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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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?