Ancient cities are among the most dangerous and challenging structures to be in the game. There is very little light throughout the place, and while the cities do not have any normal hostile mobs in them, they are home to wardens, which can easily slaughter players, even in full netherite armor.
- 1 Why bother?
- 2 What you will need
- 3 Starting out
- 4 Exploring the city
There will be several benefits to go to an ancient city:
- Obtaining a sculk catalyst, which will allow you to produce infinite sculk shriekers and sculk sensors as well as normal sculk blocks.
- Obtaining soul-related blocks and basalt without going to the Nether.
- An easy way to obtain skeleton skulls without having to work with charged creepers.
- The useful Swift Sneak enchantment, which is exclusive to ancient cities, as well as many other good enchantments.
- You can obtain echo shards from here, which can be used to craft a recovery compass.
- Has the completely blast-resistant reinforced deepslate, although it cannot be pushed by a piston anymore.
- Good way to get treasure like enchanted golden apples, diamonds, and the like.
- Mundane items like candles, chests, lecterns, campfires, dark oak wood wood and torches can also be looted from here as a nice side-bonus.
- The city can be converted into a mob-proof base after all the sculk shriekers are removed, as hostile mobs are not allowed to spawn there.
What you will need
- Multiple stacks of wool or carpets for blocks and blocking off vibrations.
- A pair of shears to break wool quickly, and to collect the wool generated on the floor of corridors in case you run out of wool.
- Some iron ingots to craft more shears.
- A hoe with Silk Touch for collecting the various sculk blocks, and to destroy the very dangerous sculk shriekers.
- The usual sword, pickaxe, and any other tools you usually take with you.
- A significant supply of good food, like cooked porkchops or golden carrots.
- Some night vision potions, which will allow you to see while you have the Darkness effect.
- Plenty of glowstone or strong light sources to prevent shriekers from spawning wardens.
- A bed in case you die, but do not place it too near or inside the ancient city itself.
- Some snowballs or eggs to distract the warden in case it spawns (eggs can spawn chickens for distractions).
- Stairs and/or slabs; as jumping up blocks creates noise, placing some of these down allows you to eliminate that action and reduce noise.
- A boat to be able to climb up and jump down
- A bow (or crossbow), preferably enchanted with Infinity, to shoot arrows for distracting the warden.
- Optionally some arrows, or just one if the bow has Infinity.
- Optionally a few milk buckets to remove the Darkness effect.
- Optionally some golden apples or enchanted golden apples to quickly heal.
- A full set of netherite armor, ideally with Protection IV.
- Optionally some noise-making blocks, such as bells or note blocks, and the resources to make a redstone clock (ideally 2 observers to save inventory space), which you can use to lure wardens towards the bell and away from you.
- Patience, as you will need to sneak for almost the entirety of you journey through the Ancient City.
- You could also change the settings to make sneaking an on-toggle action, instead of having to continuously hold down the sneak key.
- A safe escape route, so that you can leave as fast as possible if things go wrong.
- You could also build a fortified and closed-off "panic room" that you can flee into and take cover inside.
To prepare yourself for an expedition to an ancient city, there are a few things you will need to do.
Finding a city
You will first need to go very deep down underground, deep enough that you reach the deepslate layer, close to bedrock. You will want to approach and reach the ancient city either from the same level or from below, as if you mine into it from above, you run the risk of falling directly into it. If the fall damage does not kill you, the warden certainly will. Once you get to somewhere between Y=-44 and Y=-52, begin strip or branch mining. This will give you the highest chance of finding a city. The ancient city will also be more likely to spawn under the new mountain biomes.
What not to do
- Try not to build or destroy anything unless you are sure there are not any sculk shriekers or sculk sensors within a 9-block radius.
- Try not to take any damage, keep your health bar at full, just in case.
- Try your hardest to avoid alerting sculk shriekers or sculk sensors, so do not step on them, let alone go anywhere near them except to break them.
- Do not try to fight the warden under any circumstances! It will kill you, and there are no incentives whatsoever for doing so. Instead, try to be as far away as possible, because it may detect your presence the closer you are to it and be able to track you down, with fatal results.
- Do not place anything, including wool, on top of sculk blocks, since a sculk sensor might be alerted.
Exploring the city
When you explore the city, the most important thing is to sneak at all times, unless you are on the corridors with gray wool walkways. This will make you move slower unless you have Swift Sneak on your leggings, which you won't have if this is your first trip to an Ancient City, as it can only be found there. However, there is a trick to sneak faster: sneak diagonally. when pressing two directional keys (such as forward and right) at the same time, the player moves at a faster 1.8 m/s as opposed to 1.3 m/s. This can make it hard to see where you are going, so you can use the third-person view to get an eagle eye view of your character.
Use your Potions of Night Vision to see without having to place torches (as that potentially alerts sculk sensors and shriekers). Torches, however, are useful as a last resort if you run out of Night Vision potions or are under the Darkness effect, so use your night vision to identify spots where a sculk shrieker or sculk sensor will not notice the sound, and place torches in those places, so that you can see by their light later. There may be some areas where it is extremely difficult to get through if you have run out of night vision potions or have the darkness effect and you should simply avoid these areas.
