Minecraft’s Ender Dragon fight is a pivotal event in every survival and hardcore world. It gives the player huge amounts of EXP, effectively unlimited amounts of obsidian and endstone, and access to the outer End Islands where one of the most useful items in the game, the Elytra, can be found. But it can easily become one of the most dangerous boss fights in the game, so it’s essential that the player is effectively prepared for the fight, especially if the player is in hardcore mode.
Finding the Stronghold
First, the player must find the End Stronghold using Eyes of Ender. Getting enough ender pearls to do this can be a real hassle, but there are multiple ways to go about it.
The classic method of getting ender pearls is, of course, to kill Endermen. Deserts, badland plateaus, and large plains biomes are the best places to look for Endermen, since they are typically very flat and it’s easy to see a lot of area at the same time.
In versions 1.16 and above, warped forests are the best place to find Endermen, since they spawn very frequently there.
Minecraft’s Nether update (1.16) added Piglins, who you can trade gold with to get a variety of different items, including ender pearls. The chances are fairly low, but if you have a lot of gold and don’t want to risk fighting Endermen, this is a good option (just make sure you’re wearing a piece of gold armor so the Piglins don’t become aggressive!).
Lastly, ender pearls can be obtained through trading with an Expert Cleric Villager, typically for 5 emeralds each.
Once you have enough ender pearls (20 is a good number to shoot for, since it’s possible that some will break when thrown), it’s time to find the stronghold. It shouldn’t be more than 2000 blocks away from the world’s spawn point, since strongholds generate in concentric rings centered on the world spawn (3 in the first ring, around 2000 blocks wide; 6 in the second ring, around 6000 blocks wide; etc). Your Eyes of Ender will point you to the stronghold’s entrance, and from there, you should follow the sounds of lava and silverfish to find the portal room.
Preparing for the Fight
So, you’ve found the portal room and have enough Eyes of Ender to open the portal. The first thing you should do, though, is create a linked Nether portal that leads to the stronghold, and head right back to your home base.
The dragon fight is difficult at best; in hardcore mode, it could mean the loss of your entire world, and even in survival mode it could mean that all of your precious items, armor, tools, and weapons are lost to the void. It’s very important to be prepared for this fight in every way you can.
One of the first things to consider is your armor (diamond at least). Though Unbreaking III and Mending are both excellent enchantments to have on all of your armor, they aren’t essential for the fight. Other enchantments like Frost Walker, Soul Speed, or Depth Strider (boots) and Aqua Affinity or Respiration (helmet) are also great to have, but will not impact the dragon fight.
The essential enchantments for the dragon fight are Protection IV and Feather Falling IV. Having protection on all of your armor will greatly reduce the amount of damage you’ll take from the dragon and any Endermen you might anger. Feather Falling could very well save your life if you’re launched into the air by the dragon’s wings or knocked off an obsidian tower.
Weapons and Tools
Like armor, Unbreaking III and Mending are excellent to have, but not essential on your weapons for this fight. You should make sure you have a pickaxe, though, in case you need to quickly pick up some extra blocks.
Your primary weapon during the dragon fight will be your bow, so make sure you have at least one arrow (or a few stacks if your bow doesn’t have Infinity). Power V and Infinity are the essential enchantments to have on a bow. When the dragon flies down into her melee attack, she will be invulnerable to arrows, so you will need to use a sword or axe; whichever you choose should have Sharpness IV or V.
While often overlooked, potions are extremely helpful with most things in Minecraft, and the dragon fight is no exception. For a comprehensive list of all the potions in Minecraft and how to make them, check out our potions article here!
Potions like Strength, Regeneration, and Instant Health are very useful, and you should always have a couple of them on-hand. Swiftness, Leaping, and Night Vision can also be helpful, depending on whether you like using them or not.
However, the most essential potion for the dragon fight is Slow Falling, created with Phantom Membranes. Not only will this prevent you from taking fall damage if you’re launched into the air by the dragon’s wings, it will also give you plenty of time to throw an ender pearl if you get knocked off of the End island. It’s a good idea to have many of these on-hand (since the highest possible duration is only 4 minutes), and to drink one just before entering the End Portal.
You’ll likely be taking quite a bit of damage during the fight, so it’s important to bring plenty of food to keep your health and saturation up. Steak and Golden Carrots are the two best food sources in the game, and are roughly equal in terms of quality (though Golden Carrots are slightly better, and they can be obtained through trading with a Master Farmer Villager), though most other cooked foods will be sufficient too.
Golden Apples (crafted by surrounding an apple with gold ingots) are also an excellent food item to have. They restore a decent amount of saturation, but more importantly, they give two Absorption hearts and five seconds of Regeneration II. Since they are fairly cheap to make, you should have at least a couple of these on-hand.
Although you may be reluctant to let go of the Protection IV offered by your helmet, wearing a carved pumpkin (created by right-clicking a pumpkin with shears) during the dragon fight is extremely helpful. You’ll be looking around constantly and could easily agro some Endermen; wearing a carved pumpkin prevents Endermen from becoming aggressive towards you if you look at them.
During the fight, you should also carry ender pearls to get down from obsidian towers quickly, or to get back to the End island if you’re knocked off; a water bucket, in case your slowfalling potions run out; and plenty of blocks to build with.
After the Fight
Minecraft is a unique game, in that the “final boss fight” is actually just a stepping stone; there is no true “ending” to Minecraft, and in many cases there’s actually more gameplay after the fight than before it. But once the fight is over and the End Poem rolls, what next?
The Outer End Islands
Defeating the dragon grants the player access to the Outer End Islands via the End Gateway portals. These portals spawn in a circle around the center of the island, and one spawns each time the dragon is killed up to 20 portals – killing 20 dragons to spawn all 20 portals is called “Completing the End,” and actually has an achievement attached to it.
The End Islands harbor End Cities, which spawn with chests that have the best loot in the game. They are also filled with Shulkers, which drop Shulker Shells, which can be used to craft Shulker Boxes – extra inventory space that’s essential for long-term travel and large projects.
Lastly, one of the most useful items in the game spawns in End Ships (which have a 12.5% chance of generating above an End City): the Elytra. This item allows you to fly using fireworks to cross huge distances, safely travel at night, quickly escape danger, and survive falling off the End Islands; and the Elytra’s gliding ability – if used correctly – completely negates fall damage.
Minecraft is one of the only games that has no true ending. Players can keep exploring, creating, and gathering resources to their heart’s content; the functionally-infinite world generation allows for truly infinite possibility. The dragon fight is an essential step towards the “endgame,” since it gives access to essential items like Elytras and Shulker Boxes; but after that? After that, the endgame of Minecraft is whatever (and whenever) you want it to be – the world is yours for the taking.