Tutorials/Defeating the wither

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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, so it is highly recommended to fight the ender dragon first.

The wither is highly anticipated to fight, as it drops the key to a beacon, the nether star. The fight can also help blow up areas for future building projects.

Wither boss fight checklist[edit]

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

Preparing equipment[edit]

Sword[edit]

The sword (preferably diamond) will be used to attack the wither when it reaches half health, or to take out wither skeletons that the wither spawns. The player should enchant the sword, ideally with Sharpness, but Smite is more effective, since the wither is an undead mob. Knockback is also extremely effective, because the player can knock the wither really far back and have enough time to use a healing item. The player should make two different swords: one with Smite V, Unbreaking III, and Knockback II, to use against the wither, and one with Sharpness IV or V, Unbreaking III, and Looting III, to collect wither skulls from wither skeletons in the Nether.

Bow[edit]

The bow will be the main weapon, and will be mainly used against the wither. When the player are in the Nether for collecting wither skulls, they can use it to take out ghasts or blazes that are in their way. They should enchant the bow with Power V, to deal as much damage as possible, and Infinity, so that the don't run out of arrows while fighting. To prevent the bow from breaking, the player should add Unbreaking to it as well. Punch is also highly recommended, but Flame is ineffective. The bow will only work until the wither reaches half health, so use it as much as possible up to that point. Since the wither is undead, they can use healing arrows to inflict more damage.

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 that it could run out of arrows during the fight. If the player still wants to use a crossbow, it should be enchanted with Quick Charge III so it can be reloaded more quickly. It should also be enchanted with Multishot or Piercing which will allow the player to damage multiple summoned wither skeletons at the same time. Healing arrows can be used to inflict more damage, since the Wither is an undead mob. To prevent the crossbow from breaking, it should also be enchanted with Unbreaking. Another advantage of the crossbow is that it can launch firework rockets allowing it to be used when the wither is under half health and immune to arrows.

Trident[edit]

The trident can prove to be useful, granted the player is in rain or a thunderstorm. The advantages with this is that when the trident hits the Wither with Channeling, the lightning will still deal damage to the Wither, even when below half health. Alternatively, the player could enchant the trident with Riptide to fly up and shoot the Wither with a bow, crossbow, or another trident, or fly into the Wither and deal Melee damage. The player should enchant the trident with Loyalty III to be able to gather the Trident more easily. The player should also enchant the trident with Mending and Unbreaking.

Armor[edit]

Since it is even more powerful than the ender dragon, armor is absolutely necessary against the wither. The player should wear a full set of diamond armor enchanted with Protection IV or Blast Protection IV. Blast Protection is better than normal Protection, because it will protect the player from explosion damage, which is inevitable in the wither fight. Thorns is ineffective, because the wither can fly, and will therefore not touch the player's armor. Since the fight will take a massive toll on the armor's durability, the player should add Unbreaking and/or Mending to it as well.

Pickaxe[edit]

A pickaxe (preferably diamond) will be extremely useful, because it can be used to collect blocks that can be used to build a wall against the wither. Obsidian is the best block to build a wall with, but it can only be collected with a diamond pickaxe. The player should enchant the pickaxe with Efficiency IV or V, to break blocks quickly, also, Silk Touch is necessary to reclaim ender chests.

Elytra[edit]

The player can use elytra to fly away from the wither and hide.

Healing items[edit]

The wither is so strong, the player will die at least once without healing items. Golden apples are the most efficient healing item, because they provide Absorption, which will protect the player from most damage while the player are healing. But golden apples are not enough against the wither. Potent healing potions and extended regeneration potions are almost necessary, as they will heal the player much quicker than golden apples. The only difference is that healing potions will heal the player instantly and regeneration potions will heal the player gradually, but both are very helpful, so bring at least six of each type of potion. Enchanted golden apples are also very helpful, because they will heal the player more than regular ones. However, 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 exploring a woodland mansion or stop a raid[upcoming: JE 1.14 & BE 1.11.0]. However, they can be used in emergencies, and will prevent them from dying. To use it, simply place it in the off-hand slot and ignore that it is even there while the player fight. When the player take fatal damage, the totem will explode and cause an animation of fireworks, "resurrecting" the player and providing the player with Regeneration and temporary Absorption. It will also remove any effects from the player, which will prevent further damage from the wither effect. Therefore, it is highly recommended to go to a woodland mansion or trigger a raid‌[upcoming: JE 1.14 & BE 1.11.0] and gather a few totems before the fight.

