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Flat survival beyond mere subsistence is particularly challenging in Bedrock Edition because there are no structures and no materials to start with except for unlimited dirt three layers deep with bedrock underneath. Java Edition players have several options for superflat worlds, but can simulate the flat world in Bedrock Edition for a unique extreme challenge.

Equivalent challenge in Java Edition[]

Because there is only one kind of Flat world in Bedrock Edition, this tutorial is written from that perspective, but most of the information here applies to Java Edition also.

The flat world in Bedrock Edition has no structures, just one layer of bedrock, two layers of dirt, and one layer of grass. That's all. The Java Edition "Classic Flat" world has villages by default. For a real challenge, the Bedrock structure-free flat world can be created using a preset code that omits the village parameter:

minecraft:bedrock,2*minecraft:dirt,minecraft:grass_block;minecraft:plains

Achievements and experience[]

Achievements cannot be earned in flat survival because all flat worlds in Bedrock Edition are forced to start out in Creative mode,‌[until BE 1.19] disabling achievements. The world can be switched to Survival only after it is created.

You gain experience from killing mobs and doing other activities, but experience is not useful unless a mob happens to drop an item enchanted with Mending. It is highly unlikely for you to get enough iron to spare for an anvil, which requires experience to use.

Planning your approach[]

There are two ways to approach a flat survival game. One is with "minimal cheats" to give yourself some key resources before switching to Survival mode, and the other is to avoid any cheats and switch to Survival immediately, where you must depend on the contents of a bonus chest.

Minimal cheats[]

Players attempting a flat survival game often begin by giving themselves some minimal amount of resources at the start of the game, just enough to keep things challenging:

Yes, these are cheats, but cheats are enabled anyway by default for flat worlds, because they must start in Creative mode.

No cheats[]

Without buffing up your resources in creative first, create the world with a bonus chest and switch to Survival mode as soon as the world is created. Resist the urge to switch back to creative and play until you die or reach a lofty goal, such as creating a village.

Your bonus chest contains some resources, and this is all you have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps to survive and gain more resources. At a minimum, your bonus chest must contain a sapling. In order of preference:

  • Oak is easily sustainable and expandable into forests, and produces apples, which are cruicial to get villagers later.
  • Dark oak requires a minimum of four saplings to grow a tree. Dark oak trees also yield apples and provide a lot of wood, but there is a risk of not dropping enough saplings for another tree, which effectively terminates the game.
  • Spruce provides a lot of wood and drops more saplings because it has more leaves than dark oak, but it doesn't drop apples, so you need at least two apples in the bonus chest for later curing of zombie villagers.
  • Birch provides the least amount of wood on the average, but it's common to get more than one sapling from a birch tree, so it's easy to create a birch forest for as much wood as you need. No apples though, so you need at least 2 apples in the bonus chest.
  • A jungle tree has the greatest risk of not dropping enough saplings for another tree, although it does provide a good quantity of wood.

Birch and oak grown near flowers can also produce bee nests, which can be harvested once you get a campfire from a fisherman villager.

It is good if your bonus chest includes a hoe but you can make one yourself after harvesting wood from the first tree you grow.

With no cheats, there is no hope for getting lava, which would solve many of your problems, but lack of lava just adds to the challenge!

Building[]

Initially, your only building material is dirt. After you grow and harvest some trees, you can do many things with wood. After getting some wood, your priorities are:

  • One wooden hoe to make farmland
  • Wooden swords for killing mobs more efficiently
  • A bed for sleeping during some nights without rain to prevent phantoms from spawning (you want to stay awake during rain to give crops and trees a better chance to grow)
  • Wooden shovels for mining dirt and making dirt paths (which prevent mobs from spawning)
  • Fences and optionally a few fence gates for animal farms (you can also dig holes in the ground)
  • Trapdoors to make mob traps and grinders

Wooden tools are the best you can expect to have for a long, long time. When you are able to get a toolsmith villager much later in the game, you can trade for stone, iron, and diamond tools although you likely wouldn't need them by then.

