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A Step in the Wrong Direction

Reddit users compete to make the most inefficient Minecraft staircase!

Do you ever look at something beautifully and functionally designed and think to yourself, “I could build this myself, but probably terribly and ineffectively”? Then you’ve probably been spending too much time discussing Minecraft on Reddit. The marvellous minds over at Minecraft’s Reddit community recently set themselves a design challenge with an inefficient twist: who could make the smoothest stairs in Minecraft?  

The mission of these staircase enthusiasts was simple: create a set of stairs that have the smallest increase in height between each step. They had to try to get to the height of a single stair block while using as many blocks as possible. Wasteful, bizarre, and slightly stupid… this competition was born to be on!

It all started with a “really smooth staircase” by redditor Crystlon. Their first step is made of red carpet. Fancy! Rolling out the red carpet provides a nice warm welcome for this ridiculous community challenge. But then what happens? We step up to a redstone repeater. Which, to be honest, feels more like a step down. It’s a bit cold and industrial, but it does keep the staircase smooth, I suppose.

This first staircase sets a high bar for everyone to beat. It only reaches one voxel in height over a total of 15 steps (again, that’s as tall as one standard stair block). A wonderful waste of time. Very impressive! Also very unsafe –did you spot the stonecutter? Still, a very solid start! Can anyone do better?   

Another redditor, ShazZ, brought more attention to this absurd challenge with their attempt at the “most inefficient staircase ever”. It makes great use of stacked snow tiles to raise the height steadily. But, oh dear, it’s missing the red carpet at the beginning.

The red carpet is a very important first step, not only because we all deserve to be treated like royalty, but because carpet raises your height by a measly 0.0625 of a meter (as one voxel in Minecraft is equal to 1m3). You barely have to lift your foot. So remember to use carpet as your first step when creating your inefficient staircases. It offers almost no elevation at all!

Next to step up to the challenge was redditor Nlvya with what they called “The REAL least efficient staircase.” Big words. Let’s take a closer look at this apparent atrocity of a staircase.

The carpet is back, hooray! But it’s white, rather than red, which instantly puts me at unease. Why would you have something that’s meant to be walked on and is so easy to stain? Step two is a birch trapdoor. Not only is a trapdoor always bad news for stepping on, but it’s also too much of a step up in height for boldly inefficient challengers. We know you need a redstone repeater for your second step! Can anyone beat Crystlon’s smooth staircase?

Enter mael_cookie with their “take on the slowest staircase”. This one seems to cut really close to beating Crystlon’s entry so let’s move in for a better look. It starts with a white carpet again (boo!), but then uses two stacked snow tiles before getting to the trap door at the third step. They use different blocks, yes, but each step actually comes in at the exact same height as Crystlon’s use of carpet, redstone repeater, then a trapdoor.

Further up this staircase, mael_coookie uses many of the same blocks as Crystlon: a daylight detector, a campfire, a slab, a stonecutter, and a stack of six snow tiles. Where the two entries start to differ again is when mael_cookie uses an enchanting table rather than a conduit, then a chorus plant instead of snow. Unfortunately, these blocks make a huge difference, as it means mael_cookie only uses 14 steps to ascend one voxel, compared to Crystlon’s 15 steps. Which means this staircase is just one block too efficient to be the winner. So close!

So is that the competition over? Far from it, my friends. We have redditor ChillYourJetskis to show us how it’s done with “The ACTUAL most inefficient staircase”. They’re not messing around. Once again, this staircase goes up one voxel high in total, but is made up of 17 steps rather than 15. That’s two extra steps. What beautiful futility!

So how did they do it? The first breakthrough is the use of the lily pad after the carpeted first step. “The lilypad is about 1.5 pixels tall, making it taller than the carpet, and shorter than the repeater,” ChillYourJetskis explains. Using water like this is ingenious as it gives this lazy staircase its first extra step.  

The second extra step is possible due to an even smarter use of water. ChillYourJetskis has two stair blocks face each other in a hole, and then fills the gap between them with water, creating a waterlogged stair block. With a bit of manipulation, they’re able to force a boat to sink into this tiny bit of water. The result is an odd step that comes in at a height right between a stack of three snow tiles and a daylight detector.

That’s got to be it. It seems to be the most inefficient staircase you can make in Minecraft Java 1.4, at least. We have a winner! Feel free to have a go yourself but it will be difficult to beat that magnificently terrible staircase. But if you do figure out how to make a more inefficient staircase, please email it to us at!

Written By
Chris Priestman

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