Finding high quality water, clay, and soil
Quality is an ever-present challenge for denizens of the Hearthlands. All hermitages, villages, and kingdoms strive to increase the quality of their goods. The maximum quality of finished goods is limited by the scarce supply of high quality water, soil, and clay. In the early weeks of new worlds, the most ambitious players rush to raise their Survival and Masonry in order to scour the map for highest quality 'Nodes'.
Don't worry if you're late to the party and haven't found any resource nodes worth mentioning, because there are methods of artificially raising water, clay, and soil quality.
- Use a Compost Bin to make the highest quality soil
- Create Bone Clay to make the highest quality clay
- Use the Hearth Magic Well Song to make the highest quality water
Water Quality is hardcapped by Survival
Discovering high-quality water nodes is both simple and extremely tedious. There are three strategies:
Take a container (such as a Bucket, Kuksa, or Waterskin) and sample the quality of the water in a nearby river. If the quality of the water is 10, then there is no source nearby and you must travel farther and sample again (keep in mind that water quality is hard-capped by Survival). If the quality is above 10, then a water node is nearby. At that point, one must sample the water in many locations until you find the point of peak quality - the center of the node.
Build a Well and test the quality. If the quality is unsatisfactory, you can purchase Hearth Magic and spend 20000 EXP (doubling every additional use) to cast 'Dig Deeper' and raise the quality of the well water. This is largely considered a non-viable strategy, considering the steep EXP cost and the very small quality-increase it confers(+5 Q). This method is only useful if you are fortunate enough to own a very high-quality well where a small marginal increase in quality offers a trading advantage.
Boat up a river until you find a mountain, and then search for the headwaters. The headwaters are a type of localized resource that offers spring water, a special good that offers benefits for tree-farming and, naturally, works like normal water. The quality of spring water tends to be much higher than normal, at least above Q30.
Soil Quality is hardcapped by Survival
Raising the quality of soil was made very simple after the addition of the Compost Bin in the "Market Garden" update. Simply take your highest quality crops (likely carrots or beets) and then place them in the bin. After some time, the bin will fill with Mulch, whose quality is the based on your crop quality soft-capped by the bin's quality.
High-quality soil can also be found in nodes, much like water. However, the Compost Bin makes nodes effectively obsolete, as it's incredibly rare to find Q100+ soil nodes, while many villages can manage to raise their crop quality past 100 in the span of a couple months.
Clay Quality is hardcapped by Masonry
The best way to obtain high-quality clay is to develop your combat stats and kill an animal which drops high-quality bones (such as a Bear, Mammoth, or Troll) and then craft Bone Clay using the bones and either Pit Clay or Cave Clay.
It may be useful to settle somewhere near a clay pit, in order to constantly have a sizable supply of Pit Clay on-hand.