|If you wish to help revise this and the other survival tutorials, please visit the BGR Project!|
If you have no idea where or how to begin your Minecraft journey, this Beginner's Guide is the good way to start! Here you will learn how to survive your first night in two different formats: In an overview with goals and in a Step-by-Step instruction. You can choose which one you want, but both will accomplish the same goal.
If you have not done so already, take a look at the Controls page to learn how to move around your character. Once you have grasped movement, you will be ready to forge on!
As Minecraft is a sandbox game, there is no defined or proper way and style to play the game. However, one common theme found for all players is the need to feed yourself, and to avoid (and later, fight) hostile mobs that spawn either in dark places (e.g. caves) or when night falls.
Before your first night, you will need to collect Wood and make your first set of tools from it. Then collect Cobblestone for a full set of better tools. You then want to find a shelter to use as a temporary home. Getting Charcoal or, if available, Coal is an important early step, for you need them to cook meat and to make torches.
Wool for a bed is optional, but very helpful—it lets you skip the night and avoid the monsters that appear then. While you're working on the basics, collect any stray items you come across, as many of them will be useful later.
You need to get these resources and find or make either a bed or a shelter before nightfall, because that's when the monsters come out. It is best to work quickly, as a Minecraft day is approximately ten minutes and night (including dawn and dusk) is another ten minutes.
For nighttime, the primary danger will be monsters. It is a good idea to start gathering resources and construct a lit shelter immediately after you begin on the first day. If you are playing for the first time, do not try to engage any monsters! The worst way to die early on is to be killed while trying to hunt monsters, so don't do it unless you either have a good sword and armor or unless you have lots of practice!
 A Word About Digging and Mining.
One of the basic things you do in Minecraft is (true to its name) mine things. The words may change, but whether you're chopping or punching wood, digging dirt, or mining stone and ores, the routine is the same: Wield an appropriate tool (which may be your fist), put the cross-hair on a block, and hold the left mouse button until the block "breaks" and drops as an item for you to pick up. If something is taking a long time to break, you are probably not using the right tool, (unless it's obsidian, then it will take awhile) so stop hitting it unless you just want to get rid of the block, as you won't get anything back when it finally breaks.
The rules for tools are as follows:
- Using the proper tool to break a block will be much faster. Wood and dirt type blocks don't absolutely need a tool, you can break them (more slowly) without one. Note that hitting blocks with anything but one of the standard tools is equivalent to using your fist.
- For dirt, sand, gravel, snow and snow cover, the tool is a shovel. Snow and snow cover won't drop anything if you use anything else.
- For wood and wooden items, the tool is an axe.
- For stone and ores, you need a pickaxe (your fist or other tool will eventually break the block, but it won't drop as an item).
- The better the material a tool is made of, the faster the tool retrieves and breaks items, and the longer it will last before wearing out.
- For pickaxes, better tools can harvest and collect more advanced ores (a list of ores is below). In order, the options are wood, stone, iron, and diamond. (Gold tools exist but are nearly useless. They can't mine much, and wear out very quickly.)
 The Golden Rule of Minecraft
The golden rule of Minecraft is:
It is possible to stand on a block while destroying it. Once it's destroyed you will fall down one block to whatever is beneath it. The problem is, once you get below the surface (sometimes even on the surface) there is a significant chance that "what's beneath it" is a cave—then you'll fall into it (taking damage) and likely be surrounded by monsters. Worse, you might even fall into lava—usually that's well underground, but there are a few pools of it near the surface too. Lava will damage you grievously, and also set you afire (which will do more damage). If you do land in lava try to get out immediately, and if possible jump into water to put out the flames. (Even if you can't save your life, try to get away from the lava before you die, so it won't destroy your possessions.) If you survive falling into a cavern, you will then have to mine your way back to the surface (try to make a staircase.) If digging down is what is necessary then dig a 2x1 tunnel downwards so if something is below you, you see it on the block that you aren't on. For more information, visit this page.
Digging straight up is less obviously dangerous, but you can dig out a block holding back water or lava (which will pour out onto you) or sand/gravel (which can fall on you and suffocate you). Even water could kill you, by washing you into a dangerous area. Note that lava or water will "drip" through the block immediately beneath them, but that's not much warning. Somewhat unintuitively, digging straight up is much safer in a 1×1 tunnel, if you are placing ladders as you go. If you release lava or water, you can simply drop down below your topmost ladder, which will block the fluid (and not burn). Of course, you still need to worry about caves containing monsters.
 Death and Your First Shelter
When you die in Minecraft, all items you were carrying or wearing in your inventory are scattered around your point of death (unless you had "/gamerule keepInventory true" turned on, when which you keep all your stuff when you die), while you respawn elsewhere. Until you sleep in a bed, you will spawn somewhere within 10 blocks of the world spawn point. This includes the first time when you started the game, so you can respawn anywhere within 20 blocks of where you first entered the world.
The traditional advice is to build your first shelter as close as possible to the spawn point, so if you die, you can easily find it again, or even spawn in a now-protected area. Even with the variation in where you'll come back, it's good to have a lit shelter nearby the spawn point. However, a problem with sheltering near spawn is that if your death site is too close to where you respawn, your items may despawn while you're trying to survive the night. (See below for more details.)
In any case, your very first shelter should be something very basic, even a hole in the ground. This is so you can spend the least time working on shelter, and have the maximum time possible to gather resources. If you've got a couple dozen blocks of dirt (and especially if you have no torches), it's perfectly OK to spend your first few nights atop a pillar. See below for more advice on early and emergency shelters.
