Stardew Valley Guide for Beginners

When I first started playing Stardew Valley, I assumed that the game was going to be just like Harvest Moon when it came down to game mechanics; they are both farming sims, after all! What I didn’t realize is that there’s a lot more to this game than I had expected. There were plenty of things I wish I had known a lot sooner before I got too far into the game.

Over the years since 2016, Stardew Valley has been through many updates and changes. But in spite of all of the new features and fixes, some things have always remained a challenge, especially for newcomers to the game.

My Stardew Valley guide for beginners is my personal attempt to give new players some good pointers and tips to follow as they set off to build the farm of their dreams. I’ve tried to stray away from covering any in-depth topics or tips that are irrelevant to new players, there are some parts of the game that are only unlocked as you play.

As of writing, this guide was made after the 1.5 update of the game.


Character Creation

This is where all of the fun begins! You can start customizing how you want your character to look by choosing from a number of different hair styles, shirts, pants, etc. You can also choose what kind of pet you would like. 

I should mention that everything involving your character is purely cosmetic, and does not have any effect on the gameplay itself. I’d also like to add that your appearance can be changed later on in the game.

Choosing a Farm Map

When starting a new game, you have the option of choosing from one of six different kinds of farms, and each one is geared towards a particular kind of playstyle.

  • Standard Farm. Designed for Farming
  • Riverland Farm. Designed for Fishing
  • Forest Farm. Designed for Foraging
  • Hill-top Farm. Designed for Mining
  • Wilderness Farm. Designed for Combat
  • Four Corners Farm. Has features from other maps and is geared towards multiplayer
  • Beach Farm. Designed for advanced players.

As much as I like the theme of each map, I’ve always found that the Standard Farm does the job well, even on subsequent playthroughs. If you are new to the game, I would recommend choosing this farm map over every other one. This particular farm has the most space for growing crops and raising animals, and since this is the bulk of the gameplay, it’s good to have lots of space.

Clearing up the Farm

When you first move in, the first thing you will see is a heavily overgrown farm! Not to worry though; with some time and effort, you can get the place cleaned up and ready for growing crops.

You start the game with all the tools you need. Your Axe is used to chop down trees, stumps, and logs. The Pickaxe is used to break down stones and boulders. Your Hoe is used to dig up buried objects and till the land for farming. And the Scythe is used to cut away any grass, bushes and weeds that are growing.

The overgrowth on your farm will provide lots of Wood and Stone that are very useful for crafting any buildings as well. You also have a chance of harvesting other helpful resources such as Coal and Clay.

Just remember not to overdo it. Clearing up the farm uses up your energy, and even if you manage to empty the farm of every weed, you aren’t going to have enough money or energy to fill that farm with crops.

I recommend that you only clear enough space to suit your current needs.

Your First Harvest

The mayor has provided you with a nice gift of 15 Parsnip Seeds, which you should plant as soon as possible.

In order to sow some seeds, you need to use your Hoe to till the soil. The game lets you grow and build on a grid, so you’ll need to till 15 “tiles”. Once the ground is ready, equip your Parsnip seeds and click on the tilled land to plant the seeds.

Crops need water every day in order to grow, which is where your Watering Can comes in handy! Just like your other tools, you use the can on a tile to water it. Simply use the watering can on your soil and seeds to ensure that they have water to grow. If you do not water them, they will not be able to grow to maturity (they will not die as a result of not watering).

Over the next few days, it is a good idea to keep on watering those seeds until they grow into mature Parsnips. You can harvest mature crops by moving close and clicking on them.

Energy and Health

Energy is a measure of how much you can do in one day. Each time you use a tool or fish, your energy will deplete over time. Keep in mind that some actions do not consume Energy, such as using weapons, foraging, or using your Scythe. You can replenish your Energy by eating food or sleeping in your bed.

If you run out of Energy, you will suffer from a very slow movement speed. If you continue to use tools or drain your energy further, you will eventually collapse from exhaustion, ending your day.

Health is only used while in combat (as in, the Mines). You lose Health by coming into contact with monsters, or getting injured by bombs.

Always watch the TV every morning, before you start your day

This is a very important tip to follow; in fact, I would suggest making it a habit as soon as possible. It barely takes any time out of your day, but more importantly, it provides you with important information that will help you decide how to plan the next few days. 

That TV in your farmhouse is not only an essential source of information, but some channel episodes are only aired on certain times of the year; missing out means you may have to wait another year. Many newbies forget about the TV, so it is important to stay consistent with watching it each day.

There are 4 TV channels that air, depending on the time of the week and the year.

Weather Report

This channel tells you what the weather will be like for the next day, and is very helpful for deciding on what to do for the next few days. For example, if it rains, you won’t have to spend time watering your crops, which means you have more time for other activities such as fishing and mining.

This is also a good time to upgrade your watering can, because you won’t need it on a rainy day anyways.

Fortune Teller

This channel tells you what your Luck is. Luck has a special influence on almost everything you do, from the quality of the crops harvested to the chance of finding treasure while mining.

