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How to find the Ancient City in the Deep Dark biome in Minecraft

How to explore Minecraft 1.19’s new Deep Dark biome without getting murdered by the Warden

The ominous Minecraft Warden Image: Mojang Studios via Mike Rougeau for Polygon

Minecraft has changed a lot in the past year, and the game’s brand-new 1.19 update, dubbed “The Wild,” adds a ton of new stuff to explore, loot, and overcome. But no obstacle is greater than the game’s brand new boss mob, the Warden.

The Warden has more health than previous Minecraft bosses, including the Wither and the Ender Dragon. It afflicts players near it with the Darkness status effect, which makes it difficult to see. And its close-range melee attacks do massive damage, while it can hit you with powerful sonic blasts from a distance.

This big blue beastie might seem like a foe better left alone. Unfortunately, the Warden guards Minecraft’s coolest new destination for adventurous treasure hunters, the Ancient Cities found in the new Deep Dark biome. These sprawling locales are filled with rare loot, including several things you can’t find anywhere else. In this guide, we’ll go over how to get it all without getting your health bar decimated by the Warden.

Prepare for the expedition

Adequately preparing for your journey to the Ancient City is the best step you can take. Here’s a list of things you should bring.

  • Shulker boxes: There’s a lot of stuff to loot in the Deep Dark, especially once you locate an Ancient City. Bring as many Shulker boxes as you can fit in your Ender Chest. Oh, and bring an Ender Chest as well (duh). If you don’t have access to Shulkers because you haven’t yet been to the End and looted some End Cities, you should probably do that before facing the Warden anyway.
A crafting menu in Minecraft showing how to make a Potion of Night Vision Image: Mojang Studios via Mike Rougeau for Polygon
  • Night Vision potions: The Deep Dark lives up to its name. Not only is it extremely dark down there, but you’ll be inflicted with a new status effect known as “Darkness” whenever a Sculk Shrieker notices you or the Warden is around. The Darkness effect causes your screen to pulse with obscuring black shadows, severely limiting your field of vision. Night Vision potions are the best way to combat this. You brew them with Nether Wart and Golden Carrots, and you can add Redstone as the third ingredient to prolong the effect to a full eight minutes.
  • Torches: Bring multiple stacks of torches. Ancient Cities are massive structures and it’s easy to get lost. You won’t be able to light up the entire space, but you can at least use torches to mark where you’ve been.
  • Anvil: This probably isn’t the first thing you thought of, but you should bring an anvil with you. You’ll spend a lot of your time in the Deep Dark trying to sneak by Sculk Sensors and Shriekers to avoid making noise and thus stave off the Warden’s arrival. If you’re lucky, you’ll come across the new Swift Sneak enchantment book in a chest. With an anvil, you can immediately apply it to your trousers on the spot, letting you move much more quickly while you slink around.
A built Minecraft farm Image: Mojang Studios via Mike Rougeau for Polygon
  • Totems of Undying: No matter how careful you are in the Deep Dark, there’s a good chance you’re going to encounter the Warden before long. The boss hits extremely hard, even if you’re outfitted in full Netherite gear, and can kill you in seconds, whether you’re in melee range or trying to get away, thanks to his ranged attacks. You’ll want to bring more than one Totem of Undying. If you haven’t done so yet in your world, it’s worth looking up a raid farm tutorial for your version of the game and stockpiling a bunch of Totems for times like these.
  • Map or Lodestone Compass: There’s a chance you’ll need to travel far to locate an Ancient City. Always bring some method of finding your way back to your base, whether that’s a map of your area or a compass that’s been activated on a Lodestone.
  • Hoe: Minecraft’s least useful tool got a lot more valuable with the 1.19 update. The hoe is your number one implement for harvesting all things Sculk. If you have the means, enchant one with Efficiency, Unbreaking, Mending, and, most importantly, Silk Touch so that you can grab everything new in the Deep Dark.

How to find an Ancient City

A Minecraft Ancient City Image: Mojang Studios via Mike Rougeau for Polygon

Once your Ender Chest is full of the gear listed above, it’s time to locate an Ancient City. There are a few ways to do so, short of simply wandering through your world until you find one.