Like any dropped items in Minecraft, the items you drop when you die will disappear after 5 minutes, unless you're more than 180 blocks or so away, that is outside of chunk update radius. The problem is that if you died at night, you will find yourself stranded without your weapons and armor, at night, so you are quite likely to get killed again, or at least find your stuff guarded by monsters. Meanwhile, some of the monsters can actually pick up your stuff and use it against you! And if you spawned near your death scene, that 5-minute timer can easily go by before you can actually get back to and keep your stuff.
Combining these issues leads to a new strategy, at least for single-player. You can still mark your spawn point, but realize you might end up anywhere within 20 blocks of that. If you end up within 20 blocks of your death point, your stuff will be there on the ground, but the monster or something else that killed you will be there. So, while getting your initial resources, move away from the spawn point, trying to get 200 blocks or so away before you build your shelter. (Using the debug screen can help with checking the distance.) That way, if you get killed at night, your items might not be with you, but if you wait until dawn comes and the monsters leave, you can trot right back and hopefully retrieve your dropped items.
However, the above only applies until you have made and used a bed in a secure shelter. Once you've done that, you have a new option: If you get killed at night, you will respawn next to your bed, so you can just go back to sleep, and wake up the next morning—the items don't "expire" while you're asleep. It still may be worth keeping your bed out of chunk update range from where you're endangering yourself, but at least you won't be stranded outside at night.
 Food and Hunger
Once you have tools and shelter, your next priority will be food. Hunger will take a while to hit, so it shouldn't be a problem on your first day, but you'll try to pick up some food for when it does. However, after you've been moving around for a while, your food bar will begin rippling and start to decrease. If your food bar drops below 90%, you will not regenerate health, and if it gets to 30%, you can't sprint. If the hunger bar goes down to empty, you will begin losing health. Unless you're in Hard mode (and a beginning player shouldn't be), you can't actually die of hunger, but you will go down to 1 health point () in Normal mode (or half your health in Easy mode), and that leaves you quite vulnerable.
Walking, mining blocks, and even placing blocks all cost some hunger, but all of those are minimal compared to the items below. These are the things that cause the most hunger, in order of cost.
- Healing damage of any sort. Avoid taking falls of more than 3 blocks, drowning yourself, or otherwise taking damage, as healing damage costs a lot of hunger. Especially avoid...
- Fighting: Both attacking mobs and receiving damage cost hunger, even before you start trying to heal damage. (10 blows either way matches healing , one health point.) You will need to slaughter a few animals, but pick your fights carefully.
- Sprinting. If you double-tap the forward movement key (W by default), you will sprint. This moves somewhat faster, but it also uses a lot of food, especially if you go any distance. (30 meters matches healing .)
- Jumping. Obviously, you'll need to jump some just to get around, but don't bounce around randomly or unnecessarily. (15 jumps matches healing ) Sprinting jumps are especially costly, 4 times as much as a regular jump.
Note that if you're (staying) at full health, and not moving, fighting, mining or placing blocks, then you will use no food. Thus if your character has a secure place to stay, you can just stay put to conserve food while waiting out night, storm, or crop/animal growth.
 Starting the game
When you begin the game, you will be standing in a landscape somewhere. Take a moment to look around. This is the general area (within 20 blocks) where you will reappear if you get killed. It's a good idea to mark it immediately, by punching out an X of dirt and/or sand, then using the dirt or sand to build a pillar in the middle of that. If you're standing on rock, look around for some dirt or sand to use, remember where you are, and go get it to build your pillar. You can also use the Debug screen to save the coordinates of the spawnpoint for later use (see the page to learn how.)
 Tough and Easy Starts
- If you are standing on and surrounded by sand, you are likely in a Desert biome. After marking your spawn point, head for high ground and look around for green ground and/or trees (Cactus and sugar cane don't count). Head that way to gather your wood. If you can't see anything but desert, pick a random direction and head that way, occasionally going to high ground for a look around.
- If you are on an island, completely surrounded by water as far as you can see, you are in an Ocean biome. This is a very tough start, but if you don't want to just delete the world and start over, you can just start swimming until you reach land, then continue.
- In either case, "looking around" is a good time to increase your render distance to Far.
- If, looking around, you see purple land, your game just got a lot easier: That Mushroom Biome will not spawn monsters. Monsters can still come in from other biomes, but if you head toward the middle, you can spend the night in safety outdoors. Also, with a bowl, you can get free food from the Mooshrooms which live there. However, one thing the Mushroom biome does not have, is wood—so before you go there, head for green territory to get some wood and stone first.
- If, looking around, you see houses and/or farms, you are near an NPC Village. This is a good place to live in general, if you can make a bed: the farms will solve your food worries for now, you can trade with the villagers, and if there's a smithy, it will contain a chest with bonus items. You can also scavenge a fair bit of wood even without trashing the place (try replacing logs with planks). However, at first you'll need to avoid hanging out near there after dark, because zombies can spawn and kill the villagers. You can avoid this fate by making a bed (see below), and consistently sleeping through the night until you can properly fortify the town against monsters):
- If there are no sheep around, look for "lamp posts" in the village -- the black block on top is wool (break it with your hand).
- If you can't get enough wool for a bed, your best bets are (first choice) either get far away (150 blocks or so) from the village before nightfall, or (second best) to spend your first night(s) atop a really tall pillar, 40 blocks high or more (64 is even better). By the second night you will hopefully have managed to find a bit of wool....
