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Tutorials/Defeating the ender dragon

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The ender dragon is one of the two bosses in Minecraft, the other being the wither. It lives in the End, and is usually considered the final boss of the game, despite it being added first‌[JE & LCE only] and the wither's advancements unlocking after defeating it.

The dragon is a highly anticipated fight as its downfall grants the player access to the End's outer islands, via an end gateway portal. It will also activate the exit portal and allow the player to return to the Overworld.

Item loadout[edit]

Defeating the ender dragon can require a lot of preparation (doubly so for hardcore mode), and depending on one's own skill level, different preparations may be needed. The following is the most ideal collection of equipment the player might bring:

Note: All gear with durability benefits from Unbreaking.

Item roles[edit]

Sword[edit]

The sword is used to damage the dragon when she's on her perch, with a secondary use of dealing with any provoked endermen. Knockback is ineffective against the dragon, but is helpful against the endermen. If the sword is enchanted with Fire Aspect, any endermen hit will be more difficult to deal with since they teleport upon taking damage. However, they will still get hurt for every fire tick. Looting will allow the player to get extra ender pearls from endermen if necessary.

Bow[edit]

The bow will be the player's main weapon; both for destroying the end crystals, and against the dragon while she is flying through the air. Note that if the player adds Infinity to the bow, they will not be able to add Mending, which allows it to self-repair when the player collects experience.

Crossbow[edit]

If the player does not want to use a bow, a crossbow is a great alternative. The advantages of a crossbow is that it has a longer range and can inflict more damage than a regular bow. However, a crossbow cannot be enchanted with Infinity, so it is possible to run out of arrows while using it. On the plus side, with the Piercing enchantment the arrows fired can pass through non-mob entities, so it is possible (although difficult) to destroy multiple end crystals with a single shot.

Armor[edit]

The Ender Dragon has an attack strength of 15 (Heart.svg × 7.5) with her head on hard difficulty. It is the second strongest direct attack of any hostile mob, only topped by the vindicator. Therefore, the player should wear a full set of diamond armor enchanted with Protection IV. Since the main way of taking damage during the fight is fall damage, Feather Falling IV on the player's boots is absolutely necessary. Thorns is also recommended, because it will damage any provoked endermen when they attack the player. However, Thorns has a low enchantment weight, so be sure to add Unbreaking to the armor as well.

Pickaxe[edit]

When the player enters the End, they might spawn underground. A pickaxe will be necessary to dig up to the surface. It is also needed to break into the cages protecting some of the end crystals. If the player doesn't bring a pickaxe, it will take a long time to break both the iron bars and end stone. Silk Touch is necessary to reclaim the ender chest.

Healing items[edit]

Even if the player is very well-protected, they are likely to take a great deal of damage during the fight. Therefore, healing items are absolutely necessary. Golden apples are the most efficient healing item because they provide Absorption, which will protect the player from most damage while they are healing, so bring at least 10. Potent healing potions and extended regeneration potions are recommended, but not required. Enchanted golden apples can heal players more than regular ones, but they are extremely difficult to find, so save them only for emergencies and use regular golden apples otherwise.

The totem of undying can be used after the player explores a woodland mansion or stops a raid. However these are not easy to accomplish. If you manage to get some, they can be used in emergencies and will prevent the player from dying. To use it, simply place it in the off-hand, and ignore that it is there while fighting. When the player takes fatal damage, the totem will explode and cause an animation of fireworks, which will "resurrect" the player and provide them Regeneration and temporary Absorption.

Food[edit]

There should never be a time when the player does not have food with them. Cooked porkchop and steak are some of the most nutritious foods possible, so bring at least a stack of either of these. The player can also bring cake in case of the event that they need to eat very quickly. The player can instantly place a cake down and start eating without any delay. However, cake has a low saturation and hunger-filling value so you're better off bringing splash healing potions if you're in a tight spot.

Golden apples and enchanted apples can also restore food points, but they are much better used as a healing item.

Potions[edit]

Potions are extremely useful in the fight to enhance the player’s performance. Because of the dragon’s knockback ability, fall damage, and the potential for being thrown off cliffs, extended slow falling potions are almost necessary. Strength potions, leaping potions, and swiftness potions can also be used to boost the player's abilities during the fight. Potions of the Turtle Master can also be used to reduce damage from end crystals, angry endermen and the dragon.

