How Can Beginners Survive in Minecraft?

In this beginner’s guide, we’ll have you covered on how to harvest material, build your first tools, and establish a shelter where you can spend your peace, comfort, and quiet nights in the game.

Note: The controls for PC listed in the guide are the defaults. Pressing Esc opens the pause menu, and from there you can change your controls by clicking “Options” and “Controls.”

Step One: Build a Crafting Table

The first objective to set for yourself is simple: Build a Crafting Table. In order to do so, you’ll need to attack a tree to gather some Woodblocks.

You can obtain wood by holding down the left mouse button on PC or the right trigger on your console controller. The process should require around 15 quick hits with your fist whilst aiming at a tree and the log will break so that you can pick it up. Make sure that you replant any Saplings that fall from the overhead leaf blocks. After a while, they will grow into trees. You should also try and break the leaves on the tree to try and get some apples, they are quick and easy to obtain and you will need them for later. About 16 wood will do for now, trees will always be available if you need any more.

Note: While it may seem obvious, make sure that you hold down the button. This will allow you to dig into your target, instead of merely punching it.

You can now use your newly acquired log blocks to create Wooden Planks. Go into the crafting screen in your inventory (tap “E” on PC, Mac, or Linux) and drag the wood block into one of the crafting slots at the top of the screen. On Xbox, this action is even easier: just hit X and select the wooden planks. “Wooden Planks” should appear in the box on the right–click the wooden planks or hit X to turn your wood blocks into planks, which have a wider variety of uses than wood in its purest form.

On PC/Mac/Linux, remove any wood blocks left in the crafting area and then fill all four spots in the crafting area with these new wooden planks, which will then output a crafting table. On consoles, open the crafting menu and select the table from the menu to build it. Move the crafting table into the bottom row of your inventory.

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Exit the crafting screen by pressing E on PC or B on your Xbox controller, and you should be able to hold the crafting table in your hands. Find a suitable spot to place the table by right-clicking on PC/Mac/Linux or hitting L on Xbox. Once the crafting table is set, you can right-click or press L on the table to access more advanced crafting options.

Note: If you ever need to move the crafting table to another spot, just break it apart with your punches and pick up the remaining block. It will re-appear in your inventory.

Step Two: Build Tools

Since you’ve now built a crafting table, you are able to craft a variety of tools, like a Wooden Pickaxe. These tools will help you accomplish tasks such as mining and Farming. Start by going into the crafting screen (either your personal crafting screen or the crafting table crafting screen, pressing the default key for the inventory E default for PC) and positioning two wooden planks vertically in the crafting area. The output should be a set of four Sticks. Craft a handful of these sticks while keeping a few wooden planks handy.

Jump into the crafting table’s crafting area and create a T-formation with the sticks positioned vertically and the wooden blocks arranged horizontally on top of the sticks (see the screenshot below). This will output a wooden pickaxe. On the console version, you can do all this directly from the menu; there’s no need to position items.

The wooden pickaxe is a very weak pickaxe, but it’s a first step on the path to building a better pickaxe. Start digging into a hillside to uncover some Stone and use the wooden pickaxe to break up the stone. (If you use your bare hands to break the stone, it will take longer and you will not actually produce any stone blocks).

Gather the stone blocks and you can then use the crafting table to form a Stone Pickaxe, with a wooden plank handle and a stone tip. To select advanced pickaxes like the stone pickaxe, on consoles, you have to select the axe option on the crafting menu and push Up or Down on the left analog stick to display any variations. Until you get better materials, the stone pickaxe will be your main workhorse tool.

You can create a few other tools in much the same way. Although the pickaxe is your main implement for mining, you’ll want to have more planks to build with, so an axe is going to be handy to quickly harvest material before the first nightfall. You may also want to make a Shovel (2 sticks in the middle row from the bottom up, and wooden plank on top) for gathering Sand and Clay to make Glass and Bricks, respectively, but you won’t need those right away.

