Mining in Animal Crossing: New Horizons — particularly when you need those all-important Iron Nuggets early on — is a lot more complicated than it seems. Whereas wood, sticks, and fruit basically fall into your lap, rocks and other minerals require foresight and preparation. And the game doesn’t really explain any of that to you! That’s why we’re here to help with a guide to finding and mining Iron Nuggets in Animal Crossing.
To begin, it’s worth noting that you don’t need a pickax or other specialty equipment to harvest from rocks in ACNH. You use the same tool that serves to chop down wood: the axe. Plus the basics are pretty much the same as when you attack trees. Just approach a rock and hit the A button!
That’s when you’ll notice something strange, though. The impact of striking a rock in Animal Crossing pushes your character back a pace or two. No big deal, right? You just need to step forward and hit it again! Using this method, you should get exactly three chops from the rock before it becomes depleted and needs to “recharge” over time.
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At least that’s the way it seems. The truth is a bit more complicated. You see, when you strike a rock in New Horizons, you’re actually starting a timer. There’s a brief window where you can hit the rock and continue to produce more minerals — like Iron Nuggets, Clay, and even Gold. During this window, you can continue to strike the rock over and over again for more drops. But the impact that pushes you backwards keeps you from getting more than three in quick succession.
The solution is pretty simple (if not at all obvious). You need to trap your villager. This works with any object, but the easiest method is to usually dig at least two holes near the rock. You want one behind yourself — putting your character between the rock and the hole — and one to your side. This creates an immovable “corner” that the force of your mining can’t push you out of. If you angle your villager so their back is in the corner created by the two holes, and their front faces the rock, you won’t get knocked back.
You can technically do this with just one hole behind yourself. It’s just less reliable. You can also completely box yourself in with even more holes and objects, but we don’t advise that, either. There’s actually another quirk to Animal Crossing: New Horizons mining that makes you want to leave as much space as possible. The ore the spots produce takes up physical space.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons Iron Nuggets Guide
Specifically, your loot will drop on the ground into any open spot directly next to the rock (including the one you’re standing on). That means you can easily get six chops from any stone: one for each open spot next to it, minus the two you block with holes or items. With a little practice, and one fewer hole, you can get as many as seven in one go!
Unfortunately, it can still be a huge pain to farm the 30(!) Iron Nuggets necessary to complete the first in-game store. Most islands are rotten with trees, but sport only a handful of accessible rocks to mine. You’ll need to reach out to friends and their islands to get more. Alternatively, you can spend 2000 Nook Miles on a plane ticket to reach a randomly selected in-game island! These typically have another handful of boulders to smash.
Last but certainly not least: make sure you don’t overdo it. Eating fruit will supercharge your axe swing. If you hit a boulder in this state, it will instantly destroy the object, netting you just two random rocks. That’s a far cry from what you want! Higher-end tools can also destroy objects on any island. It’s only temporary. However, you don’t want to wait an extra day just to get an Iron Nugget or three.
Speaking of Iron Nuggets, these items in particular can be obtained from your starting villagers. Once you begin the process of building the store, talk to your residents. They’ll often supply you with a few of the necessary components to speed up the process. They won’t do all the work for you, but it goes a long way!
And that’s that for farming Iron Nuggets — and mining in general — in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Good luck getting started with Nook’s Cranny and all the other goodies waiting for you out there.