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    posted a message on Weird farm bug?
    Yeah, from the screenie it looks like lack of light hitting those inner corners. Bet if you just slapped a torch down on the floor in the middle of the central path, they'd get going again.
    Posted in: Survival Mode
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    posted a message on When did Zombies become retardedly OP?
    Quote from TheMasterCaver

    (snipped) According to a post here, getting a zombie in diamond armor is so rare that most people will never see one, much less two in a row, much less full diamond armor.

    Yeah, I play Hardcore and I've never seen a zombie with diamond gear, personally. I wish I could find a zombie with diamond gear, so I could promptly relieve them of that particular burden.
    Posted in: Survival Mode
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    posted a message on No Ore Challenge! - Let's go back to stone age...
    Interesting idea. A couple of suggestions, which you can take or leave as you like.

    It doesn't seem like decorative uses of ores should be forbidden. Simple, Primitive Stone-Age Steve may not understand what those things could be used for, but even birds will collect shiny objects. In the event you should get your hands on redstone, lapis, diamond or emerald, without mining them (since you're already barred the iron pick to retrieve them) from chests or drops, only seems right that primitive Steve could decorate with a few blocks. Think of them as cave paintings. :)

    It also strikes me as very odd that Primitive Stone-Age Steve just can't figure out what to do with coal, but the manufacture of TNT isn't any particular problem. If you're keeping the tech level very low in this challenge, I'd be barring TNT manufacture or use as well.
    Posted in: Survival Mode
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    posted a message on Dirt Homes?
    And the Curse of the Necromancers strikes yet again. Thread died out 23 months ago.
    Posted in: Survival Mode
  • 3

    posted a message on The Zax Challenge
    Northbound Zax Adventure
    Chapter 4:

    When we left our intrepid Zax, I had passed another ocean, skipped over and under a frozen waste, learned a new trick or two, delved once again into the deeps and crossed the Ravine With No Floor, seizing upon a stockpile of the Black Glass for my troubles. What, then, would fate have in store next?

    Chapter 4: Northbound Zax and the Fickleness of the Gods

    It was time to leave that devastation in my wake. Too long now had I risked life exposed at the bottom of that fiery chasm; too long now had I risked sanity allowing those voices of conscience to debate there in the dark. Too long now had I tarried - North was still there for the getting-to, and I needed to get back to it.

    I broke out a new stone pick and began to crack the north ravine wall, tunneling tall to expose any riches that may be hiding just overhead in the matrix. A light stonefall in the darkness behind reminded me that periodically blocking my passage had proved a very good idea, and I resumed the practice.

    My trusty Special Issue Zax GPS Device blinked an alert, and reported that I was deep underneath a Stone Beach - which my previous experience warned that I would be advancing under another body of water. If the Gods favor me, it'll be a river and my path wouldn't lead me under yet another ocean. Intrepid Zax or not, there's just something about being trapped under that much water that's deeply and expressly unsettling.

    At about the new tunnel's 50 meter mark, I broke through to empty space, at the height of my pick's reach.

    Standing still and quiet, I strained my ears against the emptiness trying to detect any tell-tale sounds of danger. After a few moments, I decided it was safe enough to pillar up and have a look about.

    A secondary ravine branched in from the West, but didn't extend its length to my position, just the opening of the upper reaches at its terminus where I now stood. I decided to descend my pillar, and continue on at my previous tunneling level of Y=11.

    Just another 8 meters, and the S.I.Z.G.D. blinked again. Ocean.

    The Gods hate me.

    Well, there's nothing for it - I must press on. My pick lifted and fell in time with my pounding heartbeat.

    I reminded myself that the last time I'd been in this position, imagining the sheer emptiness and vastness of an entire ocean a short distance above my head, fear drifting my thoughts to the terror of that vastness suddenly emptying in on me and snuffing out my young Zax life, that not only had I come out of it unscathed, but with a good fistful of riches to boot. Sure, Zax, that's it - oceans still don't go forever. They're just really big... really, really, really bi...

    No way...

    The Gods do like me!

    'Ello, Beautiful!

    I don't know what it is, but every time I seem to find myself in some desperate fix under oceans, scaring myself into a blue funk, I come across a vein of blue gems - diamonds! Now, let's just see if you have any sisters at home here with you... pull a rock off there, work around to the back, there's a few more, reveal the full surround... uh oh...

    No no no - don't break that rock. Bad bad bad... we'll just put that one back now, shall we?

    The rest of the reveal (save Mr. Evil Block back there on the left) proved safe enough, and the vein gave up a trove of 5 more diamonds! The amount of material that had to be removed left a lot of room around the vein, and the diamonds managed to bounce just the wrong way 4 out of 5 times, staying well out of reach. The ol' Zax-dad method once again proved true...

    ... and pushed the pretty-pretties right into my waiting hands. I quickly stashed them in my packs, deciding to hold them until a specific pressing need called for their use.

