Don't Starve - Survival Strategy Guide for Sandbox Mode
by - MangoSpatula
Me and my girlfriend (or maybe I don't have one, since this is the internet
after all) love this game, and I am making this guide because I know this game
can be very tricky for some people starting out.
I will basically be outlining ways to survive your first winter in Sandbox
mode. I am writing this guide based on the first release of Don't Starve. I
do not intend to go in depth into adventure mode, nor do I intend to update
this guide as the game is getting patched. The general strategies I outline
should apply even after future patches.
This guide is intended to be used only for strategies, teaching you how to
play the game to survive. Information about monsters or items can be easily
found online (use a search engine) or in wikis, so I may not extrapolate deeply
upon these things.
The days listed in my guide are meant to be estimations or to act as a
guideline of what time you need to be at what phase. The character you will
not heavily influence the strategies I've outlined. To navigate this guide,
you can hit ctrl+F and search [I] or [II] and such.
Table of Contents:
[I]. Waking up and starting out (Days 1-8
[II]. Setting up your base(s) (Days 8-13)
[III]. Preparing for the cold (Days 13-20)
[IV]. Winter (Days 21-35)
[V]. Survival onwards (Days 35+)
[I]. Waking up and starting out (Days 1-8)
Key Items: TWIGS, GRASS, FOOD (BERRRIES, BUTTERFLY WINGS), FLINT
Objective: STOCKING UP on TWIGS, GRASS, and BERRIES
[DAY 1 & 2]: When you wake up, first head for GRASSY/GREEN terrain, and pick
up as many BERRIES, TWIGS, and GRASS as you can. A good number will be 10-20
twigs, 10-20 grass, and 10-20 berries. Also, pick up a handful of FLINT, 4-10
flints will suffice.
[NIGHT 1 & 2]: As night is approaching, you should craft yourself TWO TORCHES.
You will need approximately one and a half torches to make it through the
pitch-black night. Continue
[PITCH-BLACK NIGHT 1 & 2]: Once the pitch black night comes, pop a torch you
crafted. Do not make a campfire. Continue collecting twigs, grass, and
continue exploring the map.
Pay attention to your torch. When it runs out of juice, switch over to your
2nd torch immediately. You should have a 1 or 2 second window to do so. Put
your torches on hotkeys 1-3, so you can easily access them for switching.
[SUMMARY OF DAY 1&2]:
Just keep collecting TWIGS, GRASS, and BERRIES the entire day and the entire
night. You will need twigs and grass for torches, and berries for food. 7-8
berries will yield a day's worth of travel. 4 twigs + 4 grass yields a night's
worth of travel. If possible, try to collect these items while exploring the
region. However, it is more important to harvest than to explore on day 1.
[OTHER THINGS TO DO DAYS 1-2]:
Make yourself an axe/pickaxe, and chop/mine a bit You should also butcher
butterflies when they are "relaxing." If you want morsels, you can pick up a
carrot and lure bunnies to their deaths (kill them while they are eating the
carrot), but this is generally a waste of time. Just don't get caught up
wasting too much time on these things. You will only need about 8 firewoood,
and they shouldn't be used until you find yourself a gold mining zone.
1. GOLD (amount: 1, 3, or 10)
3. BERRIES (until 20+)
4. ROCKS (30+), CHARCOAL (8+) and WOOD (30+)
5. SILK (as many as you can)
6. TWIGS(30+) and GRASS(30+)
1. To explore the map.
2. To build a SCIENCE MACHINE, and at minimum craft a BACKPACK and a CROCK POT.
3. If you are lucky with gold, build an ALCHEMY MACHINE, and at minimum craft
[Strategy for Days 2-8]: You should have enough berriesstocked up to travel
for at least 4 days (20+ berries), and around 8 firewoods. START EXPLORING.
Use the ROADS when exploring, you travel 30% faster while walking on roads, and
they will help prevent you from walking into dead-ends.
[EXPLORE EXPLORE EXPLORE] The reasons you want to explore are: 1. You want
to find GOLD, and 2. You want to collect information and know where resources
So remember, EXPLORE EXPLORE EXPLORE until you find gold, or until you run out
of berries/food (in which case, you should backtrack into an already explored
region, and collect more berries or kill more butterflies)
[WHERE I FIND GOLD?]
If you are new to this game, search online if you don't know where gold comes
from. The most common source of gold is from boulders with golden cracks.
[I FOUND SOME GOLD!]
