Tutorials/Defeating the ender dragon

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The ender dragon is one of the two bosses in Minecraft, along with the wither. It lives in the End, and is usually considered the final boss of the game, even though it was added first and the achievements related to the wither are unlocked after defeating the dragon.

The dragon is highly anticipated to fight because its defeat will give you access to the End's outer islands, as it generates an end gateway portal when defeated. It will also activate the exit portal and allow you to return home.

Ender dragon boss fight checklist[edit]

Defeating the dragon requires a lot of preparation, but not everyone has the same skills. So depending on how skilled you are, different preparations may be needed. The following is a suggested collection of equipment you might need:

Preparing equipment[edit]

Until the dragon is defeated, you cannot leave the End without dying. In hardcore mode, you must defeat the dragon on your first visit, or die trying. Therefore, thorough preparation is essential to surviving the battle.

Sword[edit]

Your sword (preferably diamond) is used to damage the dragon when she's on her perch, with a secondary use of dealing with any provoked endermen. You should enchant your sword with Sharpness IV or V, to deal as much damage as possible. Knockback is ineffective against the dragon, since the dragon is immune to knockback, but it works against the endermen. If your sword is enchanted with Fire Aspect, any endermen you hit will be more difficult to deal with since they teleport upon taking damage. However, if endermen get set on fire, they will still get weaker for every firetick. And Looting will allow you to get extra ender pearls from endermen if necessary.

Bow[edit]

The bow will be your main weapon; both for destroying the end crystals, and against the dragon while she is flying through the air. You should enchant your bow with Power V, to deal as much damage as possible, and Infinity, so that you don't run out of arrows while fighting. To prevent your bow from breaking, you should add Unbreaking to it as well. Flame and Punch are ineffective against the dragon. Be sure to note that if you add Infinity to your bow, you will not be able to add Mending, which will allow it to self-repair when you collect XP.

Armor[edit]

The dragon has an attack strength of 15 (Heart.svg × 7.5) with her head. It is the second strongest direct attack of any hostile mob, only topped by the vindicator. Therefore, you 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 your boots is almost necessary. Thorns is also recommended, because it will damage any provoked endermen when they attack you. However, Thorns has a high enchantment weight, so be sure to add Unbreaking to your armor as well.

Pickaxe[edit]

When you enter the End, you might spawn underground. A pickaxe (preferably diamond) 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 you don't bring a pickaxe, it will take a long time to break both the iron bars and end stone. You should enchant your pickaxe with Efficiency IV or V, so that you can dig your way to the surface and break into the cages quickly. And Silk Touch is necessary to reclaim your ender chest.

Healing items[edit]

Even if you are very well-protected, you are likely to take a great deal of damage during the fight if you lack combat experience, so healing items are absolutely necessary. Golden apples are the most efficient healing item, because they provide Absorption, which will protect you from most damage while you heal, so bring at least 10. Potent healing potions and extended regeneration potions are recommended, but not required. Enchanted golden apples can heal you 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 also be used, but it can only be accessed after you explore a woodland mansion or stop a raid[upcoming 1.14]. However, it can be used in emergencies, and will prevent you from dying. To use it, simply place it in your off-hand, and ignore that it is even there while you fight. When you take fatal damage, the totem will explode and cause an animation of fireworks, which will "resurrect" you and provide you with Regeneration and temporary Absorption.

Food[edit]

There should never be a time when you do not have food with you. Bread and steak are some of the most nutritious foods possible, so bring at least a stack of either of these. Bread can also be found in loot chests you find along the way to the end portal. You can also bring cake, so that if you need to eat very quickly, you can just instantly place it down, and start eating without any delay. However, cake has a low saturation and hunger-filling value, so unless you have to eat at that exact moment, it is better to eat more nutritious food.

Golden apples and enchanted apples can also restore food points, but they are mainly used as a healing item. Eat your normal food if you do not have full saturation, and only use golden apples when you take damage.

Potions[edit]

Potions are extremely useful in the fight, to enhance your performance. Because of the dragon’s knockback ability, fall damage, and the potential for cliffs, extended slow falling potions are almost necessary. Strength potions, leaping potions, and swiftness potions can also be used to boost your abilities during the fight.

