So in recent months I've been browsing the various Minecraft forums, in particular the Feed the Beast (FTB) sections. One of the most garnered questions that seems to come up at least once a week, is from new people who opened their FTB experience only to be overwhelmed at the amount of options available to them. I have responded to many a post on this subject and thought I should collect all of that information into a comprehensive guide to your first day, first week, first month in the modded Minecraft sphere, particularly in regards to FTB as that is where many of these questions originate from. I'm going to focus on the FTB Ultimate mod pack as that seems to be the most popular at the moment and it's basic selection of mods are available in most other packs. So without further ado, lets jump in.
The first thing you want to do in modded Minecraft on day one, before the sun has set, is the same thing you want to do in any Minecraft adventure: punch a tree. Yes even with all the extra's mod authors have provided the opening visage in modded Minecraft is still punching trees.
When you spawned in you should have had a book titled "Materials and You" from Tinkers Constructs (TiC). The first thing you want to craft in this new world are the Stencil Table, Part Builder, Tool Station, and Pattern Chest. Be sure when you place these that the Pattern Chest is adjacent to the Part Builder. The two blocks will integrate allowing you access to the storage area of the cheat while in the builder GUI, so you don't have to hop back and forth between the 2 in order to create different parts. You will then want to make a large batch of Blank Patters, I usually start off with 20 or so, and just put them all in the Stencil Table. Now pull out the stencils for the pick head, tool binding, and tool rod. Now open the Part Builder and put in a stencil. When it is in the builder UI it will give you a material cost in the tool tip when moused over. This is how many of a particular material you will need in order to make the part. Go ahead and make the parts for the 3 patters. When finished move the stencils to the open inventory slots that will be available if you placed your Pattern Chest next to the builder. Now take your parts to the Tool Station and select to create a pick axe. Insert the items into the designated slots and remove your first TiC tool.
Now using this tool find a place dig up some cobble stone. You're going to want at least a half a stack to start. Once you have to cobble head back to TiC stations and repeat the process with the cobble this time. Now you can put away your wooden pick as you'll likely never use it again. Using this new cobble pick you'll want to find yourself at least 36 iron. You can get away with only 18, if you can get ahold of some Applied Energistics Quartz Dust and make yourself a Grinder. Once you have 36 ingots you'll want to turn those into 4 blocks. Now you're going to need to find yourself at least 12 gravel, sand, and clay. Combine these in a crafting grid to get Grout. Cook the grout in a furnace to get one Seared Brick per grout, combine the bricks 4 at a time in a crafting grid to create Seared Brick blocks. Now you will want to craft another Tool Station and upgrade that to the Tool Forge.
Now you have to item necessary to get some serious tools. Over at the Stencil Table pull our the stencils for the Hammer, Excavator, Broad Axe Head, Plate, Tough Tool Rod, Tough Binding, Axe, Shovel, and Scythe. Take these over to the Part Builder and make stone versions of each of the following: 1 Hammer, 1 Excavator, 1 Broad Axe head, 4 Plates, 5 Tough rods, 1 regular tool rod, 1 Axe head, 1 Shovel head, 1 Scythe head. Take all these over to the Tool Forge and create 1 hammer, 1 excavator, 1 lumber axe, 1 scythe, and 1 mattock. You now have some awesome resource gathering tools that will never disappear, and are easy to repair, in that they only require cobble to repair and cost no xp.
The next step is to find a suitable place for a mine entrance. You will want to make the entrance a single step decline 5 tall and at least 3 wide. With your new Hammer and Excavator this should be a quick process. Make sure to stop and Y40 and Y12 to make mining area's. Once you're down to level 12, throw down a Tool station at each level, this is where you will repair your these tools (go ahead and throw a stack of cobble in each if you have it, saves time later). With whatever cobble you have left make as many stairs as you can. A lot of people ignore this step and then find themselves dying of hunger ever other Minecraft day, because they're having to jump all the way up 50-60 blocks to get back to the surface. Putting stairs all the way down will more than double the length of time your hunger lasts, while you're manually mining. Stair your way back up, stopping at the Y40 level to restock if needed. Once you're back up top, cook up what ores you've found, you'll want at least 3 iron for the next step.
