This is my list of what I consider "must have" mods for Stardew Valley with links and descriptions. Obviously, you will need to install SMAPI in order to make use of these (You may need an older version than the latest to run some of these. I was using 1.11-1.12 at the time of installing). Most will also require Entoarox Framework, CustomEventHandler, and Advanced Location Loader. If you want to safely use map mods (or anything with an .xnb file in it), you will need XNB Loader. Pay attention to installation instructions and requirements for mods except for XNB files, use XNB's folders for those instead of overwriting your existing files. The mods below are not in any particular order. They are all my "do not play without" mods. ModDrop may be a simpler solution but last I checked it was still buggy. I prefer manual installation still.
This mod adds the ability for chests to push and pull product to and from any standard machine in-game. Like if you put a chest full of vegetables adjacent to a bunch of pickling barrels, it will put those veggies into the barrels and when they're done it will pull them out and store them.
2. Replanter + Animal Sitter
This can be configured to hire a worker to water, harvest, purchase seeds, and replant crops at the push of a button. Includes configuration for price of services and smart checking for end of season (It won't plant things that can't grow fully by the end of the season). You can configure specific chests for the workers to deposit harvested items into by ID or global. Harvest right to your picklers' Automate chest or to your own inventory to sell based on item type. This will also do crab traps. Animal Sitter does the same thing with the same configuration options but for all farm animals. Pet, Feed, Harvest with a button click for a fee.
3. Basic Sprinkler Improved
If you decide not to use Replanter to water, then I highly recommend some type of sprinkler revamp. This one in particular doesn't change how many tiles a sprinkler covers, just which ones it covers.. making it easier to lay them out.
4. Ui Info Suite
This mod updates the basic user interface with many options and improvements. Includes NPC Location tracker and tooltip guides for quest items and such. Essential update.
5. Rush Orders
Adds the ability to purchase rush completion on buildings, tools, etc for a hefty fee. Once you start amassing wealth, this is an efficient way to dump it while giving you a significant benefit.
6. Teh's Fishing Overhaul
Greatly improves fishing. Be sure to check this and the next mod for specifics on combining them.
7. Geode and Treasure Overhaul
Improves the way Geodes and Chests are filled and spaces them out more logically. There are directions for combining with above mod.
8. Easy Fishing
Adjustable Fishing difficulty for those of us that don't like twitch fishing.
9. Dynamic Checklist
Keeps a record of everything that needs done on your farm every day automatically. Very handy for getting things done quickly and efficiently.
This one causes some serious spam in your SMAPI log, so don't be alarmed by that. But, it basically just automates all gates so that they open and shut automatically. One less thing to fiddle with on your farm.
Automatically opens and closes doors to your barns at specific times of day and during rain. Solves a lot of hassle.
12. Plant on Grass
Fixes all those annoying spots on maps where you have a pixel of grass preventing planting.. and then some.
13. Better Grass Visibility
Replaces tall grass textures with shorter grass to make it easier to see stuff in feed grass. Like truffles, chickens, etc. No more hunt and click.
14. Scythe Harvesting
For those times when you want to built XP, harvest something specific, or those that don't want to use replanting to harvest. This turns your mostly useless scythe into a harvester that gives experience and can be toggled on or off. Fully configurable. A good trick here is set up Replanter to harvest everything except the vine plants that don't need reseeded (Grapes, Strawberries, Hops, etc) and then Scythe those down for Farming XP. Best of both worlds.
15. Chests Anywhere
Not only does this let you access your chests anywhere.. like advertised. But, it also allows you to organize them into categories by location and name. It's a bit cheaty if you use it in the dungeon.. but on the farm it is a life saver once you start getting around 15-30 chests. Allows you to stack them together instead of requiring walking space and time to each.
16. Community Center Bundles Overhaul
This completely reworks the community center bundles requiring much more involvement and decisions while farming and harvesting. This gives incentive to play into multiple seasons and years to unlock everything. Very highly recommended to offset the improvement mods.
