There’s an incredible amount of resources to sort through in Dwarf Fortress, from plants to timber to all manner of cave rocks and minerals. Those last ones can be particularly important: the resources you find as you dig beneath the surface are used in crafting many of the game’s most vital structures, contraptions, and pieces of gear. Mining for ore and knowing how to use it can be the difference between a flourishing fortress and a failure.
How to mine for ore in Dwarf Fortress
Fortunately, the mining portion of the equation is mostly passive on your part. Use the mining orders tool (the pickaxe icon in the center row) to designate parts of the earth to dig through. You should basically have this going on at all times. As you dig, your dwarves will naturally come across resources like ore, rocks, and gems. As long as you have room in your stockpile for these things, your dwarves will have a place to store any of the resources they dig up. This is the most basic resource loop in the game.
How to refine and craft with ore in Dwarf Fortress
Using ore to make useful things requires some more particular instruction. Step one, you’ll need a smelter. There are two types in the game, both of which can be found under “Workshops” on the build menu (1). A regular smelter (2) needs fuel, so be sure to create a wood furnace and feed it wood to get yourself started there. Magma Smelters, as the name says, work using the power of magma, but you’ll need to reach lower levels that actually flow with it first. In both cases, you can click on the smelter and create tasks to smelt the ore you’ve collected into refined bars. With a mix of both raw ore and proper bars, you’ll have the key ingredients to many important things like armor and weapons.