stardew valley guide

Dummies guide to Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley for dummies

“Things I wish I’d known at the start”

Intro first

The best things about Stardew Valley are its depth and its integrity.

In terms of gameplay and narrative, some of the topics touched on are really quite profound, like Pam’s anger issues and her relationship with her daughter, the wild man, Linus, and how people treat him for being different, and Kent with his PTSD. I can imagine a lot of psychologists playing this and thinking, “Wow, that’s on point!”

This integrity extends to monetization, or more to the point, the lack of it.

Rather than simply pointing to the obvious candidates for excessive corporate greed (EA, Activision and co.), a surprise entry is Disney with its new IP, Dreamlight Valley. Currently in early access and aimed at players aged 3+, this ‘AAA’ Stardew wannabe starts at a reasonable £23.79, before pushing you towards the deluxe version at £57.59. Naturally, the raid on your wallet doesn’t stop there as it then shoves ‘Moonstone Packs’ in your face for up to £44.99 a bundle. Needless to say, like all similar predatory games, the bundle will have too many or too few for your in-game purchase, pushing you to buy more packs. And there will be no limit to the number of items they want to sell you.
RIP Snow White; evil queen Grimhilde controls Disney now!

Yet in Stardew valley, if you want something, you craft it or play the game and earn it. That’s it.

This is what Gen Z and Gen Alpha gamers don’t understand. Ten years ago, this was normal. Corporate greed and exploitive, predatory practices gave rise to obfuscated in-game purchases for cash, loot boxes, season passes and all the other toxic manipulations, using every psychological trick in the arsenal! A decade or so ago, a complete game was around £40 to £60; now, the big publishers “need” every game to be a $1,000+ game. Or, in the case of Diablo Immortal, a $100,000 game!

Indie games like Stardew Valley show that unfettered, uncapped corporate greed is unnecessary!

Fun fact:

Did you know that just one guy wrote Stardew Valley in his bedroom? That’s the programming, the graphics, the music, the level generators, the dialogue. Everything. One guy!

To date, he’s sold over twenty million copies of the game, and it’s still getting content patches.

Stardew Guide: playing the game (properly)

I played the game and, after about 100 hours, decided it was a clumsy attempt and decided to start again. Then, after another 200-odd hours, I realized I could have done much better. I’m pretty much at end-game and just farming gold and Qi gems by this point, but I am not wholly satisfied. I had all the best items in the game and was full hearts with everyone but the feral kid, but I’d missed a few recipes, and my greenhouse wasn’t optimised, and I thought, “meh”.

There’s a saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

The game is open-ended, so it’s not like you can’t undo a mistake (unless it’s being a corporate shill and supporting Joja instead of the community. There’s no going back from that one, but at least you can get the achievement!)

Big mistakes!
These are setbacks rather than mistakes in the grand scheme of things, but they are game-changers.

Like in real life, I didn’t pay much attention to the TV until about 3 years into the game when I realised: the channels matter!

That roast nut recipe I needed for Kent was shown on the TV, and I’d missed it. It and every other recipe! There are reruns, but if you miss it, it means a year-long wait for the series to restart again.

The nature channel tells you what’s ripe for foraging that day.

The mystic channel tells you whether it’s worth dungeon delving into – or if it would be a good day to die. Well, be overwhelmed, but passing out in a dungeon generally involves medical bills and your rescuers rifling through your pockets for trophies and sacks of gold!

So, that is my first tip: watch TV for the news daily. Play smart.

Order, please!

Again, in the long run, it doesn’t matter what you do or when, but if you want to save yourself a lot of time and frustration, there’s an easy path where you avoid many of the brambles.

Here I’m going with the community option, but – for gold – the soulless Joja corporation has similar options.

Day 1
Chop wood, make a chest, and keep chopping wood, clearing your farm. You can forage for energy to help.

I suggest just clearing enough to plant a few crops, focusing on rocks, weeds and sticks, but not grass. Leave the grass to grow wild and spread and aim to have one or more silos as your first farm upgrade. Filling these with scythed grass (for hay) will save you a fortune as it costs 12,500g to buy enough hay to fill a silo; if you have a few animals, that goes down fast.

