible interface and graphics, I am here to tell you the Dwarf Fortress is one of the best games ever made.

So, why is this article titled as a “Newb’s Guide”?

Well, the reason why Dwarf Fortress is one of the best games ever made, is because it is one of the most complicated and hardest games to play.

You see that menu system on the right? Yeah that gross list of options with keyboard letterings denoted next to each item is how you play the game, and each of those menu items lead to more menu items, and often many of those options will lead to even more options.

With all that being said, it is important to note that if you are considering playing this great crowning achievement of game design, then you are pretty much without question going to need a comprehensive guide containing everything you will need play the game successfully. This is not that guide. This is the barest of instructions that will help you get the game, install it, have a gist of how it plays, and most importantly this article has important links to additional info and instructions.


The first thing you need to do is get a copy of the game. This can actually be surprisingly difficult because there are a number of different versions, and there are a large number of places you can get the game for Linux, Mac, and PC. I’m not about to explain how you can compile your own Linux install, so I’ll just explain what to do for the PC copy. Head on over to May Green’s website here. Mike (thank god) combined a large number of tile sets make an actually playable version of the game. Unfortunately the games art is normally done entirely in ASCII. The MayDay pack adds user made art assets.


The second thing you need to do is to go to MagmaWiki. Keep this web page open. This is going to be your one stop shop for most of the information about the game that you need. You need to learn about farming, then you search for the farming game, you need to learn about combat, then you search for the combat page.


Start up dwarf fortress. At this point you want to start a Fortress game. Dwarf Fortress also has an adventure mode, but this is far less complete, and it is a whole different animal. After selecting Fortress mode, the first thing you will have to do is generate the world that your fortress will exist in. Stumble over to MagmaWiki’s World Generation Guide here. Note that most of this “guide” is really just troubleshooting. In order to avoid this, and that whole page all together, just select “Creat New World Now”. This process can take some time. It usually takes my computer laptop about 5 minutes to generate a world. After the world creation process is complete, you can review your world, and choose whether to start over or accept the world that you have created.


Start a new game. Upon starting a new game you will be given a thousand options about outfitting your dwarfs and giving them skills. At this point in your Dwarf Fortress career, you aren’t really qualified to play with these settings, that is why it is great that the MayDay pack comes with a MayDay Universal set up.


Ok, now for the hard part. Play the game. Yeah its pretty hard, but it is so rewarding. Every time I play the game I learn something new about it.

Next week I will post an article about starting your new fortress. Look for it on Friday. Good luck to all.

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