    A few more meters into the tunnel, and the attempted culprit of my near-fiery-doom was revealed...

    The pool, as you can see, was small, but that shadowy alcove to the left and behind looked an awful lot like a passage, and seemed to open up into a wider area ahead - directly into my path. I placed the cobblestones across the magma, plus an extra row for safety, and carefully made my way across, hoping that no enemies were within earshot of my pick as I began working into the stone shoulder of the pool room.

    No sooner had I broken the first layer of rock that I heard the sounds of running water to my right. I had been correct - the shoulder yielded to a large cavern that lay just beyond that shadowy alcove, with the end of an unseen waterflow reaching a meter or two across my Northward path.

    I put down a few pieces of cobblestone to stop the water from crossing my way. And then... through the gloom, I noticed something a little out of place in the upper arches of the cavern - wooden planks! I was deep, very deep, and under an ocean, but it seems that I was not the first to delve these reaches. I could just make out the pathway ends of the woodworks of an abandoned mine shaft!

    Fresh off the discovery of more diamonds, my greed was now awakened with visions of minecart chests loaded with... well, who knows, but valuables, no doubt! Great piles of gold, and iron, and bread and cookies and more diamonds and horse saddles and ice cream and...

    The noises immediately to my left shocked me out of my daydream - SPLAT! SPLAT! - I was under attack! The Gods hate me! Fear, Fire, FOES! To arms, Zax! They'll never take me ALIVE!!!

    Oh. It's just you. Let's just squish you with this rock, you pest - you scared me!

    My "battle" complete, I thought again about the abandoned mine. I dug through my packs, and flipped open the Zax Guide to the Deep, Deep Places (Revised), turning to the chapter about abandoned mineshafts.

    "Another feature that may be found in the Deep, Deep Places are the occasional mining complexes that have been abandoned, often in such haste that many useful or valuable things have been left behind. Should a Zax come across one of these sites in their path, it is good to remember that there is a reason these facilities were abandoned; normally it is because they have become overrun by horrid and unnatural things, and too many of the mining staff were lost or slain in the deeps."

    Hmm. Good point. And skeleton snipers with a long, straight shot at me through those wooden bridges could really make a good day turn bad in a hurry.

    But then again... well, there are those who are reading the journal of this journey, and they'd never want me to miss out this kind of a chance at adventure. Intrepid Zax! Let's at least see how close that mine shaft comes to me, if I angle my path upwards a little, maybe I'll intersect a few sections of it.

    Crossing the cavern, I started a stair upwards, noting also that from the first step I was now underneath Beach, which was also encouraging. Small "ocean" indeed, it turned out to be. Must have just skimmed under the edge of it. Phew!

    And upward I mined. And upward. And found no opening to the mine shafts.

    And upward. To Y=34, and underneath a River, and then...

    Footsteps... close... too close, and too quiet. I stole a furtive glance behind and below me, looking for pursuers, but nothing moved in the cool gloom. After a moment, the sounds were gone. Blocking my passage again, I continued...

    ... finding yet more iron, and seeing Forest above. So, the Gods do like me... ? Diamonds, iron, tiny tiny ocean and now a nice pleasant Forest. Sounds serene, and like a pleasant way to get out of this dark hole again.

    At Y=46, another cavern revealed itself...

    ... which turned out only to be a shallow gravel-fall, and of no interest. Onwards, upwards, Northwards!

    And then, as I reached Y=52, I heard the rattling sounds of burning bone above...

    ... but the burning suddenly stopped, and without the usual shattering noise I'd come to expect when a skeleton burns up in the sun. And I saw that I was no longer under a Forest, but a Roofed Forest.

    Roofed Forest. One of the most dangerous places a Zax can be. The Gods hate me.

    I have come to fear the Roofed Forest. I fear being trapped underneath oceans, but that's more of an indirect, intangible kind of fear that somehow all that water will break through and drown me, even though it's very unlikely. A Roofed Forest, on the other hand, presents a very direct and tangible danger - monsters can spawn in full light of day, and have plenty of opportunity to sneak around obstacles to surprise a Zax with a stealthy attack.

    Nevertheless... onward. But do take care, ol' Zax; your life will depend on your senses being sharp.

    A few more meters upward, and I broke through to the green of the surface...

    ... and already I could hear the zombies pacing above, and skeletons taking firing positions. Not good, ol' Zax... keep your head down. If they spot you, there'll be nowhere to run.

    I decided to reach the surface, but to stay just below ground level, forming a trench open to the sky but hopefully allowing me to proceed stealthily, with no enemy marking my passing until I was already long gone.

    I moved carefully, but quickly, digging through the dirt - ever-aware that I was behind enemy lines. The first zombie was joined by others, how many, I could not tell from my low trench. I was far more interested in getting out of this death trap as soon as possible, though now I regretted my decision to actually break the surface; had I known how many of them were in the vicinity, I could have stayed a few blocks underneath and moved through mostly undetected. Here, with open air above me and a chorus of groans and rattles, I felt terribly exposed, and in great danger.

