I went down into the nether earlier this week only to be confronted with a grand new structure there. Amongst our various portal protecting block houses there was a tower that seemed to stretch to the very top of the nether, decorated with lava no less.
Of course, I immediately had to go investigate, climbing up and down the ladder that went up the center of the lava spire.
A hell of a structure, and I had little doubt that Aaron was behind it. Like all of us, he has a building style of his own. While Skronk is decorative, Xyd is grandiose, and I am… erm… somewhat primitive in my style… okay, my stuff tends to look like a 4 year old’s LEGO project, but I’m working on it… Aaron has a flair for both monumental scale and efficiency. Just look at his farm.
Sure enough, the next time he logged on I mentioned it and he said it was his, and that it was central to a plan he had come up with.
Rather than all this mucking about on the floor of the nether, building roads through walls and over seas of lava while under constant attack from ghasts… along with the lurking threat of the zombie pigmen… we should just go up to the top of the nether, burrow into the netherrack up there, and then dig tunnels through that to wherever we wanted to go.
Having faced some of that peril in the past, I was good with the idea. And so began the excavation at the top of the nether. Aaron started out with a plan to dig to the location where he could link up with the portal he had previously put up the mushroom island he found during his explorations the previous week, while I decided to head off in the direction of the mesa biome.
Digging northwards from the top of the lava tower, which was at level 108, it quickly became clear to me that we were not quite high enough. I ran out of “floor” after a short distance, so started filling in with cobblestone, back filling way up over a lake of lava on the nether floor below.
It doesn’t matter how far you fall if you’re falling into lava I suppose… but I still wasn’t going to lift a hand off the keyboard to screen shot that view.
After running down my supply of cobblestone, I decided it might be better just to go up a little higher, so I stair-stepped myself up to level 118 and carried on. That turned out to be just about ideal. I had more than 600 blocks to mine to get to the right coordinates, but never once broke through the floor to a long fall at that level.
I also seems to be pretty much immune to my one dread tunneling in the nether, the random pockets of lava. Grinding through netherrack with an iron pick is fast work, but you have to be wary lest some of that fast moving nether lava suddenly start pouring out into your dig. I only hit one such pocket the whole way across.
Aaron reported similar success as he dug towards his goal, though later on, when he started on the dig to the ice spike biome, he was beset with lava pockets and died repeatedly until he managed to get past what must have been a pretty thick mass of lava there in the roof.
I managed to get all the way to the right coordinates, at which point I dug out a decent sized pocket in order to house the portal, a chest for supplies, and to have some room for a rail stop. The grand design wasn’t just to have paths, but to build a series of mine cart tracks up there to speed through the nether.
Having finished the basic tunnel, I walked back to the top of the lava tower, prettied things up a bit, and put up a sign.
Of course, it wasn’t quite ready yet. I had to get back down to the bottom of the tower and then walk all the way to the portal I had previously built down on the nether floor, take apart that portal, get back up to the new location, rebuild it there and then light it up.
I also did the same for another portal to the north, just to get them all on the same axis.
Then it was time to use up all my iron building tracks. I always worry about not having enough gold for the powered segments of the track, but with the ration of iron to gold track segments being 30 to 1, iron gets used up a lot more quickly.
I started laying track. Ran out. Made more track. Ran out. Made even more track. Ran out. Mined for some more iron and made a bit more track. Ran out. Went and scrounged through chests I had scattered about three bases and several outposts, found I had a lot more iron squirreled away than I though, used that to make more track, and actually got to the end with about a stack of rails left in my possession.
Something to start the next rail line.
So we now had a significantly quicker way to get to the mesa biome to collect colored clay.
I think the most immediate beneficiary of this new travel route was Skonk and Enaldi, who used the new access to harvest up supplies for their growing base being built in something of an Italian Renaissance style.
I am definitely stealing some of their ideas.
Anyway, the first rail connection has been setup and there are tunnels to two others. Now somebody just have to collect enough iron again to roll out the next set of track. Meanwhile, the lava tower stands in the middle of our efforts in the nether.