Musing on free experience

So, I recently levelled Nyxrinne to ninety, and I've had a while to consider the levelling process as a whole. There are a few things I want to talk about, but I think the biggest one for monks has to be the major experience buff we pick up through class quests.


For new or non-monks, here's how it works: at level twenty you gain a skill called Zen Pilgrimage, which teleports you from your present location to the Peak of Serenity. Here you pick up a class quest from the head monk, which involves defeating one of the masters down in the training grounds. You gain gear as a reward... and also the Enlightenment buff. For an hour, you gain +50% experience.

Once this first quest is complete, you also unlock a daily quest variation. You defeat a master, you gain an hour of the buff. Every tenth level after twenty, you gain another class quest bringing you back to the Peak of Serenity, for further loot and another hour.

There are a few things to take note of.

  • Enlightenment does not decay while you are logged out.

  • You can hold onto the non-daily quests and hand them in as you like.

  • Enlightenment will stack up to two hours. So if you do the main quest and then the daily immediately afterwards, you won't be losing out. If you try to stack a third buff on top of those two, you'll lose an hour. Don't do that.

  • Used at the Peak of Serenity, Zen Pilgrimage claims it will port you right back to where you were before. It'll actually dump you at the graveyard closest to wherever you were before.

Beyond what what what, fifty percent, that's insane, the first thing that jumped out at me when reviewing this was the flexibility this whole set up provides, but flexibility within a certain pattern.

Stacking and porting and all that fine stuff

The flexibility is found like this: you can stack to two hours if you want, then level solidly through those two hours. If you want a break or there's an interruption, you can log off and whatever time is left on your buff will be preserved. If you have under an hour left and don't log back in until the next day, you can port back and stack on another hour before getting back to it.

Alternatively you might not want to stack. Pick up an hour's buff, level for that bit, then take a break levelling your professions before picking up the next hour and getting back to raking in that fine exp.

You might not even want to zoom through some content. At low level, the rate of experience gain is such that, with Enlightenment up, you will out level every zone in no time, and waste a remarkable proportion of the buff on travel.

Fearful of what I anticipated being a horrendous slog through Cataclysm content, I saved my level sixty and seventy quests until I hit eighty, and used them to power through to eighty-five. (As it happens, 80-85 took me under five hours. They've nerfed the time demands of the bracket to the ground.) This is an equally viable tactic for any bracket you don't much enjoy.

But, even with this kind of variety, there's still a sense of waste if you're only levelling your monk here and there, and not on a daily basis. Why's that? Oh yeah.


Mists as a whole is blighted with the things. Fail to spend time every day with the Golden Lotus, the Klaxxi, the Shado-pan, the Tillers, the Celestials, the Cloud Serpent trainers, the list goes on, and you're going to fall behind.

Ostensibly these grinds are optional. Blizzard's various posts about the removal of the 25-a-day daily quest cap and the influx of all these daily hubs all sought to promote the idea that we could pick and choose which to do and which to leave; that, yes, there's the potential to be completely mired in quests, but that won't happen because of choice.

Of course there's choice. But you're still going to fall behind if you exercise one choice over the other, and there's no flexibility in the ways you can catch back up. You can't go out and grind certain mobs or instances on one day to boost yourself back up, you have to keep at it on a daily basis.

And I'm afraid there's an element of this in Enlightenment, albeit one that's not quite so punishing to raiders in particular.

If you want to spend one or two hours a day levelling your monk, you could get all the way to eighty-five with Enlightenment active. If you want to blast through the levels in longer sessions, you are going to run out of it, and spend more of your /played time on the lower experience rate.

That's how it is. Dailies favour those who can log in every day, and reduce the effectiveness of the methods of those who can only play on, say, the weekend.

Yay or nay?

Enlightenment is a speed boost to levelling that no other class enjoys. It has helped monks to jump into their guild's raiding teams at a remarkable rate, and reduced the time sink nature of levelling that affects all of us. I am in favour of it. Sometimes you just want to burst through levels, and it's good to have another tool at our disposal to allow that.

I am not trying to suggest, in raising the disparities wrought between levelling styles by the daily system, that Enlightenment is a buff that every monk is entitled to get 100% uptime out of. I'd rather the daily quests were removed than the buff be re-invented as a permanent experience boost that dropped off at eighty-five, for example.

If the dailies were removed, you'd have an hour of that experience boost every ten levels and nothing else. The frequency and duration of your levelling sessions would have no effect on the reward boost you received: neither pattern of play would be favoured. Flexibility and interest might be found in the stockpiling of those ten-level quests, in weighing the value of an immediate gear upgrade and speed boost against a later, larger boost.

Without the daily quests making room for obscene buff durations, the two-hour stack cap could be removed as well. If someone wanted to quest solidly without porting back to the Peak of Serenity every two hours, for example, that would be possible without running out of Enlightenment part way through.

It's all musing. Enjoy your levelling speed, lowbie monks, and think of this: Zen Pilgrimage brings you back to the nearest graveyard. If that graveyard is closer to your quest hub than you are, or if you're at the back of a cave and have no desire to fight your way back out... There are possibilities. Interesting possibilities.


  1. Just a little trick I learned leveling my monk. If you turn in one quest for enlightenment, use about 50 minutes of that hour and then go turn in a new enlightenment buff, as long as you turn it in with at least one minute left on the buff, when you turn in, it will reset to 2 hours of buff, in effect letting you get three hours of buff from two quest turn ins.

    1. That is pretty fantastic, and somehow slipped under my radar completely. I'm levelling the healy monk now, so I'll definitely be making use of it for her!