Biome-fest Day 1!

For this portion of my blog I’m going to be talking about the multiple biomes. There are several so I’m going to break it up into a few days.

So for day one I’ll be talking about the majestic SWAMPLAND


The swampland is one of the better places to settle near. There are resources everywhere and many of the harder to find resources are more abundant (such as clay.) This is the only biome that lily pads spawn in. Lilly pads can be collected and replaced then walked on thus making them useful for a nice natural looking bridge. The swamp is also a useful place to collect vines if you have a pair of shears to use. Vines act the same as a ladder except they continue growing to the ground. Swamps also grow mushrooms abundantly so it is a good place to collect those. The elusive slime mobs also naturally spawn here.  Witch huts also appear in swamps so if you are still playing early game it is a good place to collect a cauldron or build a quick shelter.

Witch hut.

Just make sure there isn’t a witch around.



I’m assuming if you have been playing for a while you know about creative mode, the mode where you can fly and have infinite amounts of any block. While this mode can be helpful in a normal world, to build massive builds and sprawling cities the easiest way to do it is with a superflat world.

It’s flat.

These worlds are not fit for mining, since they are only about 4 blocks deep but they are great for building on. They are very easy to customize and come loaded with presets.



Also notice the coding box. This can be used to make your own custom Superflat world. At first it might look like a bunch of numbers but it is really quite organized and simple once you get to know it.

Let’s use the code taken from Minecraft Wiki:

2;48,250x0,49,78:2;3;stronghold(count=7),village(size=0 distance=9),decoration,dungeon,mineshaft

It consists of the following elements:

  • 2 — version number.
  • 48,250x0,49,78:2 — comma-separated list of block IDs.
    • 48 — one layer of Mossy Cobblestone on layer 0.
    • 250x0 — 250 layers of air, from layer 1 to layer 250.
    • 49 — one layer of obsidian, on layer 251.
    • 78:2 — one layer of thicker-than-usual snow, on layer 252.
  • 3 — biome ID, in this case Extreme Hills.
  • stronghold(count=7),village(size=0 distance=9),decoration,dungeon,mineshaft — a comma-separated list of structures.
    • stronghold(count=7) — this will populate the world with seven strongholds at the default distance and spread. In this preset, these will appear in mid-air.
    • village(size=0 distance=9) — since Extreme Hills is an invalid biome for villages, this will do nothing.
    • decoration — biome-specific decoration.
    • dungeon — activates dungeons.
    • mineshaft — activates mineshafts at the default placement frequency. These will appear in mid-air as the preset contains 250 layers of air.

Also there is a code generator if you’re lazy.

The cool thing about playing Minecraft on PC compared to the other systems it comes on is that PC Minecraft can be modded and changed. I already talked about mods, but one cool thing is texture packs. These change the way Minecraft looks and can completely change the atmosphere of the game. For example here is a few shots of my castle.




Dragon Dance

Dragon Dance


OCD by disco

OCD by disco


John Smith Legacy

John Smith Legacy


To install these press Esc then navigate to your Options menu. From there you go to the lower left hand corner and click Texture Packs. In that menu click Open Texture Pack Folder.

Next you have to download some Texture packs. Here are the textures I used.

From there take the .zip file (the stack of books) and drag it into the Texture Pack folder. Now just select the pack you want and play!

Minecraft Snapshot 13w16a

Minecraft 13w16a was released this week! Download it here.

  • Added horses
  • Added carpets
  • Added new saddles and horse armor
  • Improved respiration enchantment
  • Added leashes
  • Added hay bales

Note this is a snapshot so the work done on it isn’t yet complete. To run the sew software, simply download it to a place you can find it and run it just like a normal program.

For more info:


At this point in the game you might be wondering what the little green bar at the bottom of your screen is for.

The answer is…

That’s right. You can use your MAGIC to cast enchantments on your tools and weapons. To do this you will need a few things.

  • An enchanting table. Easy to craft if you are later in the game. 
  • Bookcases. This is one of the more interesting parts of enchanting. Your enchanting table needs to be surrounded in bookcases to be efficient. To make these you need a lot of cows for leather and a lot of sugar cane for paper.
  •  Enchanting points. This is the green number between your health and hunger bars.
  • A tool or weapon to enchant.