    After 25 or so meters, my trench came upon another low hill-rise, and I was not too proud to burrow straight into its protective side. After crossing that short distance exposed, I chanced a glance behind me, to check for pursuit or detection...

    ... but there was no evidence that I had been noticed. Maybe the Gods like me again? I quickly piled up dirt behind in an effort to replace the hillside as naturally as possible as to appear undisturbed. Yeah, right Zax - undisturbed, with a wartime trench dug in leading straight to the dirt with no grass on it. Brilliant. Well, it may fool zombies and skeletons, and that's all that matters right now.

    My hillside lasted for only a short stretch, then left me exposed for another few meters before my path led to another low hill. I made the passage as quickly as possible, rising slightly with the terrain but staying in line with the next hill, and looked back again...

    ... just in time to see that night had fallen. In a Roofed Forest.

    The Gods hate me.

    The hill provided cover for another 20 meters, but then opened abruptly to descending terrain.

    I quickly doused my lone torch, and waited in the darkness for what must have been hours, frozen in place and unsure what to do. If I stayed where I was, I'd be a sitting duck. If I advanced, I may not only lose the protection of the hillside and tunnel mouth at my back, but may stumble directly into an enemy camp in the black night. Rock and a hard place, ol' Zax. Another fine mess we've gotten ourselves into.

    At length, the Call of the North began to work on my Zax legs again, and slowly, reluctantly, they carried me a step forward out of my tunnel. Listen for Approaching Death. Then another step. Listen. Step. Listen.

    And Approaching Death... well, approached...

    I'd heard the one before that Death Rides a Pale Horse. I hadn't heard the one about Death Comes At You With a Shovel. And here he was, comin' at me with a shovel. He groaned, and lifted it for a swing at my head.

    I wasn't as worried about the shovel as I was about the probability of my attacker calling for reinforcements to helplessly outnumber me, or calling in the archers. I needed to silence the zombie for good, and I needed to do it fast.

    I ducked the shovel swing just as it sang past my right ear - my iron sword answered with a slash across his belly, driving him back a step. On he came again, and again I slashed; and on the third advance drove the point of my blade deep, then let the twitching carcass slide to the ground. I snapped my head left, then right, scanning for the second wave of attackers, but none was to be seen.

    A few moments of silence, and I realized that this zombie had been a lone patrol, and hadn't had time to raise the alarm. I slid silently forward into the night before my work could be discovered, managing to make it another 20 meters before being spotted by another patrol, but of another caliber, and with a very quick trigger on raising alarms...

    I blocked the blast, but the echo from the explosion sang out into the night, and I hadn't made but a few more steps before I heard the groans of the zombie crossing the water to investigate the alarm.

    I readied myself. The zombie threw himself at me, and I slashed to drive him back, and before I knew what had happened there was another zombie at his side! My fears were beginning to become realized - the alarm was raised, and now I would face an army of zombies!

    A fist struck out towards me; I gave parry and riposte, only to see two more zombies in the dark appear behind in the second rank.

    On they came, and my trusty blade sang back in answer, blazing a path first left, then right, then left again, trying to keep the distance between my foes. Still another zombie arrived to join the battle, and another - as I felled one, another rose to take his place. As I slashed right driving back two, a clawed hand lashed at me from the left and found purchase, opening a shallow wound in my shoulder. Another zombie fell, then another, and another claw slashed into my right thigh. Just as it was looking like I had thinned the battle to a winning position, their leader strode forth and through, a huge zombie bearing unholy armor, and sounded a savage battle cry...

    Urr... URRRR!!!

    I braced for his onslaught, and narrowly avoided a crushing blow aimed at my skull. Weary and wounded, I could not let him hit me - I waited for his next advance, and stepped back a block to draw him near, then with all the strength and speed I had remaining pressed forward in a frenzy of thrusts and slashes, coming on with a battle rage I did not know I possessed. Against my furious attack he could not defend, and he fell back and again, stunned by the ferocity of the Zax.

    My strength now spent, I stood drawing heavy breaths, waiting for what would come. The huge zombie did not move - and looked on me with cold, dead eyes. And then... he wavered, knees buckled, and he crumpled to the ground. The great beast was no more. The Gods had shown me favor this night - okay, so maybe they do like me after all.

    I devoured a steak, then another, trying to regain some strength in the event of another attack, but I was alone again, for the moment. Taking time to recover, I stepped forward three steps to take partial shelter from the nearest tree, when I saw...

    The dawn rises! I had survived the night! And I'm leaving the accursed Roofed Forest!

    Waitaminnit, ol' Zax - what's that out in the water? Another skeleton, protected from the flame by the river.

    And if he just sits there, there'll be no crossing this river alive - he'll shoot you, knock you back, shoot again, and there won't be anything you can do about it but become a Zax Pincushion. Did I just destroy an Army of Darkness, single-handedly slaying their ranks and leader, to be stopped cold at the bank of this river, where advancing even a step would mean certain death? The Gods hate me.

