10 Essential tips for Minecraft adventurers

I’ve played Minecraft for more hours than I can easily count. During this time I’ve come up against most of the problems that players will encounter. Here I share a few pointers that might be of help.

Slightly edited from the original.

I won’t repeat well-known advice like “don’t mine straight up or down”, “always carry water in an active slot to douse yourself when you get set on fire” or “gold armour and weapons are rubbish” but instead focus on advice I haven’t come across before.

1. Come up with a system for exploring caves or you will get miserably lost

Your sense of direction is not at its best operating in sprawling dark caverns, particularly when your mind’s focused on desperately running away from a gang of creepers.  Getting lost in a cave system that you have explored and illuminated is an existentially terrifying experience, and not one I’d recommend you indulging in too often. So come up with a way of exploring that will allow you to dependably retrace your steps.
(Spoiler: My method involves putting torches on the left-hand wall of any cavern system on my way in to unexplored territory. This means that returning home is simply a case of keeping the torches on my right.)


2. You are not smart or alert enough to avoid creepers

Creepers insta-kill you if you are not wearing armour. If, like me, you like to hoard your resources, you should still invest in – and wear! – a set of leather armour. This will be enough to protect you from the inevitable creeper that gets the jump on you. Because it’s going to happen sooner or later.

3. Monsters can’t mine

You alone are gifted with the power to shape the world around you. Whilst creepers can create the odd crater, their power is nothing compared to yours. So use your mining and construction abilities to your advantage in combat. Create corridors to funnel enemies into your arrows, or mine round to get a better angle on a group of enemies in a cavern. Don’t think of combat as an interruption to mining, but, rather, see the two as part of the overall process of exploration.

4. You’ll never get enough arrows without a skeleton archer spawner trap

Don’t even think about trying to craft arrows. In a serious battle through a large cavern system, fighting back mobs and illuminating the darkness to stop them respawning, you can get through a hundred arrows pretty easily. It’s much better to have an (effectively) infinite supply than to mourn every arrow fired.

5. Death doesn’t have to mean the end of your items

If you get back to where you died within a few minutes, your items will still be there (unless, of course, they’ve been burned by lava). So hurry back from your spawn point, and make sure you don’t get killed on the return trip! (Bring a few torches, a bow and some arrows as minimum) If you have a minecart system, this can be incredibly helpful for getting you back in time. (This set of youtube videos explains exactly how to set up a minecart railway)

6. Construct a vault for your riches

Store your glorious wealth somewhere safe. Not just a box in your base – this can lead to tragedy if a creeper somehow infiltrates. Think like a greedy dragon hoarding away his treasure until the end of time.  I’ve set up a brightly-lit vault near the surface, reached by minecart, and protected by a series of traps.

7. Listen carefully

If a creeper sneaks up on you, sound is your only chance of an early warning. The “Tssss” gives you a split second to spot the creature and jump away to escape the worst of the blast. You’ll soon be able to distinguish the different monsters in the dark from their sound – the rattle of skeleton archers, the cutting screech of spiders and the moan and slurp of zombies.

8. Optimise your quickbar set-up

Having the right tool in the right numbered hotkey can be incredibly helpful. Find out what works best for your needs. I like to have my stone pickaxe at 2, my torches at 3, my iron pickaxe at 4, my bow at 5. At 1 I usually have a sword, as a base-level defensive option.  This set-up works well with WASD, allowing you to switch between pickaxe and torches as appropriate.

9. You can never have enough torches. So bring some sticks.

You always need torches when exploring cavern systems, and you will often run out of them. In exploring cavern systems you’ll come across plenty of coal, but no wood. So bring lots of sticks down with you and make new torches on the fly. You can do this on the inventory screen, so you don’t need to wait until you’re back at a crafting table. Just make sure you don’t get ambushed in the process…

10. Sustainable resources are safe resources

Wandering outside too soon after dawn can lead to creeper ambush for the unwary, so set up sustainable resource production points inside your base. A glass ceiling and a dirt floor will allow you to grow trees inside, and crops are a good source of food.


Now it’s your turn: What’s the most crucial thing that you’ve learnt? What do you wish you’d been told when you started playing? Post your thoughts below.

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10 Responses to 10 Essential tips for Minecraft adventurers

  1. Good guide! I have a few issues, though:

    You don’t need a glass ceiling to grow stuff indoors. Light from torches will suffice. Mine a five blocks high cavern, make a hole for dirt spaced a few blocks apart, and put a sapling in each. Surround each sapling with torches. Trees will grow. Though I have to say that your greenhouse looks cosier!

    Torches can be made on the fly, as you say, but just bring logs instead of sticks. A whole stack of logs will make eight stacks of sticks using just your crafting area, saving your inventory slots for sweet, sweet treasure.

    I also use the same “torches on the left going in” system as you do. I’ve also started making my trunk tunnels three blocks high. Minecraft tunnels tend to look extremely similar, so when I’m mining out a grid it’s easier to find the way back once I stumble upon a three block high tunnel. And I alway leave two torches above each other when I go out a narrow opening into a cave system. Otherwise it can be difficult to spot the entrance later.

  2. Good point about the trees – an underground grove with lava could look excellent. The surface location of my arboretum-greenhouse was mainly an aesthetic decision (I wanted grass rather than dirt, and getting grass to grow down in the mine would have required too much time and effort), and I fancied some nice blue sky :)

    Ah yes – I should have mentioned that stacking torches vertically can be helpful for marking points of interest (three vertical torches means ‘monster spawner this way!’ in my mine, for example)

  3. ennekim says:

    These are very useful tips. I am a newbie at Minecraft, or maybe intermediate, and crave hints and tricks. Thanks so much for all these wonderful ideas.

  4. Paul says:

    I am an eeediot. I never thought of making a greenhouse! Brilliant

  5. Tom says:

    What I’ve had some success with is a cleared raised section of land, at least three blocks high. This usually involves a lot of digging, filling in and keeping an eye peeled for Creepers – although they’re great if you can lure them to where you want to dig out! But you need to do this in a field or on top of a hill you’ve cleared of trees for a good distance so to avoid problems with sniping Skeletons.

    After I raise the field up and fenced it, I put up a few light poles or in this case, Handy Jacks, to keep mobs from spawning there. Remember to keep them inside the fence. Light poles are four birch planks stacked, with a torch on the top block and around the sides of the top two or three blocks. Handy Jacks are made by stacking three birch planks, putting a Jack-o’-lantern (pumpkin with a torch inside) on top, then put a small chest on top like a hat. Then the bottom plank is replaced with a furnace (aim at the ground), then the one above it is replaced with a crafting table. Each is accessible.

    I start a small field for pumpkins and start constructing my grid – three 15-block long trenches one block apart, crossed by seven 7-block cross trenches. Where the trenches cross, I put a jack-o’-lantern. On each side of the jack-o’-lantern, I put a glass block to help get as much of the light out as I can get. This then leaves 32 spots for me to plant saplings, each exactly one block apart. Benefit is two-fold – more light allows the trees to grow faster AND it keeps mobs from spawning under the trees.

    Takes 21 Jack-o’-lanterns, 34 blocks of glass and a lot of dirt and stone to raise and fill it.

    To give my field further protection, I put in a three-deep layer of cobblestone surrounding it, with a lip to keep spiders from climbing up. Trap doors work fine for this, as you’ll soon have a lot of wood to work with.

  6. polkahippo says:

    You can place blocks when falling; this is useful for falling into a deep pit without dying.

  7. My favorite tip is the spider proof wall Put the torch side facing out. X’s are block, t is torch
    xx
    xt
    xx
    xx
    Spiders can’t climb upside down.

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