  • Commands: If you have cheats activated in your world, you can simply open the chat window and type the command “/locate ancientcity” to learn the coordinates of the nearest one. This works across Java and Bedrock, and you can also use the command to locate other structures, like Woodland Mansions. Granted, you might not want to activate cheats in your world so you can continue earning achievements. In that case, you can always make a copy of your world, activate cheats and use the command there, then hop back into your original world. This may be impossible if you’re playing on somebody else’s server or Realm, but you can always ask the world’s owner to take these steps and tell you the coordinates.
  • Chunkbase: The website Chunkbase is an excellent tool no matter what your goals are. Enter your seed number (which can be found in your world’s menu) and select your game version, and the site will generate a map of your world. You can then select what structures and landmarks you want to locate, and scroll around freely. Note that if you created your world on an older version, the map won’t be accurate when it shows chunks you’ve previously visited. If it shows an Ancient City directly under the base you built in 1.18 or 1.17, that City is unlikely to actually be there. You’ll have to find one in an area you’ve never been to before the 1.19 Wild update.
  • Search manually: If none of the above options are available to you, you’ll need to locate an Ancient City by searching the old fashioned way. Look for large cave systems in areas you’ve never visited before, and follow them to the very bottom of your world, which is where Ancient Cities generate. Look for the greenish-blue new Sculk blocks to find a Deep Dark biome, and you’ll hopefully be on the right track, though there’s no guarantee that any given pocket of Deep Dark contains an Ancient City. It may take a long time to find one, so don’t give up easily.
  • Turn coordinates on: In older versions of Minecraft, coordinates appear on maps. Nowadays, you can simply have them present on your screen at all times. Coordinates can be activated whether or not cheats are enabled in your world. Having them there will make it a lot easier to reach an Ancient City.

Learn how the Deep Dark works

Once you’ve located and traveled to an Ancient City, your expedition is just getting started. If you want to survive, you’ll need to learn the differences between all the new Sculk blocks and what each does.

A Minecraft Sculk Shrieker between pillars Image: Mojang Studios via Mike Rougeau for Polygon
  • Sculk Shriekers: These are the most dangerous new block in the update. When they detect you nearby, they emit a loud sound and inflict you with the Darkness status. If you trigger a Shrieker one too many times, a Warden will spawn. You need to sneak by these and make as little noise as possible.
A Minecraft Sculk Sensor Image: Mojang Studios via Mike Rougeau for Polygon
  • Sculk Sensors: These blocks are incredibly useful for Redstone aficionados, but in their natural habitat in the Deep Dark, they can be just as dangerous as Shriekers. Sculk Sensors detect any noise you make within a certain radius around them, and if there’s a Shrieker nearby, they’ll send a signal to it, activating that Shrieker just as if you had stepped directly on it. You need to be extra careful around these Sensors.
A Minecraft Sculk Catalyst Image: Mojang Studios via Mike Rougeau for Polygon
  • Sculk Catalysts: These blocks aren’t dangerous on their own. When a mob that generates XP dies near one, it absorbs the XP and uses it to turn the blocks around it into Sculk. This can also rarely create new Sculk Shriekers and Sensors, although Shriekers generated in this way can’t actually summon the Warden.

These three blocks can be harvested using any tool enchanted with Silk Touch, but as we mentioned above, using a hoe is fastest. And when you’re sneaking around trying to pick up Sensors and Shriekers before they can summon a Warden, rapid mining speed is essential.

This all may seem like a lot, and it is. The Deep Dark has so many new, interesting mechanics and features that it can seem overwhelming. But it’s worth learning how it all works, because Ancient Cities are absolutely bursting with loot. You’re likely to find dozens of chests tucked all around the city, with easily the most generous loot tables anywhere in the game. In addition to enchantment books, enchanted apples, and music discs, you’ll find Disc Fragments, which you can use to craft the new “5” music disc, Echo Shards, which you can use to craft the new Recovery Compass item, the rare “otherside” music disc that was added to the game in 1.18, and an assortment of other variably valuable items.

The contents of a Minecraft chest found in the Ancient City Image: Mojang Studios via Mike Rougeau for Polygon

Of course, in order to gather all that treasure, you’ll have to survive long enough down there. We’ll leave you with these final best practices:

  • Always sneak: Given how sensitive the Sculk Sensors and Shriekers are, running around recklessly will inevitably lead to the Warden spawning. Keep that sneak button pressed. Even then, be extra careful around Sculk Sensors, since they can detect any noise at all, not just your footsteps. For example, don’t open a chest if there’s a Sculk Sensor nearby, no matter how tempting it might be. That’s what the Silk Touch-enchanted hoe you hopefully brought with you is for; mine the Sensors and Shriekers in a chest’s vicinity before you start looting.
The Minecraft Warden approaches Image: Mojang Studios via Mike Rougeau for Polygon
  • Don’t try to fight the Warden: As players on Reddit and YouTube have already proven, the Warden can certainly be killed. However, doing so is a waste of time, energy, and resources. Its health pool is massive and its drops are paltry, not to mention the fact that killing one Warden does nothing to stop the next one from spawning. When the Warden spawns, simply run away and explore another part of the city. If you go long enough without making noise in its sensory range, the Warden will despawn and you can resume looting.
  • Unload your valuables regularly: Don’t get careless as far as what you’re carrying. Take regular breaks to unload your inventory into your Ender Chest. You don’t want to get surprised by a Warden and drop all your valuable new treasures on the ground. At least if the good stuff you’ve found is in a Shulker in your Ender Chest, you won’t run the risk of losing it for good in a worst-case scenario.

Now that you’re as prepared as possible to face the Warden and loot an Ancient City, it should be no time at all before you’re jamming to the new music discs, Swift Sneaking around your base, and creating fantastic Redstone builds with the awesome new Sculk Sensors. Just remember: It’s dark down there, explorer.

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