The Skull Cavern is a perilous place packed with formidable foes to the brim. Known to be a seemingly bottomless cave, it is unquestionably one of the most challenging dungeons in Stardew Valley.
It cannot be denied that many of us tried reaching deep into the Skull Cavern to gather enough Iridium Ores to fill our chests. Most of us attempted Mr. Qi’s Challenge to make it to the 100th floor but almost always met with a disappointing image of our character passing out instead. However, it is possible to survive the Skull Cavern with the right preparation, and that is what you will learn in this guide.
How to get to the Skull Cavern
To begin with, you can get to the Skull Cavern by acquiring the Skull Key. Getting the Skull Key requires you to reach the 120th level of the Mines. On that floor, there lies a chest that contains the key. You may now access Skull Cavern just northwest of the Calico Desert using this key.
How to prepare for Skull Cavern
Before jumping right into the cavern, you must first prepare to ensure a successful dungeon run.
Be an early bird
If you are hoping to descend deep into the Skull Cavern, you need to leave your farm early. The problem lies in how to get there early. You can not go earlier than 10:00 AM since you will have to wait for Pam, the driver, to get to the bus stop so she can take you to the Calico Desert.
Luckily, you can craft totems that instantly transport you to the Skull Cavern. There are five totems in the game, but the totems that can take you back in forth between the desert and your farm are the Warp Totem: Desert and Warp Totem: Farm.
To make a Warp Totem: Desert, you must first purchase the recipe from the Desert Trader for either 10 Iridium Bars or 3 Omnigeodes. You will also need two Hardwoods, a coconut, and two iridium ores to craft it.
Meanwhile, acquiring the Warp Totem Farm recipe requires reaching level 8 in Foraging. In crafting it, you must have hardwood, honey, and fiber present in your inventory.
Having a Desert Obelisk is another thing you can use to get you transported faster to the Desert. Obelisks are one of the buildings you can only obtain when nearing your end-game year. Each cost a million gold and plenty of Iridium Bars, so accumulating a good amount of Iridium Ores from the Skull Cavern is a great way to prepare for Obelisks.
Go on a lucky day
Sometimes, you will have to rely on luck to complete a task as arduous as Mr. Qi’s quest. Luck can also double your chance of finding floors that spawn countless iridium nodes and fewer enemies.
So let’s start the day by checking what your daily fortune is through watching the television. If the fortune teller says you are having a lucky day today, you may head to the Skull Cavern immediately.
Remember to bring luck-increasing items if you have some, such as the Special Charm, Lucky Ring, and food items that improve your luck.
- The Special Charm can be obtained by giving a Rabbit’s Foot to the driver in the Jojamart truck parked beside The Jojamart Warehouse.
- The Lucky Ring is a special ring that can be dropped by monsters that dwell in The Mines or The Quarry. Although rare, it can even be acquired also using a Copper Pan.
- Examples of food that can boost your luck are Lucky Lunch, Pumpkin Soup, and Spicy Eel. You can get their recipes by befriending NPCs, purchasing them from merchants, or tuning in to the TV channel, The Queen of Sauce.
Pack up the right tools
During this period in the game, you have probably already upgraded your Pickaxe to Gold or Iridium, but if that is not the case, now is the time to fortify your tools to make better progression on your farm and acquire vital resources quickly.
If you plan on completing Mr. Qi’s quest, crafting Staircases saves you time and energy. Instead of looking for game-supplied ladders inside rocks, a craftable Staircase can directly let you go down one floor. You will need 99 stones to craft one Staircase. Therefore, you may have to bring fat stacks of stones to make enough Staircases to reach the 100th level of the Skull Cavern.
These powerful explosives can destroy rocks and damage enemies in an instant. You cannot go wrong with bringing tons of bombs in a dungeon run. Crafting or purchasing regular bombs will suffice, but Mega Bombs are the ones that take the cake. You can buy Mega Bombs from the Dwarf in the Mines (or the Volcano Dungeon), or you may trade 5 Iridium Ores for it from The Desert Trader.
It is always necessary to pack food or foraged items whenever you traverse one of these dungeons.
If you are trying to finish Mr. Qi’s quest, you are requested to go down 100 floors without consuming anything. Although, you can eat food right before you enter the cavern to accumulate the food’s power-ups.
Aside from luck-inducing food, here are some other rations that you may bring:
- Roots Platter – Roots Platters are inexpensive and easy to make. They do not regain much of your health, but if you have stored plenty of cave carrots and winter roots, you might as well use them to make a bunch of Root Platters.
- Cheese – Another food that will not cost you much to make is cheese. This artisan product is also simple to prepare, considering you only need milk and a Cheese Press to make it. A good quality cheese will gain you 325 energy and 146 health.
- Salad – To prepare salad, you only need leek, dandelion, and vinegar. You can forage two of the other ingredients anywhere in Pelican Town, and the only ingredient that requires you to spend gold is vinegar. You can also purchase Salad in The Stardrop Saloon. Consuming salad will give you 113 energy and 50 health.
