Empire of One

A Hard-Left History Geek Plays Minecraft

002: An Exegesis on Torches

Torches are cheap to make, in terms of materials and labor required, so I throw them around like confetti.

This is a mechanic I really like – cost generally resolves directly into effort. If you want to trade with villagers, you need emeralds and various trade goods, which means you have to source that stuff yourself. Get some shears, folks, we’re hunting sheep tonight. Coal and sticks are both easy to come by, in terms of raw materials, gathering, and processing, and it’s a few clicks to make dozens of torches at a batch. So of course we look for ways to use the cheap tools in clever ways, regardless of the nature of the economy. You don’t want to waste your or your comrades’ labor any more than a capitalist wants to waste money.

Torches make great signage in various arrangements. Let’s catalog some ways I use torches.

Two torches, vertically down the wall next to a path or opening underground, or horizontally across a facing or step directly above or below an opening, is an Exit sign, This Way Out. Used at key passages like the base of stairways.

One in the middle of the road at an intersection, again usually underground: this is a breadcrumb. Look around for another torch, within line of sight, likewise set up on the floor. There’s either two, one here and one over there, in which case I hope you know which direction you want to go, or there’s one over there and a pair indicating an exit across from it.

One on the ground in the square in front of a railway station door, kind of symbolically blocking the entrance, means the station has been mothballed, gleaned of resources that could be more useful elsewhere. It’s not currently serving as anything more than an emergency bed.

Not that it means anything, it’s just optimum placement for illumination, but a corkscrew stairway gets a torch at the high outside corner at each turn.