How to summon and kill the Wither in Minecraft

Minecraft Bedrock Edition
Minecraft Bedrock Edition (Image credit: Microsoft)

Wither in all its glory

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In Minecraft, you can summon and fight a Wither, a fearsome, three-headed enemy who shoots exploding skulls at you while it flies around. Think you're up for the challenge? Here's what you need to know to vanquish one of Minecraft's greatest foes.

Collecting resources from the Nether

A Nether fortress

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The first thing you need to do is collect the necessary resources to spawn the Wither — these resources include four blocks of soul sand and three Wither skeleton skulls. Prepare yourself accordingly for your trip to the Nether — many dangers lie ahead!

Soul sand is an easier resource to gather by a considerable margin. It's only found in the Nether and is pretty common, especially in Nether fortresses. It's useful for slowing things down, its ability to quickly grow Nether wart, and for—you guessed it—summoning the Wither. Use a shovel to mine four blocks.

Wither skeletons and soul sand

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Wither skeletons are a bit bigger than normal skeletons and have a darker shade to them. They attack using wicked swords that inflict damage followed by a "wither effect" that inflicts further damage over time. They have a relatively tiny chance of dropping a wither skull upon death (approximately 10%), so you may need to battle your way through a few of them to succeed at collecting three skulls. Enchanting your sword with Looting will help your chances.

When you've collected three skulls and four blocks of soul sand, beat a hasty retreat to the Overworld.

Preparing for the fight

The Wither has a ton of health, it destroys every block its body touches, and it shoots exploding projectiles. Needless to say, the battle will be fierce. Beating it will require a substantial amount of preparation.

Diamond armor stand

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Having the strongest tier of protection possible is essential to survive the Wither's onslaught. Diamond armor enchanted with high levels of Protection or Blast Protection is recommended. A shield can be a tremendous last-minute defense if you find yourself in the path of an explosive skull you can't dodge.

You'll also want a diamond sword enchanted with a high level of Smite, as the Wither is considered an undead enemy. A bow enchanted with Power and Infinite will be a great boon as well, since getting close to the Wither is a challenge unto itself. Focus on enchantments that increase sheer power and efficiency. The Wither isn't affected by flames or explosions, so you can safely ignore those routes.

A crossbow is also a viable option for going up against the Wither since it packs more firepower at the expense of speed. If you opt for this route, it's even more vital to have a vast number of arrows stocked up. Enchanting the crossbow to reload with Quick Charge is also recommended.

Brew yourself some potions:

  • Potion of Healing II: Down one of these to immediately regenerate eight hearts of health.
  • Potion of Strength II: Increases your melee damage by 260% for 1.5 minutes.
  • Potion of Regeneration II: Restores health for 22.5 seconds.
  • Potion of Night Vision: Allows you to see in the dark — perfect for when the Wither destroys your torches.

Golden apple crafting

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Craft as many golden apples as you can — when consumed, they provide five seconds of health regeneration and two minutes of damage absorption.

Last but not least: make sure you organize your inventory and ensure you have a hefty surplus of everything listed above. The Wither isn't invincible, but any confrontation with it can last a long while. Especially if you're not prepared going into it.

Choosing your battleground

Wither battleground

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The Wither is capable of an insane amount of destruction. It fires explosive projectiles that equal the force of a Creeper's dying breath, and anything it comes in contact with will simply cease to exist.

For these reasons, you'll want to spawn the Wither in a remote location with a lot of open space. Do some scouting to ensure you won't stumble on any surprises during the battle — you want your focus to remain on the Wither. Most importantly, stay far away from anything that you would mind seeing obliterated. Your fight with the Wither will likely meander all across whatever battleground you choose.

It also doesn't hurt to try and choose somewhere that's relatively flat, with little-to-no caves or ravines to be found. Cover doesn't work against something that can destroy anything, but falling down a hole at a crucial moment could be the difference between victory and defeat.

Finally, it might be worth building a base of operations. Somewhere you can safely retreat for a moment of respite, and to restock on crucial supplies like ammunition, potions, and food. However, there's only a single building block that can withstand the Nether, even if it can't do so indefinitely: obsidian.

Obsidian blocks can resist the Wither for the most part, except for the Wither's special attack: blue skulls. These skulls have greater destructive power and are capable of destroying even obsidian. Any base you build will need to be constructed out of obsidian, but it's essential to choose your retreats wisely, and never to stay too long.

Summoning the Wither

Wither-y boi

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Once you're fully and 100% ready to proceed, it's time to summon the Wither. Anyone who's experienced with summoning iron or snow golems will be familiar with this process.

  1. Start by making sure you have your soul sand with and wither skulls. You may have left them behind after all this preparation you've been doing.
  2. Arrange the soul sand blocks in a "T" shape. 2 blocks high, one block out on either side is the way to go.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Brace yourself and place your three wither skulls across the top of your soul sand "T." The order doesn't matter here.
  2. Back off. Quickly. Immediately.

Fighting the Wither

Fighting the Wither

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The Wither starts small and with half a bar of health, but it immediately starts to grow and gain health. When its health bar fills up, it lets out an explosion — make sure you're nowhere near when this explosion occurs.

When the fight begins, hit the Wither with everything, you have. It's important not to hold back, but to remain perfectly aware of your surroundings as you battle. If you pay attention and are careful to manage your health with potions and golden apples, you'll hopefully be able to down the Wither on your first try.

There are some things to bear in mind whenever you challenge the Wither:

  • The Wither will attack almost anything. If the Wither spots a cow, villager, or basically anything that isn't a hostile, undead mob, it will attack it. Another reason to choose a secluded location to battle.
  • Wither skulls cause the wither effect. Much like being hit by a wither skeleton, being clipped by a wither skull causes your hearts to turn black and behaves similarly to poison.
  • Blue skulls are more damaging than black skulls. There are two different kinds of explosive projectiles in the Wither's arsenal. Black skulls move faster and are less damaging to the terrain. Blue skulls move slowly in comparison but can destroy almost any block in the game, including obsidian.
  • Blue skulls can be knocked back. Much like ghast fireballs, you can successfully knock a blue skull back with a well-timed strike. Use this information with caution.
  • The Wither will try to avoid your attacks. A sword is incredibly useful for dealing massive amounts of damage quickly, but only if you can hit your target. This is why it's essential to have a bow/crossbow with lots of ammunition.

Wither at half-health

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

When you knock the Wither down to half health, the Wither will don a kind of armor, release a second massive explosion, and become far more aggressive. Depending on your difficulty, it could start spawning wither skeletons and rapid-fire up to 4 skulls at once. Not only that, it will charge toward its target, destroying anything and everything on the way there. Keep your wits around you, and stay calm.

Focus on taking down the wither skeletons and avoiding the explosive skulls. There's nothing worse than fighting a boss, only to be downed by one of the minions. Once those threats are removed, it's essential to stay patient and wait for opportunities to safely strike your opponent. You'll take down the Wither in no time.

The aftermath of the battle

Wither fight aftermath

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If (when) you successfully beat the Wither, it'll drop the Nether star. The Nether star is a rare item that is the central ingredient to crafting a beacon.

Beacons provide a bright beam of light to help you and friends locate your settlement and also provides some regeneration and other positive effects when you're in its vicinity. Worth the challenge? Definitely!

Will you go after a Wither to obtain the rare Nether star? Let us know in the comments section below!

Zachary Boddy
Staff Writer

Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.