I'm looking to obtain a sword with the looting enchantment. I would like to mitigate my level expenditure as much as possible - I have plenty of diamonds. Am I better off trying to enchant books, or take the risks in directly enchanting swords to obtain a specific desired enchantment?

My specific example refers to looting, but this question can most definitely apply to other rare enchantments, such as silk touch, infinity, or respiration.

  • Looking at this enchantment calculator I would guess it's better to directly enchant the item but that doesn't account for the ability to merge enchanted books on an anvil to get higher level enchants Commented May 4, 2013 at 14:26
  • How about enchanting looks? :-)
    – joriki
    Commented May 4, 2013 at 18:33
  • Care to explain how you have more diamonds than experience. You're the first person I've ever heard make that statement.
    – John
    Commented May 5, 2013 at 20:33
  • go mine a lot, find a lot of diamonds, store them, then go for a second round get blown up by a creeper into a ravine...
    – juanm55
    Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 1:28

2 Answers 2


If you're looking for something specific, you have to enchant a lot more books to get it than enchanting a specific tool, since there are more possibilities.

  • If you enchant a book at level 30, your chance of getting Looting II or III is approximately .02 (1 in 50), and so you will have to enchant about 50 books before you get it. If you have XP and time to burn, this is the way to go as books can be made from easy farming.

  • On the other hand, if you enchant a diamond sword at level 30, you have a .15 (1 in 7) chance of getting Looting II or III. (This should actually be even better because I'm not working in the effect of multiple enchantments.) Thus, you will get it much sooner — but you will also get (on average) six swords that don't have Looting on them. Note that you can then recycle those swords by repair-crafting them with almost-used-up diamond swords.

Therefore, given that you say you want to spend diamonds rather than XP, you should definitely enchant swords.

(all numbers from minecraftenchantmentcalculator, back when it existed, which is a sloppy tool because it just does a simulation rather than calculating true probabilities, but it was handy and should be roughly correct)

  • Your link appears to direct toward malware. Might want to remove that Commented Apr 26, 2020 at 4:31
  • I see a tool with the same name at minecraft.tools/en/enchant.php, is it the same tool? Commented Apr 26, 2020 at 4:31
  • @MooingDuck Probably not. Thanks for the notification.
    – Kevin Reid
    Commented Apr 26, 2020 at 14:53

I would enchant books, so that you have a "better chance" at getting the enchantment you want. You don't really want to ruin your weapon and then spend like 40 levels on adding another one. Just my opinion.

I also think it is the same rate of enchantment for books, however obviously it would have a wider variety, as it also caters for armor aswell.

  • As of 1.8, you only have to spend 3 levels (and 3 lapis) to do an enchant, so "spend[ing] like 40 levels" doesn't happen
    – pppery
    Commented Aug 13, 2018 at 14:46

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