Eureka, you found gold! Your next course of action depends on how much gold
If you only found 1-3 gold (maybe randomly lying around or something), then ask
yourself if you've already found a good spot to setup a "base". If you are
unsure about where a good base spot is, keep exploring until you'v exhausted
If you found a rocky region and managed to collect over 10 gold, you can stop
searching for gold, and start exploring/thinking about a good place to set up a
If you found the pig-king, you can stop searching for gold, and start searching
for some nearby meat instead (bunny holes, or get pigs to kill eachother)
General tips for early game:
- [Do not pick up carrots.] Unlike berries, carrots do not regenerate. They
should be left in the ground so they can be used for emergencies. Carrots will
not disappear if you don't pick them up.
- [Night time is a time to explore with a torch.] You can't chop wood or chop
rocks, but you can explore. Hit TAB frequently to check out where you are on
the map and such. It is a waste of time to set up a campfire in the
early-stages of the game, unless you want to cook, or you found a good area to
- [Burn down lonesome trees at night.] One of the most important survival
items to craft early-game is the crock-pot. Crock-pots require charcoal, which
require you to burn down trees to acquire. While burning down a tree, it
provides you light, which allows you to put away your torch do things such as
gather around the burning tree. You will be crafting multiple crock-pots.
- [Exploration is the best resource] You should prioritize exploration over
collecting resources days 3-8. For the early-game it is better to know where
200 grass shrubs + twigs are with 30 in your inventory, than to have only know
where 50 shrubs+twigs are while having 50 of each in your inventory.
Exploration is key to knowing where to setup base, and understanding how you
will be surviving the winter.
[II]. Setting up your base(s) (Days 8-13)
[SETTING UP YOUR FIRST BASE]
The minimum elements which constitute a base are:
1. A crockpot.
2. A fireplace
Other elements you may find in a base are:
3. A science machine or alchemy machine.
4. Backpacks on the ground or chests for storage.
5. Trees planted around the base
6. A lightning rod
A base is essentially a place you go at night to cook food, store items, craft
items, and recuperate to prepare for the next day. Throughout the game, you
should not only have "1 base", but multiple bases, so that you can travel the
map while always having somewhere to recuperate.
Bases should be put in regions in which WINTER FOOD ITEMS are easily accessible
(bunnies, dense berry clusters, spiders+pigs). Bases should also be put next
to pigs and beefalo, for protection against hounds. If possible, try to put
your base directly on the road, so you can travel to/from base faster.
Do not put your base near threats. If you are new to the game, stay away from
Walrus Camps (igloos on your minimap)
, do not put your base in the center of a pig village due to (Werepigs), and do
not put your base right next to beefalos (beefalo are aggressive during mating
season, and they WILL kill you)
Example of great base locations, and types of bases you can have:
1. "bunny base"
Location: you can see 5+ bunny rabbit holes on the same screen, and there are
beefalo nearby as well. You should setup a base here, and try to build a trap
for each bunny-rabbit hole.
The purpose of this base is to farm bunnies. Bunnies can be killed via
boomerang, but bunnies captured via traps can be stored indefinitely, and will
2. "pig village base"
Location: you are next to a village of pigs (4+ pig houses), and there is
either a dense cluster of berries in the village, or some sort of monster/beast
nearby (spiders, tentacles, beehives, beefalo, tallbirds). You should setup
base near the pig village (not inside).
The purpose of this base is to acquire your pig army to heal sanity, chop wood,
and hunt. When hunting, your goal is either to have the pigs kill things, or
to have those "things" kill your pigs. Whether it's the former or latter
depends on what you're hunting. If you are new to how pigs work, search about
it online, or play around with the mechanics yourself.
As you see from the above two base examples, it is important to have more than
one base, especially in the beginning of the game. This is because each base
has its own weaknesses. Bunny bases offer a consistent source of food, but the
bunnies will only produce monster meats if your sanity is low. On the other
hand, pig bases can recover your sanity, but they will run dry on resources
easier (such as when your pigs die).
Do not worry about setting up a PERFECT base, especially for your FIRST
base/science-machine. Remember that if you decided your base location sucks,
you can always build a HAMMER, and destroy your entire base to recover some of
the items you used (including your gold, in case you only found 1-3 gold).
[III]. Winter is coming (Days 13-20)
Objectives: To have at LEAST two good bases, to plan and prepare for winter.
You should have at least have two locations right now that you either have
already setup base, or want to setup bases in. Now it is time to prepare for
I am going to list ways you can prepare for winter:
1. If you managed to get enough gold for an alchemy machine - BOOMERANG
BOOMERANG BOOMERANG. Hunt spider webs, have a good resource of charcoal, and
plant trees around your base. This will give you everything you need for an
endless supply of boomerangs. The boomerang is a very powerful hunting tool,
allowing you to easily kill birds and bunnies. Also: learn how to catch the
blasted thing. Press space bar right before it hits you to catch it.
