A MIN/MAX Guide for 1.4 Using the Skull Cavern Method

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by brandiganBTW, Mar 23, 2020.

  1. brandiganBTW

    brandiganBTW Poptop Tamer

    Hey! I’m brandigan and this write-up is a quick overview of my Stardew Valley min/max guide for the 1.4 content update that focuses on unlocking and profiting off of the Skull Cavern during your first month on the farm. MAJOR shoutout to RedTouch8 for uploading his run using this method... I tried to emulate his playthrough, learn from what was working for him, and improve where applicable.

    I am uploading the full run two days at a time here if you want to see my run in its entirety with tips and commentary. I'll keep these videos coming and let you know about new uploads on my Twitter. In short, I’m aiming to have the Skull Cavern unlocked by the 3rd week of Spring. From there I’ll use the profits from daily SkullCav dives to prepare for the big money crop in Summer: starfruit! The 1.4 content update adds a lot of great quality of life improvements as well as new features that I can use on this run to make the most of Spring.


    • $450,000 in total earnings by the end of Spring

    • 3 full harvests of starfruit in Summer Year 1. Shooting for 2,000 total starfruit will net $6,300,000 once turned into starfruit wine.


    • By Summer Day 1: $335,783 total earnings + $106,500 worth of iridium bars and $16,000 worth of prismatic shards = ~$458,283. I won’t run through the rest of my inventory but I made enough to plant 480 starfruit for my first of three harvests this month! I have upgraded my tools to the steel axe, iridium pickaxe, and gold hoe.

    • By Fall Day 1: $1,330,138 total earnings with 2,063 starfruit on hand, starfruit wine production already started, and 1,040+ plots for 3 harvests of pumpkins.

    Below is an outline of how I spent my days and notable accomplishments in the first month:

    Day 1

    • Typical run / try and get as much gold as possible. My goal on day 1 is $1,800 gold for the fiberglass rod on day 2 that is unlocked at level 2 fishing.

    • Options for income are foraging, donating an artifact, and trash cans. The saloon trash can is good to check because sometimes there are great drops like a fish taco, pink cake, and rhubarb pie that sell for a few hundred gold

    • Bundle-wise I need to complete two bundles to unlock the boiler room. The vault unlocks after 4 bundles. I will look to complete 2 of the spring foraging, spring crops, and crab pot bundles

      • As many mixed seeds as possible for cauliflower and potatoes

      • Purchase a green bean
    • $440 gold in my pocket + $600 sold overnight

    • Foraging level 1

    Day 2

    • Fishing with the training rod at the ocean for experience and until i have enough gold for the fiberglass rod

    • Fishing level 3

    Day 3

    • Fishing at the ocean until Willy opens and then it’s catfishing time where i’ll pass out

    • Goal is to catch as many catfish as possible.

    • Lucky bonus: Neptune’s Glaive and Iridium Band from fishing a treasure chest out

    • Fishing level 4 and 5, chose Fisher profession so fish are now worth 25% more

    Day 4

    • Chopping wood and then mountain fishing

    • Fishing level 6 and 7

    • Sell fish from today and Day 3 for $11,209

    Day 5

    • Harvest parsnips

    • Mine until level 10

    • I lost my green bean on day 4 (crows?) and need to replace it

    • Got the crab drop that i needed in the mines for the bundle

    • Start the crops of kale to level up my farming (it grows quickly and gives 17 experience per). Next batch i can use basic sprinklers to save time and get to farming level 6 for quality sprinklers

    • Begin ABS (Always Be Smelting) and drop off to upgrade to copper pickaxe, cauliflower @ Pierre’s, and mountain fishing until i drop

    • Farming level 1

    Day 6

    • Mountain fishing and sell haul in the bin for $10,480

    • Fishing level 8

    Day 7

    • Smelting, meet Wizard, fishing / smelting until i drop off to upgrade to steel pickaxe, mountain fishing until i pass out

    • Backpack upgrade

    • Foraging level 2

    Days 8-10

    • Mountain fishing and have 5 gold bars ready for pickaxe upgrade; $4,664 from the bin on Day 8

    • Sell fish at Willy’s on Day 9 - need $10,000 for pickaxe upgrade and extra can go into buying bait

    • Drop off to upgrade to gold pickaxe

    • Mountain fishing until i pass out Days 9 and 10

    • Fishing level 9 and 10

    • I opted to replay Day 10 until I have a rainy day on the 11th. This is optional but I really wanted to go for the legendary fish on Day 11 (need rain @ the mountain lake)