Going back to the bookcases, you want to get your table to a level high enough that you can cast level 30 enchantments.

Most efficient bookcase layout

There are different ways of doing this but there is one way that is most efficient. (see photo)

There are a few things that can be enchanted. Pickaxes, swords, axes, shovels, armor, shears, fishing rods flint and steel and bows.

See table below for a full guide to enchanting from Minecraft wiki.

EID Items Name Effect Max


Protection enchantments stack, up to an upper limit cap. See Armor for details.
0 Grid Diamond Helmet.pngGrid Diamond Leggings.pngGrid Diamond Chestplate.pngGrid Diamond Boots.png Protection
[note 1]
Reduces damage except from The Void,Hunger and the/kill command IV See Armor.
1 Grid Diamond Helmet.pngGrid Diamond Leggings.pngGrid Diamond Chestplate.pngGrid Diamond Boots.png Fire Protection
[note 1]
Protection against fire damage; extinguishes fire faster IV See Armor.
2 Grid Diamond Boots.png Feather Falling Protection against fall damage IV See Armor. Feather Falling also reduces the fall damage from Ender Pearlteleportations.
3 Grid Diamond Helmet.pngGrid Diamond Leggings.pngGrid Diamond Chestplate.pngGrid Diamond Boots.png Blast Protection
[note 1]
Protection againstexplosiondamage; reduces explosion recoil IV See Armor.
4 Grid Diamond Helmet.pngGrid Diamond Leggings.pngGrid Diamond Chestplate.pngGrid Diamond Boots.png Projectile Protection
[note 1]
Protection against damage from projectile entities (i.e., arrows and ghast/blaze fireballs) IV See Armor.
5 Grid Diamond Helmet.png Respiration Decreases the rate of air loss underwater; increases time between damage while suffocating and drowning III Underwater breathing time +15 seconds per level; time between suffocation damage +1 second per level.
6 Grid Diamond Helmet.png Aqua Affinity Increases underwater mining rate I Breaking blocks underwater is allowed at regular speed, though the player can not be floating to achieve the full effect.
7 Grid Diamond Helmet.png[note 2]
Grid Diamond Chestplate.pngGrid Diamond Leggings.png[note 2]
Grid Diamond Boots.png[note 2]
Thorns Chance of dealing damage to mobs or players attacking the wearer:1 (Half Heart.svg)-4 (Heart.svgHeart.svg); Extra wear on the armor III Chance of damage is 15% per level.
34 Grid Diamond Helmet.png[note 2]
Grid Diamond Leggings.png[note 2]
Grid Diamond Chestplate.png[note 2]
Grid Diamond Boots.png[note 2]
Unbreaking Increases durability III (60 + 40/(Level+1))% chance a use reduces durability. On average, armor lasts 20%-30% longer.


16 Grid Diamond Sword.pngGrid Diamond Axe.png[note 2] Sharpness
[note 3]
Extra damage V
[note 4]
Adds 0.5 to 1.25 * Sharpness enchantment level, rounded down to half hearts damage randomly to every hit (as of version 1.5.1).
17 Grid Diamond Sword.pngGrid Diamond Axe.png[note 2] Smite
[note 3]
Extra damage to zombies,zombie pigmen,withers andskeletons V 0.5 to 2 hearts extra damage per level randomly for every hit. (Still available in 1.5.1 check for further patches)
18 Grid Diamond Sword.pngGrid Diamond Axe.png[note 2] Bane of Arthropods[note 3] Extra damage to spiderscave spiders andsilverfish V 0.5 to 2 hearts extra damage per level randomly for every hit.
19 Grid Diamond Sword.pngGrid Diamond Axe.png[note 2] Knockback Increases knockback II More knockback at level II. Does not combine with knockback caused by attacking while sprinting.
20 Grid Diamond Sword.pngGrid Diamond Axe.png[note 2] Fire Aspect
[note 5]
Lights the target on fire II Level affects duration of burning. Dropped meat will be cooked.
21 Grid Diamond Sword.pngGrid Diamond Axe.png[note 2] Looting Mobs have a chance to drop more loot III +1 to max loot drop per level. This also increases the chance of getting a rare drop.
34 Grid Diamond Sword.png[note 2] Unbreaking Increases durability III (100/(Level+1))% chance a use reduces durability. On average lifetime is (Level+1) times as long.


