Tutorials/Survival in an infinite desert

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This is a tutorial on survival in an infinite desert, whether that's a Buffet world customized with the desert as the only biome, or a Superflat world customized with the Desert Preset, or a Large Biomes world, where you just happened to spawn in the middle of a very large desert.


The challenge of the desert[edit]

The Desert biome is one of the most difficult biomes for a player to survive and prosper in, owing to an extreme scarcity of essential resources in the natural environment. Typically no trees are available to make planks for even wooden tools or a crafting table. Without even basic wooden tools there is no obvious way to obtain cobblestone, and so there is no way to enter even the "stone age". Without a crafting table, crafting is extremely limited. Even basic survival becomes a real challenge in a desert, and very different approaches are required in order to make actual progress.

If you spawn in a desert biome in a normal game, you probably just need to get somewhere else, fast - check out the Survival section, build a starting shelter, collect materials for travel shelters, and start exploring your way out of the desert, to somewhere more hospitable. This whole Tutorial only really applies if you intend to remain in the Desert biome indefinitely.

If you wish, you can make sure that the bonus chest is on so you get wood and other items.

Creating a desert world[edit]

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The reason given is: New customized as of Java Edition 1.16
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Creation: superflat vs buffet[edit]

In Java Edition, to create an infinite, endless desert to survive in, simply create a new world, change the world type to Superflat, select "Customize", select "Presets", and choose the preset “Desert”, then Done. Then, create and start the world.

In Java Edition, there is an additional option called Buffet, which can generate a world more like the desert in normal Minecraft games, in which you can more easily mine for ores instead of having to raid villages for minerals or dig down to near bedrock.

Go to Create a new world, change the world type instead to Buffet, then select "Customize", and change the Biome to “Desert” and the Generation type to "Surface". Then click Done and Create, and start the world.

Buffet vs superflat comparison[edit]

There are some fairly significant differences between the "Superflat" desert Preset, and the "Buffet" desert. The Superflat desert will have a much more limited range of resources (block types, mob types, etc.). The Buffet option allows you to disable Structures such as Villages (for extra challenge).

The Buffet desert has a greater variety of terrain features, including water lakes, and potentially Rivers, that don't appear in the Superflat Preset Desert.

Creation: Bedrock Edition[edit]

In Bedrock Edition, you can select any of the world types (Infinite, Flat, or Old) and use the Seed Picker to pick a seed called "Desert Village". It is recommended to use the Flat world type, as it is most similar to Superflat, for a closer approximation of the "endless desert" experience. (See also: #Addons)

Edition and version differences[edit]

Bedrock Edition[edit]

In Bedrock Edition, the desert village preset seed is centered on a plains region, albeit surrounded by river, then the desert. Outside of the starting Plains region, this world is mostly desert, cut across by river biomes, eventually, become the ocean.

As such it offers an easier challenge because of the availability of trees at the start point, and because of the frequently encountered river biomes.

There is a discontinued preset seed, Vast Desert Oasis, seed 961601796, but this suffers from the same issue of having trees near the start point.

In summary, Bedrock Edition is not ideally suited for a hard "Desert Survival Challenge". However, the information in this article is still useful for a player who finds themselves in a desert biome or wishes to play this survival challenge by refraining from using the trees or other Plains Biome resources at the start point. Perhaps. Roleplay that you have been "cast out" from the Plains area, empty-handed.

(But see also: #Addons for a solution)

Legacy Console Editions[edit]

In (non-Bedrock) legacy console editions, there is no Customized or Buffet world type, but a Superflat world can be customized as an endless Desert Biome. By adjusting the layers it can also have most of the underground structure of a normal Minecraft world. It should be possible to replicate the underground structure of the Superflat Desert Preset of Java Edition.

Extra challenging options[edit]

For (greatly) added challenge, turn off generation of all structures in the world creation customized settings. Another very good challenge, not quite so difficult, is to turn off generation of just villages and temples, but leave the generation of pillager outposts, mineshafts and strongholds. These structures are much harder to exploit than villages and temples.


Survival options[edit]

Normally if you spawn in a desert, you would try to find a more hospitable biome as soon as possible. If you have set yourself the challenge of desert only survival, that's not an option.

In a desert only game, the easiest route to making progress is to find a village, desert pyramid, mineshaft, or pillager outpost. These structures have resources that are incredibly precious because they cannot be obtained anywhere else in the desert biome (you can also obtain resources from dungeons and strongholds, but dungeons are hard to reach and are not guaranteed to have the items you most need, and strongholds are far from an easy option, being an end-game related structure).

If you can't find a village or temple, mineshaft, or outpost, or if it takes a long time to find one, you will need to take other approaches to survive while you are exploring.

Immediate survival[edit]

Very few of the normal survival resources are available in the desert, particularly before you have found a village or temple. A different approach is needed for initial survival.

During your first day, collect dirt (if you see any - there is none in a Superflat Desert), some cacti, maybe sticks, and most importantly sand. You get sticks by breaking dead bushes with your hands. This is the only source of wood in the open desert, but unfortunately, you can only obtain sticks, not wood planks. This also suffers from the problem that this is non-renewable. Cacti are useful as defensive structures and defensive 'weapons'. Sand is your general building material. Dirt is the rarer, specialized building material, critical to building a roof or covered opening (e.g. a doorway). If you can't find dirt or are in a Superflat desert where dirt does not spawn, you will need to craft a lot of sand into sandstone right away in order to be able to build a secure shelter.


A 5x5 "Day 1" desert house made mostly of sand, with part-sandstone roof, in a Superflat Preset Desert. Note the 2-deep 13x13 trench, "bridge" blocked by a cactus, "doors" of sand + cactus, "doors" and "windows" dug down an extra block outside to prevent zombie babies entering, cacti on roof to deter spiders while observing from the roof via a 1x1 "skylight" hole .

First, build a shelter mostly of sand blocks. Sand is the most abundant material. Dirt is more scarce, but you will need either dirt or sandstone for your roof (since sand obeys gravity). First, identify a source of dirt blocks (except on Superflat). Then, pick a low sandhill in an otherwise flat area, flatten the sand off the hill by removing it and use those sand blocks to build your shelter house. You may want to leave a few 1x1 empty block spaces high in the walls as "windows" since it will be a long time before you are able to make glass or light sources. Make sure any windows are at least 2 blocks above the outside ground level, otherwise husk and zombie babies can enter through them. When you add the dirt or sandstone roof you may want to add a "skylight", though there is a risk of a mob coming through the hole (if you allow a path for mobs to walk on to your roof). Keep an area of the house that is not visible from any window, so you can hide there from the ranged attacks of skeletons, witches, and from creeper line of sight to avoid explosions. As you will have none of the normal tools or weapons, even mobs that are ordinarily not very dangerous become a real threat to you.

Instead of blocking the doorway with a door (you don't have any way to make those) or a sand pillar, block it with a cactus. Either a 2-high cactus, or a 1-high cactus on top of a sand block. This will allow you to see out, and will also damage any mob coming up to your door. Make sure you have at least a 3 x 3 clear floor area in the house so that you can stay out of the activation range of creepers (or at least, one creeper). Maybe on your first night just make a 1x1 hole in the roof (too small for spiders to come through) and no 'windows' so you don't have to worry about creepers or ranged attacks. There is the possibility that an enderman could fall through the 1x1 hole, but if one does, just don't look at it until it goes away.

(Tunneling out of a trap is rarely an option in the desert because the sand will collapse. For the same reason, it's problematic (but not impossible) to build lower levels under your house for storage, workspace, greater safety, or mining. See #Mining below for more information)

If you can't find any dirt, you are in danger and in difficulty. Unlike in normal biomes, you can't just dig a hole and cover yourself to survive the first night (in pitch darkness). If you have time, craft some sandstone. If not, (in a Buffet world only) you could tunnel a short way into a stone cliff face (very slow, with your bare hands) to make a small cave, and then block the entrance with sand and/or cactus. Or find a naturally roofed cave, and block first the inside and then the outside of the cave with sand/cacti. Or dig a 1x1 wide or 1x2 wide hole (no wider) down into the sand and surround the hole with 4 cacti in a cross shape, diagonally adjacent to each other, as tall as possible. That makes a survival shelter that should get you through the night. In the morning, make finding dirt your top priority, and failing that, craft sandstone - more than you need immediately since you can't re-use it, it is destroyed when you break the block. In a Superflat desert, you must make sandstone; none of these alternatives (apart from the "cactus coffin") are available.

