Hardcore worlds are the most unforgiving type of Minecraft world. It can take many attempts before actually reaching the credits, which can be very frustrating. This article focuses on SSP Hardcore strategies, many, but not all, of which can apply to other game modes.
Before beginning a Hardcore world, it is advisable to beat the game on Hard a few times. Learn to act quickly and effectively. After starting a Hardcore world, it may be helpful to practice on other (non-Hardcore) worlds, especially to prepare for fighting the Ender Dragon.
- Always watch your back. The most common death is from a Creeper or a Ghast.
- Never attack two Creepers in a row. The same goes for Skeletons because their long-range shooting means it's hard to get in close.
- Never, ever take unnecessary risks. Sometimes there are necessary risks, but most things probably are not worth dying over.
- Mobile inventory space can be increased through the use of Ender chests or a donkey (or mule) with a chest.
- Don't be afraid to place plenty of torches all over the ground. Surviving the first night is easier in a well lit area.
- Beds are useful to stop monsters from spawning at night. This is very helpful for exploring the surface. To save materials, break and reuse the same bed.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Don't get so lost in what you do that you could be snuck up on. Occasionally stop and look around.
- Avoid going out at night until you're well-prepared, with iron equipment and a preferably a safe zone to retreat to. If night suddenly falls upon you, retreat to a shelter (if one is close enough), or build one. Even a simple pillar is helpful for surviving the night.
- Avoid dangerous areas early in the game such as caves and ravines. It's best to stay away till your second or third day. This especially applies to temples, which contain traps.
- Wear at least iron armor at all times, replacing it as it gets worn. Remember that unenchanted armor doesn't protect you against falling damage, poison, hunger, etc.
- Sometimes it's better to flee than fight.
- Be extremely vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Occasionally look around you even if you have to interrupt what you are doing. Once you hear a hiss, it's too late.
- Try to keep your Hunger meter full at all times - regenerating health might save your life and eating in the middle of combat can be hard to do. Remember, hunger can kill you.
- Walk when you are not being pursued by a mob. Sprinting depletes a lot of your hunger bar.
- Do not jump too much. It takes down your hunger bar if you are not careful.
- Do everything you can to make sure that you are not overrun by monsters. Plan ahead and leave escape routes ready. Digging into the side of a mountain to make an emergency hideyhole should only be done in extreme emergencies.
- Don't worry about storing items away "in case you die". It's Hardcore mode. It is important, however, to clear out inventory clutter. Keep anything useful in organized chests so it can be retrieved quickly.
 Settings and Options
There are many ways, in-game and otherwise, to alter aspects of Hardcore mode.
- Try to minimize lag.
- Close any other applications.
- Weigh the advantages of features that may cause lag (such as particles, graphics type, etc.).
- In Video Settings, set brightness to "bright".
- Use sound. Listen to everything; Creepers make sounds walking on grass/stone.
- Avoid using unfamiliar resource packs. Sometimes it can be very beneficial to get a resource pack that changes certain textures slightly (for example, by slightly brightening the Nether brick texture it becomes more obvious where it is safe to step in Nether Fortresses).
- Superflat Hardcore worlds are often more difficult than default ones. Some advanced players may welcome the challenge, though.
- By picking the seed (instead of using a random seed), the world can be controlled.
- For example, a seed with a stronghold inside a mushroom biome would make the process of reaching the End portal much easier.
- Cheats can be enabled in a Hardcore world by opening up on LAN with cheats. Unless cheats are used to increase the difficulty, this is usually considered cheating and is not in the "spirit" of Hardcore.
- Some players choose to save a back-up of their Hardcore world in case they die (especially before entering the End). Many people consider this cheating, as it can "ruin" the feel and purpose of Hardcore mode.
- Alternatively, modifications can make Hardcore less challenging.
- Some mods can be used for advanced players to increase the difficulty.
Shelters are very important, especially on Hardcore. Building a proper shelter will make Hardcore mode slightly less impossible. Shelters are never optional for nighttime, although they may be temporary.
- Mushroom biomes are very safe places to settle because hostile mobs do not spawn under normal conditions.