Potions can also be used for emergency healing. Golden apples can serve as a healing item, as they will allow them to regenerate while being protected by Absorption. However, they are only effective when the player takes a reasonable amount of damage. In the case of emergencies, such as the health being reduced to 4 (Heart.svgHeart.svg), healing potions are recommended because they will heal the player instantly. It is recommended to turn them into splash potions, because they can be used faster than normal potions and will heal them as quick as the player can throw them.

Regeneration potions can help the player regenerate faster than golden apples are able to, but they should only be used if the player takes damage over time as The dragon can inflict damage instantly.

Blocks[edit]

Blocks can be useful for climbing up the towers. Harder blocks, such as cobblestone, are better than softer blocks. It is recommended to use blocks to climb the taller towers and just shoot the end crystals on the short ones from the ground. Also, the player will need blocks to build to the top of the towers that have cages around the end crystals. Alternatively, they can throw an ender pearl to get to the top.

Ender chest[edit]

An ender chest is almost necessary to have because it can store items that the player will not use during the fight. It can only be reclaimed using a Silk Touch pickaxe. All ender chests in the world, including in different dimensions, are interconnected. So even if the player dies in the End, all of the items in the ender chest will be safe. If the player makes a new ender chest, all of the items that were originally in it will still be there.

Ender pearls[edit]

Ender pearls are extremely useful to have in the End. The player can use them to get up to the tops of tall towers, or if the spawn platform is away from the island, the player can use them so that they don't have to waste their blocks. Also, if they are high up in the air or get knocked off the edge, and don't have a slow falling potion, the player can use an ender pearl to teleport to the ground, and take less damage this way.

Empty bottles[edit]

The player should bring plenty of empty bottles because they can be used to collect the dragon's breath. It can be collected from lingering purple clouds emitted when dragon fireballs slam into the ground or when the dragon breathes while perched. Since the dragon's breath inflicts magic damage, it can penetrate the player's armor, so be very careful around it.

Trident[edit]

A trident is highly recommended to have, but very difficult to obtain and not required. To obtain one the player must kill a drowned that is holding one, ideally with a Looting III sword. The trident will be damaged so you should get a second one and combine them on an anvil to fully repair it.

The trident can be used to boost the player up to the end crystals and easily destroy them. The player should enchant it with Riptide III so that they can boost themselves up to the end crystals. However, the player will need a bucket of water to do this, so the player should bring at least 3.

Water bucket[edit]

A water bucket is extremely useful to have when the player fights the dragon, and even before the fight begins. It can be used to put out lava that is encountered while looking for the end portal. In the End, if the player falls off a tower and doesn't have enough ender pearls or slow falling potions, water can be used to break their fall. Water can also help them to deal with provoked Endermen. If an enderman is pursuing the player, dump the water at their feet and the enderman will take damage and teleport away. The water will also neutralize the enderman and it will ignore the player again.

The fight[edit]

Finding the portal[edit]

All players begin the ender dragon fight with eyes of ender, because they are needed to locate and activate the end portal, which is found in a stronghold. To make one, the player will need one ender pearl and one sample of blaze powder. The player will need at least 30 eyes of ender, because 12 are needed to activate the portal, and the player will also need a few extra eyes to find the stronghold.

Stronghold[edit]

To find the stronghold, throw an eye of ender into the air, and it will float upwards in the direction of the nearest stronghold. It will then fall back to the ground, and the player can pick it up and throw it again. However, the eye has a chance of breaking when the player throws it, so bring at least 15 eyes to spare. Follow the ender eyes until they float downwards, which will indicate that the stronghold is underneath the player. If the eyes direct the player to a village, the stronghold will most likely be under the village's well.

Dig underground to find the stronghold. The player might dig into a cave or even a ravine, so it might be difficult to find. Use water to put out any lava that is in the way. Keep exploring the cave or keep digging until the player see stone bricks, which will indicate that they have found the stronghold. Once the player breaks in, they should get out the torches.

Portal room[edit]

Keep exploring the stronghold's hallways until the player finds the end portal room. Collect any chest loot that is found. As soon as the player sees the portal room, run in as quick as the player can, as an active silverfish spawner sits in the broken staircase that leads up to the portal. Kill all the silverfish in the room and destroy the spawner.