In theory, a small house with 5x5 walls needs 32-34 sand for the walls, plus 25 dirt or sandstone for the roof. In practice, you can get away with less. You could use 10 blocks in a 3 x 3 pattern above the floor space (not above the walls), plus 1 block on the wall to anchor that 3 x 3 to the wall = 10 blocks. You could clip the 4 corners (but not the middle) off the 3 x 3 block and reduce it to 6 blocks, but if you go down the minimum blocks and are using sandstone, don't make a mistake! It takes a long time to break sandstone with your hands, and breaking it doesn't drop a sandstone block, the block just gets destroyed.

Desert shelter construction plans[edit]

Detailed construction plans for a 5×5 "Day 1" desert house are here: Tutorials/Desert shelter


On your first or second day build a defensive system around your house. Dig two-block-deep trenches (or two-block high sand walls) in a square or ring around your house, at least 3 blocks away from your house walls. So for a 5x5 walled house, dig an 11x11 or 13x13 square ditch.

If you dig rather than build, as a bonus this will collect most of the sand you need for a sandstone-roofed house. On the other hand, the fastest way to create a defensive barrier is to dig a one block deep trench in the sand, and use the sand collected to build a one block high wall on the inside edge (house side) of the trench, creating a 2 block high vertical obstacle that only spiders and flying or teleporting mobs can cross.

The 3 block margin around the edge is to stop creepers blowing up your house if they explode at your perimeter line. Put a bridge across this trench (or a "doorway" in the wall) only one block wide and block it at night, or whenever you are away from your house, with at least one cactus on the inward side. Make sure there are no loose blocks down in your trenches (or up against your walls); ensure that the barrier is fully two deep / two high everywhere (except at your cactus-protected bridge or doorway). Otherwise, mobs will definitely cross any gap in the ditch or wall where it is only one block deep or one block high. Mobs may fall into the ditch, in which case you can easily (though slowly) kill them with your fist.

Bear in mind this ditch system will not (yet) stop spiders, so don't wander out at night and be careful coming out in the morning (particularly for creepers). Add some cacti in the zone between the ditch and the house will stop spiders or at least harm them and alert you if they are there. If you have time put a few cacti on your roof for the same reason.

If you place a cactus on top of a single block of sand, it's very safe for you: you can walk or run into this 'potted' cactus without being hurt because the sand block is slightly wider than the cactus. The only way to hurt yourself is by jumping or falling onto it. This also means this type of cactus will only hurt spiders (when they climb up on it), not other mobs. For any cactus you are likely to have to move around near to, the 'potted' cactus-on-sand method is best. For outer defenses that you don't normally go near, you can put the cactus straight on the ground so it is more likely to do damage.

On the next day (or sooner if you can work fast), add a second, outer trench ring, so that if the first trench ring is destroyed by a creeper you are not holed up inside your house and vulnerable to a second creeper destroying the house. Losing your house walls will be instant death because you will not be able to defend against the zombies and husks.

Also, add a wall of cacti (either later as an addition, or as an alternative to the ditch system). You can't place cacti next to each other and you can only place them on sand, but if you make a ring of zigzag (diagonally adjacent) cacti around your house, this will form a solid wall. As a bonus, mobs can be tempted into running into the cacti, taking damage, though this is a slow way to kill them. It helps if you are also hitting them at the same time. With the zigzag arrangement, if you get diagonally on from a mob it will attempt to path through the (too small) gap between the cactus, and repeatedly hit the thorns until it dies. The cactus destroys any loot drop though so it's better to finish mobs off with your fist if possible. Also if the mob suicides against a cactus you don't get experience. The cactus wall will also not stop spiders, though it will damage them slightly as they cross over it.

As the cacti grow higher, they will do more damage to spiders that climb over them, making the spiders easier to kill by the time they reach you, and alerting you of their approach by making hurt sounds.

Strengthening your shelter[edit]

Sand is a weak material and subject to gravity which means it fares pretty badly if a creeper manages to somehow get through. Reinforcing the core of your main house should be a priority, after immediate survival, if you need to remain in the area. You need to continue to improve your spawn base, more so than in a normal game, because resetting your spawn point is likely to be difficult and take some time. Until such time as you have the ability to reset your spawn point to a 'safer' place than your spawn-area house, you should keep strengthening that house.

If dirt is readily available then it's possibly not worth the effort of crafting sandstone when you first build your house because this process takes at least 4 times longer (plus crafting time) and sandstone's blast resistance is only slightly higher than sand. However, later on, start replacing the innermost walls (and floor and ceiling) of your house with sandstone, or at least, the walls and ceiling of an inner 'sanctuary' room.

Also, because you don't have normal tools, if you place sandstone incorrectly or change your mind, it's very time-consuming to remove, making any placement errors or redesign a real hassle and any part of your house that is not made of sand, you can't place a cactus on, which can weaken your defensive options (you could, however, have a lower level of sandstone with sand on the top surface to allow you to place cactus).

If remaining in the deep desert very long term, if you have a crafting table and a bucket for water available, building your house from concrete could be a far superior option to sandstone.

Temporary or travel shelters[edit]

If you are exploring long-distance and not able to return to your original shelter, or have searched in all directions for one day's (return trip) travel from your original shelter, create new shelters along similar lines. Sand, dirt and cacti are your best building materials, particularly for quick portable shelters when traveling, because they are easy for you to destroy (move back into your inventory) without serious tools.

First a 5 x 5 (exterior) sand block house, 3 blocks high (solid roof at the 3rd level). Cactus for a door. Then, a 2-deep ditch at least 3 clear blocks distant from the walls. Then, a zigzag cactus ring and then an outer ditch. Or you can make a very simple portable shelter with:

  • 5 x 5 block sand walls, 3 blocks high, with empty door spaces 2-high in the middle of each wall (40 blocks total)
  • 4 x 2 cacti for 'doors' (8 cacti, but more is good)
  • 10 solid blocks (dirt is most portable) for the roof space (or 8 if you want to leave a 1x1 skylight)
  • 4 solid blocks (e.g. dirt) for "lintels" above the doorway spaces (since sand will fall down into the space)


  • 1-high sand block under the skylight, topped with a cactus to prevent endermen visiting.
  • 1-high sand block on the roof, topped with a cactus to discourage spiders parking on your roof, and make your shelter more visible from a distance (e.g. on your way back to your main base after exploring.

You can either disassemble this shelter with you in the morning and take it with you, or you can leave it in place to start to create chains of 'waystation' shelters. If you leave it in place, be sure to build a tall pillar with cactus on top near it or on top of it, as a navigational marker.

If you don't have dirt and are using sandstone, since you can't re-use the sandstone, carry multiple lots with you (or craft it each day), and leave each shelter in place. Leaving the shelters in place anyway is a good idea, as it allows you to safely make your return journey to your spawn base, in stages. Watch out for baby zombies.

Villages as shelters[edit]

While it is tempting to take shelter in a village as soon as you find one, this may not be advisable. Your presence in a village during darkness will draw mobs. Your presence overnight in a large village (10 beds or 20 villagers) will draw large scale hostile mob attacks. Even if you survive the attacks, the villagers may not. You cannot afford to endanger the villagers, as they are an invaluable survival resource to you (because of their farming and trading abilities). You need to create a shelter of your own, a safe distance from the village (64 blocks from the village edge), and make careful preparations for the defense of the village before ever spending the night at that village. See more information below under defending villages.


