Minecraft Guide to Beacons: Recipe, setup, and more

A bunch of beacons
A bunch of beacons (Image credit: Windows Central)

Beacons represent the epitome of prestige in Minecraft. By that, I mean they're ludicrously expensive and difficult to obtain. Not only do you have to summon and defeat one of the most dangerous enemies in all of Minecraft and harvest the elusive Nether star from their remains, but you also have to craft the beacon and place it atop a pyramid. Not just any old materials will do for this pyramid, either. Oh no, only the finest and hardest to obtain materials can satisfy your beacon.

If you succeed in your quest to become the wealthiest Steve in Minecraft, you'll gain a lot of other benefits besides bragging rights. Perks like increased movement and mining speeds, regenerative health, and a permanent marker to light your way if you ever get lost are all enticing reasons to slave away until you accomplish crafting and setting up a beacon. Fortunately, we've got a decent guide for you right here.

How to craft a beacon

Crafting done right

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The crafting recipe for constructing a beacon is relatively simple: a dome of 5 glass blocks, a base of 3 obsidian blocks, and a single Nether star nestled in the middle. Sounds easy enough, but crafting a beacon first requires that you, well, actually have all of these resources. The former ingredients are easy to come by, but the latter? You have to summon and defeat the Wither,, which has its own process and requirements to complete.

Wither-y boi

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The Wither is one of the big bosses in Minecraft, right alongside the Ender Dragon. When you defeat it, it drops a single Nether star, which will allow you to craft a single beacon. Want more beacons? Beat more Withers. It's not a fight to be taken lightly, however, so make sure you're duly prepared.

Where to place your beacon

A lone beacon

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If you want to have more than just a pretty laser firing into the blocky sky, you'll need to place your beacon on top of a pyramid. The pyramid is what grants your beacons additional powers, and can grant any players within its vicinity huge buffs that are awesome for your primary base.

The pyramid can have up to 4 levels (with each successive level having more blocks) and must be constructed out of iron, gold, diamond, or emerald. Not ore, but solid blocks constructed out of 9 ingots or gems, respectively. Fortunately, it doesn't matter in the slightest which of these materials above you choose to use, and you can mix and match as much as you want. As long as the entire pyramid is built from these materials in some way, your beacon will shine.

On top of that, there cannot be anything obstructing the beacon's view of the sky. Other beacons, glass blocks, and similar transparent blocks are acceptable, but anything else will cause the beacon to stop functioning. Basically, you can't have a secret beacon.

A mixed up beacon

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You're not just limited to one beacon, either. You can erect a single pyramid to house any number of beacons, theoretically, which could net you additional perks beyond what a single beacon is capable of accomplishing. To garner the full effects of a beacon, however, you'll want to have four levels to your pyramid in total.

Single-level pyramid

Little beacon boi

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The first level of the beacon nets you one ability (either Speed or Haste), and has the smallest range of the bunch (only 20 blocks in any direction.) It's a good start though if building a full pyramid is a tough pill to swallow with your available resources.

For a single beacon, a single-level pyramid is incredibly simple: a 3x3 square comprised of 9 blocks of whatever material you chose. Any additional beacons you add basically expand the pyramid as needed. Two beacons need a 4x3 rectangle comprised of 12 blocks. 4 beacons need a 4x4 square comprised of 16 blocks. On and on, etcetera. You get the point.

Two-level pyramid

A big brother joins

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Adding a second level to your pyramid requires a substantial increase in resources, but grants you a second ability (either Resistance or Jump Boost). It also increases the effective range of your beacon to 30 blocks in any direction.

The second level of your pyramid basically adds two blocks to either side on top of your first level. For example, a pyramid with one beacon at the top will have a 3x3 square for its first level, and a 5x5 square for its second. A pyramid with two beacons will need a 6x5 square for its second level. Count, build, repeat.

Three-level pyramid

Another larger boi

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The third level of your pyramid adds the Strength boost to your beacon, and further boosts the effective range to 40 blocks in any direction.

It follows the same basic rules. Add 2 blocks to each side on top of your second level. A single-beacon pyramid will need a 7x7 square of iron, gold, diamond or emerald blocks at the bottom. You probably get the idea at this point.

Four-level pyramid

The whole family's together

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The fourth and final level of your beacon's pyramid will either grant you a secondary ability (regeneration) or choose to bring your primary abilities to level 2, thus increasing their effects. It also boosts the range to a full 50 blocks in any direction.

Once again, the fourth level follows the same rules as all the other levels. Essentially you want each level to be a "step" to the next level.

Beacon power-ups

He's by himself

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There are a total of six abilities and power-ups you can gain from a beacon. You have your choice of two with a level 1 beacon, two more at a level 2 beacon, one at a level 3 beacon. Then you have the option of a sixth secondary ability or making your primary abilities stronger at a level 4 beacon.

Power up your beacons

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You choose the upgrade path you want by going into your beacon's menu and feeding it ingots or gems of iron, gold, diamond, and emerald. Any one will do. Once you've given the beacon an ingot or gem, you can choose the path you want, then hit the green checkmark to confirm. Beacons will also remember your decision, so if your pyramid is damaged, destroyed, or altered in any way, the beacon will revert to the same upgrades once it's back online.

Beacon tips and tricks

The Microsoft logo!

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You've defeated the Wither, found the mysterious Nether star, constructed the awesome beacon, spent a horrifying amount on building a pyramid for it, and have fully powered it up and upgraded it. Did you think you were done there? There are still a few tips and tricks you can use to get the most out of your beacon.

  • Your beacon has range. Creating a beacon doesn't give you awesome powers for all eternity. If you leave your beacon's range, you'll lose those power-ups after about 5 to 9 seconds.
  • You're limited by one beacon. One level 4 beacon can only have either: Regeneration and a level 1 power or one level 2 power.
  • You can have multiple beacons. While having multiple beacons is something usually reserved for large adventure style maps with many people working on the project, it's the only way to get all the aforementioned powers fully upgraded and working simultaneously. You would need six beacons to maximize.
  • You can customize your beacon's light. While beacon's look cool by default, you can alter their color! If you place a block of stained glass above a beacon, the light will change to imitate the color of the glass. If you're on the Java Edition, you can even finetune this and have basically every color under the rainbow.
  • Beacons can be safely mined. Don't worry about having to move your precious beacon and accidentally breaking it. Beacons can be extracted with any tool and will always be recoverable.
  • Beacons won't be destroyed by explosions. Another protection for the ultra-rare beacon. If a nosy creeper meanders into your beacon, it won't disappear. You'll be able to pick it back up and rebuild it as you need.
  • You can change your beacon's powers. As long as you got more ingots or gems lying around, you can always move your beacon's powers around.

Wrapping up

What a pretty beacon

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Beacons are clearly full of excellent benefits to help you reinforce your base, but that also comes with a long and arduous journey to set it up. It's up to you to decide if it's worth the effort to create a beacon in Survival mode. Still, beacons can always provide useful perks if you're a part of a Minecraft Realm of an adventure-style map with multiple people to contribute to the project.

Did you do what it takes to build and power a beacon? Let us know in the comments below!

Cale Hunt

Cale Hunt brings to Windows Central more than eight years of experience writing about laptops, PCs, accessories, games, and beyond. If it runs Windows or in some way complements the hardware, there’s a good chance he knows about it, has written about it, or is already busy testing it.