One of the really neat systems in Stardew Valley are the specialized boosts that come at levels 5 and 10 when leveling up each type of skill. There are six total options for professions. There are two at level five, and depending on which ones you take then, you get a different 2 for each choice at level 10.
Blacksmith and prospector are the two professions a player must chose from after achieving the Level 10 mining skill in Stardew Valley. Blacksmith allows the player to sell metal bars at 50% more while prospectors’ chances of finding coal is doubled?
Which one is better? There are arguments that can be made for both, and some of it may depend on playstyle and how long you tend to play on certain files before firing up a new game, but I’ll go over the pros and cons of each, and then explain why I was wrong to always choose Blacksmith.
So You Chose Miner Over Geologist
The only way we’re even discussing the Stardew Valley prospector Vs blacksmith question is if you took the Miner profession at Level 5, which gives +1 ore every time you mine an ore node. This adds up in tremendous ways and makes it easy to mass produced metal bars of copper, iron, gold, and eventually iridium.
This is the way I usually go as gems aren’t that valuable in general, especially compared to mass ore production or other activities that can be done for gold.
Assuming you went the same direction (and the main reason to go Geologist is to grab extra gifts for friendship or hope for that ultra rare double prismatic shard) then at Level 10 after enjoying the Miner perks of extra ore you’re up with another choice: Blacksmith vs Prospector.
Let’s take a look at what Prospector brings to the table and what Blacksmith brings to the table to see which Stardew Valley mining profession is going to be best for you.
The Case for the Prospector Profession
Coal is life when it comes to mining and smelting, and it is the one material from the mines that it is extremely easy to run out of. This is needed for all smelting and since there aren’t coal veins, once you empty out a few mining carts in early game you need to mine a lot for random coal drops, farm Dust Sprites in the frozen levels of the mine, or spend a lot of time in Skull Cavern where you tend to get a lot more coal.
Then there’s also the fact that coal is not just needed for all smelting of bars but is also a key ingredient for crafting:
- Bee House
- Preserves Jar
- Cherry Bomb
- Braziers of all types
- Seed Makers
- Slime Egg Press
- Wicked Statue
That’s a large list, and there are more less conventional crafting recipes not included in that list, and if you’re going to spend a lot of time in Skull Cavern, you’re going to need those bombs.
Having extra coal is a necessity, especially if you plan to mass produce metal bars, which are important ingredients for crafting and construction. Coal is available to purchase from Clint when you really need it, but coal costs 150g per piece in year one, and 250g per piece every year after that, which means buying 200, 300, or more pieces of coal at one time can really cost a pretty penny.
While it’s not impossible to do, it’s hard to make that up with excess metal bar sales until the extreme late game, at which point you need to buy even more coal to keep crafting more of those.
The Case for the Blacksmith Profession
In the late game you will have more ore than you ever need to smelt, all your Stardew Valley tools upgraded (or mostly upgraded), and often plenty of extra metal bars sitting there.
I don’t like having endless ore just sitting there, so my OCD habits mean it all has to be smelted and if I have no use for those bars, why not sell them for 50% more? Now as the graph below shows of all metal bar selling prices in Stardew Valley, this doesn’t get very profitable until you hit iridium, and it’s not a net gain on buying coal unless you’re selling gold bars or above.
|Base Sales Price
|Blacksmith Sales Price
But there is a case to be made that serious money can be made from selling excess gold, iridium, and radioactive bars, especially if you have received a lot of gold and other materials from having spent plenty of time in the Mines and Skull Cavern.
In the extreme late game a gold bar is worth 1 piece of coal plus some extra gold, an iridium bar is worth 6 pieces of coal, and a radioactive bar 18 pieces of coal.
This can result in some decent profits, especially if you mass bought coal at a cheaper price at the end of year 1 before the price hike, or have endless wood to put into charcoal makers, but keep in mind that some of these metal bars you still need for late game crafting because…
Gold Bars Needed to Craft:
- Quality Sprinklers
- Iridium Sprinklers
- Worm Bins
- Seed Makers
- Barbed Hooks
- Thorns Ring
- Solar Panels
- Mini Obelisks
Iridium Bars Needed to Craft:
- Iridium Sprinklers
- Iridium Band (Ring)
- Slime Incubator
- Deluxe Fertilizer
- Slime Nutch
- Desert Obelisk
- Earth Obelisk
- Water Obelisk
- Island Obelisk
- Wedding Ring (Multiplayer)
Radioactive Bars Needed to Craft:
- Heavy Tapper
- Galaxy Souls (via Island Trader)
This means selling excess metal bars isn’t a consistent fine idea until you’re well past the point of needing to craft, which almost certainly means money has long since stopped being an issue.
So What’s The Verdict?
The funny thing is for years I just went with Blacksmith because there comes a point where you have tons of extra ore and tons of extra bricks, so why not get more money for selling the bars? Why not keep the money train coming? But while I almost always want the sure thing, by that point in the game if you have to buy a couple hundred coal to keep the furnaces running…you’re actually not really making that much money in most cases.
And by that point in the game mining is not your money maker, the fields with hundreds of spaces covered by sprinklers to create crops that get thrown into kegs for wine are.
My first instincts may have been wrong, and the more I look at it, the more that Prospector does appear to be the much better choice as coal remains a harder to find and necessary ingredient in all phases of the game including the extreme late game.
The Prospector is indeed the right upgrade to take for the majority of players who go this mining route. That extra coal is always useful right up to the end, and being able to double up, especially when coal farming, is a great improvement and although Blacksmith isn’t bad, I’ve used it successfully in many, many games, the Prospector perk makes a lot more sense especially when doing the actual math behind the breakdown.
Other Stardew Valley Articles You May Enjoy
- Stardew Valley Eels
- How Stardew Valley Saves
- Stardew Valley Explosion in the Night
- Stardew Valley Bridge Repair Guide
- Why Can’t I Use Bait in Stardew Valley?
- Stardew Valley How To Get Auto-Petter No Joja
Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.