    Day 11

    • Catch THE Legend

    • Catfishing

    • First kale harvest

    • Farming level 2 (basic sprinkler unlocked)

    Days 12-13

    • Mining to level 55 on Day 12

    • Mining to level 95 on Day 13

    • Mining levels 1-4

    • Combat levels 1 and 2

    Day 14

    • Kale planting (it will rain tomorrow so no need for sprinklers yet)

    • Mining to level 100 and then ore farming

    • Start completing bundles to unlock the vault

    • ~$38,000 in fish sold in the bin including THE Legend

    Day 15

    • Catfishing to get the rest of the gold needed to complete the Vault

    • Mining for ore / to level 105

    • Put down basic sprinklers

    • Bus is fixed overnight

    Day 16

    • Mining to 120, slay green slimes for quest

    • Drop off to upgrade to copper axe

    • Mining level 5 - choose Miner profession for more ore

    • Foraging level 3 (unlocks tapper)

    Day 17

    • FIRST SKULL CAVERN DIVE!!! The name of the game is trying to descend as far as possible

    • Harvest stray rice shoots

    • Get prismatic shard for galaxy sword

    • Farming level 3

    • Combat level 3

    • Mining level 6

    Day 18

    • SkullCav dive!

    • Combat level 4 and 5 - choose Fighter profession

    • Mining level 7 and 8

    • A note on the Desert Trader: always trade rubies and diamonds for spicy eel / triple shot espresso to use in the cavern. Trade jade for staircases on Sundays and save prismatic shards (3) to trade for magic rock candy on Thursdays when available. Keep a stack of warp totems to the desert by trading omni geodes for them. I opt to put jade in any crystalariums i have so i can trade for more staircases

    Day 19

    • Drop off to upgrade to steel axe

    • Second backpack upgrade

    • SkullCav dive!

    • Combat level 6

    • 100+ iridium ore and 4 quality sprinklers from a chest

    Days 20 - 24

    • SkullCav dives!

    • Mining level 9 and 10 - choose Blacksmith profession so metal bars are worth 50% more and I can now start using the iridium bars as day-to-day income
    • Farming level 4 from another kale harvest; buy and plant more kale to chip away and get closer to level 6 farming


    • Combat level 7 and 8

    • Drop off to upgrade to copper hoe and then steel hoe

    • Iridium sprinklers from treasure chest floor

    • ~$120,000 sold in good on the 24th

    Day 25

    • Start prepping fields

    • Drop off to upgrade to gold hoe

    • Estimate how much starfruit seeds + deluxe speed-gro to buy (I opt for 480) since this is the last chance to get the gro. You probably won’t have enough for all the starfruit seeds yet but that’s okay

    • SkullCav dive!

    • Combat level 9

    Day 26


    • Tons of valuables and tomorrow is raining

    Day 27

    • Drop off to upgrade to iridium pickaxe

    • Harvest kale

    • Farming level 5 and 6 - I choose the Tiller profession

    • Begin prepping my fields for Summer

    Day 28

    • Finish prepping fields for starfruit and plant parsnips to retain the soil overnight

    • Lay down all sprinklers

    • Bye bye Spring =’(

    Anyway, that about sums up my first month trying out this method. Let me know if you have any questions or comments; i'd love to hear what you guys think about how the run is going! I could also annotate Summer Year 1 as well if anyone is interested!
    • thelastoverseer

      thelastoverseer Space Hobo

      Wow, your run must be super lucky, if you get iridium band in your 3rd day (I counted it as an essential ring).

      And I dun recommend selling legendary fishes.
      • brandiganBTW

        brandiganBTW Poptop Tamer

        Yeah, that was very lucky. Also, I did have about a dozen mess-ups (forgetting a tool or getting knocked out not paying attention in the skull cavern) and those i days i didn't save / replayed. That's worth mentioning because i don't want you think i did this without a hiccup; there was a lot of error on my part.
        • ThorfinnS

          ThorfinnS Orbital Explorer

          Nice. Good way to do that, record it, then record commentary.

          I've always just transitioned to farming, only mining iridium until I had enough for everything I wanted to do; tools, sprinklers, etc. I had no idea milking iridium was that profitable.

          Looking forward to seeing more.
          • brandiganBTW

            brandiganBTW Poptop Tamer

            Thanks, it's a lot of fun for me to watch the playback so it works out and days 3 and 4 should be uploaded by now! I also never really looked into the Blacksmith profession because i thought Gemologist was much more profitable in normal play-throughs
            • ThorfinnS

              ThorfinnS Orbital Explorer

              Getting these up fast!

