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Minecraft beginner's guide

Now that you have a shelter built, the next order of business is to make a pickaxe, the most useful tool in the game. The pickaxe requires the use of a crafting table, which gives you access to a 3x3 crafting grid instead of the beginning 2x2 one. Just put four wood-plank pieces  into your inventory crafting grid, like so:

And then place the resulting block in your house. Then, right click to start crafting on it. Make sure you have wood planks, then make some sticks (another important crafting unit) like so:

Then, arrange the sticks and some wood planks like so to get a pickaxe:


Above: With this tool, you shall pierce the heavens

This baby can carve through stone MUCH quicker than punching it, and also allows you to gather stone blocks. Tools will degrade through use, and wood is the least durable material for a tool to be made of, so make a stone pickaxe as soon as possible. To do this, replace the wooden blocks in the above recipe with pieces of rock. For an iron axe, replace the stone with iron ingots (which you’ll figure out how to make later), and so on. Now that you have a stone pickaxe, you can get some coal. Coal is an important item for crafting, as it’s a base ingredient in torches, and provides heat for your furnace to smelt ores and cook food. It’s also pretty easy to find. Check around open rock faces, or buried not too far underground. There should be some around.


Above: As you can see, it’s like a stone block flecked with black

Carve it up and gather the resulting coal. Then, arrange the coal and a stick like so to make some torches:

You get four torches for every coal piece and stick you combine, so make a bunch. (Note: Currently, torches last forever, but the game’s developer states that it will eventually make torches temporary.) Place some torches in your home and on the outside. Monsters won’t spawn in lit areas, so putting a couple torches around your house might be handy, too. Also, if you’re lucky enough to find a pumpkin block, you can craft a jack o’ lantern with the following recipe:

Now that you have light at nighttime and your home is built, you should gather and craft a few more useful items before you really begin mining or exploring too much. First off: Armor. Kill some cows to get leather to craft basic armor. The dropped leather looks like this:

Cows are pretty easy to find - they’re all over the place, and they make a pretty constant racket when lowing. You can make a tunic, leggings, helmet, and boots to protect your oh-so-squishy character from their leather, too, so they have great utility.

You can also kill pigs to get raw porkchops which, when eaten, will restore health. Cooking your porkchops in a furnace (which we’ll get to shortly) will increase their potency. Every animal serves some sort of purpose. Even chickens drop eggs from time to time.


Above: These gormless animals serve great utility when you punch them

You can also make a sword to defend yourself from skeletons, zombies, giant spiders and Creepers.

Now that you have armor, torches, and a pickaxe, you’re ready to get mining. Our location in the side of a cliff face means we can start our mine shaft right from our own living room. Dig downwards in a DIAGONAL fashion - not straight down. Getting back to the top of a shaft that’s perfectly vertical is a pain in the ass, and if you hit an underground lava deposit while digging straight down, you’ll fall in and die, losing all your fancy new items. So dig diagonally, occasionally pausing to put up a new torch to light your way.

As you mine, you’ll come across deposits of coal and ores. Likely, you’ll find iron before anything else. Mine it quickly, get back to your crafting table and make a furnace out of cobblestone, like so:

Place the resulting furnace block in your home, and get smelting. To use the furnace, right-click on it, place fuel (coal or wood) in the lower box, and the item to be heated in the top. If you place food items in the top, you’ll get cooked food items, which heal more than normal food items. If you place iron ore, you’ll get precious iron ingots, which you can use to make new tools and armor.

In addition, iron pickaxes can successfully mine gold ore from gold blocks, and precious gems such as diamonds (the most resilient crafting ingredient in the game), redstone and lapis lazuli.

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35 comments

  • CaptainSpatula - April 7, 2011 9:09 p.m.

    glad to see this game gettin' some Gdar love. I've been with it since it was free and there wasn't any survival. I love how much it's grown and I'm glad you guys like it too.
  • Fady2Hotty - April 7, 2011 9:20 p.m.

    when i first heard of his game, i was thinking who would play this POS. then i tried it out, and haven't stopped playing lol
  • GodofPS314 - April 7, 2011 9:23 p.m.

