Friday, 18 March 2016

Stardew Valley early game hints

I've been playing Stardew Valley for a bit now, starting over several times (proof, as if anyone needs it, that I am me), trying to find a decent approach to the first 1-2 weeks. These are some thoughts of mine.

There are several things you want, early game.
You want that sweet Backpack upgrade for 2000 Gold, to double your inventory carry capacity from 12 to 24 slots (since almost half of your initial slots are taken up by tools you want to carry on a routine or near-routine basis).
And you also want to spend 300 Wood to build the bridge to that island area, whereas selling 300 Wood (in the generic Sell Stuff-Box - I haven't found any place that pays you more for it) would give 600 Gold, almost 1/3 Backpack right there.

So what to do? How to prioritize?

It's become clear to me that the Backpack is the priority. The frustration of finding some random stuff (usually a wild growing vegetable, sellable for 30-80 Gold, or some kind of Conc or Oyster on a Beach area) but not being able to take it because inventory is full, just occurs far too often. One time I crafted a Chest, wasting 50 fucking Wood, just to enable myself to harvest some stuff (granted, it was more than 1 of that item, but still...). Later I was able to return to that area and empty the Chest and then take the Chest and carry it home, but I don't foresee any need for a 2nd Chest in the first 1 or probably even 2 years of play. So 50 Wood, equiv. to 100 Gold, wasted.

The bridge must wait. Starkly reduced occurence of frustration trumps the bridge.

(Update: I think I've changed my mind. Being able to sell the early Parsnips, and eating Wild Onions for Energy restore, I think it's fairly doable to gather the 300 Wood for the bridge over the course of 3-5 days, at the most 6, to get to the extra beach area. Mining is somewhat problematic without the Backpack, but mostly you just need to not carry any Sap and Bug Meat you harvest from the critters, and maybe also not carry Stone.)

Steps to early profit
How to earn moolah? Stardew Valley is a farming game, although it's my understanding that unlike the game series that inspired it (which I've never played), Harvest Moon, there's many more non-farming related activities to do in SV.

It seems to me as if the four main ways to earn towards the 2k Gold for the Backpack, early game, are: 
  • grow stuff, sell, buy more seeds, plant, sell, then Backpack Bingo!
  • gather a lot of Wood, Stone, Fibre and Sap, preferably on your own land, then sell that (Wood, Stone and Sap sells for 2 Gold each, but you want to keep some Sap eventually to make Fertilizer, and Fibre only sells for 1 Gold each, and you'll need 20 Fibre for a Scarecrow)
  • gather random stuff in the wilds, vegetables and flowers growing out in the world, the sikrit veggie patch, and Concs/Oysters on the beach (both the accessible part and the post-bridge part)
  • catch a bunch of fish

Of those four, I think the "grow stuff" notion is the most sustainable. Fishing doesn't agree with me. At all. I find it frustratingly difficult, and about 2/3 of the time, I end up losing the fish I was trying to catch.

Gathering Wood/Stone is nicely deterministic. Killing a single Rock is 1 Pick Axe swing, quick and doesn't cost much Energy, that's 2 Gold right there, do 15 Rocks you get 30 Gold. Killing a fully grown Tree is 10 Axe swings to fell the Tree then 5 more to destroy the Stump, but gives you a bunch of Wood (10? 12? 15?) and usually 6 Sap (although I've read that if you leave the Stump be, then the Tree will grow back). It's nicely mindless routine to gather some stuff like that and will help upgrade your Foraging and Mining skill a bit, but it's not super efficient in terms of Energy-to-Gold-profit ratio (and I also, personally, have a distinctly limited tolerance for mindless labour); it won't get you to 2000 Gold very quickly.

Relying on random finds isn't good. The sikrit veggie patch is OK for a few hundred Gold, at most, but is some distance from where I usually move around, and Energy isn't the only limiting factor (allegedly, walking does cost a tiny, tiny amount of Energy, but I haven't been able to see my meter value drop by just 1 even from walking fairly long distances, and that's with auto-run on (don't doubt that I am and remain me)), there's also time, with darkness arriving and making it a bit harder to see random gatherable things and eventually punishing you with Energy loss if you got go bed too late.