Feeding yourself[]

Cooking your food is not an option for the first 100 (or more) in-game days. To cook food, you need to succeed in the most difficult task: starting a village. Then you can trade with a fisherman villager for a campfire. A furnace isn't an option because stone is unavailable by any means without cheats.

Livestock animals are abundant in a flat world and replenish themselves as you kill them for food. Chickens, cows, pigs, and sheep can all be eaten raw, and drop other useful things like leather for armoring yourself and wool for making a bed.

In addition, you can farm crops from seeds and roots (carrots or potatoes) found in your bonus chest. Grow enough of these to breed animals as appropriate. Chickens require seeds harvested from wheat, cows and sheep like wheat, and pigs like carrots, potatoes, and beetroots.

Killing skeletons gives you bones, which you can craft into bone meal. Applying bone meal to the grass blocks all around you causes flowers and grass to grow. Breaking the grass can give you more seeds from which you can grow wheat and breed animals.

Zombies have a small chance to drop a carrot or potato, which can be used to breed pigs. Pigs are necessary in the long journey to getting a village.

You need a hoe to convert grass or dirt blocks into farmland. Plant your crops, but growth is slow until the farmland is hydrated, and for that you must wait for rain.

Survival goals[]

There are several points at which you may decide you've had enough of this flat survival.

The first respectable goal is simply get to the point where you can feed yourself indefinitely, defend yourself, and survive. This is a hand-to-mouth existence. Once you accomplish this, you are well prepared for island survival or more challenging desert survival games.

A good second goal is to create an infinite water source, from which you can feed yourself with fish, create larger bodies of water for fishing up enchanted loot, and creating drowned farms. This goal itself involves a lot of hard work, including a "megaproject" of making a mob farm without water (see below).

An extremely challenging goal is to create a village. Doing this requires accomplishing a difficult and lengthy chain of dependent tasks described in the following sections, as well as luck.

Mob farm without water[]

There are two basic techniques to farm mobs without using water to guide them to their deaths.

The simplest is a ditch in the ground, 2 blocks deep, generally surrounding your home base. The ditch is lined with open trapdoors, which are treated by hostile mobs as solid surfaces even if they are open. When they pathfind to you, they fall into the ditch, where you can kill them with your sword.

A more labor-intensive way, but with greater yield after the initial effort, is to make an aerial farm. Mobs drop down from a spawning platform, taking enough fall damage that they can be killed in one punch. You don't want them to die by falling, because zombies drop iron ingots only if killed by the player.

  • Make sure your simulation distance is set to 4 (minimum). This causes mobs to despawn when they are more than 44 blocks away from you.
  • Build a pillar with ladders 21 blocks high. Or build a staircase out of blocks (such as slabs) that mobs cannot spawn on. 21 blocks of falling distance is required to inflict maximum fall damage on mobs without killing them.
  • At 20 blocks of height, build a platform using dirt and open trapdoors. You can use any pattern of dirt and trapdoors in approximately equal proportions. As long as you avoid creating 3×3 areas in your platform, you prevent spiders from spawning (and by this time you have likely killed enough spiders for all the string you could ever need). It doesn't have to be a large platform; 10×10 or 16×16 or any reasonable size. The bigger the platform, the larger chance it has to spawn mobs.
  • Fence off the area below the platform into which mobs fall from above. Leave a gap in the corner.
  • Use a shovel to convert the surrounding land to dirt path blocks. At simulation distance 4, you need to clear at least 44 blocks from all around the fenced-off area, so that mobs can spawn only on the platform. Preferably clear more blocks because the mob spawning radius is centered on you, and you cannot always be at the center of the farm. This forces all mobs to spawn on the platform.

