A speedrun is a play-through of a video game performed with the intention of completing it as fast as possible. Speedruns may cover a whole game or a selected part, such as completing all achievements/advancements or killing a certain boss. Players attempt speedruns mainly to challenge themselves and to entertain and compete with others. For experienced Minecraft players, speedruns add a new challenge and sometimes ignore or subvert established game principles, such as never digging straight down.
While most games have an end or definite goal, Minecraft is an open-ended game and has no specific goal or end. However, killing the ender dragon and entering the exit portal is a common goal for Minecraft speedruns. Other goals may include killing all three major bosses or earning some or all of the advancements/achievements.
In addition to the goal of the speedrun, the rules can vary as well. Some of the most common types of speedruns are as follows:
- Set seed: The player enters a known seed before starting the world, presumably exploring the world beforehand to find location of loot, nether fortress, stronghold, etc. Players might run one seed repeatedly trying to reduce the time.
- Random seed: The player starts new world using a random seed. However, it is not against the rules to start a new world, look around for a village or other useful features and restart with another new, random world if necessary.
- Glitched/Glitchless: The player chooses whether to take advantage of glitches in the game (which is very common in speedruns for other games) or not. In Minecraft, the most useful glitches duplicate items or blocks and many of the these have been eliminated in recent versions, so speedruns using glitches are less common in newer versions.
- Difficulty: The player chooses the world's difficulty setting. Peaceful worlds do not spawn endermen and usually require players to buy eyes of ender from villagers.
- Version: Minecraft speedruns are divided in three further categories according to the version used for the speedrun:
- Pre 1.9, usually played on 1.7.
- 1.9 - 1.15, usually played on 1.14.4.
- 1.16+, usually played on 1.16.1 (only for random seed).
The goal of this article is to provide guidance for glitchless speedruns with the goal of killing the ender dragon.
Just as golf can be described as a nice walk spoiled by a little white ball, a glitchless speedrun can be a fun challenge spoiled by a little green pearl. Obtaining ender pearls is almost always going to be the most time-consuming part of any speedrun. Therefore, priority should always be to kill endermen, and it's never too early to get your first ender pearl. After getting a weapon, listen for endermen in any caves you explore. Especially after entering the nether, look around for endermen as you search for the fortress. Endermen can be easier to hunt in the nether because there are fewer other mobs to fight, there are frequently a lot of easy places to fight without being hit (such as standing in a 2 block high space), and they can be abundantly found within warped forests. Leaving the nether with your blaze rods and at least one pearl will help you start traveling in the direction of the stronghold right away.
Finding a village early in your speedrun will always provide a fast source of food. If you don't see a village right away, increase your render distance and head for higher ground to look around. Villages can also provide easy access to wood and cobblestone, a crafting table, and furnaces and loot if it has a blacksmith building. For your first few attempts at a speedrun, you may want to keep trying random worlds until you find a well-stocked village, or look up seeds with a village near the spawn area.
Generally, you'll need a flint and steel to enter the nether. However, once you have a flint and steel you can also set mobs on fire before you kill them. This is a very fast way to get cooked meat without waiting for a furnace. This is very critical early game, but less so later as you will have time to wait for food to cook.
While it's commonly called the number one unwritten rule of Minecraft, many players consider it normal to dig straight down during a speedrun, especially early in the run. This can save a lot of time, and you will not die if you are playing set seed and dig somewhere you know is hazard-free.
Think about the items you will need and gather these along the way as many resources can suddenly become rare when you need them. For instance, you will need gravel for flint, lava to make a nether portal and snowballs if you plan to use them to destroy the end crystals. Grab these items or make a note of their location as they can be hard to find when you need them.
If you need to travel in the overworld before making your nether portal, travel east or west to increase your X coordinate. Starting further east or west in the nether can make it faster to find a fortress.
Especially when looking for important things, such a lava to make a nether portal, blazes or other nether fortress mobs or silverfish to find the end portal, turn your volume up and turn on subtitles. This will help you know when you are close and give you a hint on their direction.
Press F3 to turn on the debug screen and always know exactly where you are. When playing set seed, this also makes it easier to find any specific block or generated structure you found before.