2. WARMTH - Namely you should craft a winter hat, a heat stone, and have tons
of firewood (do NOT waste time chopping trees down by yourself, have an army of
pigs do it for you). The heat stone requires an alchemy machine. For fire
fuel, try to use manure, beefalo hair, or rotting food, since these are very
effective fuels and are easy to acquire.
3. Crates/backpacks full of bunnies - Bunnies do not expire. If you find an
easily accessible region with a lot of bunny holes, try to find a region where
you can see 5+ bunny holes on your screen, and put a trap over each bunny hole
on that screen (there should be a lot of grass lying around the region too).
Craft either a backpack or a crate, and put it on the center of the screen.
Spend a few days farming this region, and fill some crates/backpacks with
4. Butterfly emergency rations - craft a bug net and catch yourself some
butterflies. Butterflies do not expire, but they are not as useful as bunnies
are for cooking. If you find a region with a lot of flowers, take out your
bugnet, and capture butterflies. A good thing about butterflies is that they
stack in your inventory, and do not take as much space up as bunnies. This
makes them good emergency rations. Do not spend too much time catching
butterflies though, since they are not potent recipe ingredients for the
5. Hunting the koalefant - If you don't know what this is, search it online.
The koalefant is well worth your time to hunt, and will drop 8 delicious meats,
as well as a trunk which can be cooked to heal a lot of health or made into a
6. Using your crock pots properly - foods left on a crock pot do not spoil.
Besides having a crock pot at every base, you can easily benefit from having
multiple crockpots since you can leave food on it without it spoiling.
7. Planting trees near your base - For your first winter the only "farm" you
should be setting up is pine trees. Use natural resources instead for
berries/grass/twigs. Pine trees can grow anywhere, so plant them near your
base so that you may chop wood at night.
The most effective crockpot recipes are:
small meat x2, monster meat, large meat = beef stew (100% hunger) monster
meat, 3 non-monster foods (i.e. 3x berries) = meatballs (50% hunger)
honey, monster meat, small meat x2 = honey ham (helps recover health)
You get small meats using boomerang or bunny traps. You get monster meats from
spiders. Large meats are more difficult to get. For more information on meats
and recipes, use a search engine.
EQUIPMENT- logsuit and football helmet are relatively easy to make and very
effective. Spear is a good weapon, but using an axe is alright in many
situations as well if you want to save inventory space.
RECOVERING HEALTH - the most effective methods to recover health are butterfly
wings and honey-based foods made with the crockpot. Other things such as farm
crops and koalefant trunks are more difficult to acquire.
Spiders - Traps are extremely effective against spiders, essentially
one-shotting them. Set two traps down near the spider's nest. Approach the
spider nest. If it's a tier 1 nest, just attack whatever comes out so multiple
spiders come out. If it's a tier 2 or 3 nest, try to lure the spiders away
from the nest and into your traps first, and attack whatever the remaining
spiders away from the nest.
If you find a tier-3 spider nest in a non-ideal location, try to bait out all
the spiders using the strategy outlined above. After killing all the spiders,
you can kill the nest to harvest some silk and a spider nest (which you can
plant in a more ideal location i.e. NOT next to your base, but within walking
distance of it).
BUNNIES - You usually do not actively hunt bunnies, and just leave traps above
their holes. But if you want to actively hunt them, there are three ways:
1. Set a trap between a bunny and its hole (preferably somewhere halfway, and
not DIRECTLY on the hole). Inch close to the bunny from at least a 90 degree
angle, just close enough to make it start running towards its hole. The bunny
should walk into the trap this way.
2. Put a carrot on the ground. Bunnies will slowly walk towards the carrot.
As soon as the bunny starts EATING the carrot, attack it.
3. If you have a boomerang, just throw it to one-shot bunnies.
BEEFALO - There are 2 ways to kill a beefalo.
Needless to say, you should
always stay away from beefalo if their butts are red.
The hard way to kill a beefalo is to fight it straight-up, and "kyte" it (hit
it in between its attacks). Beefalos attack slow, so this is relatively easy.
Make sure you lure your target away from the mob.
The easy way is to wait for beefalo to fall asleep. Collect the beefalo's
manure, put at least 3 next to the sleepy beefalo, then light the manure on
fire. The fire should kill the beefalo (without aggravating it), which will
leave you with meat but not the fur. If you want the beefalo fur, then you'll
have to shave it of course, before burning the manure.
PIGS - The best way to kill pigs is to have something else kill it for you.
Namely, bees and beefalo. Bees and beefalo kill pigs fast, while also
resulting in spoils such as honey to be picked up after the battle is over.