Step Three: Build a Shelter to Survive the Night

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Unless you’re playing in Peaceful mode, you’ll find yourself extremely vulnerable at the start of the game. When you start to hear music play, you’ll know it’s almost nighttime, and once the sun goes down, zombies, creepers and skeletons will spawn all around you. Because of this, you’ll need to learn how to build a house in Minecraft.

One of the most basic shelters you can build is created by simply digging into a hillside or into the ground. You can pick up destroyed blocks (or almost any block, really) and use them to build walls around you. Try digging a hole into a hillside and then using the dirt remnants to build up a wall behind you, blocking yourself in.

This will keep you safe, but you’re going to have to wait through the morning, and that gets tedious after a while. While the night passes, you might want to collect and mine a bit around your shelter and make more tools. Tomorrow you can go out and gather more materials.

You can also create torches if you have found coal, or if you have not found coal yet you can make charcoal by placing a solid piece of wood in the top slot of a Furnace and any other flammable object (wooden fence post, wooden planks, wooden stairs, spare wooden tools, etc.) the bottom slot. then simply go to your crafting table and put a few pieces of charcoal or coal on top of some sticks to create torches. Torches help light up your house and also prevent monsters from spawning inside, they also make it handy to see better in caves.

Minecraft Survival houses don’t need to be fancy. Here’s a quick checklist of things your basic home should have:

  • Bed
  • Storage Chest
  • Windows
  • Door
  • Secure Walls and Ceiling
  • Secure Mineshaft for nighttime mining
  • Torches
  • Furnace

For more assistance building shelters and a variety of examples, don’t forget to check out our complete Minecraft Building Guide and our 10 Ways to Survive the Night page for even more handy tips and tricks.

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Step Four: Understanding the Hunger Meter and Gathering Food

You now have a shelter and tools but you are missing the one necessity for survival – food. As you walk, sprint, and jump, you’ll begin to use up energy indicated by your hunger meter, your hunger meter will be on the bottom right of your screen and is represented by chunks of meat. As your hunger meter begins to drain you will lose the ability to regenerate health when having lost 2 hunger and sprint when having lost everything but 3 parts of your hunger meter. And you will only be to regain these abilities by consuming food and replenishing the bar.

The different difficulty modes will affect your hunger meter. In peaceful mode, your hunger meter will not deplete over time. On easy and normal it will degrade over time, resulting in an inability to regain health and sprint – when it reaches zero, your health will drain until half health on easy, and half a heart on normal. On hardcore when it reaches zero it will drain your health until you die.

To replenish your hunger meter you must eat food. Early on your main source of food will come from animals like cows, pigs, and chickens. Simply kill one of these animals and retrieve the meat it drops.

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You can immediately eat the raw meat to gain a few hunger points back but to gain the full effect you will want to cook it first, especially chicken because of the slight chance to lose even more hunger. Go mine some eight stone and some coal. Once you have retrieved the materials, Open up your crafting table and fill every space except for the center with cobblestone. Select the furnace and place it on the ground.

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Put your coal in the bottom spot of the furnace along with the food in the top spot and wait about ten seconds for the food to cook. (1 piece of coal cooks 8 pieces of meat, don’t waste fuel!) Take the food out once it’s cooked and consume to gain more hunger points.

Later on, you can start making farms like wheat farms or mushroom farms, or even melon farms if you find the materials.

Looking for even more on Farming? Why not check out our complete Farming Guide to Minecraft for helpful tips, tricks, and plenty of ideas and community examples for potential farms.