No, farming is where it's at. Fertilizer doesn't help much, but it's cheap to make (you gather the Sap yourself, then you don't sell it to the Box) and makes silver/gold-starred produce slightly more likely.
UPDATE: There are several kinds of Fertilizer you unlock later, but you can only use one type per tile, and I think the first type, the one that increases the probability of silver/gold stars on your crops, is the most attractive.

What to grow
Googling the web, I've found some data, and they suggest to me that of easily available options, you might want to grow some Parsnips mainly to keep as Energy-restoring items (for when you go dungeoncrawling in the Mine, or just generally to be able to do more per day), and go for Potatoe and Cauliflower to grow for profit. Parsnips grow quickly (4 days!), they restore a fairly large amount of Energy, and they don't sell for all that much to Pierre (and less to the Box - in general if you can find an NPC vendor who'll buy something then he'll probably pay more than what you'd get in the Box; thus the Box is a convenience item, not a good choice if there are alternatives, except maybe JoJoMart - I don't know it but I suspect they don't pay good prices, if they're even willing to buy stuff from you), so your wallet won't be in agony when you consume them instead of sell them.

Specifically, I think if possible it might be best to not sell the first 15 Parsnips you harvest, but instead keep them around for later (or for present) Energy restore. Gather other stuff, random flowers, beach Oysters, and a bit of Wood and Stone (and maybe some but not all of the Sap you get) and sell that, then use that Gold to buy Potatoes (as well as using the 500 Gold you started with). Keep planting Potatoes for the next several days. They take, I think, 6 days to grow.

Cauliflowers give more profit per day of growth, I've read, but they take 12 days to grow, and I've read that when the game transitions to the Summer season, after day 28, all currently growing Spring season plants will wither and die, so make sure you plant your Cauliflowers no later than day 15 just to be sure, then after that plant Potatoes to sell or Parsnips to keep for Energy.

Therefore, my thinking is that you should keep planting Potatoes for the first several days, maybe until you're able to buy the Backpack (maybe at day 8, 9 or 10?) and then only after that switch to Cauliflowers.

Getting the bridge built is nice, but profit from the extra beach area is random and return-on-investment of 300 Wood (opportunity cost 600 Gold the day after you dump the Wood in the Box) is unimpressive on average. I'd say maybe once you have 9 or preferably 12 Cauliflowers growing (or if you hit day 16 and so no longer feel safe planting such slow-growing vegetables) should you build the Bridge.

EDIT. On 2nd thought, I'm not really sure why anyone recommends Cauliflower. As per the wiki link, Potatoes give slightly more Gold per growth-day than Potatoes do, and Potatoes have a chance (allegedly 12.5%) of giving 2 'taters per tile. Cauliflowers may have a small chance of 9 of them in a 3×3 configuration merging into 1 Giant Cauliflower ForGreatProfit, but the profit ain't actually super-great after all, and a growth-time of 12 days when each season is 28 days just makes it seem awkward. RoI also sucks having to wait those 12 days, at least in Spring 1st year, when Potatoes grow in half that time.

Giant vegetable/fruit specimens are needed to win some competitions (largest cabbage et rural cetera), but I don't imagine that that's a 1st year thing. Thus it's 'taters all the way, except for the odd patch of Parsnips for Energy restore.

Coop or Silo?
I haven't yet progressed enough in the game to build either of these, but from what I've read, if you build the Chicken Coop first, you've given yourself a money sink, as you have to buy Grass to feed your birdies, with the Grass costing more than the Eggs they make, whereas with the Silo any time you use your Scythe to mow away grass/weed growth (at least on your own farmland - I don't know if it works if you try to reap elsewhere) it'll automatically cause some Grass (capital-letter in-game-existing item) to appear in your Silo's storage slots in addition to any Fibre that might appear in your inventory slots. So you probably want to get Robin the Carpenter to build you the Silo first, then the Coop later.

The problem is, the Coop costs not only Wood but also 5 Copper Bars, which in turn costs 5 Copper Ore and 1 Coal each. Coal isn't a huge problem to gather (I think 5 Coal is very doable, getting most of those 5 just from destroying Rocks on your own land), but 25 Copper Ore in the Mines is gonna take some time. Furthermore, you need a Furnace to make those Copper Bars, and building that Furnace will cost, I think, another 20 Copper Ore, thus 45 Copper Ore total.

I think that'll be two extended-length full-day Mining excursions, to get all that Ore. Maybe three.