Optionally, you can focus on getting 300 wood to repair the beach bridge and forage in the tide pools for coral, sea urchins, sea weed and artefacts. This early cash injection help, and adds a little more to your foraging skill.

Day 2
Day two sees the return of Willy and a free bamboo rod to start fishing. If you want any hope of completing the community center in the first year, getting your fishing to level 3 is almost a requisite. This gives you the option of a better rod and the recipe for dish of the sea (+3 fishing) which you’ll need if you want to catch an eel and catfish in the spring (which requires higher skill, luck, and rain!)

Day 5
This first Friday is the big day in the game. Joja clear their rubble, freeing up access to the mines.

Also, as long as it’s not raining, if you travel into the village by way of the bus stop between 8am and 1pm it will trigger the community center cutscene and rat problem quest. Examine the gold plate on the floor, which will trigger a request to visit the Wizard. This, in turn, leads to the community centre quests. These take a lot of planning to do in a timely fashion!

The scene also unlocks the option to support the Joja Corporation and its capitalistic path. You can double up and do both if you want to speed some things up, like the bus into the desert, but in the end, it’s an either-or option. Either the community center is renewed for the benefit of all, or it’s torn down for the benefit of Joja shareholders. Not judging you.


Once you have the option to start upgrading the town, this is the order to prioritise:

Begin the crafts room (for bridge repair) to unlock the pantry (for the greenhouse) and boiler room (for the minecart). Of these, the minecart is the most useful (for zipping around town) and the easiest to complete.

The rest of the gathering… some need quests to unlock, others trees to mature, farm building and livestock which have to grow, fish that can only be sought at season times, certain weather conditions. Miss one, you have to wait for a year to try again.

A number of these can be bought from the travelling salesman, so it’s worth visiting him on Sundays and Fridays (and events) to see if he has any. I made lists and printed them out for this. I swear, it’s like a military campaign, the timing and precision that is needed!

I found taking the cave fruit bats (over mushrooms) a cheap and easy option instead of growing trees, though getting 3 apples took ages. The best solution is to unlock the greenhouse as soon as possible and plant one of each tree in there.

Talking of trees, it took me an age to get the green tea recipe from Caroline. You have to explore her house after 2 hearts to get on the path for it.

Fast forward to the end of spring
Also, near the community center, but only at an exact time and day, you can find a giant Junimos plushie.

There’s also a Junimos statue to find. A note hints to it, but it can be found any time of the year. That said, evening knowing exactly where to look, it took a youtube video to find the hidden Junimos statue.

Chicken run
If you want that community center finished, or other achievements, your chickens matter. Their plumage matters. Get one white and one brown. If Marnie offer you another of the same colour, cancel and try again.


Fast forward to winter

The mysterious stranger
This is another of those “I wish I’d known that earlier”. It soon becomes apparent who the stranger is, but the quest never seems to go away. The guy was living in my house before I searched for the answer. It turns out (I think) that you are supposed to follow the stranger and, as a reward, get a magnifying glass that gives clues from artefact sites.

In fact, first play, I’d missed the wiggling worm artefact sites, too; I thought they were just scenic effects, like the frogs and squirrels.

With the magnifying glass, digging for artefacts reveals – and sometimes unlocks – clues and items. Anyway, he’s hiding in a bush by the community centre.

Rinse and repeat

Sometimes, days don’t go your way in this game. And sometimes you look at your fellow villagers and think, “What the flying fudge!”
Like the time Linus, he of the tramp-life philosophy, walked off with my sword and about 20,000g worth of food and goodies.

Times like that, I reload!

That’s also a good philosophy for the rare extra-lucky days*. If you hit the skull caverns on the right day, you can be showered with loot, but RNG still applies, so you can still do terribly, so it’s worth considering having another run at it.

*(“The spirits are very happy today! They will do their best to shower everyone with good fortune”.)

Choosing your skill paths and focus

This assumes you are supporting the community over Joja, and aren’t using item spawn cheats*.

*(I’ve played both ways, both equally enjoyable, but using cheats to start with 7×7 sprinklers, rock candy that everyone loves, and unlimited gold makes the game so much easier).

