Block of the Week: Spawner

But what spawns the spawners?

I still fondly recall the first time I saw our Block of the Week. It was late 2010, and I was merrily digging my way through the side of a hill when suddenly I stumbled upon some mossy cobblestone. “That’s weird”, I thought to myself, “and why am I hearing so many zombie sounds?” 

I broke through the mossy cobble, and spotted some sort of cage, which seemed to be on fire? I didn’t have time to think before I was beset by a horde of angry zombies. Reader, I died. And my diamond pickaxe was lost forever. Our Block of the Week is the spawner, and I’ve never forgiven it.

Spawners became a part of Minecraft in June 2010 alongside Dungeons and Saddles, as part of the second Secret Friday Update. They appear naturally as part of world generation in a bunch of unpleasant places – Dungeons, Mineshafts, Woodland mansions, Strongholds, Nether Fortresses, and Bastion remnants.

A spawner makes a nice bass drum sound if you put it underneath a note block, but that’s not its main job. Its main job is to spawn – and spawn it does, every 10-40 seconds, in four randomly chosen points within about 4 blocks. Inside, you’ll see a tiny spinny version of the mob it’s trying to spawn, and it’ll spin faster and faster as it gets ready to spawn.

The best way to tackle one is with a pickaxe. Hit it and keep hitting it and it’ll break, dropping experience orbs. At the same time, of course, the spawner will be spawning monsters that’ll attack you – so you need to balance up the need to destroy the spawner with the need to fight the mobs.

But what if you don’t want to destroy the spawner? What if you want to control it instead, and perhaps even turn it into a mob farm? That’s where the magic of light comes in – if you light up the area around the spawner sufficiently (exactly how much depends on the mob it’s spawning) then the spawner will cease operation until the environment is once again darkened. That allows you full control of its operations.

That’s important because you can’t create or obtain spawners yourself - not even with a Silk Touch pick. To create one, you’ll need to either be playing in Creative Mode (in Bedrock Edition) or use the /give command in Java Edition. It’ll give you a pig spawner by default, which can then be changed to the mob you want by using a spawn egg on it.

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere