The dwarven life cycle starts with diamonds, which is kind of like real life. Diamonds come from mines. Well, some mines. You might instead find rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. Save these for later. For now, you need diamonds for the Dvala, which is what you call a dwarf queen. She wants diamonds before she’ll put out. Lots of diamonds.
After the jump, everything you always wanted to know about dwarf sex but were afraid to ask
The dwarf queen can’t go anywhere, presumably because she’s so big and fat. Going by the graphics, she’s twice as tall and four times as heavy as a regular dwarf. Every turn, she lays an egg that hatches a dwarf worker. At least that’s how I imagine it happens. I haven’t investigated the specific mechanics. This little dwarf worker is hearty enough, and his pick axe is no laughing matter in battle. But he’s missing the extra hit points and armor that make dwarven warriors the tough little buggers who win battles.
So how do you turn the pitter patter of tiny dwarven worker feet into the sturm and drang of fully equipped dwarf warriors? By mining iron. All mines give dwarves iron, so get out there and conquer some mines. You’re going to use the iron to upgrade dwarven workers into units more suitable for battle, such as all-purpose warriors, heavily armored guards, and hard-hitting arbalests who take forever to reload their arbalests. Seriously, guys, is no one going to learn how to use a sling or a bow? You’re just going to fire one shot and then sit out the rest of the battle packing wads, ramming rods, pouring powder, setting flintlocks, and so forth? To be fair, that one shot does hit pretty hard, so carry on.
But because all mines produce iron, iron is rarely a problem for dwarves. The limiting factor tends to be how quickly the Dvala can lay her eggs. It’s like zerg larvae in Starcraft: hatcheries pump out larvae at a steady pace, but you need to pay resources to upgrade them into more useful units. And while the larvae themselves are free, they gate how quickly you can build up your army. And because the Dvala’s one egg/turn limits their army size, they can’t absorb losses very well. A good dwarven leader is a cautious dwarven leader!
But lets get back to the Dvala, our momma dwarf. What happens when you give her a whole mess of diamonds? The best thing that happens is that she lays a rune smith egg, which hatches a lovely rune smith. If you thought dwarfs didn’t like magic, you were wrong. Rune smiths spit magic like it’s going out of style. What’s more, you can shower them with all those extra rubies, sapphires, and emeralds you’ve been saving up. The rune smith has his own special recruiting menu that lets you cash in jewels for valuable troops, apparently conjured from thin air, because they don’t need dwarven workers.
This means dwarves start slow, but they get a great mid-game boom. A runes smith boom. Suddenly your modestly sized but hearty dwarven armies are flush with brand new rim warriors, furnace warriors, and queen’s guards!
But where the rune smith is really worth his weight in diamonds is with his ability to found a colony. Again, I have no idea what mechanics are at work here, but I like to think the rune smith spends a boatload of gold — which you didn’t need to spend because your units cost iron or gems — to lay a single giant egg that hatches — surprise! — a brand new Dvala at another mine. Now you’re spawning twice as many dwarven workers. It’s like building your second hatchery in Starcraft.