Tutorials/Defeating the wither
The wither is one of the two bosses in Minecraft, along with the ender dragon. It is usually considered the first boss of the game, even though it was added more recently and its achievements and advancements are unlocked after defeating the dragon.
- 1 Spawning the wither
- 2 Strategies
- 2.1 Traditional combat
- 2.2 Hit and run
- 2.3 Enchanted brute force
- 2.4 Snow golems
- 2.5 Deep tunnel
- 2.6 Bedrock suffocation
- 2.7 Cobblestone generator suffocation
- 2.8 End city gateway suffocation
- 2.9 Player strategies
Spawning the wither
Collecting wither skulls
In order to spawn the Wither, you need to acquire three Wither skulls. Wither Skulls are acquired by killing Wither Skeletons. In order to maximize your chances of acquiring wither skulls, it's recommended that you carry a sword with Looting on it. Even though the maximum drop chance is 5.5% (with Looting III), it is best to get the highest possible drop chance. The wither requires three skulls to build, so you may have to kill hundreds of skeletons to get them. However, the only other ingredient needed to build the wither is soul sand or soul soil, which is extremely common in the Nether.
Alternatively, charged creepers can be used to kill a wither skeleton and recover their skull 100% of the time. During a thunderstorm, with a trident enchanted with Channeling, charged creepers can be made by striking the creeper with the trident. Unless the creeper is charged in water it will become ignited and will almost always need to be extinguished with a bucket of water placed or they will die to the fire damage. During a thunderstorm, using nether portals, the player can lead a wither skeleton from a nether fortress into the Overworld, charge a creeper, and have the charged creepers detonation kill the wither skeleton. Regardless of the number of skeletons gathered in the detonation only one skull ever drops. A charged creeper's detonation creates quite a hole in the ground so this farming strategy should be done away from frequently traveled land. The damage done to the ground can be nullified if the charged creeper is floating in water upon detonation. A well armored player (blast protection juggernaut style) can walk up to the creeper and dump a bucket of water at its feet. If the creeper detonates floating in the water it will do no damage to the ground but will still do damage to the player and local mobs. A creepers detonation can be forced with flint & steel. The average storm lasts 0.5 – 1 Minecraft day (5-10 min), and there is a 0.5 to 7.5 Minecraft day delay between thunderstorms (5 min - 2.5hrs). A thunderstorm can be forced with console syntax: 'weather thunder <duration of storm in seconds>'. After the storm duration the normal weather cycle resumes.
If you are fighting the wither on Bedrock Edition, the Wither will summon Wither Skeletons when it is below half health. If you are lucky enough, the spawned Wither Skeletons may drop their skulls, making it easier to summon another Wither.
Spawning the wither
The Wither is built using 4 blocks of soul sand or soul soil and 3 Wither skulls. Soul sand and soul soil can be easily acquired in the Nether, specifically in soul sand valleys. In order to spawn the wither, build a T-shape using your four blocks of soul sand, and place a wither skull on top of each soul sand. This configuration is pictured to the left.
This method is the most common way to fight the Wither. While this way isn't recommended due to its difficulty, this method is common among players who don't know about more advanced strategies for killing the Wither. It involves preparing a lot of late-game gear and materials in order to beat the wither in a fair fight.
Wither fight checklist
Defeating the wither requires a lot of preparation, but not everyone has the same skill. So depending on how skilled the player is, different preparations may be needed. The following is a suggested collection of equipment the average player might need:
- A diamond or netherite sword enchanted with Smite V, Unbreaking III and Mending (Fire Aspect is ineffective, and Looting is only effective on Bedrock)
- A bow enchanted with Unbreaking III, Power V, and Infinity (Flame is ineffective)
- One arrow (or with a crossbow, several stacks)
- A full set of diamond or netherite armor, enchanted with Protection IV or Blast Protection IV
- A diamond/netherite pickaxe enchanted with Silk Touch and Efficiency V, Mending
- Several stacks of firework rockets with firework stars for crossbow ammo (optional)
- At least 10 golden apples
- Highly nutritious food, such as bread, steak, porkchops, or golden carrots
- At least 3 healing potions (splash potions of healing can also be used to harm the wither)
- At least 3 regeneration potions
- At least 6 strength potions
- Several stacks of obsidian
- An ender chest
- Several stacks of ender pearls
- Several buckets of milk, to cure the wither effect (Not needed on easy difficulty)
- Iron blocks and pumpkins, to spawn iron golems that will fight with the player
- Several stacks of healing arrows (optional)
- A crossbow enchanted with Unbreaking III, Quick Charge III, and Multishot (optional)
- A trident enchanted with Loyalty III and Channeling (optional) or Riptide III (optional, but bring if possible)
- A shield enchanted with Unbreaking III (optional)
- One or two enchanted golden apples (optional)
- One or two totems of undying
- A pair of elytra enchanted with Unbreaking III and Mending (optional)
- Chorus fruit for quick escapes (optional)
Choosing a battleground
Once you have obtained the skulls and prepared your other equipment, the next step is to choose a place to fight. There are many possible fight locations, but each place has its risks and disadvantages. It is recommended to find a completely enclosed place so the wither doesn't destroy any of your buildings.