Your primary focus should be to get the farm going and ready for community center grinding from day 6, so as to unlock the minecart and greenhouse as early as possible. That said, farming needs tools; the better your tools, the faster and easier everything else is, which means mining.

There is no right or wrong way to play, so if you want to fish or max foraging for the first year, go for it. Still, there is an optimal order, which is to get the farm going to unlock the community center )or Joja), mine for ore to unlock the minecarts and to upgrade your axe so you can chop hardwood and work towards a stable and horse so that you can get around faster.

Mining progress and recipe unlocks

1: Cherry bomb (Not useless, but meh anyway).
2: Staircase (Meh! Handy in a fix, but expensive to make, and you can buy with jade later, which is a better way, especially if you use the crystalarium to grow them).
3: Miner’s treat. (Meh, needs milk for one thing, plus, I feel defence and attack are more useful for keeping you alive)
4: Glowstone ring (definitely wanted early on, gives light and magnetism; rings and effects do stack)
4: Transmute copper to iron (meh!)

5: Profession choice. (Pick ‘Geologist’ for the chance to double up gems).

6: Bomb. (Modest ingredients (1 cola, 4 iron ore) and speeds up mining. Useful.
7: Transmute iron to gold. (Meh!)
8: Megabomb. (Now we’re talking; you can clear a large area with these, which speeds up levelling and exploring. Ingredients Gold 1 4 gold ore, 1 solar and 1 void essence)
9: Crystalarium (Lucrative. Creation time depends on the gem, but, for instance, it will generate one jade every 40 hours or a diamond every 5 days. If you had 10 crystalarium growing diamonds, that’s 1,500g a day (1,950g possible))

10: Profession choice. If you are happy spawning diamonds, take the ‘Gemologist’ option (gems are worth 30% more), but I reckon the ‘Excavator’ is a better option as the chance for geodes is doubled, which, along with finishing the museum’s donations faster, increases the chance or coal, clay, iridium ore and even prismatic shards.

Combat progress and recipe unlocks

Note that levelling up also increases your health by 5 points per level:
Each increase in Combat Level adds 5 points to the player’s health meter.
Further points are possible with Fighter and Defender professions chosen.
Finding Secret Note #10 and then meeting Mr Qi at level 100 of the Skull Cavern will increase maximum health by a further 25 points.


1: Sturdy ring and bug steak. (Meh. Handy in an emergency, but not reliable).
2: Life Elixir. (Meh, given it needs a purple mushroom, they are better options).
3: Roots platter. (Good solid buff meal for mines, with easy-to-farm ingredients).
4: Warrior ring. (Meh, I’d rather have a glow ring or two and see what’s attacking me!)

5: Profession choice. (Take ‘Fighter’ for +10% damage; you’ll live longer)

6: Slime egg-press and oil of garlic. (Meh!)
7: Ring of Yoba and Thorns ring. (Both are decent, but there are better options).
8: Slime incubator and explosive ammo. (Meh!)
9: Iridium band and squid ink ravioli. (Ravioli is meh, but that’s the best ring in the game and it stacks*).

10: Profession choice. (Take ‘Defender’ for +25 health; you’ll live longer)


*You can combine rings when you unlock the volcano forge on Ginger island, so, for instance, you could merge the powers of the Ring of Yoba with the iridium band. In effect, you can equip 4 rings in 2 slots.

You can also buff your weapon in various ways, which stacks with skills and rings; you can end up with a +40% attack (or better) and another buff on top, like crusader or vampiric.


Farming progress and recipe unlocks

1: Scarecrow and Basic fertiliser. (Both are essential. You want the scarecrow to stop the pesky crows eating your crops and the fertiliser for the 5 gold crops needed for community centre bundles
2: Sprinkler, Stone fence and mayonnaise churn. (Be a while before you need the churn, but the sprinkler is better than nothing – barely; only covers 4 squares.
3: Bee house, speed-gro fertiliser, and farmer’s lunch. (Nothing outstanding, but not useless either. Marnie loves the farmer’s lunch ❤ )
4: Preserves jar, basic retaining soil, and iron fence. (Preserves jar is good as it adds value. Also, Harvey loves pickled veg. ❤ )

5: Profession choice: The best choice is Tiller (crops worth 10% more), leading to Artisan (artisan goods worth 40% more), but rancher and then coop master/shepherd makes befriending animals faster and their products worth more.