This farm works only at night unless you spend extra time building a large roof over the platform, overhanging the edge by 7 blocks, and made from blocks that mobs cannot spawn on (such as wooden stairs, slabs, or dirt path blocks). The advantage to night-time-only operation is that you can focus your day on survival activities: feeding yourself, breeding livestock, harvesting wood to make more tools, and so on.

Stand a small distance from the landing area (so that you are 24 blocks from the platform, which is the minimum spawn radius) and wait for mobs to fall, then run into the landing area to kill them with one punch each. If the mob is wearing armor, or if it's a witch, you may need your wooden sword because these mobs still have multiple health points after falling.

Getting unlimited water[]

Once you have a steady supply of wood and have become adept at killing zombies in your mob farm, you can focus on your next goal: obtaining an infinite water source.

As you kill zombies, you slowly collect iron ingots. It is tempting to use iron ingots for a shield, sword, shears, or a bucket, but don't do it! Your top priority is to create a cauldron, which requires 7 ingots.

As soon as you get 7 ingots, craft a cauldron and put it down somewhere exposed to the sky, so that it can fill up with water the next time it rains.

While you're waiting for the next rain, work on getting three more ingots to craft a bucket. Once you have a bucket, use it to remove the water from the cauldron. You can wait for another rain, or you can use three water bottles that you might have collected from witches to re-fill the cauldron with water. Now you have enough water for two water source blocks.

2×2 water spawner (every corner is renewable)

Once you have a water bucket and a cauldron full of water at the same time, you can make an infinite water source to get unlimited water source blocks. The most convenient configuration is a 2×2 hole in the ground, one block deep. Use the bucket to place water in two diagonally-opposite corners of this hole. If two water source blocks flow into an empty space, another source block is created. A 2×2 hole lets you remove water from any corner, which gets replaced immediately. You can also make a 1×3 straight trench or a 2×2 L-shaped trench, but then only the middle block can be removed. If you remove one of the end blocks, you can't get more water.

Once you have your water production hole, take water from it to produce a small pond for fishing, using a fishing rod that you craft from sticks and string obtained from spiders you killed.

You can fish from a location above the pond where mobs cannot bother you, or fish from a boat. If you make the pond 2 blocks deep, and your fishing rod's bobber has water 2 blocks deep for horizontal distance 2 blocks around it, you also have a chance to fish up other items, like bowls for making stew if you have beetroots or both red and brown mushrooms, saddles for taming horses and donkeys, and even enchanted fishing rods.

Raw fish isn't as high-quality a food as raw meat, but it's plentiful and less effort to obtain. Punching animals drains your hunger bar. Your hunger doesn't change at all when fishing from a boat; you can do that indefinitely without eating, as long as you don't get attacked.

Congratulations! You now have an easy, unlimited supply of food and additional resources. This is a significant milestone on the way to a comfortable life. Take some time to relax, collect a few stacks of fish so you can eat on the run without needing to hunt animals, tidy up your area and your inventory, make some nice living quarters. If you plan to get villagers, you can start planning and constructing some village buildings, although getting a villager is a huge next step, even more difficult than what you've just lived through to get to this point.

Creating a village[]

Once you have unlimited water available, you can work on creating a village, which requires villagers. There is a large cascade of dependencies here:

  • To get a villager, you need to cure a zombie villager.
  • To cure a zombie villager, you need a golden apple and a splash potion of Weakness. You cannot obtain the potion; it must be thrown by a witch.
  • To get a golden apple, you need 8 gold ingots.
  • To get gold ingots, you need to kill zombified piglins, which sometimes drop ingots.
  • To get zombified piglins, lightning must strike near pigs.
  • To get lightning to strike near a bunch of pigs, you need a lightning rod.
  • A lightning rod requires copper ingots.
  • Copper ingots require you to kill drowned, which sometimes drop ingots.
  • Drowned are created from zombies drowning in water you created.