In a desert survival situation, you generally want to avoid combat unless absolutely necessary. You will be very weak compared to a normal game in almost all relevant ways - weapons, armor, equipment, and ability to recover after death. Even when you do acquire weapons they are likely to have limited ammunition (arrows) or limited durability.

Your combat style needs to be cautious, defensive, and based on misleading your opponents. The most lethal attack you possess is to maneuver a mob into a fatal fall. The next strongest attack is to smother opponents in the sand - but this requires excellent timing, or you can breach your own defensive barriers. Walls of cacti are less lethal but can be used to channel mobs to a point where you can slowly kill them, doing additional damage as they touch the cacti. Cacti are especially useful against spiders, which are otherwise difficult to keep at bay. A dense roof of cacti (on sand 'pots') is one of the few ways of killing phantoms.

A shallow trench, 2 blocks deep, around your house will trap mobs, which you can then kill "by hand". But beware of creepers in the trap. These you will need to kill quickly. Raise a wall two blocks high, behind the creeper, on the outside of your boundary trench, not the inside, and suffocate the creeper with sand blocks so it doesn't explode. Be careful not to accidentally build the creeper a step up out of your trench on your side.

A deeper trench is a killing trap. Lure hostile mobs towards you to get them to fall into it. Chase passive mobs away from you, into the trench. For weak mobs a trench with steps at each end is fine, so you can go in and out to collect loot. But for dangerous mobs who might survive, leave the ends sheer drops, and build stairs down after all mobs are dead.

Create one small gap in your perimeter that you can partly open up to cause mobs to attempt to reach you. A chokepoint, where you can slowly kill them. Ideally made of cacti so the mobs will take additional damage.

More complex designs - 3D chokepoints - allow you to kill spiders.

Always consider husk babies and zombie babies when designing a defensive killing-chokepoint. These smaller, faster mobs can cross obstacles that other mobs can't.

Always have a secure fall-back refuge area you can retreat to if something goes wrong with your killing ground.


Quick summary[edit]

  • It's a diet of some raw rabbit and mostly rotten flesh (or salmon if you can find a river on a buffet world) until you can find a village
  • Save bones for bone meal to grow flowers to breed rabbits
  • Bones and rotten flesh are the only "renewable" food source outside of a village

The gory details[edit]

Thankfully, Minecraft does not consider the need of human beings for water (perhaps all the cactus takes care of hydration). However, from Day 3, if you have not yet found a village, or earlier if you have been injured (from falling or fighting mobs) you will need food. In the naked desert there are very few options, as most passive mobs, such as pigs and cows, cannot spawn, except at villages. While sugar cane can grow in the desert (if there is water), sugar is not edible in Minecraft. You can make pumpkin pie and cake with sugar, but this requires many other ingredients that are difficult or impossible to acquire in the desert.

So, in a desert, outside of a village, the only living food source is really rabbits or salmon,and you will probably have to eat them raw, which is not very nutritious.

First of all, let's look at the food you can obtain without finding a village farm.


Rabbits can sometimes be difficult to catch. Early in a Desert survival game, you'll only be able to hit them with your bare hands, but if you are persistent you will eventually kill them. If you are lucky enough to be near water, chase them into water. They lose their speed advantage in water and you catch them more easily. Of course, the loot drops will fall into the water so be prepared to swim after them. Also, don't get lost chasing rabbits and lose your way back to your shelter. That can be fatal.

In addition to rabbits dropping raw rabbit, they also drop rabbit hide, which can be used to make leather. However, leather is not much use without a full-sized crafting table.

If you are lucky enough to have any grass blocks or buy podzol from a Wandering Trader, you may be able to get flowers. With flowers, you can attract and breed rabbits. This then turns them into a renewable food source. Otherwise, you may have to keep wandering around the desert to find more rabbits after you have killed off all the rabbits in an area. If there are no flowers nearby, kill skeletons for their bones, because you can craft bone meal and use that to fertilize grass blocks to grow additional flowers. As long as skeletons keep coming, you can create a permanently sustainable food supply this way. Alternatively, if you are able to mine fossils, you can craft bone meal from those, but that will be extremely difficult without at least stone tools (bone meal can be obtained from various ways in villages, but villages can solve your food problems in easier ways).

So your renewable sustainable food chain (without a village farm) looks like this:

skeletons or fossils --> bone --> craft bone meal --> spread on grass blocks --> new flowers --> breed new rabbits --> rabbit meat (probably raw, see below)

When breeding rabbits, note that they are very stupid and often kill themselves in falls (in fact, they will follow a flower to their death, if you just want to slaughter them without having to chase them). Keeping them alive for farming can be challenging. They need at least a 3 high wall (or a 3 deep trench) or they will jump out. Make sure your bunny enclosure doesn't give them the opportunity to fall. However, be careful roofing over your bunny enclosure, you don't want it to spawn monsters. If you can find water, an enclosure with water near the edges might keep them from suicide. The ideal enclosure is probably a three deep trench or pit (so they can't jump out), flooded with water (so they don't die falling in), only one block deep (so they don't drown). Or alternatively, a natural lake surrounded by a wall that lets the rabbits in but not out.

Rabbits are also present in Superflat Desert Preset worlds, but seem much less common.


If you’re lucky enough to find a river, you might be able to tap into a new food source. Until then you will need to rely on rabbits or village food. Besides fishing, salmon can be acquired in buffet worlds through river biomes. They are easier to catch than rabbits and can easily be trapped in sections of rivers. Expanding river areas can allow increased salmon spawns. They’re less nutritious than rabbit but more likely spawn in groups. They also drop bonemeal, for farming seeds or flowers. However Drowned can be a real threat if they carry tridents. Besides the threat of drowned, building your home in the middle of a natural lake or river biome would be safe. It would allow you to access food easily from the water. And at night , the water would protect against creeper explosions, and if two blocks deep zombies, husks, and skeletons.


If you have any grass blocks, and more dirt, use the dirt to 'grow' more grass blocks, use bone meal to grow tall grass, harvest lots of tall grass and eventually you might get some wheat seeds. Seeds can also be obtained from Wandering Traders or from village farms. However, make sure to remember that you can only grow the seeds in a village farm that has already been turned into farmland, because you can't make a hoe so you can't convert dirt to farmland. And unless you get a crafting table, also from a village, you can't even turn wheat into bread. Without a village, probably the best use for seeds is to save them until you have managed to obtain two chickens from the incredibly rare husk chicken jockeys. You could then use the seeds to attract and breed the chickens.


If you can obtain even one mushroom and farm it carefully, you can - very slowly - create a renewable crop. You can do this much more quickly if you use bonemeal to create huge mushrooms. And if you obtain podzol from a wandering trader, you can even farm above ground, in sunlight.

However unless you are able to obtain a bowl, you will not be able to craft anything edible from the mushrooms, and their main usefulness will probably be as a renewable source of fuel, not food.

Mob drops?[edit]

Rarely a desert mob will drop a potato or carrot. This is very beneficial if the player is about to starve; however, it is not useful long term. You still lack a hoe with which to make farmland. The potato or carrot is good for only one meal, probably raw, but it's probably best to save it, in case you obtain a hoe or find farmland. However, hoes require material for the blade, such as wood planks, cobblestone, or iron, all of which are hard to acquire in a desert. Farmland can be found in villages, but these will already have ample crops. A carrot might be more useful for enticing rabbits into a pen.

Spider eyes can be eaten, but the net effects are usually worse than not eating them. The poison does more damage than the food value is worth. They are only worth eating if you are already badly injured down to around half a heart (so the poison damage will have little or no effect). Still, since you are very unlikely ever to be brewing potions, you may as well stockpile spider eyes for the most desperate of food emergencies.

Gross zombie cannibalism[edit]

The only other short term option for food is to kill zombies or husks that come to your house at night and eat the rotten flesh. Because of the risk of poisoning, only eat this flesh when you are safe inside your house. If you create any solid barrier you can stand safely behind the barrier and slowly kill a zombie by hitting it with your fist. Before the rotten flesh despawns, quickly remove your barrier (for example, cactus), dart out to collect the flesh, dart back in your house and replace the barrier.