    And I wept.

    But then... a miracle happened!

    He just... vanished! The skeleton out in the water simply... vanished! It had to be the Gods smiling on me!

    Now, the guy that was on fire on the shore to my right made it under the shade of that mushroom, but I had an idea for how to get past him. As long as the one treading water directly in my path was now miracled out of my way, I now had a chance. And I took it.

    I took a deep breath, and dove into the river, staying beneath the waterline and hopefully out of the line of sight of the sniper...

    As I swam, I kept expecting to feel the bite of an arrow pierce my flesh, but fortunately it was not to be. I dragged myself from the waters on the far shore, and looked back to the bemused sniper...

    ...who, if a skeleton could have facial expressions, likely would have looked most displeased that I'd made it across right in front of him. I launched a short barrage of Zax-taunts at him, thought about mooning him (then thought better of it), and turned North with a certain spring to my step.

    After being through all of that, the ensuing Forest-lands were amazingly uplifting to my weary spirit, and I had a newfound optimism that let me travel quickly again, something I had not been able to do for some time. The lands had a simple beauty, and this waterfall captivated me for a short time...

    The waters were easily blocked off to the left, and I continued on.

    Another quarter-kilometer ahead, a fairly steep hill rose...

    ...and again I asked the question, "Over or through? Over or through?". This time though, I could not bear the thought of leaving the green and the sunlight for the cold dark of the Underground again so soon, so I began to dig as shallow a stairway up the side as I could manage. When out of nowhere...

    The current was strong, and shoved me off my path slightly, and I fought to regain my true position. I grabbed for my supply of loose dirt and began trying to block the flow, but the source was at a poor angle and just out of reach. Instead, I went for the next best thing - pillar up a good measure above the breach...

    ... and started bridging across above it. Once crossed, and safely against the hillside again, I moved to continue my stairway over the remaining hillside. No sooner did my shovel touch dirt, when...

    ... again!?! Okay, the Gods really do hate me...

    ... and this one threatened to push me clear over the side, a good way down, and very off-course. Not good!

    Nevertheless, I persevered, and managed to get up above this new waterfall, and again back to the hillside. Which I stood and looked at for a good 5 minutes, sizing up, and almost daring it to try it again; I slowly lifted my shovel to dirt, backing up a baby step in the process. Y'know, just in case it took my dare seriously.

    Seems that I'd made my point though, and the hillside did not again try to defeat me. I came upon the attempted culprit of my near-watery-doom...

    ... which seemed somehow too peaceful to have just put me through so much trouble. I muttered a Zax-taunt (under my breath), then finished my ascent and crossed over the hill.

    A short while later, mooooo...

    ... and out came the wheat. Why hello there, Mr. Cow. I was wondering, if it wouldn't be too much trouble, could I have your meat, and perhaps your skin? Now, that's a good lad, just a little closer, yes, that's it, that's good...

    After collecting the goods that Mr. Cow had to offer, I turned again Northward. It was then that I ran into my first real trouble on this journey and adventure...

    Stopped! Dead in my tracks! I've bumped, foot to foot, face to face, with a South-going Sheep, who will not budge!

    Fortunately, back in North-going school, they prepared us well for such an emergency, and I readied my speech:

    "Look here, now! I say!
    You are blocking my path, you are right in my way!
    I'm a North-Going Zax and I always go north.
    Get out of my way, now, and let me go forth!"

    And the South-Going sheep said:


    Hmm. That's not what they told us would happen in North-Going school. Let's try the next part.

    I puffed up my chest with pride:

    "I never take a step to one side.
    And I'll prove to you that I won't change my ways
    If I have to keep standing here fifty-nine days!"

    And the South-Going sheep said:


    Curses! An impasse! Well, I'll not let this South-Going sheep get the better of me, I'll...

    And that's when I realized I was still holding the wheat from the business with the cow. So I put it away, and the sheep tottered off somewhere, getting clear out of my way. Ha! I'd WON! To the North!

    Another short way on...

    Okay, the Gods really, really hate me. What's going to come out of this mountainside at me? An anvil dropped on me? A swarm of bees? A gaggle of zombies? Some moldy old cheese?

    Well, dear readers, I'm glad to say that none of that happened. This mountainside had nothing against a Northbound Zax who was just passing through, and didn't mind having a small (but attractive) little staircase cut into its side for crossing.

    As I descended the other side, the S.I.Z.G.D. started going crazy, beeping and buzzing and making a fuss. I was coming up on a milestone? So I was! I started to rush down the hill to reach the coordinates the Device had indicated. But perhaps I was a little too hasty, and made too much noise, because I attracted some unwanted attention that seemed to be guarding my target location, hell-bent on not letting me reach my milestone...

    ... who was coming at me with a proper sword instead of just a shovel, but as you can see, had the distinct combat disadvantage of, y'know, being on fire and all. I simply waited for his approach, and smacked what was left of his charred form back down the hillside.

