Valheim has to be one of the most informationally dense games I’ve ever played. There are so many mechanics, and shortcuts to learn that will greatly improve your play experience. That’s fairly common across the survival genre, but I’ve found Valheim to be particularly obtuse. I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve learned about a new trick, and died a little realizing how much time I’d have been saving were I to have incorporated said trick earlier.

No more!

Today we’ll be digging into 10 different things that I wish I’d known sooner when starting my journey in Valheim. Hopefully you will find them as helpful as I did.

1. Always Have a Rested Buff

Valheim has a number of different simulation mechanics, but easily the most important is staying well-rested. This buff is received by sitting next to a fire for around 30 seconds while your character is sheltered. It increases your health regeneration, and also dramatically increases your stamina recovery rate. The stamina recovery is especially noteworthy as almost every action across Valheim costs stamina to perform, so this effectively makes you more efficient at virtually everything.

Obtaining the resting buff by sitting next to a fire in Valheim.

That’s great and all, but Valheim never actually tells you about the third, and most important benefit to being well-rested: +50% experience gain. This is hugely beneficial as leveling most gathering skills will decrease their stamina cost, while combat skills increases your damage with the associated weapon type. This adds a whole additional dimension to the usefulness of being well-rested, and should really drive home the importance of maintaining this buff.

2. Get in the Habit of Building Chimneys

Along with simulating fatigue, Valheim also simulates smoke. I wasn’t aware of this, so the first enclosed structure I created almost killed me. It quickly filled with smoke, and my character began choking to death. Don’t let this happen to you! Build a chimney so that your fires can vent while you collect your well-rested buff.

Building a chimney is actually fairly straightforward. Start by placing your fire down. Next, build a 2 meter vertical pole, and place a 2 meter horizontal pole at the top of it. Surround the fire with a rectangular structure, and build walls up from this base to create your chimney. Once you reach the height where you’ve built it tall enough to vent out of your structure, make sure you cap it off with another set of 2 meter vertical pillars, and a roof. The roofing cover is an essential final step as this will ensure rain can’t put out your fire.

You can absolutely go crazy with your chimneys, but what I’ve described will give you a simple starting point.

3. Build Your Bases Close to Water

If you’re anything like me, then your first instinct when playing a survival game will be to run into the middle of a field, and sequester yourself into a tiny hut.

Inland forts are nice and all, but Valheim is a Viking survival game, so you’ll eventually be forced out to sea. In fact, you’ll likely spend a lot of the mid to late game going from island to island, building satellite settlements, or loading your ship with ill-gotten goods to return back home. This is further reinforced as your starting island won’t have resources necessary for progressing past a certain point, nor will it house any of the game’s bosses beyond the first.

My base in Valheim, which is built at the water's edge.

At some point you will need to travel by sea, so it’s a good idea to keep all of your bases adjacent to water. This also makes it easier to defend yourself, and provides an easy escape route if things take a turn for the worse.

4. Build a Cart to Ferry Goods Around

In the opening hours of Valheim, players will be stuck lugging everything by hand. This is fine when you’re foraging for food and basic building materials, but quickly becomes a pain. You can’t simply walk around with an entire forest of wood in your trousers.

Example of the absurd amount of cargo players can carry in Valheim.

This is where carts come in handy. You’ll be able to craft them once you unlock bronze, and I highly recommend using your first piece of bronze to craft some bronze nails to unlock the cart recipe. This will allow players to carry several ore deposits worth of copper, and tin back to their base with ease. Not only is this more efficient, but it’s also way less tedious than taking 3 or 4 trips to empty out a single ore deposit.

Trust me – you don’t want to be making several individual trips out to ore deposits. I did prior to unlocking the cart, and it was hell.

5. Add Custom Markers to Your Map

I played Valheim for a solid 20 hours before I realized that I could add custom labelled markers to my map. This sucked as there were a ton of notable discoveries I’d made that I’d completely forgotten the locations of. As such, I needed to share this PSA so that no other player falls prey to similar ignorance.

