Carl's Guide to Stardew Valley

Gameplay Strategy and Farm Management

Stardew Valley Guide

Beginner's Walkthrough and In-Depth Strategy Guides

Carl's Stardew Valley Strategy Guide

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Stardew Valley is a marvelous RPG/farm simulation game that places you in a run-down farm, offering you the opportunity to restore it to its former glory using whatever strategy you like. There are many paths to success and no perfect plan to follow, though it's ripe with gameplay features and crafting that can keep you hooked.

Stardew Valley offers numerous options for making money, progression by leveling skills, and crafting up new creations as you unlock them. Designing a dream farm and building relationships with residents of the town is a truly relaxing and engaging experience. This guide's goal is to help direct both new and experienced players toward features they may not notice, answer questions players may have, and attempt to improve their gameplay experience by offering information in the right doses.

Stardew Valley was created by Eric Barone (aka ConcernedApe) and I'm in no way affiliated with him. I want that stated, though I highly recommend the game to anyone who enjoys 16-bit graphics, simulations/RPGs, or fondly remembers the SNES game Harvest Moon. It's kind of strange no one made such a game until now because it was a void that needed filling. There's a lot of depth here for such a low-priced game. An astonishing amount of it given it was made by this one lone person. Stardew Valley will release for PS4 and Xbox One late 2016 and will reportedly have a multiplayer mode and other new features one day so there's a lot of fun ahead!

Beginner Walkthrough: First Days in Stardew Valley

Beginning a game in Stardew Valley

This walkthrough has some helpful advice for newcomers. Not everything needs to be done on the first day, but the advice here may be handy in helping you to get started.

Getting Started in Stardew Valley
You're given 15 Parsnip seeds via the gift box inside the house and start with the tools you need to clear an area for crops. The farm is horribly overrun, but much can be done with it when it's cleaned up. The resources you find are very helpful. You should clear a 5x3 patch of land to plant your parsnips.

Always Show Tool Hit Location is one of the most helpful options for a newcomer. It will let you avoid wasting energy by hitting the wrong spot with your tools and will hold your hand until you no longer need it.

Head into the game menu to make this easier. Press ESC and go to Options. Turn on 'Always show tool hit location' there, and you'll have an aid to help you learn to target in Stardew Valley. Later you might not need it, but for now it's a learning aid. For most tools you can hit the 3x3 area that surrounds your character, though the hoe is a little more clumsy and requires you to line up properly.

The 5 tools you're given are pretty self-explanatory but to ensure there's no confusion:

Clear the ground for crops, plant the seeds, and water them. Later, you can use fertilizer after tilling the land (but before planting seeds) to help your plants grow to higher quality.

Plant the Parsnips
So, you will swap between tools and clear the area so that you can plant crops. When it's clear of all debris, first use the hoe to make a patch for a garden, then plant the seeds by switching them to use them (hotkey 1-9 or the mouse wheel), and finally water the soil that has the seeds. Don't worry if you mess up with the hoe and till the dirt where you don't want to - things regenerate in Stardew Valley, including any ground where nothing was planted.

Where to buy seeds in Stardew Valley Pierre's General Store is the cheapest place to buy seeds each season, as opposed to Jojo mart which marks them up.

General Store to Buy Seeds
Once your plants are watered, I suggest you head into town to spend your 500G at Pierre's General Store (note the store is closed after 5PM and on Wednesdays). Leave through the Eastern farm exit and walk until you see the town. Pierre's is next to the white building with a red cross (clinic), directly East of your farm. Walk up to the General Store door and click to enter. At the counter you can buy seeds for the current season. The most profitable plant for Spring (that are available now) are potatoes, which take 6 days to grow. You have enough money to buy 10 of them, so do so!

Note the backpack on the store shelf, which can be bought for 2000G. This will expand your inventory from 12 to 24 slots. You can't afford it yet, but it's a good thing to buy around week 2-3 of Spring. For now you have the treasure chest. Return to the farm and plant your potatoes. They'll be done growing on Sunday.

Crafting in Stardew Valley Craft a treasure chest to help you store tools and crafting materials you don't need at the moment. It'll help you carry more loot!

Making a Treasure Chest
Now we will want to make a tresure chest in which we can store items. If you're low on energy you can wait to do this on the 2nd day. Collect 50 wood by chopping down 3-4 trees. Press ESC to open the menu and head to the tab with the hammer - that's where you craft. Make the treasure chest, then switch to it on your hot bar. You can place the chest anywhere next to your character. The grass around the house is a good place to put it, but you can do this anywhere you like. Now you have a place to store items so you aren't forced to trash or sell them.

