your first steps in minecraft survival

What Should You Do First in Minecraft Survival? (Pro tips)

I recently introduced a friend to the game, and I remembered how difficult it is to start playing Minecraft in survival mode when it’s one of our first games. After searching a bit on the internet, I couldn’t find anything detailed enough to help beginners, so I intend to solve this problem in this complete guide that will teach you how to start your games.

There is no time to lose when starting a Minecraft game, the first day is crucial. During the first few minutes, you will have to collect wood, stone and food to hope to survive the first night (when monsters will spawn).

This doesn’t help you much right now, but don’t worry, this is just an introduction, I’ll take all the time I need now to explain each step.

Know what to expect

The first thing you need to know before starting the game is what to expect in your first game.

Is Minecraft a difficult game?

Minecraft is not a particularly difficult game, but the problem is that the hardest part of the single player game is in the first few minutes.
Indeed, after 1 hour of play, you will usually have a comfortable equipment, that allows you to resist most risks.
But as a good survival game, you start your game on Minecraft with nothing, no protection, no weapon, no food :/

Moreover, there is a system of recipes on Minecraft, it is one of the great strengths of the game, but which poses a problem to the beginners because that is new and that there are several recipes (or crafts) to make from the beginning of the game.

My goal today will be to guide you through those crucial first minutes of your first game in which you won’t die (yes, big challenge ^^).

The risks of the first days

But what are these risks? Here are the main ones you will have to face:

  • There is a rather realistic time system in the game, you start in the early morning. The problem is that at nightfall, monsters will appear. If you are not ready to deal with them you will die very quickly (after 10 minutes to be precise)
  • Often you will waste time at the beginning, testing your moves and visiting the map. Unfortunately, this is not the right time for that, as said before, you only have 10 minutes to be ready, so if you spend 10 minutes walking around it’s lost in advance
  • There are recipes to know for the first items to create, if you have no idea what to do and how you will die too 🙂

Anyway I think that’s enough for now.
You will have understood that it is not so much a question of difficulty, but of knowledge to have.
And so, it can be solved easily by reading the rest of the article 🙂

My advices in short

I’ll go into these points in more detail later, but for the first 10 minutes of the game, here’s what you should focus on:

  • Collect some logs immediately
  • Make your first pickaxe and then mine stone quickly
  • Make the first stone tools
  • Stock up on wood and food
  • Get to safety underground as soon as possible

In order to best guide you through this article, I did a game myself, taking notes of the exact steps I was taking, in what order and even at what time in Minecraft I was doing it.
This allows you to have precise information, in quantity, time and I hope in quality 🙂

Are you really ready?

Here are a few things to check before you start.
I imagine you are eager to get started, but these 2/3 minutes “lost” now, will help you a lot later on

Setting your options

When you first start the game, the first thing to do is to go to the game options.
Make sure that all the settings are correct according to your configuration and preferences:

  • In the main menu, click on “Options”.
  • Start by setting the language if necessary, this is in “Language” if your game is already in French, or “Language” if it is in English (this is the default I think)
  • Then in “Music & Sounds” it may be a good idea to lower the volume of non-essential things, or even turn off some of them completely (I always turn off the game music personally)
  • Use a resource pack if you want slightly different graphics (see my article on pack suggestions here)
  • If you have an old PC, a trip to the graphics options can be useful (see my guide on how to deal with slowness in Minecraft  for extreme cases)

I’ll tell you right after how to test all this without harming your first game.

The controls

A frequent mistake is also to start a game in survival before knowing the keys to perform the different basic actions.
If you take 3 minutes to find out how to move forward, you will not have an excellent game:

  • Go back to “Options”
  • Then click on “Controls”
  • Look at the list of keys and adjust if needed by clicking on the key associated with a movement, then pressing the new key to use for that action
  • I usually change only one option on a new installation of Minecraft: I disable the auto-jump.
    But you might need to change more things depending on your preferences and keyboard layout (the default controls are good for QWERTY keyboards, not really for the other ones).

Once these changes are made, you can validate, and we will immediately test if it works.

Testing your options

The best way to make sure that all this is working for you, is to create a new game in creative mode.
The creative game mode allows you to play in a more relaxed way, since none of the risks listed above exist in this mode.

Here is the procedure to start the game in creative mode:

  • In the main menu, click on “Solo”
  • Now press “Create a new world” to create your first game

Maybe you don’t need this step if you don’t have any existing world.

  • In the form that appears, enter the name of the world (“Test” for example)
  • Double-click on the “Game Mode: Survival” button so that “Game Mode: Creative” appears on the screen
  • Click on “Create a new world”.

And so, your game starts. Try to move, break and place blocks.
Make sure your other modified options are correct too (graphics in particular).

If everything is OK, quit the game (“Esc”) and move on to the next part of this article.
If not, click on “Esc” and go back to the options to adjust it until everything is perfect.

