How-To Survive Your First Night in Minecraft

The game of Minecraft is a lot of things to those that play. For some, it’s about connecting with the community and working together to make amazing things. For others, it’s a canvas to express their creative side. For others still, it’s an arena to test their skills battling against other players. However, at its core, Minecraft is a game of survival, where one lone player is pitted against their environment in an attempt to survive and eventually thrive. 

How-To Survive Your First Night in Minecraft

While there are mechanisms to make this more difficult as time goes on, like local difficulty, by and large, the game becomes easier as you gather resources and build a safe place designed to help you endure this unique world.  With this being the case, your first night is one of the greatest challenges to survival in the game of Minecraft, but it can certainly be done if you stay focused and hustle on your first day. 

The Day-Night Cycle 

Minecraft has a day-night cycle, but since it’s impractical to make it a full 24-hour cycle as we experience in real life the developers went with a much shorter 20-minute cycle split evenly between 10 minutes of day and 10 minutes of night. 

As you can imagine, 10 minutes is not much time to get together the resources you need to survive a night filled with seemingly endless waves of hostile monsters, especially when you’re starting from scratch, so we have to make every minute count. 

Luckily, you don’t have to start from scratch if you don’t want to! Minecraft does have an option upon world creation to be given a bonus chest with some basic tools to help get you started. If you’re new to Minecraft and this is your first world, it doesn’t hurt to use this option just to give you a little jump start on your first day. The bonus chest spawns near where you spawn upon world creation. It is a single chest surrounded with 4 torches, 1 on each side of the chest and it contains a random selection of basic supplies that could include tools (could be wooden or stone pickaxe and ax), wood blocks (could be logs from any variety of the overworld trees), and or food (such as apples or bread).

This is what your bonus chest will look like

Once you grab the supplies from your chest you can also pick up the chest and the torches, which is one of the biggest bonuses for your first night.

And this is what I got in my bonus chest, your contents may vary

This guide will assume you left this option unchecked and are starting alone and resourceless. 

Your First Day 

So, you spawned into a new world and have no resources. Your inventory includes a basic 2×2 crafting space, good for basic supplies like torches, but you’ll need the more versatile 3×3 crafting space provided by the crafting table in order to make more complex items like tools. This is made from wood so task number one is to find a tree and collect some logs.

Since you don’t have any tools yet just use your empty hand and hold down the left-click on your mouse while pointing the crosshairs at what you’re trying to collect. You’ll notice as you hold down the mouse button that your arm moves animating you “punching” whatever you’re looking at and the block you’re gathering will change its texture a little bit to indicate it’s being broken down.

Once the log reaches a certain point of being broken down it will cease to exist as a block placed in the world and will turn into a small item hovering just above the ground that you can collect by walking over it. 

Congratulations, you’ve got your first log! Now, press the “E” key on your keyboard to open the inventory. You’ll notice it contains 1 log (or possibly more if you got passionate about punching the rest of that tree). You should also notice the top right of the inventory has the 2×2 crafting grid mentioned earlier.

Using your mouse, click the log from your inventory to pick it up and click again in the crafting grid to place it there. You’ll see the small box to the right of the crafting grid will show a new item. This is the product that will be produced from crafting whatever you’ve placed in the crafting grid, in this case, 4 wooden planks. Shift-click to jump the product into your inventory. 

Great! Now you have wooden planks, just enough in fact to make your crafting table. Now, take your wood planks and place 1 in each of the 4 squares of the crafting grid. You can pick up the whole stack of wooden planks by left-clicking on it then as you hover over each box of the crafting grid right-click on it once to place 1 item from the stack in that square. Once you place the fourth plank in the grid, you’ll see that a new product appears, the crafting table.

Grab this and move it to your hot bar, located below your inventory. There are 9 slots that correspond to the number keys on your keyboard 1 through 9. Go ahead and put this in the left-most 1 box and close your inventory. You can close this and other menus by hitting the “Esc” key on your keyboard. 

Now, in order to use the crafting table, we have to place it in the world. Select the 1 box on your hot bar by either scrolling to it with your mouse wheel or by pressing the 1 key on your keyboard (just above and to the left of the “Q” key). Now, point your crosshairs at a location on the ground somewhere near you and right-click. This will place the block you’re holding (in this case the crafting table) where you’re looking. Now, we have access to a larger crafting grid for making more complex items. Unfortunately, we’re all out of materials so go back to that tree and grab another 2 logs. 

These logs we’re going to turn into wooden planks again so go ahead and do that in your inventory crafting grid, or if you prefer to use the fancy new crafting table you can do so by right-clicking while looking at it. Now, take 2 of the wooden planks and put them anywhere in the crafting grid, just making sure that one is directly above the other. This will present a new product we haven’t seen before, sticks. Grab the sticks and place them in your inventory (It’s possible you may already have sticks if you took down the whole tree as they occasionally fall from decaying leaves. This is ok as they are used in many crafting recipes and are never bad to have extras of).

You can also get sticks from leaf blocks. Either break them with your fist or wait for them to decay after you take all the logs from the tree

Now place 3 of your remaining wooden planks in the top left corner of the 3×3 crafting grid making a little arrow and place 2 sticks on the crafting grid in the very center slot and the bottom center slot. This will present a new product for you to grab, the wooden ax. Take this and place it in your hot bar in slot 1. 

