Experience is a tricky resource: It is needed for enchanting, combining and repairing items, and for fueling the Mending enchantment. Many desired jobs require large amounts of experience -- but it can take quite a while to accumulate a high experience level, and when the player dies, they lose essentially all of their current stock. Accordingly, many players will resort to "experience farming" -- arranging a situation where they can pick up large amounts of experience when desired. These fall into several categories, reflecting the many sources of experience, but most of them can be considered in terms of experience per time -- either active or AFK time, with the player involved, or "accumulation" time before collecting the results.
Consulting the Experience page, we can see several common "target values" for desired experience payouts:
- Enchanting max: To get from level 0 to level 30 requires 1395 experience.
- Anvil max: To get from level 0 to level 39 requires 2727 experience.
- Recovering after a max-power enchantment: to get from level 27 to level 30 requires 306 experience.
- Because higher levels require successively more experience, each of the levels 16, 22, 30, and 39 is about halfway to the next in the list.
Fishing can function as a slow experience farm, with only two string and three sticks as an "entrance" fee to get started. However, it is wise to set up a secure fishing pond: You'll want a stretch of water at least two blocks deep and a few across (basically big enough not to accidentally miss the water). The water should be open to the sky, but you should have a lit, sheltered area to fish from, with a roof to fend off phantoms, and fences or glass to keep monsters from spotting and targeting you (a bit of height will help too). You should also make sure that you can reach the fishing area when it's night or storming, and that you can quickly climb back up if you happen to fall into the water. You will want at least one double-chest to store your catches (and your rod, when not in use).
Fishing with any rod will eventually catch enchanted fishing rods, which can be saved until a rod with Mending is caught. This rod can be combined (at an anvil) with other rods as they are caught; once Mending is combined with Unbreaking, this rod will never wear out, and fishing becomes essentially free. The goal is to produce a "god rod", with (Lure III, Unbreaking III, Mending, and ideally Luck of The Sea III), which maximizes both fishing speed and treasure gained, while minimizing the experience used to restore the rod.
With these enchantments and while fishing outdoors, each minute you will make an average of 8 catches, bearing experience orbs worth an average of 28 XP. Any Mending equipment worn may take 1 XP from each orb, perhaps reducing the total as low as 20 XP. The rod itself will average 1 damage per four catches on average, and if it only has one point of damage it will repair that for free! If multiple items are being mended, the rod may take a second point of damage before it mends, and then take an XP for its next mending. Mending will affect any armor worn and the rod, but an additional item can be included by placing it in the off-hand. Total yield is thus 400 XP/game day (1200/real-time hour) if items are being mended, or 560/day (1680/hour).
Fishing under rain will add 25% to the yield (wait time is 20% less), for a potential of 25-35 XP / minute as long as the rain lasts.
Aside from the basic experience for catching items, there are a couple of "side hustles" that can yield extra experience: Cod or Salmon can be smelted (22.4 XP/stack) Any magic items (bows, rods, books) not kept for your own use can be fed to a grindstone for extra experience.
This is also a good way to while away rainy days and storms, when exploring may be unpleasant or dangerous, but AFK fish farms can also be constructed for reduced boredom.
Trading gives a fair bit experience itself, but emeralds can also buy Bottles o' Enchanting. While fairly expensive for the experience stored, these are truly portable, and can be used to top up your experience to reach any desired level. In the process, several useful villagers can be "levelled up" to provide more useful items.
A variety of salable items can be produced by automatic farms, easily farmed by hand, or provided as surplus from a mob grinder. Note that a villager's first tier of trades (Novice) can effectively be chosen, if you have not actually traded with them yet: The trick is to break their job block and let them revert to unemployment, then replace the block. This does not work for higher-tier trades.
The following list focuses on "easy pickings".
- Farmers will each buy one of the base crops immediately, and as they level up they will all buy pumpkins and melons. The crops can be automatically or easily farmed, especially the pumpkins and melons.
- Wood can be converted to sticks and sold to fletchers. Later, fletchers will buy string and feathers.
- Paper can be sold to all cartographers and some librarians. If leather is plentiful, the librarians may also buy books. This will also help level the librarians to sell more enchanted books.
- Shepherds will buy one color of wool up front, and later they will buy some dyes. Some luck is needed with the dye trades, to get dyes that you can farm easily (that is, no lapis lazuli or small flowers). Bone meal is key here; it is easily produced with a composter (and/or skeleton bones), and besides crafting dyes directly, it can be used to rapidly grow the tall flowers.