32 Grid Diamond Pickaxe.pngGrid Diamond Shovel.pngGrid Diamond Axe.pngGrid Shears.png[note 2] Efficiency Faster resource gathering while in use V
[note 4]
+30% mining speed over the previous level: I=130%, II=169%, III=220%, IV=286%, V=371%. The speed increase applies to all blocks that when mined, will drop an item. Using the wrong tool will not provide as much of a speed boostVerify.
33 Grid Diamond Pickaxe.pngGrid Diamond Shovel.pngGrid Diamond Axe.pngGrid Shears.png[note 2] Silk Touch
[note 6]
Mined blocks will drop their block form instead of any other block as long as their mining requirements are met. I Allows the mining of normally unobtainable blocks [note 7].
34 Grid Diamond Pickaxe.pngGrid Diamond Shovel.pngGrid Diamond Axe.pngGrid Diamond Hoe.png[note 2]
Grid Shears.png[note 2]
Grid Fishing Rod.png[note 2]
Grid Flint and Steel.png[note 2]
Grid Carrot on a Stick.png[note 2]
Unbreaking Increases durability III (100/(Level+1))% chance a use reduces durability. On average lifetime is (Level+1) times as long.
35 Grid Diamond Pickaxe.png
Grid Diamond Shovel.pngGrid Diamond Axe.png
[note 6]
Increases the drop rate of items from blocks III For coaldiamondemeraldquartz and lapis lazuli, level I gives a 33% chance to multiply drops by 2 (averaging 33% increase), level II gives a 25% chance each to multiply drops by 2 or 3 (averaging 75% increase), and level III gives a 20% chance each to multiply drops by 2, 3 or 4 (averaging 120% increase). For redstonecarrots,glowstonemelonsnether warttall grass, and wheat (seeds only), each level increases the drop maximum by +1 (+2 for tall grass, maximum 4 for glowstone and 9 for melons). For gravel, the drop rate of flint is increased to 14% at level I, 25% at level II, and 100% at level III.


34 Grid Bow.png[note 2] Unbreaking Increases durability III (100/(Level+1))% chance a use reduces durability. On average lifetime is (Level+1) times as long.
48 Grid Bow.png Power Extra damage V
[note 4]
I=150%, II=175%, III=200%, IV=225%, V=250% damage. A fully drawn Power IV bow will kill most mobs with a single shot (10-11 hearts damage).
49 Grid Bow.png Punch Increases knockback II Mobs and players are knocked back farther at level II.
50 Grid Bow.png Flame
[note 5]
Sets arrows, mobs, and players on fire I Sets arrows on fire when shot, and players and mobs when hit. Applies after initial damage like Fire Aspect. Applied fire also ignites TNT, making it useful if you want to blow something up from a distance.
51 Grid Bow.png Infinity Shooting consumes no arrows I Firing requires at least one arrow in inventory, but does not use it up. Fired arrows cannot be retrieved, except in creative mode.

Also worth noting is that books can now be enchanted. If the enchantment is applicable to the tool you are enchanting, the book and weapon can be combined at an anvil. Also here’s a calculator to see what your enchanting probabilities are. Note the level asked for is the enchantment level in the enchanting interface not your level.

Making Brewskis.

If you find these, grab them.

If you find these, grab them.

So if you have been wandering around a nether fortress for a while, you have probably come across a few red mushrooms growing by a staircase. These are netherwart, the base ingredient of potion making. Simply break these to collect them. They can be planted in the overworld, but they need to be planted in soul sand.

Of course to start brewing, you’ll need to make a brewing stand. Simple to craft if you have a blaze rod on hand.

Brewin' Stand

Brewin’ Stand

Next you will need to make some bottles to keep the potions in. You can make 3 bottles in the same way a bucket is made, but with glass blocks instead of iron. You can also fill them with water in the same way a bucket is filled. If you are far from a water source a cauldron can come in handy. Once you have some full water bottles, place them in the bottom 3 slots of the brewing interface, like so:

Add some netherwart to the top and you're set!

Add some netherwart to the top and you’re set!

If you place netherwart in the top slot you will wind up with an awkward potion. This is the base potion for making all other types of potions. If you don’t start with an awkward potion, you will usually only wind up with a worthless potion.

