How to Mine in Minecraft

If you’ve ever played Minecraft, you’ll know that mining is a pretty major part of the game. After all, it is called Minecraft. And to actually progress in the barren, pixellated world that you’ve been plonked it, rather than go around in circles, you’ll need to start mining sooner rather than later. But going underground means you’ll be in pretty much constant danger, with unexpected lava flows and monsters dotted around underground. So for the second of my weekly Minecraft tutorial-y posts, I’ll be showing you how to gain precious materials and avoid a nasty, fiery death, hopefully at the same time. I’m sure it’ll be helpful… well, not sure.

The right tools for the job

Before you even start going underground, you’ll need some decent tools. The five Minecraft tools are shown above (from left to right): the pickaxe (the all-round tool – essential for mining), the spade (useful for digging sand), the axe (useful for getting wood), the hoe (essential for farming, not for mining) and the sword (essential for fighting), which come in – in order of sturdy-ness – gold (yes, I know. Gold is oddly flimsy on Minecraft), wood, stone, iron and diamond. For proper mining, you’ll need a stone pickaxe or better. A sword is also pretty useful for beating off those pesky monsters that dwell in the numerous dark caves you’ll fall into. The other tools aren’t necessary, but keep them for other things. You never kn0w when sand’s going to fall on top of you and choke you to death, so a spade’s handy to have.

Going underground

Once you’ve got some tools (and food, but more on that next week), you’re ready to descend into the mass of rock and caves that make up the underground of Minecraft. The general rules are that the deeper you go, the more precious materials you’re going to find. For example, you’ll be finding iron and coal near the surface, gold, redstone and the most useless block in the game, lapis lazuli, and diamonds and obsidian near bedrock. First of all, though, you’re going to need to mine down, and there are certain ways you can go about this. You can mine directly down (the Minecraft equivalent of throwing yourself onto a motorway and hoping a car won’t hit you), mine down and put ladders in as you go, or make a staircase down (by far the safest option). Once you’ve made it a couple of dozen blocks down, start mining sideways to look for the precious ores you’re looking for. If you find the ores, mine them and bring them back up for smelting (some ores will pop out ready-made when mined).

Gosh, I didn’t see that lava pit (and other ways to die underground)

For all the ores you find underground, there’ll be a dark cave inhabited by creatures or a lava pit that you might fall into. There’s a lot of hazards underground, and if you want to bring your bounty back home, then you’ll need to be careful, and there’s a few ways you can avoid fiery death. First, never mine directly down, as there’s bound to be a lava pit or drop in your path. Always carry a sword and food to (a beat off monsters and (b replenish your health after said monster attacks. A bucket of water’s also useful if you accidentally become on fire by hitting lava. Also, tread carefully around lava, because… y’know, fire. Although if you do have the misfortune of dying, you’ll most likely have been killed by a monster (in that case, head back down to the general place of where you died and try to find your dropped items quickly, or you fell into a pit of lava. In that case, your items were incinerated, and you won’t be getting them back any time soon. If it’s any comfort, it’s happened to me a few times.

Part three of this weekly series: ‘How to Hunt in Minecraft‘, will be posted on Thursday June 21.