Note: This guide was written before Command Blocks were a thing.
Spleef is probably the most played and well known mini game in minecraft. It has a lot of different variations, some more difficult than the others, but all of them are quite easy to build.
The aim of the game is to be the last person standing, which you achieve by destroying the floor you and the other players are standing on. The floor is usually either floating high in the air or placed above a lava lake. Though more player friendly options can also be used, like water.
Players will have to destroy the blocks underneath the other players, which will cause them to fall and be kicked out of the game (or die). The floor can be made out of almost anything, though it’s usually made out of easy to destroy blocks, like wool, leaves, snow and other “soft” blocks.
TNT can also be used, as it will fall when it’s activated using flint and steel or a fire charge. This will usually kill the player in mid air, which is fun for the audience to watch.
Another variation is to use netherrack, which can be set on fire and will kill the player. This could sometimes give a player a second chance, as fire on players often doesn’t burn long enough to kill them.
It’s possible for the players to be separated by large gaps in the floor, in this case it’s up to the contest organizer to decide who wins or what happens next. You could simply kill them both, let both of them live, make the person on the largest “island” the winner or perhaps teleport them both to the largest island and destroy everything else.
It’s usually not allowed to place blocks, though if it is allowed it should be restricted to only easily destroyable blocks, preferably the same type as the arena floor.
Rebuilding the Floor
Because this mini game requires a large amount of blocks to be destroyed, rebuilding the arena floor can be a bit tedious. It’s advised to use a server plugin to restore the floor instantly.
Though some players agree that the loser will have to rebuild the floor. If you have a lot of players or a large audience, rebuilding the floor together shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
There are a lot of different variations, most of which just use a different floor, though some variations offer an extra challenge.
In this version several floors are build above each other. Players who fall through the first floor will fall onto the second floor, and so on. The players who have fallen on the second floor will be able to dig the floor above them, but not the floor they’re standing on, untill all other players are on that same floor, otherwise that player could simply dig huge holes through which all the players will fall.
You could also declare whoever manages to stay on top the winner, the player who manages to stay on the second layer the first runner up, and so on. Though most players usually jump down when they’re the only ones left, as playing is more fun than waiting.
No Jump Spleef
In this version a ceiling is build 2 blocks above the floor, so players will be unable to jump. This makes it much harder to avoid the gaps in the floor. This can be very challenging, though some players find the low ceiling to be more of an annoyance due to the camera angles.
As the name implies, maze spleef is played in a maze. Although it adds a challenge, these games often end in ties, as players are often unable to reach other after digging out the floor between them. Building many different paths will help, but it’s often an unavoidable end to the game.
In this version only 1 player is allowed to dig and is positioned under the floor. All the other players will have to keep walking and hope the floor isn’t dug out from underneath their feet. Players who fall could either be killed in lava, if the digger is flying, or help dig out the floor.
Note that this game almost requires the names to be hidden by using a server plugin, as the people on top will otherwise be able to follow the player below, and vice versa.
Once a large part of the floor has been dug out, most players will be able to see the diggers.
In this version the floor is 4 layers thick. All players will have to dig underground, without digging up the top layer. The players will have to try to find each other without falling into a hole or out of the sides.
You could allow the players to place blocks, which can cover holes they’ve dug in the floor. However, only allow them to place a limited amount of blocks or else the game will last too long.
Note that this version is usually pretty boring for anybody watching it from the outside, especially if the names have been hidden by a server plugin.
You could make the top layer out of glass so people on top can look at the players, though some audience members might give away the position of the players.
In this version the floor is set on fire, either right in the middle or in several positions. Players will have to try to avoid the fire while also trying to avoid each other. This game could lead to ties when players fall down at the same time.
This game requires an admin to spawn in a floor of leaves. Spawned leaves will decay, which means this version works similar to fire spleef though the floor disapears randomly, which adds to the challenge.
Building the leaf floor by hand will not cause the leaves to decay, though it could be used as a fast version of spleef, as leaves are instantly removed when you use shears.
Ultra Fast, Fire Leaf Spleef
This version combines the flammability of leaves and its decaying property. This version requires an admin to spawn in a floor of leaves which is then set on fire. Players will have to avoid both the decaying leaves as the fires burning away the floor.
To make it even faster, players could be given shears, which will instantly destroy the leaf blocks.
In this version playes are also allowed to attack each other. This could potentially add a tactical aspect to the game, though it often just leads to a PvP fight while everybody ignores the floor.
You could use this in combination with leaf, fire or ultra fast, fire leaf spleef.
In this version the floor is made out of harder to break blocks or the players are simply not given any tools to break the blocks. This means players will have to think about the blocks they destroy and slowly block in the other players while avoiding their own death.
This also works great with teams and often leads to tactical battles. Some teams chose to focus on a single opponent while other teams will stick together and slowly destroy a large line in front of them, effectively creating a barrier.
Team vs Team Spleef
Team spleef requires some form of tactical game play. Teams will often only win by working well together and helping out their teammates. Some team members could be used as bait or as a sacrifice to lure out the other team.
In this version the floor is made out of blocks with a high explosive resistance, like stone or end stone. Players will have to blow up the floor without getting hurt by the explosions or falling into the holes. The TNT will usually only destroy about 9 blocks around it, so huge holes are created each time.
Players often have to make a choice between being blow to pieces by their opponent or ending their own life by jumping down into the lava.
Waterfall / Lava Fall Spleef
In this version lava or water will fall from the ceiling. It will usually be dropped by the contest organizer, but it could be automated through pistons, clocks and other mechanisms.
Water will push players around and can easily be toggled. Lava will usually flow permanently if it isn’t turned off immediately, which could potentially make large parts of the floor inaccessible. By only allowing small lava flows to drop down, the lava will usually disapear once it has reached the floor, though it will still set the players on fire. By building a large system of pistons, lava rain could be created.