- Coffee or Expressos – Coffee can be helpful to you in speeding through the cavern, but a Triple Shot Expresso surpasses the increased speed effect of a Coffee. Making an Expresso will cost you three cups of coffee. You can also get an Expresso in exchange for a diamond from The Desert Trader. Ideally, if you have two or more Crystalariums on your farm, you can use them to make more diamonds to acquire more Expressos.
- Crab Cakes – Gus from The Stardrop Saloon can sell you Crab Cakes for 550 gold, but you can also cook them with crab, wheat flour, egg, and oil. Crab Cakes will grant you an increase in speed and defense and give you 225 energy and 182 health. It might be a bit expensive, but since you’ve already reached this point in the game, you can now probably afford to buy Crab Cakes or have saved enough ingredients to make them.
Equip the best weapons and rings
The Galaxy Sword is, similar to what is in its item description, a weapon that is unlike any other. It is the strongest sword attainable in the game, and you only need one prismatic shard to acquire it. Go to the Calico Desert and stand in the center of the three strange-looking pillars while holding the shard to get the Galaxy Sword.
While Galaxy Sword might be the strongest weapon in the game, the Galaxy Hammer can give you a chance to use a special attack that sends a powerful blow to the enemies. The Galaxy Hammer becomes available after getting the Galaxy Sword. You can purchase it from the Dwarf in The Mines.
Before the 1.5 update, Space Boots were considered by many to be the best footwear in the game. Now that Cinderclown Shoes, Mermaid Boots, and Dragonscale Boots have been added, they have become three of the optimal footwear choices to improve your defense and immunity. Cinderclown shoes can be purchased from the Dwarf’s Shop in the Volcano Dungeon. It will give you +7 Defense and +5 Immunity. Mermaid Boots, when equipped, will provide you with a +5 enhancement in Defense and a +8 in Immunity. Dragonscale boots can give you a +5 increase in Defense.
Rings are equipable accessories that give you a permanent boost in stats as long as you have them. The best rings useful for you in combat and mining are the Slime Charmer ring, Burglar’s Ring, Savage Ring, Crabshell Ring, and the Iridium Band ring.
The Slime Charmer ring can be acquired by completing the Adventurer’s Guild quest, Monster Eradication goal of slaying 1,0000 slimes; it can mainly make you invulnerable to slimes. The Burglar’s ring is another quest reward for killing 500 dust sprites. It makes monsters drop more loo. Equipping the Savage ring gives you a rush after killing a monster, resulting in a speed buff. The Savage ring can also be available after finishing the Adventurer’s Guild quest of slaying 150 void spirits.
The Iridium Band ring emits a bright light, increases your attack damage, and draws in items. You may craft it after getting the recipe you can obtain after reaching Combat level 9. The Crabshell ring will increase your defense, and you can get it after killing 60 rock crabs in an Adventurer Guild’s quest.
Enhancing your equipment in The Forge
The Forge is a weapon-enhancing mechanism that resides inside The Volcano Dungeon. You have to gather a couple of Prismatic Shards if you decide to forge your items there. If you can not decide which weapons to bring or rings to equip, you may combine their stat-boosting features in The Forge.
Choosing the right Combat Professions
There are no right or wrong decisions in choosing skill professions. However, choosing a combination of Fighter and Brute professions can ease some of your mob-related worries. The Fighter profession will give you 10% more damage in your attacks, and having the Brute profession will escalate your attack damage up to 15%.
How to survive Skull Cavern
Once you have finished preparing for the Skull Cavern, it is time to explore the mines — but not after learning all the tips on sustaining yourself while efficiently going deep within the monster-infested dungeon.
1. Skip 30 floors – Most floors starting from 1 to 30 have nothing valuable in them worthy of mining. You would not want to waste your time on floors that only spawn rocks and a few Iridium nodes. The deeper you get in the Skull Cavern, the more Iridium nodes you can mine.
2. Do not ignore the holes – Ladders usually appear right after destroying rocks or slaying monsters, but sometimes holes show up instead. The number of floors you can drop down from holes is random, so they can drop you seven levels lower or three levels lower.
3. Use your tools – Use Staircases if you find yourself trapped on a floor swarmed with bats or serpents. Blow it up with your Mega Bomb right away whenever you see a large boulder. Use every opportunity, and you can eat food when you see your energy and health starting to deplete. (Unless you are there to complete Mr. Qi’s quest, try your best to survive without eating food.)
4. Dodge Enemies – In speeding through Skull Cavern, remember to annihilate enemies that are only in your way. Your goal here is to either farm a lot of Iridium nodes or complete Mr. Qi’s quest, so clearing all the monsters on a floor will not benefit you much.
5. Choose passing out rather than walking all the way home – If you do not have the resources to craft totems, the next best thing you can do is let yourself pass out in the cavern instead of trying to walk all the way home. You are on floor 99, but you are about to collapse due to how late it is. If you believe you can still make it to floor 100, you can risk the possibility of passing out in the Skull Cavern. YOu will only get to lose a few golds and some energy, but you’ll be able to keep all your loot.
If you could not succeed in reaching level 100 or farm hunks of Iridium nodes, you have unlimited opportunities to try again. You can take another stab at it as long as you will not run out of resources that can help you survive the Skull Cavern.