The Minecraft Diaries 6: Let’s Go: resource-gathering

Off we go!

Off we go!

Life was pleasant in my new home, but a bit boring. The occasional slime appeared but very little else. I started to get OCD about my wheat farm. My mountain was nice, but there was still no ore there. Time to do some traveling and gather some resources.

Though I spent several days preparing for my trip, I made several big mistakes, which gradually became apparent.

There were bad omens as I started out. I ran into a creeper as I was leaving, and he blew a hole in the hillside, though fortunately not near the house. Then I spotted some brown and black sheep, which I wanted, at a time that could not be less appropriate for taming them. I hoped they’d still be around when I got back.

I took some fall damage in my haste to get up the steep mountain beyond the sheep pen. I’d decided to go in that direction, into the interesting mountains, a biome Minecraft calls Extreme Hills. I kept a sharp eye out for coal or iron ore at the surface, but there was nothing.

I discovered after a few days that I’d managed to bring 10 stone bricks with me. It takes just enough effort to make them that I didn’t quite want to throw them away, but I certainly didn’t need them. They took up space in my inventory. Careless mistake.

After many days of wandering, I found something cool. I’d entered a swamp, at the edge of a large body of water (the same ocean?), and I was collecting mushrooms even though the same ones grow near my mountain, when I spotted what looked like a wooden house. Is it a village? I’ve heard that they added villages, and even villagers, to Minecraft but I haven’t seen one since I’ve started playing.

What is this place?

What is this place?

But this was just one house, out in the water on stilts. No one was around, and there was no door, so I stacked some dirt in front of it so I could reach it and went inside. There was a cauldron, a crafting table, and a single red and white mushroom in a pot on the windowsill. Nice. Who lived here, and where were they? It was strange. I stayed for a couple of nights, gathering loads of clay and a few lily pads  in case they turned out to be useful, then regretfully packed up and headed for the next biome. Not many resources in that area either, but I really liked the look of that house.

After I got home I googled the swamp house I’d found and discovered that it’s a witch house, and that there’s usually a witch nearby. The witch attacks players and also regenerates her health. I felt damned lucky to have escaped a confrontation!

I set up camp next in an area with lots of exposed stone, bordered on one side by extreme hills, on another by jungle, and by the swamp biome on a third side. On the fourth side was that large body of water. At last I saw some coal at the surface, so I wanted to build a little hut and stay there for a while to collect it, and maybe some iron if I was lucky.

I was still building my hut when I backed into a creeper and blew up. Scared the crap out of me, though luckily it didn’t kill me. I was recovering from that when I spotted another one just before he blew up, too. Good lord. Too bad I wasn’t building a house, there was a nice crater for a foundation now.

My house in Creepertown (the dirt box, upper left) with companion creeper craters.

My house in Creepertown (the dirt box, upper left) with companion creeper craters.

I got blown up by at least one creeper every day I was at that site. My poor heart. Thank god I had enough iron for armor.

I got lots of coal but almost no iron, and went exploring in the jungle when it was all tapped out. I discovered that those enchanting brown globes hanging from the trees drop cocoa beans when punched, so I gathered a bunch of those. There were cows and chickens, too. I could make chocolate chip cookies if I wanted. I needed wood, and ended up with a couple of stacks of jungle wood, a different color than spruce wood. Once, I saw an ocelot. There were more resources in those two biomes than in most of the area I’d explored so far.

Even more so when I discovered a ravine, my first. A ravine is a very exciting feature, essentially a fissure in the earth, a narrow opening that plunges deep down, sometimes all the way to the lava layer. This is a wonderful opportunity to find ores relatively easily, not just coal and iron but the rarer ores like gold and even diamond. But I needed more supplies. I wanted to move my camp to the ravine and spend some time there.

At that point I noticed that I was lost in the jungle. I had a general sense of which direction I came from, but as I looked around, I realized that there was no good reason for me to trust it. Why didn’t I write down the coordinates of my creeper hut?

Where am I??

Where am I??

Oh my god. Why didn’t I write down the coordinates of my mountain home?

Now it’s an emergency. The sun is heading west, and I’m in the jungle, which is a bitch to move through. I’m constantly climbing up and down, going around trees, utterly unable to keep to anything like a straight line. It’s getting darker and darker under those enormous trees. I won’t lose much besides cocoa beans if I die, but still, I don’t want to die!

I made it back to my creeper hut just as the sun was disappearing beneath the horizon. As tempting as the ravine was, I just couldn’t see how I could schlep all my stuff through the jungle, twice. There will be other ravines. I hope. I already had so much stuff it took two or three trips to transport it between campsites.

At the next campsite, which I built into a small bluff on the plains below the extreme hills, I mined some surface coal and discovered a large vein of iron ore. FINALLY. I spent two full days and nights mining the crap out of that place and found tons of coal and iron, so much that it was going to be a pain to transport it.

Now I wanted to get home, and I worried that I’d never be able to find it. Then I remembered that I did write down the coordinates of my spawn home and the cave nearby. Oh thank god. I was at x -83, z -915, and I wanted to head for x -176, z -245. I wasn’t even that far away, but the landscape was mostly jungle, swamp, or extreme hills, so it made for difficult traveling.

Plus I still kept getting lost. I had to put huge columns and crosses on top of landmarks in order to recognize them again, and even then I often found myself standing in some valley, wildly swiveling my head back and forth, going, where the hell am I?

This looks familiar... or does it?

This looks familiar… or does it?

Before I ever downloaded Minecraft, I heard about a player who wandered far from his spawn point, discovered a pleasant land, built a whole complex there, then died one day and got the “your bed is missing or obstructed” message. He was returned, with nothing, to his original spawn point. Apparently he never thought to write down his coordinates, either, because although he continued to play in that same world, he never found his complex again. I just know that’s going to happen to me.

I got lost in a valley and decided I’d better use the time before sunset building a shelter, rather than searching for the hut I’d never find in the dark. I camped at the mouth of a shallow cave and, since I didn’t have a bed with me, spent the night mining. I found more iron. These mountains are the place to look for iron, obviously.

Time to learn how to use F3. I figured out that I needed to head southwest, mostly south, and things soon began to look familiar. Surely that large body of water was the same large body of water near my house. This extreme hills biome had to be the one next to mine. I was ridiculously close to home, it was just really confusing.

A few more tight spots involving skeletons and mysterious-yet-familiar-looking valleys, and I saw it. The tower I placed above my mountain home! There it is! I raced up the hillside and into my house and slammed the door. I’m home.

One of my many map-marking symbols. I try hard to remember what they mean.

One of my many map-marking symbols. I try hard to remember what they mean. (Nice floating island in the background, too.)

And I was so close, I had time, once I’d rejoiced, to run back to my last campsite. And I couldn’t find it, naturally. I did find another campsite I must’ve placed there on my way out, though I don’t remember it. I stood inside there for the night, since I didn’t think to bring a bed, fretting that I would never find the campsite with all my loot. But the next morning, I found it, no problem.

Booty from the trip: tons of coal, plenty of clay, some iron, pumpkins, sugar cane, cocoa beans, jungle wood, lily pads (which grow in the water at the foot of my mountain, duh), my ten stone brick blocks, and a better sense of this fascinating world. But mostly coal.

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