There are many ingredients that have different effects on a potion and I will get to that later, but right now I’m going to talk about the three ingredients that alter the way a potion works.

  • Redstone increases the duration of a potion’s effect. 
  • Glowstone dust increases the potency of a potion.
  • Gunpowder makes a regular potion into a splash potion, making it throwable. More useful for poisons.

As far as what ingredients do what, here is a handy chart.

Neat huh? Experiment around with brewing. I’m partial to the potion of fire resistance. Try in the nether sometime.

Modding. Make your own game.

Modding is one of the things that makes PC Minecraft so much more popular than any other form of the game. Modding is short for modifying, or modifying the game. It can be a confusing and even dangerous thing to try so be careful and follow this guide closely.

I personally use MCPatcher for modding. It makes it simple and does most of the work for you.

The MCPatcher interface

If you mess up, it also has the Unpatch button which restores minecraft.jar (the file containing everything that makes the game work.)

Since modding is altering the way the game works it can be dangerous. You will want to back up your worlds before starting the modding process. A guide to backing up saves.

To add a mod press the “+” button found towards the bottom. Once you have all the mods you want on press “Patch.”

Here’s a few useful mods to get you started.

Timber Mod-knocks down the whole tree instead of single blocks! Requires Modloader.

Rei’s Minimap-get a minimap added the the HUD

X-Ray mod- see through blocks to find ores!

Assuming you’re using MCPatcher, simply click “+” add the RAR file (what the mod is stored in) make sure it is checked then start Minecraft! Make sure when you do patch though that Minecraft is closed.

Another important note, MAKE SURE THE MOD YOU ARE USING IS FOR THE CURRENT VERSION OF MINECRAFT! This can be found on the bottom left hand corner of the home menu screen.

Brewing is coming up tomorrow.

Nether Fortresses: Instant Death.

At the end of my last post, I put in a picture of a strange

dark structure in the nether. It’s a dangerous place to go into if you don’t know what it is, or go in unprepared. It is a nether fortress, extremely difficult to find (unless you get lucky) but they do spawn in strategic patterns. Just explore around for a while and you should find one. I usually leave a cobblestone breadcrumb trail so I can find my way back to the portal though.

Once inside there are some tough enemies, some of the toughest enemies in the game. These enemies drop essential items however that you will need later in the game.I’d definitely make some armor before going in. Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll find inside.

Widely considered the worst enemy in the game. They are annoying, they set things on fire, and can see you and shoot fireballs at you from super far away. You can deflect their fire balls back at them with a sword with a pretty low chance of actually hitting them, but your best bet is to use a bow and arrow. You’ll know you hit one if you suddenly hear the sound of a child dying. If you don’t have a bow or a sword, there is always this old technique:


The most useful enemy in the Nether for sure. When killed they have a chance of dropping a blaze rod which we will use later to make a brewing stand. Blazes have spawn cages in certain areas in the fortress and I recommend not destroying the cage. You want blazes to spawn because you will want as many blaze rods as you can get your hands on later in the game. They can be a tough enemy to kill since they can fly and shoot fireballs. Your best bet would be to use a bow again on these, but if you have a sword you can charge on one too and hopefully kill it before it kills you.

Wither Skeletons.

 These guys can be tough, like everything else in the nether. They fight very similar to a zombie, except with a sword and they afflict the wither effect which can kill you prretty quickly. They have lower heath compared to every other Nether mob though. They have an extremely low chance of dropping their skull to which can be used to summon the Wither-daddy later.

So there you have it. The things that can and will kill you in a Nether fortress. In my next post though I will tell you about a technique to stay alive longer in the Nether; brewing.

Go to Hell.

What is this mysterious structure?

What is this mysterious structure?

So at this point in the game I have found diamonds.



So that’s pretty cool but what do I do with them?  There are a few things. If you find diamonds while you are still pretty early in the game, I would recommend first building a diamond pickaxe. It is the fastest, most durable pickaxe in the game and the only pick capable of mining out obsidian. I’ll go through more uses of diamond later but those are more late-game topics.

So obsidian is a tough material that takes forever to mine at 9.38 seconds per block with a diamond pick. If any other pick is used it take a whopping 4 minutes to break a single block. It’s somewhat hard to find naturally, but it’s pretty easy to create. Obsidian is formed when flowing water hits a lava source block or lava that isn’t flowing. Basically you dump out a bucket of water over a lava pit and KAPOOYA! You created obsidian!

