Been a couple weeks. Whoops.
Dwarf Fortress sort of grabbed me in the pooper and didn't let go.
The gist is you're 7 dwarfs with a small bit of supplies and livestock, pick a site where there's minerals, and start a new dwarf enclave.
Half of the challenge is the UI; it's not even consistent internal to the game at times.
If you're accustomed to a text editor, or you've wrapped your head around nethack, chances are you won't have too much trouble.
OK, you're still going to have a pain in the ass.
It's soooo worth it.
It's a god game - you're not one of the dwarves, nor can you give them direct orders - "hey you dwarf here, go build something over there" - but you can order "hey somebody build X at Y location" and then a dwarf will eventually do it. Most of the time. Unless you don't have any architects, for example, or maybe no animal trainers if you were building a kennel.
There's kennels. They train dogs into war dogs or hunting dogs. I have a vague idea of the difference (hunting dogs are trained to hunt, war dogs are trained to hunt WAR) but haven't really seen a dog in battle enough to know ifthey're useful.
What I have seen in battle were dwarfs, and lots of them. And a couple goblins engaging all of these said dwarfses.
My first fortress made it two days; I learned how to dig out caverns, figured out going down is a good idea, and started realizing the game's got a lot going on. Some merchants visited me but due to the user interface I ended up giving away all of my trade goods for free.
On the bright side, the merchant was super excited to come back.
The game is deep and the whole point is that eventually your fortress is going to be consumed by some sort of terrible end - you'll flood it with magma, or water, or your dwarves will collapse emotionally and start in-fighting, or you'll run out of food or alcohol causing your dwarves to collapse emotionally and start in-fighting, or something along those lines.
Naturally goblins are your mortal enemies. I'd figured out I needed a military when the first goblin thief showed up, discovering my settlement. When he got away, I assumed (correctly) that more goblins would be coming. Indeed.
Four of them appeared to assault my colony of 45 dwarves.
I had two squads of 5 men each as military.
This is when I learned some very important things in the game.
First, if your dwarf says "WRESTLER" it means he's unarmed.
Second, unarmed anything dies horribly to armed anything.
Third, goblins gain levels and experience by killing things. Don't, for example, send 35 dwarfbags to their doom to the same hammer wielding goblin and THEN send your legendary miner with the pick-axe.
It ends poorly.
So I have a new fortress. This one was designed with ONE entrance. Smart. I also set up a guard station on the fourth level down to prevent incursions from going any further.
Or so I thought.
Problem was, I build a massive staircase from the first floor to the fifteeth, and the guard post was in it. So anybody could just walk right downstairs and the guards would be "hey where ya going?" and not actually, you know, stop them from going to, say, the dining hall and killing 15 dwarves before dying.
I was up to 45 dwarvlings or so again in this fortress and 4 goblins did me the favor of showing me my security deficiencies. It only cost me 20 dwarves or so. By the way, if you're finding this uninteresting, think of my poor wife who's had to hear about it almost first-hand.
I nearly starved half my dwarfs to death and ran out of booze after the attack. While I was fixing the security hole by moving a the down stairway in the guard hall, I accidentally sealed off half the fortress from the other. IN fact the ONLY reason I didn't end up much worse was a fluke - a dwarf got into a "strange mood" and became a legendary mason right when I needed one to build a staircase up to the next floor. (I was pretty screwed otherwise - you can't dig up, and all my picks were on the lower levels)
So that's basically where I'm at right now. I haven't found lava, and the elven merchants who keep showing up get really pissed at me for trying to sell them carved wood stuff. They are apparently eco-friendly.
I feel like I'm nowhere in this game in terms of the whole of the experience. For example, I've never smelted iron, nor figured out how to power a magma furnace; hell, I haven't even seen magma yet. But I'm going to.
At least until the baby's born, then who knows.