The slightly good news is that, because your combat ability is weak, you probably will fight only in the day, when there are fewer mobs around. So, you will probably mainly be eating rotten flesh from husks rather than zombies. In addition, you might also find some more rotten flesh from regular zombies that burned to death in the daylight.

No structures?[edit]

In a Desert world without any structures (villages for farmland and crafting tables, or other structures just for planks), your sustainable food chain will be ultimately based on eating the undead (either directly, or via the skeleton to bonemeal to flower-growing to rabbit-breeding chain, see above). Alternatively, you can just keep moving, like a nomad, and feed on the non-renewable rabbits.

In this situation, it's advisable to reserve the raw rabbit for eating during combat and use the (probably more plentiful) rotten flesh whenever you are somewhere secure, e.g. your base.


Due to the problems obtaining cobblestone, you are unlikely to have a furnace with which to cook your food. However, even if you do obtain a furnace (e.g. from a village or by blasting cobblestone with a creeper explosion), you still probably won't want to cook your food. Unless you are farming mushrooms, the reason being that wooden fuel is much too precious and limited in supply in the desert biome to waste it on cooking food. (See Fuel below).

Village farms[edit]

Food becomes much easier when you locate a village with a farm. At that point, you can finally move beyond bare subsistence and survival. Given that you still can't afford the fuel to cook your food, the best food item to farm yourself may be carrots. On the other hand, if there is a crafting table in the village you can craft wheat into bread, or if there is a Novice Farmer you can trade 20 wheat for 6 bread - nearly as effective as making your own.

Always replant after harvesting. Be very careful not to destroy farmland. Since it is extremely hard to obtain a hoe, you are unable to create or recreate farmland. Without farmland, you can't grow crops. Every block of farmland is precious. Be sure to use, or create, paths (or water) adjacent to every farmland block, so you never have to step on farmland. Every time you step on farmland you risk irreversibly destroying it. Farmland is not only useful for food for yourself. It is essential for keeping villagers happy and encouraging them to breed. This is critical because you need as many villagers as possible, of as many types as possible, in order to progress by trading.

Chests in village houses can supply bread to eat, wheat for various purposes, and other useful items. Very usefully, village houses contain Beds so that you can reset your spawn point and pass the night in safety - probably moving the bed out of the village first.

As of Village & Pillage, desert village farm can also grow melon stem, which can be useful for melons as food, as villagers are unable to harvest and replant melons, but melon stem can grow infinitely. Cats and even farm animals will also now spawn in desert villages. Farm animals in village pens usually only spawn in pairs, so be sure to always breed more animals than you slaughter.


As sticks can be collected from dead bushes and string is dropped by spiders, you could use a village crafting table to craft a Fishing Rod, giving you a sustainable food source (using water from wells or river biomes and repairing or replacing rods with anvils/grindstones/crafting tables). However, this is likely unnecessary as village farms provide better food anyway.


Even if you get a furnace, the supply of fuel for the furnace is extremely limited. You only have dead bushes, whether collected whole or broken into sticks, and these are non-renewable in a desert biome. Once you have broken or collected all the dead bushes in an area, you get no more fuel. And it takes a lot of sticks to power a furnace even for a short time. So you should conserve all your sticks for the most critical operations, bearing in mind you also need sticks to craft tools and weapons if you ever manage to obtain cobblestone or iron (sometimes gained from mob drops). While it may be tempting to trade sticks to a Fletcher villager for Emeralds, consider carefully whether this is your best course of action.

Using precious fuel for cooked food is a luxury you almost certainly can't afford. Because of the shortage of fuel (if you lack a pickaxe to mine coal or a campfire to cook food) arguably one of the most important iron items to craft is a bucket. That has the highest claim on any iron you find (with the exception of an iron pickaxe). With a bucket, you can switch to using lava as fuel. Lava is highly abundant in the desert biome, far more so than wood. With a Lava Bucket, cooked food and smelting become viable.

If you’re lucky enough to stumble across a pillager outpost, proceed with caution, mining in from underneath or fighting your way inside. From the outpost you can acquire wood blocks from the side of the structure. If crafted with sticks from bushes and precious coal, a campfire can be used indefinitely to cook meat and potatoes.

A small amount of wood for fuel can be obtained by breaking the furniture inside village houses. It's not advisable to burn doors, but the functions of fences (which the furniture drops when it breaks, along with oak pressure plates or jungle button) can be replaced by other much more plentiful blocks (sand walls for example, or sandstone walls with sandstone slabs for "windows"). The pressure plates might be worth hanging on to in case you want to automate some doors or traps. The highest priority on fuel is definitely to smelt iron ore. Be very careful to exactly calculate the burning time of each precious wooden item, and feed the next type of item into the furnace as soon as the fuel slot is empty.

A strong recommendation would be to not use any wood for fuel until you have smelted enough iron for a bucket. Once you have a bucket, obtain lava and use that for fuel, conserving any wood and sticks.

In a scenario with no villages or other structures, your only initial fuel consists of dead bushes and their sticks, making it even more important to conserve fuel until you have a bucket for lava.

Weapons and tools[edit]

Your starting weapon in the desert is your fist, or if you prefer, a stick or a chunk of cactus. These all do the same amount of damage and are a slow way to kill any mob. In this way you can kill single mobs, mobs that are stuck behind a defensive obstacle you have created, or maybe a wounded one that breaks through. Almost any mob at full strength can easily kill you, and multiple mobs in the open are likely to kill you because you have weak weapons and no armor.

No wooden weapons can be crafted without planks, apart from a bow (sticks from dead bushes and string from spider kills), but even a bow requires a crafting table, which requires planks. A village usually provides a crafting table, but not planks. With a crafting table, however, you can bypass wooden tools and weapons and go directly to stone tools and weapons, if you can get cobblestone by other means, such as a creeper (without a wooden pick which is the normal way). Alternatively, you can craft an iron pickaxe if you obtain 3 iron ingots from zombie drops. Statistically, this would require killing about 120 zombies.

Your best chance to get weapons are from a village chest or from mob drops. Your first real weapon if have not found a village with a crafting table is likely to be a bow dropped by a skeleton, a crossbow from a Pillager, or less likely an iron shovel or iron sword from a zombie or husk.

Once you find a village with a crafting table, you can quickly craft a bow. You can collect arrows from skeletons, but there is almost no chance of crafting arrows, due to the lack of chickens for feathers. Buying them from village Fletchers is possible but expensive. This means the bow must be used sparingly, for tight situations, emergencies, or high-value targets.

In a village with weaponsmith or toolsmith, there is the possibility of weapons in the blacksmith's chest; as even an iron shovel is a huge improvement as a weapon. In addition, you have the option to trade with villagers for weapons. For example, you can trade paper for emeralds and then emeralds for weapons or armor or tools, next section. Trading with villagers is an excellent way to escape the limitations of the desert biome.

It's a similar story with tools. It is difficult to make any 'technological' progress without some kind of pickaxe, or any 'agricultural' progress without some kind of hoe.


The desert is slightly forgiving in that it has higher ambient light levels at night. Nonetheless, monsters will spawn. Obtaining light sources in the desert is very challenging. The basic light source is a torch, but these require coal or charcoal. Charcoal requires wood blocks, which are totally absent from the desert. Coal ore does exist, but mining it requires a pickaxe, which requires wood planks, which are again absent from the desert. The best long-term sustainable light source is probably lava, but if you do not have the capability to make a bucket, the only way to use lava is to move your base to a lava source and perhaps slightly extend the effect of the lava by digging shallow trenches for it to spread from the source. If you have a bucket you can make "lava lamps" from stone-lined holes.

Even in villages, there are only a small supply of torches and sea pickles, and no means of creating extra ones. You will need to redistribute the small number of light sources optimally to prevent monster spawning and construct your defensive perimeter to be no bigger than the area you can protect from spawning (in a village because you have a crafting table, you can also craft sandstone slabs to inhibit spawning).