Tips for survival

I’ve already given you quite a few tips, and we haven’t even started a game yet.
I’ll add two more so that you’re absolutely ready to deal with what’s ahead:

  • The Pause Screen: If you have tested the Creative World you have already experienced it, but it is important to know about the Pause menu. By pressing “Esc”, your game freezes, allowing you to come and read the rest of this article or to look for particular information on the Internet:

    During this time you do not lose the first precious minutes and do not risk anything, take advantage of it.
  • The Minecraft Wiki: Even though many things are explained in this guide, you may have other questions, for example about recipes. The Wiki will have answers to all of them, and will be a great ally for your first days of play.  
    Here is the link:
    Search for a keyword in the search engine, and you will get all the information.

The first few minutes of your game: get to the point

Let’s finally get down to business with explanations on how to successfully complete your first few minutes of play.

Create your first world

Let’s start immediately by creating the game:

  • In the main menu, click on “Solo”
  • Then on “Create a world”
  • Choose a world name and select the survival mode
  • It is possible to configure advanced options, but for the moment don’t worry about it
  • Click on “Create a new world” to start generating your game

Top start

That’s it, the first images appear, and we feel a little lost.
But as you know, the first minutes are crucial, this is not the time to ask yourself questions.

An ideal location to start

In the rest of this article I’ll give you some time indicators, so you know where you stand in relation to me.
As you can see on the top right of my screen, the time is indicated, the game starts at 6:00 am.
At 12:00 the sun is 90° above you, and the closer it gets to the horizon the later it is.

Even if it is normal to be a little late compared to me, being too late can complicate the rest of your game;
Here are the first things to do:

  • Walk around yourself to make sure you see some trees nearby, on a deserted island, you will have far too much trouble getting started.
    If you’re lucky, you might even see some animals in range (like in my picture).
  • Go to the first tree and tap on the trunk.
    The goal is to collect 5 logs which will be used to make the first recipes (keep the left mouse click pressed)
  • It is already time to make the first crafts:
    • Turn your logs into planks

      Click on “E” to open the inventory, and place the logs in the 2 × 2 square at the top of the screen
    • Build your first workbench and place it on the ground

      A right click on this block will give you access to a 3 × 3 grid for your crafts
    • Turn some planks into sticks

      18 sticks is ideal to start with, keep the rest as boards for now
    • Create your first pickaxe, it will be made of wood

And that was your first goal.
With this pickaxe, you will be able to collect stone and create stronger tools.

It’s 7 o’clock in my game, I have my wooden pickaxe in hand, and I’m ready to continue the adventure.
I hope you are also in the very first seconds of your game

The essential equipment

Your second objective is to create the stone tools, which will accompany you for this first day.

  • If you see a stone, go for it and pick up 9 blocks
    If not, you’ll have to dig a little in the ground to discover the stone, usually hidden under 3 blocks of earth
  • Once you have collected 9 blocks of cobblestone, go back to your workbench and make the following stone tools: pickaxe, shovel, axe and sword.

Here are the crafts you must follow:

It’s 8:30 by my watch, one minute has passed for you from the wooden pickaxe if all goes well.
You have accomplished this second goal!

Refuel: pick up 8 stones and 8 logs, then get your workbench.
You’re likely to get lost in the next few seconds, so you might as well not leave anything behind.

The harvest is much faster than the first time with your new tools (remember to use the stone axe for these new logs).

We equip ourselves: the objectives before the night

Once our stone tools in hand and our stock of stone and wood, we can finally enjoy a few minutes of the landscape.
If you are very late on my schedule, you should not drag too much:

  • Explore the surroundings, see what you can find interesting around you
  • Your priority is to find animals and kill them.
    I didn’t put it in the list of risks, but it is possible to die of hunger.
    So make sure you have a few steaks in advance before hiding for the night.
  • If by chance you are in high mountains, and you have stone in the open, see if you can find iron or coal to recover on the surface, that will be one less thing you will need later.
    A natural cave entrance can also be a good plan, but don’t venture into the dark.
  • Then go back to your first hole.
    If you are lost (as expected ^^), don’t waste time, dig a new hole at the lowest point of the area, and go down the stairs.

Even though it might still be daylight if you followed these steps fast enough, we don’t have anything else to do outside for now, we have everything we need.
If it’s dark, and you haven’t found any animals, it’s not a big deal right now, just hide before dark:

The entrance of my cave, we dig in staircase not to take any risk.
Once in your hole, fill up the access to the outside by putting some blocks behind you, that will avoid that a monster attacks you by surprise.

We secure: the objectives of the first two days

Here we are in safety in our tiny cave, no monster can attack us for the moment.
If you hear worrying noises, don’t panic, everything is under control, you are equipped to survive.