    My coordinates were marked with several lovely rose bushes, and I took the last few steps to reach them, and my milestone...

    Yes, it is! My 10,000th block traveled on this journey! This is it, the very spot! Once again, I thought it warranted a small shrine be erected to mark the occasion. And a use for a good amount of that redstone I've been carrying!

    And there it is, looking back a few paces to admire it.

    I have come a long way, against fire and water, cold and dark, hunger and monsters, and even the fickle moods of the Gods themselves, yet here I stand just beyond 10,000 blocks from where I began. I may not be North yet, but I'm getting there every day, and if tomorrow's fortune smiles on me, I'll have new adventures and surprises yet untold. But that, dear readers, will have to wait for another day, where other adventures await!

    And at the close of Chapter 4, our intrepid Zax has once again prevailed against adversity, and come through it smelling the roses (literally). As always, I hope you've enjoyed the adventure thusfar, and look forward to another chapter as together we try to get to the elusive North, and all that lies between!
    Posted in: Survival Mode
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    posted a message on How many stone can an unbreaking 3 diamond pickaxe mine?
    Quote from Sapphiresin

    I think the Unbreaking enchantment gives the pickaxe a % chance that the durability will not be used. There's a probability of the pickaxe being used infinitely, and also the probability that it breaks like it does not have the enchantment.

    The above is correct.

    When the wiki says ~4 times the usual usage amount, that means on average. Each use the game basically makes a roll to see if Unbreaking gives a free use that time (better chances at free uses with higher Unbreaking levels, of course). Makes the roll, no durability hit. Fail, uses durability as normal.

    So as the other above poster mentioned, it is possible (though extremely unlikely) that an Unbreaking tool will never lose durability, and also possible (though extremely unlikely) that it will always lose durability when used as if it never had the enchantment.
    Posted in: Survival Mode
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    posted a message on New Fishing!
    I'm still loving the new fishing stuff, even tracking my catches over the long-term to see if I can figure out rough drop percentages by category (enchanted/treasure/fish/junk) and item. Got curious about it, and can't seem to let it go.

    I was wondering as well about just who was losing all these boots and enchanted books and such in the waterways of my world. Figured it must be the zombies - always losing stuff, those guys.
    Posted in: Recent Updates and Snapshots
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    posted a message on anvil Q fixing Diamond sword, Enchanted.
    Put the sword on the anvil, and instead of adding a second item to repair/combine with, just click where it says "Diamond Sword" above, delete "Diamond Sword" and type in the name you like.

    The anvil has a maximum of 39 levels worth of work that can be done on any item. So, if the repair or combine or whatnot would cost 40+ levels, you'll get Too Expensive! - meaning it simply can't be done. That's why it's different than when you just don't have enough levels to do a particular job (and get the red text telling you how much you need).

    How the game decides how many levels a job takes can get pretty complex - the Minecraft wiki has a lot of info on it (though it may make your head spin for awhile reading it :P)
    Posted in: Survival Mode
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    posted a message on Thread for posting armor and weapon names
    Dave. I named my sword Dave.

    I figured that Dave was a nice name for a sword. Dave's a friend who's got your back, through thick and thin. Sticks by your side, no matter what.

    As a bonus, if a zombie horde surrounds my house, demanding that I surrender my prized weapon, I just sit behind the door and say, "Dave's not here, man!". Bonus points for getting that old reference.

    Quote from abscond_

    ...but now I see it as a waste of XP.

    I thought this at first as well. Until I learned about how renaming items caps the multiple-repair surcharge, keeping subsequent repairs cheaper. For enchanted items that are definite keepers, the rename cost more than pays for itself several times over in the longer run.
    Posted in: Survival Mode
  • 2

    posted a message on The Zax Challenge
    Northbound Zax Adventure
    Chapter 3:

    When we left our intrepid Zax, I was looking out across the waves of a new ocean after coming through the terrors of the Long Dark and braving the blackness beneath the Crushing Depths on my quest to reach North. Fear and doubt had threatened my resolve, I must admit. Though surfacing alive (and a pack full of riches) not only rekindled my spirit, but left me with a newfound sense of experience. And did I mention a pack full of riches? :)

    (Author's Note: Although I said that I would shorten chapters up for more digestable single-session reading, it seems that I am incapable of such a feat; my apologies if this offends. The story simply unfolds as it unfolds, and I'd like each chapter to end at a 'theatrically' appropriate moment, either a natural closing point, or following a climax of sorts, etc. This episode contains far more images than the previous one, though my sense is that the overall flow is about the same length. Again, I hope that you find it an entertaining, if long, read. Excom-.)

    Chapter 3: Northbound Zax and the Black Glass

    Speaking of packs, it had become brutally clear that said pack had become choked to the limit, so my first matter of business was to take inventory of what I'd brought out of the Long Dark, check food and other supply levels, and thin down anything I didn't think would be terribly important.

