Most of the tools you start the game with can be upgraded into more effective versions, which chop down trees or break rocks with fewer hits, or where you can long-click to water or hoe a larger area. This will help you get your farm moving faster, but you need the right metal. And many of the items you’d like to craft in order to build up your farm - like sprinklers, tappers and kegs - require metal. Until you are filthy rich, the way of getting this is to go Mining. Which also means Combat, although Combat is very simple in this game.
It’s possible to bypass the use of the Mining and Combat Skills by buying coal and ores from Clint the blacksmith. You would still have to put these through a furnace yourself, and you can’t get Iridium from Clint. And you’d probably be buying a lot of stone from Robin. And you won’t get the monster drops that are needed for the Community Centre - though Joja-Corp will be happy just with your money … seriously? Go mining!
When to mine
You can’t get to the mines until the 5th of Spring, Year 1, when you will receive a letter saying that Joja-corp has cleared the path to the mines. When you do go to the mines for the first time an adventurer named Marlon will give you a Rusty Sword. This will suffice for combatting your first few slimes, but you’ll be given better weapons plus armor as you advance.
Rainy days with good TV luck are perfect to go mining as you have not exhausted yourself watering plants and you will find ladders faster. But early in the game, you need to descend to at least floor 80 of The Mines to unlock ore for upgrades and sprinklers, so even sunny days with neutral luck may have to do as long as you are managing your fields well to finish your watering before 9am. Just give yourself plenty of time and take and eat plenty of food.
Where to mine
Mine copper, iron, and gold ore as well as gems and artifacts in "The Mines" in the northeast corner of Stardew Valley. Mine iridium ore and Prismatic Shards in the Skull Cavern at Calico Desert via a Bus ride later in the game.
How to mine
Descent vs. Farming
Your current mining mode determines your choice of strategy. The modes are generally referred to as "descent" and "farming". Your mining strategy depends on which mode you are in.
This page is mostly about strategies for The Mines. In The Mines, you want to pursue rapid descent to unlock the elevator to the floors that hold your desired ore and to upgrade your armor and weapons beyond the ability of the monsters on the floors where you want to farm ore. In rapid descent, you want to unlock 10 or even more floors per long day while ignoring anything that doesn't help you descend. Then you want to pursue farming to get ore, minerals, gems, artifacts, and experience.
In the Skull Cavern, you want to prepare ahead of time with Galaxy Sword if you are lucky or the Lava Katana sword from the Guild, maybe some high power rings, multiple stacks of 999 stones for staircases, and a stack or two of food (maybe special food to boost luck etc) to pursue ultra-rapid descent with Staircases to where your desired materials are abundant. Then you want to switch to farming before you fall asleep at work.
General introduction and strategies
You will be using your pickaxe and bombs to break rocks. It would be very good to recognize copper, iron, and gold ore rocks before trying to descend rapidly. You will be choosing when to avoid monsters and when to use strategic retreat and charge to lure and massacre them when you need to kill them. Take food with you as even a full day’s energy doesn’t last long when you’re breaking rocks in the mines; it also restores your health after fighting with the monsters. In the early floors your energy is the main limitation, but as you get deeper the bigger risk is likely to be the monsters chewing through your health bar, in which case you want to eat something to top it up after every fight. Berries and mushrooms or high-energy crops like Kale and Hops or Salad from the Saloon are good for this but any food will do. With enough food and pro-active management of monsters and health, keeping health topped off, anybody can descend to the bottom without dying.
Keep a chest at the top floor to stockpile food, ore, and weapons and another to hold unnecessary baggage. And ascend to the surface to unload loot as needed.
Every time you arrive at a floor, turn immediately to leave so you can survey the visible part of the floor at leisure and evaluate your prospects with minimal obstruction of your screen.
- Especially if you are in rapid descent mode, read carefully how ladders are spawned so you can make a preliminary or immediate informed judgment about whether you will craft a staircase (eg. spiral floors ending in 9 or infested floors you can afford to bypass) and whether to start breaking rocks.
- If you are just farming, you can be very picky and go to another floor (via the surface if needed) any time you are unimpressed by the prospects. You can do this many times in a day taking only what you want.
- In rapid descent mode, nearly any ingredient or nodes you see for bombs, and certainly convenient ones, are worth breaking as long as you have plenty of food.
- If you are in rapid descent mode and you see a cluster of 3 or more ingredient ore nodes, you will get ahead bomb ore by using a bomb on it, assuming you have plenty of coal.
- Since ladders have a 95% chance of attempting to spawn on load, you may often see a ladder immediately or be able to find one quickly. And since a successful on-load spawn prevents ladders spawning from rocks (not monsters), make sure you aren't wasting time breaking rocks when a ladder is just out of view.