Two or three golden apples can be of great help when fighting the dragon. When chopping down oak/dark oak trees, look for apples and keep an eye out for gold ore when mining or looting. It's also possible to find golden apples or enchanted golden apples as loot.
TNT can be a quick way to destroy the cage around the end crystal and the end crystal itself at the same time. Place water on the ground, pillar up to the cage, place the TNT on it, activate it and drop down into the water.
Your time goal will affect your choices and your style of play a lot: if your goal is to complete the game in less than 30 minutes you won't have time to gather not strictly necessary resources such as armor, diamonds etc.
One of your first decisions may be whether to mine or not. The fastest speedruns use lava on or near the surface, a bucket and water to build a nether portal, but this means you will be traveling through the nether and killing several blaze with minimal equipment. You may want to gather some basic items, then dig down to the lava level or below to find more iron, diamonds, gold, etc. Mining will definitely increase your time, but it can also increase your survivability, up to and at the dragon. Anecdotal evidence shows that finding a nether fortress isn't affected by the Y level of the overworld portal.
Your first task is to get a full set of stone tools (the sword is optional and the hoe is only useful in 1.16). Get 4 logs from the nearest tree and craft a wooden pickaxe, then get enough cobblestone to craft the stone tools you need.
If you start near a village, hay bales are the best source of food (if you're playing a version after 1.14) as you can craft bread with them. In earlier versions you will need cooked meat, if there are pigs, cows or sheeps in the area, kill some of those, but if you didn't light them on fire first, you may want to wait to cook the meat until you enter the nether or while fighting blaze. If you're playing a version after 1.14 you might want to kill the iron golem to get some iron (4 ingots are needed to build a nether portal). Get all the beds as they will be useful to kill the ender dragon.
If you haven't spotted any lava and you don't plan to mine, you may want to gather other materials, make food, get flint or complete other necessary tasks while waiting for sunset. Once it starts to get dark, lava pools are much easier to spot from a height. Don't forget a blacksmith building has two lava source blocks if you happen to come across a smaller lava pool.
Make sure you have enough food and materials, then create a nether portal. Even if you have a diamond pickaxe, with some practice you can make a nether portal using a bucket, water and lava more quickly than mining 10 obsidian. Dig out a frame for the nether portal, if necessary, or pillar up 5-6 blocks and place your water source using the bucket. Now scoop up lava and place it next to the water to make obsidian. Keep adding lava until you have the 10 obsidian blocks in place to make the portal. If your lava makes cobblestone next to it instead of turning to obsidian, move the water source block until it's flowing next to the lava.
After you enter the nether you may want to set up a furnace to cook or smelt anything you didn't have time to before. Remember that if you leave a furnace in the overworld it will stop smelting shortly after you enter the nether so it won't be finished when you get back.
Take note of the coordinates of your portal in case you get lost.
Make sure you thoroughly understand how nether fortresses are generated and search accordingly. You are more likely to find a fortress quickly if you head east or west until X 200/-200 and then search north or south. Listen and keep an eye out for blaze and wither skeletons. Magma cubes also spawn at a higher rate in a fortress, so if you see one it might indicate a fortress nearby. Turn up your render distance, if possible, to see further. Remember to watch and listen for endermen and kill any that you find. Dig a quick tunnel two blocks high and 2 blocks back, look at the enderman and kill him from just inside the tunnel. If you travel very far to find the fortress, use torches or overworld blocks, such as cobblestone, dirt or leaves to mark your path back to the portal.
Once you find a nether fortress, you may want to search the interior first. The potential loot may help you survive the blaze and later parts of the game. A saddle is especially valuable later when you hunt endermen in the overworld. However, ultimately you want to find a blaze spawner. Ideally, you want a blaze spawner surrounded by netherrack so that you don't have to worry about blaze flying up or a ghast shooting at you. If the blaze spawner is out in the open, you may want build a quick roof and walls to keep the blaze in and protect yourself from other mobs. Building a two block pillar near the spawner can also help to block some blaze fire attacks while you kill the others. You usually want to leave with 8 blaze rods, more if you plan on making a brewing stand. If so, don't forget to get nether wart before you leave the fortress. While gathering blaze rods, you may want to keep them in your hotbar so you can see how many you have.