If you do somehow obtain a pickaxe, light becomes much less of a problem because you can mine coal, and make torches from coal and sticks (from dead bushes) even with your basic 2x2 crafting grid. With a pickaxe and a 3x3 crafting table you are home free, because you can mine cobblestone, make stone tools, make a furnace, and then (if you can find fuel, see above), progress to iron tools and beyond.

Beds, sleep, and spawn points[edit]

Because of the lack of planks and crafting tables, you will not be able to craft a bed. As a result, you will not be able to reset your spawn point and you will not be able to sleep.

As you can't set your spawn point, build a strong defensive base at or near your spawn point. If your main base is not at your spawn point, build a smaller survival shelter exactly centered on your spawn point, but with walls far enough away from the spawn point that you will respawn inside the walls, not outside. Ideally, create a safe tunnel or enclosed passageway to your main base.

This is why at the start of a new game, before you even move, you should dig down one block to mark your exact spawn point, then add another marking to make it clear it's the spawn point (a 5 X 5 ditch, for example). It's also a good idea, at the start of the game, to dig a directional arrow in the ground pointing to the rising sun. And, early on, create a tall pillar by pillar-jumping, so you can find your way back to your spawn-point and base if you get lost (as often happens when fleeing or fighting mobs).

Lack of sleep will bring phantoms every night. The best way to deal with these is to build a roof garden on your house with 'potted' cacti (cacti on a one-high sand block). Once the cacti are two blocks high the Phantoms will attack relentlessly and die against the cacti without harming you. However, you must offer yourself as bait so that they crash into the cacti. If you do this they will be dead by morning and you will be able to go about your daytime activities in peace.

Once you find a village, sleep, then break some of the beds and carry them with you. Leave at least one bed (the one you slept in) in case you are killed and respawn there, and for when you are visiting that village.


Unless you find a village or other structure containing chests, barrels, or other storage, you have no form of persistent storage and no way to create any (because there are no planks). Your personal inventory is your only persistent storage. Your personal inventory is actually quite limited. There are some considerations that arise from this:

Only break blocks that you will definitely need. Don't clutter your inventory with anything except what you will actually definitely use. Don't be a hoarder!

Remember, any time you break a block, the item is now on a timer to despawn. Either now, or later if you are forced to drop it. So break blocks only when you need them, or when you are going to leave the area behind. An unbroken block will not despawn and will be there forever until you need it.

If you find any chests, break them and bring them to your main base. The chest may be more valuable than the items in it. Keep at least one chest in each location though - don't remove all chests from a village, for example.


Digging, tunneling and mining in the desert are challenging because the sand will collapse. It is problematic (but not impossible) to build lower levels under your house for storage, workspace, greater safety, or mining. Mining and tunneling, in general, are made very difficult by the scarcity of roofing material and the gravity effects on sand. Further limiting factors are usually the lack of tools, time, and light. Tunnel ceilings need to be built from above, before digging a tunnel through the sand. Otherwise, it becomes a ditch, and/or you suffocate in it. Similarly, mines will tend to be strip mines or open cast mines rather than underground mines.

For large scale mining probably the best approach is to mark out a large square and cut steps down the side of the square in a continuous spiral. For example, a 16 x 16 square will allow you to dig down about 60 layers without needing roofing materials or light sources. (You might want to check your altitude with F3 before starting a mining project). Without tools, progress will be very slow, and you will be potentially wasting ore as well. Arguably, there is not much point starting a mine (except a sand mine) unless you have first obtained some kind of pick somehow.

It's probably a good idea to build some survival shelters at the top of the staircase and at intervals along with it, in case you get caught by nightfall or by something blocking your path back to your house.

An alternative approach is to make your spiral steps go down half the way around, then come back up again. This has the advantage of giving you at least one escape route. It allows you to lure a creeper down one entrance, to try to get it to explode at the bottom, and still escape through the other exit. It might be an idea to block the exit with sand blocks to make sure you don't have another mob blocking your way when you try to escape.

Creepers cannot only help you mine stone or cobblestone; they can also (in Superflat, for example) help you mine down to those useful layers first. If you are good at persuading creepers to explode, without harming you too badly, you can use a series of creeper explosions to dig down. This could save you a lot of time and effort. The other really good thing about creeper explosions is that they will cause some of the affected blocks to drop as items. This probably the only way to achieve those drops without some kind of pick.

If you mine down to a solid (non-gravity affected) block layer, and if you have any source of light (torches or lava), you can then mine in the normal way.

Cobblestone mining strategies for superflat desert[edit]

Your primary objective for mining in the endless desert is to obtain cobblestone and so 'Enter the Stone Age'. The Sand Age, Stick Age, and Cactus Age are decidedly less famous - and for good reason. In a Superflat desert, with no tools, you face digging through 8 layers of sand (about 48 blocks worth before you're roofed over by sandstone) and then through about 52 layers of sandstone, by hand. That is no mean feat. The intent is to expose stone and then persuade a willing creeper to blast it into cobblestone. Then, there's the whole problem of getting a crafting table, but that's another story. Here are some strategies for the "Big Dig" - in all cases, first use F3 to check your altitude, and check the world settings, so you know how far you have to dig.

Double staircase[edit]

  • Mark a central point with a tall marker, facing west, so the setting sun will cast a shadow hopefully.
  • Mark off a distance from the central marker, on either side equal to the depth you need to go down. Don't get this wrong. Add a little extra (not much), if you are unsure.
  • Each day dig down an equal amount on each side.
  • Keep a careful watch on the sun and make sure you can get back up in good time.
  • Build one or two tiny emergency survival shelters leading off the side of the staircase in case you mess up (at least 4 blocks away from the staircase, but can be just 2 high by 1 wide).
  • Dig only a one-block wide staircase (to prevent spiders spawning or entering your staircase).
  • Wall-off both of the top entrances to the staircase, and leave sand pillars behind you along both 'legs' of the staircase at intervals to stop anything sneaking up behind you (but be prepared to remove them quickly if a mob comes from in front of you. Leave these walls and pillars there from day to day. Just destroy and then replace them as you move through.
  • Once you've cleared the sand on both 'legs', you need to mine 312 blocks of sandstone (52 x 3 x 2). By hand, at 4 sec per block that will take you a minimum of 1248 sec, around 25 minutes. Expect to use up several full days on the project.
  • Once you are finished, remove all the pillars and open up the walls. Then, entice a creeper to chase you down the staircase. At the bottom, turn around and provoke the creeper into blowing up right at the bottom, on the exposed stone. Timing is everything.
  • Repeat indefinitely, until you have mined all the cobblestone you need, or all the cobblestone in the world, or (more likely) died due to a timing error.

Single staircase[edit]

Twice as fast as the above method, but riskier. As above except:

  • You need to mine 156 blocks of sandstone (52 x 3). By hand, that will take you a minimum of 624 sec, around 10-11 minutes. Expect it take at least a couple of days.
  • When you get to the bottom, build a mob-proof chamber (at least 4 back from the bottom of the staircase, with at least a 2 block straight drop, and with space to hide from ranged attacks).
  • Draw creepers down the staircase from outside, but be sure to be secure in your shelter before they get to the bottom.
  • You probably will need to partly rebuild your bottom shelter after each explosion.


Three times as fast as the single staircase, but possibly more dangerous and requires more patience.

  • You need to mine 52 blocks of sandstone, 208 sec, about 3.5 minutes. Possible to do in one day if you are efficient and focused.
  • Build a small surface shelter to prevent mobs from entering, with a 1x1 skylight.
  • Bring a huge stack of sand.
  • Inside the surface shelter, dig straight down beneath the skylight, watching the sun.
  • Each day when you need to get back, pillar jump back up the shaft using the stack of sand. Time this operation so you get used to how long it takes.
  • Once you reach the bottom, create a mob-proof shelter as per the single staircase.
  • Then create an open passage running away from you, of at least 24 long x 1 wide x 2 high and wait for creepers to spawn.
  • Drawing creepers down the shaft is not possible, you just have to wait for them to spawn, and deal with everything else that spawns.

