See that cactus in the middle of the screen, with an angry face and weird legs, coming right at you? That, dear reader, is a fucking exploding death cactus, the scourge of Minecraft. If it gets close enough to you, it explodes, killing you and destroying anything nearby. The damn things are totally quiet, so you can never tell if one is coming up, ready to blow up both you and your hard work.
Exploding death cacti and other monsters spawn in dark places, meaning caves and outside at night. Here's the view from my window in the night; I've highlighted three death cacti and a zombie. There's a couple more guys on the other side of the water, too. This is why proper lighting is essential for all indoor and outdoor areas: otherwise you'll run into a cactus in your house. Nobody wants that.
Your first nights in Minecraft are spent cowering in a primitive shelter, with the sounds of zombies, skeletons and giant spiders terrifyingly close. Luckily, the living dead in Minecraft can't abide the sun, and spiders calm down in the day as well, leaving just the ever-present, silent menace of the goddamn fucking cactus. You'll be fixing your first shelter more than a few times after a dawn visit from a death cactus.
If, like any self-respecting journalist, you choose to live in a fortified compound where the cacti can't get to you, they'll still try to. At night, they cluster around you, and in the morning, the cacti are there. Waiting. So, what to do?
For starters, I built an elevated walkway to an exit far enough from where I spend most nights to avoid the immediate attention of the cacti. But they're still there; the main body of my tower is finished, but I still have to do the landscaping around it, or my tower will look like it's been built on a rubbish heap. So I used my nous to come up with a way to make the grounds around my tower look more attractive that will also deal with the death cacti. Here it is: the cactus death maze.
Unlike its ambulant, explosive cousin, the stationary cactus is your friend. Anything that touches a regular cactus takes damage, and this can work in your favor. As I said, at night, the monsters try to cluster around you; the undead will come straight at you, while the fiendish exploding death cactus actually tries to ambush you by hiding behind a corner or an obstacle. But in either case, they're aiming to get as close as possible. And when the only way to get closer is to go through a cactus death maze, it doesn't end well for the monsters.
Putting together a cactus plantation is amazingly easy, too: the cactus grows incredibly quickly, and as long as you take care not to get hurt while handling it, you'll have a protective cactus screen set up in no time. Fight cactus with cactus, I say.
In the screenshot above, you can see what the north side of the tower looked like before I started the cactus death maze. You can also see that the spire of the tower is getting pretty tall; in fact, it's finished! Here's a view from further away:
There's a maximum height you can place blocks up to, and my tower has now reached it. That means that once I finish tidying up around it and planting my cactus death maze, the tower is finished! When I was rebuilding the first parts of the tower after cactus attacks, I didn't think I'd ever finish, but there it is! I'm actually quite happy.
Next up on Minecraft: new adventures! The tower is done: what's next?
Last time, I closed with a picture of a sunrise through my window; here's a similar sunrise, seen from above the clouds. Have I mentioned that this game is awesome?