That it requires you to search for the silk webs to make the cloth to make the clothes that you then have to trade for weapons you'll have to get your warriors trained on, after you've kitted them out with armor made from metal you had to smelt from the ore you had to mine is what makes the game epic. Conversely, those same elements are also what make it a headache.
This is an invasion. For me, this is would happen about four years in.
My on-again off-again love affair with Dwarf Fortress maybe headed back off again. I realize that the game's tag line is that it's fun to lose, but I'm getting sick and tired of it. Sick and tired.
I think that the longest one of my little fortresses has lasted is maybe six or seven years. Maybe ten, I'm not sure. Now, through trial and error, I've gotten fairly decent at layout and design - workspaces partitioned off, storage piles for materials close, craftdwarves turning out masterpieces by the dozen, legendary hall arrangements with kitchens and ale brewing nearby, fully stocked hospitals, dorms, public and private gardens, armories, barracks, and war dogs trained, catapults at the ready. I've figured out for the most part how utilize managers and bookkeepers, get my walls, gates and fortifications in place, forge a few of the harder metals, and discovered the intricacies of the weapons, training and armor equipping. I've even had four squads training at the same time when the population was just over one hundred, including a archery squad, fitted out with quivers, bolts and waterskins.
I've even figured out that if you don't build bedrooms until you got everything else squared away, you can generally delay migrants which conserves most resources, plus delays the inevitable invasions.
I like doing this part. The first ambush happens and I can get through that with barely a scrape. A few wounded from time to time so the diagnosers and wound dressers get in a little practice. Even the first siege or two I can break. There was a memorable one that broke as soon as I'd taken out all the trolls that made up the first wave. Good times. And after I'd scoured the battlefield for the the spoils, I'm usually sitting pretty when the traders show up.
Until say, something crazy happens. Like a two sieges back to back - each one over a year. They come in sixty strong, riding on something crazy, from four different directions, so I wisely just decide to wait it out. And then water, which is always a problem for me, starts to run low. And with no water, issues start arising. I'm talking lots of infections because the docs can't clean the wounds from the last battle (like I said, very detailed game) and dwarves dying of thirst. Or then you find a cavern with a large body of water and a fire breathing forgotten beast shows up. I have yet to figure out how to fight fire breathing beasts. You couple one of those with no migrants and the tantrum spirals, and pretty soon you're looking at a mess.
My advice to newbies: Figure out the water system early. Really. Because nothing hurts worse than seeing the glimmer of something nice start to develop only to have your dwarves start to die of thirst because the lakes freeze over when it's cold. Really. After one winter I looked around and couldn't find any of my dwarves...because they were ALL outside trying to get a drink of fresh water!
Clear the wagon, make your first dig and get your stuff secure, get some crops going, start building your walls for defense, build a depot, make some crafts for that first trade, and then build a nice water system... before you build a legendary hall or start designing apartment blocks. Before you establish your gypsum empire. YOU NEED WATER.
Second, take your time. Because although it looks like it, this isn't the fast button pushing kinda game you're used to playing. This long term strategy and forethought. Planning and execution. Read the write-ups on the dwarves closely. Think about your layout before you commit to it. I tend to always leave in space for expansion.
There are a lot more tips I had planned to impart....but then half the fun is figuring it out on your own. Well, maybe not.
Barkeep. Some of that ale we brewed up....in a mug I had them make.