- If you find yourself surrounded by many very large trees, and leaf blocks on the ground, then you have found yourself in a Jungle biome. the jungle biome is a good place to start because there are large trees everywhere, however, these can cause you to easily become lost. Also, the cramped quarters can make it difficult to build there. Jungle biomes are the only place to find Ocelots (you'll need fish to tame them) and Cocoa beans.
- If you find yourself surrounded by thick and short trees and are in darkness, you are in a Roofed Forest biome. These biomes are especially dangerous because the canopy of leaves can sometimes become so thick that monsters will spawn, even during the day. However, this biome does provide ample supplies of wood and naturally spawning giant mushrooms which can be used for food and shelter for the night.
- There are many other biomes in Minecraft, and to see a more in depth look at all of them, check the Biomes page.
 Punching Wood
Look around for a few things in particular, in order of priority: trees, visible stone (and especially coal ore), animals, and tall grass. As you move around, break any tall grass in your way, and collect any seeds that drop. For that matter, collect any loose item you see, as most of them will eventually be handy. Your first priority is to find a small tree, bash through the leaves if needed, and punch the wood until each block drops as an item. Don't bother with huge trees at this point, but also don't be upset if you can't reach the top blocks of wood—you can always come back and collect them later. This first tree should give you at least 4 blocks of wood ("logs"). You'll punch more wood in a moment, but it's probably best to make a couple of tools - such as an axe- first.
 Your first crafting
As the game's name suggests, crafting is core to Minecraft. While there are a small number of items that can be crafted directly from the inventory, a Crafting table is required to craft tools and most other items in the game. Naturally, the crafting table can be crafted from the inventory!
Then place some of the wood in the 2x2 crafting square above your inventory. This will produce planks:
The planks will be different colors depending on what sort of wood you have. Different types of wood don't stack together, but all work the same. With a couple of exceptions (slabs, stairs) you can mix and match different planks when crafting. In particular, sticks don't care what sort of wood they came from, they all stack together.
Left clicking on the plank icon will craft four planks for each click, using up one log. (If you hold down shift and click left mouse button it will convert all the wood you put there into planks.) At this point, you want to convert at least 3 logs into planks. You can do more if you want, but you likely want to save some logs for charcoal. Once you've made some planks, click on the remaining wood in your crafting square, and return it to your inventory. Click on the planks you just crafted and instead of left clicking, right click once in each of your four crafting squares. (This drops one item, instead of all items, each click.) Return the remainder to your inventory. Another option is to get 4 planks, right click and hold on a square in the crafting grid, and drag it around the grid until all 4 squares are filled.
You should see this:
Click on the result and place it in an empty square of your hotbar.
Press ESC or E to return to the world view and walk to a spot you think appropriate, select your newly crafted crafting table with either the mouse wheel or number key(123456789, not the keypad), point at a flat square of ground (not directly where you are standing) and right click. This will place your crafting table on the ground ready for use. If you wish to pick it up again to move it, left click and hold to mine it and then walk near the produced icon to pick it up.
 A word about crafting squares
Whatever you craft on a 2×2 crafting square, such as the one in the inventory, you can also craft in a 3×3 crafting square, like the crafting table. There is no need to open up your inventory to craft a 2×2 recipe if you have a crafting table open. Simply choose any of the four smaller, 2×2 squares that you can infer on the big crafting table.
 Your first tool
In order to collect stone and coal, the next staple resources, you will need a pickaxe. Your first pickaxe will be made of wood; not very durable or fast, but until you collect some stone, which is why you need a pickaxe in the first place, it's all you have.
You will need at least five planks to make one wooden pickaxe. Use your crafting table by right clicking on where you placed it. Your crafting table view is similar to your inventory view, except you now have a more useful 3x3 crafting space. First we need to make a handle for your pickaxe. To do this, pick up a stack of planks and place one above another anywhere in your crafting square. Two planks produces four sticks:
To create your pickaxe, you'll use some of the planks and sticks you've just made. Arrange them in positions shown on the picture below.
You may have noticed that in order to craft a pickaxe, you more or less draw it with its components in your crafting square. Other items are crafted in a similar fashion. At this point, you could go on to create a wooden axe, but you're better off going straight for stone....
 Better Tools
Once you've crafted a pickaxe, you can successfully acquire cobblestone to make better tools. Start by finding stone in the world; it should be fairly easy, as it's extremely common. If you don't see any on the surface, dig down in a staircase fashion or in a hole two blocks wide so you can see where you might fall - it is highly recommended not to dig straight down in a one block hole. Mine the stone with your pickaxe; it will drop as cobblestone items. Mine 3 blocks, then craft your stone pickaxe as below, then mine another 16 blocks or more, and continue with your tools: Besides the pickaxe, you want a stone sword, an axe, a shovel, a hoe, and a furnace. (If you're running a couple of blocks short, you can skip the hoe, since that won't be useful until you start farming.)
Using sticks and cobblestone, you can now make some stone tools:
 Crafting Stone Tools
A stone pickaxe is more durable and more efficient than a wooden pickaxe. You will use it to mine stone (and other "rocky" blocks).