To activate the portal, simply insert an eye of ender into each portal frame. Some of the portal frames may already contain an eye. Once all of the portal frames have been filled, the portal will activate and let out a loud, dragon-like roar, "reminding" that the player is about to fight the ender dragon.

The end portal room in a stronghold, with the portal activated.

Since the trip to the End is one-way, don't even think about jumping into the portal until the hotbar contains the following:

  • Sword
  • Bow or crossbow
  • Pickaxe
  • Golden apples
  • A slow falling potion
  • Ender pearls (a full stack)
  • Food (a full stack)
  • Snow blocks or iron blocks
  • Pumpkins

Put all of the items that the player will not use in the fight, such as the loot found in the stronghold, into the ender chest. Pick up the ender chest using a Silk Touch pickaxe. Make sure the player is wearing all of the armor, but instead of the helmet, wear the carved pumpkin. Holding the ender pearls, enter the portal when ready.

Entering the End[edit]

When the player jumps into the portal, they will instantly get teleported to the End, giving them no time to escape. When they arrive in the End, they will spawn on a 5×5 obsidian platform. The platform usually generates on the surface of the island, so the player can just walk off. If it generates underground, dig up to the surface using a pickaxe. If it is away from the island, throw an ender pearl to the island to save extra blocks.

Get to the center of the island as quick as possible, and if they see the dragon diving at them, quickly jump out of its way. Drink a slow falling potion in case of getting knocked off. Before fighting, they will need to do a few things.

Terrain[edit]

Because falling into the void will kill the player and destroy their gear, the player should stay as close to the center of the island as possible, or at least inside the circle of towers. The player should also avoid any holes in the island. Due to the dragon's knockback ability, they should stay at least 30 blocks away from any edge. If they get knocked off, they should immediately throw an ender pearl back up. If they are quick enough, it is possible for them to teleport out of the void and back onto the island. Chances are better if the ender pearls are held in a slot of the hotbar that the player can instantly access, or if the player has drunk a slow falling potion.

Backups[edit]

It is highly recommended to bring backups with the player, because they will deal with the endermen while they are taking on the dragon. They may also clear the area in the middle of the island, so that the player will have more space to move around. Snow golems or iron golems make the best backup because they have stronger and more effective attacks than tamed wolves. The only difference between the two is that iron golems will actually attack the endermen, while snow golems will only chase them away. Bring enough materials to spawn at least five golems.

Until they have spawned their golems, the player should wear the carved pumpkin to avoid the endermen. The best time to spawn them is when the dragon is resting on her perch, as she will not attack the player or their golems. The player should also spawn them to the sides, in case she releases the dragon's breath.

After the reinforcements are spawned, reorganize the inventory so that the hotbar contains the following:

  • Sword
  • Bow or crossbow
  • Pickaxe
  • Golden apples
  • A slow falling potion
  • Ender pearls (a full stack)
  • Blocks (a full stack)
  • Food (a full stack)
  • Empty bottles (a full stack)

As soon as the hotbar is organized properly, quickly take off the pumpkin mask and put on the helmet. Now the player can begin the showdown with the dragon.

Destroying the end crystals[edit]

Destroying the end crystals is a key part of the battle, because they heal the dragon. With all of the crystals active, the dragon will recover faster than the player could ever hope to damage it. It is possible to defeat the dragon while some crystals remain, provided the dragon spends enough time away from them, but it is best to destroy all of them. One end crystal sits atop each obsidian pillar. There are usually eight to ten towers of different heights arranged in a circle around the empty exit portal. Crystals on the tallest towers may be difficult to see, but the healing beam they emit when the dragon is nearby will give away their location. Try to destroy a crystal while it is healing the dragon because the dragon will take 10 (Heart.svgHeart.svgHeart.svgHeart.svgHeart.svg) damage if the player does this.

The ender dragon being healed by an end crystal.

Shooting[edit]

The easiest way to destroy the crystals is to shoot them with the bow or crossbow. The player should position themselves so that they can see one at least partially, aim their shot just above the crystal from their view, and adjust their aim if needed. When destroyed the crystal will generate a massive explosion. Be aware that the player might have destroyed the crystal even if they did not see the explosion. The player can know that it has been destroyed by the explosion sound. If the bow does not have the Infinity enchantment, snowballs could be used to save on arrows. The player should always shoot the crystals on the shortest towers because they are the easiest to shoot, and if they are using a crossbow they should check how many arrows they have every now and then.

