Once again, my friends and I dusted off our bushy beards and strode back into viking survival game Valheim. It’s become our Friday night tradition, where we get together every week for a jaunt in the woods. In our last session we developed a symbiotic relationship with the local bee populace, and ensured, above all else, that they were happy.
This week, we clutched some newly found carrot seeds and punched the earth in a desperate bid to grow orange sticks of the highest quality; the most delectable, succulent vegetables that we’d be proud to serve at Odin’s dinner table. Turns out this is not how vikings grow carrots. Instead, we’d need to get hold of something more powerful than we could ever have imagined.
Now, in real life, I don’t think I’ve ever laid eyes on a carrot seed, let alone planted one. But what I can tell you, is that I’d imagine the act of placing it in soil and letting it flourish is actually quite simple (carrot farmers dont @ me).
Here’s what my process would look like: 1) I take the carrot seed in my hand; 2) I find a patch of earth, preferably a semi-moist one that isn’t on a hard shoulder; 3) I stoop down and use a trowel, or a shovel, or my fingers to “get amongst it”, as TV chef Jamie Oliver (who robbed us of the turkey twizzler RIP) would say; 4) I delicately kiss the seed with my lips and let it slide off my palm into the ground; 5) I produce salt and pepper shakers from my pockets, and sprinkle over a dash; 6) I kick my heels and scatter soil back over the seeds like a cat in a litter tray; 7) I return every few days and water them with milk so they grow up big and strong.
As a viking crew in Valheim, we’d procured carrot seeds super early into our odyssey, and it wasn’t long before they’d been chucked into a rickety chest and left to dry. The reason being: we simply couldn’t fathom how to plant them. We had flattened the land with our hoes. We had, as previously stated, punched the earth with our fists (I mean, that had given us the gift of bees, so we thought it might give us the gift of carrots). We had gathered around and stared at the earth and frowned. Alas, even this act didn’t light the pyres in our thick norse skulls.
We had tasted defeat. And it tasted of nothing, because we hadn’t grown any carrots. Absent the option for me to reach through the screen and guide Kiryun Kazumor’s viking hands into the soil, with the same patience as that of a mother spoon-feeding her child, I was all out of ideas.
So we turned to the norse gods. The all-seeing one, Google, who told us we needed some form of “Cultivator” tool. And making it would require metal, a substance we’d only just encountered. There we were, in our chic leather garb with proud grins on our faces having just graduated from ragged tunics, being told that planting carrot seeds would require meticulous trips to mine ore, and a smelter to refine it, but before that we needed a kiln for charcoal, and… piss sake.
“We had tasted defeat. And it tasted of nothing, because we hadn’t grown any carrots.”
We still haven’t planted our carrot seeds. But once we do, we’ll have an advanced civilisation. You know, most civilisations measure ‘advancement’ based on things like magnificent pieces of art, or discovering a new wonder-material, or making spinach that can send emails. But in Valheim, Sigmund, Ragnar the Red, Kiryun Kazumor, and Dunder Mifflin will know they have progressed their civilisation when we have cultivated the shit out of carrots. We will pluck them triumphantly from the earth and raise them to the sky and use them to etch runes in the annals of history.
And now we know that carrots in Valheim require such serious work, we have begun to question everything. What other seemingly innocuous acts hold immeasurable importance? This has led us to sneak up on boars in a concerted effort to tame them. A big stone with red letters once told us we could make friends with these creatures. It mentioned feeding them stuff would be a good idea, but this, like the carrots is beyond us. We have tried mushrooms, raspberries, blueberries, and yellow mushrooms. The boars only snort with contempt at our offerings.
Once I thought, “Aha, we have thistles! And I swear boars love a thistle”, so I went and used one on a boar in an effort to push humankind forwards, but Valheim responded, “you cannot use a thistle on boar” in big yellow letters. Cool, got it. I wonder what we have to build next? I bet Google will tell us to craft a “Truffle Shuttle” out of bloody plutonium if we want any chance of forming a relationship with a pig. If it turns out we need to feed them carrots, that will really be too much.