17. Junimo Farm
Gives you craftable Junimos that can be placed on crafted tracks and will automatically path along that track, pulling items from chests placed left or right and depositing into chests placed top or bottom. This allows you to create intricate trolley systems around your farm to get these guys to gather your sap trees, fish, or whatever else you might want. They can also gather all the items inside barns if you want a bit more automation by creating one then dropping a chest next to it which will link that chest to the Junimo.. then you can put the chest anywhere you like afterwards and it will gather into it. Highly experimental but great for sap trees. Haven't tried the other things but.. an entire grove of sap can be done with 3-5 Junimos by the time you finish the day out.
18. * Narrative Overhaul
Multiple mods. Improves all of the chat dialogue for all of these characters at all heart levels.. providing a much better chat experience.
Adds the ability to include new Television stations. Used for the next couple mods.
Adds a channel that will throw out random news events for a bit of flavor. There was another channel but I can't find it anymore...
21. Extended BusSystem
Improves the bus system to remove annoyances.
22. Cooking Skill + Luck Skill
Adds two new skills to the game that give a bit more depth.
23. Buy cooking recipes
Randomly sets up weekly lists of recipes you can buy. Pretty early development.. so it uses console commands to purchase unfortunately.
24. Expanded Fridge
Gives enough space to your fridge to store nearly every ingredient you should need to finish the full creation list. Cuts down on menu clicking even more than Chests Anywhere.
25. Expanded Crevices
Adds a couple new areas around the Science building and direct desert access. All with unlockable fees of course.
26. Stardew Valley Expansion
Expands the game to add a lot of new areas. Check with the other mods to make sure there's no conflicts or pick and choose combinations.
27. Monteso's Farm and Farm Cave Expansion
I do not recommend the Farm part of this mod but Farm Cave from it is amazing. It adds a huge area to the back of your cave including teleportation rings for quick travel around the world map. Saves a lot of time.
28. Save Anywhere
At least for me this is an essential mod. Allows you to save at any time.. like when your child wrecks his diaper in the middle of you trying to make it to a time locked merchant.
29. What FarmCave
Makes Demetrius come back each year to ask what type of Farm Cave you want. Allows you to swap if you've finished everything you want done with the current cave type.
30. Casks Anywhere
Allows you to move your Casks out of the cellar if you prefer or just extend your casking efforts out into the wild.
31. Ali's Foraging Map
Depending on how installation goes for you, this may cause your efforts to save each night. If you wake up and your farm is reset, it's probably this mod. But, if you can get it to work, it's an amazing addition to the Forest (Foraging) Farm layout. Must start a new game to use it... though that's true for most of these mods..so whatever.
32. MoreWeapons Mod
Adds new weapons to the Adventurer Shop. Gives some more variety combined with the Chest overhaul.
33. Bregs Monsters
Difficulty overhaul for monsters in the dungeon.
34. Skull Cavern Elevator
Adds an elevator to the Skull Cavern (duh). Alleviates another annoyance. Configurable floor spacing.
35. Bregs Crafting
Slightly modified resource requirements for crafting. Making things a bit more difficult to offset all the ease of use mods.
36. Experience Bars
Toggle-able experience window showing progress of all skills. Good for quick review to see if you should do a few more whacks at a tree to ding your mountain man skills before sleeping.
37. Better Ranching
Adds a redundant icon over head of things that need done to farm animals..but more importantly.. it prevents failed attempts at milking/shearing making your life that much more less hair pulling.
38. Simple Crop Label
I had times where the UI mod above failed and this succeeded in showing me wtf tree I planted a week ago or what that thing is I can't walk over to.. simply adds a popup when you hold right-click over a crop that shows the name of it.
39. Extended Minecart
Adds more Minecart destinations after you unlock it. I see it finally added a section to modify for custom farms so I can officially recommend it. Makes travel easier.
40. Part of the Community
Gives lots of tweaks and bonuses to NPC friendship making things more manageable.
Freezes time from passing while indoors making watching TV or hanging out far less stressful. Configurable for when, where, and how much.
That is pretty much all of the mods in my current mod list. I have a few more like Building textures and a mod to select individual textures per building. But, that stuff is all cosmetic.
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