- Apprentice: white (bone meal); black (squid ink); gray (black+white); lime (green+white);
- Journeyman: red ( rose bush or beetroot); yellow (sunflower); pink (peony or red+white); light gray (black+white); orange (yellow+red)
- Expert: green (cactus); brown (cocoa beans) magenta (lilac)
- The same cleric who sells you the bottles will buy rotten flesh from a mob farm, and later netherwart. If you have a gold farm, that can also be helpful.
- If you have an iron farm, you can sell to the various blacksmith types, rapidly leveling them up to selling you diamond gear.
Each trade (both selling stuff for emeralds, and buying the bottles) will also grant an average of 4.5 XP to the player, 5 extra if the villager would be willing to breed. This means that rather more experience will be gained in the trading than stored in the bottles!
The Bottles o' Enchanting themselves average a yield of 7 XP each, so a stack of them will yield around 448 XP.
A mob farm can be built to let players finish off the mobs themselves, thus gaining the experience from the kills. Normally these will be oriented toward hostile mobs; Blazes have especially high experience value, and convenient spawners in the Nether that can be customized. Most hostile mobs will grant 5 XP apiece, with occasional bonuses for zombie variations and skeletons. Blazes give twice that, but without bonuses. Going from level 0 to 30 requires killing 279 "common" enemies, neglecting the bonuses.
Chickens can also be automatically hatched into an enclosure for convenient slaughtering, but they give much less experience than hostile mobs, and increasing the numbers to compensate can threaten major lag.
Several monsters (zombies/drowned/husks/strays, skeletons, zombified piglins) will also provide enchanted equipment, which can be disenchanted at a grindstone for yet more experience. Naturally, such a farm will also provide the drops for the particular mobs, in quantity. Both the equipment and the occasional "baby" forms will also increase the experience they yield.
An automatic smelter can be fed with the harvest from any of several automatic crop farms, and the resulting experience harvested when you need it.
There are a limited number of useful crops here, basically the ones that can be automatically farmed:
- Kelp gives little experience (6.4 XP/stack), but the smelted kelp can be turned into fuel for the smelter, with a surplus for other uses.
- Potatoes give more experience (22.4 XP/stack); the cooked potatoes make a solid mid-tier food supply, and they can be composted for more bonemeal than the raw potatoes.
- Chickens are also an option, as they can be automatically bred and killed to produce a stream of chicken meat, but for any given number of chickens, more experience can be had by manually slaughtering them. That said, having large numbers of chicks around waiting to grow up can also cause a lot of lag for the game, while a continuously running farm (which kills but does not cook the chickens) can get by with relatively fewer chickens alive at any one time.
- Cactus gives far more experience (64 XP/stack), but unlike the others it cannot be cooked in a smoker, and the resulting dye has no use beyond making things green. For a large-scale smelting setup, arrangements must be made to dispose of the dye.
For large smelter farms, the load can be divided among several furnaces, which can be harvested separately; list allows storing larger amounts of experience without needing to harvest it all at once, and also allows faster progress (so long as the input farm can keep up). For a simple single-furnace setup, nearly two stacks of cactus (120 items) can be burned in a Minecraft day, collecting 360 XP per real-time hour. Potatoes and kelp burn twice as fast, but give less experience, yielding respectively 252 and 72 XP/hour. Of course, maintaining this rate for long periods of time requires an input farm large enough to supply 120 or 240 items per day, and this will be multiplied for multi-furnace setups/
Fuel can be provided by the player in quantity, but it is even possible to fuel the farm with an automatic bamboo farm, or with an automatic charcoal smelter, perhaps fed by a tree farm. An automatic charcoal smelter can smelt 7 stacks of material for each stack of wood provided to it; dried kelp blocks are more efficient at 20 input stacks per kelp-block stack (11, if we discount the kelp blocks used to smelt more kelp), but they do require manual crafting to produce. A bamboo farm must be large enough to provide four stacks of bamboo for each stack of material to be smelted.
If continuous fueling is not practical, it is possible to set the intended yield of the farm by the amount of fuel loaded into it -- for example, a cactus smelter loaded with 70 kelp blocks will produce enough experience to bring a player from level 0 to level 30 -- with a single furnace, this will take most of four real-time hours (3h 52.5m). Note that this will be significantly slower that fishing, but where fishing requires the player's presence, the smelters can be left to operate (in any loaded chunks).