Not only is Stardew Valley a fantastic and relaxing experience, but it's also incredibly deep to boot. Even if you've been playing for a while, there are probably a lot of mechanics and secrets that you're not familiar with. Our guide is filled with Starfew Valley advanced tips to help you go from amateur farmer to Stardew Valley pro in no time flat. Just a quick heads up: this guide will contain spoilers, so if you'd prefer to go in blind, then you should probably give this one a miss for now.
While you're here, you can also check out some of our other Stardew Valley articles, such as our review on the game, or our guide on the Ginger Island mermaid puzzle. Failing that, you can check out the beginner version of this list if you're in the mood forsome earlier tips.
1. Time Is Your Most Valuable Resource.
Stardew Valley is a game that you play at your own pace. You could do a little bit every day and just enjoy your time. You could also try to min/max every single minute of your day while trying to do absolutely everything if you're a madman like myself.
If there's any one thing that Stardew Valley and real life share in common, it's that there is only so much time in a day. No one's gonna be able to buy another week of life whether they're worth ten thousand dollars or ten billion.
This philosophy is namely one of efficiency. A good example is feeding your Animals. You could plant Grass Starters, wait for them to grow, and then cut some of it down with your Scythe. Once you're more established, however, a single bottle of Truffle Oil is worth over 1,000G and you can get one per Pig nearly every day. At that point you have to consider if it's more efficient to farm your own grass or simply buy it from Marnie's Ranch.
Keep this in mind for all things in the game. Heck, apply it to your own life as well. Is this thing that you're going to do worth spending time on as opposed to spending money?
2. Planning a Schedule, Managing Your Money, and Knowing What’s Ahead Are the Keys To Breaking the Bank.
The very first point in my tips for beginners was to plan your day to some degree. Have an idea of what's going on and go with the flow. This tip is a natural extension of that if you're the sort of person who really likes to plan things out.
Stardew Valley is a game of numbers. When you plant crops you'll know when they'll grow. You'll know how much money you'll make by selling them at the minimum. You'll know where people are and when by simply looking them up on the official Wiki. There's very few actual unknowns in Stardew Valley.
How can you further this philosophy? Well, the most extreme way would be planning every single point of every single day. Do this, then this, and then this. I never go that far myself, but I can understand why some people might want to. There are more sensible things that would be worthwhile to consider doing.
How many plots of tilled land do you have on your farm? What are you going to plant there next season? What is it going to cost you to plant those things? When you've really established yourself, money won't be much of a concern, but you're going to be hurting for funds in the early game and you have to plan carefully.
Let's say you're going to plant 34,000G worth of seeds this coming fall. You have 50,000G. How can you spend that remaining 16,000G to best maximize your earnings? You could buy a Pig, but it takes time for them to grow up, and they don't produce anything in Winter, so it might be best to wait. You could grab a couple of cheaper Animals instead, but buying multiple less profitable animals means that you'll have to feed them more.
I've also found that establishing some sort of weekly routine was useful. I'd always take care of giving gifts to Villagers on the first two days of the week if I could manage it just to get it out of the way. I'd adjust my days depending on what's going on. If it's raining and I need a particular fish to finish off the Community Center, I'm going to make that my priority. If I don't have any crops to harvest, I'll take care of my animals and either forage in the wilds or delve into The Mines.
Know what it is you'd generally like to accomplish, and think about the best way you can accomplish that within the game's mechanics. And hey, if this all sounds like too much work to you—don't do it. I get enjoyment out of planning things out and trying to maximize my day but you might not. Do what's the most fun for you!
3. Passing Out Is Costly in the Early Game, but 1,000G Is Practically Nothing Once You’re Established.
Point #7 of my tips for beginners talked about how passing out works. The short of it is that once the clock strikes 2:00AM you'll collapse where you're standing, be taken home in the night, and receive a bill for 1,000G from Joja Corporation for the service of returning you to your home. 1,000G is a lot of money in the first few seasons.
