Tutorials/Defeating the wither

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The wither is one of the two bosses (three in Bedrock edition) 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.

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

Wither 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 is, different preparations may be needed. The following is a suggested collection of equipment the average player might need:

Preparing equipment[edit]


The sword will be used to attack the wither when it reaches half health, or to take out wither skeletons that the wither spawns. The player must enchant the sword, ideally with Smite, as Sharpness is less 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.


The bow will be the main weapon, and will be mainly used against the wither. When the player is 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 they 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.


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.


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 their bow, crossbow, or another trident, or fly into the wither and hit it directly. The player should enchant the trident with Loyalty III to be able to retrieve the trident. The player should also enchant the trident with Mending and Unbreaking, to make it last longer.


Since it is arguably the most powerful mob in the game, 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.


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.


You can also use elytra to help in your preparation, as well as the fight itself. However, they can only be found in end cities, but it is absolutely worth it. Since the journey through the Nether will be extremely long, it will take a massive toll on your elytra's durability, so it is almost necessary to enchant it with Unbreaking III and Mending, but it can only be enchanted on an anvil using enchanted books. You can easily enchant an Unbreaking III book, and try to fish up or trade for a Mending book. Mending will allow your elytra to self-repair when you collect XP. If you add Unbreaking III and Mending to your elytra, they won't exactly become indestructible, because the Mending only works when you collect XP as described above. However, they will become very durable. Once you return from the Nether, use phantom membranes or an xp grinder to repair your elytra completely.

On its own, the elytra is like a glider, because it is extremely difficult to gain height with just the elytra. When combined with firework rockets however, the elytra becomes much more useful. When you are gliding, the fireworks will boost your speed and allow you to fly faster. You can also easily gain height with boosted flight speed. However, if your rockets are equipped with a firework star, they will produce a colorful explosion, but you will take 8♥♥♥♥ damage when you use them, so do not add firework stars to your rockets. The flight duration of your rockets is measured in seconds (for example, flight duration 1 will propel you for one second). You should bring at least ten stacks of rockets, because of the long trip around the Nether.

Healing items[edit]

The wither is so strong that 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 they are healing. 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 stopping a raid. 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 fights. When the player takes 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 and gather a few totems before the fight.


There should never be a time when the player does not have food with them. Bread, steak, and golden carrots are some of the most nutritious foods possible, so bring at least a stack of either of these. If you have a villager breeder, acquire a farmer and/or butcher, who will trade you steak, bread, and golden carrots. The player can also bring cake, so that if the player need to eat very quickly, they can 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 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 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]

Collecting wither skulls[edit]

All players begin the wither fight with wither skulls, which are obtained as rare drops from wither skeletons. It is highly recommended to fight the ender dragon before preparing to fight the wither, because after you defeat the dragon, you can go to an end city and get yourself some elytra. Since the elytra will grant you the ability to fly, it will make it a lot easier to travel around the Nether to find fortresses, where the skeletons dwell. Enchant your elytra with Unbreaking III and Mending, to make it last as long as possible. Bring firework rockets as well, because without them, it is almost impossible to fly nonstop over long distances. Make as many rockets as possible, to account for the length of the trip.

Since you may want to make two different swords at the beginning, bring the one that has Looting on it, to increase the chances of a skeleton dropping its skull. Even though the maximum drop chance is 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, 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 days (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.

Choosing a battleground[edit]

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 manuverbility. If you do choose the end, make sure to battle on a large island so you don't fall off.


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.

Spawning the wither[edit]


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 only do so 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.

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 > 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+),

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


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 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.

Bedrock suffocation[edit]

Information icon.svg
This feature is exclusive to Java Edition.

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]

The following paragraph demonstrates the use of a bug and/or glitch to make a contraption.
Bugs of this nature may be fixed at any time without warning: when this happens, the contraption will cease to work.
Use at your own risk.
Information icon.svg
This feature is exclusive to Bedrock Edition.

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[edit]

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 may go through into the overworld. 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.