Climbing[edit]

Attempting to climb to the tops of the towers is extremely dangerous. Even if the player builds up using a dragon-proof material, such as end stone, the dragon can easily knock the player off while they are climbing. However, it is necessary to get up to the top of the caged towers somehow, because shooting them from the ground is ineffective.

It is quicker and safer to use ender pearls than the player's extra blocks because the dragon may knock them off while building up. One trick to measure the ender pearl shot is to fully charge the bow or crossbow and shoot an arrow just over the top edge of the cage. If the player throws an ender pearl at the exact same angle it will strike one block below the arrow's trajectory, teleporting the player to the side of the cage. Break into the cage with a pickaxe. If the player has strong enough armor and is affected by Absorption, hit the caged crystal with the sword. Otherwise, build a few blocks away from the crystal and shoot it with the bow or crossbow.

Once the caged crystal has been destroyed, don't go back down because some towers are taller than the caged ones. Build a few blocks above the caged tower and shoot the taller ones with the bow or crossbow. If the dragon knocks the player off, and they are not affected by Slow Falling, they should use water or an ender pearl to break their fall. Throw an ender pearl back to the top of the caged tower and try to shoot the taller ones again. The player could also throw a pearl to the tops of the tall towers and destroy the crystals with their sword. If the player is on the tallest tower, they can check how many crystals have been destroyed and how many remain. It is also a good spot to snipe the dragon.

Killing the dragon[edit]

If the player is not sure that they have destroyed all of the crystals, let the dragon fly away. If the player sees a healing beam, they will know that there is a crystal left. Once the last crystals have been destroyed the player can start to attack the dragon. The player can also swap out the extra blocks with the water bucket because they will not need the blocks anymore. There are many ways to attack the dragon, but there are many things to watch out for, too.

Healing[edit]

The dragon has three types of attacks: body attacks, the breath attack, and dragon fireballs. The more crystals the player has destroyed, the more often the dragon will attack them. It will inflict 15 (Heart.svg × 7.5) damage if it hits the player with its head, but its wings will only inflict 5 (Heart.svgHeart.svgHalf Heart.svg) damage. The dragon's breath will inflict 3 (Heart.svgHalf Heart.svg) damage per second. The dragon has an extremely high knockback ability, and can throw the player into the air to fatal heights, so they should keep drinking their slow falling potions when they run out. They will make the player immune to all fall damage.

Keep track of the health at all times. If the player takes at least 6 (Heart.svgHeart.svgHeart.svg) damage at a time, hide behind a tower and eat a golden apple. They should use their healing potions if they are on the brink of death to recover instantly. If the totem of undying in their hand goes off, and they have another totem, quickly throw it in the off-hand and resume fighting immediately.

Dragon's breath[edit]

The ender dragon perching and releasing the dragon's breath.

It is extremely useful to collect the dragon's breath during the fight because it can be used to make lingering potions, which are recommended to have if the player wants to fight the dragon again, or if they want to fight the wither.

To collect the dragon's breath, wait for the dragon to perch and do its breath attack or shoot a dragon fireball, either of which will puff out into lingering purple clouds. The only difference is that the dragon's breath comes instantly from the breath attack, whereas the player must wait for the fireball to slam into the ground. To collect it, simply hold out an empty bottle and scoop up the clouds in the same way the player would fill a bottle with water. However, the player should avoid making contact with the clouds, because the clouds will hurt them. Armor cannot protect the player from damage from the dragon's breath, because it counts as magic damage. The dragon's breath is stackable, so the player should collect as much as possible.

Attacking[edit]

While the dragon is flying the player can shoot it with their bow or crossbow. However, the dragon is really hard to shoot because it can fly extremely fast, and the shot will miss if they don't line it up properly. It is recommended to shoot at a spot in the dragon's fight trajectory because then it will fly forward enough to get hit by the arrow. Try to mainly shoot it in the head because the dragon takes the most damage on its head.

