Stardew Valley is one of the most humbling and meditative games I have ever played. There is no specific way to play this game per say and players can do as they please and I recommend this style over following advice you read online rigidly. This will take you longer but leads to a more satisfying game experience as you learn the ins and outs by yourself.
Having said this, I did play using this ethos for around 30-40 in game hours and it was both rewarding, but admittedly frustrating at times. This is because Stardew Valley is a game that requires you to collect rare items but never explicitly tells you to do so meaning that you sometimes have to wait an entire in game year to get an item you didn’t realise you needed (and trust me this takes a long time). For example, in the Community Centre (a place where you donate items for rewards) you will have a “spring crops bundle” which requires four different spring crops (a cauliflower, a green bean, a potato and a parsnip). If you put three of these items in, which is what I did in my first walkthrough, but then forget about it and don’t donate the final item because you forget you will have to wait an entire ingame year until you can grow the crop you missed again (Stardew Valley is a season based game meaning certain crops will only grow during certain seasons). The empty slot in this ‘bundle’ then haunts you for what honestly feels like an entire year. This is what brings me to my first tip:
# 1 | Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Stardew Valley is a game of trial and error. Many people will tell you online about how efficient they are and how they can complete the community centre in 1-2 in game years. That is not the point of this game, this game is supposed to be an escape both for your character and yourself. It is a place to go where there are no real pressures. I am guilty of getting somewhat angry when I don’t catch a fish I want or when my crops get eaten by crows but it is really important that you take a step back and realise it doesn’t matter. You will eventually complete the community centre and have a very profitable farm. Whether it takes 2 years of 20. Just enjoy it and do what you like to do. If, for example, you don’t want to farm and water your crops each day – don’t. Fish or go down the mine or focus on foraging and socialising with the community (maybe even try to find your future spouse).
# 2 | There’s Always Another Season
Similar to my first tip, this is something you need to tell yourself when things don’t go your way. If you had your heart set on getting married, for example, but miss your preferred person’s birthday then just say “there’s always next year” and dedicate your efforts to something different like getting a coop and a barn or getting upgrades for your tools and your backpack.
# 3 | Get a Silo Before You Build a Coop
This is, arguably, the best advice I can give you for the entire game. If you are a beginner you might be confused by this as early in the game you will get a quest telling you to build a farm house for livestock (the most common of these first purchases is the coop but you can, theoretically, get a barn first). If you have the money and resources to do this and buy animals then it seems like that’s all there is to it. Well hold your horses, how are you going feed those money making chickens? With hay. Do you have hay? No? Don’t buy the coop. Also don’t buy hay! Just get 10 Clay (which can be found by either hoeing artefact spots – the little patches of dirt with worms on them – or random patches of dirt in your farm or on the beach), 100 stone, 100g (which is the price of buying just 2 hay from Marnie at her ranch) and 5 copper bars. This shouldn’t take you too long and, if you can, try to get more than one Silo. Why? Because on your property there will be loads of grass, if you have a Silo you can use your scythe to convert it into hay and your Silo will store 240 hay. This is essential otherwise buying hay will cost you 50g a piece from Marnie. That means, to feed 4 chickens a day you will be paying 200g. And that will mean you won’t really be making any money. So please, build a silo. This is especially necessary for when you enter into winter as no grass grows during this season. So make sure your silo is filled by the end of fall otherwise you’re in a world of hurt. You can of course not feed your animals but then they will hate you and not produce any goods.
#4 | Check Your TV Daily!
This tip is beyond important, it is so vital to your overall gameplay experience that it has transcended into another realm, another plain of existence. Okay, now I’m getting ahead of myself. This is important no matter what you prefer doing in the game (e.g. fishing or mining). Why? Because the entire game is based on a luck/difficulty system. So, for example, if you fish on a day when the fortune teller says “the spirits are displeased” you are less likely to get rare fish to even bite, fish bite as a whole less frequently, you are far more likely to catch trash and all fish have a higher difficulty in general. Similarly, the mine becomes harder as there are less ores, far more stone making it harder to find the access to the next level, more enemies and a greater chance of the level becoming infested (this is where loads of enemies spawn at once and try to eat you – it can prove problematic if you already have low health). But the TV does more than just this, it also tells you important information (like in the photo above). “Living off the land” will tell you about farming and foraging and “the queen of sauce” will give you recipes that you can use when you get the kitchen upgrade to your house.