The success of some of these steps depends strongly on luck:

  • Drowned rarely drop copper ingots. You need to kill a lot of them.
  • Once you get a lightning rod, you may have to wait a long time for a thunderstorm.
  • Zombified piglins don't normally drop gold ingots. And when you attack one of them, they attack you all at once. If you are fighting a crowd of them, and it takes more than 5 minutes to clear them out, some ingots they drop may despawn. You likely need at least 200 zombified piglins to get the 16 gold ingots required to make two golden apples.
  • Zombie villagers and witches are uncommon spawns. If they do spawn, you need to trap them in boats near enough to one another that the witch can hit the zombie villager with a splash potion.
  • Witches throw potions of Weakness only rarely. And if you happen to venture 32 blocks away from the witch, it despawns.

If, after working through all this and getting lucky enough, you may find yourself with two villagers. You can breed them to get more.

Protect your villagers! Surround them (or the village you build for them) by a fence to prevent any zombies from attacking them. A hostile mob can come up to the fence but not cross it. Be sure the villagers can never access horizontal surfaces that mobs can spawn on. Dirt path blocks should be everywhere the villagers can be. You can make sleeping huts from dirt and wood, but be sure the roofs and the tops of any roofless walls have no spawnable surfaces (like wooden stairs, bottom slabs, or dirt path blocks).

Getting the most out of your village[]

Villager professions[]

Decide what professions your villagers should have. For your first villagers, with the resources you have available, you can craft only five different kinds of job site blocks:

Any beds or job site blocks should not be near the villager at first. Put them in your inventory or in a chest (including your cauldron). Your newly-cured villager might be one that wouldn't normally exist because it doesn't match any of those professions (such as an armorer, butcher, cleric, fletcher, stone mason, or weaponsmith). Trade what you can with that villager before giving it a profession.

If you get a nitwit, keep it for breeding.

After you get a few emeralds from trading with villagers, you might be able to obtain sugar cane from a wandering trader. With sugar cane, you can craft paper, from which you can create books and bookshelves, which in turn let you craft two more job site blocks:

The rest of the job site blocks require stone, but stone isn't available in a flat world without a lava bucket.

Useful trades[]

Villagers can sell you useful items which are otherwise unobtainable or extremely hard to obtain. They can also have useful trades that let you obtain emeralds easily.

  • Cartographers don't sell you anything useful in a flat world, although you can get emeralds from them by selling them paper once you get sugarcane from a wandering trader. It isn't worth selling them glass panes (you can get glass from a librarian) until you get Hero of the Village from a raid.
  • Farmers can sell you great food sources, like golden carrots, bread, and apples. You can also sell them the crops you grow in exchange for emeralds. Farmers can buy wheat, carrots, potatoes, beetroot, melons, and pumpkins.
  • A fisherman can sell you campfires. A campfire is quite useful to you, because you can cook food to make the food more effective, you can use it in place of lava to kill iron golems in an iron farm, and breaking a campfire gives 4 charcoal from which you can make 16 torches for much-needed light. You can sell fishermen items you get from fishing, like cod, salmon, tropical fish, and pufferfish, which is handy for getting rid of junk items. You can also sell them string and boats, and they can cook fish for you.
  • Leatherworkers can sell you saddles and leather horse armor, which are useful because a horse is the fastest and most efficient way to travel in flat. You can also sell them leather from cows and trader llamas you killed. It's a good idea to breed cows for this.
  • Librarians can sell you lanterns, which are slightly better light sources than torches (emitting light level 15 like campfire). They can also sell glass, which is not obtainable otherwise, and enchanted books, which you can use on tools and weapons after you get an anvil.
  • Shepherds are a source of emeralds. They sell mostly non-essential things like dyed wool, carpets, banners, and beds in colors that are unobtainable or hard to get. They can also sell you shears.
  • Toolsmiths can sell you diamond pickaxes, hoes, shovels, and axes. They are the only reasonable way to obtain diamond tools. You can also get stone and iron tools from them, and you can sell iron to them, which is handy if you have an iron farm.