Energy, Exploration & Going to Bed
Your character will begin to get tired out after all this. Pay attention to the energy meter and when it warns you that you're near exhaustion, stop or you'll take an energy penalty the next day and possibly pass out from it, losing a portion of your Gold. You want to be in bed before midnight so you do not take another energy penalty.

It's important to note that only using tools drains the energy meter. So if it's only early afternoon you can still head around the town, explore, find the various shops, and meet new NPCs.

The TV
When your energy is low or it's late, head inside the house and watch the television. This should be something you do at the start of every day. You'll get the weather forecast for the next day, advice from 'Livin' off the Land' and 'Queen of Sauce' will give you recipes. Lastly, the fortune teller gives you a daily measure of where your character's luck stands.

The Second Day
You'll have to wait 4 days in order for your parsnips to be fully grown. Water them every day or they will pause in progress. You'll understand why farmers love rain, as it gets you out of that task. Refilling the watering can is done by going to the little pond to the southeast of the house and using it there.

Stardew Valley map The map is very handy to getting around. You'll soon learn there are faster routes to a building you want to visit.

Exploring the Map
Hit ESC or M to open a map of the town. Hover over areas and you'll see the names, so if you see something mentioned here or on the web it's fairly easy to find it. You'll see your character's current position as well as major landmarks and zones of Stardew Valley.

From here forward, you can begin to explore the other areas of game while you ensure the growth of your plants. Farming is only a part of it. The mine will open up on the 5th day, and you can begin to explore it. I suggest you get the backpack first. Willy on the beachside dock will give you a fishing pole, and you can buy them for 500G if they're ever lost. Robin can expand your farm, but you'll need lots of gold and materials. Be sure to explore the community center, then meet the wizard as well. This game easily has 100 hours of play in it, and things will only get better as the developer adds new features. Hopefully this guide helps to kickstart your play or offered you some insight. My deeper guides on various topics should help as well. They're listed below and I'm continuing to expand the site.

General Gameplay Guides

The guide to Giving Gifts to build Friendships and Get Married is one worth referencing repeatedly, so that you know which gifts will help raise hearts with villagers. The residents of Stardew Valley will give you cooking recipes and other gifts at various heart levels, and getting married may lead to your spouse giving you a valuable stardrop to raise maximum energy. It's worth befriending a number of villagers!

My Stardew Valley Tips page includes a lot of handy information for players new to the game. Learn how to save, what you should keep, and general good advice for making progress in Stardew Valley.

Tools in Stardew Valley: the Axe, Hoe, Pickaxe, Watering Can, Fishing Poles and Scythe. This guide discusses upgrading your tools and how you can get the metal bars to do that.

The Guide to Winter and What to Do should help you figure out what winter activities are helpful toward the next year on your farm. Make sure to upgrade your watering can while you have the chance!

The Secret Woods of Stardew Valley are a great place to get Hardwood for crafting. Bring your hoe as there's lots of worms to be dug up here, so it's also good for finding library books. You can also find one of the game's many Stardrops (which raise maximum energy) by visiting the area with a Sweet Gem Berry.

Calico Desert: Oasis Store and The Skull Cavern - completing the vault bundle at the Community Center awards you with a fully operational bus. You can take it to Calico Desert, where a great store is located (with 2/3 of the best seeds in the game) alongside the Skull Cavern, a harder version of the mines.

Choose vs Mushrooms or Bats once you reach 25k G in earning in Stardew Valley, you're faced with a choice for how to develop the cave on the farm. This article highlights the differences between the two. It's not a major decision, but one does seem more helpful than the other.

Grandpa's Evaluation (End Game) describes the evaluation process you face after completing your second year. It's similar to Harvest Moon, only you can try again if you so please, without starting the whole game over -- so don't sweat it!


Skills in Stardew Valley offer you some character customization options, and leveling them unlocks new items you can craft. Many are highly useful for money-making and utility. This guide highlights some of the most important unlocks for each of the game's 5 skills and will lead you to more information on each of them.

Combat Guide

Combat is fairly simple in Stardew Valley, but some players may still need tips. This guide offers some advice on healing items, some of the new weapons that are available from the adventurer's guild, how to equip gear, and how to get a Galaxy Sword.

Farming Guide

The guide to Stardew Valley's Farming covers the basics of the farming skill and explains certain mechanics like fertilizer and growth times to beginners. This should be a great starting point to building up your ranch. From crops, you can move on to farm animals and artisan goods.