Shovels are mainly used to break dirt, grass, sand, clay, and gravel blocks quicker than by hand. They also allow for the collection of snowballs when used on snow covering grass blocks in snow biomes
 More resources
Now, you should gather more wood, using your new stone axe. Don't turn it all into planks up front—you may need a few logs for charcoal (see below). Although some trees (and their wood) look different than others, all wood functions the same. However, different kinds of wood don't stack together, which can take up extra inventory space. You might notice also that the tree's leaf blocks slowly disappear, or decay after you cut down all the wood. When the leaves decay when all wood blocks are destroyed, they can drop a sapling, or rarely an apple (Apples only drop from Oak Tree Leaves or Dark Oak Leaves). Later on, you can use saplings to grow more trees, but just save them for now. For now, harvest a decent amount of wood (perhaps 16 blocks or so, but mind the sun). While you're at it, you should also dig (with the shovel) 16 or so blocks of dirt, in case you need to make a pillar or a quick wall when night comes.
If the sun is still in the sky, explore immediate vicinity for some stone with black specks in it. This is coal, another essential item in Minecraft which can be used to create torches and more. If you cannot find some, don't worry: you can make charcoal from wood blocks in a furnace. Charcoal has the same properties as coal.
You aren't too much in need of iron right now, but if you do find any iron ore (looks like stone with tan specks), go for it (you do need the stone pickaxe first). Don't be greedy—if it's over a large cave or ravine, much less next to lava, leave it for later.
You will probably see other animals, such as cows, pigs and chickens. Kill a couple of these with your new sword to get a bit of food, and (from sheep) wool. Don't slaughter too many critters (they rarely replenish themselves), but try to get 3-8 pieces of meat, and (if there are sheep) 3 pieces of wool. Ocelots, Wolves, and Horses are tamable animals, but you're not equipped to tame them yet, they don't drop food, and for wolves in particular, if you attack one of them, the whole pack will attack you. Just remember where you saw them and move on. If you're already hungry (your food bar is rippling), you can eat a piece or two of steak or pork raw, but otherwise save the meat to cook later; cooked food is much better than raw, and raw chicken in particular can give you food poisoning.
Chickens, Pig, and Cows (or Mooshrooms) all drop meat, which you can cook later. (Chickens also drop feathers, and Cows leather—just pick them up and save them for later.) Sheep drop wool, which you can use to make a bed and skip the night altogether. (Later you will be able to make shears, to get wool from sheep without killing them.) Once you've got 3 wool (that's all you need for now), immediately pull out your crafting table, and craft a bed:
 Crafting a Bed
The type of wood or color of wool doesn't matter (and won't change the appearance of the bed). A bed has two main purposes: Firstly, it lets you skip past nights (and even thunderstorms). Note that while the time of day will change, otherwise no time will pass while you are sleeping—furnaces won't finish, and plants and animals won't grow. You will not be able to sleep if there are already monsters within about 8 blocks of your bed. The other thing a bed does, is to set your spawn point (where you reappear when you die), but that part only works if you leave the bed there. So for the first night, you might just use the bed and then take it with you, but eventually you will want a safe shelter where you can sleep in your bed and leave it there permanently.
Key points about beds (see the Bed page for more details):
- To place a bed, you just need two solid opaque blocks. Most of your building blocks are OK, but glass, leaves, slabs or stairs, and a few others are not opaque—you will simply not be able to place the bed on them.
- To safely sleep in a bed, you also need a free space to wake up on, either next to the bed (as below), or at least on top of it. If there is no such space, you will wake up on top of the bed regardless of the blocks there, which may leave you suffocating. Note that beds themselves are transparent, so the bottom of a bunk bed is OK.
- To respawn at a bed, you also need a free space next to the bed (one of the 10 adjacent blocks). This means a solid, opaque block which you can stand on, at the bed's floor level. (You cannot respawn on top of the bed.) If the bed doesn't have such a space when you die, you'll come back near the world spawn point ("Your home bed was missing or obstructed"). This also means that to be usable, the top bed of a bunk bed would need a block next to the lower bed, with standing room on top of that. As that message implies, this will also happen if the bed itself is gone or moved, so obstruction doesn't matter if you were planning to take the bed with you anyway.
- If you do get the "missing or obstructed" message, your spawn point is lost even if you put the bed back or fix the obstructions: you need to actually sleep in the fixed bed to set a new spawn point.
 Heat before light
Next you need to cook your meat before you get hungry, and also make torches (your only artificial light source, for now). If you haven't found coal, you will need to make charcoal instead. To cook meat or make charcoal, you need a furnace. To craft it, arrange eight cobblestone blocks in a ring on your crafting table.
Place your furnace somewhere (say, next to the crafting table) so you can work with it. As it is made with cobblestone, you will have to use your pickaxe to collect it if you wish to relocate your furnace. If you have lots of coal, you can skip making charcoal, and go straight to cooking your meat, but that uses the same smelting system.
To make charcoal, you have to smelt blocks (logs) of wood. To do this, right-click on your furnace and add a fuel in the bottom slot and the wood in the top slot. When you place both fuel and something smeltable in the furnace, fire will appear and smelting will start immediately. You don't need to keep the furnace window open, you can hit Esc to leave the furnace and do something else while smelting continues. When the furnace's fire dies down, right-click it again to retrieve the output. Note: When you do retrieve the output, you will likely get some experience points, adding a new gauge to your screen. Ignore this -- you can't do anything with experience until your game has gotten much further along.
At this point your fuel of choice is probably wood planks, two of which will smelt 3 items (logs, meat, ore, etc). However, you can also burn your wooden tools, each of which will smelt one item. If you have any coal, you can turn one lump of that (and 8 logs) into 8 lumps of charcoal. Put your items to be smelted (in this case blocks of wood), in the top slot. Using sticks for fuel is less efficient than planks, but two sticks can smelt an odd item, and one stick can finish smelting the odd "half item" from a single plank.
