Pet Battling Across Azeroth

They [Blizzard] are obviously planning to go free-to-play and are looking to cater to a younger audience and the Asian market more than their former fan-base.

Reaction to a post here about Pet Battles, October 2011

Pet Battles came into World of Warcraft with the Mists of Pandaria expansion back in 2012.  When the feature was announced as part of the expansion at BlizzCon the year before, it seemed interesting.  But that was also the age of discontent and cancelled subscriptions, and our group wandered off to try other things and did not return until Mists of Pandaria was already a year old.

And then, after the rush back to Azeroth, we had some catching up to do… like all of Cataclysm… and finishing off that last bit of Wrath of the Lich King that came out after we had done all the initial instances.  The year long content drought didn’t bother us too much.  As a group we barely finished of the Pandaria instances in time for Warlords of Draenor.

During that time I did not exactly ignore pet battles.  I captured some pets, leveled up a few, but it was never really a focus.  I had a modest collection of pets going into Pandaria; there were some pets from quests and others from holiday events like Children’s Week and the pets from getting the BlizzCon stream and the six store pets I got when World of Warcraft Magazine folded up shop after five issues.

That actually gave me a pretty good set of nice, rare quality pets to work with.  I did not actually do that much with them, aside from catching pets for my collection, regardless of quality.  I did a lot of that during my failed attempt at the Loremaster achievement last summer, which had me wandering around lower level zones.  That also gave me a chance to level up a few of my pets.  But pet battles were mostly a side task, and I had bigger fish to fry, and all the more so since Draenor showed up.  Sometimes literally involving fish.

That's 700 fish caught

With the Terrible Turnip by my side

But Draenor also brought along garrisons, and garrisons have buildings, and one of those buildings was the battle pet focused menagerie.  And so pet battles became a thing because… must upgrade all buildings!  Which meant taking stock of my pets.

More after the cut because… pet battle writing spew!

So only the truly dedicated will probably get beyond this point, so I can bring Pokemon into the discussion.

I know that comparing Pokemon and pet battles makes some people grumpy.  There are certainly many differences between the two games, not the least of which is that such battles are a side show in WoW but pretty much the main course in Pokemon.

But there are enough similarities that comparing the two is not an exercise in futility.  They both share some common aspects, like the whole “rock, paper, scissors” layout of types that are strong against some foes but weak against others.  There is party management and leveling up and selecting abilities and the whole healing and revival mechanism.  Anybody who played one would “get” the other.

But there is one aspect of both that seems to apply to apply directly to me.

I seem quite able in both to wander through what I would consider the “base” game, which is leveling up your initial party, with whatever half-assed group of pets I happened to run across for whatever reason, only to be pulled up short when it comes to the “end game” mechanics due to poor choices in assembling my party.

Many is the time I have gotten all eight gym badges in a Pokemon game only to have to go back and work on pretty much a whole new party in order to take on the Final Four and the reigning Pokeleague Champion. (Plus the final bad guy boss fight, which usually shows up in that time frame as well.)

And so I found myself in Draenor with my first group of level 25 pets; a skunk, an ash spiderling, and Deathy.  I guess that isn’t a horrible group.  To my credit, they were all at least rare/blue quality pets.  While they were very strong against beasts and critters, that was about the extent of their strengths.  That group was not going to make much headway against trainers in Draenor and they certainly were not going to defeat all three of the legendary/orange quality pets that roamed my garrison, and upgrading the pet menagerie required they be defeated.

It was time to go back and assess my pet collection, and there were a lot of low cards in that hand.

The easiest way to get some higher level pets is to capture higher level pets.  They lose a couple levels on capture, but capturing a level 25 pet and having it drop to 23 at least gets you close to the mark.  However, along the way to a set of level 25 pets, I hadn’t been all that picky in who I captured, being more interested in just collecting rather than battling.  So while I had some higher level pets, they were often of common/white or poor/gray quality.  The vast majority of my rare quality pets were level 1.

So I started on a two prong approach.

