The Fastest Way I Know To Level 11 Characters

(Quick personal note: April and I were blessed to have a hearty and healthy baby girl come into our lives on Dec 10, 2013. She is our first and, as any parent can tell you, babies take up a lot of time. The results are totally worth the effort but if you notice things slowing down a bit here at Power Word: Gold just know we're busy helping "level up" the cutest level one you've ever seen.)

With 11 new characters (and 22 new professions) to level in the next month I thought I'd go over something I briefly touched on in Episode 77 of the podcast: The most efficient way to level 11 new characters.

In the podcast I mentioned that Recruit-a-Friend was likely going to factor into my strategy. In this post I'm going to explain how I'm planning to use Recuit-a-Friend to level 11 new characters as fast as I can.

The Goal

My final goal is to level the 11 new characters I created on the realm that was connected to mine in as little time as possible.

To do this I am going to be using the Recruit-a-Friend 300% experience bonus that applies when you and the player you recruited (including yourself) are close to the same level as you and near you.

The other Recruit-a-Friend mechanic we are going to be taking advantage of is the "grantable levels" mechanism. Intended to help players quickly catch up to their "recruitees" for every 2 levels a recruitee gains they can "gift" 1 level to the recruitor.

Using this mechanism we will be able to "leap frog" level 43s to level 85 to shave off even more leveling time. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

(A note on terminology: For this post I will be using "recruitee" to indicate the account/player who was invited via Recruit-a-Friend and "recruitor" to indicate the account/person who sent the Recuit-a-Friend invitation.)

I will also be using full sets of XP-boosting heirloom items (head, chest, shoulders, legs, and cloaks) to help level even faster.

The Pre-Requisites

This post assumes the following things:

  • You know how to Recruit-a-Friend someone (it can be yourself on your same account). To recruit someone open your Friends List and look for the "Recruit-a-Friend" "handshake" icon in the upper right. It should be noted you can use the email for your main account if recruiting yourself.
  • You've already recruited someone or yourself to level with you.
  • You have Heirloom items to fit all XP-boosting slots on both characters that are leveling together. If not your heirlooms at least match (both with heads, backs and legs for example). 
  • You have an awesome friend willing to level with you all the time you're leveling a character.
  • Alternatively (or additionally) you know how to dual-box (play) two characters at the same time in an efficient manner.

My Tools

The following are the tools I am planning to use to get these 11 new characters to level 85 as fast as I can.

  • A Recruit-a-Friend where I recruited April (my wife) from my main account.
  • A Recruit-a-Friend where I recruited myself on main main account from my main account.
  • Heirlooms for every slot on characters I'll be leveling with April.
  • April has heirlooms for the characters she will be leveling with me.
  • Heirlooms for both characters I will be leveling myself while dual-boxing. (Yes, I have a lot of Heirlooms.)
  • 300% XP bonus gained when leveling with a character on the account you recruited.
  • Grantable levels: 1 for every 2 levels the recruitee gains. 

300% XP Bonus

When you are questing, killing mobs and/or doing dungeons near a character on the account you recruited, and you're near the same level, both characterd gain experience at 300% the normal rate.

This is huge and the main efficiency that using the Recruit-a-Friend affords in speeding up the leveling process.

Lets work out a little math on what that 300% XP bonus gives us.

I'm planning to level 11 new characters to level 85. That is a total of 935 levels I need to gain. 300% XP gain would cut the number of levels required by 33.33% (repeating, of course).

33.33% of 935 is right around 312 levels. So by taking advantage of the 300% XP bonus we only have to level 312 levels instead of 935.

But we're not done optimizing yet. Next comes Grantable Levels.

Grantable Levels

So we've learned how levels the simple 300% XP can save but what is less obvious is how the "grantable levels" feature can speed up leveling.

The basics of grantable levels are:

  • For every 2 levels that a recruitee's character gains they can grant 1 level to any character on the recruitor's account.
  • The character receiving the granted levels has to be at or below the granting character's level (ie. no granting above your level).

To put it another way if if a character on the recuitee's account has leveled to 80 they can grant 40 levels to any characters on the recuitor's account (on the same server) that is below level 80.

"Leap Frogging"

What the above means is that if I'm smart about using those grantable levels I can shave even more leveling time off by doing what I call "leap frogging".

