Embracing the Iron Age in Valheim

I was actually a bit nervous about the move from bronze to iron in Valheim.  Getting bronze was some trouble at times.  At first it was just being out the black forest biomes… dangerous in just leather… to grab copper nodes close by our base.  Then, even as we geared up and the danger subsided, the copper nodes were now further afield and, before we found the trader, you could, if you optimized everything, carry maybe 20 copper ore.

And, of course, the thing about bronze being made from copper and tin, where you need 2 copper and 1 tin to get 1 bronze bar, so there was a lot to be hauled to get a stack of 30 bronze bars.

But at least the copper nodes were plentiful.  My map is still marked up with nodes yet to be harvested.  It was a pain, but it was there for the taking.  Having iron locked in crypts in swamps seemed like it would be a limiting factor, there being only so many crypts in a swamp.

Then we defeated The Edler and got the swamp keys and iron was going to be a thing.  Our first expedition into the swamp as a group of five led to a couple of wipes, but at least we came back with what seemed like a lot of iron scraps.  Since they refine to one iron bar each, we seemed to be set.

And then I saw the recipes back at our base.  Making a bronze item, weapon or armor, generally used just 8 bronze bars.  Making an iron item needed 20 iron bars.  Our ~60 iron scraps, hauled home by ship, wasn’t going to make use even three new items.  We set aside a bit for other things… you need iron to make the stone cutter which allows stone walls, and that seemed important too… and we were not going to be fully outfitted in iron any time soon.

So the next exploring goal became “find more swamp crypts” which meant, first, finding  more swamps.  Swamps were available.  Crypts, perhaps less so.  Or maybe we were just unlucky.  Ideally we wanted a swamp with a meadows biome next to it so we could set up an outpost with a portal to ease the mining and repairing routine.  Also, it needed to be on the water as we would need to ship all of our iron back to one of our main bases in order to refine it and use it.  I wasn’t keep to build smelters and forges all over the world.

There were a couple more crypts in the first swamp we were working on, so while people tinkered with that I went looking for more.

The first one I went for was a swamp we had spotted on our corpse recovery cruise when we tried to go the short way around the island and found it was not such a short route at all.  There was a swamp along the way, on the far side of the same island where we built the base to fight The Elder, with a meadows biome right next door that had an abandoned town right on the coast.

Bad People Base

Well, it wasn’t abandoned.  It was full of Dragur.  I ran into it early on, then ran away, marking it as “Bad People.”  But the Dragur were all trapped in the buildings, so I was able to slowly break open cracks in the buildings and use my bow to slay them one by one.  The only one I had problems with was a Dragur archer up in a tower that I couldn’t get up because the ladder spaces were too narrow.  So I set up a work bench at the bottom of it and use my hammer to remove the first floor, after which the second a third floors… and the Dragur… came slowly crashing down.  There is a very Wile E. Coyote-like aspect to watching physics check and pull things apart at a leisurely pace.

Once cleared out I fixed up one of the buildings, then tore down some of the others to build a palisade wall around the base. (I recently realized that they’re not actually called “palisades” in the game, I think I call them that because of Age of Empires II: Age of Kings.  But people know what I mean.)  Then I began to explore.

There was a narrow strip of black forest biome between my new base and then the swamp, leading to something like a band of perpetual conflict, as the swamp dwellers and the black forest mobs like to fight each other.  I found a Dragur from the swamp running around the base chasing a deer at one point.

Unfortunately, that swamp had just a single crypt in it.  That was not a promising sign for a group looking to get outfit in iron.  But we had seen a swamp across the water from there as well, which led me to our next swamp base.  Again, a bit of exploring found me a meadows biome where I could set up camp just a short walk from the swamp, though once again there was a narrow strip of black forest in between.  Another war zone.  But here I hit our first big batch of crypts.

West Swamp Base

Well, there were only five, but that was more than we had found in one swamp before.  By this point I had made myself an iron mace, all the better to explore with.  My philosophy is that I don’t need armor if the other guy is already dead.  The first crypt was a disappointment, with only 15 iron scraps, but after that I did much better.  I hauled out more than 150 armor scraps out of the first two combined, and did very well on the last three.  I had to sail back to our main base at the world swamp point three times in a Karve to haul it all home. I did have problems with a bridge somebody built.  I had to break down a section in the middle of the night.

Impediment to shipping

Fergoring started looking into a drawbridge solution, though we’ll save that for another crossing as I had looted the swamp by then.

Soon we had enough iron for everybody to get a weapon and start on their iron armor.

I was, by then, feeling the need for that weight belt from the trader, as carrying loads of scrap iron back to the base 15-20 at a time was a bit of a chore.  Our priority soon became finding him and, once focused on that task, he was found.  Then I was hauling as much as 35 a run, though generally just a full stack of 30 iron scraps plus other loot from the crypt.

