Villages already had enough to worry about. Zombies, mostly. But also lightning storms, their own stupidity, maybe the odd homicidal player. After the massive Village & Pillage update, the number of threats has increased by a big giant one. Pillagers are members of the illager category of mobs in Minecraft and scour the world looking for villages to raid. Armed with crossbows and a particularly mean outlook on life, they're a unique force of destruction for you to contend with. Here's everything you need to know about them.
What are the pillagers?
A pillager is a form of illager, meaning a mob that has the appearance of a villager but is typically hostile in nature and has different behaviors. The pillager joins the vindicator and the evoker (both of which are more common in woodland mansions) as the only illagers currently in the game naturally.
The difference between pillagers and other illagers is that pillagers are quite common in Minecraft, and can be a regular threat to both the player and to any nearby villages. You can spot them by their grey skin, leather gear, and menacing scowls. They also come equipped with crossbows, a slower and more powerful version of an ordinary bow, that can strike you from up to 8 blocks away.
Found in pillager outposts, out on patrol at night, and during the hectic and violent raids against villages, players can run into pillagers quite often. They're almost always aggressive and are particularly hateful towards villagers. Definitely keep an eye out for these grouchy hostile mobs.
What do pillagers do?
Pillagers will use their crossbows to indiscriminately attack any and all nearby players, villagers, iron golems, and wandering traders, even going so far as to following them for a distance if they run. And they also come in groups, making them even more dangerous. There are three different ways you might run into some nasty pillagers.
These parties have up to 5 pillagers within them, and can even spawn with a vindicator or two on higher difficulties. Vindicators are another illager-type mob that wields an iron axe in their hands, chasing down any opponents. They spawn randomly at night and aren't dependent on nearby villages or outposts like other encounters with pillagers. This means you can run into these patrols pretty much anywhere.
The only way to deal with a patrol is to either fight or run. Because of their ranged capabilities and group tactics, both options can be annoying if you're not prepared properly. Beware, some patrols will also come with a pillager captain, which I detail below.
Outposts are pillager-specific structures that typically spawn just out of eyesight of a village, but never in or immediately around them. These outposts are towers constructed primarily of dark oak and cobblestone, giving them an ominous appearance. Pillagers can spawn in a radius around these outposts and will attack any threat that comes within their perimeter.
Other structures may generate around a pillager outpost, including dark oak cages that sometimes contain captive iron golems. Free these iron golems, and they will aid you in taking down the pillager outpost. Or you can avoid these outposts if you want, and nothing will really come of it. However, outposts can contain chests with valuable loot in them, including:
- Dark oak log
- Tripwire hook
- Iron ingot
- Bottle o' enchanting
- Enchanted book
If you choose to conquer an outpost, a methodical approach is preferred. Don't get caught in a battle outside where multiple pillagers can corner you with their crossbows. Rather, focus on getting inside, where close quarters render crossbows ineffective.
All outposts will also have a pillager captain, and sometimes as many as 3, which is a unique pillager variant that carries a dark grey banner on its back. If you successfully defeat the pillager captain, two things will happen: the pillager captain will drop the grey banner that you can use as a decoration; you will receive the Bad Omen effect, which is a negative effect that comes into play whenever you enter a village.
Which brings us to the final way to encounter pillagers.
Raids are certainly the headline feature of the Village & Pillage update. These are miniature boss battles in which you have to defend a village from wave after wave of encroaching pillagers. These pillagers are numerous, and intent on wiping out the entire village. More than that, a new hostile mob called a ravager joins the fray to wreak havoc.
Before I tackle the nitty-gritty of the raids and how you can avoid watching your entire pillage perish, let's cover how these raids occur. It's not just an unlucky coincidence that incites a raid whenever you happen to enter your favorite village. Raids are activated whenever the player enters a village's border afflicted with the Bad Omen effect. This negative effect doesn't hurt you or otherwise affect your abilities, but can be detrimental to a village's health if you're not careful.
How do you get the Bad Omen effect? Simple: defeat a pillager captain in combat. Once the pillager captain falls, you receive the Bad Omen effect for 60 minutes, during which any village is in danger if you approach it. What's more, the Bad Omen effect can stack up to 6 times with each successive pillager captain you defeat, with each level increasing the difficulty by giving more enemies enchanted weapons for their village assault.