6: Quality sprinkler, cheese press, and hardwood fence. (Finally, a half-decent sprinkler. Still only covers 8 squares)
7: Loom and quality retaining soil. (You need the loom for cloth, but you need sheep or rabbits for the wool first)
8: Keg, oil maker, deluxe speed-gro fertiliser. (You can never have too many kegs, when for coffee, beer, ale or wine)
9: Iridium sprinkler, seed maker, and quality feriliser (All great. The sprinkler covers 24 squares (upgradable to 48, later), while the seed maker will save you a tonne of gold.

10: Profession choice: Again, I’d suggest Artisan, but you can reset skill options in the sewer, albeit it for 10,000g


Foraging progress and recipe unlocks

1: Wild seeds and field snack. (Later is handy early on)
2: Survival burger (Good, but needs eggplant, a fall crop, so not so good. On the plus side, Emily loves it ❤ )
3: Tapper (You are going to want a lot of these! Besides community bundles, you need maple syrup for bee hives, oak resin for kegs, and pine tar for a loom
4: Charcoal Kiln and Wild seeds. (Charcoal Kilm is good for coal if you are having trouble getting enough)

5: Profession choice. Go with Gatherer (20% chance of double harvest)

6: Lightning rod, wild seeds, and warp to beach totem. (You’ll want several lightning rods for battery packs)
7: Wild seeds, warp to mountain totem, and tree fertiliser. (Meh!)
8: Warp to Farm totem. (Always good to have a few of these if you overstay in the mines or volcano, or need to flee).
9: Rain totem, and cookout kit. (Meh).

10: Take the Botanist, all foraged items will be of epic iridium quality. For a start, it means foraging takes up less bag space (no more gold, silver etc), plus they are worth more.


Fishing progress and recipe unlocks

I’ve left this to the end because it’s so time-consuming and because the fishing mini-game is annoying.

Each level rise slightly increases the distance you can cast and, more importantly, slightly increases the size of the bobber bar in the mini-game. Fishing food is good here as they complement. So, a level 3 skill with a +3 fishing meal is effectively the same as a +6 fishing skill. (One of the items in the game needs level 15 fishing!)

Level rises also increase the chance of quality fish while very slightly improving the bite rate.

1: –
2: Bait and fibreglass rod. (You’ll want both)
3: Crab pot and Dish o’ the sea (Dish o’ the sea needs sardine, which is a pain, but it’s +3 to fishing, so you’ll want it for the likes of the catfish and eel. You can use crab pots en mass to slowly improve your fishing, but it’s a lot of running around, I find)
4: Recycling machine (Good for turning broken glasses and CDs into refined quartz)

5: Profession choice. Unless you intend to spam crab pots, take the ‘Fisher’ option (Fish are worth 25% more)

6: Iridium Rod (purchase), lead bobber (purchase), spinner, and trap bobber (To take your fishing up a notch you’ll definitely want the iridium rod and a bobber)
7: Cork bobber and treasure bobber. (Useful in their place).
8: Worm bin, barbed hook, and dressed spinner. (No more farming bug meat to make bait unless you need wild bait, that is)
9: Magnet (bait) and Seafoam pudding. (The seafoam pudding (+4 to fishing) is nice, but the ingredients are hard-core due to their rarity and seasonality. If you want to make this regularly, you are going to need three fish ponds, and enough squid, midnight carp and flounder to stock them.

10: Profession choice. I suggest ‘Pirate’ for double the chance of treasure, but Angler (fish worth 50% more) is a good choice if you have the patience to fish a lot. (If you went with Trapper and crab pots, Luremaster is the obvious choice).


TV coooking lessons

The Queen of Sauce cooking show is shown on a Sunday and repeated on a Wednesday, it runs on a two-year cycle. If you miss the one in the first week, the stir fry Leah loves, it will be year 3 before you can get try again.