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

Regeneration potions can help you regenerate faster than golden apples will let you regenerate, but they should only be used if you take damage over time. The dragon can inflict damage instantly with its various attacks. However, if you are at extremely low health at the end of the fight, you can use your regeneration potions to heal gradually.

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 on the taller towers, and just shoot the short ones. Also, you will need blocks to build to the top of the towers that have cages around the end crystals. Alternatively, you 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 you 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 you die in the End, all of the items in your ender chest will be safe. If you make 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. You can use them to get up to the tops of tall towers, or if your spawn platform is away from the island, you can use them so that you don't waste your extra blocks. Also, if you are high up in the air, get knocked down, and don't have a slow falling potion, you can use an ender pearl to teleport to the ground, and take less damage this way. If you run out of pearls while fighting, kill a few endermen and get more.

Empty bottles[edit]

You 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 perching. Since the dragon’s breath inflicts magic damage, it can penetrate your armor, so be very careful around it.

Water bucket[edit]

A water bucket is extremely useful to have when you fight the dragon, even before the fight begins. It can be used to put out lava that you encounter while looking for the end portal. In the End, if you fall off a tower and don’t have enough ender pearls or slow falling potions, water can be used to break your fall. Water can even help you deal with provoked endermen. If an enderman gets mad at you, dump the water at your feet, and the enderman will get hurt and teleport away. The water will also neutralize the enderman, and it will start to ignore you 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, found in a stronghold. To make one, you will need one ender pearl and one sample of blaze powder. You will need at least 30 eyes of ender, because 12 are needed to activate the portal, and you will need a few extra eyes to find the stronghold.

Stronghold[edit]

To find the stronghold, throw your eye of ender into the air, and it will float upwards in the direction of your nearest stronghold. It will then fall back to the ground, and you can pick it up and throw it again. But the eye has a chance of breaking when you throw 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 you. If the eyes direct you to a village, the stronghold will most likely be under the village's well.

Dig underground to find the stronghold. You might dig up into a cave or even a mineshaft, so it might be difficult to find. Use your water to put out any lava that is in your way. Keep exploring the cave or keep digging until you see stone bricks, which will indicate that you have found the stronghold, and once you break in, get out your torches.

Portal room[edit]

Keep exploring the stronghold's hallways until you find the end portal room. Collect any chest loot you find. As soon as you see the portal room, run in as quick as you 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. If you want to, you can place a stone brick stair block in the empty space to complete the staircase, which will make the walk up to the portal smoother.

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" you that you are 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 your hotbar contains the following:

  • Your sword
  • Your bow
  • Your pickaxe
  • Your golden apples
  • One slow falling potion
  • A full stack of ender pearls
  • Your food
  • Your snow blocks or iron blocks
  • Your pumpkins

Put all of the items that you will not use in the fight, such as the loot you find in the stronghold, into your ender chest. Pick up the ender chest using your Silk Touch pickaxe. Make sure you are wearing all of your armor, and instead of your helmet, wear the carved pumpkin. Holding your ender pearls, enter the portal once you are ready.

Entering the End[edit]

When you jump into the portal, you will instantly get teleported to the End, giving you no time to escape. When you arrive in the End, you will spawn on a 5x5 obsidian platform. The platform usually generates on the surface of the island, so you can just walk off. If it generates underground, dig up to the surface using your pickaxe, and if it is away from the island, throw an ender pearl to the island to save your extra blocks.

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

Terrain[edit]

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

Backups[edit]

It is highly recommended to bring backups with you, because they with the endermen while you take on the dragon. They may also clear the area in the middle of the island so that you will have more space to move around. Snow golems or iron golems make the best assistants, because they have stronger and more effective attacks than tamed wolves. The only difference 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 you have spawned your golems, 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 you or them. You should also spawn them to the sides, in case she releases the dragon’s breath.

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

  • Your sword
  • Your bow
  • Your pickaxe
  • Your golden apples
  • One slow falling potion
  • A full stack of ender pearls
  • A full stack of extra blocks
  • Your food
  • Your empty bottles

As soon as your hotbar is organized properly, quickly take off the pumpkin mask and put on your helmet. Now you can begin the epic 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 you 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 recommended 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 you do this.