Finish exploring the fortress to get any additional loot, if desired, and head back to your portal. Get any items from the furnace and portal back to the overworld.
Your next two priorities are finding the stronghold and gathering ender pearls. If you have already managed to get an ender pearl, convert your blaze rod to blaze powder and make an eye of ender. Use the eye of ender to get the general direction of the end portal and start heading in the direction, unless you are in a good area for hunting endermen and it's night. It's ideal to use a triangulation calculator to minimize the number of pearls needed to find the stronghold. Write down your X and Z coordinates and the direction you are facing when looking at the eye of ender in the air (f). Two eyes of ender thrown from about 500 blocks apart in a radius around the stronghold will provide a very accurate location.
Remember that a saddle is very valuable? The fastest way to hunt endermen is riding a horse in the desert or savannah. Endermen won't spawn in the rain and therefore the lack of rain in the desert and savannah biomes is helpful. These biomes are also usually flat which makes it much easier to spot them. You can quickly ride far enough to reset the spawn, meaning you will have many more chances for endermen to spawn, riding in a large circle around the biome.
Most speedruns in the 1.9-1.15 category are played in 1.14 to exploit the fact that villagers restock immediately. Ideally you should use the 9 TNT hidden in desert temples to blow up the houses in a savanna village to get about 6 stacks of wood. Then you should craft the wood into sticks and trade them with fletchers, using the emeralds you get to level up a cleric villager, which has a chance to trade ender pearls.
Once you reach the area of the stronghold, you can start digging, unless it's night and the surrounding area is good for hunting endermen. If not, dig a pit for your horse and head underground. You might want to dig straight down, or dig stairs since you will likely be returning to the surface. Turn up your volume and turn on subtitles to help find silverfish, which spawn inside the end portal room. Strongholds can be vast, so keep track of your progress. Open wooden doors are a sign you have already been there, but use your pickaxe to remove iron doors, or else mine down the wall next to it. Use torches or other blocks to mark areas you have explored. Once you find the end portal, place any eyes you have already and figure out how many more you will need. Many players bring an extra ender pearl to teleport off the platform in the end, if necessary.
A very valuable item is a book with looting. These can be found in a few places, including libraries in a stronghold. If you find one and you have enough iron to make an anvil, this will drastically increase the number of ender pearls you can gather.
Once you have found the end portal, return to the surface the way you came or by digging a new set of stairs. Keep hunting endermen until you have enough ender pearls. During the day you can hunt for more loot in the stronghold or the overworld, gather additional resources, such as snowballs, flint to make arrows, food and golden apples.
When you have enough ender pearls to make eyes of ender and complete the frame, get ready to fight the dragon. You'll likely need good food, a water bucket, projectiles for the end crystals, blocks for pillaring up and a good weapon or several beds. Removing the end crystals is frequently more dangerous than killing the dragon. Once they are gone, killing the dragon isn't too difficult. Also, if you aren't using beds, remember that a stone axe deals more damge than a diamond sword. (Netherite swords work too, but are rarer due to the fact you need ancient debris, and ancient debris is quite rare, especially when you need four of them. You'll also need a diamond sword too, as well as a diamond pickaxe to mine it.) Waiting until the dragon is perched and jumping to get crits will kill the dragon in 3-4 perches.
After the dragon is dead, jump through the portal and check your time. How did you do?
This strategy is used to gather ender pearls quickly. It is based on the fact that mobs despawn if no player is within 128 blocks and that the player, upon death, is teleported to his spawn point.
First, find a flat area in a desert, then gather some sand, at least 2 and a half stack of leaves, ladders, a chest, a lava bucket, a bed and 12 wooden slab. Then build this structure, sleep in the bed to set your spawn point but leave it immediately.
Now drop off the tower, stop your fall with the ladders you placed and place all your items in the chest. At last, kill yourself with the lava you placed. Once you respawn, drop off the tower again and look for endermen, if no one is in sight kill yourself, if you can see one look at it and enter your structure to avoid being hit by the mobs, then take your sword from the chest and kill any enderman you looked at, then place the sword in the chest and kill yourself again. Repeat the process and get all the pearls the endermen dropped.