Year 1

7th Spring: Stir fry (❤ Leah loves this)
14th Spring: Coleslaw
21st Spring: Radish salad
28th Spring: Omelet (or buy the recipe from Stardrop saloon anytime)

7th Summer: Baked fish
14th Summer: Pancakes (or buy the recipe from Stardrop saloon anytime) (❤ Jodi loves this)
21st Summer: Maki roll (or buy the recipe from Stardrop saloon anytime)
28th Summer: Bread (or buy the recipe from Stardrop saloon anytime)

7th Fall: Tortilla (or buy the recipe from Stardrop saloon anytime)
14th Fall: Trout soup
21st Fall: Glazed yams (❤ Lewis and Pam love this)
28th Fall: Artichoke dip (❤ Clint loves this)

7th Winter: Plum pudding (❤ Jas loves this)
14th Winter: Chocolate cake (❤ Abigail, Evelyn and Jodi love this)
21st Winter: Pumpkin pie (❤ Marnie loves this)
28th Winter: Cranberry candy (❤ Vincent loves this)

Year 2

7th Spring: Pizza (or buy the recipe or meal from Stardrop saloon anytime) (❤ Sam and Shane love this)
14th Spring: Hashbrowns (or buy the recipe from Stardrop saloon anytime)
21st Spring: Complete breakfast (❤ Alex loves this)
28th Spring: Lucky lunch

7th Summer: Carp surprise
14th Summer: Maple bar (❤ Sam loves this)
21st Summer: Pink cake (❤ Haley, Jas, Marnie and Vincent love this)
28th Summer: Roasted hazelnuts (❤ Kent loves this)

7th Fall: Fruit salad (❤ Haley loves this)
14th Fall: Blackberry cobbler (❤ Abigail loves this)
21st Fall: Crab cakes (❤ Elliot loves this)
28th Fall: Fiddlehead risotto (❤ Clint and Kent love this)

7th Winter: Poppyseed muffin (❤ Leah and Penny love this)
14th Winter: Lobster bisque (or 9 hearts with Willy)
21st Winter: Bruschetta
28th Winter: Shrimp cocktail

Tips, or “Well, how about that!”

Other random tips I’ve found while playing.

Take your hoe down the mines!
If you plough the soil, the mines are surprisingly rich in ways you wouldn’t think. Those soily patches (e.g. where the Duggies pop up and bite your ankles) are full of clay, cave carrots, and artefacts for the museum.

{ An iridium hoe helped speed things up, but look what I dug up in just one minute }


Stardew Guide: cheats

Before beginning this, I looked at several Stardew guides and, especially from the streamers, you are left with a feeling of disassociation.

For a start, they have vast amounts of pretty much everything. This points to two things: firstly, an unholy amount of time to play (but monetized channels, so it’s literally their job), and secondly, they are using exploits. One cheat I saw gives unlimited gold and energy via a hack to spawn items like Stardrop. Others let you walk on water, plant stuff in town, or have four cellars for wine casks.

Spoilers are one thing, but using spawn codes and the like is not really playing the game. But if you’ve played through once or twice anyway, why not.

Sure, cheats can spoil the game, but it’s an option for playing around or maybe getting achievements. (Like those you don’t really want, such are betraying the Jumimos and supporting Joja).

Interestingly, it was the developer, ConcernedApe, himself that gave out the codes! IGN: Item Codes for Spawning Cheat

There are more extensive lists available, such as Stardew Item id’s (.com)

If you wondered how the YouTubers do and haven’t looked, it’s by naming (or renaming)* your character to item codes.
*(When you are friendly enough with the Wizard, he’ll let you into his basement, where you can change your character’s name, look, etc.)

Suppose you want to go to town with this. In that case, I’d suggested focusing on the friendship with the wizard as a primary goal to unlock renaming (at four hearts)*, perhaps gold for significant upgrades and everything else, and something practical, like an iridium sprinkler.

Friendship can decay, so visit the Wizard daily and take him a loved gift (twice a week).

Magic Rock Candy [279] is the best item; everyone loves it; it gives the best buffs in the game, and, as a bonus, it sells for 5,000g

The Stardew wiki covers friendship, but as a generalisation:

❤ Each heart is 250 points
Talking gives 20 points per day
Loved gifts give 80 points per day (multiplied by the quality)
Quests reward 150 points.
Loved birthday gifts reward 640 points (again multiplied by the quality)

Just relying on loved gifts and daily hello, that’s 300 points a week (❤) or 1,200 a month (❤❤❤❤), so, with quests you could rename yourself towards the end of spring.