Digging straight down is normally a very bad idea, but in a Superflat world it's (probably?) safe. As long as you don't forget your sand stack! However, the need to dig the 24 block long passage for spawning more or less completely negates the advantage of the shaft over the single staircase method.

You can also use the Shaft method to dig illumination shafts into your staircase once it starts disappearing a long way under the sandstone. However, don't do this until you are deep enough that the fall will definitely kill any mobs that fall down the shaft. Also, don't forget your big sand stack, just in case you make a mistake and fail to connect with your staircase, meaning you can't walk out, you will have to pillar jump out.

Explosive digging assistance[edit]

As noted above, while tediously digging down through the sandstone, you can persuade creepers to help you by exploding. As a bonus, they convert the destroyed sandstone to collectible items (useful for building your bottom shelter perhaps). However, it's debatable whether this is worthwhile, as it increases the risk of being killed by a creeper for not much gain. The creeper will destroy a wide area outside your 1 block wide staircase (or shaft), so the useful work is only probably 3-4 extra blocks. You will also have to rebuild or reshape your staircase, so overall possibly not worth it unless you are extremely confident with safely triggering creepers.

Rivers, grass, and flowers[edit]

If you are using Buffet world generation rather than superflat world generation, a river biome may appear along internal borders between two Desert biomes [needs testing in 1.14]. If this has a low bank, it may allow grass and/or flowers to spawn (as the grass is still in the “River” biome). The grass blocks can be 'grown' by adding adjacent dirt blocks, and the growth of flowers and tall grass can be boosted with bone meal.

Very rarely there will be a wide enough space here for an oak tree to spawn. In that case, be sure to create a tree farm from any saplings you collect from it. As trees are almost essential for normal survival, this would be very useful. Once you have trees, almost all of the special difficulties of the desert biome go away (apart from Husks).

There is also the possibility of sugar cane and, less commonly, pumpkin spawning. In combination with seeds for breeding chickens, from grass, this means it's theoretically possible that a river biome can create sustainable food in the form of pumpkin pie. Pumpkin can also be bought from Wandering Traders, and sold to farmers for emeralds. Saplings can also be bought, providing an alternative to the river method above. However, since finding emeralds is very rare, make sure you think twice.

Finding a village or other structure[edit]

In practical terms, the best way to make progress in a Desert survival situation is to find a Village. Other structures, such as desert wells, pillager outposts, desert temples, mineshafts and strongholds, are either less useful (wells) or much more challenging (all the others).

After creating your infinite desert, once you have secured a survival shelter, explore the immediate area around - being careful of course not to lose the way back to your shelter. As with any Minecraft game, it helps to build a high pillar near your spawn point and/or initial shelter, so you can find your way back to it. Climb the nearby high peaks in the morning, and scan the horizon at midday. If you see a desert temple or a village, build a temporary shelter at the point you spotted it and go to the village or temple the next day. It is very important that you return to your shelter before dusk and are not in or near the village at night. Otherwise, the village may suffer irreplaceable damage to mob attacks caused by your presence.

If you don't find anything, get back to your main base and explore in a different direction. If you have explored in all directions one day's travel from your main base, you will have to start using small shelters as way-stations to increase your search radius.

Exploiting a village[edit]

The most important items you can retrieve from a village will be the crafting table and tools - most importantly an iron pickaxe if you are lucky - from the weaponsmith or toolsmith chest. You can also find iron ingots and diamond in these chests, or even use gold ingots (also found in village temple chests) to make tools - most likely a Gold Pickaxe that you would use only to obtain enough cobblestone to make a stone pickaxe.

Iron, diamonds, and emeralds can be taken from villages and temples (for tools and trading). Dirt can be taken from villagers' farms - but best only do this if you have a hoe. Ores do spawn in deserts (even in the Superflat Desert preset, but in that case only on the bottom 3 layers, or next to lava ponds). However, without a pickaxe, you are not only unable to collect ore, but also unable to build a furnace to smelt any ores (or cook any food). The furnaces in a village blacksmith are therefore extremely useful.

Actually, the best possible item you could find in a village would be some kind of sapling. Oak saplings can be found in weaponsmith chests sometimes. If you find a sapling, start a sapling farm. Make sure you are never so greedy for wood that you forget to farm leaves for more saplings than you cut down. Once you find a sapling (or actual tree), most of your problems are basically over. You have renewable wood. Wood means tools, weapons, fuel, charcoal, light sources. Wood means pickaxes, which means cobblestone, which means stone tools then iron tools then diamond tools. With one sapling or tree, you are back to playing a normal game of Minecraft - just in the desert.

Exploiting a desert temple[edit]

As Desert Temples (unlike Village Temples) are guarded by hostile mobs, you will need to be confident in evading, trapping or killing mobs (or a combination of these), in an offensive style, before tackling a Desert Temple.

Removing the resources from the lower part of the Temple will probably require building a spiral staircase down, around the inner walls, probably using sandstone blocks.

Exploiting desert wells[edit]

Since you don't need to drink in Minecraft, wells are of little use until you are able to craft a Bucket.

Exploiting other structures[edit]

Other structures (apart from wells) will be more challenging than a temple from a mob point of view and are best left until you are in a much stronger position.

Using locate commands[edit]

If commands are enabled, you can use commands if you couldn't find any: /locate Temple and /locate Village, although you are playing on Survival mode, as otherwise there really isn't much point in a 'desert survival' challenge, in which case cheats are not enabled. However, if you are really stuck, you could copy your game world, recreate it as Creative, and use the /locate commands above or just fly around to locate the nearest village.

Weapons, tools, and armor[edit]


As has been covered above, obtaining a Pickaxe is perhaps your highest priority. Obtaining a Hoe is also very valuable. See the preceding discussions on this.

Weapon crafting[edit]

As noted above you are unable to craft a weapon until you can either find wood planks for a crafting table or more likely locate one at a village. You will then need to find Cobblestone or, more likely, Ingots or even Diamonds to create weapons. Bear in mind that creating your first pickaxe is hugely more important than creating any weapon or any other tool. Creating a Bucket for Lava is almost as important as a Pickaxe, and arguably even a Hoe is a higher priority than any weapon.

Weapons and tools from mobs[edit]

Husks, zombies and skeletons sometimes wear armor and sometimes enchanted, which have a chance to dropped. You can get bows and arrows or even enchanted bow from skeletons, iron swords and iron shovels from husks or zombies or illagers. Of course, iron hoes or iron pickaxes would be much more useful. Similarly Pillager drops may provide you with a crossbow but neither they nor any other mob in an Illager raid will provide any useful tools in Java Edition. Illagers may also drop Iron weapons, including—in Bedrock Edition (only)—possibly an Iron Pickaxe from a Pillager. Witches may drop potions which could be useful in combat. Various mobs may drop Emeralds which can be traded for tools, weapons or armor with the correct type and level of the villager.

Defending a village[edit]

The immediate problem when you have found your first village is that you are probably still very weakly equipped, and the from the first night you stay in the village you will risk drawing normal mob attacks on the villagers or (for a large village) causing a zombie siege on the village. So what you need to do is build a shelter near the village, but outside of its radius (at least 33 blocks), and go into the village only during the day. You might want to just collect food (remember to replant it) and the crafting table, and any tools, and leave.

Unlike a normal game, it is extremely important to keep all the villagers alive, because, for many resources in the game, even basic ones, trading with villagers is your only way to obtain those resources in the desert biome.

If you want to stay in the village—which has many advantages—you need to secure the village and the villagers BEFORE you take up home there. Beds generate in small and medium house, however, during sunset, every villager will try to sleep in the beds so you need to hurry to use one of the beds in the village before being used by villagers. Go in during the day each day to build up defenses, being sure to leave before dusk and get a good distance away.

To secure the village, again you can use two-block-deep trenches or two-block-high sand walls, or a one-deep ditch next to a one-high wall—the fastest method if you are digging in sand. Check out the village and figure out the smallest trench/wall system that will cover all the occupied houses in the village. Check for sandstone and cobblestone and plan to hug these regions of hard stone, not cross them with a ditch—breaking rock takes too long by hand. Even if you have a precious pickaxe, it's too valuable to waste on this kind of activity.