First I was going to try to capture some higher level rare quality pets, along with no longer capturing anything that wasn’t at least uncommon/green in quality going forward.  I could do that while I was adventuring through Draenor with my crowd of level 90+ characters.  I also went through and dumped any dupes I had that were of uncommon or common quality.

Second, I was going to bite the bullet and try and level up some of those level 1 rare quality pets I had sitting in my collection.

The first part of the plan has gone okay.  Rare pets, being rare, have been hard to come by, but at least I have been getting some battles in.  I managed to pick up a couple of pets good versus aquatic types, which helped me defeat Gorefu for the Pets vs. Pets quest.  I was already somewhat set against Gnawface, as he was a critter type, and was neutral versus the elemental Carrotus Maximus, so just had to persist before I lucked into a win.  That was required to get my menagerie to level 2.

But on the pet leveling front, things have been a little more sporadic.

I did buckle down and level the Terrible Turnip up to 25, largely because he has the skill equivalent of False Swipe, beloved in the Pokemon world, which is an attack that will knock your opponent down to, but never below, 1 hit point.  This makes catching pets much easier, as I have made that “just one more attack” decision so many times when facing a rare quality pet, only to have that attack roll critical and kill the pet.  (The Molten Corgi, which many people got for the WoW anniversary event, has an attack with a similar effect.)

Otherwise though, I haven’t been very good at following through.  Maybe, if I am feeling diligent, I will get out one of my lower level characters and start working on a set of three pets that are low level.  But it takes some effort to stay focused when I could be doing other things.

I actually think I have seen a pattern in leveling up battle pets.  It seems to take about the same number of battles as your level, against equal opponents in order to get a level.  So your first battle at level 1 gets you to level 2.  Two battles at level 2 gets you to level 3 and so on.  Easy peasy.

Only when you get to level 6 or so, and you have three pets in your group that you are trying to level up, then you are facing about 18 at level battles for level 7 across the board.

The way around this is to battle higher level pets.  However, the whole rock/paper/scissors comes into play then.  You want to find higher level wild pets that you are strong against, or whose attacks are weak against your type, while avoiding those that are strong against you or that can shrug off your attacks.  Everyday life in Hoenn, I know.  But Azeroth is bigger, and both finding a zone with appropriate level pets and then getting there can be a task at times.

You can also get a boost in leveling up by fighting the “one per zone” battle masters, but you really need to work with their types, as going in weak on those fights won’t get you far.

And then there is just the whole “pick some pets and stick with them” problem, as on any particular day I seem to favor one or another.  I got out there and decided I needed mechanicals one day, then dragonkin another, and then something else on a third.

Go Rascal Bot!

Rascal Bot on mechanicals day

Still, I persist and have managed something of a pattern.  I got Grunty up to level 25, and he is the cornerstone of my Flawless Battle-Training Stone program.  Those are like Rare Candy in Pokemon, they boost your pet up a level.  You can buy them with three pet charms, which you earn by defeating NPC pet tamers in Draenor.  With the absence of an exp share item… or items at all in the Pokemon sense.. stones will have to do.

Only, with my current collection of level 25 pets, the only such trainer I can defeat reliably is Ashlei in Shadowmoon Valley.  At least she is close to the garrison.  I also use her to level up pets, but hope to expand once I get some of the right pet types up in the 20s.

My program is to get a battle pet up to level 15 or so, at which point I blow some Battle-Training stones on them to get them to 21.  At that point then can join in the battles with Ashlei.  My two under 25 pets just need to defeat the first pet Ashlei puts out, Pixiebell.  Then she puts out Doodle, who is essentially the Elekk Plushie pet which has no offensive attacks, while I swap in Grunty.  Grunty warms up with his crit booster, then is hot to trot when her Talbuk pet Tally gets swapped in.  Grunty’s attacks are strong versus Tally, and on a crit it is usually a one-shot kill.

Grunty making it happen

Grunty making it happen

Then it is just back to Doodle.  If I haven’t swapped in one of the below 25 pets yet, I let them finish off Doodle.  The below 25s get a big chunk of experience and I get another four pet charms so I can buy more Battle-Training Stones.  This has worked okay so far.  I now have some level 25 pets to work with.