Make about 6 pieces of charcoal this way. (if you already have one piece of coal, you can use that for fuel, to make up to 8). Each piece of charcoal (and coal, they are equivalent) can smelt 8 blocks, so it pays off more to use them, rather than wooden planks as a fuel. However if there are less than 8 blocks to be smelted in the furnace, the coal/charcoal will continue to burn, wasting fuel when there are no items left to be smelted.
Once you have your first pieces of charcoal, use that as fuel any time you have 8 or more items to smelt. Each piece will smelt 8 items (just like mined coal), and you have other uses for planks. If you have both coal and charcoal, use the charcoal first and save the coal.
Now you can cook your food and make torches. Ration out a piece of coal/charcoal for the food, and cook the food just like smelting the wood above: food in the upper input box, fuel (coal) in the lower one. This being your first day, it's OK to "waste" some of a coal /charcoal lump if you have fewer than 8 pieces of meat.
Use the rest (up to 8 for now) of the coal or charcoal with some sticks to craft into torches. One log crafts into 8 sticks to match 8 pieces of coal or charcoal, producing 32 torches (half a stack). (You can always make more later.)
Now you're prepared to light up your shelter.
 Bed and shelter
If you have made a bed, nightfall is easy: As soon as sunset begins, place your bed, sleep in it by right-clicking on it, and continue with crafting and smelting the next day. (Hint: Music plays at dawn, noon, sunset, and midnight.) It's probably good to set up a shelter anyway, but if you run out of time, you can sleep anywhere, as long as there aren't already monsters near you.
If you have no bed, and you didn't have time to build something secure, you will probably have to spend your first night in an emergency shelter. For some of these options, you can make torches and cook food overnight, but for the underground options, you really want to have some torches handy before you close yourself into the darkness.
 Atop a Pillar
Build a tall 1x1 column under you, by pillar jumping: look straight down, jump up, and place one of your blocks in the space you've jumped up from. By doing this repeatedly, you can get high enough above the ground that the mobs will be unable to detect you. You can make the pillar out of dirt, wood planks (remember, 4 planks to a log), or even cobblestone, but avoid using sand or gravel to make your tower (see below).
Going 10 or 12 blocks up will usually be enough, 16 is safer (skeleton range), and 20 or 30 is more certain. (As of 1.6 zombies can still track you 30 blocks up, but they will not be able to hurt you while you are on the pillar). You will then need to wait until morning. You can also use "crouching" (holding ⇧ Shift) put an extra block or two as a ledge. Crouching lets you "lean" over the edge of your pillar so that you can see the side of the top block, which then lets you place a block there (without releasing the shift key!). Then you can put your crafting table (and soon, your furnace) on the ledge and work overnight. (Alternatively, you can just stick them to the side of the pillar.) Remember to retrieve them before you come down! You can look around and see what's happening overnight, but try to avoid putting your crosshairs on an Enderman.
Watch out for climbing Spiders or even (unlikely) a Spider Jockey. To fend off spiders, you can break one of the blocks below your top block, or build a lip around the block you're standing on. You do either of these by crouching as above, and placing or breaking blocks. You will not fall unless you let go of the shift key while leaning over the edge... or unless you are attacked, so don't do this if a spider is actually getting close to you (or if your tower is under 20 blocks and a skeleton is at the base). If a spider does climb the pillar, they're fairly unlikely to actually reach you, but, just in case, keep your stone sword in hand and whack them as soon as they come into reach, before they get up to you. (Attacking them will knock them down, and they will then take damage from the fall.)
Once it is light enough, and the undead have burned, simply dig out the blocks you're perched upon, until you're back on the ground. (Check for nearby creepers and other monsters first!) Don't just jump off your tower - if you're high enough to avoid mob detection then you're high enough to take damage if you jump, or even die if you're 22 blocks or more up. Also keep an eye out for spiders, which can meet you halfway and knock you off the tower. If a creeper is hanging out at the base of your pillar, and you have more blocks, try going even higher—30, 40 blocks, or even up to cloud level. This will make monsters on the ground despawn far more quickly (because they are now farther away from you).
The reason not to use sand or gravel, is because unlike most blocks, they are affected by gravity: You won't be able to place a ledge with them, as it will fall to the ground. (However, you can put a dirt block on the side of a sand pillar, and that will stay up even if the pillar doesn't. In particular, if a creeper does notice you, and blows up at the bottom of your pillar, the rest of sand you're standing on will fall closer to the ground, taking you with it... and apparently, you were already low enough for monsters to notice you. (Also, a passing Enderman might pull a block out of your pillar.) If you're really stuck and only have sand or gravel, make the pillar extra-tall, at least 20 blocks.
If you are in a desert with only sand and cacti all around, and have no other blocks available, don't try to use cacti (they'll kill you). If you have time, try to gather a lot of sand to make sandstone. If you got at least 40 or 50 sand (a full stack of 64 is better) by nightfall, you can make enough sandstone for a pillar, even without your crafting table: Press E for your inventory and crafting window, divide the sand among all four boxes of your crafting grid, and take the sandstone. (Use your pickaxe to take down the tower in the morning.) Unfortunately, you need 4 sand to get each block of sandstone.
 Up a tree
Find a large single tree; and use dirt to pillar up to the top and stay up there till day arrives. Jungle, tall spruce, and large oak trees are recommended. Mobs will not spot you if it is a large enough tree and if they do, just take evasive action and move to the other side of the tree. Spiders could give you a problem, but hopefully, they won't see you. If the leaf canopy is big enough, you can actually dig up into the leaves, where monsters can't reach you. When night's over, you can chop down the tree. Take care not to chop it down before you are done using it as a shelter, or the leaves may start to disappear, leaving you with nowhere to stand.
