In our previous lesson, we showed you how to keep yourself in survival mode. Now it’s time to shine a light on how you can move from life as a thug to life as a king.
There are several main areas of growth in Survival mode from the comfort of The Overworld: mining to create advanced tools, enchantments to improve these tools, farming, redstone machines (large and small) and enchantments. Brewing potions is another area of growth, but since it took extensive research into the Void to reach it, we’ll leave the thrill of that research for the reader.
As we’ve said many times before, you can play Minecraft anyway and never go beyond running around like a shipwreck, but it’s quite exciting to go beyond living in a hut, and there are actually things like organic food and automated tools.
Before we get into advanced work like building a farm or building a furnace that can load itself, we need to focus on something more basic and fundamental to the game: build our first vast and purposefully managed resource mine and then learn how upgrade our weapons, armor and tools.
Then, armed with the best gear, we’ll show you how to enchant and repair that gear so you can take more hits, land more hits, and mine faster.
Let’s start with what exactly we mine and where it can be found.
Meet the ore
We have already talked about two ores found in the game: coal and iron. In addition to these primary ores, there are five more: gold, diamond, redstone, lapis lazuli, and emerald. Knowing where to find these ores, how to mine them, and what to do with them after you’ve mined them is the key to thinking effectively and moving forward.
In the image above, we’ve stacked two of each ore and then used a frame to hold what that ore looks like in its final form (either smelted or simply mined). From left to right: coal, iron, diamond, gold, lapis lazuli, redstone and emeralds. Let’s look at each of them more intimately.
Coal is the most common ore in the game and can be found at all altitudes. You can find it clustered on the tops of the mountains all the way to the cliff. In the Extreme Hills biome, you can even find large open coal veins that are already ripe for mining. Coal is contained in veins ranging in size from 5 to 64 units.
Coal, as we have learned, is important for making torches, smelting ore, cooking, and is much preferred over coal as it is easier to mine once the player starts mining. Coal mining is also a great source of experience as it is low risk (coal won’t fight you), gives you what you need and can be done early in the game.
You don’t need to refine the coal into anything as it falls out of the coal ore in a usable form, but you can, to save space, fill the grate on your charcoal table to «stack» the coal into coal cubes (9 pcs. coal gives 1 coal block). Creating cubes is a more efficient way to store large amounts of coal.
Coal can be mined with any pickaxe.
Iron ore is the second most common ore in the game and can be found anywhere between layer 68 and bedrock (best to get below layer 50 if you’re looking for iron). An iron ore vein varies in size from 4-10 units.
Iron is critical to a wide variety of crafting recipes. You need it for armor, weapons, and tools, as well as buckets, funnels, mine carts, rails, anvils, and other more complex in-game items.
As we learned from our previous survival tutorials, you need to smelt the iron. When you mine iron, you collect raw ore blocks, which then need to be smelted in a furnace. Unlike coal, you don’t gain experience when mining iron; You gain experience when you take it out of the furnace after smelting it. Like coal, you can cube iron for more efficient storage.
Iron requires a stone, iron, or diamond pickaxe to mine.
Diamond ore is the second rarest ore in the game (behind only emerald ore), but it is more valuable as it is essential to many advanced game creatures. Diamond ore is found in veins 1-9 units and is located between the bedrock and layer 16 (most diamonds are in layer 12 or below). If you want diamonds, you need to dig deep and carefully.
Diamonds are required for diamond armor and tools (the strongest and most durable in the game), as well as for advanced creations such as an enchanting table, music boxes, and various tools at the end of the game.
You don’t need to smelt the diamond as the ore breaks and reveals the diamonds during mining. Like coal, diamond production is falling. You can, if you are so lucky that you have an excess of diamonds, stack diamonds using the crafting table to create diamond cubes.
Mining diamond ore requires an iron or diamond pickaxe. If you use any other pickaxe, you will still break the block, but it will not yield diamonds.
Gold is a rare ore that appears between the bedrock and layer 33, with the bulk of the gold ore appearing in or under layer 29. Gold ore is found in veins 4-8 units.
Like iron ore, gold ore must be smelted to produce ingots, and you gain experience through the smelting process, not the mining process. Gold is required for a variety of advanced (and very useful) game creations, such as clocks and mine-driven rails.
Gold ore requires an iron or diamond pickaxe to mine.
lapis lazuli ore
Lapis lazuli ore is quite rare. It is found in layer 33 and below with the highest concentration of ore located around layers 13-16. Lapis lazuli ore spawns in veins 1-8 units.
The ore does not require smelting; Each block mined drops 4-8 lapis lazuli. Like other unsmelted ores, it also grants experience when mined. Lapis lazuli is one of the ores with more limited uses in the game, as there is very little that can be done with it other than dying blue or turning lapis lazuli into blocks on the crafting table and using the blocks as decorative accents.