Now you have an ax! It may be made of wood, but it’ll help you collect logs faster than just using your hand so put that thing to use cutting down as many nearby trees as you can. If you’re in an area with oak trees try to grab these first as they can occasionally drop apples. Once you collect all the logs from a tree the leaves will start to decay, slowly breaking down on their own and dropping items from them, in the case of oak trees either oak saplings, sticks, or apples. Not all leaves will drop an item so you might not get a ton of any of these, but after a few trees, you should have some of each. The apples can serve as an ok early game food resource, but if you don’t end up with any don’t worry, there are other options you can grab in the coming days before you really need anything. 

You’ll notice that as you use the ax a green bar appears on the bottom of the picture of the ax in your hot bar. This is the ax’s remaining durability. It will eventually turn yellow, then red, and will finally break destroying the item and removing it from your inventory. This is part of Minecraft; you can always make new tools so, don’t worry if you break a tool. 

Once you’ve collected two or three trees you’ve probably got enough wood for the night and it’s time to seek better resources, but you’ll need a new tool, a pickaxe. Pop back into the crafting table and put a wooden plank in the top three slots, a stick in the center slot, and another stick in the bottom center slot. This will create the wooden pickaxe in the output box. Grab this and put it in slot 2 of your hot bar. 

Now you need to find some stone. Sometimes there will be some on the surface, but most of the time you’ll have to dig into the side of a large hill or down into the ground to get to stone. To get through dirt you’ll eventually want to make a shovel, but for your first day just use your hand.

luckily I spawned next to a cliff. This will be a great stone source and will double as a place to build a starter shelter

It’s important to note at this point that you should not dig straight down. Instead, I recommend either stair casing or standing on the line between two blocks and breaking them one at a time back and forth, so if you do break a block and find something you don’t want to fall into (lava, a deep cave, etc.) you can stop before you drop into it. It shouldn’t be long before you hit stone which you can collect with your pickaxe. It is possible to break stone with your fist, but it takes forever and the blocks won’t drop for you to collect as items unless you use a pickaxe. Once you find stone use your pickaxe and grab at least 16. They will drop as cobblestone instead of stone, but that’s what you want in this instance so that’s perfect. 

When you break the dirt block you’ll fall onto the stone keeping you safe from a potentially fatal fall

Once you have your cobblestone use it and some sticks to make a new ax and pickaxe (same patterns as with the wooden versions, just replace the Wood Planks with cobblestone) and now we’re going to make a couple of new items; a stone sword and a furnace. 

This is the stone ax recipe. You’ll likely make many of these in the days to come.
The stone pickaxe will allow you to collect stony materials, coal, and iron. To get gold and more valuable resources, you’ll need an iron pickaxe.

Let’s start with the sword. Place 1 stick in the bottom center space on the 3×3 crafting grid and 1 cobblestone in the center space, and the top center space. This will present the stone sword which you can grab and place on your hot bar.

You could also make a sword out of wood if you didn’t manage to find stone.

Next, take your remaining 8 cobblestones and place 1 in each slot of the 3×3 crafting grid except the center slot. This will display the furnace. Grab this and place it on the hot bar. 

Your First Night 

At this point, you’re likely running out of daylight so use your ax to break and pick up your crafting table and take all this to where you’ll be sheltering for the night. This could be a shallow cave entrance, an abandoned building, or you can craft your own shelter by digging a hole to jump down into or quickly erecting a very small house. Once there, place down your crafting table and your furnace and use your remaining blocks to seal off the area with you inside.

You can make a door if you’d like (fill all but the left 3 slots on the 3×3 grid with wood planks to make 3 doors), but as long as your sealed in you’re good. 

Technically, you could ride out the night in your shelter as it stands and be fine, but just sitting for 10 minutes in the pitch-black darkness of a tiny space hardly seems fun or efficient so while the night progresses, we’ll take the time to do a couple more things. 

First things first, we need some light. When you found stone, you may have also found coal. If so, you can make 4 torches with 1 coal and 1 stick by placing them on either crafting grid with the coal directly above the stick.

If you didn’t find coal, you can instead make charcoal and craft it the same way with a stick to make 4 torches. 

To make charcoal we’ll need to use the furnace. Open the furnace menu by right-clicking on it. Place 1 or more logs in the uppermost slot to be “cooked” or “smelted” and place a fuel source (wooden planks will probably be easiest, but almost any wood items will do such as those old wooden tools, the extra doors, or even those oak saplings) in the bottom slot. Once both are placed, you’ll notice that the Furnace lights up, producing light for your shelter temporarily, and a progress bar in the Furnace’s menu shows how much time is left until it finishes the item it’s working on. You don’t have to watch the furnace smelt your items. You can exit this menu and do something else while the furnace does its thing.

When the arrow is completely white, you’ll notice the log disappear and the charcoal will appear in the box on the right.

Once it is done, grab the charcoal and make your torches. Put these on your hot bar.

For the space you have you’ll probably only need to place 1 to light up the whole thing, but if you want to use more you can. 

I went with two torches because I like the symetry

Finally, you’re protected from the night and not sitting in the dark. Still, it doesn’t hurt to prepare for tomorrow. Since you have extra torches to light up what you dig out, you can start to expand into the ground to try and find some iron or other useful resources. Just make a staircase into the ground and collect those resources lighting it up as you go to prevent hostile mobs from spawning inside your safe space. I recommend placing torches at least every 7 squares, though more light never hurts. 

This is a good start, but we’ve got a long way to go.

Congratulations on surviving your first night in Minecraft! There’s obviously still a ton to the game, but now you have the foundation to not just survive, but to thrive! 

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