Minecraft Basics For Dummies
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To master Minecraft, you must gather resources in the three major areas of the game: the Overland, the mines, and the Nether. Being prepared with these resources allows you to survive, build, create, and advance through the game.

Getting started in the Overland

The majority of survival gameplay takes place in the extensive biomes found in the Overland. Regardless of which biome you spawn into, first concentrate on short-term survival, by following these steps:

  1. Collect wood first. If your biome doesn’t contain much wood, such as a desert or ocean biome, move to another biome. You can always return later to collect other resources.
  2. Use wood to craft simple tools, especially a pickaxe.
  3. Use wood to craft simple weapons, especially a sword.
  4. Use wood to create a shelter.

Then, gather items into the inventory:

  • Stack identical items into the inventory slots. Many items are stackable, up to 64 items per slot.
  • Fill the inventory with a food supply. Meats — such as mutton, beef, pig, and chicken — provide you with the most hunger points and saturation points.
  • Build a chest. As the inventory fills, build a chest to hold even more items, but then remember that you have to return to the chest whenever you want to retrieve items.

After meeting short-term survival goals, employ the following three strategies to gather items in the Overland; you will move back-and-forth between these three strategies, using the resources of one to help with another:

  • Collect other items found naturally in your biome. Because each biome is  unique, you gather resources in a different order in every game:
    • Start by collecting wheat seeds and penning or trapping allied mobs (i.e. farm animals) including pigs, sheep, cows, and chickens.
    • If the biome permits, collect mushrooms, cocoa beans, rabbits, and other useful food items for farming.
    • Move to friendly biomes, such as savannas or plains. Some biomes are downright hostile to new players. If you spawn in a biome that is scarce on resources, begin traveling until you find a more suitable habitat.
  • Create a farm, and follow these guidelines:
    • Start a wheat farm. It’s relatively easy to create, and you can craft food products to eat as well as breed animals.
    • Plant other crops. Plant items such as melons, potatoes, carrots, and pumpkins.
    • Begin breeding allied mobs that you trapped in pens. Animals are not only important food products, but they also drop other items used in gameplay, such as leather, wool, or eggs.
  • Excavate structures and trade with villagers, by keeping these guidelines in mind:
    • Early players cannot successfully excavate a structure, because they need tools that are found only after some farming and mining have taken place.
    • When you’re ready to excavate, you will find a treasure trove of objects in these excavation sites.
    • You need a stockpile of goods to trade with villagers. Many players begin with wheat or wool for trading, usually acquired by farming or mining.

Collecting resources by mining

Mining is a large part of Minecraft (as its name would imply), and this task gives you the necessary resources to craft advanced weapons and other useful items. You will likely find yourself digging a staircase mine on your first night (within the relative safety of your shelter).

When you want to begin collecting resources to mine effectively, these tasks are essential:

  • Build your mine using stairsteps (so that you can climb back out).
  • Collect cobblestone, and use it to craft a stone pickaxe and a furnace.
  • Cook wood (not wooden planks) in the furnace, which changes the wood into charcoal.
  • Use charcoal to craft torches and then place the torches along the walls — this prevents mobs from spawning in the dark mine.
  • Return to the surface to farm during daylight hours.
  • Return to the mine, collecting coal and iron.
  • Craft buckets, and then iron tools and weapons.
  • Continue alternating farming and mining as you collect more lucrative resources.

You can find commonly mined ores by using this table as a guide.

Commonly Mined Ores

Ore Name Commonly Found Commonly Used For
Coal Layers 0 to 96 Fuel for the furnace and to craft torches
Iron Layers 16 to 232 (veins spawn between layers –8 and –56) Crafting iron tools, weapons, and other useful items
Gold Layers –64 to –256 Crafting railways and golden apples and golden carrots
Copper Layers –16 to –112
Diamonds Layers –64 to –12 Crafting strong tools, weapons, and enchanting tables
Redstone Layers 8 to –64 Necessary for all redstone contraptions and automation
Emeralds Layers –16 to 256 Trading with villagers
Lapis Layers –32 to 30 or –64 to 64 (depending on the batch) Crafting blue dye to use as a beautiful building block

Gathering resources in the Nether

To safely go to the Nether in Minecraft, collect the following items from your mining and farming activities:

  • Diamond sword and diamond pickaxe
  • Full set of iron or diamond armor

You can mix your level of armor, so have ready, minimally, a diamond chestplate and the rest iron, if necessary. Ideally, you enchant the chestplate with blast protection, projectile protection, and simple protection.

Your leggings will need fire protection, blast protection, and simple protection. Boots simply need protection (but feather falling is an added benefit). Your helmet simply needs protection. Most players enter the Nether with only some of these enchantments. Simply acquire a few from the list rather than attempt to acquire all of them.

  • Bring bows and arrows.
  • Bring a supply of food. Cooked meat provides the best saturation and hunger points.
  • Bring extra obsidian to create additional portals while traveling through the Nether.
  • Consider placing other items in a chest. This frees up slots in the inventory and protects your items in case you fail to survive the Nether.

To go to the Nether:

  • Build a Nether portal using at least 10 obsidian.

Collecting building materials from the Nether:

  • The Nether functions like a giant cave.
  • Many players build branch tunnels to find a sufficient supply of quartz to use in building in the Overland.
  • You can also collect netherrack, but it’s a less useful building material.
  • You can also collect soul sand, though many players wait to collect it until after reaching a nether fortress.

Follow these guidelines to successfully excavate a nether fortress:

  • Travel far and wide throughout the Nether to find these rare nether fortresses. ABC
  • After finding a fortress, create a portal back to the Overworld. This requires you to have in the inventory some excess obsidian that you brought with you from the Overworld. Then you can escape quickly back to the Overworld.
  • Blazes and the occasional wither skeleton will be in the nether fortress. Occasionally, you also have a magma cube. (Fortunately, this item is as slow as a slime, though stronger.)
  • A bow-and-arrow is effective against a blaze. ABC
  • After a blaze is killed, you can light up the spawner using torches to prevent further blaze spawning. This is one of the few places in the Nether where torches are effective.
  • Collect loot from the treasure chests found in other rooms of the fortress. ABC
  • Collect netherwart (another essential brewing ingredient) and soul sand. ABC
  • Use the portal to return to the Overland. Pursue goals such as brewing with your newly collected blaze rods (crafted into blaze powder), advance to the End, or continue with other projects.

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