 Three block high hut
By making four three block high walls around you, you can simply hide from most mobs. Adding a roof (at the third block, that is 2 blocks high inside) will protect against Endermen (which can't fit) and spiders, which can otherwise climb the walls. You can make this out of almost anything—cobblestone is more secure, you can use wood planks if you have enough, but even dirt will do in a pinch. You'll need at least a dozen blocks for a bare minimum (four 3-block high pillars around a 1×1 refuge), but two or three times that, or even a whole stack of 64, will let you build something you can actually move around in, and do some crafting and smelting overnight. (Note that you can use the crafting table and/or furnace as part of the walls.) Keep a block or few in your inventory as spares, in case of Enderman theft (see below). You will have two main risks: One is Spiders, which can both sense you through the walls, and climb the walls. However, they can't fit through small holes, and if you make a roof with only a one-block hole, spiders can't get through (but you can still tell when day returns). The other hazard is if an Enderman wanders by and takes a block out of your shelter. Wait for the Enderman to wander away a bit, then replace the block, with one of your spares, if possible without letting your cursor cross the Enderman ("looking at them"). When full daylight comes, mine a door in your wall, and exit. Keep a wary eye out for monsters, and in particular be prepared to run very fast away from creepers.
 Hole in the wall
Dig a hole in the side of a cliff or hill. Make it at least 3 blocks deep. Then go inside the hole. You can keep digging as far as you can, if you want, but try to get at least 7 or 8 blocks in from the entrance (to hide from creepers) But when you see the sun start to set, fill in your entrance. If it is at least 3 blocks high and you are a good distance off the ground (8+ blocks) then you can leave a one-block window. Otherwise, it is safer to wait until night is over (you can wait 8 minutes clock time). If you don't have a window, mine one of your blocks every now and then, and check if it is still night. If it is, fill it back in and repeat. quickly, and don't try digging too deep yet. If it is daytime, then congratulations: You have survived your first night. To pass time, you could try extend your makeshift shelter, but be ready to seal up holes if you break through into a cave or out to the night. Also, avoid too much jumping, which spends your hunger quickly.
 In a cave
If you found a cave system you can fix it up into a lair—a good one can make a base for the rest of your game. If it ends quickly, then cap off your entrance. If it does not end, then build a little shelter around you [usually by capping off any extra exits or openings into the depths. Don't worry too much about the natural walls of the cave; monsters can still be heard through the walls pretty loudly, but they can't come through unless you leave an opening.
To block the cave off, for your first night you can use walls of dirt or cobblestone similarly to the "hole in the wall". If you have enough wood, you may be able to craft fences and a fence gate and place them across the entrance and any openings in back. Make sure you place the walls or fences behind the upper lip of the cave (or extend the ceiling over the barrier), or monsters are liable to "drop in" inside your barrier. Likewise, remove any stray blocks, within two spaces outside the fence, from which monster could jump onto the fence (try the jump yourself). If using fences, also make sure you can retreat into the cave and away from the entrance (out of sight or 16 blocks away), or a creeper may drop by and just wait for you to come out. Later, you can be more sophisticated about sealing off and fortifying your lair.
As with "Hole in the wall", you can dig into the cave's wall while waiting for dawn, but keep some blocks handy to patch up any openings you might make into another cave while digging, which might have a hostile mob in it. If you place your pickaxe in the quickslot bar (used to navigate quickly between items you are carrying in your inventory) and e.g. dirt is placed right next to it, you can quickly switch between your tool and that block type in order to close the hole you just made. This can be extremely handy when you stumble upon an opening which contains mobs.
 Out to Sea
If you are near an ocean, you can make a boat (see that page for the recipe) and sail out to where you can barely see land (in any direction). If you can't make a boat, you can just swim out, holding the space bar all night to keep yourself afloat. Either way, you won't be getting any crafting or smelting done.
 Break The Golden Rule
Remember the golden rule we talked about before? Well, when you're desperate, you can break it a little. Dig three blocks down, and put a block above you that is not sand/gravel. Congrats, you just made the fastest shelter in Minecraft possible. Since you probably don't have a Minecraft clock yet, you may want to use a real-world clock to time the night (7 minutes, with up to 3 more to allow for dawn/dusk). If you have dirt or stone next to you, you can dig out a couple of blocks there, and place your crafting table and furnace. Sometimes keep the hole in the ground as a base. A torch will make your little hideyhole feel a little less like a tomb....
 Changing The Rules
If you're desperate, you can press the Escape key to pause the game, go into the Options menu, and change the difficulty to "peaceful". Though many players consider it cheating, it's a sure-fire way to make sure mobs don't spawn.
 At Dusk
Make sure you are in (or on) a suitable shelter or hideout with at least some wood, a crafting table, a furnace, a sword (any type will do), some food (probably uncooked meat at this point), and at least 1 torch. If you do have a bed, definitely sleep in it and cook your food the next morning—if monsters show up, you may not be able to sleep later.
It might get boring, but please try to limit jumping & sprinting in your shelter, which will conserve your hunger. If you haven't yet found coal or made charcoal (but you have some spare logs), you should make some charcoal as above. Then, if you haven't already, go on to cook your food. If you've only got 3 or 4 food or you have no coal/charcoal, use planks, otherwise use coal or charcoal:
Again, on your first night it's OK to waste a little fuel to cook your first food, such as using a whole lump of charcoal for only 5 or 6 items.