Wandering traders[]

Before you have any emeralds, a wandering trader may appear occasionally. There is no penalty for killing it, and no real advantage either. Killing a wandering trader gives you a couple of leads, which you can also get by crafting the string and slimeballs that you likely already have in abundance. The trader llamas can be a source of leather, which you can already get from the cows that spawn in a flat world.

However, after you earn some emeralds from trading with villagers, wandering traders become valuable resources, because they offer items that are normally impossible to get, such as:

  • Glowstone for an additional light source beyond the four torches you started with
  • Sugar cane to make paper, which opens the way to making a librarian job site block and librarian villager, which can sell you lanterns for more light
  • Different color mushrooms that let you to make mushroom stew, because you most likely got only one color of mushroom in your bonus chest
  • Crop seeds that you may not have had before
  • Saplings to grow more types of trees than what you already have
  • A pumpkin (or the seeds to grow a pumpkin), which lets you increase the illumination of a torch from 14 to 15 if you use shears to create a Jack o'Lantern
  • Sand or red sand, which you can use to grow cactus if your bonus chest included cactus (and the wandering trader may also sell cactus), which can be used for defense or in mob grinders
  • Cocoa beans that you can grow on jungle logs (and the wandering trader may also sell jungle saplings)

Iron golem farming[]

You have many options for an iron farm. If you have trapped a villager in a boat, it's easy in a flat world to drag the boat wherever you want using a lead,‌[Bedrock Edition only] or row it over land, to put each villager exactly where you want it.

You can have a working village and an iron farm coexist so that you can obtain iron at a decent rate while continuing to trade with villagers (see Tutorials/Iron golem farming § Survival mode build: Iron golem village), but because you have limited illumination, you must make sure your village and sleeping bunker have no spawnable surfaces anywhere inside the fence.

You can use campfires to kill the iron golems. It is a much slower method than using lava but it is the best available in a flat world where lava is unobtainable. Without campfires, you may need to resort to slower or more dangerous methods, such as using the cactus from your bonus chest, or contriving to have a confined skeleton shoot at the golem.

Getting an enchanted set of diamond armor and tools[]

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It is possible (but very hard) to get maxed out diamond armor and tools (except Soul Speed and Swift Sneak).

Battling a raid[]

Fighting a raid in flat is easier than in a normal world, because the raiders are much easier to find. Here are some tips:

  • Bring two villagers away from spawn and box them in with a bed. That guarantees that you cannot lose the raid. Because you worked so hard to get a breeding pair of villagers in the first place, you need to preserve a breeding pair in case the other villagers are killed.
  • Fish until you get a bow with Infinity so you can use one arrow for the entire raid. Make sure the bow has good durability. Alternatively, you can use a Mending bow and bring a few stacks of arrows from a mob grinder.
  • In the area where you want to do the raid, build a tower up about 15 blocks with ladders to climb up and down, then build a small platform. When the raid starts, you can use the high vantage point to your advantage and use a bow to make the raid much easier.
  • Try to get a full set armor, along with a sword and a bow, all with decent enchantments. Armor should be iron or better, although if you have a farm for zombies, you might find the enchantments on their dropped gold armor to be useful (some pieces may have Protection or Projectile Protection III, which can reduce damage by 12 points over the base armor's damage reduction).

When you are ready to start the raid, you need to find a pillager patrol, which are difficult and tedious to find. Pillager patrols can spawn only in corners 24-48 blocks away from the player in the four directions, and only at low light levels. You need to choose a certain block for AFK waiting, and make a roof on all blocks that are 24-48 blocks away from the AFK spot in both the X and Z axes. Once you get a patrol, kill the raid captain to get Bad Omen and the rest of the pillagers, and then go to the village site to spawn the raid. During the raid, snipe the mobs with a bow from your vantage point, and try not to engage in melee combat. In between waves, try to pick up the items, especially totems, redstone, and glowstone, since you cannot get them any other way. Emeralds, glass bottles, and saddles can also come in handy, however these items are obtainable by other means such as trading or fishing.