Food[edit]

There should never be a time when the player do not have food with them. Bread 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, so that if the player need to eat very quickly, they can just instantly place it down, and start eating without any delay. However, cake has a low saturation and hunger-filling value, so unless the player 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 healing items. Eat normal food if the player do not have full saturation, and only use golden apples when the player takes damage.

Potions[edit]

Potions are extremely useful in the fight, to enhance the performance. Strength potions and swiftness potions can be extremely useful, because the player can inflict more damage and run away from the wither quicker. Invisibility potions are ineffective, because the wither can still see the player even though the player are invisible.

Potions can also be used for emergency healing, since the player will take a lot of damage in the fight. Healing potions and regeneration potions are different, because healing potions heals the player instantly, and regeneration potions heals the player gradually. Since both of them will really help the player, bring at least six of each type of potion.

Blocks[edit]

Blocks can be really helpful in the fight, as well as in preparation for the fight. Harder blocks, such as cobblestone, are better than softer blocks. Cobblestone can help the player mark their way back in the Nether. However, in the fight, the player will need to use the hardest blocks that can be obtained, because the wither can break almost any block. Obsidian is the best block to use, because it is the hardest obtainable block in the game. The player can use it to build a defensive wall against the wither, or a small base to hide in. Build at least three layers of obsidian, in case the wither breaks some.

The fight[edit]

A possible "High Roller" setup to use against the Wither. All armor is Protection IV, the Sword is Smite IV, and the Bow is Power IV, Infinity I

Armor setup[edit]

Slot Item
Sword Smite > Sharpness > Fire Aspect > Knockback > Bane of Arthropods / Looting
Bow Power > Flame > Infinity
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

Notes:

  • 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+),

Hotbar setup[edit]

A "High Roller" setup for a Singleplayer fight against the Wither.
An "average" setup for a Multiplayer fight against the Wither.
Slot Item
Slot 1 Sword
Slot 2 Bow
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 Enchanted Golden Apple
Slot 8 Potion of Strength II (preferably extended) OR Potion of Regeneration II (preferably extended) OR Enchanted Golden Apple
Slot 9 Compass OR Enchanted Golden Apple

Strategies[edit]

Hit and run[edit]

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.

Enchanted brute force[edit]

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.

Note: Have some cobblestone in the hotbar so the player can pillar upwards if the wither gets out reach.

Snow golems[edit]

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 limit where the fight can take place, since snow golems melt so easily.

Deep tunnel[edit]

Glass blocks represent blocks with low blast resistance.

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 towards the player, just walk backwards 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 throw 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 have 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 are too fast, the TNT will not have the desired effect. If the player are 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 don't have enough TNT, be sure to dig out an extra tunnel as an extension of the TNT trigged one, so as to finish the wither off with arrows or swords should needs be.

Bedrock suffocation[edit]

Java Edition.pngLegacy Console Edition.png

A very easy method is to spawn the wither, push its head in a bedrock ceiling in the Nether, then kill it. The player will only need an axe, lever, and piston.

  1. Find a 3×3 bedrock field in the ceiling of the nether with an air pocket above the center block.
  2. Go 2 blocks down and place a block of obsidian.
  3. Place the spawning blocks sideways with the bottom of the soul sand "T" on the obsidian block.
  4. Kill the wither.

Note: 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Find the block on the floor that is in line with the central axis of the portal and mark it.
  3. 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 wreck havoc there.
  4. Run away more than 14 blocks to prevent the explosion on creation from damaging the player.
  5. Kill the wither.

Note: More information can be found in this video:

Cobblestone generator suffocation[edit]

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 towards 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 towards 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.

Obsidian containment[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

Mclogo.svg

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.

Place a dispenser facing into the End City gateway with a Water bucket inside it. Place a button, and activate the dispenser. This removes the actual gateway, and after pressing the button again, the player should be able to pick up an item named "tile.end_gateway.name" which can be used for a little shenanigans. Remove Dispenser from gateway.

Find the west direction, and extend the lower arm with 4 Obsidian blocks. Spawn the Wither by placing the single Soul Sand on the outermost Obsidian block, and with the three Soul Sand blocks one step closer to the gateway. Finally, place the Wither Skull heads leaving a one block gap towards the gateway. Remember to move away before it explodes, and if in Hard mode, the player should stand on a block directly below the end gateway. Now, just wait until the Wither suffocates, and the player can collect the nether star. This method does allow for spawning multiple Withers at the same time, but be careful related to the imminent explosion of the first Wither.