Speeding through Dungeons

Mipha teaches us the skill of going really, really fast!

Are you familiar with speedrunning? It's the art of taking shortcuts, using exploits, and running through challenges as fast as you can until you reach the goal in the shortest amount of time. In other words: a concept that is as much alien to me as the reason why I got assigned to write this story. If you think I'm going to speedwrite this article, you're going to be sorely disappointed (but very informed anyway)!

I have to admit: there is something impressive about players that are able optimize their playthroughs to such an extent that it allows them to finish a game in just a few minutes – something that would take us mere mortals days to complete. The only type of run I’m good at is running away from my responsibilities! 

Since you’re a loyal and up-to-date reader of Minecraft.net, you already know that speedrunning is a theme we love to cover. Our coverage has so far focused exclusively on vanilla Minecraft, while its younger sibling Minecraft Dungeons has been left in the cold. I assure you that this has nothing to do with the fact that my colleagues have been ridiculing me for having failed to defeat the Arch-Villager precisely 287 times. Besides, this is about to change, here and now.

In early January, Dungeons suddenly appeared in the speedrunning community’s spotlight at Awesome Games Done Quick – a charity event with viewers numbering in the thousands. At the helm was MiphaSR, a 19-year-old speedrunner from England, who steered the run with such perfection that we wouldn’t be surprised if they named a mob-dodging dance after him. If you have 41 minutes and 32 seconds to spare, we highly recommend you give it a watch!

“[The run] went very well actually, both a cursed and blessed run you could say,” Mipha remembers when asked about it. “It was one of the most nerve-racking experiences I have ever had [besides] exams in school, but I managed to get through with help from my commentators, Footcream and Yomkool, to take part of the pressure off!” 

Mipha has always had an interest in completing games quickly. At the age of ten, he started experimenting with New Super Mario Bros Wii, which he mostly did for fun. But after watching Awesome Games Done Quick in 2017, his light-hearted hobby suddenly grew into something more serious and organized. “As for Dungeons, I just came off of the back of running another game and needed something new,” he says. “This was around the time Minecraft Dungeons came out, so I thought ‘why not?’. I had never run something of that nature before and it was a new, interesting challenge!”   

Mipha tends to prefer games that require a large amount of “RNG” – random number generation – something Dungeons has plenty of. This means relying a fair deal on pure luck during runs, such as obtaining a certain weapon or artifact, rolling decent statistics on your gear, or getting the best possible procedural generation on a stage. It might sound like a lottery that has the potential for many frustrating resets, but at the end of the day, it’s all about adapting to the situation that is given to you. And the more you know about a game’s rules, the better you can prepare for them. In Mipha’s case, he has a small, but trusty community he can ask for help. 

“While we do like to compete, there is always a sense of camaraderie,” he explains, “and we all like to help one another, especially [teaching] new runners how to speedrun the game. We are all competitive for better times, but recently when Yomkool beat the Any% world record at the time with a 28:32 we were all in the Discord server voice call watching the run unfold.” 

Since most games can be played in a variety of ways, players set up rules and categories to make them easier to speedrun. “Any%” means that there’s no rule to how much of the game you have to complete before you defeat the last boss. In Dungeons case, it (currently) means playing through seven levels before ending the game by defeating the Arch-Illager. Mipha himself holds titles such as third place in the Any% solo (random seed) category and a world record in the Any% 2 players (random seed) category. All categories are monitored at speedrun.com, and sometimes they even add new ones. I tried to submit my own category, “100% in your own pace solo”, but it was met with lukewarm responses.

Mipha's guide to invaluable items

To achieve the best possible run, there’s a few must-have items you want to obtain. “Since top runners no longer grab the merchant in runs, we no longer actually buy anything. Other than that, there are three or four main items to find”.

“The most commonly ran category is by far the Any% (Random Seed) category – which is just to beat the game as fast as possible from a new character while running on random seeds. Other than that, All Missions (New Game) became popular whilst people raced for the first sub-hour completion, eventually reached by the runner Yomkool.” 

Some categories allow certain game exploits to be used, like glitches. In Dungeons, there are two major glitches that players use for speedrunning. The first one is called the "Dynamo glitch" which uses the Dynamo enchantment together with a Torment Quiver. “Together it makes the game forget how to do math, and so all bosses and enemies can be easily killed in one arrow shot.”Mipha explains. It’s ok, game, I can’t do math either!

The second glitch allows Mipha and his speedrunning friends to access certain levels much earlier, skipping Cacti Canyon, Redstone Mines, and Highblock Halls. The trick saves runners considerable time and brings it down from 28 to 13-14 minutes. In other words: terrible if you’re aiming for the 100% in your own pace solo category. 

While speedrunning might look intimidating to some, Mipha assures me it’s all fun and games, and that Dungeons is a great place to start for any aspiring runners. “If you want to run, then speedrun.com/mcd is the best place to start. There are resources, runs to watch, and a link to the community Discord! It is a lot of fun, even if you do not want to compete for a top time it can be something interesting to try out!” 

Sounds great! I’ll join you as soon as I manage to defeat Archie. 288th time’s the charm!

Per Landin
Written By
Per Landin