Lapis lazuli ore can be mined with a stone, iron, or diamond pickaxe; it is the deepest ore in the game and can only be mined with a stone pickaxe.
Redstone ore is a relatively rare ore found in layers 15 and below. The ore is found in veins of 4-8 blocks.
The ore does not require smelting. When mining ore, 4-5 units of redstone and experience fall out (as with other unsmelted ores). Most players start accumulating redstone (found during their diamond quest) very early in the game, long before they start using it. It’s wise to keep a red chest in a chest as it’s relatively hard to find and heavily used in more advanced creations like compasses, clocks, dispensers, and as a version of Minecraft’s electrical wiring. We’ll delve into redstone creations in the next lesson.
Redstone ore must be mined with an iron or diamond pickaxe.
Emerald Ore is the rarest ore in the game. Not only does it only spawn in the Extreme Hills biome (a biome that is fairly rare on its own), but it also only spawns one block at a time and only drops one emerald when mined. It lies between the bedrock and layer 32.
The ore does not require smelting, as it discards its contents just like diamond ore. Emeralds serve one purpose and one purpose in the Minecraft universe: trade. Emeralds are the only currency substance in Minecraft, and you use them to trade with the villagers. However, given the difficulty of mining emeralds, it’s much easier to make deals with villagers who have emeralds but need things like chicken and wheat, or peek into the chests of Temples and dungeons, than to spend days mining. all inside the Extreme Hills biome is looking for individual ore blocks.
Emerald ore must be mined with an iron or diamond pickaxe.
Preparing for Advanced Mining
Now that we have learned about the ores, where they are located and what tools we need, let’s focus on preparing for mining.
The right preparation can transform your mining experience from frustrating (and potentially deadly) to a zen-like scavenger hunt for the next big ore vein. Here is an example of the equipment a new miner might bring on the first major mining expedition.
In the screenshot above, you can see that we are wearing a full set of iron armor and we have iron tools. If you don’t find enough iron to make a few rounds, make sure you have at least an iron pickaxe and sword, and then make everything else out of stone. Stone picks work great on stone, coal ore, and iron ore, and you can save an iron pick for higher tier ores.
In addition to armoring yourself and bringing in additional tools, be sure to bring enough torches and food with you, as running out of any of them is a hard fate if you get lost underground. Apart from these basics it is useful to have ladders in case you want to climb a steep cave wall without working out a ladder (or you need to get out of a hole you fell into) and signs (after a while) underground everything starts look the same). Building things with signs like «Lava Pools» or «Ready Mine» can make navigation a lot easier and safer.
You can create stairs and signs with the following recipes.
If you have spare iron, crafting a bucket gives you the ability to take water underground with you and bring back lava if you wish. Why bring water? This is useful for keeping the lava safe. You pour water over lava to turn it into hard and harmless cobblestone or obsidian, and you can use the water as an elevator. It pours onto high surfaces and falls straight down, providing a slow and safe «chute» for descent and ascent. Here is the bucket recipe:
In addition to all this gear, you may have noticed that we’ve brought what makes up a mini camping kit: a crafting table, a bed, a chest, and a stove. Many players find it very convenient to build a base camp. Once you start working on a large mine, it becomes more and more difficult to return all the mining back to the main base. Set up a small base below the surface where you can store your inventory, craft tools, etc., very convenient.
Some other items that you could take with you, but which are not shown in the above screenshot, include sticks (you can craft torches from the coal you find, and also turn sticks and cobblestone into basic tools) and logs (if you haven’t found Abandoned Mine that you can harvest wood from, logs will be the only wood for crafting you will have below the surface). In addition, having one or two furnaces in your mining base makes it easy to smelt all the ore you find.
If you don’t already have the resources for the full inventory list we have above, don’t worry. Start mining and you will quickly get the supplies you need.
There are as many ways to mine as there are ways to play Minecraft, but an overview of the basic principles should help you get productive mining in a short amount of time. While you can just start digging and keep digging to your heart’s content (we admit we often enjoy simply digging through a winding line looking for caves and abandoned mines), if you want to maximize your mining time it’s best to use some sort of more complex system.
Remember the simple mine we started in the Survival Mode tutorial? This is one of the most basic types of mines. You just dig a little forward and a little down, building a ladder into the ground.
If you keep moving forward and down your ladder, you will quickly move away from your main base and possibly out of the refresh radius of the chunk your main base is in. When you move out of the refresh radius, the game practically stops all activity in that zone (furnaces stop melting, plants stop growing, etc.).
A variant on the stair shaft, the screw shaft takes care of that: instead of going down and over and down and over again until you’re far from your base, you build a ladder, but turn left (or right) every time a few steps to create a corkscrew shape. The advantage of this design is that you can easily stay within the update radius of your base chunk.
While you can make very narrow ladders (as small as 2×2), they are not the most efficient for mining, but they are effective at getting you to the root quickly and safely. Most players prefer large 3×3 or larger stairs as they move more rock and cover more area.