- Otherwise, a shelter built over an ocean away from land can also be very safe from hostile mobs.
- It's best to build shelters out of blast resistant materials. Cobblestone is cheap, although, if possible, permanent shelters should use Obsidian.
- Make your shelter as visible as possible. Proper lighting outside the shelter adds visibility, and stops hostile mobs from spawning nearby.
- Build low ceilings to avoid fights with Endermen.
- Zombies can break wooden doors; however, iron doors require six ingots to craft. To solve this, dig 1 block down right in front of the wooden door (Be sure to place it from the OUTSIDE, or this will not work!!!) This will prevent Zombies from reaching the top block of a door, so they can't break it down. For insurance, place a block in front of the door.)
- Because the shady canopies of trees will protect Skeletons and Zombies from burning, build an indoor tree farm to safely harvest logs and apples when necessary.
- Even small farms with wheat, chickens, and cows can be a great asset. Use the wheat and seeds to breed the animals for meat and other drops. Again, indoor farms are safer.
- Never go unprepared into a cave in case you get surrounded or cornered, if you are and you are unprepared you will most likely die, so always bring blocks and weapons with you.
- Be careful around cave spiders -- poison cannot actually kill you but it will weaken you severely. Only fight cave spiders if you desperately need string or spider eyes. If you need spider drops it is best to fight plain spiders if you have the choice.
- Diamonds are not very hard to find if you travel in deep caves. That being said, the common hazards would be monsters, lava, and falls. The least you need is iron armor and a stone sword to go in.
- If you happen to fall in lava, swim to the surface and place water above (not under) the lava.
- Fall damage can be avoided by placing water to break the fall.
- 1 tip for digging straight down. Make a hole next to you (as far as you can reach). Then, while sneaking, come to the edge of the hole. See if the blocks under you are all there. If they are, dig straight down to the same level as the hole you already made. Then repeat. If ever there is dangers you find, jump then quickly place a block under you, and repeat that until you are at the surface.
- Never, ever dig straight down or straight up. You may tunnel into lava or a fatal fall or into a group of mobs. Instead if you must dig straight down (doesn't work for going up) stand on the line between two blocks and break one at a time so that way if one breaks to reveal lava or a fall you are still standing safely on the other. You can also create a spiral staircase by choosing a four-block square and digging down two blocks on one corner, turning right (or left, depending on which direction you want the staircase to go), and dig another two blocks down. Be sure that after you choose your direction, you only turn that direction. Repeat this until you reach your desired depth.
If you have thumb buttons, assign them to the sword and water bucket.
- Sword. Use the best one available. Free up space by discarding or stowing away less powerful swords. Also, blocking is a key skill to have.
- Water Bucket. Second most important item for survival.
- Bow. Although bows are very useful in many situations, they are limited by the stock of arrows.
- Torches. Essential for caves or the Nether, not to mention securing shelters.
- Pickaxe. Also essential for caves and especially the Nether. Except for early on, use at least iron.
- Solid blocks (dirt, cobblestone, etc.). Can help prevent lava spills or to allow quickly climbing up.
- Shovel/Axe. They are not usually necessary at the same time.
- Food. Try to keep the hunger bar full at all times.
 Step by Step Guide to Hardcore
 Above-ground Preparations
Duration: 5–20 minutes
- Find the closest tree and punch it. Gather 4 pieces of wood.
- Craft a crafting table.
- Craft a wooden pickaxe.
- Find the nearest stone and mine 9 blocks to start. If there is no stone nearby, just dig several blocks downwards (but not straight down).
- Craft a stone axe, stone pickaxe, stone shovel and stone sword.
- Get about half a stack of wood.
- Kill pigs, cows and chickens to get at least 12 pieces of meat. Grab mushrooms if you see any. Having food now is worth the effort it takes to find more animals later.
- Since it is safer to skip the nights early on, kill enough sheep to craft a bed.
- Start looking for a cave system, although it's best not to explore a cave or ravine this early on.
- Don't make any stops. It is safer to not wander around at night without at least iron armor and your daytime is limited. You might find it overly careful but do not forget, that one little accident, and you have to start all over again.