Mining is time-consuming and Energy-consuming (although I think it helps if you figure out how to use the Elevator to skip down to lower levels you've already reached, since lower levels tend to have better Rocks to mine), so you want some snacks. Those bars you can make out of Pine Cones, Acorns and Maple Thingies are good, but I always find myself lacking Pine Cones. Pine Trees tend to not drop those whem I murder them, whereas Oak Trees and Maple Trees are good (if somewhat wooden) and compliant Axe murder victims, dropping what I expect them to drop fairly consistently.

That's why I'm keen on keeping the Parsnips as snacks, since unlike the random drops (Cones in particular) of using your Axe to murder Trees, farming is deterministic. Each Parsnip doesn't give all that much energy, but if you have 15 (or better yet 30) that's still a nice stack to have with you, on any given day that you decide you don't want to go to bed at fucking 3 PM).

Sikrit Veggie Patch
That news story about some kind of veggie (Wild Onion?) growing to the south-west of the village, where the river meets the ocean...

Vg gheaf bhg gurer'f guvf ynetr terra nern jvgu 4 snveyl ynetr fnaql fho-nernf, gung lbh ernpu ivn oevqtrf rvgure sebz gur abegu be sebz gur jrfg, naq gurer lbh pna svaq frireny irtrgnoyrf, hfhnyyl V guvax Jvyq Bavbaf, tebjvat, va cngpurf bs 4 be 6 be 7 be zber. Nf V erpnyy gurl qba'g fryy sbe zhpu, fb znlor lbh'q jnag gb xrrc gubfr sbe Raretl erfgber naq fryy lbhe Cnefavcf gb Cvreer vafgrnq? Rvgure jnl gurl'er tbbq gb tb naq trg. V gel gb tb gurer rirel 3 be fb qnlf gb purpx vs gurer ner arj barf tebjvat, ohg bar guvat V qba'g xabj vf vs gurl pna nccrne orsber gur GI arjf fgbel uvag nobhg gurz.

And just to update, I now check this every day of the game, even the first day. Most days I get 3-4 or more Wild Onion, sometimes many more. They sell for complete shit, I think 8 Gold each, but are nice Energy restore items at +13 Energy each. I'm not superbly happy with them since they're slow to eat, I mean if I want to restore a piddling 65 Energy I have to eat-click five times. But selling them isn't reasonable for 8 Gold p/u. Instead, I sell my Parsnips!

What else to spend Wood on?
Well, I really like having just one Chest outside my home, right above where I place my farming patches (ideally four patches each 3 tiles tall and 5 wide, although if you plant something re-growing like Beans than you won't be able to walk through them so you'll need to at the very most make your growing strip 2 tiles wide (5 by 2 tiles) and I've seen advice that suggests that 5×1 is somehow preferable although I can't see what's wrong with 5×2. That Chest, placed just there, is a nice inventory-swapping spot.

A Torch is also nice. It's so silly cheap, a couple Wood I think and 1 Sap, that it'll be useful if you find yourself needing to to some farming late at night. I place one inside my house too. They're super cheap. Might as well.

I'm not sure how much the Scarecrow actually helps, but for 50 Wood, 20 Fibre and I think 1 single Coal, one Scarecrow can easily cover your four 5×3 farming patches, and even a couple more such patches for later if you place the Scarecrow right (but how much watering can you actually be arsed to do? And later you'll be able to make automated Sprinklers which necessitate a different farming patch layout). 50 Wood for one, no big deal.

Egg Hunt!
I'm honestly not sure if this is worth the effort, on the 13th day Festival of the Spring month. I tried it once, got 4 Eggs (I could see another one near, but didn't have time to grab it) but Abigail won. I quit the game, resumed from the auto-save, and that time I got 7 Eggs. Abigail still won! I mean, if you think it's fun, then go for it. Me, I think I'll rather just go AFK while the secret timer counts down until Abigail wins the rigged game. I like a challenge, sure, but I don't think I can consistently get more than 6 or 7 Eggs.

First time I tried the Hunt, I went around and had a talk with every person present, but as far as I know that didn't help me towards my "talk to all 28 people in the village" quest, so that's probably another thing that isn't worth trying on that day.

Other tips
Carry the Hoe with you at all times. If you see 3 Worms peeking up out of the ground, give them of the Hoe. Once I got 3 Copper! Most of the time I just get Clay, but that's still useful I think. The Worms move, so I think they're fairly easy to spot, and they also seem to occur more often on rainy days (which is realistic).