Let's say you're much more established, though. Let's say you have a fully upgraded barn filled with 12 pigs and Oil Makers. When you pull in over 12,000G in Truffle Oil (less 600G to feed the Pigs if you're buying Hay) for a what amounts to a few seconds of work, 1,000G is chump change.
What if you're hundreds of layers deep into the Skull Cavern? The ore there is much better, and it's difficult to get that low. It'll take you hours to get back home. Those hours might be better spent staying in The Mines or the wilds gathering more stuff for tomorrow. And don't worry, no matter where you pass out you will always be returned home at the simple cost of 1,000G.
Strategically passing out is barely an incidental cost when you have a Greenhouse full of Ancient Fruit and a bunch of Kegs producing Ancient Fruit Wine. It seems terribly imbalanced to me for wealthier players unless it was intended this way, and in my experience there may be a reasonable concern that it will be rebalanced. Should it ever be tuned to be a percentage of your income or something of that nature, this tip will essentially boil down to the same philosophy: consider the monetary cost of passing out and whether it's more profitable to let it happen or to return home.
4. Animals Won’t Die if You Don’t Tend to Them. Learn To Let Them Go Every Now and Again.
Marnie would crack me over the head with a Lead Rod if she ever heard me say this, but don't worry so much about caring for your Animals. The produce they give you is great, but they can never die. If you fail to feed them or fail to care for them, your worst case scenario is that they produce nothing and you may have a drop in the quality of the product.
You might have filled up the majority of your farm with Crops and awoken to hundreds or thousands of plots of Cranberries ready to go. What's gonna make you more money: getting those Cranberries into the Shipping Box or getting a few bottles of Milk off of your Cows?
Animals do go to sleep eventually and at that point it's night impossible to pet them by right-clicking. You can, however, still use the Milk Pail or Shears to get their produce even if they're asleep. In those situations at least you'll get something for the day, and as a bonus they won't be running all over the place making your life difficult.
5. Buying May Be Easier Than Gathering.
This circles back around to the first couple of points. Consider how much money you could make in a given amount of time. What would you lose by running down into The Mines to get something?
For instance, if I needed 20 more Solar Essences to craft an Iridium Band, how could I best go about it? I could bounce floor to floor in The Mines (using the elevator) hunting Ghosts until I had enough, but that might take me all day. (In fact, I did exactly this and I found that it took me the better part of a day in The Mines.) I could go into the Skull Cavern and blow up the ubiquitous Mummies, but I'm losing 500G on the Bus ticket and have to factor in the additional transport time to get there.
Alternatively, I could stay near my Farm and just buy them from the hidden vendor in The Sewers going by the name of Krobus. Most of a day to get 20 Solar Essences or 1,600G? Earning 1,600G isn't even most of an hour for me with the kind of income I have in Stardew Valley.
Apply this philosophy to all things. Is using the Seed Maker worth it for something you could easily buy from Pierre? Is it really worth it to chop down acres of grass to make Hay as opposed to buying it from Marnie? Do you want to spend most of your day chopping down trees all around the map or would it be a better use of your time and money to buy as much wood as you need from the Carpenter's Shop?
6. You Can Plant Some Crops in Winter.
Everyone has different focuses in Stardew Valley. Some people like to stick with one or two things, some people like to do a lot of one thing, and some people like to do a lot of everything.
Winter is a dead period if your main focus is Farming. You can't plant anything in the ground really, and it takes quite a while to unlock the Greenhouse properly. Multiple seasons, in fact, unless you get particularly lucky with the stock of the Travelling Merchant.
That said, there is one set of Crops you can grow in the Winter—namely Winter Seeds. You can till the land and plant them as if it were any other season and they'll grow just fine. The catch is that you can't really buy them from anywhere. You'll have to use a Seed Maker to extract the seeds from Winter Roots or craft them, so you'll be limited to just how much you can grow.
