I have found a rather large series of underground caverns in Minecraft, and have come close to becoming fatally lost several times. What are some best practices in making sure I get back to familiar territory? I have the compass but since it points to my original respawn point it’s not terribly useful. What tactics are employed to make sure you can explore deep caverns and still make it home in one piece?
There are a number of spelunking techniques that lead to successful navigation and tracking while wandering underground. As with anything in minecraft, you’ll want the right tools for the job:
- bow+arrows (sword optional)
- torches/raw wood
- a bunch of stone shovels/pickaxes
- iron/diamond pickaxe for rare ores
- steadfast resolve in the face of impending lava, and/or water bucket
I put the bow and arrows first as they’re really the most important for surviving caves in minecraft, killing enemies at a distance will significantly reduce the amount of damage you take, which will allow you to go further, although food will help in the event that you get hurt.
Torches are key, you’ll need lots. I usually pack 64 and make more from wood when I find coal veins.
stone shovels and pickaxes are just for regular old digging, and you’ll need to do a bunch of that to get through the steeper jumps
As far as directions go there are a number of simple tricks to being able to find your way around.
lost & found
- Right/Left-wall rule – Follow the right walls while traveling into a cave, and you’ll be able to do a 180 and follow the left walls to find your way out. This is a tedious rule to follow, but is one of the simplest rules for new adventurers to adhere to. As an extension of the rule, place your torches on the same side, and you’ll have a better idea of whether you’re going into or out of the caves.
- Signs – Signs used to take up a bunch of inventory space because they didn’t stack. But they are stackable now, and they make for great posts for spots that are particularly confusing, especially when you find yourself at a 7-way junction that goes every direction but up.
- Arrows – Not the arrows for your bow, simply arrows made out of blocks, use dirt/gravel/cobblestone to make → in the walls or ground. Have fun and make a 3D floating arrow in the middle of the path, it’ll be much more visible than a sign, and can be a useful way of getting rid of some of the materials that you’ve no doubt collected on your journey.
- Torch Patterns – use torches to make patterns to give you clues as to which way to go. Simple designs like
..:can be used to point the way in or out (make up your mind before you go in so that you’re not confusing yourself with inconsistent signage.
- Drilling – If you’ve got a particularly deep system of caves that double-back and overlap, “drill” some 1×1 ladder holes or 2×2 staircases in any location. They’re convenient fast-access points to the surface or other tunnels. As long as you can find your way back to the surface, you’re bound to be able to get back to your home.
- Clean-up – If you’ve got a lot of time to burn, and you really want to be able to get home in one piece, dig out the tunnels so that they follow a nice pattern with decent lights and stairs.