If you have a couple of logs (or 8 planks) left over after making torches and bed, you can also make a chest to stash items you don't want to carry around. If you get killed, anything in the chest will be waiting for you rather than scattered around your death site.
A chest isn't really necessary for your first night, but it will become very helpful over the next day or few.
Wait for full light, wield your sword, and carefully leave your shelter. Hopefully, it will be sunny, but even so, watch out for any remaining monsters—this may well be your first fight. If you see spiders, don't panic, they will hopefully have become peaceful in the sun (you can try to kill them for their string). If you see a creeper, your best bet at this point is to run at least 16 blocks away from it, and wait for it to go away (or explode, if it got too close before you got away). If you see any skeletons or zombies (hiding under trees or in water), stay away from them—skeletons can still shoot at you if you are too close (16 blocks or so), and either skeletons or zombies may come out from shade to attack you even as they burn. WARNING: If a burning zombie or skeleton touches you, you will be set on fire! If this happens, flee and jump into any nearby (monster-free) water. Once you're out and clear of monsters, look around for and collect bones, arrows, or rotten flesh which may have been dropped by burning skeletons and zombies.
If it is not sunny, you may have worse problems: You may need to kill zombies or even skeletons (or just retreat back in your shelter until the sun comes out). Zombies can be easy to kill by themselves, but if in a pack they can overrun you. However, if a zombie is attacked, it alerts all nearby zombies that you are there, and also some more zombies spawn out of sight to attack you. So even if there's only one zombie, you'll soon find yourself facing a horde.
Skeletons would be easy, but they are deadly accurate with the bow. It can be very difficult to dodge their arrows. Also, the closer you get, the faster the skeleton shoots. If you get too close, you could die within 3 seconds. It's best to have a bow of your own before facing these undead creatures.
Assuming you made it out of the shelter, congratulations! You've survived your first night in Minecraft! Within the next day or two, you should have acquired some iron armor and better weapons, which will take a lot of the terror out of nighttime. You can also make a more secure shelter, and hopefully a bed.
 After the first Day
A tutorial for your next day is available here: the Second Day. Following are some general tips:
 Home safety
By the end of the first day the shelter will likely be primitive and small. In the days afterwards, you will be able to build a better home, in any of various forms. Some natural extensions include a back door, windows, a surrounding fence, and even traps for monsters. Remember that any time you pick up your bed, your spawn point will revert to the default, until you not only place, but sleep in a bed again.
Eventually, you will need to venture belowground to gather iron and other resources. While there are many more advanced mining techniques, the most basic way to find ores is by entering a cave and exploring.
 Finding A Cave
You have no problems if you have just spent your night in a cave. If you haven't, the easiest way to do so is to roam the Overworld a little and look out for exposed cave entrances. Extreme Hills biomes will have caves inside mountains, but these are generally not what you want, because only coal ore will appear above sea level (Y=64). For iron and better ores, you'll want to find a cave opening into the ground (these are quite common) and head downwards. Sometimes such caves end immediately, but often they continue into big cave systems. If they seem to end right away sometimes there will be a continuation about 2-8 blocks farther back and below the cave's end; mining in these directions (8 blocks back and down, exploring somewhat to the sides) will reveal this if it is the case. Digging away gravel or dirt can also expose cave extensions, but you may go through a few shovels that way. If you can't find any all day, just sleep away the night, replenishing your resources like wood and food as you use them. If you hear suspicious, hostile noises, just try to listen and follow them.
 Cave Exploration
Cave exploration is pretty straight forward: you light up your way with torches, mine up ores as you see them (check Ores and Minerals) and kill enemies as you encounter them (see Tutorials/Combat for details). There are also some important techniques that might not be obvious to a new player, such as using waterfalls to descend into shafts, and/or swim back up from them. There are also many options for marking your trail and not getting lost.
 Ores and minerals
There are certain materials that can only be found underground and are crucial to gameplay. On your first day, you are likely to see only coal and perhaps iron ore, but it's worth knowing about all of them.
Coal is an important material used to make torches and to smelt/cook items. You have to mine it in order not to run out of torches while cave exploring. One stack (64 lumps) will be an ample supply, but in practice, you can start with less and mine more as you go. Long-term, it's worth accumulating a stack or few, as once you get seriously into mining, you'll be using a lot. Coal is not strictly necessary since you can make charcoal from wood, but it is common, and you have plenty of other things to do with wood. This is the only ore that appears above sea level (anywhere there is stone), and it is often visible in stone outcrops on the surface or even on mountains.
Iron is probably the most important and versatile resource you can find underground. You can use it to craft good quality tools, armor and a plethora of other things. Gather as much of it as possible, but it needs a stone pickaxe or better to mine it, so be careful not to use a wooden pick on it. Once you have some iron ore, make a base with a furnace to smelt it into iron ingots, that you can then craft. First of all craft a pickaxe, a sword, and a bucket (fill it with water), then craft iron armor. This will take a total of 32 ingots, half a stack. If you have extra, go on to make shears, another bucket (to hold a second water source or stray lava, and perhaps an iron shovel or other tools. Crafting recipes can be found here. (Note that two water buckets can be used to create an "infinite water source"—place them diagonally in a 2×2 hole.)