Crypt loot built up our gold supply so that everybody could grab a belt as well.

Having drained the west swamp base of loot, I went looking for another swamp.  I had passed on when we were looking for the trader, so sailed back to it and found it to be almost ideal to our needs.  It was basically an island that was mostly swamp, with a postage stamp sized bit of meadows on the western shore, just big enough to set up a base. (It looks to be about the size of a suburban house lot.)  And in the swamp were more crypts.

Black Forest and Plains on the far side

I landed there with a boat and fought the locals for a bit until they relented, then build a small base surrounded by spikes.  Then I set up a portal inside.  This swamp was set to harvest.

South Swamp base

And the swamp was not far off.

Just a stroll to the swamp

By that point I was starting to feel confident in the swamp.  Maybe a bit too confident, as you can see the corpse marker on the map.  Failed to keep an eye on my health.  But the crypt looting continued at a rate that might make a 19th century member of the British Museum blush.  We have iron aplenty and more available to grab.  I went all in on the iron gear.

Fully geared up in iron in the swamp… hope it doesn’t rust

As I mentioned in my post earlier in the week, gear upgrades seem small when you look at the stats, but are quite noticeable when get out in the field.  All of that iron, plus a supply of health and poison resist meads, has made the swamp a place to explore.

Now, with the iron flowing, it is time to start thinking about the next boss, Bonemass.  His location was revealed by a rune in one of the swamps.  He is in another, distant swamp… of course… so we will need to mount an expedition to find his altar and a plan to assail him.

5 thoughts on “Embracing the Iron Age in Valheim

  1. bhagpuss

    I have just about everything I use that’s made of iron fully upgraded as far as it can go now. In total I think it took around 500 iron scraps to do that for one person. The big 2-handed sledgehammer alone uses more than a hundred but it’s incredibly powerful. You can clear an entire crypt with one of those and never even need to see the draugr and blobs you kill because the impact goes straight through walls – where it also turns chests into matchwood and snuffs out all those green torches.

    As time went on I developed a method for swamp hunting that works very well. Instead of making a base outside the swamp I just build on the front of the crypts themselves. It only takes a stack of wood to get them secured and you can get a workbench, fire and even a bed in that porchway if you want. If i’m going to explore the whole swamp I flatten the ground around the first crypt I find with the how then build a compound and install a portal. Then I can come and go as I please.

    I use that crypt to store all the lot from all the other crypts. The only real problem comes when I have to get the whole lot home. I’m starting to think it would really be easier to build a full base at the first crypt in each swamp, including forge, smelter and kiln. The time it would take is nothing compared to the time it takes to transport a couple of hundred pieces of scrap back to another island. Of course I’m refining my technique just at the point where I’m not going to want to mine much more iron but I’ll be bearing it in mind when I get to whatever comes next.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @bhagpuss – I move remainder iron scraps, if I have less than a stack of 30, on to the next crypt and carry from there. We’re fortunate that the south swamp on the map is a straight sail to our main base, so hauling back in the Karve… still haven’t built the big boat yet, though Potshot did build a pier to handle one and a lighthouse to go with it… isn’t a big deal.

    And, to your last point, that is ever the way of things. If you have to do a task 20 time, around repetition 18 or 19 you’ll have finally worked out the most efficient method… and then you’ll suddenly be done.


  3. "AD"

    Nice progress Wilhelm. I’m in the Iron age as well playing all solo. Takes much longer to do things having to do it all. My first 2 areas of Swamp didn’t quite pan out and were just forests with no Crypt’s as I surveyed the entire area around. Just good for logging as needed. I’m going to have to adventure to the far north I explored some time ago to that swamp area which at first seems to be another island, but it’s actually connected, but swamp at a distance.

    I have to say when I first went into the swamp, it was just a feeling of impending dread and with the lighting effects and Drauger’s. A bit of overconfidence swinging my mace at 3 Drauger’s didn’t end well. But such is learning from that encounter.

    Do beware of leaving your boat close to land or just wherever it’s left as it can be destroyed by anything in the biome. An insurance tip is to physically destroy the boat when you hit land after you’ve removed anything in storage. Destroy it and just save the construction material recovered. Rebuild it when needed. But that saves a mob from destroying the boat and can’t recover the material in too deep a water or if it is close to shore.


  4. Asmiroth

    The swamp is my favorite biome just because it has more to do with prep than any other. So many things can go wrong, and it’s the first intro to large shipping routes.

    People hate deathsquitoes but a wraith still scares the heck out of me.

    Good luck with Bonemass!


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