Stardew Valley is more than just a farming game. It’s also a dungeon crawler, a dating sim, and a fun exercise in planning and management. The constantly ticking clock and wealth of content can be overwhelming, particularly when starting out. I’m here to help you make the most out of your first year in Stardew Valley.
- Nearly every activity will level up the relevant skill, from fishing to fighting. If you find the fishing mini-game particularly challenging, keep pecking away at it to get better (and eventually buy better rods).
- Rainy days are a godsend. Early on much of your time and energy is spent watering crops. Rainy days are freebies that let you focus on fishing or getting deeper into the mines. It rains most often during Summer.
- Never have a tool selected if you’re not using one. Every miss-click swing of the axe or hoe drains precious energy. And never have bombs selected while walking around your farm…
- Watch TV every day! Clicking on your TV gives you a couple options depending on the day. Weather Report lets you plan for a rainy day. Fortune Teller might hint at lucky loot drops. The Queen of Sauce teaches you cooking recipes. Finally Living off the Land gives you general tips for the game.
- See those odd little dirt patches with worms sticking out? Use your hoe to find clay, plants, or even missing library books. The worms crop up most often during Winter.
- While clearing out your farm try to save up wood to finish the bridge at the beach. It takes 300 wood but is well worth it. The tide pools to the East offer large amounts of coral and sea urchins every few days which sell for a tidy profit.
- Crab Pots are a nice source of free items early on. Stick them in the water with some bait, and they’ll provide a small fish or trash item every day. Put the trash in a recycling machine! Completing the Crab Pot Bundle gives you three free crab pots.
- Save all that bug meat from the mines and turn it into bait. Bait can be used on crab pots as well as your own fishing pole (aside from the basic one).
- Every five levels of the mines comes with an elevator shortcut. This lets you zip back down quickly. Try to make it to the next elevator on every run, and bring food to keep your energy and health up.
- The bulletin outside of Pierre’s often offers timed quests. It’s a good excuse to horde at least one of each item, so you can simply run back to a chest and grab it.
- Preserves Jars and Kegs will become your primary money makers once you unlock them. The math can get a little complex but in general stick veggies in the Jars and fruit in the Kegs. Hops and Wheat in Kegs are even better, turning your farm into a successful distillery!
Community Center Bundles
- Treat the Community Center Bundles as the overarching goals of the game. You can check their requirements at any time from your own inventory screen right above the organize button.
- Completing each Bundle pack gives you a nice reward, while an entire bundle will often change or add an entirely new game mechanic – like the greenhouse.
- Try to complete the Adventurer’s Room as soon as possible. You’ll probably need to get quite deep in the mines to finish it, but the mine carts provide excellent shortcuts from your farm to town and to the mines (and later the quarry).
- Once you have the money, complete the Vault Bundles to gain access to the Desert. It costs 500 gold per ticket but the Desert offers unique seeds, new foraging crops, and an entirely new high level dungeon.
- Make sure to fish regularly every Season, and at different times, locations, and when it’s raining. Some fish can only be caught under specific circumstances. Check the wiki for any fish you’re missing in the Tank Bundles.
- Quality Crops will be one of the most difficult bundles initially. Try to plant as many of the required crops in the best fertilizer you can. Note that you only need three of the four listed to complete it. If you can finish the entire Pantry Room by your first Winter you’re way ahead of the game!
Befriending the townsfolk of Pelican Town is its own rewarding mini-game. Everyone has their own specific likes and dislikes. Just talking to people every day will slowly improve their heart-rating, but giving their favorite gifts is the most efficient thing to do. For example, Leah loves Salads, which you can easily buy at the Saloon for 200 gold. That’s pretty expensive early on. In your first Spring you could give her free Daffodils and Dandelions you find scattered around. Check the wiki!
Aside from being able to marry one of the single residents, making friends offers unique story scenes. You can also receive frequent items and recipes sent through the mail.
Just as in real life, giving people jars of home-made mayonnaise is a great way to make friends. Almost everyone in Pelican Town likes mayo and it’s easy to make from chicken eggs and a mayonnaise machine. The first house upgrade lets you cook. Recipes can be gained from watching The Queen of Sauce and through the mail by friends. Nearly every dish has a favorite recipient. Everyone loves a good cook!
Your first Spring will be rough. You have no money and little resources. The game opens up new content at a steady pace, from the action-packed mines to the Community Center bundles. Pay close attention to the bundles and what you need to get done in the Spring – Spring Foraging, Spring Crops, and the Quality Parsnips. Also check the wiki for any fish that can only be caught in Spring or under certain conditions.
Try to carve out a decent little plot of farm-land, and steadily work on cutting grass, chopping wood, and breaking rocks on your farm. Build a silo to convert grass to hay, though you really won’t use it until Winter. Get a general feel for the game’s many systems, and how much you can get done each day. Try to have a good amount of money by the end of Spring for new crops and remember – your crops die at the end of Day 28 of each Season!
Summer is the real cash cow of the year. Summer crops are extremely profitable, particularly the ones that continue to produce every few days, like blueberries. Invest in Quality Sprinklers as soon as you can. Watering your crops is a huge time and energy sink – the more you can automate the better. Make lots and lots of hops and put them in kegs. If you can’t build a keg yet (Farming level 8) save them until you can. Pale Ale makes a ton of money!
Corn is a nice crop to plant in the Summer. It’s the only crop that will last through Fall, and keeps on producing once grown.
Continue clearing your farm and plant as many crops as you feel comfortable handling. Complete Community Center bundles and explore the mines – but crops should be your first priority in Summer.
Cranberries are the new blueberries! Plant a bunch and harvest like crazy. Save them for Kegs if you can.
By now you should have a dozen Preserves Jars and Kegs, always churning out goods. These will be your main source of income. Kegs usually make more money, but take longer to produce. Jars are more profitable for cheaper fruits and veggies.
Fall has the most complex event – the Stardew Valley Fair. Bring nine of your best goods, spread out to as many different categories as possible (such as fish, mineral, artisan goods, etc). Getting first prize will net you a lot of points. You should then complete the Fair mini-games to earn enough points to buy the Stardrop – a permanent increase to your energy!
No crops can be grown in winter – aside from wild winter seeds which produce Winter’s forage items. Winter is a great time to upgrade your tools at the blacksmith, finish exploring the mines (if you haven’t already), and socialize with the townsfolk. Repeat trips to the mines are useful to stock up on Copper, Iron, Gold, and precious gems. Gems, along with the easy-to-make mayonnaise make great gifts to just about everyone.
Hopefully you have a nice backlog of crops to slip into your preserves jars and kegs. You’ll rely on that income through Winter.
If you have a coop or barn, make sure to click on the hay dispenser and lay them out on the feeding table to feed your livestock. You can keep track of how much hay you have by clicking on your silo. Be sure to buy a heater from Marnie!
Don’t go too crazy spending your money in Winter. You want to have a nice fortune saved up to spend it all on crops and fruit trees for the new year! Year 2 adds new crops and new events, and you should be able to perfect the farm of your dreams.