Gold, Lapis Lazuli, and Redstone are more specialized ores—gold and redstone need an iron pick, and lapis benefits from one. You don't really need them much at the beginning, so you don't have to mine them at first. Also, they are only found in deeper parts of the caves. Once you do have a little gold and Redstone, probably the first things you'll want to use them for are a compass (iron+redstone), a clock (gold+redstone), and some golden apples (gold+apples). Once you find some sugar cane, you can add a map (paper+compass) to keep track of your explorations and help avoid getting lost.
Diamond is a very rare mineral, probably the most-sought resource in Minecraft. It can be crafted into very durable and quick tools, and vastly superior armor. The ore can be found at the very bottom of the world, the bottom 15 layers of the map, and requires an iron pickaxe to mine. Once you hit bedrock (unbreakable blocks letting off floating gray particles) climb back up about 10 levels and mine around for a while before slowly making your way down one level at a time. At levels 5 and below, you'll be working around bedrock, so it's better to keep above that—indeed, it's safer to explore at level 11 or above to avoid lava. A good way to check what level you are currently on is to press F3 to show the debug screen, and read the Y-axis value. Note that the player's eyes are 1.62 units above his feet, but as of version 1.3.1, the F3 screen shows both eye and foot heights.
Emeralds are normally gained (and used) by trading with villagers, but scattered blocks of the ore can also be found beneath "Extreme Hills" biomes. Emerald ore is found at the same depths as gold ore, and likewise requires an iron pickaxe. It currently has no practical purpose besides trading.
 Things you'll need over time
This is a quick list of some things you will need or want to do over the next few days or longer, not necessarily in this order:
- If you haven't already, gather iron for a sword, buckets, armor, and other tools.
- If you haven't already, get wool to make a bed.
- Collect more wood, coal, and iron for more crafting.
- Over time, delve deeper for the more advanced ores, and eventually diamonds.
- Start hunting monsters for resources:
- Spiders for string. You need this for bows, fishing rods, and leads. If you still haven't found sheep, 12 string can be crafted into the 3 wool you need for a bed.
- Skeletons for bones and arrows.
- Zombies mostly drop dog food, but occasionally will drop a carrot or potato which you can start a farm with.
- Start setting up a wheat farm. Eventually you will add other crops—in particular, carrots and potatoes as you get them from zombies. Pumpkins are also useful, and can be found in any of several biomes.
- Gather sugar cane for maps and books (you will also need iron and redstone for maps, and leather for books). Don't gather all you find; instead, replant at least half your harvest as single blocks (that is, leave more canes growing than you harvested), so you'll have lots when it's time to make maps and books for enchanting.
- Start fencing animals into farm pens, using their food items to lure them and then breed them. Cows (also Mooshrooms) and sheep eat wheat, pigs eat carrots (you won't have those at first), and chickens eat seeds (you've probably picked some up already from breaking grass). Chickens can also be hatched from eggs, which they occasionally lay. Of these, chickens and cows are probably most important; Besides meat, chickens provide feathers for arrows, while cows or Mooshrooms provide leather for books and other useful items.
- Collect saplings, and grow some trees of your own in some convenient spot. Saplings drop randomly when leaf blocks are destroyed or decay naturally (after you chop down their tree).
- Craft a boat for travelling the many waterways in your world.
- Take up fishing during rainstorms. Before version 1.7, the rate of catching anything doubles if the water you are fishing in is being rained on. As of version 1.7, rain has no effect, but fishing will occasionally get you saddles and name tags (otherwise quite hard to find), along with extra bits of leather and string... not to mention enchanted fishing rods. (Don't eat the pufferfish!) Fishing in a small pool is possible but awkward, and properly fencing a large pool is difficult, but there are two options that are fairly easy for beginners:
- Take a boat out onto an ocean or large lake, well away from land in any direction. You want to be at least 20 blocks from land, and if you're within 30-odd blocks of land, you may have to deal with occasional swimming zombies.)
- Build a fishing tower with a platform on top near any large river, ocean, or lake. You don't need a full building, you can do fine with a pillar (stone or wood) with a ladder leading up to a platform on top. (You can also modify a tall tree to the purpose.) Add a few fences for safety, optionally a roof (lightning is unlikely to hit you, but it does happen), and you have a nice secure spot to fish from, even during thunderstorms and at night.
- A larger and more advanced home, with doors (plural, a back door is really helpful), windows (glass or fencing), storage rooms, and space for the enchanting table and bookshelves you'll eventually make.
- Tame some animals: Each sort is found in specific biomes, and needs specific foods to tame them, bring a fair amount:
- For cats, you need to find a jungle and bring raw fish. These are mostly annoying, but have the unique ability to chase off creepers.
- For dogs you need to prowl forests or taiga with a batch of bones. These can help you fight monsters! (But not creepers.)
- Horses can be found in plains; you will need a saddle (as of 1.7, try fishing for one). Food is not required, but can help, and any of several foods will do, but wheat or bread is probably easiest. Note that breeding horses is more difficult, and requires gold, as well as carrots or apples.
 Tutorial videos
- Most efficient First day tutorial 1.6.2 (tnthost)
- The First Day in Minecraft 1.0.0 (SecretRevelation)
- The First Day (Beginners' Essentials) (Minecraft Tutorial)
- Minecraft The First 10 Minutes (Minecraft Tutorial)
- Your First Shelter in Minecraft (Tutorial Machinima)
- Minecraft: Building a Starting House (Minecraft Tutorial)
- Minecraft Efficient Farm (Minecraft Tutorial)
- Getting Used To The Minecraft Crafting List 101
- basic First day tutorial (Macdeezy1996)