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Minecraft Hardcore Mode Is A Bitch, I Mean, Blast

I eventually did break down and install Mo'Creatures, Extra Biomes (Classic), and Optifine (the Smooth version runs relatively gloriously).  Now that I have my little mod mix settled, I'm having a great time in Minecraft... it's a pity that I currently have no saved game to show for it.

Fairwell, glorious base of operations

Playing "hardcore mode" means I have to start completely over every time I die, as it deletes the entire world (your character inclusive).  So far, the causes of death have been:
  • Visiting the Nether in order to get some glowstone, things seemed to be going swimmingly until I encountered Flame Wraiths (added with Mo'Creatures).  They didn't look too tough, I bet I could take em', and if I got caught on fire I'd just use my bucket to put myself out.  Turns out, buckets of water instantly evaporate if you try to use them in The Nether.  RIP.
  • Loading an earlier Hardcore game I had abandoned because of lag issues (now resolved), I successfully secured some glowstone and was considering where to place some seals.  My current base was in a poor position, but I spotted a yonder hovering castle and realized it was perfect.  With diamond torso and pants, I knew the armored skeleton guards would be easy enough to dispatch as long as I conducted myself with caution, but the Necromancer turned out to be wedged upstairs of the throne room in such a way that the skeletons he summoned kept jumping behind me on the stairway, injuring me and forcing me back to heal.  I decided the safest thing to do would be to knock out the ceiling and pull him outside, where it would soon be morning and the sun would undoubtedly make overwhelming his skeletons earlier.  Fighting off skeleton skirmishes as I did this, I noticed there was a werewolf coming up from outside into the only viable exit.  Thinking that the next wave of skeletons were having pathing difficulty, I turned around and started killing the werewolf... of course, the skeletons then came and shoved me outside into the werewolf.  Off-balance and in a bad position, my enemies made short work of my few remaining hearts.  RIP.
  • After taking a day and a night surveying the continent I would be on in a boat, I landed at a nice-looking Hindu military settlement and built a simple base in a nearby cliffside cave.  I found another cave between my base and the settlement that (very cool) winded all the way down to nearly bedrock level where all the good ores were.   Somehow, despite being in sneak mode and carefully laying some sand to make a safe path of it, I fell in some lava.  I had yet to craft a bucket and fill it with water, and found myself surrounded on all sides with obsidian just barely out of reach to climb out upon.  RIP.
Yet, despite having to start over time and time again, I have to say that I'm warming up to the game mode.  There's been many exciting close shaves where I escaped alive with just half a heart - once, even from starvation.  The nice thing about doing hardcore is that it avoids stagnation, something that tends to destroy the appeal of virtual world eventually.  Each time I start up a new Minecraft world, the new body of possibilities it introduces makes things feel fresh and interesting.  I'm shaking a bad habit that MMORPGs have instilled in me: I'm feeling less entitled to keep my virtual assets, and in doing so appreciating the journey more.

If any of these deaths were truly unfair, I'd probably not be playing hardcore anymore.  However, it's a sign of a well-designed game that I can think back and realize that any of these deaths could have been avoided.
  • If you work to quickly obtain an iron chest and pants and know how to swing a sword properly, you're more likely to die to starvation than monsters (provided you don't bite off more than you can chew).
  • Starvation can be avoided by simply taking time to stock food, whether it be from overland creatures, fishing, or farming.
  • Falling deaths probably will not happen if you craft some Boots of Striding, which is easy enough to do.  
  • In the first death, now that I know what threat Flame Wraiths pose in the Nether, I'll regard them a lot more carefully, fighting them either at range or with some form of fire protection
  • In the second death, I had a few golden apples I could have used to save me, but overall I should have realized the Necromancer fight was slightly too dangerous and come back later when I was better equipped.
  • In the third death, I should have been creating obsidian as I went with a bucket of water.  However, even having slipped into the lava, I  had a full health bar and ample time to drop something beneath me, allowing me to climb out of the lava and into some adjacent water (it's just a bit hard to think straight when you're burning to death).  
Hardcore survival is definitely possible.  In fact, thanks to the inclusion of Thaumcraft 2, I can see a certain plateau where I would be nearly un-killable; I've yet to survive long enough to get an automated sugar cane farm up so I can start researching in earnest but, when I have, I'll soon be equipped with such powerful artifacts that clearing dungeons is reasonably safe.  At that point, I should have access to all the resources I need, and have earned my persistence... and be in a position to consider trying to tackle a certain dragon.

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