The more crystals the player has destroyed, the more often the dragon will dive at the portal. When it's hovering over the portal, it is immune to arrow damage, and the player will be forced to use their sword. It is recommended to get as many critical hits as possible because the player can inflict more damage this way. It is also recommended to drink a strength potion because the dragon may dive at the portal for each time it circles around the towers, and the player will inflict more damage using the strength the potion provides.

The player will begin to notice a pattern in the dragon's behavior after a few minutes. It will dive at the portal once for every circle, so they should make sure that they always have the strength from the potions when the dragon perches. Remember the pattern of the dragon’s attacks, so that they will be efficient for the rest of the battle.

Once 200 (Heart.svg × 100) damage have been inflicted, the dragon will die and drop four unmatchable rewards.

The rewards[edit]

When killed, the dragon will float upwards and disintegrate, with bright purple beams of light erupting from its body. It will then explode and cause a faint sound that gradually fades away into the infinite darkness of the End, leaving almost no trace that it was ever there. Four precious rewards will then appear.

Experience[edit]

What the ender dragon looks like a few seconds after being killed.

After the dragon disappears, a colossal amount of experience orbs will rain from the sky. These orbs can take the player from level 0 to level 70, which is worth 12,000 experience points. Some of the orbs may fall into the portal, so run a few laps around the portal, and then sneak on the rim of the portal to grab some more. Since it takes progressively more experience to gain a level at higher levels, they will have enough to make over ten level 30 enchantments. The player doesn't have to get enchantments that they will use; they can simply enchant extra equipment to use as a backup set. The best time for the player to enchant extra equipment is as soon as they go back home, in case they die and lose all of the precious levels they have earned.

Dragon egg[edit]

The second reward is the priceless, one-of-a-kind dragon egg. It sits on top of the portal when it first appears. However, it cannot be broken directly, as the egg will teleport if the player attempts to do so.

Instead, touch the egg once and let it teleport to a block of end stone. If the player can't find it, follow the purple teleportation particles. To pick up the egg, place a torch two blocks underneath it, and break the end stone block it is sitting on. Since the egg obeys the law of gravity, it will fall onto the torch and break as a collectible item.

Alternatively, if the player has a piston and a lever, place the piston facing the egg. Place the lever on any block touching the piston, because the piston will extend no matter what block the lever is on. The egg will still break as a collectible item. To prevent the egg from falling into the portal, cover the portal with blocks.

If the player uses either of these strategies, they will get the dragon egg successfully. It currently has no use other than as a trophy to show that the player has defeated the ender dragon, but it can serve as a beautiful decoration or an addition to a trophy room at the player’s base.

End gateway portal[edit]

Perhaps the biggest reward of defeating the ender dragon is the end gateway portal, which generates after the dragon dies. The player can only enter it through the use of ender pearls because it is too narrow to walk through. This portal is sometimes considered the only reason to need to fight the dragon, because it gives the player easy access to the End's outer islands, which is the only place where the player can find end cities, shulkers, chorus trees, the elytra, and the dragon head.

Exit portal[edit]

Since the fight takes place in the End, the most important reward is the exit portal, which is the only safe way back home. It appears all the time, but only activates when the dragon is killed. The portal looks like a fountain made of bedrock, with torches on the sides, and the "water" of the fountain is made of the portal blocks that will take the player back home.

When the player jumps into the portal, they will be treated to the end poem, which will tell them that they have basically "completed" the game. Even though it can be skipped, it is still highly recommended to read it. They will then respawn in the Overworld at their respawn point, which can either be the world spawn point or the last bed the player had slept in. The player can then safely return to their base.

The rematch[edit]

To have a rematch with the ender dragon, the player must respawn it using end crystals. To make one, the player will need seven pieces of glass, an eye of ender, and a ghast tear. The player will need to go to the Nether to get some of these materials.

To respawn the dragon, place four end crystals on each side of the exit portal. The crystals that is placed will instantly deactivate the portal, shoot beams at the tops of the towers, and reset the crystals and cages on the towers. Afterwards, all of the crystals will shoot beams into the sky in harmony. The player will hear an extremely loud roar and see a massive explosion, which will resurrect the dragon and begin the fight again.

To respawn the dragon, place the end crystals in the configuration shown in the image below.

The positions of end crystals on the exit portal needed to respawn the ender dragon.