One of the main purposes of obsidian is for creating a portal to hell.

Basically a nether portal is built by placing a 4×5 rectangle of obsidian with a 2×3 hole in the center. Note the corner blocks are not necessary. To activate the portal, light a fire in the opening with a flint and steel. Refer to the photo to the left for a schematic.

Also known as “The Nether” to keep Minecraft rated E, this is the most difficult area to survive in. Honestly, there isn’t a ton to do in the Nether, but there are a few vital things to collect.

Fire, brimstone etc.

Fire, brimstone etc.

First, there’s netherrack. This is the red stone that is pretty much seen everywhere. It’s just an ordinary block other than the fact that when it is lit on fire, the fire won’t ever go out unless the player puts it out. Also it can be smelted to create a nether brick. The brownish block with the texture that kind of looks like faces is called soul sand. This is primarily used for farming nether wart which I will get to in a second.

Nether quartz

Quarts of Nether quartz.

There is one type of ore that can be mined in the nether as of 1.5, nether quartz. For every block of nether quartz mined out, you get a piece of nether quartz. 4 of these (in a square) are needed to make a block of quartz. Until we get to redstone however, nether quartz won’t serve much of a purpose.


Lastly there is glowstone that can be mined out. The blocks break upon mining so they are built in the same way that  quartz blocks are built. These blocks are light source blocks and are the only light source block that functions underwater.

Keep an eye out for dark blocks like in the picture below.

A dangerous place.

A dangerous place.

You’ll be opening up a whole new can of worms by going anywhere near them. I’ll save that for next time.

Mine of the Century

I found a mineshaft.

This is no ordinary mineshaft, this is the biggest mineshaft I’ve ever seen.

The abandoned mineshaft I stumbled upon.

The abandoned mineshaft I stumbled upon.

It’s an abandoned mineshaft. A really, really big one. These randomly generated structures are pretty rare and usually spawn deep underground, making them tough to find.

If you ever come across one, MAKE SURE YOU’RE PREPARED! There are some serious hazards in these abandoned mines that will destroy you quickly if you aren’t ready for them. The mine will still be there after you prepare.

I prepared by making myself a bow.

How to bow.

How to bow.

Chances are you have a few arrows laying around from all those skeletons you’ve been killing. If not they can be crafted with a feather, a flint and a stick. Bows are great since you don’t have to get near enemies, significantly reducing the damage you take.

First of the hazards found in the mineshafts are the cave spiders. They have a nasty bite that will poison you if you are playing on normal or higher.

Nasty little spawners.

They are pretty small too, so they can squeeze through a single block opening. The spider webs surrounding the spawner (the cage looking thing) make it tough to get to it to break it. Two often appear next to each other, making it even more tough. Handle these with caution.

Another hazard of mineshafts is that they often intersect with other spawn dungeons. This is not always the case but it is best to proceed cautiously until you have swept through the whole mine.

Despite the hazards, the benefits of exploring abandoned mineshafts are huge.



Chests in minecarts can be found spread throughout the shafts and can sometimes have rare items in them. A few notable items are diamonds, melon seeds, and enchanted books (I’ll talk about these in a minute.) The enchanted books found in these chests can ONLY be found in abandoned mineshafts so they are EXTREMELY RARE. Don’t lose them!

Along with the chests there are many exposed ore veins, making mining fast and easy. In the 3 hours I spent exploring a single abandoned mine, I found 160+ iron ore and 50 gold ore. I also found a few diamonds in a chest.

Now what to do with all that iron you found. I suppose you probably want to use those nifty enchanted books you found too. What you need is an anvil.

An anvil. Listen for the loud TING.

An anvil. Listen for the loud TING.

They’re pretty expensive to make, costing 31 iron ingots total to make, and an anvil only has a limited amount of uses. Yet it is the only way to apply an enchanted book to a weapon. The anvil can also be used to repair weapons using the corresponding material. Every repair/ enchantment has a enchantment cost. This is what the EXP bar is for. The green number on the HUD is your level. This is how many enchantment points you have. If you don’t have enough, go kill some enemies or mine coal.