Getting to the Nether[]

Getting to the Nether is not possible without cheating, because there is no way to get lava or obsidian in a flat world. However, you might want to advance further. You can't earn achievements anyway due to the flat world forcing you into Creative mode at the outset, so you might consider allowing yourself a lava bucket. Besides being your ticket to the Nether, a lava bucket opens up a world of new possibilities, allowing you to create a cobblestone farm, which in turn lets you have stone tools (which are far better than wooden tools), a furnace for cooking and smelting, stone blocks and slabs for creeper-proofing your living areas, and many other items.

Once you get a lava bucket, you can use dripstones and cauldrons to get more lava, until you have at least 10 buckets worth. Once you do, you can make a Nether portal by creating cobblestone molds layer by layer, filling them with lava, and pouring water on the lava to transform it into obsidian. Just be sure you are careful where you put the lava to change to obsidian, because you cannot break the obsidian after it is created. Lighting the portal itself is a challenge because there is no way to get gravel or flint; however, you can light it with burning wood ignited by lava.

Nether survival[]

When you get into the Nether, survival becomes easier. You can get wood and gold, you can get nether wart and ingredients for potion brewing, you can get blaze rods for an ender chest, you can find pure diamonds, you can mine blackstone to unlock making furnaces and several other crafting recipes, and so much more.

The ability to brew potions becomes possible, because brewing stands can be crafted and most of the ingredients required for Regeneration, Health, and Strength potions are found in the Nether. You can also brew Weakness potions to cure zombie villagers, resulting in lower prices for villager trades for diamond armor, tools, and enchantments. You can also build farms for blazes, wither skeletons, or zombie pigmen, giving you more XP for using an anvil or enchanting table. An enchanting table is also craftable due to the availability of pure diamonds.

Fighting the wither[]

One thing pro players may want to do is defeat the wither. Wither skulls can be obtained from a fortress and soul sand can be found in the Nether.

Fighting the wither is significantly easier than on normal worlds because the entire terrain is flat. Once you are ready to fight the wither, travel a few hundred blocks in the nether and build a portal. This takes you to a new portal thousands of blocks away from your Overworld spawn point, so you don't risk destroying your home area. When you spawn the wither, dodge its hits and shoot it with a bow until it gets to half health, and kill it with a sword.

Once the wither is defeated, the nether star can be collected and used to make a beacon. If you have a productive iron farm, you can afford to power the beacon, which gives you buffs.

The End[]

Accessing the End is not possible in a flat world without significantly cheating. You must switch to Creative mode and give yourself all of the ingredients needed to construct an End portal.

Obtainable blocks and items[]

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This section is a work in progress. 
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In addition to dirt (the only resource available from the world to start with), these blocks and items are obtainable in a survival flat world without cheating and with bonus chest. The sections are arranged roughly in order of availability, with the early-game blocks and items listed first.

From the bonus chest[]

Not all of these may be available.

From harvesting plants[]

Some items are dependent on bonus chest contents or wandering trader offers.

From naturally-occurring mobs[]

From early-game crafting[]

These blocks and items are available to craft from naturally-available resources, prior to obtaining water, zombified piglins, or villagers.

From fishing[]

After obtaining enough iron ingots to craft a cauldron and a bucket, it becomes possible to fish for additional items:

From mobs you bring into existence[]

From trading with villagers[]

Essential items include:

From trading with wandering traders[]

Trading with wandering traders is possible only after getting emeralds from trading with villagers.

From late-game crafting[]

From blockbreaking after creating villagers[]

  • Charcoal (from breaking campfires which you can get from fishermen)
  • Grass Blocks (you need a silk touch tool from a toolsmith)

From events[]

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