Surviving Minecraft: 9 Easy Steps to Get Started

To help out with your first day in Minecraft's pixelated wilderness, here are some steps to follow.

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Click here to read editor-at-large Harry McCracken’s full magazine story on The Mystery of Minecraft — including an in-depth trip to the developer’s headquarters in Sweden — available exclusively for TIME subscribers.

Much of Minecraft‘s fun comes from exploring, building and discovering things on your own. It’s like a set of LEGOs, except Minecraft only provides the most rudimentary guidelines.

To help out with your first day in Minecraft’s pixelated wilderness, here are some steps to follow. You should be able to get all the essentials done before the sun goes down and the monsters come out.

Of course, you don’t have to follow these instructions right away. Spend some time running around, figuring out the controls and dying a few times.

When you’re ready to get serious about crafting and building, here some guidelines to consider:

1. Chop Up Some Wood, Kill Some Animals

minecraftpig

Jared Newman / TIME.com

Wood is the ingredient from which everything else in Minecraft stems. You can use it to build tools, doors, ladders and the all-important crafting bench, which lets you build even more elaborate things. It never hurts to have too much, so find at least a few trees and chop ‘em down with your bare hands.

While you’re scavenging, keep an eye out for pigs, chickens and cows. When you kill them, there’s a chance they’ll drop some delicious meat, which you can use to heal yourself and stay nourished. You can also pick up apples from fallen trees.

2. Establish a Base of Operations

Don’t venture too far. Find a place near your starting point where you can build some shelter. Ideally, you’ll be near a stone wall, around which you can build a little mud hut to keep yourself safe from monsters. (Don’t worry about enemies just yet.)

minecraftcrafting

Jared Newman / TIME.com

3. Craft a Bench, a Box and Some Tools

Break down your wood into wooden planks through the inventory menu (press “E” if playing the PC version). Use those planks to make a crafting table and a storage chest, and place them at your base. Finally, turn some of your planks into wooden sticks, and build yourself a few wooden swords and pickaxes. (You can also build hoesshovels and axes, but these aren’t essential for basic mining)

4. Explore Some More, Find Cobblestone and Coal

Another essential ingredient in Minecraft is stone, which can be broken down into cobblestone. Look for smooth, grey blocks along walls, and break them down with your pickaxe. Dig deep enough, and you may also find black-specked stone containing coal. Combine the coal with a stick to create torches that can be attached to walls.

minecraftbase

Jared Newman / TIME.com

5. Close Off Your Shelter

Return to your base, and build yourself a rudimentary hut. The best way is to dig some dirt from the ground, then re-position it in walls and a ceiling around your crafting bench. If you have torches, stick one or two on the wall to light the room. Leave a small (1×2) opening in the shelter, and craft yourself a door out of wood planks for safe and easy access.

6. Build a Furnace, Grill Some Meat

Back at your base, use some stone to build a furnace. If you gathered any meat, you can cook it in the furnace by combining the raw meat with coal, and waiting for it to heat up. Cooked meat heals you more, and in the case of chicken, eliminates the risk of food poisoning.

minecraftspider

Jared Newman / TIME.com

7. Meet the Mob

By now, night should be falling. Venturing outside means confronting nasty creatures, including spiders, skeletons and the dreaded Creepers. There’s no serious penalty for dying in Minecraft–you’ll just drop your items and return to the starting point–so if you’re up for a fight, head out into the night. You might want to store most of your belongings in a crate for safe keeping first.

8. Contemplate the Ramifications of Deforestation, Resource Harvesting, Violence and Animal Slaughter to Further Humanity’s Own Survival

(Optional)

minecraftcave

Jared Newman / TIME.com

9. Go Forth and Explore

There’s lots more to do in the world of Minecraft. You can venture underground for precious minerals, build a gate to The Nether or complete the game’s achievements in pursuit of the ending. You can seek out deserts and oceans, or explore the seas. With enough resources, you can build castles, cities or monuments. Once you’re comfortable, don’t be afraid to visit some multiplayer servers to see what other people are working on. Consult the Minecraft Wiki when in doubt, and let your imagination wander. There’s no real winning or losing in Minecraft, but you’ll know you’re doing it right when hours have passed by without you realizing it.

Click here to read editor-at-large Harry McCracken’s full magazine story on The Mystery of Minecraft — including an in-depth trip to the developer’s headquarters in Sweden — available exclusively for TIME subscribers.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe now or purchase a digital access pass.

2 comments
andrewi31
andrewi31

I was shocked by the date of this article.  I'm sorry, I'm under 80 so clearly I'm in the wrong demographic here.  Not that I read proper "games journalism" or anything as awful as that- normally my brain is working properly.   But is this article necessary anymore?  Is it even close?  And the whole trip to Sweden to cover an ancient game as if that was a point of pride at a Time magazine in the spring of 2013?  Crazy! Or certainly very silly.  Aren't they releasing something new and different any time now?  It seems it is more an appropriate time to cover that maybe?  Whatever you want.  It just seems kind of heartbreakingly sad to produce a story, multiple stories in fact, so insipid and, well, late.  

ToddCarnes
ToddCarnes

@andrewi31 What planet are you living on? Minecraft is HUGE.... now... today... as I type these words. One thing it is NOT is ancient. You shouldn't judge a game by it's graphics. 

It is current and has a huge follow, which is why Time is talking about.

Are you sure you're under 80?