To add a marker, all you have to do is click on the icon type that you’d like to use, and double click the map where you’d like to place it. You can then choose to add a label, or leave it blank. This will help keep track of all the interesting discoveries you make while exploring Valheim, and give you a handy reference of places that you’d like to return back to. You can also permanently remove any of these icons by right clicking them.

6. Terraforming is the Best Line of Defence

There are a lot of cool base building pieces in Valheim. Unfortunately, most of the game’s enemies are complete dickheads, and they’ll destroy your precious creations at a moments notice. While there are palisade walls, it has been my experience that this isn’t enough. Instead, you’ll want to make use of terraforming to defend your base from the onslaught of scrungaloids.

Once you unlock the hoe in the stone age, you’ll gain access to raise, and smooth terrain. You can use this to raise sharp peaks around the parameter of your base that enemies will struggle to climb. Alternatively, after you finish the first boss, you’ll be able to dig out a trench around your base to the same effect.

Example of how terraforming can be used in Valheim to defend key areas.

Regardless of your chosen terraforming method, the AI in Valheim struggles to climb sheer surfaces. This won’t save you from the handful of flying foes, but it does a great job of keep all the grounded scrungle bungus from constantly getting into your business.

7. Your Base Can be Raided Upon Completing the First Boss

I mean, it really doesn’t get anymore straightforward than that, does it? Once you complete the first boss, in-game events will start to happen which spawn in hordes of critters that’ll try to tear down your base.

Raids can happen approximately every hour, and will last for about 2 minutes. They’ll only trigger if you’re standing near a structure though, so you don’t have to worry about settlements being attacked while no players are nearby. However, this means that it is very important to make sure that your base is well defended, otherwise you could struggle to keep everything safe.

My party, and I taking down a troll in Valheim.

It’s also worth noting that the list of potential raids increases whenever you complete a boss. As an example, beating the first boss in the meadows allows creatures from the forest biome to form raiding parties. This represents a very real difficulty spike, so ensure that you’re ready to handle these dangerous raids before every world boss.

8. Running Everywhere is Generally a Bad Idea

As previously mentioned, every single action in Valheim costs stamina. It’s the single most precious resource of all, and that’s part of why maintaining a well-rested buff is so gosh darn important.

If you run everywhere, then you’ll constantly be recharging your stamina. This is fine until you get ambushed, which is inevitable. You can’t block, parry, or swing your weapon without stamina, so it’s best to explore at a more leisurely pace so you have stamina available when you need it. Worst case, you can also use it to run away if things go south.

9. Your Health Determines What You Can Block

Parrying a ranged attack in Valheim.

This is somewhat counter-intuitive, but your max health is the primary determining stat for if you can block, or parry an attack in Valheim. If you ever find that you can’t parry an attack, you’ll almost always need to consume heartier food to raise your max HP. This should remedy the problem, while also giving you a wider safety net if you miss the parry timing.

10. Ore Deposits Are Bigger Than They Look

It won’t take long before players look to improve their simple stone tools. That’s where mining comes in. After completing the first boss, players will be able to craft a pickaxe, which kickstarts their journey into the bronze age.

If you’re anything like me, then you’ll immediately run into the forest, and start mining up copper with gusto. Don’t make the exact same mistake I did though by leaving the copper vein behind once you mine out the top layer of it. Almost every single copper deposit in the game goes extremely deep, and can yield anywhere from 80 to 120 pieces of copper ore. Obtaining a lot of copper is pretty important for progressing through to the mid-game, so don’t make the same mistake I did.

Bonus Tip: Play With Friends

I can not stress this final tip enough: Valheim is a game best enjoyed with friends. Every server can hold a maximum of 10 players, and things have been balanced for multiple players. It’s certainly possible to play like an anti-social weasel, but if you can trick one or more of your friends to accompany you across your journey then you’re in for a much better time.

My party, and I walking through the plains biome in Valheim.

Trust me – you don’t want your journey across Valheim to be fought alone.

It may still be in Early Access, but Valheim already shows an incredible amount of promise. I’ve had a blast exploring its many islands with my significant other over the past few weeks, and this article more or less captures all of the things we wish we’d known sooner. Hopefully you found the advice just as helpful in your own journey through the tenth realm.