Don’t feel discouraged if your luck is bad on a given day, but make sure you think long and hard about what you plan on doing.

Livin’ Off The Land

This channel plays every Monday and Thursday, and will give you some info on how to play the game. These come in the form of helpful tips and hints related to farming, foraging, fishing, etc.

The Queen of Sauce

Every Sunday and Wednesday, this channel comes on the air to teach you a cooking recipe. You can cook food once you have upgraded your farmhouse. To be honest, this channel can sometimes be overlooked, especially when you don’t have the means to cook food yet.

Nevertheless, it’s good to stay in the habit of checking the TV every day, because it saves you having to do it over if you miss a day.

Farming is the best way to make money when starting out

In the beginning, farming is key. You use money to buy seeds, to grow into crops, and sell those crops for more money, which you then use to buy more seeds… and the cycle repeats itself. This is pretty much the endgame for many players playing Stardew Valley, and it really works.

Starting out, you may not have much in the realm of money and supplies, but it always helps to plant as much as you can afford in the beginning.

Every seed you plant is a crop that will provide a return on investment. From the simple parsnip to a large pumpkin, you will always have a profit so long as you care for your crops.

From the moment you start with your 15 Parsnip Seeds on Day 1, you will want to dedicate as much of your money into buying seeds. Especially the high value seeds, such as berries and the giant crop seeds. These crops will give you the most money per day, even more if you fertilize.

Use Scarecrows as soon as you can

When starting out, growing crops will be the easiest way to make money. Once you have tilled the land and sown your seeds, all you need to do is water your crops, and you will have a profit in no time at all. 

But there is one problem that can come up as you play: Crows.

At the start of every day, there is a small chance that crows may show up to eat some of your crops, costing you both the time and money you spent.

The easy solution is to build a Scarecrow near your crops. These are crafted with 50 Wood, 1 Coal, and 20 Fiber, all of which can be easily found as you clear up your farm in the first few days.

Scarecrows will protect crops within 8 tiles in every direction, so once you place a scarecrow on your farm, this will ensure that no crows will go after the crops in the area.

Keep in mind that you have to level up your Farming Skill to Level 1 before you can craft one. You increase your skill by harvesting your crops. Now, at this point in the game, you have zero skill unfortunately, which means that the next few days until your first harvest is ready will be a bit of a gamble on whether or not those pesky crows will strike. Luckily, crows do not attack if you have less than 16 crops in your field, so try to avoid planting too many.

Seasons

Each season lasts for 28 days. It’s very important to understand the seasons, especially when planning out your crops. At the start of each season, some crops will die out, as a result of not being able to survive the conditions of the new season. There are some crops that can take as long as half the season to grow, and if you start growing them too late in the season, they will not mature in time for harvest.

There are, however, some crops that can actually grow across multiple seasons. If you have any such crops that yield multiple harvests, it’s usually a good idea to start growing them early on, so that you can get the most out of them.

Festivals

Each season has 2 annual festivals that allow you to take a break from the usual grind of gameplay. You can expect to get a letter in the mail reminding you of an upcoming festival, which gives you some time to plan your season.

The festivals can provide good opportunities to make money and improve your friendship with the townspeople. That being said, you may need to plan ahead for some of them.

Most festivals start between 9am and 2pm, which means you’ll need to go to the location in order to start the festival; if you show up too late, you’ll miss out. When you finish a festival, it will be around 10pm, leaving you only 2 hours until bedtime.

If you plan on attending a festival, you will definitely want to ensure that your crops are watered beforehand, otherwise you’ll be rushing things before midnight.

Depending on the festival in question, some sections of the map are inaccessible on the day of the festival. It is a good idea to keep this in mind, especially if you plan on skipping a festival.

Making Friends

Just because it’s a game about farming, doesn’t mean that you should live like a hermit. Pelican Town is a very detailed place with loads of interesting characters to meet, and so, when you aren’t busy tending to crops, it’s a good idea to talk to the locals and get to know them.

Everyone in town is unique and has a story to tell. Talking to a villager improves your relationship with them by a bit each day, and you can further improve it by giving them a gift, particularly one they like.

It’s a good idea to make as many friends as you can. The higher your friendship, the more likely you will be permitted to enter their house or bedroom, making it a little easier to visit them on your own terms.

Friends will also send you gifts in the mail, and under certain conditions, you may even get to see a cutscene that gives you a little more insight into their life. Who knows? Perhaps you’ll find more than friendship?

Getting the most out of your First few Days

The most important thing to know when starting out is that you have limits. You have very little money, shoddy skills, and not all of the local villagers can be greeted on the same day. 

You also have limited energy, which is something that everyone seems to forget about on their first day. Seriously, almost everyone who starts playing tries to accomplish so much in one day that they burn their poor characters out. In fact, lots of people try to clear out so much debris on their farm that they don’t save any energy for actual farming.

The point is, don’t get overwhelmed. Try to focus on small tasks at first, then as the days go by, gradually do more. This section covers all of the things you can do on your first day on the farm, and also gives you some helpful info on how best to plan for the upcoming days.

