Ask Pineleaf: What are the best skirmishes for leveling?


Ford Trio vs Flesh Gorger

Joe asks:

I want to level a character doing mostly skirmishes. Which one(s) give the most experience per time invested.

I’ve seen folks do marks per minute calculations, but has anyone ever figured out which ones are best to level in? Should I just look for ones with lots of mobs? Some related questions would be: Is it worth it to do the encounters? Is there a penalty if a NPC helps with the killing? Do you get more experience doing Tier II or Tier III or does that work against you?

I know this might be hard to figure out since you level as you do them, thus changing the amount of experience gained per mob, but I figured that there would be no one better to ask than you. Thanks!!

Skirmishes provide two sources of experience: monster experience from the mobs you kill during the run and quest experience for successfully completing the skirmish.

First we’ll speak of the mob experience. All normal mobs of the same level award the same experience. This is true whether you are on the landscape, in a dungeon, or in a skirmish. Therefore, your experience will be based on the number of mobs that members of your group (and any soldiers/pets you summon) kill in the course of the skirmish run. Swarm mobs will provide half the experience of a normal mob (but since two swarms generally replace a single normal when creating a wave of attackers, this balances out). Likewise, signatures and elites will provide more experience but they also take longer to kill.

Note that since all normals of the same level provide the same experience, the tier of the skirmish will not affect the experience you gain within the skirmish. Therefore, it is optimal to run your skirmishes at Tier 1 if your primary goal is to gain experience.

The other source of experience is for successfully completing the skirmish. All skirmishes of the same level include the same completion experience award (well, ignoring Survival: Barrow Downs). This factor will naturally favor faster skirmishes.Let’s look at the numbers at levels 20, 40, 60 and 80. These will compare the solo experience for three skirmishes: Trouble in Tuckborough, Thievery and Mischief, and Stand at Amon Sûl.

In a solo Tuckborough run, you will face 42 normal mobs (worth 1 each), 12 signatures (worth 1.2 each), and two elites (worth 1.4 each) for an experience rating of 59.2.

In Stand at Amon Sûl, you face 24 waves with either two swarm mobs (worth 0.5 each) or two normal mobs (worth 1 each). We will take the average of this, or 1.5 per wave (or a value of 36 over 24 waves). Add to this an average of six lieutenants (worth 1.2 each), two encounters (worth 1.2 each), four swarm mobs summoned by the boss (worth 0.5 each), and an elite boss (worth 1.4). This yields an average experience rating of 48.8. Note, though, that you only get experience for the mobs that either you or your soldier damages, so you actual experience total may be less (Candaith occasionally gets a solo kill during the average solo run).

In Thievery and Mischief, you face 15 groups (worth 2 each), an average of 7 lieutenants (worth 1.2 each), two encounters (worth 1.4 each), and a single boss (worth 1.4). This yields an experience rating of 42.6.

The experience numbers in the table below assume that you have no sources of experience modifiers. Therefore, you may have to adjust the table accordingly. Note that while some modifiers affect all forms of experience, some will only modify the experience gained through monster kills.

Level Skirm xp Mob xp Tuck xp Stand xp T&M xp
20 1060 84 4972 N/A N/A
40 5825 167 9886 8149 7114
60 13,464 250 14,800 12,200 10,650
80 36,232 663 39,249 32,354 28,243

The second column shows the total quest experience you gain for completing the skirmish, which the final three columns show the amount of experience you should expect for killing monsters within the skirmish (the Stand at Amon Sûl numbers are the least reliable since it is quite difficult to be involved in every kill in a solo run). As you can see, the kill experience is significantly greater than the quest experience at the lower levels while the quest experience passes the monster experience in all but the most populated skirmishes in the later levels.

Therefore, skirmish population will be a more important factor at the lower levels. At the higher levels, the skirmish speed will be more important. Where is the optimal dividing line? I have no idea.This is partly because the optimal poitn will depend on how fast you run your skirmishes and this will vary from player to player. In any case, I prefer to run random skirmishes for the sake of variety and for better marks rewards (and if you are leveling through skirmishes, those marks may be a major source for your gear).

As for the encounters, their main advantage are the medallions. They do not drop bounties or relics and are relatively poor at providing experience unless you happen to just walk by them. Naturally, you should do each encounter at least one for the skirmish title deeds.

Since the release of Rohan, you get full experience for the kill as long as you or your soldier damage the target before it is killed, regardless of how much damage other NPCs may inflict on the target. If the NPC kills the mob without the help from you or your soldier (which occasionally happens in Stand at Amon Sûl), then you will not gain any experience.

May your shield protect you and your spear never break,

Pineleaf Needles


  1. Andang /

    Awesome Pine!

  2. Great question, and very well-thought out answer. I know this Q is probably pondered by many, so nice work on this article!

  3. Thaleg /

    I always do storm on mehtredas for leveling. It is very short and mobs are very close together. It takes me about 8 minutes and I need about 5-6 runs for a level up.

  4. As a Premium player (same as if F2P with regards to skirmish access), which skirm do you recommend getting first? I run Tucky repeatedly for XP as it is the quickest free skirmish…I think?

  5. Great answer Pineleaf. Much better than mine, which would be –

    Any that don’t involve Rolf or Andang 😀

    Have fun

  6. Hey, just what I was looking for- thanks, Pineleaf! You rock!

  7. Lilikate Buggins. /

    Thanks Leafy, nice post. I do like saving those Bounders and that Ranger always needs help with his fires. Looks like I am doing the right skirms! (I must try that Icy one, but it looks so scary not to mention cold!)

  8. Kaleigh Starshine /

    Very informative!

  9. QUESTION IDEA: Skirmishes that help with Deeds.
    Tucky has shire brigand, Goblin and wolf slayer deeds (although wolf is half as slow as the latter two.) You can also visit sight of the shire: The great willow.

  10. Bregethant /

    What about different tiers of enemies, such as hale, weak, hardy and strong? Wouldn’t that also affect how much XP you gain?

    • Pineleaf /

      In solo runs, there is no real difference due to mob quality (weak vs hale). This is because two weak mobs substitute for a single hale mob in a group, which balances against their halved experience value. The only solo skirmish where it would make a difference is Amon Sûl (where I took an average in the article).

      In group runs, the mob quality becomes important. The is because a hardy mob substitutes for two hale mobs but one receives 1.2 times the experience. So, in a group run, you would want to get packs of Hale mobs rather than get elites and signatures.

  11. jimel /

    IS there any way to increase the odds for Mithalagos from icey creviece to appear?

    • pineleaf /

      As far as I know, there is no way to increase the odds of getting a particular encounter in any of the skirmishes.

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