Checkpoint : we equip ourselves before the descent

Here are the next steps before you move further:

  • Expand your cave a little, a few blocks are enough
  • Put down your workbench and open the 3 × 3 grid, we are going to make an oven
  • Place the 8 blocks of stone in this way:

    Then recover the oven.
  • Put the oven on the floor
  • If you have collected coal, put it on the bottom.
    If not, put one or two boards in its place.
    Insert your few steaks of meat in the top slot of the oven, like this:

    Wait a few moments while it cooks, and collect your food (cooked food gives you many more hunger points)
  • If you don’t have charcoal, we will prepare charcoal.
    Put a plank on the bottom and a log on top

    After a few seconds, you will get a charcoal.
  • Monsters appear at night, but also in the dark, so we need some torches to prevent them from appearing in our caves.
    In your workbench, put a stick in the middle, and a coal or charcoal just above it:

    You will get 4 torches to use sparingly during the first minutes

It is 4 pm in my part, maybe it is already dark for you, it is not a problem, we will not go out for the moment, the sprint is over.

The descent into the depths of Minecraft

Retrieve your oven and workbench, and continue down the stairs, being careful where you step, and placing a torch every 5/6 steps or so.
Your goal is to descend to layer 12, by stepping down, and collecting the coal and iron you find on your way.
You can see the current layer by pressing F3 and looking at the indication in the upper-left corner:

Boxed in red is your current height, the “layer” under your feet

If you come across larger caves, close them and go in another direction.
We are not equipped to explore caves!

When you come across an iron or coal ore, collect everything you can around it (the whole lode), we’ll need as much as possible.
As soon as you have 3 irons, make your first iron pickaxe.
Bake the iron in your furnace, and make the following craft with the baked iron:

If you don’t have enough torches, make a new charcoal each time, until you find some.

Personally, I was not very lucky, I found neither iron nor coal, it is 7:30 pm in the game and I start to wonder.
I already have to make another stone pickaxe.

But once arrived at layer 20 I discover a cave below me, with a diamond in sight:

Unfortunately, I’m not equipped enough to try this, and the lava doesn’t reassure me much either 🙂
I continue in the opposite direction, too bad.

Finally the layer 12

As you approach layer 12, you might come across some redstone or gold, go around them for now, the stone pickaxe won’t break them, and they will be useless to us.
Once at layer 12, stop going down the stairs and continue in a straight line

I like layer 12 because even if it’s not the most optimized for finding diamonds, it allows nevertheless a good compromise between ores and security (usually lava lakes are below).
This is exactly what we are looking for in these first minutes of the game.

I was not luckier afterwards, it’s only at 6am the next day that I wanted to make my first iron pickaxe

If you made it to 6 hours (about 20 minutes of play), the hardest part is over

Congratulations, you survived your first night on Minecraft without realizing it.
It’s during this first night that 95% of beginners will die, but not you because you will have followed my advice 🙂

What’s next?

The next step may take you more or less time depending on whether you are lucky or not, the main goal is to get better tools and feel much safer anywhere.

Iron armor

Your first goal is going to be to collect a lot of iron.
You have to aim for an iron armor as soon as possible in order to be safe from the monsters.
This will require you to find a lot of iron:

  • 5 for the helmet
  • 8 for the chest plate
  • 7 for the pants
  • 4 for the boots

That’s already 24 irons to mine, without counting the 3 to 6 extra to make new picks while finding all that.
I advise you to avoid making pieces of armor before you have found everything.

As long as you respect my advice (straight line, torches, avoid caves), you are safe here, no need for armor.

Iron tools

Following the same recipes as for the stone tools, you’ll still need some iron to equip yourself with better tools.
3 irons for the axe, 1 for the shovel and 2 for the sword.
This will save you time later on, so it’s worth doing it now.

I also advise you to have 2/3 picks in advance and to make a bucket, which allows you to face the lava lakes more serenely.

What about diamonds ?

You will have to do the same thing with the diamonds, but there is no hurry, it will take you a lot of time for a small gain.
If you manage to make a pickaxe: great, but the rest is not essential

I found a diamond lode while mining my iron, so I could make a diamond pickaxe before the iron armor.
Use the diamond you find while mining for iron, then go back to the surface to finally enjoy the game at a more leisurely pace.
You will just have to come back to mine during the nights, the time to build a house on the surface.


We are on day 2 at 11pm (about 30min of game for you), I have my complete iron equipment and a diamond pickaxe, I am ready to really start my game with my own objectives 🙂

My inventory at the end of this guide

This is the end of this guide to getting started with survival mode in Minecraft.
I hope it was complete enough for you, and that it helped you to overcome this first delicate step in your Minecraft game.

From now on, you are free to set your own goals, settle in a house and watch the monsters through the window that can’t do anything to you 🙂
Have a good game on Minecraft

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