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Spotter's Guide: S1E7 - A Prospecting We Go!

This episode is the one most people have been talking about, putting the prospector pick to a more specific use. Other things of note how how extensive a cave in can be, even if you can not see it and how to get blocks of actual stone that will be needed as we move towards metallurgy.

Cave-In's Again video

I go over real quick how what seems like a small cave in can actually be pretty large in its effects. When making the stairs I had a single column (or so it seemed) cave in. What happened was that I was only a few blocks from a cave that was almost completely filled in with fallen cobble.

Mining Stone video

You will need raw stone in order to make anvils and metallurgy tables as we move into metals and alloys. I go through the quick steps in order to free up the stone around a target block so that it will fall instead of being turned into cobble stone. All you have to do is remove every block touching a face of the block that you want to retrieve as stone.

Prospector's Pick video

This is the majority of this episode so lets get right into it. The Prospector's Pick will scan around 8000 blocks around the one you tap and give you a random report that is unique to tapping that block. What we will do is be using the scan range boundaries, and a lot of tapping, to narrow down what quadrant the ore we are looking for is in. I want to state this so everyone understands. This is not a diving rod, this will not get you to the ore with out some work on your part and more than anything else, patience.
The first thing you need to do is find a starting location. This location is simply a block that you have tapped that says a resource you are looking for is around and in a certain amount. For the video this is cassiterite, the ore that gives us the Tin we are looking for. When you have found this block we will then determine which quarter of the area around us is the likely suspect to contain the ore. In order to do this we dig two tunnels 12 blocks long in opposite directions from our central block. This can be in +X/-X or +Z/-Z but should not be one in the X and one in the Z. We want to split the area in half. When you get to the end of the tunnel you have just dug, start tapping your prospector pick and look for the amounts of the ore you are looking for. If the amount decreases then go down the opposite tunnel and do the same tapping, slowly moving back to center and observe the values. If both directions decreased the amount of ore your are looking for then return to center and dig two more tunnels along the other axis and repeat the process.
Now, move to the end of the tunnel, away from center, that had either no decrease or the highest amount estimated. From here we want to dig two tunnels again. These will be to the left and right of the tunnel end and also extend 12 units in each direction. Once dug and at the end, do your tapping scan. This will tell us which quadrant we want to invest our time in to find the ore. If both tunnels are equally bad you will want to dig the tunnel again, back along the first chosen axis. You repeat this pattern eventually tapping around the outside edge from the center if you have to to pick the best quadrant to work on. Once you have done that I suggest just a normal branch mining patter with minimal tapping required at this point. Most ore deposits are of significant size. If you mine through the 12x12 quadrant and find nothing then its time to poke holes up and down as the pick will also scan in the Y axis +6 and -6 from the block you tap.
Have you picked up the pattern? If you are a programmer what we are doing is a binary search. If you are not you are about to get a minecraft analogy to what that is :) The two initial tunnels split the area around our central block in half. We compare the tap values down those tunnels to pick which half is our best bet for what we are looking for. We then split that section in half and repeat our tapping to find which quarter is now our best bet. This is one of the most effective search algorithms you can do, both in programming and in minecraft with the prospector pick. However, this does have a drawback. The pick does not limit its scanning to the area around the central block. When we move down the tunnel it is Very possible that we run into another ore deposit than the one our central block is telling us about. I suggest that you keep weighing the estimated size results to try and locate the original deposit. After that is done and you are still finding results for the ore, pick a new central block and dig some tunnels out from there. The benefit here is that you should already have some of the tunnels dug if not some of the quadrants already marked down as ignoreable.
On that, Happy Hunting! Dig a tunnel, do a tap, find some hints of ore, then get to mining!