If you're really keen on farming and Winter Seeds seem like a bunch of trouble, it might be best to focus on getting the Greenhouse ASAP. And hey, if you can't farm you can't farm. Take some time to do other things!
7. Winter Is Ideal for Redesigning Your Farm.
Let's say you don't have much to do in Winter. You have a handful of Animals, the Greenhouse isn't restored yet, and you have barely any Winter Seeds. Heck, even with the Greenhouse, Barns, and Coops, you'll still have the majority of your day to do other things.
You could spend some time Fishing or running around in The Mines or Skull Cavern. This is probably the best time to mine since farming takes up a lot of the day for most players and there's practically no farming to do in Winter.
One of the best ways to use your time, however, is to work on designing your farm. Lay down some paths. Set up grids for your Crops. Figure out where you're going to plant Fruit Trees. Build a new barn or coop! You don't have to worry about weeds spreading and you don't have to worry about destroying Crops if you want to completely change your layout.
I'm doing exactly this in my current game. I used the Stardew Valley Planner to redesign my farm. I'm going to build the new Animal buildings first, move animals, and then demolish the old buildings. I'll have to tear up all of my placed tiles, Sprinklers, and—most painfully—nearly 500,000G worth of Fruit Trees that only paid off for one season. Unfortunately for me, I like things to be neatly planned out and I just sort of built my farm up as I went. The redesign will be great, and Winter will be the time to do it.
8. You Can Re-Buy the Monster Slaying Rewards From the Adventurer’s Guild.
The Adventurer's Guild will give you rewards based on reaching certain milestones if you kill Monsters. For instance, killing 1,000 Slimes will get you the Slime Charmer Ring, which renders you immune to damage from them as well as their nasty slowing debuff.
You might not want to use these rewards, though. It'd be senseless to throw them away, so you may as well store them or sell them. Thankfully, you can buy your earned rewards from the Adventurer's Guild once you've unlocked them. If you have a particular item that you're not interested in using at the moment, sell it. You can always buy it back later if you really need to, and the prices aren't terribly bad.
9. Barns Aren’t Just Great for Housing Animals - They’re Great for Compressing Space.
A Barn takes up a certain amount of space on your farm. Buildings in Stardew Valley are much like the TARDIS—they're bigger on the inside.
I'm working my way towards filling my Greenhouse with Ancient Fruit. I started with a single seed, and hopefully by the end of my third Winter I'll have a Greenhouse filled with them. The best way to make money is by putting crops into Kegs, and the profit that you can get from Ancient Fruit Wine is patently absurd, especially considering that it continues to produce a fruit on the vine every seven days. But where to put all those kegs?
Well, unlike most of the Harvest Moon games, you don't have a limit on buildings in Stardew Valley. You can place them wherever you want on your farm (assuming the terrain is clear), and you can build as many of them as you'd like. Why not use a Barn to house a whole bunch of Kegs?
Coops really aren't worth it—the ratio of saved space isn't as good. But a fully upgraded Barn can have 130ish tiles where you can safely place Kegs, Preserves Jars, or really any other thing that you would want to place inside ,such as Crystalariums. If you're going to have a barn full of Kegs like myself, it would also be helpful to place a single one on the outside. Fill that Keg last, and once it shows as ready, you'll know all the ones on the inside are good to go as well.
10. Use Placed Tiles to Zone off Areas and Protect Your Assets.
A little known mechanic of Stardew Valley is that weeds will spread. If you leave sticks, stones, grass, etc. unattended, they will gradually spread and potentially damage portions of your farm.
If there's no real need for a tile to be uncovered, it should probably be covered. At the bare minimum you should establish borders around your crops to protect them.
There's also the benefit of placed tiles prevent new junk from popping up at the start of a new season. Each new season brings a few branches, stones, and whatnot to make your life just a little bit more difficult. These won't spawn where you've placed tiles down. It looks nicer than just the plain ground, too!