              I'm still trying to wrap my head around that one-day mine plunge to 55+. I've been reliably hitting 35, occasionally the low 40s, but I'm only using the copper pickaxe. I take it that it's worth it to go all the way to gold before starting? Or was that more a function of the great luck days you had? Or something else I'm missing? I'still have a lot of mis-clicks, but not nearly enough to account for 15 levels. You got started a couple hours earlier, but that doesn't seem like enough of a difference, either.
              • brandiganBTW

                brandiganBTW Poptop Tamer

                hey thorfinn, i'm trying to be consistent! i'm looking back in the videos and @ day 12 i'm level 10 in the mines from my first dive on day 5. for me, luck for day 12 is the best luck (very happy) and it looks like i tried for level 60 before giving up on level 57. i checked my saved videos and it's labeled 'day 12 take 2' so i did reset once. i think a combination of the gold pickaxe, best luck fortune, fast ladder spawns, and resetting once helped me get there (i still mis-click at this point too). I checked the time on level 50-55 and it was in under 2 hours so, depending on your circumstance, we look like we're aligning with what i'd expect. nonetheless, after looking through the footage this day does seem to be close to best possible outcome based on where i was at. let me know what you think because i think you're right about the pickaxe but i agree that it looks to take more than just that for a 45 level dive on day 12
                • ThorfinnS

                  ThorfinnS Orbital Explorer

                  Oh, I forgot you had a leg up there from day 5. Still, getting 45+ levels is impressive. I slowed the video way down so I could count, and I mis-click about half again as much as you did. So that doesn't quite account for it. Two levels, tops, based on how many rocks you bashed to find a ladder in some of the quicker levels. But maybe between the higher luck and the fewer whacks the gold pick requires it's enough to make the difference. You've inspired me to give it a shot. Did you restart for better luck, or just go with what you had?

                  The major difference I see is when I have the glaive, I've been pathing through the dirt in the hopes of finding a duggy for his cherry bomb. That might slow me down, but the bombs speed things up, so maybe that's a wash?

                  I hadn't realized you could restart the day and get different weather. Or did you mean you restarted day 10 again until the forecast was for rain on the 11th?

                  BTW, your fishing skills are more than good enough to drop off the pickaxe on day 3. I know that because you are a better fisher than I, and I rarely miss that anymore. And since you are buying all the ore for the pick anyway, seems like a good fit for this style. With lucky bubbles, sometimes I can get L5 fishing before passing out on the 2nd. Otherwise, I just sell only as much fish as I need to get the ore.

                  Any reason not to drop off the axe when you got the gold pick? Forgot, or conscious decision to save the 2k, or what?
                  • brandiganBTW

                    brandiganBTW Poptop Tamer

                    As far as i can remember for resets, i definitely copied my day 10 save file and replayed it once because the first try was a sunny day on the 11th. For the 12th, i think i made it to level 50 but felt like i could do better so i exited the game to cancel the save and tried again.

                    Your duggy strat is something i hadn't considered but i think the 25% chance of a cherry bomb would be worth it as long as you're not going out of you way to walk through dirt.

                    You're absolutely right on the day 3 drop-off and it may be one of my biggest mistakes of this run. Before this run, i was brand new to min/maxing Spring Y1 so i relied on another uploader's experience especially early on... AKA i followed his first upgrade day. I was able to adjust and improve later on but i agree that a day 3 drop-off would improve the overall run by a solid margin.

                    I appreciate the advice and i know it'll be worth it to run a version 2.0 in the future with what i've learned.
                    • Shepherd_0

                      Shepherd_0 Astral Cartographer

                      Hey, I've seen your finale video yesterday, wrapping up the entire run and commenting on some things that could be improved on. I think I might have a little something to add to that list of improvements.

                      Why do you sell your haul of fish on day three? The only reason I can think of is if you can't buy enough bait on day 2 to last through day 3, but that's not a problem I have ever had. Not only do you most likely not have the fisher perk on day 3, you also lose valuable rainy day time. Personally, I would sell your fish on the fourth, to maximize the amount of catfish you can catch. Another benefit to this is that you can get the backpack upgrade on the fourth as well, since Pierre's is on the route from Willy to the lake.

                      It's a small thing, but I think it's worth mentioning in a min/max run. Either way, I think you did a great job on the video series.
                      • brandiganBTW

                        brandiganBTW Poptop Tamer

                        I appreciate the feedback and you're right! Without checking the vid, that's probably an extra ~2,500+ i missed out on. a backpack upgrade earlier is a bonus too. hopefully i can run it again before 1.5 content comes out

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