 Firm Footing
Duration: 15–60 minutes
At this point, either find a cave or create a mine (such as a branched mine). While it is usually safer to create a mine, using existing caves is often quicker. While descending to the depths, avoid risks. At first, it may be very dark so watch carefully for monsters and ores. Be sure to light everything in reach, and don't get lost. It is often very helpful to use signs or another distinguishable block to mark the path.
Coal is the first resource to find. Since inventory management will become a problem, try to keep a stack coal as close to 64 as possible, but not above it, while keeping a similar number of torches in hand. If necessary, craft Blocks of Coal to store extra.
The next important resource is iron. 64 ingots will probably be enough; piling up stacks and stacks is not necessary except for longer games. When equipment is nearly used up, or you just have enough iron, find a safe area and set up a few furnaces to smelt/cook items quickly. Make, in this order: an iron sword, a pair of buckets (filling one with water), iron armor, an iron pickaxe, and an iron shovel. Also, toss any wood tools and store your stone tools.
Once fully equipped, go further down and collect diamonds. Only seven are necessary, although more is better (2 for a sword, 3 for a pickaxe and 2 for an enchanting table). Use the diamond pickaxe to mine about 15 pieces of obsidian for a Nether portal and an enchantment table. Meanwhile, gather some redstone and gold for potions and golden apples. 72 gold ingots is enough to craft an enchanted golden apple.
This sums up all mining you will need to do in the hardcore mode. If you gathered, at any point, enough string to make a bow, do not hesitate to craft it and use it with whatever arrows skeletons dropped. If you come across an abandoned mineshaft, be careful. Avoid cave spider spawners, but loot any chests.
When you get home, make an infinite water spring, then build farms for wheat, carrots and perhaps potatoes. If you've gotten seeds for pumpkins, cocoa beans, and/or melons farm those too. Sugarcane is very important (for bookshelves), so spread and harvest up to 3 stacks of that.
Wheat, seeds, and carrots can be used to lure and breed animals, leading to large supplies of meat and resources over time, so it is worthwhile . You will need chickens (arrows) and cows (bookshelves). It is a good idea to tame ocelots to repel Creepers, and wolves to fight. Sheep on hardcore are less useful (beds are nearly useless), but you might want some wool for markers.
 The Nether
Duration: 30 minutes–2 hours
The Nether can be very dangerous, so be prepared and try to bring:
- Diamond sword, iron armor, and pickaxe. (Iron pickaxes, or better are fine, but they shred Netherrack very fast.), Bow (and at least 32 arrows, unless it's enchanted with Infinity). Make sure to enchant everything with 1-skill-point enchantments. It barely costs anything but can make a difference.
- Flint and steel, to relight deactivated portals.
- 16 Wood
- Bones, dirt, and saplings: In case the supply of wood runs out, a tree farm can be started (ideally in a protected location, as trees are flammable). Using some bonemeal will skip some time for it to grow.
- Any iron ingots, coal and food (Remember, no respawning.)
- 64 blocks of cobblestone
Some dangerous aspects of the Nether are:
- Ghasts. Their fireballs can seriously damage unprepared players, or deactivate portals. Without a flint and steel, another fireball must hit the portal to reactivate it.
- Falling down huge distances. Even while moving carefully, an explosion can easily destroy the terrain, which may expose a lethally high drop onto blocks or even into lava.
- Lava. There are many little pockets of lava inside the Netherrack, in addition to the lava sea. Lava is much more dangerous in the Nether because its flow is faster and will flow further. Since water cannot be placed in the Nether, Potions of Fire Resistance are very useful.
- Zombie Pigmen. An attacked Zombie Pigman will attract others.
- Blazes. Although they're not very challenging alone and in controlled circumstances, in groups of three or more they may present a significant challenge. An unexpected attack of just one Blaze can be lethal.
- Wither Skeletons. Although they only appear in Nether Fortresses, this may be the most lethal Nether mob; they are fast, strong, and inflict Wither effect.
The Nether contains four things that might be crucial for your adventure:
- Nether Wart - they are necessary to brew any useful potion. They are found quite often in Nether fortresses. Five is enough, but it's better to take every one. Collect at least six blocks of Soul Sand, so that a farm can be started.