    Breaking out the furnace, I smelted all remaining iron and gold ores into bars, and cooked what raw meats I still had to allow for stacked storage. Then, the inventory - what had I gained?

    The Long Dark had provided me with:
    • Full iron armor
    • Iron sword
    • Iron pick
    • Iron bucket
    • An additional 56 iron ingots!
    • 4 diamonds!
    • 6 gold ingots, and
    • Full stack of redstone, with much left behind
    I had no idea yet what I might use the gold or redstone for, but again, better to have them and not need them, then need them and not have them. So I decided to carry them a bit longer and see if a use presented itself.

    My current food supply held strong at 24 cooked chickens, 7 cooked porkchops and 6 cooked steaks, which left me confident that I would not starve any time soon. Seeds and wheat meant that I could also replace my stores as I travel.

    Wood - plenty; a full stack of dark oak logs, a good half-stack of planks and most of a stack of sticks. Wood hasn't been difficult to obtain with all the forests and taigas I've encountered.

    Stack each of cobblestone, dirt and gravel - sufficient. Full stacks of torches and coal - check. The gunpowder from the witch has to go. Still have the two bones, and the one string. Only one string. I need more string.

    With inventory complete, I broke down the furnace, set up the crafting table, and fashioned another crude boat for the coming ocean crossing, but deciding to make camp on a ledge here on the hillside and set to sea at first light.

    And onward North I sailed...

    Day 38. Still no sight of land...

    Okay, not really. It had only been a few hours, but I've always wanted to say that. :) Though the difficulty in keeping my skiff on course across the sea waves certainly made it feel like 38 days. In early afternoon, I did indeed spot land on the horizon...

    ... and it looked cold. Closer approach revealed that indeed, I was nearing an ice shelf at the edge of an Ice Plains biome.

    Upon making landfall, the first thing I noticed was the eerie silence of the place. I had become accustomed to the regular sounds of wildlife aboveground, and groans, snorts and rattles of the beasties belowground. Here though - nothing moved. So I decided that I'd better.

    The Ice Plains quickly gave way to Ice Mountains, low and jagged, frozen and forbidding. Crossing a short foothill...

    ... the depression didn't run deep, but I caught sight of the iron just off to my right, and decided to tunnel through on my path, hoping for even more resources and riches.

    The gamble didn't pay off, however. Solid stone throughout. Eventually my tunnel broke out on a far hillside overlooking a frozen river, and movement across the opposite bank caught my attention...

    Spider! Spiders mean string, and I need string! But he's too far off my path, and with the sun shining, he doesn't seem particularly interested in coming to me, blast it! Just wandering back and forth, over on his side! Think, Zax, think... how do you get a spider to come to you during the day?

    Heeeeere, Spider Spider Spider. Heeeeere... not working.

    Wheat? Seeds? Riiiight.

    I have nothing to throw at him, certainly not that distance. Umm... Heeeeeere, Spi... blast it! Blasting blast blast, blastity BLAST IT! And he's really not interested in crossing that river on his own. Dare I wait for nightfall when he gets hungry? Not a good idea, Zax - the terrain is far too open to risk attack from skeleton archers. It is only with great reluctance, and a sense of missed opportunity, that I turn my shoulder to the Spider and continue on my Northward way.

    A short distance ahead reveals another chance at resources and riches.

    The cave to the right headed off into the darkness, but was otherwise quiet for the moment. I decided to move quickly to start my tunnel into the wall, lest I tempt fate.

    After tunneling around 70 meters, my way had only yielded an iron ore or two and was otherwise uneventful. Sounds of boiling magma aroused my caution, but it turned out to be a pool two blocks below my feet, as floor coal revealed, so I moved on. Soon thereafter, my tunnel was threatened with sand collapses, and my trusty Special Issue Zax GPS Device warned that I was now under a Cold Beach. At only Y=55, and not any kind of ore-rich tunnel at that, the last thing I wanted was to get trapped under another ocean or drowned out for such measly pickings, so I decided I'd better punch my way up and out of this trench, but quick.

    The edge of ice alerted me that I'd made my decision to ascend none-too-soon, but the inky blackness of that sky spelled peril in my book. I chose to risk a quick camp in the tight confines of my tunnel.

    Dawn brought the new day without incident nor burning sounds above, so I packed up my camp and pillared up to the ice edge using some of the local sandstone to take stock of my surroundings...

    Rolling green hills ahead were an encouraging sight after almost a kilometer of icy wastes. I hopped up out of the cold trench, and crossed the frozen beach to a brief edge of Plains that quickly turned to Forest Hills, where an inquisitive friend met my handful of seeds...

    ... and then met my fistful of sword...

    ... and of course, the yield was just out of my reach! Again! I've lost far too much food this way - must think of a way to stop this senseless waste. Think, Zax, think...

