Getting Started with Dwarf Fortress – How to build and fight your way into this complex game – #bookreview

Getting Started with Dwarf Fortress
Peter Tyson
(O’Reilly, paperback, list price $19.99;
Kindle edition, list price $15.99)

Many gamers agree with this book’s tagline, that Dwarf Fortress is “…the most complex video game ever made.”

For that reason, they have avoided taking it up or have tried it, stumbled over its steep learning curve, and walked away.

Peter Tyson, however, has been writing Dwarf Fortress tutorials for gamers since 2009, and his new 230-page how-to-play it guide has been getting some good reviews from players and newcomers.

The game’s “baffling complexity and Dwarf Fortress’s infamous and seemingly impenetrable ASCII graphics can be extremely offputting to new players,” Tyson concedes. But his new book “aims to help you overcome these challenges and to guide, comfort, enlighten, and hopefully inspire the inner Dwarf Fortress player in us all.”

His approach is to focus on the game’s simulation mode and have you first  build an underground dwarf fortress. After you learn how to build and maintain the fortress, you can start tackling numerous other challenging assignments, such as gathering and managing dwarf resources, growing (and defending) crops above ground and below ground, maintaining a healthcare system and justice system (while dealing with a few rogue dwarves who turn out to be vampires!), and creating and training a militar with dwarves and war animals. 

You will also learn how to expand your fortress and protect it with a wild array of traps, machines, and powerful weapons. 

“If there’s one thing all Dwarf Fortress players should be prepared for, it is losing,” Tyson cautions. “You will lose your first few games, and probably quite quickly. But do not fear! There’s a good chance that your losses will be quite amusing.””

“Once you are familiar with Dwarf Fortress,  you may feel like creating a more challenging world,” Tyson says. “Adjusting the world creating settings to produce a world with higher savagery is the easiest way to increase the difficulty as more locations will have dangerous and aggressive animals and creatures to face. This will necessarily force a change to your embarkation strategy–and traveling equipped for battle is advisable when deploying to a particularly dangerous area.”

Sounds  like a viable strategy, too, for the real world outside Dwarf Fortress. 

Si Dunn

 

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