I screwed up big time. I finally got access to stone walls and, so, of course, I made the obvious interior decorating choice - hollow out my entire fortress, tearing out all the walls, floors, and furniture to completely rebuild it from the bottom up. It seemed like a good plan at the time. I've played a lot of building games, and one thing I've learned is that the most efficient way to make a new creation is to start from a blank slate.
And in my zeal for a new sleek and symmetrical headquarters, I forgot that Craft the World is not, strictly speaking, a crafting game. It is actually a survival crafting game. The reason you have beds everywhere is not purely cosmetic, but because your dwarves need them to heal. And if they don't have that opportunity to heal, it's possible, nay likely, that while you're in the middle of rebuilding their home, monsters will attack en masse and slaughter them in their weakened state.
Technically, it's not a pure party wipe just yet. Because dwarves with low hp flee enemies, and because my system of mines is quite extensive, I still have about half of my original team. Granted, they're useless, and zombies are rampaging all over my stuff, and since they only have a few hp each they're easy prey for any random encounter, but technically I could turn things around.
Nevertheless, I think I'm going to have to chalk this save file up as a loss. Rebuilding will just be too painful, despite my snazzy (if half-finished) interior walls.
So, what have I learned? I suppose it's a bad idea to discount path dependence. It rankles sometimes, sure, but it's simply a fact of life that where you've been can put constraints on where you're able to go next. I should have realized that I needed to maintain a functional defense while improving my internal infrastructure.
It was just so sloppy, you know. Nothing was symmetrical. My hallways took unexpected and unnecessary turns. I put a forge right next to a bedroom. My new fortress would have looked so nice when it was completed, with rooms of uniform size and dedicated purpose, a left half that resembled the right, and a compact layout that would have minimized superfluous back-tracking. And it would also have been more secure. I wouldn't have needed to replace my roof every time the monsters attacked.
Oh well. Thanks to my ill-considered ambition, the dwarf mine turned into a slaughterhouse. There's nothing to do now but dust myself off and start over again.
Honestly, I'm looking forward to it. The shame of failure notwithstanding, I'm confident that this time, I'll be able to expand with an eye to the future. Since I now know the general shape of the tech tree and have a vague idea of what to expect, I can set up my fortress so that when the changeover from dirt to stone occurs, I'll be able to do it one room at a time, and without have to tamper too extensively with my overall layout.
Starting over with the tech tree will be a pain, but I have some ideas about how I can speed that along. It would probably make more sense, strategically, to try and ride out the monster attack and pick up the pieces afterwards, seeing as how if I have even one survivor, he'll still be in a better place than a brand new character, having at least a full set of equipment a few hours worth of skill xp. But there's something emotionally devastating about seeing a thing you've built torn down. It's not worth the extra boost.