My high level pets

My high level pets

But I remain weak against some key types, so have not found another NPC pet trainer in Draenor that I can take out reliably.  My pets are good against critters and beasts, neutral against mechanical and dragonkin, but if a flying pet shows up I have to run away.  And when I look at recommended lists of pets for certain types, I never have any of them leveled up.

So I have much work to do.  You can see my collection over at Warcraft Pets.  My current pet count is:

score is a quantity times quality metric

score is a quantity times quality metric

My biggest problem remains that pet battles are a side task in a game where I am already involved with a number of side tasks and alts and such.  As I said somewhere else, to really focus on pet battles I probably need another 13 month content drought.

A few other things would help.  While the organization of the pets window is sufficient for basic needs, it quickly becomes cumbersome for me when I am trying to swap one set of pets for another or finding specific pets for a battle or remembering which pets I was trying to level up last week when I last gave it a shot.

I would really like to be able to configure pre-set groups to call up on demand.  Especially leveling groups.  I haven’t really looked into add-ons for pet battles though, is there anything that would help on that front, or that is a must have?

 

13 thoughts on “Pet Battling Across Azeroth

  1. Ogodei@Anvilmar

    Out on Curse is an addon called PetBattle Teams that lets your setup teams of pets to use. The Warcraftpets website has a section on addons for Pet Battles if you are jumping down that rabbit hole

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  2. SynCaine

    Is it fun?

    Sounds like a bad version of pokemon based on the text (didn’t point out anything better than pokemon about it), but you don’t really indicate if you are having fun doing it or are doing it more because its WoW and doing checklist stuff is what MMO content often is (and we MMO players love checklists, even if most of the checklist activities aren’t actually fun).

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  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @SynCaine – As I have said in the past, I say I like a lot of things but what I actually do represents the deeper truth of the situation. I simply won’t do things that are not fun beyond a short period of time. I told myself I still liked Warhammer Online during the last month I was subscribed, but the fact that I barely ever logged in makes that statement suspect.

    So, the fact that I am doing pet battles at all, and have continued to do it in bits and pieces, says something. I enjoy Pokemon and pet battles lines up with some of that. The question is why I do not play it more than I do. I log in and do a number of things in WoW regularly before I get down to doing pet battles.

    At the moment I think that the work to actually pursue pet battles outweighs the fun by a little too much. Leveling up is a bit grindy, with 11 to 18 being a real chore. Unlike Pokemon, there is no big narrative to guide you through, so no leveling path. You have to jump all over the place. It isn’t at all central to the game. And the interface really gets in the way sometimes. Last night I just wanted to know if I had any pets that were good versus flying. The answer was “no,” but I had to go through each and every level 22+ pet to get there. Then I wanted to know what wasn’t going to simply get murdered by flying types, and back I went.

    This is why I want pre-set groups, so I can at least have that anti-flying type team to hand. (Thanks Ogodei, I’ll check out that addon!)

    Now, part of this is investment in pet battles. I don’t always know off-hand what Pokemon are good against which types, but I have played so much Pokemon that I know more often than not and I just have to look at that chart in the back of every Pokemon book to get the answer if I forgot.

    Did I answer your question? Not really. I was asking about addons at the end in hopes of some advice on the subject to see if I could remove some of the annoyance of the pet battles interface. If PetBattle Teams or some other addon helps, and I end up playing more because of it, then I am going to say that I find it fun.

    Then again, I still haven’t finished up Pokemon Alpha Sapphire yet, so maybe I just don’t like Pokemon anymore.

    Also, I do not think anybody in our guild has done very much at all with pet battles. Even my daughter wants me to give her a level 25 so she can use it to catch higher level pets to avoid the initial level grind.

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  4. Jacob

    I did a bit of pet battles back during MoP, mind I haven’t been subscribed for well over a year now so this may be crummy advice at this point.

    However, what I found to be a quick way through the pet leveling was to get one pet who could basically solo most battles up to 25, and then take it in a party with 2 other pets. I was using a bear of some kind who had a hibernate skill that often could basically keep him in the battle more or less indefinitely, Then I would just swap in one of the low levels for a single attack, that’s all they need to get experience, swap back to the bear and finish the battle.