Destroying sculk shriekers
The most dangerous block in the ancient city by far is the sculk shrieker, as it is directly responsible for spawning in the wardens. So one of the most important things to do when exploring an ancient city, is to destroy all the sculk shriekers to stop that from happening. However, breaking them triggers nearby sculk sensors, which can in turn alert other shriekers nearby, not to mention that the sculk floor prevents the player from placing Wool to occlude the sensors. Breaking all sculk shriekers without spawning any wardens is therefore, a very challenging task, but it is not impossible. To do so, the player needs to understand how the Sculk Shrieker works.
When a sculk shrieker activates it will start shrieking but it will not actually spawn a warden right away and instead only does so after its shrieking has finished. The shrieking lasts for a total of 4.5 seconds, during which the player can do a couple of things to utilize the situation:
- The player can run out of the sculk shrieker's range. A sculk shrieker has a spherical range of 16 blocks. If the player gets outside the 16-block radius before the 4.5-second shrieking ends, then the shrieker will not inflict Darkness on the player. This is only a viable option if there are no other shriekers nearby to break.
- The player can break the shrieker before its shrieking ends. A Hoe is the fastest way to break shriekers, so a player with a fast hoe can quickly break multiple shriekers within a short period of time, allowing for a dangerous but faster way to raid and secure the city.
How many shriekers?
When a player approaches a patch of sculk blocks, the first thing they want to do is to count how many sculk shriekers there are. If there is just one shrieker, this makes the task quite easy. The player simply needs to sneak up to the shrieker and break it with their hoe – even though this triggers the sculk sensors nearby, no wardens will spawn since there are no more shriekers nearby that can spawn it.
However, the presence of just one shrieker doesn't mean the player should not prepare for emergencies. It is perfectly possible for there to be another, hidden shrieker the player fails to see, or there is a hidden sculk sensor behind a pillar or wall or something that alerts another shrieker further away. This illustrates the extreme importance of scouting the area before breaking any shriekers, preferably using the third-person view to view from a higher vantage point and from different angles. Even when thoroughly prepared, the player should also prepare for the scenario below.
More than one shrieker
If a patch has more than one shrieker, or if there are multiple interconnected patches containing shriekers, the player must act strategically. They need to be mentally prepared that as soon as they break one of the shriekers, all other shriekers nearby will be alerted, so you should surround the shrieker with wool. In the case you do activate one, destroy all of them to save time and further shrieks.
As such, it is of vital and imperative importance for the player to have an escape plan ready, in the form of a safe escape route with which to escape the ensuing Warden.
As mentioned above, a sculk shrieker has a range of 16 blocks, and shrieks for 4.5 seconds. This gives a small amount of time to run incase a Warden appears due to 2 other shriekers being activated earlier. Ideally, the player should have a safe escape route leading all the way out of the Ancient City, towards the surface, to be safe.
There are a few strategies with breaking sculk shriekers:
- Always break the shrieker closest to the escape route first. Because other shriekers are farther from you when you start running, you get out of their range sooner and this allows you to get to safety as fast as possible, to wait out the commotion.
- If there is no flat ground to run away to nearby, try to find a cliff side at least 9 blocks away from the nearest sculk sensor, and dig into it, to create a small tunnel going some distance. This way the player can create their own escape route.
- You may use the wool-covered corridors to your advantage. The wool provides a safe pathway to sprint-jump away from the sculk shriekers, without the danger of triggering any sculk sensors nearby.
- (This strategy is risky and requires a good hoe) If there are only 2 or 3 sculk shriekers next to each other, and the player has a fast hoe, they can stand in the middle of these shriekers, break one, and quickly break the others before any of them gets a vibration. This strategy is riskier because if a warden manages to spawn, it will be within close range of the player, and it will be much harder to get away from.
- (This is a high-risk, high-reward and efficient strategy) If there is a group of multiple sculk shriekers close to each other, you can simply place some glowstone or strong light sources quickly around the 11x11 proximity of the shriekers. The shriekers will still shriek, but due to a high light level, a warden will not be able to spawn. Notice that, due to shrieking mechanics, if the player failed to disable any shriekers, a warden will surely spawn at this point.
