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Stardew Valley beginner’s guide

Tips for patch 1.5

A screenshot from Stardew Valley Image: ConcernedApe via Polygon

Stardew Valley is a farming sim that has gone through several changes since its first release back in 2016. Each update brings quality of life improvements, new features, and other surprises. Regardless of those changes, some advice will always remain the same.

In this Stardew Valley beginner’s guide, we’ll share tips, tricks, and good habits that will cover all versions of the game, no matter what platform you’re playing on. As the game gets updated across all versions, we’ll update this guide accordingly.

Which farm type should you choose?

At the start of the game, you have to choose the type of farm you want. All farms are capable of growing each type of crop, so the main difference in each style is the layout and special features.

Here are the types of farms you can choose from:

  • The Standard Farm is the default option. It’s a simple design with plenty of space for you to experiment with. Beginners should start with this farm.
  • The Riverland Farm is more of a set of islands, than it is a plot of land. This layout features plenty of water and has more fish than other types of farms.
  • The Forest Farm is packed with trees which may limit your ability to farm at first. However once you clear most of them out, you’ll have access to more wood than any other type of farm.
  • The Hill-Top Farm features a winding river that carves its way through your farm, limiting your design options. The upside is a mineral deposit on your land that you can take advantage of for resources.
  • The Wilderness Farm is a basic plot of land with a dark twist. By day, it’s what you’d expect from any farm, but at night, creatures roam around your land.
  • The Four Corners Farm is split up into four discrete sections. Each is different, so choose this if you’re doing a large co-op game.
  • The Beach Farm is great if you like plenty of open space and are proficient at fishing. However, if you choose this plot, be prepared to manually water your crops as you can’t use sprinklers on sand.

Essential tips for first time farmers

There are dozens of things to know when you’re first starting Stardew Valley that it can get overwhelming. To help you adjust to farm life, here’s some advice for players getting started for the very first time.

Watch TV every morning

Your cabin comes equipped with a TV that has a few channels that deliver daily information and tips. Check your TV every morning to learn the following:

  • Weather Report lets you know what the weather will be like tomorrow. Keep an eye out for rainy days. When it’s pouring, you won’t have to water your plants, which saves you stamina. Use that excess energy for adventuring in the mines, foraging, or clearing out your land.
  • Fortune Teller is a channel that tells you what your luck will be like today. On days with good luck, you’ll have better success pulling items out of trash cans or finding rare items in the mines.
  • Livin’ Off The Land gives you general gameplay tips and advice.

There are also two other TV channels that get unlocked later in the game.

Sell those free parsnips for potatoes

One of your very first quests in your Journal is the “Getting Started” task. This small mission requires you to “cultivate and harvest a parsnip.” When you first start the game, you get a handful of parsnip seeds you can use to accomplish this goal.

An item shop screen from Stardew Valley
Sell those free parsnips for potatoes
Image: ConcernedApe via Polygon

To complete the quest, you just need to cultivate and harvest a single parsnip. So plant one, then take the rest of your seeds to Pierre’s shop in the center of town. Sell the rest of your seeds and buy a crop with a more lucrative yield: potatoes.

The profit margin on parsnips is $15, whereas potatoes will net you $30. Not only that, spuds have a chance to give you two potatoes per harvest, increasing your profits even further. Selling all but one of your parsnips seeds at the start for potatoes is a great strategy to make a little extra money right at the beginning of the game.

Make 3x3 patches when starting out

When you first begin clearing out your farm, it may be difficult envisioning how you want to layout your farm. To make things easier in the beginning, start with making 3x3 grids with your hoe.

A big farm in Stardew Valley
The 3x3 grid in action
Image: ConcernedApe

This grid pattern will be beneficial in the long run as you get more items like scarecrows, sprinklers, walking paths, and more. Those items are key for players looking to optimize their daily farming tasks and multiple 3x3 layouts will get the most benefit from them.

Setting up small plots of land in this way allows you to categorize and split up your crops too. You may want to put crops that have a shorter cultivation time closer to your cabin and ones with longer grow times farther away for simplicity’s sake.