There is no real reason to fight the dragon again, because subsequent dragons will drop less experience and will not drop another dragon egg, so the only reason to need to fight again would be to produce additional end gateway portals or to obtain more dragon's breath. And the player will need to prepare the same equipment all over again. However, if the player does want to fight again, the player can use new equipment that cannot be used in the first battle.

Redstone tactics[edit]

Once the player has defeated the ender dragon, they can safely build a redstone circuit in the End. Using dispensers, the player can shoot projectiles, such as arrows at the ender crystals. The player wants to fire the dispensers quickly before the ender dragon damages the redstone circuit. To do this, the player needs to place a button near the exit portal and connect it to the tops of every obsidian pillar.

Materials[edit]

Circuitry
Weapons
Building material
  1. a b c d Upon activation, the player will lose the dispensers, their projectiles, the end crystals, and some of the redstone. During the battle, if the ender dragon flies through the circuit, the will lose additional redstone and possibly a few redstone repeaters.
  2. If the player are not sure which obsidian pillars generate iron bars, bring a third end crystal.
  3. a b If the player do not intend to reuse the circuit, the player can just bring several stacks of opaque blocks; the end stone and obsidian are optional.

Setup[edit]

Place the button near the portal. Create a path of redstone from the button to each obsidian pillar. To save redstone, the player can start with a few paths and branch them out when they get close to the pillars. Remember to place a redstone repeater every 15 blocks.

For the circuit to reach the tops of the pillars, the player will need to place solid blocks that lead to the tops. The ender dragon cannot destroy end stone of the structure, making the circuit easier to repair between battles. Place the redstone on these blocks.

In certain places, the player should use obsidian instead of end stone. Near the tops of pillars, the end crystal explosion will damage the structure if end stone is used. Additionally, the player should use obsidian instead of end stone when placing a repeater (i.e. place the repeater on obsidian instead of end stone). This includes repeaters placed at ground level; the player can mine a block of end stone and replace it with obsidian. The reason for placing repeaters on obsidian will be explained later.

Once the circuit is complete, the player has easy access to the tops of the pillars, so they can begin to arm the dispensers. There are 2 methods:

  1. A method that is less efficient, but works on all end crystals.
  2. A method that is more efficient, but does not work on crystals that generate iron bars.

To avoid using method 2 too many times, the player can look at the configuration of the layers of each pillar. Only pillars with the configuration below generate iron bars.

Only 3 pillars have the configuration above, so the player will only need to use the second method 3 times, even if they do not know which pillars generate iron bars. However, if the player do know, they only need to use the second method twice.

For the first method, place the dispenser face-down, above where the end crystal should be. It is easy to tell where this is, as the end crystal will sit on a block of bedrock. Place the dispenser high enough that can be standed on the bedrock. Then, put a projectile in the dispenser and connect it to the circuit.

For the second method, the player will have a second end crystal on the edge of the pillar when the iron bars regenerate, the player wants the second crystal to be outside the cage. Before placing the crystal, place a dispenser face down above where they want the crystal. Similar to the first method, the player should be able to walk under the dispenser. Put a projectile in the dispenser and connect it to the circuit.

Activation[edit]

The player should activate the circuit when respawning the ender dragon. As soon as the player places the last end crystal, go to the button and do not wait for the dragon to respawn. Press the button when the dragon respawns. At this point, all of the end crystals will be in place and can be destroyed. The dispensers placed using the first method will fire at and destroy the corresponding end crystals. The dispensers placed using the second method will destroy the crystals that the player has placed. The explosion will destroy the naturally-generated crystal, destroying the iron bars, if there are any. In both cases, the explosions will destroy the dispenser and the nearby redstone.

Reusing[edit]

The player will need to go to the top of each pillar to replace the dispenser, redstone, and when they are using the second method, the end crystal. Additionally, the player should thoroughly check the rest of the circuit. If they see a gap, it means that the ender dragon flew through the circuit during the previous battle. Obsidian marks the places in the gaps that had redstone repeaters. Put the new repeaters in the same spots to ensure that the circuit is working.

If the player intends to continue respawning the ender dragon for a large number of times, they may want to obtain the resources that are renewable. They should trade with villagers, as librarians sell the glass that is used to craft end crystals and clerics sell redstone that is used for the circuit.