    I remembered a silly old song my Zax-dad used to sing from time to time. I don't know why it came to me just then; I'd always just thought he'd sung it because he was getting on in years, and was probably crazy:

    My feets are sore, by belly's thin,
    The wool's without, the wool's within,
    The cow's a'moo, but anywhoo,
    I can't just let it lie agin'!
    When things don't go as I had planned,
    Use earth! Use stone! Use things at hand!

    Crazy ol' Zax-dad wasn't so crazy after all, now, was he? Why hadn't I thought of it?

    It's wooooor-king!

    Got the meat...!

    And the feathers! Zax-dad, you've done it again! My blocks are pushing things towards me! Have to remember this trick if any riches end up just out of reach, too!

    Just over the hill, another inquisitive friend...

    ... who must've been tipped off about what happened to the chicken, and was having none of it, giving me a wide, wide berth...

    Fine. Have it your way. It's not like I'm in danger of starving, piggy.

    Dusk was rapidly approaching at that point, so I made camp, trusting that the pig would do me no mischief in the night. No hard feelings, right? Can't fault a Zax for trying now, can ya? All friends here? All friends here.

    The morning march came to an abrupt halt after just 300 meters.

    The usual question in such a situation came to mind: Over or through? Over or through? Well, the last two tunnels have been bust, but my food stores are solid enough to go underground at length, if it comes to that. Through it is!

    The tunneling was rough, through solid stone with no yield for nearly 200 meters of pick-dulling drudgery. Until...

    An opening! An opening! Where does it go?

    It goes down. :)

    Bolstered by my trove of riches the last time I'd found one of these, I proceeded to work my way down the cliff face, this time by working forward and back across two blocks alternately, dropping down one, picking the other down, move, pick down, etc., using both my 1-block allowable backtrack and dig-down-to-get-down-a-cliff rules. I reached bottom at Y=51, dreams of shiny diamonds already starting up in my Zax-head. Hey, it worked once, it could work again, right?

    And what's this here on the opposite wall?

    Well, out of reach of my path. Perfect chance to test out the Zax-dad method of wealth-retrieval!

    But first...

    Always look up.

    Nope, no scary ledges or tunnel openings above to let enemies drop in on top of me. Playing with long-distance mining in the open leaves a lot of chances for mishap, danger or death, so being as sure as possible that being exposed that long won't end my Zax-journey seems sage advice.

    All looks clear though. Let's give this a try...

    Brilliant. :) Thanks, Zax-dad!

    I began the new tunnel in the opposite wall, as usual, and proceeded forward and Northward. The going was long and arduous, but relented a steady supply of iron, though this mountain would not prove to be so accomodating with the drop-chambers as my last venture. Still, every so often a spot of coal or vein of iron in the floor allowed me a slow but steady descent, so that I had made it to Y=35 after 350 meters or so.

    At nearly 400 meters, I heard the not-so-faint sound of running water just overhead. And then... barely detectable... I thought I heard something else. A slight... rustling? No, my imagina... there it is again!

    Footsteps? Water?

    Yes, I said it out loud.

    The water sounds were clear, but the other... waitaminnit. I'm not hearing any urrr-URRR! No rattling bones. Just a plodding, rustling... there's a damned Creeper just overhead near this water, probably hoping a hapless Zax breaks exactly the wrong block. Proceed with the utmost caution, Zax.

    Not 20 blocks forward, and we're breached.

    This was the trickiest water-breach I've yet run into. My tunnel was on the direct path to the river basin, so every upper-block removed let more water in, and there weren't enough upper or side blocks in the breach to place blocks of my own to shore it up. And still that shuffling, rustling padding going on just above and to one side - I could imagine the green face up there, licking his lips and getting his fuse ready... no, Zax, think. It's like a puzzle, just get the order of the blocks right...

    And puzzle it was, but it turned out to be solvable. I looked back briefly at my handiwork and relished the thought of the disappointment in those rustling footsteps as I heard them shuffle off somewhere out of earshot.

    The next few hundred meters of tunneling passed without incident, but also without much excuse in my floor to allow me further descent, only able to drop to Y=33 courtesy of a shallow coal-hole. I was beginning to wonder if this was it for this journey, when I started hearing distant zombie groans, and then...

    Looks big from here... where does it go?

    Down. And how, it goes down.

    Once when I was a lad, back at North-going school, the Instructor-General asked me what I thought would make for the least-inviting floor a Zax could think of. Looking off this ledge now, I think I'd have a new answer for him.

    Carefully, cautiously, I crept out to the edge and looked back and forth along the ravine walls for any skeleton sniping positions, as I was sure that one well-placed shot could easily knock me from any descent attempt into fiery death below. The magma glow lit the ravine walls remarkably well, and surprisingly high, and rather than the usual catwalk-like ledges along the edges I've come to expect from ravines, this one looked to have nothing but receeding overhangs along both sides, and in both directions as high as could be seen.

    Deciding to proceed, I opted to carefully mine down my 2x1 pattern as before, block by block, until I found the last bit of overhang before the drop to the floor level. Looking straight down after an 11 meter descent, I located the source of the aforementioned groaning...