11. You Can Build Certain Things in Areas Besides Your Farm.
There was a time in the earlier days of Stardew Valley where you could place anything nearly anywhere. We're talking putting a row of Fruit Trees smack in the middle of Pelican Town because why not.
Some levels of comical abuse of this fashion remain; a common post on /r/StardewValley is "Look at how I filled up [a particular area] with Grass Starters haha." Comedy aside, there's useful things you can do as well.
A good example is the bushes leading to the Secret Woods. Every season they'll have a bit of weeds pop up. I chose to put down some Stepping Stone Paths so the path remains steadily open, rather than having to deal with them every 28 days.
It's really difficult to say what can and can't be placed outside of your farm when the next patch might change it, and I'm honestly not keen on making an exhaustive list of these things for something that might change in the next patch. Experiment for yourself, see what you can place elsewhere, and consider how it might be useful to you.
12. Know the Big Money Makers: Pigs, Pale Ale, and Ancient Fruit Wine.
A major component of Stardew Valley is very similar to life: you need money to do things, and getting money can be a very involved thing. Some things will make you more money than others, and I'm going to detail those now.
For Animals, it really doesn't get much better than Pigs. Pigs are awfully low maintenance creatures. Pat them on the head once a day, have them in fully-upgraded Barn (which comes with a lovely time-saving autofeeder), and let them out into the farm. They'll dig around for Truffles (worth 500G-750G each, typically one per Pig) and you can turn those Truffles into Truffle Oil (worth 850G each) with an Oil Maker. If you have an Oil Maker ready from the get-go, a Pig will basically pay for themselves after 16 days of adulthood and the profit margin is pretty great.
When it comes to crops, there's a few layers to consider. First, as a general rule anything put into a Preserves Jar will give you twice the base value of the crop. Anything put in a Keg will give you three times the value of the crop. (An important note: crop quality is not a factor here; a gold star crop will not yield always gold star Artisan Good.) These aren't always hard and fast rules, however.
Wheat will turn into Beer in a Keg and is worth 8 times the value of the base crop. Hops are even better, netting you 12 times the value with the resultant Pale Ale. There's also the dynamics of the plants to consider. Wheat can grow in four days in both Summer and Fall so you can make an awful lot of it pretty quickly. Hops are on a vine and take some time to grow to maturity, but once they reach that point they will produce plants every single day for the remainder of Summer.
When it comes down to sheer efficiency, though, nothing beats Ancient Fruit Wine. Getting an Ancient Fruit is a task unto itself that boils down to luck. You'll either find the Ancient Seed Artifact and get your first one for free from Gunther, or you'll receive one via using the Seed Maker. They can be planted in any season, although filling your Greenhouse with Ancient Fruit will be more than enough. Dedicating a Barn to Kegs (as stated in #9) will let you net 2,250G per Ancient Fruit. Even better, they re-grow every seven days!
It's nice to have a variety of things on hand for quests and gifts, but if you're really into making money, focus on the things that can get you the most bang for your buck. After all, you only have so much time in a day and only so much space to plant crops. Don't waste it!
13. You Can Place Items on Tables!
Decorating your home costs money, and you likely won't have much money to spare for the first few seasons. Once you can drop 5,000G on a table without blinking, you'll probably start visiting the Travelling Cart and Carpenter's Shop to buy some furniture for your home.
A neat feature that I found out about (thanks to this thread on /r/StardewValley) is that you can place items on tables. And it's not just one or two things—you can place most things on tables, including other tables, because why not. It's a completely silly cosmetic feature that lets you add a bit of variety to your home's decoration.
Stardew Valley is a game with a surprising amount of depth and strategy if you look at its mechanics. It's a game you can enjoy at your own pace, and if that pace includes "Let's make as much money as possible and min/max like a madman," there's a lot of room for that, too!