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My friend is new to Minecraft, and though he has understood the basics of gameplay, he still doesn't understand the point of the nether.

In simple terms, how can I describe the benefits of the nether?

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4 Answers

up vote 16 down vote accepted

These are all good answers, but they seem to be tailored to more advanced Minecraft players, and you wanted a KISS answer. (Keep it Simple Stupid)

The Nether is neccesary if your ever wish to craft potions, slay any of the bosses, and\or have access to some other unique things.

The Nether can also be convienently used to travel great (overworld) distances in a short amount of time.

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While @Buhb's answer is tecnincally correct, villagers are random, and the Nether is gauranteed. –  Ender Oct 18 '12 at 19:11
    
One key point... if you can't buy the Eye of Ender from a villager, then the only way to make it is with blaze powder crafted from blaze rods in the Nether. In short, no Nether == no way to get to The End. –  gnovice Mar 27 '13 at 18:31
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As Per the Minecraft wiki:

  • The nether can used for traveling traveling large distances on the above ground map quickly
  • The nether contains block types not seen anywhere else such as:
    • Nether Wart (For Potions, can only be grown in the nether)
    • Netherrack
    • Soul Sand
    • Glowstone Blocks (Alternative to Torches)
    • Nether Brick
    • Nether Brick Fence
    • Nether Brick Stairs
    • Blaze Rods (Used in creating potions and Alchemly lab)
    • Magma Cream (Used in creating potions)
    • Ghast Tears (Used in creating potions)

There are four mobs in the Nether can only be found in the Nether:

  • Ghast
  • Magma Cube's
  • Blazes (Only in Nether Fortresses)
  • Zombie Pigmen (though these can spawn in the overworld when lighting hits a pig)
  • Wither Skeletons (Also only in Nether Fortresses)

The Nether is also the only place to find Nether Fortresses which contain Nether Bricks and Blaze Spawners. Also the Nether has no night/day cycle and no weather. The only sources of natural light come from the lava, fire, and glowstone located there. Also a compass is useless in the Nether as it will just spin continuously in random directions and the same goes for the night/day cycle clock that can be crafted.

For more detailed information I would recommend reading the whole Minecraft Wiki Nether Page.

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Just a side note Wither Skeletons will rarely drop their skulls which is the key ingredient in having the Wither Boss Spawn –  Robert A Palmer Oct 18 '12 at 18:21
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Good stuff, except your parenthetical on Nether Wart is wrong -- it's only found in the Nether, but it will grow on Soul Sand no matter where you put it -- I have a Nether Wart farm in the Overworld that's highly productive! –  Kromey Oct 18 '12 at 18:48
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Ah, well it has been sometime since i last played and when i did it only grew in the nether –  Robert A Palmer Oct 18 '12 at 18:55
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The entire Nether is permeated with light level 4. It's not just the lava, fire, and glowstone. –  SaintWacko Oct 18 '12 at 18:59
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SaintWacko, this comes from the wiki on the nether: A dim ambient light can be seen throughout the Nether, but this is purely a visual effect and does not affect game mechanics. light works the same way in the Nether as it does in the Overworld: there are 16 levels of brightness and one level falls off for every transparent block it radiates through. –  Robert A Palmer Oct 18 '12 at 19:13
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Apart from the more general fact that there are resources there that you can't get anywhere else, up until recently, you also needed to visit the nether in order to get stuff required for you to reach the ender dragon, considered to be the final boss. Nowdays you can buy the critical components from villagers, so the trip is no longer strictly required.

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The Nether is the only way to acquire Glowstone, one of the brightest light sources available along with the Jack O' Lantern, and an ingredient in the creation of the only redstone-toggleable light source. It is also the only way to acquire various brewing ingredients, to wit, Netherwart, Ghast Tears, and Blaze Rods. Netharrack, the material the Nether is built out of, will burn indefinitely, unlike wood. Zombie Pigmen, found only in the Nether, are an unlimited source of Gold Nuggets, which can be combined into Gold Ingots. It is also a near-unlimited source of lava.

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Since Netherwart is used to make Awkward Potions, and all potions are based on Awkward Potions, the Nether is vital if you ever want to make potions. –  KBKarma Oct 18 '12 at 18:16
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@KBKarma: Not to mention a Blaze Rod is required to build a Brewing Stand –  MBraedley Oct 18 '12 at 18:38
    
Doubly-vital, then; I'd forgotten about that. –  KBKarma Oct 18 '12 at 18:47
    
Jack 'o' Lantern and Glowstone both has 15 Lumination –  Cresh Oct 18 '12 at 18:54
    
@Cresh - Oh, that's right! I never use the Jack O' Lantern because it looks odd. Added that to the answer. –  SaintWacko Oct 18 '12 at 18:58
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