Ignore the unoccupied houses and farms at first. Leave them outside your walls or trenches initially. Later, you can include these into your defensive system.

Find every house with a bed and mark it (e.g. with sand and a cactus on top) - villagers will live in it, so it's a priority for protection. Find the houses without beds - unoccupied houses. Take any torches or other light sources from inside or outside of the unoccupied houses and block (fill) the doorway with one or two sand blocks so no villager or mob will go in there. Redistribute all the light sources in the village evenly so that the occupied houses at least are lit, and preferably the areas inside your wall/trench system are also lit. If you don't have enough torches, move the beds (and some doors) from some of the houses and add them to one central house. This should move the villagers to that central house, keeping them closer together and easier to protect. Alternatively, move all beds, light sources, and doors to the largest most central building to concentrate the villagers in one protected and easy-to-defend place.

Then when all your defensive preparations are ready, do a last double-check of your perimeter and make sure there are no gaps a hostile mob can sneak through (except spiders probably, but they are the easiest to deal with). Then prepare to spend your first night in the village. Track all the villagers. When they are indoors, block them in by putting two blocks of sand in front of the door. Make sure you move a job block (see Tutorials/Village mechanics) inside the house (if you have traded with the villagers already, you may want to try to keep them with their job, so as not to reset any leveling). Also, put two blocks on either side of the door to stop mobs from attacking on the diagonal. Also, put an inner wall of sand 2 high inside the building to keep villagers going next to the walls and being attacked by mobs "through" the walls.

This should keep them safe until morning. However, villagers are very dumb and will go outside while mobs are still alive. Desert villagers also seem completely oblivious to the fact that Husks roam freely in the daytime. Because of this stupidity you probably need to keep all the villagers imprisoned for their own protection in one main building. Make yourself a little room in the building so you can go in there to trade with them without them all escaping. It really is for their own good!

Doing it the hard way - no villages, temples, or structures[edit]

If you challenge yourself by not allowing the generation of villages or temples etc. - or if you just can't find any - your situation becomes very difficult indeed. You can obtain shelter, safety and food using the techniques described above, but you can't obtain any tools and your crafting is extremely limited. You have no easy way to access cobblestone items, and more importantly, no way at all to create a crafting table (no source of planks). With only a two by two crafting grid, even if you had cobblestone, or other tooling material (planks or ingots), you are unable to craft any type of weapons or tools. Not even stone or wooden tools. Without tools and with only very limited crafting, progression beyond basic survival is not possible.


It could well be argued that the most severe limitation in a desert-only game is the lack of wooden planks. Without planks, almost no weapons (except a bow) and almost no tools can be created. Even if a full crafting table is available (from a village) there is no way to get the initial (plank-based) wooden tools and so no easy way to obtain cobblestone, in order to progress to stone tools (and weapons) and then on to iron tools, etc. Desert biome villages do not contain any trees or wood planks in their regular construction (they may sometimes contain saplings in blacksmith's chests, and saplings are available to trade from a wandering trader even if no villages or other structures exist). Roof and wall components are made of stone, not wood. There are some fence components (tables and lamp posts), but these can't be crafted back into planks (though they could be burned for fuel, which is also very scarce).


One way to get cobblestone is to find (or expose) cobblestone terrain blocks and then persuade a creeper to explode on or near the block. There is a 1/3 chance this will drop a cobblestone (item). Repeat until you have 3 cobblestone, and with sticks from breaking dead bushes you could create a stone pickaxe. A pickaxe (of any kind) is a revolutionary breakthrough that would allow you to "advance to the stone age" and start mining stone - except you still don't have a crafting table. That can only be created with planks (or found in a village). And only a crafting table can create tools. Similarly, TNT could be used to create usable cobblestone, if enough creepers were killed to obtain enough Gunpowder (5 units), except that TNT also requires the full-size crafting table to create. There is also the problem of how to detonate the TNT - probably the creeper is the only viable means if you have no structures. If you already have gotten to the point of having stone tools, you can create a lever (using 1 cobblestone and stick, obtaining the stick from a dead bush) or mining iron ore in order to craft flint and steel, provided you can find flint/gravel.

Detonating the TNT in a desert Temple (if generation is left on) will create cobblestone items from the cobblestone blocks in the floor. (Get the items from the chests first!)

A possible approach - the creeper trap[edit]

  • Build basic shelters as described above
  • Find a cliff with exposed or near-exposed cobblestone around or below ground level
  • Build a ditch or wall in front of this and tunnel straight back (1x2) for shelter
  • Create a 'creeper trap' - a ditch with one entrance, but that's otherwise hard to get out of, that as far as possible is lined with cobblestone
  • Tempt a creeper into this trap and provoke it into exploding, near as much cobblestone as possible
  • Retreat into the tunnel to avoid damage
  • Stay in your tunnel until it is safe to come out and collect the broken cobblestone
  • Welcome to the Stone Age!
  • Just kidding, you can't actually make any stone tools or weapons until you get planks for a crafting table.

Entering the Stone Age without Structures[edit]

  • If there was such a thing as a stone knife, you could probably make that, but there isn't.
  • What can you do? Not much without a crafting table. Really not much. You are stuck in the pre-Neolithic: your best weapon is a bow, you're farming rabbits for food, and living in buildings made of sandstone and cactus.
  • Maybe go on a quest to find a tree or a sapling. Somewhere in the vast desert, there probably is one.
  • Who knew, the pivotal discovery underpinning all of civilization was the plank? Somebody tell Sid Meier!

Wandering traders and illager patrols[edit]

In Bedrock Edition, you can break through to the Stone Age by capturing weapons and tools from Illager Patrols (which spawn even when there are no structures), and obtain emeralds from killing them, which you can then trade with Wandering Traders (who also spawn regardless of structures), to obtain other very useful items. If you are lucky, you can get emeralds from an Illager Patrol.

Of course, defeating illagers is likely to be very difficult, considering how weak you will be in combat, at least initially.

You would be advised to protect the Wandering Trader from all mobs, including Illager Patrols. You also might want to imprison the trader so they are available whenever you have Emeralds to trade with (until they despawn).

Unfortunately in Java Edition, the pillagers drop nothing more than crossbows, no tools or other weapons, and don't drop emeralds, so you can't ever trade with Wandering Traders, since you have no way to get a pickaxe to mine emerald (which does not even generate in the Superflat preset desert biomes).

However, if vindicators spawn with the Illager Patrol, they may drop Emeralds in Java Edition. If so, killing vindicators in Illager Patrols may be a way to partly reach the Stone Age even in structure-free Java Edition desert world (unfortunately, as of 1.14.3 vindicators no longer spawn as part of a patrol, so patrols will only consist of pillagers). Desert challenge over hear in 1.15 java and bedrock 1.14 so give us a useful tutorial.

If you have Emeralds, in either Edition you can obtain both saplings and seeds from the Wandering Trader, which basically means "Desert Challenge Over".

Creating a village[edit]

Villages are places where you can trade with villagers to obtain more resources, such as food, tools, armor, etc. Surprisingly, it is still possible for the player to create villages, even when game-generated village structures are disabled.

In a superflat desert, there is no dirt, so you need to buy podzol from the wandering trader, break it, then you have dirt. Plant a sapling in the dirt. Oak saplings are recommended as oak trees will drop apples (a golden apple is the key to creating a village).

In a superflat desert, there is also no gold ore, but you can get gold from drowned. Use water bucket you bought from wandering trader (he can sell bucket of fish, which give you fish and free water bucket) because there is no water in superflat without generated structures. Transform a husk into a zombie then into a drowned by drowning them in water twice. As Drowned they have a small chance to drop a gold ingot. Repeat this until you can craft a golden apple.

