Tobold's Blog
Saturday, February 20, 2021
Valheim - Following the Metal

In my previous post I mentioned that in Valheim you can't teleport ore or metal. While there are workarounds, Bhagpuss called those "exploits". So, what if you wanted to play the game without switching servers? How would you solve the problem of getting your ore to your base, where your smelter is?

The most basic solution is carrying the ore and going on foot. However, due to the limit of what you can carry and the heavy weight of ore, you can't carry very much per run. Still, it is a viable option for copper and tin, because there is always a Black Forest biome not all that far from your starting location. A somewhat improved method is building a cart and pulling it. It's even slower than running, and only viable if there aren't too many steep slopes between your mine and your base; but you can load a lot more ore on a cart than you can carry. So between carrying and using a cart, most people get through the bronze age.

Then the iron age poses a problem. The way Valheim maps are created, your starting point in the Meadows biome is always in the center, and Black Forest and Mountain biomes are around those Meadows. Swamp and Plains biomes are further out. So if your base is near your starting point, the nearest swamp is quite a long way away on foot. Carts are unpractical for long distances. Iron ore is only found in crypts in the Swamp, and to get a full set of iron weapons, tools, and armor, fully upgraded, takes several hundred iron ores. You'd go crazy trying to carrying all that.

If you are lucky, or planned well, your home base is not so far away from the ocean. With bronze age technology you can build a Karve, which is a small longship, and that one has a chest with 4 slots built in. That's 120 iron ore you can transport by sea, if there is a large swamp you can easily reach over the water.

And then there is another option: Following the metal. Somewhere half way between the center and the edge of the map, there are always islands which have Swamp, Plains, and Black Forest biomes, sometimes even with a spot of Meadows. So instead of bringing the ore from the Swamp and Plains to your base, you could bring your base to the ore, and build a new base in walking distance from the ore you need.

This is the point where I feel that the design of Valheim is somewhat ambivalent. On the one side the biomes places in concentric circles on your world map would suggest that moving base outwards is what the developers plan for you to do. On the other side, you can spend hours to build a nice house and base, so players would definitively be reluctant to give that up. The teleportation portals seem to suggest that the devs want to enable you staying in your starting base, and using portals for your outwards journeys. But the limitation on teleporting ore and metal contradicts that.

I think I might go for a compromise and build a secondary base with a smelter and forge on an outwards island. Once the metal is forged into gear, there is no more teleportation limitation.

I think people shopuld do whatever they like in their own private worlds. You can't exploit yourself. Well, you can, but no-one else cares. Valheim's problem is that your character is exportable to other peoples' worlds. It's the same potential issue various mmorpgs have had when they mixed PvE and PvP or had other forms of competetive content and didn't adequately silo the different forms.

In this context, since it's co-op not mmo, theoretically each world-owner can set and enforce the behaviors they find acceptable but that leads to more problems than it solves if you're the one who has to make and police the rules. Much better for the game to have systems that prevent people gaining advantage in one (private) context then exporting their differently-earned power to a different one.

Leaving that aside, lots of useful info in the post so thanks for that. I do wonder just how much the seed you choose at the start matters, though. I have a house in a day's run from the stone circle from which my character can actually see black forest, swamp and mountain from the gateway (and I don't even have draw distance at full). What's more, meadows is maybe 90 seconds run and plains about five minutes. Lots of places in my world seem to be like that.

After looking at several maps, it appears that there is a random parameter which either makes islands more “round” and seperated by ocean, or more elongated and connected. In the latter case, you can walk quite far in one direction and find different biomes. On my world, I needed to take a ship to get to another island which has swamp/plains/forest/mountains and meadows biomes all at once. In my case, the trader is also on that island, so I’m building my second base there.
Seems like it's designed more for coop play. If you have a bunch of players some could go on expeditions for metal while others mind the farm.
I must have played too much StarCraft and Age of Empires because it seemed obvious to me that you should just construct a new base or whatever near the place you harvest resources. Glad you reached the same conclusion fairly quickly.
Haven't played the game yet but the way the materials are spread out sounds a bit like how things were in Subnautica. Subnautica eventually just gave you a mobile base in the form of the cyclops.

Wonder if Valheim has something similar in the late game.
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