Leap frogging is accomplished in the following way:

  • Two characters (one on recruitee's account and one on recruitor's account) level from 1-85 together.
  • The recuitee's level 85 character now possesses 42 grantable levels they can give to a character on the recruitors account (on the same server as they characters have to meet to grant the levels).
  • Two characters (one on recruitee's account and one on recruitor's account) level from 1-43 together.
  • The previous level 85 from the recruitee's account now grants 42 levels to the recruitor's new level 43 thus leveling them to 85.
  • This is repeated 4 more times thus creating 10 level 85s on the recrutor's account and 5 level 85s and 5 level 43s on the recuitee's account.

The math of leap frogging works out to be 85 levels (first character) + 43 levels (second character) = 128 levels to get 2 level 85s. (That is a savings of 42 levels per 2 level 85s.)

As mentioned above in my case I'll be repeating this 5 times to create 10 characters. My 11th character will be leveled up 1-85.

This means that I'll have to level 640 levels. That is 128 levels 5 times (once for each pair of 85s + 43s) and 85 levels once (my 11th character). 

This equals a grand total of 725 levels to get 11 level 85s. (If you leveled 11 85s "normally" it would take 935 levels.)

Using the "leap frogging" technique we save ourselves 210 levels (before the 300% XP bonus). (That is around 2.4 level 85's worth of leveling time.)

So we've dropped from only having to do 312 levels (with 300% XP bonus or 935 * 33.33%) down to 242 (725 levels after granted levels * 33.33%).

After we factor in 300% bonus XP we knock off another 70 levels .

To see the results of "leap frogging" first hand check out the video we made where we gain 42 levels in under 5 minutes.

Now let's add in Heirlooms.


There are 5 heirloom armor pieces that grant bonus experience: shoulders, chest, head, legs and back. 

The following is more information on each slot:

  • Shoulder
    • Grants 10% XP bonus
    • Works from level 1-80 (unless upgraded at a vendor to work from 1-85).
    • Obtained from various vendors for various currencies.
  • Chest
    • Grants 10% XP bonus
    • Works from level 1-80 (unless upgraded at a vendor to work from 1-85).
    • Obtained from various vendors for various currencies.
  • Head
    • Grants 10% XP bonus
    • Works from level 1-85.
    • Obtained from guild vendors (requires guild level 20).
  • Legs
    • Grants 10% XP bonus
    • Works from level 1-85.
    • Obtained from guild vendors (requires guild achievement "Working Better as a Team" - Guild members have one of each profession leveled to 600).
  • Back
    • Grants 5% XP bonus
    • Works from level 1-85.
    • Obtained from guild vendors (requires guild level 10).

By looking at the above information we can see that the maximum bonus XP we can gain from have all 5 XP-bonus Heirlooms is 45% (shoulders 10% + chest 10% + head 10% + legs 10% + back 5%).

This means that, added to the 300% bonus we are receiving from the Recruit-a-Friend, Heirlooms give us a maximum bonus XP value of 345%.

Heirloom Adjustments

All heirlooms are not considered equal. As listed above some heirlooms stop giving bonus XP at level 80 (head and chest) and some stop at level 85 (head, legs, and back).

I personally have not leveled up my 1-80 heirlooms yet and am not sure I will just to get 20% more XP from 80-85.

For my leveling I'm planning on both characters being leveled wearing all 5 XP granting pieces (to help maintain their level equilibrium) from levels 1-80.

From levels 80-85 I plan on them only wearing the heirlooms that go to 85 (head, legs, and back).

For the 6 characters I plan to level up from 1-85 "naturally" (ie. no granted levels): levels 1-80 will be leveled at the rate of 345% XP bonus and levels 80-85 will be leveled at 325% XP bonus.

This means that:

  • 6 characters will level 1-80 (480 levels) at 345% XP bonus.
  • 6 characters will level 80-85  (30 levels) at 325% XP bonus.
  • 5 characters will level 1-43 (215 levels) at 345% XP bonus.

Doing the calculations factoring in the bonus XP from the heirlooms we get the following.

  • 695 levels will be leveled at 345% XP bonus (480+215).
  • 30 levels will be leveled at 325% XP bonus.

