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WoWFeb 12, 2021 2:00 pm CT

How to level your alts during the Lunar Festival in Shadowlands

The Lunar Festival was the first holiday I got to participate in when I started playing World of Warcraft. Wrath of the Lich King was in full swing for those at level 70 and higher, but I was but a humble level 30 Dwarf Hunter still making my way through the world. I was intrigued by the holiday, and was touched by the notion of Elders being honored. So in the first of my many obsessions in this game, I decided to hit as many as I could.

On foot, naturally, because I didn’t have enough gold to purchase a mount. I still remember hoofing it from the Rebel Camp to Booty Bay; taking the portal to the Blasted Lands and seeing the Dark Portal for the first time (I died of course, but I still had time to see the Elder); and getting absolutely destroyed by the Horde players in the Crossroads when the guards flagged me for PVP. I had no chance of completing all the achievements, of course, but I wanted to get as many Coins of Ancestry as I could before the holiday ended. It was the most fun I had had in WoW up to that point.

Then the old version of Love is in the Air drove me to quit the game for the first time.

The Lunar Festival still holds a special place in my Warcraft heart, so I decided to see what sort of impact the level squish and the addition of Chromie Time has had on the holiday, and whether it might be a viable alternative to leveling my alts.

The rewards we got were the Elders we honored along the way

With the exception of adding a way to transmog to flower crowns all year long, there haven’t been any other additions since new toys were added in 2019. They still haven’t extended the holiday into Pandaria, which is probably the greatest crime — with the possible exception of the School of Hard Knocks — that Blizzard has committed in regards to holidays in-game.

Without anything new to get, I decided to look into whether I could just stockpile Coins of Ancestry for future years while also leveling up a toon or two, maybe even one of my numerous level 50s still waiting to drop down into the Maw. Since the goal was to maximize leveling XP, I did not work on the Lunar Preservation as the time-limited nature of that quest precludes meandering around the continents. If your goal is to get as many Coins of Ancestry, I definitely recommend completing that quest.

One of the things I had noticed with the Candy Buckets last Hallows End was that I didn’t seem to get much experience from them, so I ran a test on the Elder quests to see what the situation with them is. Unlike previous years wherein they rewarded a flat level % of XP per completion, there is now diminishing returns as your level increases. At level 1 you earn a whopping 40% of a level visiting one Elder, but by the time you’ve reached level 10 it’s already down to 8.5% (meaning you’d need to visit 12 Elders to gain a level). At level 30 it has dropped to 5% (20 Elders); at level 40 you get 3% of a level (33 Elders); and at level 50 it is an astoundingly low 0.2% of a level, meaning you’d need to visit 500 Elders to gain 1 level.

Needless to say, I will not be visiting Elders to level up my toons that are at 50.

50 ways to honor your Elder

Of course, the Elder quest experience is not the only XP you’ll gain, as you’ll also receive a good amount of exploration experience as you travel between them. My recommendation is to wait until level 30 and flight before you attempt to level via Elders — many of them are removed from nearby flight paths, so there will be some travel via mount involved. If you start at level 40 and fast flying, it may be more a tolerable speed for you, but of course you’ll likely not gain as many levels.

The biggest advantage with being level 30+ when you start is that regardless of whether you are in Chromie Time or the default leveling experience, you will not find yourself in a zone with big scary mobs; every zone with an Elder will scale to your level starting at 30. In addition, with the exception of Vash’jir, every Cataclysm portal in the Earthshrines will be available for your use. Visiting the dungeon Elders is a lot trickier to navigate, so I do not recommend doing so on a leveling alt — if you need the achievement, send your main.

Like so many things in life, if you can do it on a Druid, do so. The unlimited free teleport to Moonglade makes the Lunar Festival Invitation a viable method for getting around, and your instant flight form helps in some tricky situations (and while it’s largely pain-free to fly from Elder to Elder, there are a couple spots — I’m looking at you, Razor Hill — where you’re likely to get one-shot by the guards if you’re of the opposite faction). A Mage isn’t a bad second option do to their teleport, but any class can do it, it’ll just take longer.

I took my level 30 Druid to 70 Elders and gained 5.5 levels in doing so. Probably not the fastest method, but it was a nice change of pace. Some tips:

  • Use an addon like Candy Buckets to assist you with the locations; many of them also have the quests auto-complete so you can hightail it out of there faster, which comes in handy
  • Do not fly over the other faction’s encampments to get to an Elder; there are a lot of guards with long-range abilities that can kill you, so fly around and approach from the side closest to the Elder
  • If you normally play in War Mode, you have to weigh the %XP gain versus how much more often you’re going to die
  • Vash’jir, like the Dungeon Elders, isn’t easily accessible; skip it unless you need the achievement
  • Be prepared to talk to Zidormi in phased zones to make the Elder accessible; I had to revert Blasted Lands and Silithus but did not have to for Darkshore or Tirisfal Glades

If anything, Chromie Time and the leveling squish have made it easier for alts to level via the Elders as you no longer have to worry about sneaking past skull-level monsters to get to them. So if you find yourself wanting a break from regular leveling during the Lunar Festival, consider paying respects to those who came before you on Azeroth, and gain some easy levels while you do so.

Originally published 2/8/2021. Updated 2/12/2021.

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