- Blaze Rod - it is necessary to craft Eyes of Ender. It is also used to craft a brewing stand and brew strength and fire resistance potions. To obtain them you will need to kill Blazes. It's best to fight lone Blazes at first to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Find two rods (one if you already have magma cream); once you have those (and your Nether Wart), retreat to brew some potions of fire resistance. Collect more rods after applying the Fire Resistance potions, but remember that Potions of Fire Resistance do NOT nullify Blaze melee attacks. For the main Blaze battle, find an enclosed spawner and kill them with a sword. This conserves arrows and saves the drops. About 12 blaze rods should be more than enough.
- Ghast tears - used for Potions of Regeneration. However, Ghasts are dangerous, and their drops are often destroyed.
- Glowstone dust - used for strengthening potions. Glowstone appears occasionally in Nether fortresses, otherwise look for it on low ceilings of Netherrack.
Nether Survival: If there are no fortresses nearby, you may be forced to spend a lot of time in the Nether. Food supplies can be easily replenished, using very abundant mushrooms. Use torches or distinctive non flammable blocks, like cobblestone, dirt or crafting tables to mark the path back to the portal. After gathering all the needed supplies, return to the Overworld.
 Overworld Exploration
Duration: 1–10 hours
Remember, villages will provide good combat and survival supplies. Loot one if possible, but finding them can be somewhat difficult.
At this point there are two main goals: Ender Pearls and Experience. Also, it is very helpful to have a chicken farm at this point, because feathers are needed to make arrows. Also, stay stocked on food and wood. In the night, be constantly on the move. Search for Endermen while killing any threatening mobs. After accumulating levels, enchant weapons and tools:
- Bow (20 skill points). Infinity is very helpful, but it is rare (10% chance). Power will also help.
- Sword (30 skill points). The most useful enchantment is Sharpness. Fire Aspect is useless in the Nether, but is very useful in the End (because Endermen become neutral while burning).
Plan to collect 16-20 Ender Pearls and turn them into Eyes of Ender. Remember to be conservative while using them, as sometimes they will break when thrown and sometimes they won't. After locating the End portal, dig a staircase carefully downwards. Once inside the stronghold, break the Silverfish spawner and pillage the place. Secure a shelter near the portal to prepare for the End.
 The End
Duration: 10–40 minutes
These items are recommended for the End:
- Diamond sword, pickaxe, bow and iron (or diamond) armor. Enchant all non-enchanted tools with level 1 enchantments.
- Make sure that all equipment has as many uses left as possible. Make sure that nothing will break in the middle of the battle.
- Anywhere between 128 and 256 arrows, unless using an Infinity bow, then only one arrow is needed.
- At least 16 pieces of food, preferably steak or porkchops.
- 64 blocks, to use for building.
- 2 buckets of water
- Potions of Regeneration, about four of each type:
- Extended Potions of Regeneration. Should be active after taking damage, if not slightly beforehand.
- Splash Potion of Regeneration II, for quick healing.
- Potions of Strength. If inventory space is not a problem use tier II potions. Take two extended potions or six tier II ones.
- Splash Potions of Healing II. If melon is available, fill all remaining inventory space with them. Before entering the End, learn to differ them from Regeneration potions.
Once you gather yourself and organize your inventory, jump into the portal and meet your fate. Upon entering the End, the first task is to take out the Ender Crystals. Use arrows (or snowballs) to remove all the towers, while avoiding the Ender Dragon.
- While doing all this, make sure not to look at any Endermen. It is much harder to fight the Ender Dragon while Endermen are also attacking. However, if an Enderman does become aggressive, place some water to damage them slightly; they will then become neutral again.
Once all the Ender Crystals are destroyed, take aim at the Ender Dragon, once again avoiding looking at the Endermen. Keep moving until the Ender Dragon is defeated. Gather the experience orbs, and enter the portal to see the credits, then return to the Overworld.
- Challenge the Wither.
- For an extra challenge, return to the End. By enabling cheats through LAN, another Ender Dragon can be summoned with
/summon EnderDragon. After quitting, cheats will again be off unless they are enabled through LAN again.
- And never die!