    That usually got level one pets up to level 20 or so in only a few battles, skipping all the tedious grind you were talking about. No idea if this strategy is still viable, but it might be worth checking out.

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  5. gholamite

    PetBattle Teams is definitely the addon you want for setting up and swapping teams. I’ve used it since pets came out. For levelling in Pandaland, I had a team of two 25s that could beat 5 of the trainers there and I’d swap in a low level for one attack during the fight. That team was a crow and a crab. I could level one pet from level 1 to 25 in one day just from beating those 5 trainers. Unfortunately that team doesn’t work so well in draenor and I haven’t spent the time to find 2 pets that can handle most of these new trainers. Also get the hat that boosts pet xp gain for all these fights. I have no recollection where it came from though :)

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  6. Polynices

    Hang in there. It’s really hard to get started with pet battles for all the reasons you describe. You’re close to having enough high level pets that it gets easier. Once you can beat a few of the Pandaria pet masters with one carry pet (that is, 2 25s to actually beat their pets and another lowbie to get tons of xp from the fight if it can survive a single round) you can hit them all each day and that levels your collection at a good pace.

    PetBattleTeams and PetTracker are essential mods, IMO. Pokemon Trainer is mostly useless except for one feature I’ve seen nowhere else: it colors pets in the AH window if you have them so you can actually scan for cheap pets that you don’t have (the default AH UI will show you every pet even if you already have them). There’s probably several decent pets you can get for a few hundred gold each, or less.

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  7. C. T. Murphy

    I wanted to get into Pet Battles and make that my new thing to do. After all, I love Pokemon! Alas, the depth just didn’t feel there to me and I quickly grew very, very bored and gave up altogether.

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  8. Anonymous

    for leveling and beating things in the wild, i go with a crab (has a beast attack) which can beat everything but a flying. For the flying i get a dragonkin with a few magic attacks, and third spot is the leveling pet.
    It works like a charm, especially as crab has heal and shield and is good for trapping.

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  9. Stephanie “Stargrace” Morrow

    PetBattle Teams, and PetTracker are great. You may also want to try to complete the safari hat achievement, that gives a 10% boost to all experience you get while you have the buff on (you no longer have to wear the helm, it’s a clicky buff, all of your characters on your account will also get the item). The achievement requires you to defeat 40 pet battle trainers. I have almost 410 pets now, but still have difficulties with the garrison battles. They use a very specific set of pets with specific skills in order to defeat them.

    To level up a pet I typically do what others do. A team of 1-2 level 25s with 1 lowbie. Swap them in at any time during a fight (they don’t need to attack) and they’ll get the experience at the end.

    I love pet battles. Much like archaeology it’s a really relaxing way to spend some time.

    http://www.warcraftpets.com/collection/Stargrace/ is my collection so far,

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  10. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    And this is going to sound really dumb, but I have totally not been doing the standard Pokemon leveling thing where you start with a low level pet and then swap him out right away, so the first pet gets exp for being in the fight. At some point I got the idea in my head that that did not work because of the level gap between the pets. But it works. I am going to guess that I must have had a high level pet in a group fighting a mob that was gray to the high level, so no exp was awarded.

    Well, leveling up will be a bit easier now. Just popped 11 levels on a level 1 pet doing my daily fight with Ashlei.

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  11. Aerynne Antares

    There is a spot in Pandaria not too far from the Shrine (alas, the village name escapes me now – there is an inn, though no direct flight path, and one of the Pandaria masters is there) that is much used for pet leveling. The pets that spawn tend to be aquatic, so set up a team with two max level crows and the pet-to-be-leveled and blow through the spawned aquatics. There is a ledge to the right of the inn area that is safe from wandering mobs – the aquatics (5-6 of them) spawn pretty quickly.

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  12. Eric Schoneveld (@ericscho)

    The last summer, during the content draught had me leveling pets as well, never got around to it before that. It even led to a youtube series (channel Zimmy910 in case you’re interested) :). Above poster Aerynne is right, there is a nice spot there. Valley of the four winds is excellent as well, lots of critters who are easy to deal with.

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