Carrying the Scythe may sometimes be necessary if you want to get through an area overgrown with weedy things. I've started to think that it may not be very necessary, after all.

I don't think you need to bring the Axe or the Pick Axe with you, although the Pick Axe comes in handy if you decide spontaneously to go spelunking, and the Axe can sometimes be handy if some small fallen logs are barring your way (later in the game I'm sure you become able to Axe away the large fallen logs too, the hollow ones).

If you hate fishing like me, there's no reason to routinely carry the Fishing Rod, but if you like it (and it's not impossible that I might come to tolerate it, especially if there's a patch update that makes fishing a more reasonable activity) then you should probably have it with you at all times, in case you feel like giving some waters a random try to see what lives beneath the surface. The Watering Can is not needed when you're away from your farm (one reason for the Chest).

Check the Garbage Cans in the village (I think there are 5, although spaced out a bit) in the hope of finding nifty items such as Energy restore (one game I found an almost super soup that gave something like 200 Energy and some Health and +2 Defence! Usually it's more like a Bread or a Can of JoJoCola, often in-practice inventory-unique items that you'll want to prioritize using first before more plentiful stackable items that are more efficient to keep in your inventory), but only when no NPC is nearby, as otherwise they'll thwart and criticize you and make it so you can't loot that Garbage Can that day (I don't think this lowers the NPC's Opinion of you, but I'm not actually sure).

(Update: With Wild Onions being readily available, I've stopped checking Garbage Cans. Also, beyond the 5 in the main village, if you take the bridge to the east (a stone bridge I think) to the small island where JoJoMart and the smith guy is, you'll find a 6th Garbage Can, if you desire to be a dumpster diver.)

Fertilize all soil before planting, as soon as you become able to make Fertilizer. Soil remains Fertilized for the rest of the month, based on what I've read, but I think you must re-Fertilize each new month. The chance of starred produce doesn't improve by much, but Fertilizer is cheap to make.

Pierre's, your favourite shop (at least early game, when you're primarily a grower of vegetables), is closed every wednesday (bummer!) and also on the 13th during the Egg Hunt Festival (which as far as I can guess is a Monday), so you may need to plan your seed purchases and your produce selling accordingly (of course selling to the Box Wednesday evening is time-equivalent to going to Peirre's the day after and selling directly to him, but profit-wise Pierre pays a bit more, at least usually).

Also, you may want to have quite some gold ready for the Egg Festival, since you can buy Strawberries for 100 Gold per seed package. Those are recurring plants, harvestable over the entirety of the Spring month, so if you plant them on the 14th (or late at night on the 13th) they might not be profitable at all. The idea is that you keep them around to plant on the 1st day of Spring of year 2, and reap great profit then. It's very early in the game, though, day 13, so maybe you'll prefer to spend your Gold on something else. Or maybe you can spare just 600-800 Gold to buy a few packages, at that point. Maybe sell a huge stack of Wood and Stone and Fibre on day 12, if you've already built the Bridge, maybe postpone the Backpack until after the Festival?

Sell Concs, Oysters, Mussles and so forth, to the fisherman's shop.
I don't know if he'll buy the Corals you can gather on the post-bridge beach area, but in the real world, some corals are valuable and are used for making jewelry. I don't know if he buys Seaweed. but if you can get a small stack of that, you might prefer to keep it around as Energy Restore, or for bizarre culinary uses.
(I've now found out that he does buy them, and Corals actually sell for quite a bit.)

I don't know of any recurring or one-time way to "translate" Wood, Stone or Sap into Gold at a ratio better than 1:2 or Fibre at a ratio better than 1:1, which is what the Box gives you, and it is very unlikely that a recurring way exists. So that is what you'll get, all you get.

I haven't used JoJoMart myself, but from what I've read the stuff they sell tends to be available elsewhere too for slightly lower prices. I can imagine (note I'm speculating here) that no one else sells JoJoCola, but frankly I don't think you'd be that desperate for Energy early game as to be willing to pay Gold (I think it's 75 Gold per can) for Energy Restore.

