Being aboveground is nice and all, but I myself prefer the safety and usefulness of building underground. I guess it's natural, considering Minecraft, among other things, keeps me from seeing sunlight most of the day. :biggrin.gif:
Anyway, I've built a few different kinds of underground areas, and I really think a guide is nice for deciding which would be most strategic.
Se. 1: Getting Down
Most of the stuff needed for a base, or at least for mine, comes from the depths below. Stone, ore, lava, etc., are all on my list of important supplies. However, most of us won't just dig straight down, dig till our tools break, and head back up. It's dangerous if a mob is right below you, or worse, lava. Plus, what if you get lost in the caves? That would really put a damper on anyone's day. Let's start with getting down to your much-needed supplies:
Let's assume that you are in a safe place. If you're not, secure the area around you right now. Ready? Okay, good. First, a stairwell. Which do you prefer? Diagonal? Straight? Spiral?
Well, diagonal is a bit harder to build and takes longer. It'll also wear down on your tools, obviously. So go for straight or spiral. Fortunately, they are easy to block off. Straight are easy to make and easy to block off as well. They don't wear on tools as much and don't take long at all. Spiral is my favorite, I think. One disadvantage of a spiral starcase is that it's harder to see up/down them, so you may want to leave a space in the middle. Of course, when you leave a space you're running the risk of falling down that, especially if you are suprrised by a mob behind you (another reason to lock down the top of your stairwell). On top of that, spirals are harder to build than straight ones and wear on tools like diagonals. They are arguably the worst to build, so my liking them is a bit nonsensical. I think they are pretty, though, and they do still serve the purpose of moving you up and down. If you want to try an experimental method of surviving spiral falls, see Se. 5: Exploiting Liquid To Your Advantage.
When it comes to my precious spirals, I like to make large, deep rooms for them, so they fill you with awe. Granted, the open space in the middle of the spiral (imagine the stairwell running along the wall of a large square room if you're confused as to what I'm trying to get you to visualize) is dangerous as I aforementioned, but aesthetics, aesthetics.
Se. 2: Constructing Rooms
It's nice and all to have a big open space, so you can look about and think, Even in the face of thousands of mobs, I have made this. I succeeded against you, foolish AI!, but it's also dangerous. That AI isn't as dumb as you think. Unless you have a hell of a lot of torches on hand, open spaces are a big no-no.
It's best to make your rooms relatively small, with small doorways as well. I'd say no more than 6x3x6 (remember I think in XYZ, or length, height, width, not XZY, or length, width, height, like most people seem to speak around here). Doorways can stay 1x2x1.
One way to secure doorways is to put something easily breakable above the door (which would be in clear view, if your roof is 3 blocks tall as I suggested) and above that, gravel or sand, as shown here:
Under that construction would be the door. It's handy because if you're being chased, you can break down that stuff to block the mobs.
I also suggest that you do not make one single vault in your large base. For one thing, it would have to be a huge room, and as I said before, that's dangerous without a lot of torches. Plus, in all of those winding passageways and many confusing little rooms, you might lose your vault and be completely screwed. I think it would be best to put your vaults near your mining areas. At the very least, have a direct passage from your mine to your closest vault. Having one from the vault to the main passage would be good as well.
Also, while it's nice to have a vault full of gold, a vault full of coal, etc., it's also illogical. What if skeletons have invaded the main area of your base and you're confined to just a vault of just mushrooms and wood? You're doomed in that case! Rather, spread out your supplies among the vaults.
Now for passages. your thoroughfares to the underworld, your boulevards to the many rooms you have created. I suggest that if you want to keep track of where your rooms are and such, make the main corridors larger. I can make an exception to that small room rule of 3 unit tall ceilings -- the most important passages can be four or even five blocks tall, though I highly recommend you keep them lighted at all times, or you'll be facing a horde of mobs in no time. As you branch off to make different stuff, lower the ceilings to four or so and make them thinner.
Se. 3: Safely Digging Out And Exploring New Areas
We've all encountered the situation: You quickly slice through the stone in front of you, looking for riches, and hit a cave. What luck! A cave full of coal and gold! You run for the nearest vein an- sssSSSSSS BOOM! -- you're dead. Not so lucky, eh?
My best suggestion for you is, mining or exploring or whatever, always, always carry a weapon of some sort. If you hit an unexplored region, whip out your sword and be careful. A spider could be right around the corner, or a creeper could stalk you from behind.
Also carry a good surplus of torches with you. Torches prevent spawning of mobs, after all. :wink.gif: Also, very important: if you missed a section where mobs can still spawn, you don't want them wandering unhindered into your underground base, so for goodness sake, block off where you came from! Something obvious, of course.