You can try to have pigs kill eachother, but this takes more time, and isn't as
rewarding. Don't have spiders kill pigs, unless you plan to kill the spiders.
KOALEFANT - koalefants are usually worth hunting. After following koalefant
tracks, you'll find the koalefant. Aggro it with a boomerang, and switch to
your weapon/armor to kill it. If you don't have a boomerang, then you'll have
to chase the thing into a corner, which can take a while.
BEES - The best way is to just use pigs. Otherwise, use a bug net, or
spear/axe, and try not to attack it near a beehive.
TENTACLE (For fun) - These guys are hard to find, since they only appear in
swamps. To solo a tentacle, you should only hit it ONCE in between its
attacks. Hit it, back off, hit it, back off, etc... If you have pigs nearby,
use the pigs instead, since tentacles can hurt a lot. Wear your best armor.
Tentacles drop a "tentacle spike", which is a very powerful weapon.
TALL BIRDS (For fun) - You shouldn't be fighting these things if you are new to
the game. They're pretty standard to kill: hit it in between its attacks, run
when it is trying to attack you. Wear good armor, since tallbirds hurt a lot.
BIRDS - Boomerang, or bird trap+seed.
[I'M REAL GOOD AT THIS GAME, AND I'M WAY AHEAD OF SCHEDULE!]
Well then, you won't need to be using my guide anymore P:
If you're really far ahead you have the luxury to do fun and idiotic things.
For one thing, I'd suggest you dig up graves, for some nice crafting items.
Also, I also suggest getting a bird cage, which is very powerul since it turns
all monster meats into eggs. Ice wand isn't effective against Blue Hounds, so
you can go swamp hunting for some materials to make darts. If you are lucky
enough to find Clockwork Knights, they are relatively easy to kill, and give
you the material to build a cooler.
[IV]. Winter (Days 21-35)
By now, I hope you've made or gathered the supplies for either a winter hat or
bunny earmuffs. Winter hat is more preferable. Remember that you can prolong
the durability of your hats by taking them off near a fire. Also by now, I
hope you've made an alchemy machine for the heat stone and boomerang. Without
these two items, winter is a bit more difficult. Make a bird trap if you don't
have a boomerang, and use seeds to bait the traps. Cook birds for morsels.
Your crockpot is going to be your best friend, and the key to surviivng winter.
Without the crock pot, you may very well die of hunger. Food is scarce, and
the most efficient way to prepare food is through your crockpot. Whether it's
mushrooms, berries, or morsels, throw them together with monster meat to make
If you run out of food, your best bet is to hunt and gather. Bunnies are the
best option for >80 sanity. Otherwise, you can go to berry rich regions, and
gather berries. Don't be afraid to setup new bases/firepits/crockpots if you
find your old bases to be ineffective.
As nights become longer, you will start to lose sanity. Winter hat is a great
item to regain the sanity lost during the night. Following pigs while going on
deforrestation adventures is an even better method. Gather lots of grass and
use sleeping bags at night if you have enough food to support the -75 hunger of
sleep. Having above 80 sanity will ensure your bunnies stay as bunnies.
If you run out of fire fuel (wood/manure/rotting food/beefalo hair etc...), you
can always pitchfork the ground, and throw turf into the fire pit. This should
be a last resort however, since turf isn't renewable.
Always have a torch on you. I always carry two torches on me, because you
never know if a werepig or hound is going to catch you by surprise and chase
you throughout the cold night, away from the fireplace. Torches keep you warm,
and if you start freezing up you can always burn trees/forests in an emergency
and use the burning tree as a temporary fire/light. Just try not to burn down
too many resources such as twigs/grass/berries, or the forest next to your base
that you worked so hard to plant.
If you are new to this game, stay FAR AWAY from igloos. Don't even get CLOSE
to them unless you're ahead, and have a fire staff or darts at hand + good gear
. In which case, getting the walrus tooth will net you a walking cane, which
is a very fun item to have. If you're lucky enough to have a pig village next
to a walrus camp, then this should be easier to acquire.
[V]. Second Summer and Onwards (Days 35+)
You made it past your first winter, good job :D In my opinion, this is the
most challenging portion of the game. After you've survived the first winter,
you should know what this game is all about. Now it's up to you whether you
want to survive endlessly, or try to complete the teleportato. If you want to
last for a long time, try to use renewable sources of tools/food/weapons, such
as gold tools, bird cage, hambat/boomerang/darts (or just a pig army to fight
for you). I'm currently trying to start a spider farm, by bulding nests in an
enclosed region, and putting different hostile monsters in the same enclosed
region. Whatever you choose to do, have fun, and don't starve :3