The wither is a nether-themed Minecraft boss that is best known for dropping nether stars which are a requirement for building a beacon. Unlike other bosses like the Ender Dragon or mobs like zombies, the wither must be summoned using blocks only obtainable in the nether.
The boss fight does not necessarily need to take place in the nether and it is a common practice to fight the wither deep underground in the main world. This guide will teach you how to spawn the boss, defeat it, and get a nether star.
Wither Spawning Mechanics
The Wither is immediately spawned in Minecraft when three wither skeleton skulls are placed on soul sand in a specific arrangement, as shown in the photo below. Wither skeleton skulls are a rare drop from wither skeletons, a mob that spawns only in Nether Fortresses found in the nether.
You will have to farm Wither Skeletons until you get three skulls!
Step 1: Find a Nether Fortress
Wither skeletons will only naturally spawn in Nether Fortresses, so finding one is the first step! The easiest way to find a nether fortress in Minecraft is to run east or west in the nether, along the X coordinate. This is because nether fortresses spawn in strips going north and south, and if you go east or west you are much more likely to intersect one.
If this sounds confusing, we made a diagram to better explain this:
As you can see from the diagram, if you travel only north or south, you can go for thousands of blocks without finding a nether fortress!
Step 2: Obtain Wither Skeleton Skulls
Once you find a nether fortress, you have the option of building a wither skeleton farm or simply running around and killing them as they spawn. If you are only looking for one or two beacons, it is probably most time efficient to simply run around the fortress and kill every skeleton you see until you have the three skulls.
Tip: The normal drop rate for wither skeleton skulls is very low, 2.5%. This means you would have to kill on average 40 wither skeletons for one skull. A sword with the Looting III enchant will increase this drop rate to 5.5% which is an over double increase. A looting III sword is strongly recommended!!
If you’re finding that it’s taking a long time to get your skulls, try following these tips:
- Wither Skeletons only spawn in areas with little light, just like most other mobs. Do not place torches anywhere you want a wither skeleton to spawn! Any nearby lava or glowstone will also emit light and prevent skeletons from spawning.
- Nether Fortresses have an invisible “bounding box” around them and wither skeletons can spawn anywhere in this box on most types of blocks (including cobblestone and dirt). To increase spawning chances, you can increase the width of the roads and remove walls. A wither skeleton farm can be made by modifying large amounts of a nether fortress.
- Wither skeletons can also spawn on the roofs of nether fortresses.
- There is a limit as to how many total mobs can spawn in a nearby area, including zombie pigmen, blazes, ghasts, and wither skeletons. If there are too many zombie pigmen or other mobs nearby, less wither skeletons will spawn. Make sure you kill all the nearby mobs!
Step Three: Spawn & Defeat The Wither
Congratulations on getting three wither skeleton skulls! You are now ready to spawn the boss and get your nether star. Follow these next steps and it will be a piece of cake.
- The Wither causes a lot of damage to nearby blocks. It will destroy nearly any block it touches and it also shoots block-destroying fireballs. I cannot emphasize this enough: do not spawn the Wither in your base! If you do so, you will have a boss flying around your base blowing up all your builds. If you happen to die, it will be a total disaster dealing with it afterwards.
- The Wither inflicts a health-draining status effect when it attacks you. This will turn your health bar black and transfer your hearts to the boss.
- Damage potions will heal the boss, so don’t bother using them.
I recommend bringing your best items for this fight. This includes:
- High quality equipment such as netherite (preferably all enchanted).
- Bow (again, preferably enchanted to do more damage) and arrows (if not enchanted with infinity).
- Some good quality food (for example bring steak and not carrots or watermelon).
- Golden apples or healing potions are recommended for quickly regenerating health.
- Pickaxe and shovel for digging out the summoning area.
The summoning area will need to be dug out deep underground, preferably a decent distance away from any of your buildings. This will contain the wither’s explosions to a smaller area and also prevent the wither from flying around. The spawn room should look like this photo:
Next, dig a long 2×1 tunnel and connect it to the spawn room (make sure it is well-lit with torches to stop mobs from spawning) as shown in the next photo:
The Wither will not be able to enter this tunnel as it is too large. It will be stuck in the initial room and then use explosions to break blocks and come closer to you. The length of the tunnel will depend on how strong your bow and sword are.
If you have some good enchantments, then the fight will be very short and the tunnel doesn’t need to be very long. If you have just a plain unenchanted bow and sword, make the tunnel fairly long.
When you are ready, place your three wither skeleton skulls on top of the soul sand. When the Wither is spawning, make sure you run away into the tunnel as it will create a powerful explosion. After the explosion, you will simply use your bow to hit the boss with arrows from the tunnel. If you are far away enough, you will be able to continuously hit the boss with arrows and probably not even take any damage.
Once the Wither’s health is 50% (there will be an HP bar at the top of the screen), it will be immune to arrows. You must then get up-close and use your sword to attack the boss until it is dead. You will still be able to attack it inside of the tunnel, just try to keep the maximum distance possible.
When the Wither is dead, it has a 100% chance to drop the nether star.