Block of the Month: Fence

The Great Barrier block!

Ahhh, mornings. Enjoying the beautiful sunrise, crafting some delicious breakfast, collecting your equipment out of your chests, and leaving your home for a long day of mining, crafting, and dig straight-downing. Yes I know, I can be very rebellious during the early hours!

But just outside your front door, a surprise awaits; during the night, a creeper wandered out of the nearby woods, and now your house will soon have a big hole in it. If only this tragedy could have been avoided! But wait – it could! If only you’d spend a little time getting to know our block of the month. Meet: the fence – a Minecraft player's best de...fence!

Fences became a part of Minecraft in August 2010 as part of the eighth Seecret Friday update. They were a necessary addition, because the update also added the spider jockey, a mob you don’t want anywhere near you. No siree. 

They’re crafted out of planks and sticks (fences, not spider jockeys) using any type of plank, including warped and crimson. You can also make them out of Nether bricks and Nether brick blocks if you want to construct a Nether Fortress of your very own.

Fences are extremely good at one thing – keeping two areas separated from each other. Players and mobs, both friendly and hostile, can’t jump over them unless they have a jump boost enchantment. This makes fences perfect for keeping hostile entities out of your base area, as well as keeping sheep, chickens, and other animals in a pen for easy breeding and harvesting.

But fences can do so much more! You can hitch another creature (often a horse) to them with a lead, so that they don’t escape – which is a much more wood-efficient way of keeping one creature contained than building a whole enclosure for them. Did I mention you can also use it as furnace fuel, and they’ll make a “bass” sound when placed under a note block?

The word "fence" comes from the 14th-century word “fens” meaning protection, which is also where we get the word “defence”. In the real world, fencing likely emerged around the same time as agriculture and the idea of private property. The earliest fences were probably made of stone, though the Anglo-Saxons developed “worm fences” – stacking rough wooden rails at an angle so they support each other.

Today, you can make a fence out of almost anything – though brick and stone fences are more often called “walls”. You see them everywhere – in both highly populated and sparsely populated areas. There are usually fences around fields, construction sites, schools, gardens, and even nature reserves. Honestly, the world probably has too many.

Minecraft, though, is another matter. So feel free to build as many fences as you like. Anything to keep the creepers from ambushing you first thing in the morning. Speaking of which, I have a house to repair...

Duncan Geere
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Duncan Geere
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