This means that:

  • 695 levels at 345% XP bonus becomes around 201 levels.
  • 30 levels at 325% XP bonus becomes around 9 levels.
  • Total levels after 300% XP, "leap frogging" and heirlooms = 210.

From 935 levels down to 210. That is a total leveling requirement reduction of 77.45%.

That is a savings of 725 levels. 725 levels is the equivalent to 8.5 level 85. 

Put another way we are going to be able to level 11 level 85s with the same amount of effort it would normally take to levels 2.5 level 85's.

That's quite astounding and that's the fastest way I know to level 11 characters in World of Warcraft.

It's going to be a fun month.

Granted our new baby may make leveling these (if we find the time at all) a bit slower but the exercise of figuring out the optimum strategy was still worth it.

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  1. Congratulations on your new family member!

    Thanks for the article, it really brings together leveling strategies everyone should be using.

    A couple of things to add that might not be common knowledge:

    First, there is a Fishing Derby Reward, the Dread Pirate Ring, which gives a 5% bonus from 1-80. Very hard to get, but always worth a shot at the Stranglethorn Vale Fishing Derby.

    Second, and more relevant, you can now upgrade most 1-80 Heirloom gear to be 1-85. This change was added at patch 5.1, just go to the Justice Heirloom Vendor, and purchase with your old gear and (I think) 2175 JP to get the upgraded shoulders, or chest. Alas, no Dread Pirate Ring Upgrade.

    Third, there is the 10% xp buff you can get during Darkmoon Faire, either on the Carousel (Wheee!), or via the Darkmoon Top Hat. Only good during Darkmoon Faire of course, and goes away when your toon die.

    Fourth, for monks, there is the Enlightenment buff good for 20% xp you get via the Zen Pilgrimage accessible quest. You can do this once per day and it will keep adding 1 hour per quest on the buff, up to a max of 24 hours. You have to be level 20 to get Zen Pilgrimage.

    There are other buffs, but these are the most accessible ones as far as I know.

    Looking forward to your next posts on leveling!

    Happy Holidays to all!

    1. Thanks for all the great info. I did mention upgrades in the post but 11 chars worth of heirlooms is a lot to upgrade. :) for some reason I thought the ring gave 1% XP but you're probably right. All these tips and tricks are so much fun to figure out.

    2. Just buy cloth. Cloth can be worn on every character. Stats are nearly irrelavent especially if you level multiples of the same class.

      Great strategy to shave off levels. It will probably be faster to level the 6 toons first to 85 then just grant all the levels instead of hopping back and forth. At early levels, dungeons will get you 5-10 levels at a time so getting the last 5 toons to 43 will take barely any time and probably all can be done in <1 day.

      But I want to bring up your math is slightly flawed. Youre not reducing leveling by 77%. Later levels are significantly longer than early levels. Quick google says it takes ~23 million experience to go 1-85. This might be an incorrect number because I don't have info on the patch it was taken from (I think it was prior to cataclysm exp nerf.) It's probably closer to 20 Million.

      Taking that 20million and the 6 characters you are leveling to 85, reduce it by the 345% bonus (I'm using the full 345 for the entire thing because getting 4k justice points to upgrade the 2 pieces is ridiculously easy and there is no excuse that if your going to level 11 toons you are not going to do this.)

      This brings you to 5.8 million experience instead of 20 million. 5.8 million experience is about lvl 65. 6*65=390 levels instead of 510. Thats 180 more levels than predicted. Additionally leveling 1-43 is ~1.2 million experience. (Halfway in level but only 1/20th of getting to 85.)

      One more thing, Experience bonuses from heirlooms stack multiplicative with RAF.

      So I didn't do that math but you'll be getting more than 345% bonus exp.

    3. Great info. A more thorough analysis could certainly be done.

  2. And almost forgot about the 10% xp Fast Track buff for level 6 or higher Guilds.

  3. Dear Jim Congratulations and Mazeltov on your baby girl, i have a feeling your Jewish like myself, hope your new child brings lots of happiness and joy to you and your lovely partner! We will still be here when you have time for us, the followers!

    1. Thank you so much! We're learning every day.

  4. Make your last character a DK and shave off another 55 levels there

    1. Great point. My DK is 58 so I'll be sure to remember that.