You might be asking yourself why anyone would ever desire to summon a raid on a hapless village, but these raids are invincible armies of god-like creatures. If you're adequately prepared and have dutifully defended (pardon the alliterations) your humble village, raids can not only lead to a hefty bounty of experience points and other loot from the pillagers but also decrease trade prices in the village. That's right! If you ward off a raid from a village, you're rewarded by seeing reduced prices for a limited time in a village. This positive effect is called Hero of the Village, and for some will be the biggest motivation for taking on the raids.
Depending on your difficulty level, raids will either have 3, 5, or 7 waves with varying numbers of enemies. Raids also introduce other enemies besides the tarditional pillager and the odd vindicator. Most of the illager mobs can be found in a raid, in addition to a new kind of mob exclusive to raids that packs a mighty punch. The mobs that can be found in a raid include:
- Pillagers. The go-to rank-and-file soldier found in raids. Crossbow-wielding maniacs.
- Vindicators. A more uncommon member of the pillager ranks. Equipped with oddly dull iron axes that require extra effort to compensate.
- Witches. A nasty mob that throws a variety of potions and poisons at their enemies.
- Evokers. One of the rarest hostile mobs in the game, and another member of the illager class. Casts spells and summons hostile mobs called vexes.
- Ravagers. Huge bull-like hostile mobs that attack by ramming into its enemies at high speeds and dealing huge amounts of damage. Has large amounts of health. Can be ridden by other illager mobs.
- Captains. Each wave of the raid will have a raid captain. These captains carry the same banners that pillager captains do. Pillagers, vindicators, and evokers can all be captains. If a captain dies, other illagers can take on the mantle by picking up the banner.
The only way to defeat a raid is to successfully destroy all oncoming enemies, or fail to protect the village. Starting a raid warrants preparation, like defenses to prevent the village from being overrun. To finish a raid, you either have to wait it out (which can take more than an hour of in-game time) or kill every hostile.
How to defend from pillagers
Now that we've covered everything you need to know about pillagers, it might be essential to understand how not to die when facing them. Not only that, but raids are a serious threat to even the largest village if you're not able to stop them in time. Luckily, there are a few ways to make this a lot easier.
Create a perimeter
The first step is to make some kind of perimeter around your village. This could be a wall that's at least two blocks high, a trench that's at least three blocks deep, some kind of moat, or really anything that prevents unwanted parties from accessing the village proper. It's important to remember that creating a defensive perimeter around your village is more about control rather than actually dealing with the raid. Pillagers are still able to open doors just like villagers, and unless you're planning on waiting them out, they don't just give up willy nilly.
If you control where pillagers will be, it's a lot easier to deal with them when and how you want to. No perimeter means pillagers are free to rampage and destroy as they please, and it's nearly impossible for a single person to mitigate all the ensuing chaos. Remember where your entry points are, and plan accordingly.
Iron golems are great
Another way to assist in a raid is by having your own private army. Iron golems are sworn to defend villages, and pillagers are their mortal enemies. Iron golems will immediately attack any pillager in their sight and are a great distraction as well. Their large amounts of health and high attack power mean they're very effective at crowd control and are even able to go toe-to-toe with the brutal ravager.
Placing iron golems near any entry points through your perimeter means any pillagers that do find their way through immediately have to deal with what is essentially an angry metal bear. Anything that will draw the pillagers away from your villagers is a plus, and the iron golems aren't slackers. They'll do their part to shrink the raid forces.
You're kind of overpowered
Last but not least, you are the most crucial piece during a raid. Adequately prepared, the player is the most powerful force in the game, so it's ultimately up to you to knock heads around and take out as many pillagers as you can. I recommend full iron armor or better, an iron sword or better (a trident works too), a bow or crossbow, plenty of arrows and food, golden apples if possible, and of course to enchant as much gear as you can.
Stay smart, use your chokepoints and ranged weapons to your advantage, and be wary of the devastating attacks dished out by ravagers. On harder difficulties, a raid can get hectic. Still, if you're aided by some kind of perimeter and iron golems, you shouldn't have any issues conquering your enemies and emerging victorious as the Hero of the Village.
Running for the hills
Villagers apparently weren't in enough danger, so Mojang decided to shake things up and add another significant mechanic revolving around Minecraft's scattered communities. Pillagers are a hassle, but they're an excellent way to profit even more from trading, as well as racking up the experience points. You get good at it; you can also build up a collection of gently used crossbows and some decorative banners.
Have you run into the pillagers before? How do you protect your villages from them? Sound off in the comments below!
Get the Windows Central Newsletter
All the latest news, reviews, and guides for Windows and Xbox diehards.
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.