Cure a zombie villager with the help of a witch that can throw a splash potion of weakness, then feed the zombie villager the golden apple. You may need to trap them first. Do this twice so you have 2 normal villagers

After you have 2 villagers, place some beds and start your own village. As long as you have string and wood you can place as many beds as you want. The population equals the number of beds, so throw some bread, potatoes, beetroots, or carrots to villagers and they will breed. Cats and iron golems may also spawn, but beware of raids and play as you would with regular villages.

Structures other than villages[edit]


One possibility for obtaining planks in a desert biome with Structures would be to find a natural cave or ravine and then dig down (which would be very slow without basic mining tools) and attempt to find an mineshaft which is a treasure trove of oak planks (but home to deadly cave spiders).

(Note that at the time of writing there is a bug in Java Edition[1] reported with the /locate Mineshaft command, so don't rely on that to find a mineshaft until the bug is fixed.)


Dungeon chests contain useful items including ingots, seeds, and buckets. However, all of these things can probably be obtained more easily from a Village (directly or, in the case of a bucket, indirectly via iron ingots).

There are unfortunately no wooden planks or wooden logs available in a dungeon.

Pillager outposts[edit]

As of 1.14 there is another way to find a wood source without obtaining saplings or trees, which is via pillager outpost. Pillager outposts generated above ground consist of a huge amount of dark oak logs and the watchtower floor is made of birch planks. However, trying to tear down all the planks is a difficult challenge as the player with early equipment (or none) will easily be killed by several pillagers guarding the outpost. If the pillager outpost generates with a trapped iron golem, you can free the golem. While the golem fights with the pillagers, you can collect wood. If you are lucky to find a single outpost with 2 or more trapped golems you will have more time to collect wood as more iron golems can survive longer in the outpost before killed by pillagers (due to the fact that pillagers spawn infinitely in and around the outposts).

An alternative tactic is to trap the illagers rather than kill them. This might (needs testing) prevent further Illager spawns, and thus would allow you to collect the wood without being attacked.

Possibly helpful mods[edit]

2x2 Extender[edit]

The most useful mod in the endless desert setting would the 2x2 Crafting Grid Extender mod. However, at the time of writing this, the mod is no longer maintained and does not work with current versions of Minecraft. The mod has (or had) a number of features that would make the desert challenge easier, or remove the challenge altogether. These include:

  • Hand Picks - allows you to make a small pick on a 2x2 crafting grid
  • Hand Tools - allows you to make other tools on a 2x2 grid that can perform all other normal functions, though often at a slower rate and always with less durability
  • Crafting sticks to planks - while the previous items make the desert less of a frustration, this one is basically = "Desert Game Over"

The (locked) forum page of the Mod is here:

2x2 Extender

The Bone Age[edit]

This is a set of data packs (and so will only work for 1.13 or above, not for 1.12 or lower versions of Minecraft). There is a graduated set of datapacks from 'easiest' to 'hardest', describing how easy it is to get to have a 3x3 crafting table, and/or wooden tools (or better). There is also an option 'no wood', the hardest of all, where you never get a crafting table or wooden tools, but you do get some alternative ways to advance, or at least make life more bearable.

It implements some or all of the following (depending on which specific datapack is selected):

  • Crafting basic tools (equivalent to wooden tools), but using bone rather than wooden planks
  • Crafting planks from materials native to the desert
  • Crafting a crafting table directly from materials native to the desert

The datapacks can be found here:

The Bone Age

Hypothetical mods[edit]

The following mods, either individually or in combination, would reduce or eliminate the frustration level of endless desert survival:

  • Crafting planks from anything else native to desert, for example from sticks, or sandstone, or lava (cooled!) or obsidian.
  • Recycling planks by destroying existing wooden objects (village furniture).


For Bedrock Edition, one can modify using behavior pack to edit desert.json in biome folder. Then Edit the world_generation_rules.

Default code:

"minecraft:world_generation_rules": {
     "hills_transformation": "desert_hills",
     "mutate_transformation": "desert_mutated",
     "generate_for_climates": [
       [ "warm", 3 ]

To make an endless desert, Change it like this:

"minecraft:world_generation_rules": { 
     "hills_transformation": "desert_hills",
     "mutate_transformation": "desert_mutated",
     "generate_for_climates": [
       ["medium", 99999999],
       ["warm", 99999999],
       ["cold", 99999999],
       ["frozen", 99999999],
       ["lukewarm", 99999999]

This will generate a world with almost endless desert biomes. However, the player will usually spawn on little islands (far away from world center), if this happens just teleport to the coordinates 0,0 and start survival in an endless desert. Make sure you teleport higher than Y 60, as this could result in you suffocating.

It is also possible to override every biome's generation with the desert generation, as shown in this addon. However, this will still generate some structures in weird places.

Raiding techniques for desert temples[edit]

A picture of an open chest inside of a desert temple, showing some of the loot available once a desert temple has been found.

If you have a pickaxe, just dig down two blocks away from the blue terracotta on the floor in any direction. If not,

  • Go outside and dig up 16 blocks of sand.
  • Dig out a piece of orange terracotta on the floor. Do not jump in!
  • Place blocks of sand into the hole until it is filled up.
  • Dig straight down until you are two blocks away from the floor.
  • If there are mobs, kill them.
  • Punch out the pressure plate in the middle of the floor.
  • Take anything you need out of the chests. Bones are good for bone meal, and any iron, gold, diamonds, or emeralds are also definite needs. Also, remember to dig out the 3x3 layer of TNT underneath the sandstone floor.
  • Using the pillar-jump technique, pillar-jump your way out.


  • Find dirt or craft sandstone or find a small cave for shelter on your first day, or you will die on your first night because you can't make a roof.
  • Don't fight anything, if you can help it. You're too weak. Use defensive structures and only ever fight with a strong defensive advantage.
  • If structures are allowed, find a village as soon as possible and use/steal the crafting table and furnace. Requisition some of the torches. Loot the chests. Ingots or diamonds for making tools are a top priority. Loot the crops too, but always replant what you take.
  • Get out of villages - especially large villages - before dusk so you don't trigger mob attacks on them. Guard the villagers carefully so you can trade with them. Stay out of the village at night until you have made the villagers totally safe.
  • The most likely way to "Advance to the Stone Age" is either to find an iron pickaxe in a smith's chest; or to get a village crafting table, and then craft one from ingots from village chests or dropped by mobs; or trick a creeper into "mining" some cobblestone for you and craft a stone pickaxe.
  • However you get one, getting a pickaxe is a critical breakthrough. Make a pickaxe out of diamond or gold if necessary, to collect your first cobblestone and enter the Stone Age.
  • Save your sticks (from dead bushes) for making tools and weapons. They're too rare and valuable to use as fuel unless there are no villages to provide furniture to burn.
  • Save your furnace fuel for smelting ore, not cooking food. Eat raw food. It's, er, good for you.
  • Save your first iron for making a bucket - use stone tools, not iron tools, because stone doesn't use fuel, and you are incredibly short of fuel.
  • Once you have a bucket, use lava for fuel and go crazy with the furnace. Smelting! Cooked food! Yes, the Bucket Age is the high-point of Desert Biome civilization.

If you can't find a village,

  • You may be able to find dirt/grass, water, flowers, rabbits, maybe even seeds. If only you had any tools (a hoe or a pick even)!
  • You can try to get planks or logs from a Pillager Outpost or Mineshaft - but be prepared to fight. The absolute priority is 4 planks to make a crafting table. A bonus is 3 more for a wooden pickaxe.
  • If you find a living tree (in the river biomes of Buffet customized desert worlds only, and very rare) or saplings in a village, it's "Desert Challenge Over" and you can now transition to a normal, wood-based game of Minecraft.
  • However, on Superflat worlds with no structures, you are stuck as a pre-Stone Age hunter-gatherer forever. You eat dead people, and your only tools or weapons are scavenged from dead people. Who will never drop what you really need - four lousy planks, or failing that, a pick and a hoe - the legendary tools of the gods. So, there is no way to ever progress beyond that. Just a grim evolutionary dead end.

See also[edit]