(Decay rate is -2 per day, disliked and hated gifts cost you points, as do other actions like getting caught rummaging through bins.)

Tiger slime [857] offers the best gold, as it’s worth 8,000g, while Legend fish is good for another 5,000g. Those, with the magic candy take you up to 18,000g a time. You would only need to make 556 calls to Clint to get the gold clock and a step closer to Perfection. Smiley takes a bow. Or you could just play the game, like a lot, and earn the extra 10,000,000g wanted for the clock. Smiley is pondering

Beyond that, choose according to your play style or goals, so sprinklers [645] for farming, mega bombs [288] for clearing land and mine levels, etc.

{ Stardew Valley item spawn cheat in action }

For example:

For max daily gold, name your character: [279][857][163] for magic rock candy, a legend fish and tiger slime eggs.

If you want to double up, you can use codes for your farm* too, so if someone says the name of your farm, you can have a few more items early, like stardrops [434] or prismatic orb [74]

With caveats, you will get one of each item of those items every time someone says your name or the name of your farm* to you. This includes phoning stores, greeting and meeting people, and giving certain people things they love (notably Elliot, Shane, Abigail and Maru).

If you buy a phone from Robin and ring around in the daytime, you can spam this until it gets silly. I have had it crash the game on the second call, but it appears to work consistently otherwise.

* NOTE, however, that the name of your farm is fixed. You can rename your character and alter it’s look later, but the farm name you choose is permanent.

With enough time (sped up with cheats), you can have a beautiful Stardew Valley farm.

Curiously, your character’s name is limited by the physical character size and not string length.
For instance:
[163][857][337] is valid, but…
[163][857][166] doesn’t fit and cuts off the last bracket.
Similarly, it will allow about 24 I’s as a name, but only 6 W’s

Similarly, sometimes you are rewarded with 2 items, sometimes 3. It appears to vary with how or where your name appears in a sentence. With this in mind, put the item you most want at the start and the one you least want at the end.

Want to play with fishing? [710][774][730] will ‘reward’ a crab pot, wild bait and a lobster Bisque (fishing +3)

Other useful codes include:

For farmers:
[645] for an iridium Sprinkler
[915] for one of Qi’s pressure nozzles
[434] for a Stardrop (energy refill and permanent boost)

For delvers:
[288] Mega Bomb (for rocks, etc.)
[386] Iridium Ore (perhaps to use with a slingshot)
You can spawn rings, however, they cannot be equipped… You have to earn and create them.
[527] Iridium Band (light, magnetism and +10% damage)
[520] Slime Charmer Ring (immunity from slime attacks)

For general handiness (e.g. tool upgrades and mass-producing crystalariums)
[337] – Iridium Bar

Note that you can’t spawn weapons or armour like this, so there is no shortcut to the infinity blade and mermaid boots, nor can you generate (most) crafted items like kegs, casks, or those crystalariums. And, as mentioned, other equipable items like rings may not work.

THAT SAID…, if you really wanted to get ahead early, call yourself [279][73][886] and name your farm [74][261][645]. This will allow you to get the Galaxy sword or even the Infinity blade on day one and unlimited gold.

{ Stardew Valley cheat codes in action, v2 }

To Infinity and beyond?

This is version 2, where I show you how – on day one – you can get the Galaxy sword (or even the Infinity blade!) on day one and access Ginger Island, with max gold and max points for Qi and the volcano ready to farm.

You’ll also be able to start upgrading your tools to iridium quality, subject to the usual plodding pace of Clint.

If you are going to cheat, do it in style!

I tried to get creative and use the stardrop to spawn three more items when you think of your ‘favourite thing’, but that doesn’t appear to work. I believe it’s because it’s a system narrative message rather than NPC dialogue. However, reading the wiki, I note that “this exploit also works with naming children and animals.”

I did have a little play with this, and while it may work for kids and pets (i.e. your cat or dog), it does not appear to work for farm animals like hens.

See also, Stardew Valley wiki: secrets. (Seems they missed the farm name exploit though).

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