Comprehensive Guide to Minecraft

Minecraft has been around for a couple of years, but remains one of the most-played titles in the MMO genre.  Independently produced, it began receiving attention in mid-2010 and has been growing in interest since, officially releasing in November last year.  With the rise of free to play (F2P) in the market, Minecraft has somehow managed to stay popular.  There are a lot of reasons for that.

First, MC is the first real open sandbox game to have caught on and definitely the first to still be going strong.  Despite clunky graphics and often odd gameplay, it’s still a game with no overall plot line, no “big picture” quests, and little in the way of “level grinding” when compared to other popular MMOs and RPGs like World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic.

So.. how do you make a guide to playing a game that has almost completely open game play?

Well, you focus on what game elements are predictable and on the character-building that is inherent in every MMO, Minecraft included.  So here is a comprehensive guide to Minecraft.

Starting Out

We all start somewhere.  Truthfully, unless you’ve played Minecraft before, you can reasonably expect to die on your first night.  Unless you know what’s coming (hence this guide), you are likely to be totally  unprepared.  Honestly, most success in Minecraft is found by being prepared.  Stick with the ol’ Boy Scout motto and you’ll be OK most of the time.

To survive your first night, you’ll need to spend your first day preparing for it.  Everyone begins in a different area (it’s basically random), so the resources available to you will be unique.  No matter where you are, though, there will be the basics: building materials, fire-making tools and fuel, etc.

What you’re preparing for is the nightly onslaught of dangerous fiends – various monsters that often times resemble walking zombies. The key to surviving these fiends is to use the second half of the game’s title: craft.

Making Fire

Your first priority is to get shelter with some kind of fire for the night.  In Minecraft, night time with no fire is certain death.  So before you begin exploring, harvest some logs to make a fire with when the sun goes down.  This is easy, if a bit tedious.

Walk to the nearest tree and begin punching it.  Sounds stupid, but this is how you harvest lumber (at least, in the beginning – later on, tools will make this more efficient).  The tree will eventually drop logs that you can pick up.  Those can be crafted into lumber and sticks.  You’ll want at least a dozen of them.

Each log you process nets four units of lumber (in your inventory, drag and drop the logs into your crafting window).  Processing the lumber again will produce sticks.  You’ll need some of both for your fire.

You’ll also need some coal.  To get this, you have to fashion a simple pickaxe.  To make it, you’ll need a crafting table.  Arrange four pieces of lumber in a square in your crafting grid.  A black-and-brown table block will appear as the result.  Craft it.

Once it’s made, it will appear somewhere near you (probably right in front of you).  Gather it up.  Now that you have a table, you can begin making a pickaxe.  The crafting table opens up your craft grid into a 3×3 square.  Add three units of lumber across the top and two units of sticks down the center to make a T.  You’ll need 8, 16, and 8 lumber across the top, then 24 and 24 sticks underneath.  A wooden pickaxe symbol will appear.  Craft that.

Once you have the pickaxe, you can harvest coal.  Look for sheer cliffs or rock faces with black splotches in them.  Those splotches are coal.  Equip the pickaxe and harvest.

Get as much as you think you can with the time you have.  When the sun begins setting, you’ll need to hurry to get shelter.

Finding Shelter

There are several ways to get shelter in Minecraft.  One is to utilize an abandoned building or shelter and just shore it up or repair it.  Most likely, you won’t find one on your first day, but you may eventually.

The easiest way to make shelter is to dig one out while you’re mining for coal.  As you mine blocks of rock, carve out a cave.  It doesn’t need to be too large, just big enough for you to stand in and move around three or four steps.  Shore up the opening with dirt.

Just before the sun sets, place torches (craft coal and sticks together, it creates a torch icon) inside and just outside your shelter.  If you have time, gather more wood and some rocks (you’ll likely gather rocks as you mine anyway) so you have something to do overnight.

Monsters do not spawn where there is light, so if you keep your home lit with fire, you’ll be safe from them.  If they can’t wander in (i.e. the door is closed), you shouldn’t be attacked.  For now, you’re in no position to defend yourself.  Later, you can make weapons and armor.

Make your shelter near your spawn point.  Whenever you die, you’ll re-spawn here.  Overnight, you can make a couple of items that will help you should you die and re-appear near here.

Your First Night

During the night, with all of the extra materials you have, you can make some basic tools that will accelerate your progress.  You should place your crafting table somewhere in your new shelter.  Using it, craft a furnace and a storage chest.

The furnace is made of rock and you’ll need to fill every box of your 3×3 crafting grid with at least 2 rocks, except the center one.  A furnace icon will appear as the result.  Craft that.  Place it in your shelter.

Next is the storage box.  This is made of wood and is built the same way – two or more lumber in every box of your craft grid except the center one.  A storage box icon will be the result.  Make it and place it in your shelter.

The furnace will allow you to use coal to make more advanced items like bricks, food, and so on.  It can also be used to cook food (this will be vital).

The box allows you to store items permanently so that even if you die, they’re available.  Otherwise, you’ll start out naked and alone every time you die.  Not good – and it gets boring quick.

If you still have enough materials, you should construct a stone pickaxe next.  For this, you’ll need 12 pieces of stone and 35 sticks.  Make another “T” out of them with the stone across the top (6, 3, 3) and the sticks underneath (18, 17).  A stone pickaxe icon appears.

With this new pick, you’ll be able to do the first part of the game’s title: mine.

If you don’t have enough materials for the stone axe, don’t worry about it.  Spend the rest of the night expanding and personalizing your shelter.  Once daylight comes, nearly all monsters will either leave or die from the light exposure. Any that are left you can (probably) avoid or kill bare handed.


In Minecraft, mining is the way you get more advanced materials, find treasures, and so on.  It can also be very dangerous.  The trick is to mine correctly and to avoid exploring natural shafts and caves unless you’re equipped to do so.  Monsters and nasties can be in natural formations and if you aren’t ready for battle, you’ll quickly find yourself dead.

It’s recommended that you dig your first mine starting inside your own shelter.  This allows you to explore it and utilize it while you’re cooped up for the night and it lets you add torches and light to keep creepies from coming up out of it into your shelter when you don’t want them.

Do not mine vertically.  If you hit something nasty (lava, the top of a cave), you’ll fall in and die.  Mine on a horizontal downgrade.  In other words, mine in “steps” downwards.  Think of it as a big staircase.

The deeper your shaft, the better the finds, so you should almost always continue downward as you tunnel.

The first thing you’re likely to find is iron ore.  It will be rock with light-brown splotches on it.  You can smelt this in your furnace to make ingots using coal as your fuel.  From these ingots, you can make all kinds of useful stuff like armor, carts, buckets, and more.

You’ll also eventually find gold, diamonds, and redstone as well.  All useful items.

Daily Routines

Your usual day in Minecraft should go like this: gather wood and coal, explore the area.

Your usual night in Minecraft should be: continue your mine, craft items from things you’ve found, expand your shelter and add new tools as you go.

Eventually, you’ll be making a more advanced furnace, more storage boxes, etc., etc.  To find out how to craft something, you can either check out the Minecraft Wiki or you can just put things into a somewhat logical order in the craft window and see what icon pops up. Furnaces and boxes are usually an O shape and swords, axes, etc. are usually a T or I shape.

Have fun!

Comments are closed.