When you're exploring caves, straight passages that slowly get smaller won't work, because caves in Minecraft simply don't work that way. :tongue.gif: My suggestion is: seal it off from rest of your base; place the torches; mine out what you can and establish your vault; make a "straight enough" path back to the main thoroughfare; and finally exploit other resources at hand to turn it into another region of your base. As for floods, read on.
Se. 4: Combatting the Inevitable Flood
I'm positive this has happened to you as well. You are calmly digging through some stone, dreaming of a vein of ore just ahead, when you really do hit something. Yes! Ah, not quite. It's a wall of water you hit. It flows out before you can react, turning your entire passageway and possibly half your base into an aquifer. Worse, if you are storing lava anywhere, it could block off the source!
Combatting floods is relatively easy, though. Here's what I suggest you do. When you are creating a new passageway or room, first, as with avoiding mobs, block off the entrance. And when you dig, start with the lowest blocks and work your way up. This way, if water comes spurting out, you don't immediately drown.
One smart thing to do that allows for free movement through all of your tunnels is to build an airlock. You know that little door you built to block off the possible water? Well, dig a tunnel straight up before it. Then dig a tunnel over the door and back down. Make sure it's accessible, of course. It will look like this from the side.
I assume that you have the common sense to put the stairwell off to the side so that it's not in the way of the door. :tongue.gif: There are other ways of building airlocks as well. I noticed a system involving torches and sand, but it was quite a bit more complicated and would need taller ceilings for larger passages, which is out of the question. Of course, with airlocks, it's possible to let short passageways just flood while you're digging and to unflood later, though you will need an air source still.
Se. 5: Exploiting Liquid To Your Advantage
I love using water and, even better lava, but it's dangerous. If you followed my suggestions earlier, I will take the assumption you won't simply let it flow over your whole base and ruin everything. Of course, there are situations where you can put yourself in danger. The best advice I can give you is be cautious.
Now, as for what you can use it for. Lava is great as a moat, I think, but that's not really useful underground, considering I don't think you should surround something underground with lava. Say you hit an outer wall tile and it flows in unhindered? So bad idea.
How about a lava vault? I am a master of building useless crap in my bases, and the vault is one of those things, I think. It's not like have a room full of lava will really help you. Of course, in a chase, I guess you could release the door to it and run by so it can flow out and kill the monster, but your base shoudl already be safe from that! And it poses risks to you as well. It's a sort of show of power, an "I built this just because I can" sort of structure. But it's fun to make, and looks cool, and that's always nice. :smile.gif:
Water is useful, though. It's fast, efficient, and serves to slow down monsters enough for you to make your escape, something a lava vault couldn't do. Imagine it this way. A zombie has somehow spawned in your base. An untorched corner, perhaps? Bad situation. Anyway, you head for your vault. As you run steadily along the passage, ther are half-block stairs that bring you two blocks upward. On top of the stairs, there is a straight drop, where you may jump down and open your vault. Water floods in from the opening, covering you, but stops at the stair-drop thingy, as it is taller than the water level. In the corner, an exit leads, umm, somewhere. Perhaps to a stairwell thatl eads to a mezzanine above the vault-stairwell-flooded area room? From there, you can easily shoot down the zombie with arrows.
That works because, as of now, mobs cannot swim downward in water. They stay in the top two water levels. I guess they are afraid of imaginary sea monsters? Good thing us Minecrafters know such is not real. :wink.gif:
If you're lucky or very bored, you can even do a cool, albeit possibly dangerous, trick with water. At the bottom of your grand spiral stairwell, in the area between it all, put down some water. As you remember, water saves you from a deadly fall. This could be annoying, what with the water blocking your ability to walk straight across the main room, but for a careful Minecrafter it's very handy.
Se. 6: Overall Base Size
When the inevitable perfection of infdev comes, bases can be huge, especially underground ones. I myself love a big underworld. But how much is "big"? How deep, how wide?
I think that the main downward tunnel of your lair should go all the way down to adminium. What's that? You've hit lava? Too bad! Attempt to unflood it, fool. :biggrin.gif: If it is for some reason impossible to get rid of the lava, cover it in something pretty like glass, just for aesthetics, or, as said before, some water. The last thing you need is to be attacked by a creeper down there and fall into the lava.
Spreading out should be determined by the availability of torches, the amount of ore you can find, and the natural restrictions like caves, water, and lava, because really, why unflood a lava cave just to find one coal ore? Heh, frankly, I would. :smile.gif: But I'm me, and I'm a bit crazy, so ignore my whims.
Obviously, it would be unreasonable to spend an hour digging out some stone for your nice new aboveground tower and then spend just as long getting UP there. But it's also unreasonable to try and cram everything in your base into a 64x64 area. How about 128x128 for the main base? And the caves and other territories can stretch outward from there! That's reasonable enough. It doesn't take, or shouldn't take, too long to get around a territory of that size, and if you took the suggestion of making more important corridors larger, it would be hard to get lost.