Know your seasons

Each season in the game is 28 in-game days. It’s important to keep track of the seasons and how long each crop takes to cultivate. If you’re still growing a seasonal crop and the seasons turn over, those crops will instantly go bad.

Pay attention to what day you’re in during a season, especially when planting crops that can take up to two in-game weeks to grow. You don’t want to start a new season with a bunch of dead crops you can’t sell.

Get some scarecrows

Scarecrows are an item you can craft early on. Just like their real life counterparts, they will keep crows off of your crops, saving you money. They cover an 8x8 circular region, so place them in the center of your plots.

If you don’t protect your crops, crows will periodically come onto your farm and eat your crops. While they won’t ravage your farm if left ignored, losing a handful of crops is still a waste of money and time. A few well placed scarecrows will protect your precious crops and there’s no reason not to have them.

Tips for the mines

While Stardew Valley is mostly a fun romp filled with farming and making friends, there’s also action to be had. The mines feel less like a farming sim and more like an adventure game, complete with sword swinging and enemies to defeat. Outside of the thrill of battle, there’s also important resources you can find like copper, iron, and gold ore. You’ll need these to build more advanced tools like sprinklers and tool upgrades.

A screenshot of the mines from Stardew Valley
Trade in your farm tools for swords
Image: ConcernedApe

Keep in mind that as you go deeper into the mines, there’s an elevator back to the surface every five floors, with bonus items every 10 floors. Use that knowledge to determine how far you should go during each trip. If you exit via the ladder on the floor you’re on, that will immediately make you exit the mines.

For first time miners, the biggest thing to keep in mind is staying alive. If you lose all your health or run out of energy, you’ll leave the mine and lose some or all of your resources you gathered.

Small tips to make farm life easier

When setting up your first plots for growing, start your first batch of crops near a body of water. Doing so will make your daily watering of crops go by so much quicker if you can quickly refill your watering can near your crops. In time, you’ll develop your own time-saving tactics, but this is a great habit to start off with.

A screenshot of the chest screen in Stardew Valley
Chests add massive storage
Image: ConcernedApe via Polygon

Create chests as soon as you can while your backpack size is small. Once you start clearing out your farm, buying new seeds, and begin foraging, you’ll quickly run out of space. You can create a chest as long as you have 50 wood on you. You can also place them wherever you like.

Make at least one chest as soon as you can so you can deposit materials on your farm. You may even want to place another near town, perhaps near Pierre’s shop, so you can drop off materials you forage will running around.

You can then grab all those items back and sell them directly to Pierre. You’ll always have things going in and out of your pockets, like materials, foraging items, and crops. You start the game with very limited inventory space. Having several chests makes room in your backpack and prevents issues where you cannot grab items because you ran out of space to carry them.

The next best way to manage your items is to buy the backpack upgrades at Pierre’s shop. The first upgrade costs $2,000. The larger your backpack, the more you can carry. Having more inventory space is essential once you get into foraging and adventuring in the mines.

A screenshot highlighting two worms in Stardew Valley
Worms are hard to spot. Look for their wiggle!
Image: ConcernedApe via Polygon

Keep an eye out for worms. They are often hard to spot, but if you see some crawling in the dirt, dig them up with your hoe. Doing so will reveal an item like a book or an artifact. Books can be read at the museum and artifacts can be donated there as well.

There are several important days that happen throughout the year in Stardew Valley. From the changing of seasons to events that take place on certain days. There’s a calendar’s worth of days to keep track of, but here are three important days to know about each week:

  • Pierre’s shop is closed every Wednesday
  • The Travelling Merchant who sells rare items is around every Friday and Sunday
  • The cooking channel teaches a free recipe every Sunday

Finally, fixing the bridge on the beach will open up a large section of land that is great for foraging. The shells and other items from the sea that spawn here every so often are great for selling for a good chunk of change every week. Fixing the bridge requires 300 pieces of wood.

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