The Mine isn't open on day 3. I had rain on day 3 in a recent game, so I figured I'd have time to delve down to level 5, but it turns out the Mine isn't open, so I wasted a lot of time on that. It must happen on day 4 or 5 then. If it rains just go on a cruise for Worms, then after that cut down some Trees or destroy some Rocks on your own land.

(Allegedly, the beach areas have more nifty stuff on them after a day of rain, but I have not yet seen any indicators that that's actually true. Also fishing is supposed to be better during rain, but that's not something I'd have discovered if true. Finally, I read once that mining in the Mine is better too during the rain, supposed to give you more stuff. That makes no sense to me. I imagine it's just garbled thinking or communication, and what is behind is it the reasonable thought that if it rains on a given day then you won't have to spend time watering your crops and so you'll have more time to spend in the Mine.)

I've read an article about mods for the game, but so far it seems as if they're all installer-based, rather than in the Steam workshop, and the most useful mod of the ones described in the article is one that shows the sell price for items carried, so I'm not exactly crying myself to sleep over not having that. It'll be nice once it's available in the workshop though, for convenient installing and updating.

UPDATE: There's still no Steam Workshop functionality, so you'l have to manually download and install the mods, after installing a generic utility called something like SMAPI. Most mods are cosmetic ones, but there is the one that shows you the sell prices of items you pick up, and another one that makes fishing a bit easier, which both sound interesting.

Unanswered questions
How many Eggs do Abigail usually find? Mayor Lewis doesn't say. If it's 8 or 9, she mighty be betable. If it's 10 or more, I strongly and sincerely suggest not stressing over it.

How to use the Elevator? Granted, this is probably just a question of me delving down to level 5 again, then next time trying to click the Elevator to see if it'll let me. But as of now, formally, it is a question that hasn't been answered.
(Elevator works fine, just click it. It enables you to skip down in multiples of 5, but only to levels you've been to, thus if you've dived down to level 9, you can only skip to 5. More UPDATE: My thinking is that on the first dungeon excursion, one should strive to dive down to level 5, then just explore that, then go home, then one the second excursion strive to drive down from lvl 5 to 10. After that? I dunno... There's apparently a craftable item that allows you to insta-dive one level down.)

Is there a way to buy some Cones? I'm really pining for those. Even a one-time opportunity to buy 8 Cones for 100 Gold would be sweet.
(Haven't found a place to buy them, but those tiny strange brown items on the ground, at your farm? They're Acorns/Cones/Maple Thingies. After the game tells you that "Trees will now drop stuff", usually 3-4 days into the game, you can use the Hoe on those tiny brown items to harvest them. Doing so has caused my Snack supply to explode, I can easily get half a dozen over the course of a few days, although they still aren't bundant. Do not try to harvest them before you get the sleep message, as that'll just destroy the items.)

How exactly does (dungeon) mining work? I think I get that those reddish Rocks with the metally lumps on them are much more likely to drop Copper Ore, but is that all there is to it? And how do I maximize my Coal gathering, in case I end up needing Coal?
(I do know eventually I'll get some kind of Charcoal Burner machine to turn Wood into Coal, and Wood is easy to gather in large quantities, but I mean before that).

Is it safe, long-term, to plonk down Chests on communal ground? For instance, I could see myself putting one down right outside the Mine, use it as a switcher, drop my Fishing Pole (if I begin to carry that routinely - I doubt it) and my Axe/Scythe, pick up some Wild Onion Energy restore, and any random gatherables, before entering the Mine, then when I leave the Mine I dump Coal and Copper and maybe Stone in the Chest and take the other stuff back home. The problem is just, will the items stay in the Chest safely? Or is there a risk of loss? That'd be useful to know. For that matter, having a "stuff to sell" Chest right outside Pierre's store could be nifty too, just dump stuff into it whenever I pass by, then a couple times a week grab it all, go in, sell it, buy seeds to plant. But a Chest in the village in particular is likely to become disrupted when it's Festival time, so that's something I'm very reluctant to try.
(Allegedly, you can place a Chest anywhere, even outside your farm, as long as it's not directly on a walking path, e.g. in the Town. I'm not sure I'm keen on experimenting with 1500 gold worth of stuff-to-sell-to-Pierre, though.)

What's that tiny cave on your land, a fair distance to the west of your farm house, and a bit west (I think) of the destroyed greenhouse? It's just a tiny cave room with no features that can be interacted with...
(Update: I think it's for growing 'shrooms.)


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