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In Minecraft, it's clear that enchanting at level 30 gives the maximum chance for the most and highest enchantments. However, is it always best to wait until that level of experience is accumulated before enchanting (and presumably avoiding doing anything but farming experience in the meantime), or will it be faster/better to enchant tools at lower levels in the meantime?

To make this concrete: if I have 15 levels and no enchanted tools, is it better to:

  • work with unenchanted tools and save the levels until I get to 30
  • enchant some tools with what I've got, and use those until they break, accumulating back up to 30 along the way
  • go fight some monsters and accumulate XP in another way, and use that to enchant tools at the highest level

?

I'm not just interested in the best final tools for their own sake, but in getting there most efficiently.

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possible duplicate of What is the most efficient level for enchanting? –  Ender Apr 1 '13 at 14:14
    
related gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/39458/… –  Ender Apr 1 '13 at 14:15
    
That other question doesn't really address what I'm wondering. I understand that the highest level is the best; the question is whether the intermediate levels are worth it at all. If I'm focusing on mining rather than on adventuring vs. mobs, will low-level enchanted tools help me get to level-50-enchanted tools more quickly, or is it better to completely save XP? –  mattdm Apr 1 '13 at 14:33
    
I believe this to not be a duplicate of either, He is asking what is the most efficient way to get to the highest levels. Also the closest "duplicate" given is a year old and hasnt been update for the experience changes. –  Paralytic Apr 1 '13 at 16:20
    
I feel like this is a matter of personal preference. How much do you enjoy fighting monsters? Is it worth it to you to have to build up 30 levels of experience after using the 15 levels you already have? Or would you rather just get the good ones and have done? –  Crowbeak Apr 2 '13 at 1:51
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4 Answers

Truth be said, sacrifice some time working with non-enchanted tools to build an XP grinder, and then enchanting anywhere below 30th level becomes pointless - simply reaching that 30 becomes so trivial that top-level enchantments become cheap. I do have quite a few iron tools enchanted at 30, simply because diamond became far more scarce than XP.

So, in short, the answer to your question may depend on how you obtain your XP; if you plan to build an XP grinder, there really is no point to hoard it until then, use up whatever you have. OTOH, if you plan to skip all the easy XP collection techniques (mob grinder, bulk cow/pig breeding, mining Nether Quartz, or building a hundred furnaces over a lake of lava and turning a desert worth of sand into glass) you'd better keep saving.

(still, enchanting normal materials equipment with cheap - lvl1-5 enchantments is cheap enough that it might be worthwhile.)

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Enchanting in Minecraft is not very predictable, but at 15 levels you could get the same thing as you could get at 30 levels, as the randomisation means you could get a really bad enchantment at 30 levels, yet get a really good one at 15. You could get an enchantment on a sword at 15, and then use that to get more. In Minecraft 1.4.6 (I think) Anvils were introduced so you could enchant some books to get a good enchantment for your sword - bearing in mind this will also use xp. You could also use this to help you decide, although the enchanted books let you have multiple good enchants on one tool.

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Enchanting can not reliably "return an investment" experience-wise.

More-or-less efficient sources of experience are mining and fighting. The only enchantment that benefits experience gain from mining is Efficiency, but it is not the best one mining-wise - that would be Fortune. Sword enchantment does benefit experience gain, but only if the enchantment matches your enemy (or is Sharpness), but Armor enchantments are also important to ensure you make it home with all that experience. (Enchanting books is more expensive overall, as the pool of enchantments is bigger, and you spend additional experience on combining.)

There are too many enchantments useless for experience gain to rely on a single enchant at level 15.

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FYI, Fortune does benefit from gaining more experience, because you simply can't get it without enough experience, and the chance of getting it increases the closer to 30 levels you get. –  SevenSidedDie Apr 2 '13 at 15:42
    
@SevenSidedDie First, I can get Fortune with little experience (like lv.15) and some luck. Second, I was never talking about Fortune receiving a benefit from experience. The question is about enchantments providing benefits to experience gain. –  Orc JMR Apr 3 '13 at 4:35
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I think you're looking at this wrong. By ROI I assume you mean "time it takes to achieve something in game." If that's your standard, then build an XP farm. An Efficiency V Diamond Pickax drills through stone like butter, and will cut your build times to a small fraction of what they are now.

To get that, you need to enchant books. Lots and lots of books.

Take 2 hours to build a decent XP farm, and you'll pay that off that investment in the first week.

Caveat: I AFK a lot, so using my XP farm I can get to level 30 in under 30 seconds. Because of this, the investment difference between level 15 and 30 is minimal. YMMV.

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