Zombie pigmen, often just refered to as pigmen, are the most common mobs in the Nether. They can often be heard from far away due to their loud grunts and growls.
A zombie pigman will drop 0-1 rotten flesh and 0-1 golden nugget when it dies. It also drops 5 experience points worth of orbs. On top of these drops, there’s a small chance it drops a gold ingot, gold sword or golden helmet. In even rarer cases, an enchanted gold sword can be dropped. The enchantment will be of level 5.
Zombie pigmen spawn naturally in the Nether, but it’s also possible to find one in the Overworld. This happens when a pig is hit by lightning (or is standing 3-4 blocks away from it). The pig will turn into a zombie pigman.
Zombie pigmen start out neutral, but they will group together and attack the player (or mob) if it attacks them. Note that this only happens if a zombie pigmen sees another zombie pigmen being attacked. Their line of sight extends to about 12-13 blocks, so don’t worry about any lurking zombie pigmen on the other side of the nether.
So it’s perfectly safe (although risky) to attack a lone zombie pigman when all the other pigmen have turned their backs. If a zombie pigmen does see something attack one of its kind, it’ll ‘call’ all the other zombie pigmen around it to aid the attacked pigman.
Only directly attacking them will cause a group retaliation. Using tnt, pushing them off a cliff, suffocating them with sand or deflecting a ghasts fireball in their direction won’t cause all of them to attack you.
Zombie pigmen will eventually lose interest in you and ‘forgive’ you for killing one of their own. So don’t assume they’ll still attack you when you get back from your hiding place, they’ve probably long forgotten about you.
Zombie pigmen are immune to fire and lava, so they’ll walk straight through it in order to get to their target. They will avoid jumping down high drops and they’re capable of climbing ladders. However, they’ll only climb a ladder if it’s directly between the player and the pigman.
Zombie pigmen are very strong, so be careful not to hit one (on accident) when you don’t have the equipment to back it up. Even a small group of pigmen can lead to a swift death. Be especially careful when you’re around cliffs or lava pits, a small group of pigmen can easily push or knock you back into certain death.
If a group of zombie pigmen is after you, don’t try to run. Zombie pigmen are faster than you (at walking speed) and will happily stab you in the back while you try to get to safety. They’re also capable of climbing up ladders, but they will only do so when it’s directly in their path towards you.
A better method to get away from them is by building a blockade, causing them to be trapped or getting them stuck on soul sand. Alternatively, due to the fast speed at which you can mine netherrack, digging a quick hole that 2 blocks deep will trap them.
Killing pigmen isn’t too difficult. The hardest thing is to make sure you don’t get caught off guard, the Nether is full of cliffs, holes and deadly lava pits in which you can fall while trying to fight them off. By making sure there’s no way you can die from fire, lava or fall damage, you’re already well on your way to survive an attack and farm your way to plenty of golden nuggets.
One easy method to kill zombies is by building a square structure (out of stone) with fighting holes in them. This can be done in several ways. One such way is by creating 1 block holes through which you can attack them, either with a sword or bow. This method is often easier if you make the holes at their feet level, while you stand one block lower.
Another method is by creating a line that’s hovering 2 blocks above the ground and placing slabs on the ground. This’ll increase the gap through which you can attack them, while still preventing them from attacking you. Making these structures out of stone will prevent ghasts from destroying your walls.
Probably the easiest way, though a bit risky, is by simply standing on a pilar 3 blocks high. The zombie pigmen won’t be able to harm you, while you will be able to slash your way through their numbers untill they’re all dead. You do leave yourself open to any ghast or blaze that is nearby. You could solve this by making blast walls (out of stone) around your pilar, but this requires more planning then necessary in most cases..
A sword with the knockback enchantment is a very effective way of killing them, simply stand in a safe spot and keep pushing them back. If there’s a (too) large group of them, placing soul sand will slow them down a lot, all you then need to do is keep knocking them back before they reach you.
Other, slower methods of killing zombie pigmen include building traps. Such as placing cacti, using pistons to trap and suffocate them or by trapping them in a small hole and filling it with sand. Though these methods require more time and planning, which makes them rather pointless.