Now you have a mine and tools, next thing to take care of is wood, food, and a bed. For the wood, that is why we made the lumber axe. Simple take that and the scythe out into a forest and go to town. Use the Scythe clear away leaves and gain sapplings, use the lumber axe to well... cut down lumber. When you have enough make three 9x9 farms back near your base. At this time it's probably advisable to surround your base with a cobble wall topped with a wooden fence. The reason for the double stack is that large blue slimes will jump right over. Using the Mattock made earlier dig out a block and fill it with water from a bucket. Count four blocks out each direction from your water hole and place a fence/cobble wall on the 5th block. Connect each side and use the mattock to till it all. Put wheat in one, barley in another, and Cotton in the last one. If you want to speed things up a bit to fill the farm, you can scythe tall grass for more seeds or create a Watering Can from ExtraUtils (right click on some water to fill it, then left click on crops and watch them grow, much slower than bone meal, but lasts for pretty much ever). You will also want to setup some kind of cactus farm. There are several vanilla versions utilizing floating blocks and water streams that are very efficient. Next you will want some kind of Sugar cane/Reed farm for sugar, paper and books. I tend to make these enormous. If you google 'Minecraft reed farm' you will find several versions of the 'most efficient' method of putting water spots and planting reeds, try to cover all the water spots with lily pads and make it as big as you have time to. You're likely going to need A LOT of paper. Now you have a mine and food.
Now it's time to go to the Nether. What we're looking for here is Blaze and their rods, preferably a spawner. It is advisable to create a Netherrack Hammer and Excavator for this journey. As cobble stone is nearly non-existent in the Nether and you're going to chew through stone tools like they're nothing. If you're averse to using Dartcraft, then you'll want to setup a basic enclosure around the spawner so you can still farm the blaze manually. If Dartcraft is okay by you, then you'll want to use some Force Crystals, Iron and wood to create a Force Wrench. When you find a Blaze spawner, right click it with the force wrench to remove it. You will later want about 5 or 6 of these, but for now one will do. Take the spawner back to the overworld and setup a 10x10 box with water along the bottom flowing to a particular side, and put the spawner in the middle, 2 blocks down from the top. You'll want to make this room as dark as possible to increase spawning. Either way you choose you should now have access to blaze rods when you need them, so we can now get into using Ender chests/tanks.
Now we need to move into storage. The easiest method of storing large numbers of items in the early game are with Barrels from Factorization, and Insertion pipes from Buildcraft. Simple create a room with enough barrels to hold all your precious stuffs. On top of each barrel put an Insertion Pipe, connect that network of pipes to an EnderChest with a wood pipe and redstone engine. Put 3 other matching Ender chests at the bottom layer of your mine, one at the mid layer, and one out at the farms. You should now never have to worry about getting caught out traveling with all your stuffs and risk losing it all after a gathering trip.
At this point you are really well past the starting stages of the game, and should be looking towards creation automated systems to manage many of the resource collection aspects. This is generally the most intimidating part of modded Minecraft; 1 - Because you must also create a power infrastructure to back all your new creations, and 2 - Because you must also have some sort of renewable fuel for your power infrastructure. The easiest option at this point is Tinkers Smeltery. You will need gravel, sand, clay and lava for this to work. First you'll want to mix your gravel, sand and clay in crafting grid to get Grout. Then you'll want to cook your grout to get a seared brick. You also going to need a substantial amount of glass for this, which is going to require even more sand. All of this should be made relatively easy by using the Excavator we created in the beginning. The smeltery is a 4 sided multi-block structure, on one side you're going to want 3 basins installed, while on the other you'll want at least one Part Table. Under each of the basins put hoppers pointing to a chest near the easiest access point on the smeltery. Something to note, is that the number of ores you're allowed to smelt at a time is limited by how high you build your smeltery, which each level adding 9 more slots. Before you have a pump and all the infrastructure setup to keep it full, the easiest way for lava is to just create 20-30 buckets and just fill them up with any lava you find at the bottom of your mine. you'll find it lasts longer than you think and one regular small chest full of lava buckets can easily last many stacks of ore. The first thing you're going to need with the smeltery is casts. These are made either from an aluminum copper alloy or gold. In the beginning it's much easier to just use gold. Just cook up a bunch of gold ore, and pour it out into blocks (casting basins) until there is less that 9 ingots left. Break one of the blocks into Ingots and place one ingot in the Casting Table. Now pour out onto the Casting table for an Ingot cast. You will need these later when you need to empty the Smeltery but there is less that 9 ingots inside (you need 9 to make a block).
Now that you have your smeltery and know how to make casts, you will want to make casts for all the other TiC tool parts we created earlier. You do that the same way you made the ingot cast, just with the part instead of an ingot. Now you're ready for the real meat of TiC. The easiest things to start off with, are simply iron versions of the tools we've already made. You don't really need iron for each of them, but for things like the hammer, pick and axe, basically anything that you find yourself using a lot, it will make things go much faster. But once you understand the basic tool crafting you can explore further into the alloys and nether ores available for tools.
CONGRATULATION!! You now have all the tools and blocks necessary to get started with machines and power solutions and automation. With the tools and automated storage we've setup you should be more than swimming in materials to build things with. The only problem now is deciding what you want to do with all the barrels full of stuff you've collected up to this point. Next time: Getting Started with POWER!!