You can fight in any of the dimensions in the game. Since there are only three, the choice is not very difficult. However, the most ideal dimension to fight in is the Overworld, because the Nether and the End are very dangerous places. The Overworld has many different environments, so there are many different possible battle sites. However, the Nether is mostly made of lava and rocky cliffs, so it is possible to die in lava, and all of your gear would burn up. The End is most like outer space, so it is possible to die in the void, and all of your equipment would disappear. Not only that, if the wither dies above lava or in the void, you would also lose the nether star that it drops. This means that the Overworld is probably the best place to fight the wither. However, the end has no lack of endermen, who the wither will anger, allowing you to kill it more quickly from half health. In addition, you can "jam" the wither under the bedrock portal, which would neutralize its maneuverability. If you do choose the end, make sure to battle on a large island so you don't fall off. This method of "Jamming" the Wither under bedrock can also be performed using the ceiling of the Nether, making the Nether a feasible place to fight the Wither for players who haven't yet killed the Ender Dragon.
There are many places in the Overworld, but some places are better than others for the wither fight. You can either fight underground or on the surface. It is best to fight underground, because on the surface, the wither can easily fly away from you and dodge your attacks, and would also attack other mobs nearby. It would also blow up huge craters in the surface, or may even destroy your buildings. Therefore, it is best to fight underground, so that it is in a confined space. However, the biome in which the cave is in may make a difference. If the cave is in the mountains, there may be infested blocks hidden among the rocks. If these are blown up by the wither, they would release the silverfish trapped inside, which would also attack you. Therefore, don't pick a cave in the mountains. Make sure the cave isn't too far away from your base, in case you die, but also don't spawn it to close to your base because there is a good chance it will get destroyed.
Once you pick a spot to fight, you should build a small base. You should build the base out of obsidian, since it is the hardest obtainable block in the game. Even though the wither can sometimes break obsidian, it can do so only with its blue skull and by dashing. The common black skulls cannot break obsidian, so it is the best block to use. Build the base in an open area, so that you can hide behind it if needed. Make the only entrance to the base narrow enough so that the wither cannot enter it. Make it one block wide and two blocks tall, just enough for you to fit through. A narrower entrance may also prevent the wither from shooting you through the door. In case the wither fires a blue skull at your base, build at least three layers of obsidian for extra insurance.
|Sword||Smite > Sharpness > Fire Aspect > Knockback > Bane of Arthropods / Looting|
|Bow||Power > Flame > Infinity > Unbreaking|
|Head||Protection > Blast Protection > Projectile Protection > Respiration / Aqua Affinity|
|Chestplate||Protection > Blast Protection > Projectile Protection|
|Legs||Protection > Blast Protection > Projectile Protection|
|Boots||Protection > Blast Protection > Projectile Protection > Feather Falling|
- For most Bows and Swords, a Tier IV or V Enchant is better than a Tier III Enchant of a higher category. For example, a Sharpness V Sword is better than a Smite III Sword. Another example would be an Infinity I Bow being more useful than a Power I Bow.
- Using the highest tiered weapons and armor (Protection IV+), (Smite IV+),
|Slot 3||Dirt (For "Towering" back up to the surface. When the Wither attacks, the skulls he fires will explode on the ground, causing damage similar to a creeper explosion.)|
|Slot 4||Pickaxe (preferably Efficiency IV+)|
|Slot 5||Potion of Healing II|
|Slot 6||Potion of Healing II|
|Slot 7||Potion of Strength II (preferably extended) OR Potion of Regeneration II (preferably extended) OR Golden Apple|
|Slot 8||Potion of Strength II (preferably extended) OR Potion of Regeneration II (preferably extended) OR Golden Apple|
|Slot 9||Compass OR Golden Apple|
Hit and run
Spawn the wither, and quickly run away as far as possible, putting a large distance between the player and the wither. Do not stand near the wither when it is growing into its normal size. It will create a massive explosion when it is finished, larger than that of TNT or a charged creeper.
