One of the first steps to getting an efficient settlement started is the creation of sleeping accommodations so your gnomes can sleep and be well rested for all of the work ahead of them. Food and drink resources are a necessity, but you have some stockpiles to work with as you get things up and running. Be sure to keep an eye on these supplies and forage from wild apple trees and strawberry plants as necessary. If enemies are enabled, getting some defences before Summer is vital as well.
A Good Night's Sleep
With version 8.25, proper beds (with nice mattresses) are far out of your reach when you start. You will need half the economy up and running for soft, comfy beds. You do, however, start with 16 units of straw which is enough for building 8 straw beds.
Designate an area as a dormitory (at least 8 squares big) and build the 8 straw beds within. It's all you need initially, and your gnomes will thank you for it by not collapsing all over the place in the first few days. Don't forget to build proper beds after your carpenter, loom, and tailor are up and running.
You will also need the straw to feed the yaks after about 10-12 days to prevent them from dying. So immediately start building a wheat farm and prepare to deconstruct you straw beds.
While you're doing this, also designate a pasture (of at least size 36, to contain 3 yaks) somewhere nearby, and set it to accepts yaks of both genders. Your rancher will move the two yaks who came with you to the pasture, and in 12 days they'll breed and give you another one.
Check Animals for the current animal gestation and sizes.
Raw Material Gathering
You'll need wood and stone to get crafting going.
Wood is easy to get - trees are probably nearby, awaiting your woodcutters. To get logs, right click a non-designated area, choose Agriculture, then Fell Trees. Click and drag to select a chunk of the map with trees. You'll see that each tree is highlighted in yellow in the highlighted selection. Generally speaking, it's best to avoid felling any fruit trees. If you forage the trees only, the fruit will grow back. If you fell the fruit tree, it won't grow back unless you plant a sapling. Cutting around fifty trees should hold you over for a while. A large chunk of your log needs will be taken of as you clear land to build on, so don't instruct you gnomes to clear the whole map right off the bat. You'll have other tasks for them so it's better to do it in pieces as needed.
Stone isn't usually visible on your map when you start - you'll need to dig down to level -7 to hit rock. With metals set to shallow during map generation, you can expect goodies such as metal ores and raw gems to start showing up in the first few levels of stone. You can also find stone within the larger hills by mining in through the wall - digging down is still required to get to the good stuff though.
Now we have everything we need to build our first Crude Workshops. Since they are so cheap to make (one stone and one log), it's a good idea to build a few. Three seem work well - two for cutting planks (on repeat) and one for making workbenches, chairs and chisels (all crafted to two). Make sure you have at one worker with carpentry enabled per crude workshop. Keep in mind you may need to adjust the priority of carpentry within the profession the gnome is assigned to.
The Wood and Stone Economy
If your Crude Workshops are not crafting what you need, be sure to make sure there are workers with that job enabled and increase the priority by lowering the value (1 is the most important). You can also assign a worker but keep in mind that means only that worker can use that workshop so it will be unused while that gnome is sleeping/eating/drinking. You'll need workbenches, chairs, and chisels to build the more advanced workshops. I advise building them in the following order:
- Carpenter: Craft workbenches and chairs to two.
- Stonecutter: Craft blocks to at least ten.
- Stonemason: Craft a stone sawblade, and set chisels to two.
- Sawmill: Craft planks to at least ten or set on repeat.
Make sure these are running before you deconstruct any Crude Workshops. If you want to keep them as back up, be sure to adjust their tasks and priority levels to fit with your plans.
NOTE: if you can build a Market Stall before the fifth day, you may be able to attract a merchant during the first season. Buying another female yak, if you can afford it, will help you get started with full scale yak breeding faster.
Food and Drink
Food production should be your next priority, especially if all your gnomes start thinking about food - this is a warning that a famine is in the making. Left hungry long enough, your gnomes will solve your food shortages by dying and becoming edible corpses (via a Butcher Shop).
Your yaks will not think about food to warn you when they are about to starve. They also won't leave an edible corpse. Check regularly on the straw supply. One option is to build a trough but keep in mind that once a piece of straw goes into a trough, it's no longer available for crafting beds. Initially it may be better to just leave a stockpile of straw near the yaks.
- Farms: require farmers and seeds (strawberry, wheat). Don't forget a small cotton farm at some point, though, as it's used for a fair number of things too.
- Pastures: require animal handlers and animals (meat and eggs)
- Groves: require horticulturists and clippings/saplings (apples)
Although you can also forage for wild apples and strawberries, this will not satisfy your long term needs.
Thirst can also kill your gnomes.
- Wells: can be built over water allowing passersby to slake their thirst.
- Distilleries: turn apples and strawberries into wine. Turns wheat into beer. Make sure the priority is set low enough (higher number) so that it won't use up your food stores since the beverages cannot be turned back into food.
- Yak pastures: produce milk faster than you can drink it - makes for a great export.
This section can probably be done at the same time as the above one, since they use gnomes with different skills. Set a task mining down to an appropriate depth to reach metals (dependent on your world settings), then mine around and try to find veins of metal. Veins seem to spread out horizontally more than vertically, so continuing to dig down can be a good way of finding them. When you find one, begin mining it out.
Meanwhile, construct a furnace, and assign one of your gnomes with the metalworking jobs. Set it to keep around 10 coal stocked, on a low priority. Then queue up a forge, to process the ore you mine. The first thing you should make is an anvil, to access the more advanced workshops. Then you can make a blacksmith, and use it to make a ball peen hammer.
Now you'd normally have to make another anvil to create the weaponsmith workshop, but anvils are expensive, and the blacksmith won't be needed for a while, so there's a shortcut. Deconstruct the blacksmith workshop, and you'll get all the items used in crafting it back, which you can use in the weaponsmith. Choose some gnomes with high fighting skills, and set their uniforms to 'platemail'. This will make them equip the armour and weapons you brought with you at the start of the game, as well as the weapons you should now make.
Incidentally, you shouldn't make anything (except perhaps the anvil and hammer, which aren't affected by material) out of copper, tin, or the valuable metals (silver, gold, etc), if you can help it. Refining copper and tin into bronze first will make your weapons significantly stronger.
By day 12, a 3rd yak will be born. Don't get too attached to it, though, as we need its bones. Set up a Butcher Shop and a Bonecarver (and a Kitchen wouldn't go amiss to process the meat, either), and assign someone (the rancher is generally a good choice) the bonecarver job. Butcher one of your yaks, prioritising males over females (though whatever you do, don't kill your last male, or you'll be unable to breed more). Now you can tell the bonecarver to make a bone needle, and set up the cloth working workshops. You should make a few bandages with these before Summer, so your gnomes won't bleed to death, but in the meantime you can improve your straw beds to proper ones, and/or set up a Leatherworker and Armorer, and begin making some armour for your gnomes. At this stage, metal is likely to be easier to come by than leather, so you should probably make solely metal armour, and conserve your leather.
As an alternative, by about day 10, you may encounter some animals or enemies. If you have a military, you could try to kill a weak animal, and use its corpse. Be warned though. Animals are stronger than they may seem and can cause fatal bleeding easily.
Now it's up to you to explore all the possibilities. Jewelry crafting, military pursuits, city beautification, terraforming, the choice is yours!