    As much as I love this game, this article is really stupid and unnecessary. I find most tutorials on this game to be quite ridiculous as Helen Keller could figure it out. (:
  • Lolspamm0r - April 7, 2011 9:55 p.m.

    Spiders don't set fire at day time. They just become passive
  • Limbo - April 7, 2011 9:56 p.m.

    As of the 1.4 Beta update, the default inventory key is now E, so you might want to change that so as to not confuse anyone. All around a good guide, but another useful item for beginners is a bed. It allows you to skip through the night so you don't have to just sit there.
  • EnragedTortoise1 - April 7, 2011 9:59 p.m.

    Might want to add wolves, beds, and such. Those would be confusing. Also, the optimal place for diamond mining. Between layers 11 and 16, that is. (layer 5 is the highest layer of bedrock).
  • GamerTagsSuck - April 7, 2011 10:16 p.m.

    You mentioned that torches will become temporary, but only newly made ones. All pre-existing torches will be converted to lanterns, which are permanent, when the update comes.
  • killorabbit - April 7, 2011 10:18 p.m.

    I'd read GamesRadar first after waking from a coma. Promise <3
  • GamerTagsSuck - April 7, 2011 10:22 p.m.

    Also, the bedrock isn't indestructible. It is possible to destroy it using massive amounts of TNT, which will proceed to crash the game.
  • Evil_AppleJuice - April 7, 2011 10:56 p.m.

    This officially makes me want to get minecraft for sure. Thanks GR, I have found my time waster till LA Noire!!!
  • thelonelywizards - April 7, 2011 10:57 p.m.

    About time GR got on the Minecraft bandwagon. If you want a more in depth look at the first day in Minecraft, here's a first-person account in the style of a diary... http://thelonelywizards.com/2010/10/17/minecraft/
  • 8bitBaby - April 7, 2011 11:15 p.m.

    *sigh* i wanna play it. i really do. but i'm afraid of losing SO much time to it.
  • Vitreosity - April 7, 2011 11:20 p.m.

    Actually, Notch said that he's most likely dropped the idea of lanterns. Originally, the plan was to have torches burn out and need re-lighting from Flint+Steel, but in a series of tweets, he said that he just didn't like the idea that much any more.
  • Brutalicus - April 7, 2011 11:58 p.m.

    You bastards, do you know what you've done? The lack of a beginner's guide was the only thing keeping this out of my veins. NooooOOOOoooOOOO
  • AlpineGuy - April 8, 2011 12:25 a.m.

    Gurren Lagann reference FTW. This is a great beginner's guide. It makes me want to jump on the bandwagon just a little more, but I really can't afford to waste that much time!
  • JHONNYOHH - April 8, 2011 12:35 a.m.

    "OH JESUS OH FUCK" That correctly describes how I feel when I see a creeper! haha great article guys, I was wondering when you'd get the chance to do this <3
  • FNG - April 8, 2011 1:53 a.m.

    Page 2 paragraph 3: You do not get stone blocks from mining stone, you get cobblestone.
  • AlSwearengenHatesCocksuckers - April 8, 2011 1:55 a.m.

    IMMIGRANT SONG TRIBUTE \m/
  • NightCrawler_358 - April 8, 2011 2:24 a.m.

    Nice guide for beginners, when I started I also made a floating castle hours in the sky haha. I learned all my Minecraft knowledge from "the Yogscast" videos on Youtube, their channel is called "BlueXephos." I recommend their Multiplayer survival series-very funny. Sorry if that sounded like spam lol.
  • DamnHippy - April 8, 2011 3:41 a.m.

    wow an Aldous Huxley reference AND a Led Zeppepelin reference; props, you deserve a medal

Showing 1-20 of 35 comments

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