When it is finished, walk back and shoot at the wither, and occasionally use the Instant Health II splash potions and at some point, eat the golden apples. When the wither drops to 50% health, use the strength II potion and hit the wither with a diamond sword until the wither is defeated. This is a very effective way to beat the wither, defeating it in less than five minutes with not too much struggle. However, you want to be careful once the wither drops down to half health; it will make a charged creeper like shield and summon wither skeletons (1-3)
Enchanted brute force
An easy way of killing the wither on Hard difficulty without armor is to have an enchanted diamond sword (Smite V), a potion of strength II, a potion of night vision (optional), an enchanted golden apple, a shield, and a bucket of milk. Go underground at least 20 blocks below surface and dig a room 3 blocks high by 4 wide and 10 long, build a 2×2 stone wall about 5 blocks away from one end. Drink a Strength II potion and spawn the wither at one end then hide behind the 2×2 wall. When the wither is nearly spawned, eat an enchanted golden apple and switch the hotbar selection to sword and block with a shield for the initial explosion. Run at the wither and hack it to death; it should die in about 10 hits if the player get some critical hits. Make sure the player kill the wither within the 30 seconds of regeneration from the apple. As soon as the wither is dead, drink the milk to cure the wither effect.
Have some cobblestone in the hotbar so the player can pillar upward if the wither gets out reach.
To use snow golems most effectively to beat the wither, dig out a 10×10×3 tall room with walls from obsidian and spawn 30 or more snow golems. The golems act as a target for the wither, as well as knocking it back. Accompany this with the best sword, preferably with the Smite enchantment, armor, and potions, and the player can kill it in under a minute while taking little or no damage. Keep in mind that this will not work in the nether, because the snow golems will melt. This also does not seem to be an effective strategy in the Bedrock edition.
A tactic that is relatively easy to pull off is to dig down near bedrock, and dig a long 1×2 tunnel (longer than 30 blocks). At the end of the tunnel, construct a small room. Spawn the wither in this room, then run back into the tunnel. Occasionally pop out and shoot an arrow or two at the Wither. As the Wither crunches its way toward the player, just walk backward through the tunnel. Once the wither has reached its "armor" stage, jump out and begin hitting it with a diamond sword. As long as the player frequently throws down splash potions of instant healing, the player should be able to survive even with iron armor.
A somewhat more complicated yet very enjoyable variant of this tunnel strategy is to rig the tunnel the player have constructed with TNT. The player could, for instance, build a tunnel as illustrated by the figure above; the idea behind this is that the player can anticipate when the boss will crunch his way to a point sufficiently close to a pair of TNT blocks the player has placed, and if they are accurate, they can have the TNT explode at that very instant, dealing a lot of damage. Be sure not to place the first pair of TNT right next to the room in which the player will spawn the Wither, as the initial explosion would just destroy these. The drawbacks of this strategy are that it can be difficult to tell when to ignite the TNT; if the player is too fast, the TNT will not have the desired effect. If the player is too slow, the wither will simply destroy the TNT prior to its detonation. In addition, the player might need a lot of TNT to completely kill the Wither, and thus they will have to dig out a long tunnel. Therefore, it is strongly advised that the player to use a bow and a sword when the "armor" stage has been reached in the sections of the tunnel where there's no TNT to do the hard work. Also, if the player doesn't have enough TNT, be sure to dig out an extra tunnel as an extension of the TNT triggered one, so as to finish the wither off with arrows or swords should needs be.
- Find a 3×3 bedrock field in the ceiling of the nether with an air pocket above the center block.
- Go 2 blocks down and place a block of obsidian.
- Place the spawning blocks sideways with the bottom of the soul sand "T" on the obsidian block.
- Kill the wither.
Note: This technique along with others in this wiki are shown in this video for Java 1.16
The best way to find this situation is getting to the top of the Nether, but is dangerous as the Nether has random lava source blocks scattered in the netherrack. More information can be found in this video:
Another alternative is to use the end exit portal to trap the wither:
- Make sure there is a 2-block high gap between the bottom of the exit portal and the end island. This can be done either by digging or by placing blocks.
- Find the block on the floor that is in line with the central axis of the portal and mark it.