- The chance of rocks spawning ladders (assuming a ladder wasn't successfully spawned in load) starts at 0% to 4% depending on daily luck when there are infinite rocks and increases to 5% to 9% when there are 20 rocks remaining and 100% for the last rock remaining. So generally on a bad luck day you may have to break twice as many rocks or more.
- Unless a floor is "infested" (you will see a skull instead of a floor number), every monster has a 15% chance of spawning a ladder if it dies over an unobstructed tile. This doesn't prevent additional ladders. So if there are endless rocks, it's probably better to kill several monsters over unobstructed tiles. If the floor is infested, it's a good candidate for a Staircase if you can afford one since you won't get a ladder until every monster is gone.
- Once you are at Mining skill 2 (to unlock Staircases; wise before starting a rapid descent), save time and energy by avoiding dark gray rocks and gem nodes.
- If your backpack space is tight, save barrels and crates for farming forays.
- Scan the floor for clusters of mixed rocks but no ladders - especially on a smaller floor that could immediately yield a ladder. You can use a bomb on the cluster to collect stone and find a ladder or improve your remaining chances for a ladder. Make double sure there's no freebie ladder before you waste a bomb or pickaxe energy.
- If you see easy ore nodes for bombs (four copper (about 2 nodes) and one coal make a cherry bomb), take a moment to break them for an average of 2 ore per node (two nodes per bomb).
If the screen goes “glowy” then you’re going to come under attack by several air creatures, which is a good time to run for the ladder (if you are in farming mode) or refill your health bar and just get ready with your sword and your divide and conquer retreat and charge tactics.
If the monsters manage to ‘kill’ you then you will wake up at the top of the mines with minimal health, some items missing from your backpack, and having forgotten some floors of the mine. Effectively it sets you back one or two days worth of mining exploration. This is not the same as falling asleep at work, which merely costs you the service tax and is a viable part of your strategy. Be aware of your health and keep it as high as your skill requires.
If the missing items include your weapon, you can buy others from the adventurer’s guild. The Wooden Sword (250gp) is better than the Rusty Sword. If you haven’t even won access to the Adventurer’s Guild, you may be stuck beating on the enemies with your pickaxe or other tools; this does minimal damage but will eventually net you your 10 slimes.
Every 5th floor in the mine, there is an elevator door, but the elevator will only take you to floors you have already visited. So your goal is usually to take the elevator down to the lowest floor it will take you to, and then get down another 5 floors during this visit. This means that if you uncover a ladder down, take it immediately unless your current goal is advanced by staying on the floor farming ore, rocks, or monsters for a moment or a while. Ladders are more readily found on good fortune days - did you check the forecast on the TV?
You will not always succeed in reaching your next elevator door. Return to the surface if you decide your prospects don't look attractive (big floor, scattered rocks, running out of time, food, or health) and you can't afford to fall asleep working. If you’re tantalisingly close (and have Mining Level 2), you can turn 99 stone into a Staircase, which you can place to create a ladder - however, stone is useful for a lot of other things, so this tactic is mostly for rapid descent mode.
Some floors have a spiral configuration, and if you are farming goodies, work your way right into the centre. There are several crates there you can break open one time only with your weapon. If you are in rapid descent, spiral floors are perfect candidates for a crafted Staircase. Or start hunting monsters over good ladder terrain for 15% chance a piece.
Earth Crystals are found on floors 1-29. Copper is found most in floors 1-39; Iron is common from floor 41-79, and Gold ore is found below that. Most floors are well lit but floors 31-39 are dark until you light them with torches (in farming mode). The Mines go down to floor 120 - at which point you gain a key to the Skull Cavern.
You will find when you go deeper that your pickaxe takes two or even three hits to break many rocks instead of 1. (Obviously ore-bearing rocks and big rocks always take more.) This problem usually goes away when you get Clint to upgrade your pickaxe using some of the ores that are common at these deeper floors. This isn’t an issue in the first few floors, so going from the Copper floors (1 hit with a basic pickaxe) to the Iron floors (3 hits) is rather a shock. But a Copper pickaxe will break the frozen rocks with 2 hits … start upgrading! It’s much faster getting around the mines when your pickaxe will break the rocks in one hit. The Steel pickaxe will also let you clear large boulders from your farm. (If you’re lucky enough to have a Meteorite land on your farm, you’ll need a Gold pickaxe to clear it.)
Initially the fastest route between your house and the mines is via the Backwoods path - north exit from your farm. This takes 50 minutes to an hour. Once you have achieved the Minecarts Repair, via Community Centre or Joja-Corp purchase, you can get there and back a bit faster using the Minecarts to the Bus Stop. By contrast, routes through town take just over an hour and are so difficult and confusing a new player may take around 2 hours, and you want to allow this much time for your homeward trip until you’re sure of your navigation. So an early character and player wants to be in bed by midnight and should be leaving the mines around 10pm, but a well developed character and player can delay leaving the mines until 1am to be in the house by 2am or even fall asleep in the mines and pay the service tax (or keep current gold low).