Block of the Week: Cobblestone
Paving the way!
What did you make your very first Minecraft house in your very first Minecraft world out of? I’ll bet you a stack of diamonds that it was either dirt or our block of the week – cobblestone.
Cobblestone, as you’ll know if you’ve played Minecraft for more than about ten seconds, is what you get when you break stone. As a result, it’s one of the substances in the game that will fill up your storage chests faster than a diamond pick chews through sugarcane. The glut of cobblestone you obtain in the course of normal play, combined with its blast resistance, is why it’s usually the favoured building material of anyone who builds for function rather than aesthetics.
Fun fact: cobblestone was actually one of the very first two blocks in Minecraft, alongside grass. In actuality, it existed before Minecraft did because it was created for RubyDung – a building game that Notch created before he started working on “Cave Game”, which became Minecraft.
The first version of Cave Game had cobblestone blocks, grass blocks, a player, and pretty much nothing else. You couldn’t even place or destroy blocks. “It will have more resource management and materials, if I ever get around to finishing it,” Notch wrote in the description of a YouTube video that showed it in action.
Cobblestone quickly became one of the growing game’s most recognisable elements – it was used in game’s first logo, and when crafting was added in January 2010 cobblestone was one of the key ingredients for most of the game’s tools and weapons. Over time, more and more recipes were added that use cobblestone, from brewing stands to observers. Today there are nineteen different things you can make with cobblestone – can you name them all? (Stop getting our readers to do your job for you, Duncan, you lazy oaf - Tom)
Cobblestone, like most of Minecraft’s blocks, exists in the real world too – though it’s not as common there. You’ll most often find it on old parts of towns and cities, where for centuries it was used to make roads. Cobblestones have a lot of advantages over other road materials – they don’t get dusty in dry weather, or muddy in wet weather. They don’t allow ruts to form. They offer good traction, and make a lot of noise when wheels and horses pass over them. That last one might not sound like an advantage, but in the fogs of Victorian London the clatter of cobblestones helped many a pedestrian avoid getting run over an oncoming carriage. As a Brit myself, without cobblestone, one of my ancestors could’ve been carriage-whacked and I would never have been born. Which (more importantly) means there would have been no Block of the Week. Blimey! Thanks, cobblestone!
Normally cobblestones are set in sand or mortar by humans, but it’s possible for them to form naturally too – in which case they’re usually called “conglomerate”. Conglomerate forms when a collection of rocks settle in one place, but are then surrounded by sand, silt, clay or other finer materials, which harden over time into rock of their own.
Wannabe martian travellers will be pleased to hear that we’ve even found conglomerate on Mars, in what researchers believe is an ancient streambed. So when we eventually, inevitably ruin the Earth, don’t panic – you’ll be able to put all those cobblestone building skills you’ve been developing in Minecraft to use on the Red Planet instead. Good luck!