There was an older thread that kind of talked about this, but I'm curious what tactics might have changed over time as players gain more experience and game changes are made.
We did a dragon fight this weekend and one of the players was super worried about having water to ride down the towers to avoid fall damage. We have potion of slow falling? Forget the water, right? No, he brought water and made a well as soon as we got there. (sigh)
The first time I killed the dragon (maybe even the first two or three times), I used cobblestone to get to the top of the towers. Now I use ladders. Reason being that if the dragon knocks out a section with me on it, I don't have to start over. I just gotta climb to the spot that got knocked out and keep going. I'm terrible at aiming with ender pearls from the bottom of the pillars, but I do okay with those to get to the other pillars once I'm on a high one. As long as a beacon doesn't have a cage around it and the dragon isn't coming for me, I also use arrows.
I used to use Protection IV on my armor, but switched to Blast Protection since most of the damage I get is just from taking out the beacons. I used to use feather falling, but the potion of slow falling makes that unnecessary. The potion of slow falling also means that I bring a LOT less health potions.
Potions: Slow falling, health, and strength for once the beacons are out. I also bring a couple stacks of empty bottles to collect dragon breath. I generally wait for the dragon to land and then do some sword whacking rather than trying to avoid making eye contact with endermen while searching the sky to aim a bow. It also allows me to gather some breath easily.
Don't forget to bring a little cobblestone, just in case the platform is out from the island. Did that once.
I tried the pumpkin head thing once, and it just annoyed the crap out of me. As long as you have a cross hair on your screen, it's fairly easy to avoid looking endermen in the face. Except when trying to aim a bow in the sky, as I mentioned previously. But I'm not sure that trying to aim with a pumpkin on your head causing limited visibility is any better.
I also brought a couple totems of undying, just in case. I mean, we've done so many raids that we have chests full of them. I kept one in my left hand during the battle. However, I ended up not needing it. Thanks to the totems, none of us stored backup gear in a chest near our beds.
How has your battle changed with experience and game changes?
I wore full enchanted diamond armor and brought potions the first time I went to fight the dragon (around 6 1/2 years ago) but these days I only bring iron armor with low-level enchantments (as I wear during the "early-game") with the best item being a bow with at least Power V, and Infinity if I get it twice while enchanting my "caving gear", which I only use during the "end-game" (this is your usual enchanted diamond gear; as for potions, I no longer bother with them at all, aside from Fire Resistance in the Nether and Weakness to cure zombie villagers).
The only time I've ever died in the End was from being knocked into the void, which is unsurvivable by any means unless you have a lucky Ender pearl throw, thus I highly recommend bringing some. Note that I play on Normal difficulty and in 1.6.4, without any of the 1.9 changes to the End, including in my own modded versions (I've only very recently modded even the Nether, as I spend nearly all my time in the Overworld, exclusively after the "end-game"), so for me nothing has changed since I started playing). Here is a screenshot I took of my inventory after the dragon fight; this was over 5 years ago so even back then I was playing as I do now (I believe I only used better gear the first time I fought it, in my first world; my overall playstyle has also remained the same for over 6 years).
I recently fought the Ender Dragon 18 times to open all of the outer end island portals. For this I brought my diamond gear (fully enchanted) and elytra. I used a bow (Infinity, Power V, etc.) and rockets to fly around and shoot the ender dragon in the air. Elytra makes taking out the crystals very easy. For whatever reason, I couldn't damage the dragon when it was hovering above the return portal so I just killed it in the air. I did use a few potions of slow falling but mostly just flew around.
@Fuzzy - So what method do you use the first time, since you can't get elytra until after you kill the dragon at least once? When we the kill the dragon again, I think I'm going to try this. We're going to need to kill some Withers first.
When I fought the dragon the first time, I was in 1.12 so I didn't have potions of slow falling. I used cobble to pillar up to the caged crystals and used a bow and arrow to knock out the other ones. Then I just used ender pearls to keep from taking too much fall damage (feather falling boots) and my sword when the dragon landed. I think I had some golden apples with me but I didn't use any potions the first time around.
As far as the crystals for respawning the dragon, you don't need anything from a wither. It's a ghast tear, eye of ender and glass.
The Meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything.
Well I have seen people beat the enderdragon with just snowballs so it's bot that much of a challenge just iron armor and maybe a diamond and a bow with either infinity or alot of arrows always worked for me.
I brought a ton of TNT and beds so that I could "explodicate" the dragon to death. I also got blast protection on my armor so I took little to no damage, it took like a million years to get every single piece of armor, I'm telling you! I also brought a flame-enchanted bow to trigger the TNT from afar.
In the end, I accidentally fell into the void and ragequit.