- Spawn the wither by placing the blocks on the floor, and make sure that the soul sand "tail" block is directly above the marked block, otherwise the wither will go to the overworld and wreak havoc there.
- Run away more than 14 blocks to prevent the explosion on creation from damaging the player.
- Kill the wither.
Note: More information can be found in this video:
Cobblestone generator suffocation
A more advanced tactic that is very rewarding would be to construct a cobblestone generator-powered grid above the player, spawn the Wither about 15 blocks away, and stand under the grid. The wither will fly toward the player, but it would be kept at the edge of the grid, constantly being pushed back by the cobblestone which is generating faster than what the wither can break. This allows the player to stand still and shoot the wither without retaliation, until the Wither is at half health, where it will fly toward the player through the grid, allowing the player to easily kill the Wither with a sword. In addition to that, the player can rig dispensers about 15 blocks away to periodically shoot splash potions of health, which heal the player and damage the wither.
It is also possible to kill the wither by summoning it in a small obsidian chamber. When it escapes, have several people fire bows at it from all directions. This negates its explosion and forces it to attack one target at a time.
Bedrock ceiling containment
This method is easy to pull off in the Bedrock Edition, where the withers can't be immobilized by pushing it into bedrock. It works by getting the wither up into an uneven bedrock ceiling, where it cannot hit the player, but they can hit the Wither. This method is much easier than a regular wither fight, and they can do it without potions or apples.
To pull this off, go to the Nether and dig up into netherrack until they start seeing bedrock. The player want to be 2 levels down from the first layer that has bedrock blocks (Y level 121). Dig out a 3×3×3 room for the Wither to spawn in, as well as a 1-block wide 2-block high tunnel for them to hide in while waiting for the Wither to grow. A tunnel of about 40 blocks deep should do. Now, spawn the Wither in the 3×3 room, and run into the tunnel until the player are 15 blocks away. After the explosion, it is likely that the Wither will be floating up into the uneven bedrock ceiling. The player should be able to get a vantage point where they can shoot it with arrows until it drops to half health. At this point, it is possible that the Wither may hit the player occasionally with a skull, but ideally it is trying to fire them through bedrock blocks and thus not able to get the player. If they get hit, retreat a little and heal. Most importantly, try to stay on the same level that they started out with, because if they have descent too far, the Wither will do so as well and there will be no more bedrock blocks to block the skulls it fires.
Once the wither has dropped to half health, try to get close enough such that the player can sneak in hits with a sword. Here too the Wither should be trying to fire directly at the player, with bedrock blocks between them and the Wither. Try to hit its tail. This will trigger an animation where the Wither won't shoot, and the tail ends up being in the same location again. They can hit it over and over until it's dead.
End city gateway suffocation
This method allows for suffocation of Withers without actually using any weapons. It does require that the player have defeated the Ender Dragon, and have access to an outer End City Island with an alternate way back to the main End Island.
Previously, the player could destroy the end gateway using a dispenser with a water bucket, but the player now needs to summon a non-trapped wither. In addition, the player no longer obtains the end gateway block.
End portal suffocation
This method utilizes the underside of the main end portal in the End to suffocate the wither. It requires that the player has killed the ender dragon.
Dig out a 5x5x2 hole underneath the bedrock of the end portal. Make sure to leave a staircase to exit easily. Replace the exact center 3x3 area 3 blocks underneath the bedrock with obsidian. This is very important, as if it is not the exact center of where the portal is, the wither can escape the portal and start blasting the endermen. Place soul sand on top of the center obsidian block, and place three more soul sand on any side of the obsidian. Place three wither skulls on the side of the 3 soul sand, and the wither will spawn. Run away to avoid the explosion. After the explosion, you can simply run back and hit the wither with your sword. The wither will be unable to hit you back.
(Note: This does not work in version 1.15)
(You can fix this design by making the gap 2 blocks under the portal instead of 3, confirmed in 1.16.1)
(This does not work on minecraft mobile in 1.16.1)
These are strategies made by the community that are shared in this wiki:
(Tested on java edition)
What you will need is the following items: A bunch of golden apples. Netherite armor with protection IV. A sword with smite (Optional)
When the wither is created, run away from it to avoid the explosion, then wait until the wither pursues you, then you can just sit where you are eating golden apples to stop the wither effect and your netherite armor can almost nullify wither damage as the skulls will damage the wither itself. If you want to make quicker work of it, then you can use a sword to kill the wither while it has a shield, you should hopefully be able to effortlessly kill the wither in 2 minutes.