The ender dragon being healed by an end crystal.

Shooting[edit]

The easiest way to destroy the crystals is to shoot them with your bow. Position yourself so that you can see one at least partially, aim your shot just above the crystal from your view, and adjust your aim if needed. When destroyed, the crystal will generate a massive explosion. Be aware that you may have destroyed the crystal, even if you have not seen the explosion. You will know it has been destroyed by the explosion sound. If your bow does not have the Infinity enchantment, snowballs could be used to save on arrows. You should always shoot the crystals on the shortest towers, because they are the easiest to shoot and are much quicker to shoot than climbing to the top.

Climbing[edit]

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

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

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 your bow. If the dragon knocks you off, and you are not affected by Slow Falling, use your water or an ender pearl to break your fall. Throw an ender pearl back to the top of the caged tower, and try to shoot the taller ones again. You could also throw a pearl to the tops of the tall towers and destroy the crystals with your sword. If you are on the tallest tower, you 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 you are not sure that you have destroyed all of the crystals, let the dragon fly away. If you see a healing beam, you will know that there is a crystal left. Once the last crystals have been destroyed, you can start to attack the dragon. You can also swap out your extra blocks with your water bucket, because you 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 you have destroyed, the more often the dragon will attack you. It will inflict 15 (Heart.svg × 7.5) damage if it hits you 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 you into the air to fatal heights, so you should keep drinking your slow falling potions when they run out. They will make you immune to all fall damage.

Keep track of your health at all times. If you take at least 6 (Heart.svgHeart.svgHeart.svg) damage at a time, hide behind a tower and eat a golden apple. Use your healing potions if you are on the brink of death to recover instantly. If the totem of undying in your hand goes off, and you have another totem, quickly throw it in your 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 you want to fight the dragon again, or if you 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 you must wait for the fireball to slam into the ground. To collect it, simply hold out an empty bottle and scoop up the clouds the way you would fill a bottle with water. However, avoid making contact with the clouds, because they will hurt you. Your armor cannot protect you from damage from the dragon's breath, because it counts as magic damage. The dragon's breath is stackable, so you should collect as much as possible.

Attacking[edit]

While the dragon is flying, you can shoot it with your bow. However, the dragon is really hard to shoot, because it can fly extremely fast, and your shot will miss if you 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 you destroy, the more often the dragon will dive at the portal. When it's hovering over the portal, it is immune to arrow damage, and you will be forced to use your sword. It is recommended to get as many critical hits as possible, because you can inflict more damage this way. It is recommended to drink a strength potion, because the dragon may dive at the portal for each time it circles around the towers, and you will inflict more damage using the strength the potion provides.

You 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 you should make sure that you always have the strength from the potions when the dragon perches. Remember the pattern of your attacks, so that you will be efficient for the rest of the battle.

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

The rewards[edit]

When killed, the dragon will float upwards and disintegrate before your eyes, 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 dies, a colossal amount of experience orbs will rain from the sky. These orbs have enough experience to take you 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, you will have enough to make over ten level 30 enchantments. You don't have to get enchantments that you will use; you can simply enchant extra equipment to use as a backup set. The best time to enchant extra equipment is as soon as you go back home, in case you die and lose all of the precious levels you 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 you attempt to do so.

Instead, touch the egg once and let it teleport to a block of end stone. If you 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 you have 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 you use either of these strategies, you will get the dragon egg successfully. It currently has no use other than as a trophy to say that you have defeated the ender dragon, but it can serve as a beautiful decoration or an addition to a trophy room at your 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. You 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 you access to the End's outer islands, which is the only place where you 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 you back home.

When you jump into the portal, you will be treated to the end poem, telling you that you have basically “completed” the game. You will then respawn in the Overworld at your respawn point, which may be your original spawn point or the last bed you slept in. You can then safely return to your base.

The rematch[edit]

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

To respawn the dragon, place one end crystal on each side of the exit portal. The crystals you have 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. You will hear an extremely loud roar and see a massive explosion, which will resurrect the dragon and begin the fight again.

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 respawn it is to get a new end gateway portal, or to get more dragon's breath. And you will need to prepare the same equipment all over 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.