Day 1: Laying down the groundwork

The first thing I like to do on Day 1 is to clear out a few trees on the farm, leaving behind the stumps. First off, they give you lots more wood per energy expended, especially compared to the smaller logs laying about. Secondly, chopping down a tree earns you Foraging experience points, but chopping a stump or log doesn’t net you anything other than wood.

I keep chopping until I have at least 50 Wood, which is enough to craft a Chest.

As you clear up your farm, you will find out very quickly that your inventory fills up with items. Chests provide you with extra space which is critical in your starting days. Having a place to store extra items will go a long way to ensure that nothing gets left behind. Personally, I like to keep one chest for each of the four seasons, plus a few for foraging, fishing, and resources. You can even change the color of the chests to ensure that they are easy to find.

Also, try to make a habit of storing anything that you don’t need right away, instead of selling it.

Once I have a chest, I like to clear up just enough space to start a small plot for planting crops; you will have many days ahead of you to work on cleaning up your farm, so there’s no need to waste the rest of your energy making your farm spotless.

The mayor has provided you with a nice gift of 15 free Parsnip Seeds, which you should plant as soon as possible. Make sure to use your Watering Can to water each tile of seeds, as nothing will grow unless it gets water.

Try to Plan out your Farm

At this point, you may want to take a step back, pause the game, and think long and hard about what you want to do with the farm. 

Where do you see yourself in Year 2? What about 5 or 10 in-game years? 

I think it’s important to ask yourself these questions at the start, because if you don’t, you may end up wandering around with no real plan of action. That being said, if you don’t have a goal in mind, that’s okay. This game was not designed to be played as a speedrun, so it can be just as fulfilling to play at your own pace.

What Else Can you Grow on Day 1?

If you have done an efficient job of clearing up space and planting those free seeds, you may still have plenty of energy left to plant some more crops, and the local general store should be opening up any time.

Now, you don’t have a lot of money in the start, just a paltry 500G. This will be enough to buy 6 Cauliflower Seeds, which while expensive at first, will actually provide a much better profit than anything else you can plant in the beginning.

If your endgame goal is to make a lot of money in your first year, then you should consider buying Cauliflower Seeds before anything else. These crops may take a long time to grow, but you will make a lot more money when compared to the other crops.

Summing up Day 1

On my first day, I used up all of my money to buy these seeds and then spent the rest of the day clearing up weeds off the farm, and avoiding any grass. 

Why weeds? Because as you clear them away, you have a slight chance that some Mixed Seeds will drop from these weeds. These are also a very useful item in the beginning, because they save you money buying seeds in the store. And if you are really lucky, you may end up with another Cauliflower!

Remember that your scythe does not use up any energy to use, so this is a good tip to follow if you’ve used up all of your energy for the day. Also remember to store any extra items in the chest.

And that’s about that for Day 1. If all goes well, you have some space on your farm for crops, a chest (or two) for storage, and some seeds sown and watered.

Day 2: Fishing, Foraging, and Exploring

The second day is where some of your options start to open up further. As long as your crops are watered, you could pretty much do anything you like. The game tries to nudge you in the direction of fishing, by having the local fisherman send you a letter in the mail.

Willy, the local angler of Pelican Town, will give you a fishing rod for free if you come find him at his house on the water. If you plan on fishing all day, you may want to bring along a crafted Chest to store extra fish.

I will be frank with you, Fishing in this game can be the most difficult thing to succeed at in the start. Since this activity is tied to a skill, a lower skill means the harder it is to reel in a fish. However, I should also add that fishing is among the most profitable things to do in the start as well. In fact, if you manage to win at fishing in spite of a low skill level, you can expect to make a lot of money to get your farm off the ground faster.

In more recent game updates, Willy sells a new type of fishing rod called the Training Rod, that you can use to fish with. This very item was designed for those who dislike the fishing minigame. Basically, fishing with this makes it so that you are fishing as though you have many skill levels in Fishing. As a penalty, you cannot catch any rare fish.

Foraging is another activity that you can do, and one that I would recommend doing as you go along. The best thing about Forage is that you do not expend any energy picking up wild plants, flowers and berries. 

Day 3 and onwards

From here on out, the game starts to open up even more opportunities to how you can enjoy your time in the game. You’ll have a rainy day to greet you at one point, which not only waters your crops, but saves you time and energy, allowing you to do other things with your free time. 

At one point, you will gain access to the mines, allowing you the chance to mine for helpful resources and materials. And finally, after several days, you should expect to be introduced to the Community Center, a place where your hard work can help restore it to its former glory. 


Anyways, that’s about all I have for now. Since I’ve been getting back into Stardew Valley, I hope to write up some more content in the coming days.

I hope you found this guide to be helpful. If you like what I’ve written, see anything that I’ve missed, or have any suggestions for the guide, feel free to leave a comment down below, and I’ll see what I can do!

Thank you for reading, and happy farming!

~ Ken

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