    ... and continued downward until I was a mere two blocks above him. Somehow, this zombie had found the lone dry stone block at the edge of the magma pool along a sheer cliff, and simply had nowhere else to go. As he turned to me, trying to clamber up the sheer rock face, the knockback from my iron sword hilt gave him the other option of places to go...

    The screams lasted but a moment, then I was alone with my thoughts and the song of bubbling magma and running water.

    I dropped down one more block, but still couldn't see where the zombie had been standing, so I placed a cobblestone below me on my path in the edge of the magma pool. I did not step off yet, however, as I was still concerned about possible skeleton snipers. Just because I hadn't seen them earlier, or places for them, didn't mean they weren't there.

    The close-up view of the ravine bed, if one could call it that, showed the mixing of the water and magma. There was no exposed stone of any kind to be seen, save my lone cobble block. Yet, on the water side, in the dim gloom, I thought I could just make out...

    Obsidian. Black Glass.

    At that moment, a dangerous, terrible idea occurred to me. And I looked up at the ravine walls, back at the roiling 'floor', looked at my feet, but still I couldn't get the idea to go away. At the bottom of an exposed ravine, with no solid floor, I am going to try to get obsidian.

    Then the sensible part of my Zax-head spoke:

    No, at the bottom of an exposed ravine, with no solid floor, I am most likely going to die trying to get obsidian.

    But we wants the obsidian!

    Your funeral, mate.

    And so on, for a good 5 minutes. Nevertheless, I thought to check the ravine walls again...

    Unbelievably, even from this improved vantage point, I still saw nothing remotely like a ledge, tunnel mouth, not even a single protruding block that could be stood on by a skeleton. Both sides of the water flow totally filled with magma to prevent an enemy floor approach. Total lack of mob sounds, save the squeaks of bats as they flew into magma. It truly and honestly, if unbelievably, looked safe.

    Except for the fact that there's water trying to push you into a pool of molten rock, ol' Zax.

    We can block that while gettin' the obsidian!

    Shut up, you two. I'm trying to think.

    It's been said before: Zax aren't known for their smarts. We're known for... walking. I decide to try for the obsidian.

    We can use it for good things!

    We're going to get shot, smashed and boiled like a dust speck!


    Alright, with mind made up (for the most part), I decide to proceed. First thing's first...

    There. Basic floor. Now...

    Oh, I am under Extreme Hills, aren't I?

    Emerald in the distance. Both far, far too far away, and not very useful to me since I'm unlikely to ever see a village on my journey. Never mind that, back to the work at hand...

    Safety wall in place, in case the water gets out of hand. Or a clever sniper arrives to my right.

    Then the hardware...

    Three diamonds out of four used. Now I just need a plan.

    The Zax Guide to Taking Obsidian Off the Top of a Boiling Magma Pool (2nd ed.) says that to get the Black Glass without it burning up right after mining, a Zax must first be sure there's no magma behind the block, nor under the block. It must be shored up. To get something under the block, you usually need an edge of the pool with a lower solid block, and then an angle to slip your support block against said lower solid block under the obsidian edge once a shallow pit exposes the underlying magma.

    Find an edge, Zax. Try this block. Is it hot?

    It's hot.

    But, as you can just see, there was a lower solid block allowing me to get my gravel underneath one.

    But it soon becomes clear that the edges won't be my real problem here - it's the angle. Since I'm locked to my x= -245 path, getting angles on forward blocks will be nearly impossible. Couple that with the fact that I must not retrace my steps more than 1 block means that if I advance forward too much, I'd be unable to go back to pick up any mined blocks behind me, Zax-dad trick or no.

    We wants the obsidian! Use the waterfall!

    Shhh! I was just going to say that!

    If I just... carefully cut away blocks to direct the water flow down (for more flow distance)... then place new higher blocks... to correct the flow angle to head directly... underneath a newly exposed under-block, the timing should just work out... where cobble forms, but still...

    ... pushes the mined obsidian out before the magma can scorch it... then place blocks like Zax-dad sung to push towards me... remove placed flow-control blocks, replace for new flow angle... keep working it...

    I'm shocked we haven't been shot at yet.

    Quiet! This is tricky work! I need to concentrate!

    And... there! That's enough - don't press your luck here, Zax. Take the goods and run, as it were.

    Looking back at the devastation of my passing, I note that I've now got a stash of 30 obsidian!

    We wanted it, and we got it!

    We got lucky.

    We gots the obsidian!

    We should be dead.

    And with obsidian in hand, a brand new terrible idea crept into my Zax-head, but that, dear readers, will have to wait for another day, where other adventures await!

    And at the close of Chapter 3, my journey has now crossed 9072 blocks, from the heights to the depths, and leading from some very good ideas, to some decidedly bad ideas that seem to keep getting worse, though much is yet to be revealed. And remember, one must not step off of x = -245, under any circumstances. I hope you've enjoyed the journey thusfar.
    Posted in: Survival Mode
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