If the ladder doesn’t get you to the rock as fast as you would like, you can always build a vertical shaft. We’re not big fans of design (never dig everything, you know), but it can be done safely if you’re careful.
The best type of vertical shaft is the 1×3 design. You will need ladders and some patience for this method. Mine with a 1×3 trench, then while standing in the trenches, dig 2 blocks (creating a small trench inside the trench). Step into the trench and place the ladder on the center wall of the trench. Keep stepping back and forth, adding to your ladder as you descend.
Remember never work straight down while working in a vertical shaft, as you may discover a pool, lava, or a deadly vertical fall. When excavating a vertical shaft, many players leave small ledges here or there so that if they fall down the ladder, they won’t fall down the entire length of the shaft.
Vertical shafts are simple in design, but can be difficult to implement safely. Remember to be liberal with your ladder setup and try to shake things up so you never fall too far.
The simplest horizontal mine is the least efficient: mining forward in a straight line. Horizontal mining should actually be called «branching» or «feather mining» because the best way to use it is to dig a horizontal shaft and then create branches on the sides of the main tunnel. When viewed from above, the branch shaft looks like an old TV antenna with a central tunnel and dozens (or more) single small tunnels branching out from a central location.
While building a ladder and digging a vertical shaft is pretty obvious, let’s take a look at a simple shaft.
The image above is a bird’s eye view of a simple shaft that we dug after creating the «super-flat» rock world (we’ll talk more about creating maps in the next lesson). We just dug a 2×2 tunnel forward and then, every 2 blocks, dug a 1×2 horizontal shaft. Just at this short distance, by extending our small branches/feathers 8 blocks, we found three iron veins and two coal veins (and if we dig a little further, we find another one of each, as seen on each edge of the screenshot).
Stack and place shafts every five vertical blocks and you will have very little chance of missing an ore.
Talking about not missing any ore when you are absolutely sure you should get each piece of ore between you and the bedrock, then it’s time to build a quarry.
Mining is very labor intensive but has a very high yield as there is no chance of missing any ore blocks. To build a quarry shaft, simply decide how big it is (players usually make quarries that are 20×20 or 30×30) and then start removing all the blocks in the original zone, layer by layer, leaving behind a ladder or a simple ladder along the walls of a huge pit that you are digging. Eventually, you’ll be digging straight into the ground until you hit bedrock.
It’s laborious, takes a long time, you’ll go through a ton of pickaxes, and it leaves a huge hole in the ground, which is a little ugly (and a little dangerous), but in the process you’ll accumulate stacks of coal and iron, lots of gold, redstone, and quite a few diamonds as well. .
Enchant your gear for fame and glory
After building your first mine and spending some time dismantling a pickaxe, you will accumulate a bunch of two things: ore and experience. What to do with the ore is fairly obvious at this point in the game: craft weapons and armor, and then move on to crafting better tools and devices. What Minecraft doesn’t make so obvious is what to do with all the experiences you’ve been collecting.
You get experience orbs (small green glowing orbs) from mining, defeating hostile mobs, smelting and cooking in a furnace, breeding animals, and fishing (more on the last two in a later lesson).
These orbs fill up the meter above the hotbar, but the game doesn’t immediately let you know what you’re doing with them. Unlike most video games, increasing the level of experience does not directly lead to an increase in abilities. For example, you don’t get better at fighting or finding ore as your levels increase.
In Minecraft, experience is used as a type of «magic» storage that allows you to spend your accumulated magic both to enchant weapons, tools and armor on an enchanting table, and to repair said weapons, tools and armor on an anvil.
Creating Your Table Enchantment
Making your first spell table is a pretty big deal in survival mode as it marks your progress up the ladder of achievement. To create it, you will need advanced tools, obsidian, diamonds and books.
Let’s look at the prerequisites needed to get started. You will need to find diamonds in order to use them in the actual enchantment table recipe and to craft a diamond pickaxe to mine obsidian (also for use in creating the enchantment table). Obsidian is a rare block that can be found naturally in the game, but it’s much faster to create your own by pouring water over lava sources.
Look for standing pools of lava (original blocks don’t flow and have a smooth and immovable surface) and then pour water on it to turn the blocks into obsidian. You can see in the screenshot above how the water that flowed over the springs turned into obsidian, and the water that flowed over the moving lava turned into cobblestone.
Once you have a source of obsidian, you need to mine at least four blocks with a diamond pickaxe. Don’t be surprised how long it takes, obsidian is one of the most stubborn blocks in the game: it takes 9.4 seconds to mine one block of obsidian with a diamond pickaxe, and over four minutes to mine it with any other pickaxe (but you don’t get a block).
In addition to obsidian, the other new ingredient you need is a book. You can’t be a powerful armor enchanting wizard without a spellbook, can you?
Books are crafted using leather, which you can get by killing cows and horses, and paper. Paper is not found in the game, but is made from sugar cane.