I've also written on profit per day for:

Fishing Guides

Fishing in Stardew Valley - this is the main guide to the Fishing skill. Learn all about crab pots, fishing spots, bait and tackle here as well as other perks to using the fishing skill.

How to Fish in Stardew Valley - A tutorial explaining the fishing mini-game in detail for players new to the game.

How to Use Bait & Types of Fishing Tackle - shares how to attach bait to a fishing pole and lists the different types of tackle you can attach to the iridium fishing rod.

Fish by Season - Fish are available based upon the season, location, and time of day. Here are lists with fish available during the four seasons:

Foraging Guide

The Guide to Foraging in Stardew Valley covers the various activities that are known to give skill xp, and a few that might. You'll learn how you can grow better at being a lumberjack and where you can find the most foraged goods. Items unlocked via leveling the skill are also covered. See the seed maker guide further down for a handy way to level up this skill, which works best in winter.

Mining Guide

My Stardew Valley Mining Guide teaches you most everything you'll need to know for successful mine runs. You will learn about leveling mining, how best to progress, and where you'll find iron, copper, and gold.

Skull Cavern

The Skull Cavern is a more challenging mine that does not allow you to return to the previously-reached level. Each run is a speed run of sorts, and you'll find better items and more enemies the deeper you go. This is the best place to farm Iridium in order to upgrade all your tools to that quality, and craft advanced items for your farm. Conquering this place will lead you to great prosperity.

Other Skill Guides

Skill Experience covers the various factors that help to raise your character's level in Stardew Valley's 5 skills: farming, foraging, mining, combat, and fishing in order to help you avoid wasting time and improve level up speed.

The Professions Guide covers topics like "Fighter vs Scout" and "Tiller vs Rancher". At levels 5 and 10 you can select professions for your character, giving you a boost. This guide offers some advice on which are the better choices.

Other Guides

Animal Guides

This livestock section will take some time. I am going to make a page about each type of animal, as one general guide to tie them all together.

Cows in Stardew Valley - covers caring for cattle, building their heart rating, and suggests how to fence them in so that they have access to fresh grass as opposed to hay.

Crafting, Tutorials & Money Making

How to Make Artisan Goods and their Crafting Stations - this covers every artisan good in Stardew Valley, lists what you need to collect to begin producing, and how much more those items will be worth when made into final products.

How to Get Copper in Stardew Valley - teaches the basics of finding copper ore and coal, building a furnace, and crafting copper bars.

Trees: Planting and Farming Them - Covers regular and fruit trees, the spacing needed to plant your own, and what you can get from them in the form of oak resin, pine tar, and maple syrup. Also includes pictures of the three normal trees to help you tell them apart for the purpose of using tappers.

Using the Seed Maker for Wild Seeds - the Seed Maker can be used to get seeds in winter, and is helpful to completing foraging bundles at the Community Center.

Community Center Bundles

I've more to do in this area, but for now I've put together a List of items to keep to finish Community Center bundles.

You'll also find help in choosing which crops to grow and the bundle they help to finish here: Crops to Grow by Season which separates the three growing seasons and the crops that are needed. This list ignores profit and merely gives you a list of what you need to collect. See above in the farming section to learn what seasonal crops sell for the most profit. Plant the ones you need to finish a bundle, and put the rest of your effort toward profitable crops.

Useful Links

A site everyone should know about: The Stardew Valley Farm Planner helps you with the layout of the farm, so you can avoid having to demolish buildings and rebuild them later. One of few flaws with this game is that you can't move buildings once they're placed. It's undoubtedly realistic however a tad annoying at times. Using the planner can give you an idea how you'd like to lay out your farm ahead of time.

More to Come

I've just started work on this guide as of July 8, 2016. I'll be improving existing pages and updating to include more info, so check back every few days. I hope to cover every major gameplay element and go into detail on some things players might miss.

Stardew Valley 1.1 Changes

Stardew Valley is now version 1.1, which comes with some significant changes. I have some updating to do as a result. Certain fruits (such as blueberries/cranberries) have had their sell prices reduced significantly to give players more reason to grow other produce. This makes tables with sales values wrong. I will fix them as soon as possible. You can see the full list of change notes here.

Stardew Guide Progress

My Stardew Valley Guide coverage has just begun as of July 8, 2016. I plan to put out pages regularly until I've covered most topics. For now I've completed guides on:

Skills & Unlocks New
Cows & Milk New
Gifts for Villagers (Hearts)
Combat New
The Skull Cavern New
The Desert New
Trees & Tappers New
Foraging New
The Secret Woods
Beginner's Guide New
Stardew Valley Tips
Crops to Grow for Bundles