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Around the Block: Savanna

Acacia emergency, break grass!

As the author of’s world-famous “Around the Block” column, people sometimes stop me on the street and ask me: “Duncan – what’s the best Minecraft biome to live in?” The answer is complicated and depends a lot on personal taste, but for new players I always recommend the savanna.

Savanna became a part of Minecraft’s landscapes in October 2010 as part of the Halloween Update. The original list was rainforest, seasonal forest, forest, shrubland, taiga, tundra, plains, swampland, desert, frozen desert, and savanna. The biome system has been overhauled many times since then, but savanna has largely remained – gaining its modern appearance in The Update that Changed the World in October 2013.

The reason I recommend the biome to new players is because the wide open fields of the savanna are an excellent place to set up home. There’s plentiful acacia and oak wood for building, but not so much that you can’t see hostile mobs approaching. You’ll find villages, horses, donkeys, and plenty of other passive mobs, as well as lots of grass for gathering seeds to start a farm. Oh, and it doesn’t rain in the savanna either – meaning you’ll be safe from thunderstorms.

It’s not all good news, though. The pillagers like the Savanna, often setting up their outposts here – and at night you’ll need to find a way to deal with the spiders, zombies, skeletons, creepers, endermen, and witches. Lighting up the surrounding area is often the best defence.

In the daytime, you’ll want to keep your eyes open as you’re navigating the landscape, because there are a couple of rarer savanna variants that are worth exploring. Savanna Plateau rises gradually up from the ground, creating rolling hills that provide a habitat for llamas. Even rarer is the shattered savanna, where enormous, steep crags of stone form – creating huge overhangs, giant deep lakes, floating islands, and waterfalls. Be particularly careful in these regions, because a fall can be fatal.

The word savanna comes from the Spanish “sabana”, which itself is a loan word from the indigenous Taíno people of the Caribbean. They’re spread widely across the world, covering about 20% of its land area - but most famously in the African Serengeti, the Brazilian Cerrado, northern Australia, and the Great Plains of the United States.

Just like in Minecraft, there are different kinds of savanna in the real world. The best-known are the tropical ones (which are generally hot and alternate between dry and wet seasons), but there are also temperate ones (with wetter summers and cold, dry winters), mediterranean ones (with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers), and even high-altitude savannas in South America, like the landscape around Colombia’s capital Bogotá.

Whether you’ll like living in a savanna in Minecraft depends on your priorities. It’s a relatively safe and easy life, but if you’ve been playing for a while then you might find you prefer the challenge of living in one of the game’s more unusual biomes – mushroom fields, the dark forest, or even the deep cold ocean (now there’s a challenge for you). Whatever biome you choose to live in, home is where the crafting table is.

Duncan Geere
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Duncan Geere

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