There are plenty of recipes you’ll uncover, but let’s focus on just surviving for now. Need some suggestions on what to cook? Here’s a list of the best food in Minecraft:

  • Bread
  • Steak
  • Cooked Chicken
  • Golden Carrots
  • Cooked Cod
  • Enchanted Golden Apples

Survived Your First Night? Here’s What to Do Next

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Now that you have survived your first night, you can venture out to collect more materials, as well as hopefully some food and wool – for a bed. A bed is a huge time saver in the long run because it allows you to sleep peacefully through the dark half of the game’s cycle, but only if you have the materials to craft it and a place to put it. It’s quite possible to find all these materials on your first day, and it will help a great deal.

A bed requires three blocks of wool (any color), which you can get by harvesting a sheep. Of course, killing the sheep will only net you one wool block (using Shears will net you three to four, but we don’t have these yet). Line the three blocks of wool up in a horizontal row on your Crafting Table, and three wood planks underneath them.

Note: Beds, when placed inside a fully-formed, safe shelter, create a new spawn point. If you don’t have a Bed, you should build your shelter very close to your original spawn point. You will respawn at that same point any time you die. Finding a shelter that’s far from this spawn point can be difficult if you die or simply wander far away from it.

Now, if you’re looking to build a house in Minecraft that’s a bit more advanced than the rudimentary hut you survived in last night, try this out:

  • Block out a 5×4 area and build a wall three blocks high around the perimeter. You can use any material, but bricks are probably the best choice since they’re stronger than dirt or or sand.
  • You can build a roof or a lip around the outside to stop monsters from jumping inside. Place your bed in the middle of this area, not the corner.
  • If you don’t have time or resources to make a proper shelter, you can make a platform instead, at least three blocks high. This will be too high for enemies to jump up onto, and you can safely rest here until sunrise.

Essential Tips and Tricks for Surviving in Minecraft

  • Spend your first night digging a small mine shaft beneath your tiny home. This will give you a useful way to pass the time, and you’ll be safe from enemies lurking outside your hut.
  • Don’t dig straight down! This could cause you to fall into caves or lava. Instead, dig in a staircase shape (one block out, one block down) or make spiral staircases. And remember to always check before you step forward – walking into an awkward position could mean losing your entire inventory of gear.
  • In addition to using the staircase method, you can also make a 5×5 mineshaft. Once you are done digging up a level you can either place some stairs or a ladder so you can get up again. This method also lets you mine all of the stuff on the side of the shaft giving you even more resources.

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  • Leave a trail of blocks/torches so you know where you’ve been and have some way of finding your way back. Another fairly effective method is to make a giant landmark, but this can get rather time-consuming, especially when you are traversing a hilly or mountainous area. Moreover, unless your render distance is set at the maximum level, chances are you won’t be able to see it.
  • Store any valuable materials (such as ore and expensive tools) in a chest before you go anywhere for long periods of time. If you are heading into the mines, go only with the essentials: one set of tools, a crafting bench, some food, sticks, torches, and one stack of dirt or any other easily breakable block. You don’t want to risk losing any valuable items or a lot of materials if you die, you might not get your stuff back.

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  • Start out by building small monuments and homes before attempting larger projects. Doing so allows you to grow familiar with the game and the multitude of materials available to you before you sink time into a monument you realize would have looked better in brick later on.
  • Remember, if you’re playing on a difficulty other than peaceful, it’s a good idea to seek shelter early and get ready for the night!
  • Explore the crafting system. There are literally hundreds of objects that can be crafted, and it’s to your benefit to explore all these items as soon as possible.

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  • Find a village – but don’t worry about it too much. Villages and villagers become an integral part of Minecraft later on, but for now, your time is better spent gathering resources and learning the basics.
  • And of course – try and back up your worlds and save files, especially after large projects or a particularly successful mining mission. Can never be too careful, right?
  • Be careful when playing split-screen on consoles. If the other accounts are signed in as guests, you won’t be able to save their items/inventory unless the players place them in a chest. To sign in non-Xbox Live Gold accounts in a local game, uncheck the “online” game option when loading your world.

Be sure to check out the Frequently Asked Questions portion of the wiki for answers to more typical beginner questions.

Source: IGN