# 5 | Go to the Spa
If you find yourself running out of energy quickly and don’t have the money or resources to regain it during the day then have no fear. On the third day of summer in the first year you will awake to a notification saying there was an earthquake during the night. This means the spa has been unlocked. Just go past Robins house North of the community centre and go right to the top of the map. There you will find the spa. Go in, enter through the door assigned to your characters gender (the game is old fashioned that way) and then walk all the way around to the spa. When entering the spa itself you need to actually enter the pool and remain still to gain energy. The whole process probably takes 2 in game hours (including travel) which means that if you get up early and use all your energy farming or fishing you can then, for free, get all of your energy back and head to the mine or even fish more if you so please! This is a valuable tip for any new player, a friend of mine had logged over 100 hours on this game before he knew about the spa and trust me when he found out the spa existed and could restore all of his valuable energy for free he was somewhat annoyed.
# 6 | Build Chests
Some of my other tips you may hear a lot about from YouTuber’s and game bloggers who all know the game well. However, I very rarely hear people saying to build chests which, in my view, is essential especially when you start a new character (it’s also good if you are a bit obsessively organised about your farm like me). I think, personally, it is best to have about three chests in your house at the very least. Why? Because you can store most of your items. It is always good to have gold value crops in there to save for the festival in fall and to add to the communal soup pot during the Luau in Summer. Moreover, you need to get into the habit of keeping an item, checking if it is needed by anyone or the community centre and then deciding whether to sell it instead of selling it immediately. You really want at least one of everything you forage, grow, fish and mine so that you can get those community centre upgrades which are very useful. Also, the chests help with the storage issue every player has at the start as you don’t get a backpack to begin with and only have 4-3 inventory slots available which can be a real pain when you’re out collecting stuff.
# 7 | Save Don’t Spend
It is so easily done in this game, you finally sell enough parsnips or melons to afford that upgrade you’ve been craving for an entire season, go out and pay and then realise you have no cash to take you into the next season. You gotta save money people. When you get enough to buy an upgrade, be patient, make sure there are no incoming expenses for the foreseeable future and then make your purchase. I usually have around 10k sitting in my pocket in case of emergencies. Of course, as you progress through the years this becomes less of a problem but for your first two years keep this ethos in mind.
# 8 | Get the Mushroom Cave
After you accumulate 25,000 gold in total earnings Demetrius will come to your farm and ask you if you want him to convert your abandoned cave on your farm into a mushroom cave or a bat cave. Now, as cool as it sounds to have your very own bat cave (I am batman) don’t fall for it. You get less items less frequently and they are often useless as they rarely fit into any bundle at the community centre and sell for very little. You sometimes get saplings which are expensive but this is very rare and, when you get money later on, these items are easily acquired at the general store. Mushrooms, on the other hand, are very difficult to find when out foraging in the valley. The mushroom cave provides a nice, regular supply of fungus that can be used for so many different things such as cooking, the community centre and even gifts for your fellow Stardew Valley citizens.
# 9 | Avoid Joja Mart Like the Plague
Okay so, Joja Mart is straight up evil. It is the antagonist of Stardew Valley. If you buy the ridiculously expensive membership and destroy the community centre are you even truly a fan of this game? In my opinion, no you are not. This play style only makes sense to me if you are so rich you don’t know what to do with your money and you can’t be bothered to play the game properly (or maybe you want the achievement for purchasing the membership – fair enough). Though, who would do that when it’s far better to keep your main man Mayor Lewis happy and have drinks with him in the Saloon whilst simultaneously getting high with the Wizard. Just don’t do it. You have been warned.
# 10 | Wait Patiently For Multiplayer
Okay, this is less a tip and more me saying I really want multiplayer on this game… now. It is still supposed to be coming so just sit tight. The multiplayer mod, I hear, is not too shabby but I really want to see what the developer brings to the table with a multiplayer mode. Will it have an MMO feel? Or simply trading and visiting other peoples farms? Or even competitions? Or just having a max of four players each with their very own farm on the map? Who knows but all sound very exciting.
Well there we have it. Those are some of my tips and tricks for Stardew Valley. And by some, I mean some – I could write a book on this game if I’m being completely honest with you. This post might not mean all that much to someone who has never played the game. If you are in this category I urge you to get it as it is such a relaxing and addictive experience. Feel free to comment any questions below, thanks for reading.