Evading the warden
Even the above strategies are not entirely foolproof, and it is still possible for something to go wrong and for the warden to spawn sometime during your explorations. You will know this has happened when you hear a loud rumbling and growling noise and you can see the Warden rising up out of the ground when it spawns. If this happens, you can still somewhat easily evade the warden without dying. When the warden spawns, it may be very tempting to sprint away, but this will create noise that the warden will hear, causing it to give chase and likely kill you. You must keep sneaking and slowly move away, unless the Warden has already begun chasing you. Avoid creating any noise if possible! The Warden is blind and instead operates by sound, using noise to pinpoint whatever it was that awakened it. If it cannot hear anything, then it just roams around randomly, sniffing the air, waiting for any noise to happen, though it can still detect an entity if they get too close to the Warden or bump into it. Over time, standing too close to the Warden (within 20 blocks) will cause it to begin pinpointing the player's location by scent, so keeping a fair distance and escaping is important. If the Warden hears too much noise, something gets too close to it, or sniffs you too many times, it will give chase. You can tell if the warden has begun chasing you because it will lean forward and roar, before speeding up and rushing towards its target. If the warden is currently chasing you, try to sprint to somewhere the warden cannot follow, such as though a two block high gap and then try to get further away from there. Be warned that if you didn't have a hole about 30 blocks long before, the warden can still attack and kill you with its sonic boom attack.
Another strategy is to simply pillar-jump upward by placing blocks underneath your feet until you are higher than the Warden. However, this is not recommended unless the pillar is very tall as the Warden can melee attack up to 5 blocks above itself, and 30 blocks with its ranged sonic boom attack. Once you are a couple blocks up, continue upwards (if possible) until you can reach the cave ceiling, then dig into it to create a small cavity and wait there for things to calm down. If the Warden is near you but still has not detected your presence yet, you can throw snowballs or eggs to distract it and lead it away from you. Make sure to throw the snowballs or eggs at least five seconds apart to keep the warden from becoming agitated and potentially aggressive. If you cannot reach the ceiling, then make sure that the pillar is at least 30 blocks tall, as at that point you will be outside the range of the Warden's attacks and aggro range. As long as you remain atop the pillar and stay still and stay quiet, the warden will not be able to detect you or reach you.
The warden operates on a 60 second-timer. After it spawns in, the timer will start counting down and if it goes 60 seconds without detecting any noise or entities nearby, then it will burrow back into the ground and disappear. After that, it will only return the same way it arrived before; through being summoned by a Sculk Shrieker.
Using the warden's strong point against it
Wardens are attracted to noise. At first, this may seem annoying, however if you use a block that makes noise, like a bell or note block, and link it to a redstone clock, the warden will be attracted to it. This is a high-risk, high-reward strategy, so use at your own risk. However, this doesn't consider some elements. If this is built before the warden has spawned, the noise will alert a sculk shrieker or sensor, which will spawn in a warden, and this takes some time to build, therefore it is difficult to build after the warden has spawned. The warden also has a sense of smell, so if you stay too close for too long or the warden is aggro on you, then using distractions is not an option.
Brute forcing it (with patience)
By taking advantage of the above strategies, it is theoretically possible to simply brute-force your way into and through the Ancient city, if you have the patience for it. This is extremely tedious to say the least, but it could allow you to eventually reach the loot in the city and clear it out without having to face the Warden at all. You must, however, be aware of where the exit is and be ready at all times to turn around and immediately make your way back to and through that exit to safety and then wait for things to calm down and return later to continue on.
Simply put; make sure that you have a safe escape route ready and available, ideally one that leads all the way back to the surface. After that, make your way into the city (by sneaking) and then simply start breaking every Sculk Catalyst, Sculk Sensor and Sculk Shrieker you can find. This will cause an absolute cacophony of noise and will surely cause the Warden to spawn in short order. In that case, you simply need to turn around and quickly begin making you way towards the exit mentioned earlier, distracting the Warden away from you as needed, and once far enough away, leave the Ancient City and wait for about 60 seconds to allow the Warden to despawn (ideally you should wait a bit longer to account for potential delays). Once the Warden has despawned, you may safely return back and start breaking Sculk Sensors and Sculk Shriekers again, and leave once again when the Warden appears and returning once more when the Warden has despawned again. By repeating this cycle continuously, then as long as a Sculk Catalyst does not generate any new Sculk Sensors or Sculk Shriekers, the Ancient City will eventually run out of them in the long run as the player gradually breaks them all one by one.
Also, the alert levels of shriekers go down over time, making it so you can just wait 30 minutes to do one large go and leave to finish it another time.
Getting into the redstone lab
There is a redstone lab under the centre of every ancient city. You can find the city center easily because it has a massive structure made of reinforced deepslate. The secret door to the lab can only be opened through a specific method, which is random each time. First, you must find the chest in front of the “warden face” and open it. Then grab the golden carrot inside the chest and go down to the bridge opposite to the chest (don’t eat the carrot yet). Finally, go under the center and you will see two recessed deepslate walls; these are the doors. To open the door, go to the door that has a chiseled deepslate block on it and eat the Golden Carrot. This will activate the Sculk sensor behind the door and open it. If there is a golden apple, then eat it while on the tiled deepslate to open the door. When there is two walls, walk between them to open the door. If there's nothing, then walk on tiles to the left of the door where you would normally find the chest to open it. At the moment, the lab does not contain any noteworthy loot, apart a lot of redstone blocks, which are not particularly rare, but it has educational purpose for new players, as it teaches them about how sculk sensors can be used for wireless redstone. It could also be a secret base after you remove the stuff inside and fully secure the ancient city.