Se. 7: How To Make Your Mines Safe
Many mines, as I've seen, are built around caves. That's nice and all, but it's dangerous. You gotta use torches to light up everything (well, you would in your main base as well, but caves are very twisty turny and likely use up more).
Not to mention even after placing a zillion torches, you're eventually going to be attacked by a rogue mob. As said before, close off untorched and unsafe mines from the rest of your base. Don't even add an airlock in walkways heading to caves unless there's a danger of water/lava.
The last thing you want is for your mine to become a battleground of sorts. In the case, that it does, here's what I suggest that you do: build a 2 block high wall of checkered stone that allow you to shoot oncoming creepers, zombies, and skeletons; a 2 block high wall, uncheckered, that blocks evil spiders from invading. Do not put any silly stairways on the outside. If you need to run behind your wall, place a brick to get up there, and do it quickly before the mobs get on it. The doube wall will protect you from anything.
If you happen to have lava on hand, you could even put a moat between the walls! Not recommended, though. Could be dangerous during pursuits because, while it can ward off spiders that come through the checkered wall, it can also get you killed. :tongue.gif:
Se. 8: Making a Small Base
For those of us NOT obsessed with uber-fortresses, a small underground base is suitable. I myself chuckle at such things, considering them suicide, but I guess I could offer some tips on building them.
1. Use resources sparingly. With a small base, you're not going to come across a whole lot of ore and stuff.
2. I suggest you gather up some resources first, make a bunch of torches, and break that old rule I made of small rooms -- make a really big vault and hide all your stuff there. It won't be huge after all, just a "manageable" large.
3. Put a staircase to the surface directly adjacent to that and make a crafting table and the like. Make sure the staircase is easy to block off in emergencies. Don't make any extra spaces. If you want small, go for VERY small. :wink.gif:
I hope this helps some of you out there. I plan to add on a section for making underground farms and using TNT. I'm workiing ona a place that demonstrates some of these techniques, be patient. Apologies for length, but frankly, suck it up and read it anyway. :biggrin.gif: Also, if there are any erroneous tips or big spelling/grammar mistakes, tell me immediately please. I don't want any false information to be circulating around.
It's a pretty good guide. I've been playing for a while now, so I figured most of it already and I'm usually pretty safe when exploring the depths. However, I did learn a couple of new tips and tricks from your guide.
Methoods of staircases are all the same wear on your tools. You're removing the same 3 blocks to go down one elevation. Spiral just does it in a more compact space, usually 2x2 or 3x3 with an empty middle to see up/down. A straight case however can be more easily traversed and expanded for higher speed traffic. I suggest making it 4 high to allow more headroom to descend and making use of stair blocks if you have the time/desire. Nothings worse than running from a mob or flood and having to stop your forward motion every block to jump.
Underground I suggest setting up a small outpost either near your stairs or near the center of your exploration. In here make it a small safe room about 4 or 5 blocks square. Set up a crafting station and a few forges. Visit this place to set you're metal to smelt, off load other supplies and make some replacement tools. Be sure to have some wood down there with you, for making more torches, handles and to smelt if you run out of coal.
Remember to mark your way back to the exits and safe rooms. Personally I place torches on walls leading back so if I look at the torch straight on, I'm looking in the direction I want to be heading to get home. Another methood is to dig out the floor and put down some dirt or cobblestone to mark your routes.
Remember to pause every once in a while and take a listen. Mobs make noise and if you hear it, be proactive and go look for it. It's better to confront the mob than be surprised by it later.
Once you've gotten everything of value out of a particular area, I suggest sealing it up with cobblestone. No sense leaving an area open for mobs to spawn and get into you're base. You can always revisit the area later if you need somewhere to expand to.
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This is kind of cumbersome, and requires contriving the location of the stairway (for now, anyway), but I have a thought about the center block of the 3x3 arrangement. This could actually turn it into an asset. What you could do, maybe, is have the center block be empty so you can see up/down your stairwell, but in order to prevent a minecraft-guy pancake from occurring if you fall down the middle from the top, what you could do maybe is have a 1x1 hole a few blocks deep a the bottom of the stairwell, and fill it with water. It'll arrest your movement without hurting you when you land on it, and you can intentionally jump down the stairway to reach the bottom as quickly as physically possible.[/suggestion that wasn't actually asked for]
Question, though. Important question. ...What the heck do I actually put in a really big base? I have a farm going, I have my furnaces... and... What do you people put in your bases that's so large, anyway? Am I missing something?
Anyways, farming. You don't really need water for farming, but you need a bit of torches, even when it's slow.
If you don't find a source of water, go ahead and do a farm without water, even when it will be hellishly slow.
Tree farming is a bit different, mainly now. You will have to create a HUUUUUGE room to sustain a full one tree, not counting the amounts of torches you will need to place.