When Pet Battles were announced as a feature of the Mists of Pandaria expansion for World of Warcraft I was a skeptical. Pets had been a thing forever in Azeroth, if a bit rare. I remember getting that worg pup and a spider back in vanilla WoW, but they were akin to mounts back then in that they took up bag space and didn’t do much when brought out aside from follow you around… though that was enough at times.
Children’s Week brought along some more pets to show off, first in Azeroth then the Outland version. Things evolved, pets and mounts became manageable through a different interface, ceased to take up an inventory slot per pet, and became cross-wide items. I collected some along the way, including a few from BlizzCon Virtual Tickets, because I tend to be a collector and also because achievements began to show up for them.
Still, as a Pokemon player I was dubious about Blizzard attempting to graft something akin to Pokemon game play onto WoW. When I did finally pick up Mists of Pandaria during its second year, I treated pet battles as more of a collection game than anything else. I picked up pets opportunistically as they appears, tried my hand against a few of the NPC pet masters, but generally treated it as very much a secondary or tertiary activity.
It wasn’t until Warlords of Draenor and the need to defeat some bigger pets in order to unlock the menagerie in the garrison that I started to consider doing more than level up a few pets for a catching group. Then I started building something of a pet army, enabled by the Pet Battle Teams addon.
At that point I built up teams to defeat the pet battle masters throughout the game as well as the daily garrison challenge. I leveled up pets and collected the badges to buy stones to upgrade their quality, but I never quite got around to the Celestial Tournament, the big pet battle event on Timeless Isle in Pandaria.
Before I got to that I burned out on Warlords of Draenor and garrisons and did not return until WoW Legion was looming. At that point I was more about getting flying in Draenor then the pre-launch events for WoW Legion and then the opening of the expansion itself, during which time battle pets were not a priority. After my initial run to 110 in WoW Legion I tired and took another break. It was only with my return late last year, after switching to the Rematch addon for pet battles, that I was back in the saddle.
But I still wasn’t up for the Celestial Tournament.
The Celestial Tournament is a series of seven battles against a couple sets of possible foes, three battle masters and four epic pets, during which you cannot heal or revive any of your own pets. It your
Pokemon faints battle pet passes out they are out and if you need that battle pet again you had better have a dupe.
While I have read that you can do the Celestial Tournament with as few as 18 level 25 pets, they do have to be the right pets. I was able to put together teams from my 500 pets to take out the initial three masters, but the four epic pets would thwarts me every time. Looking at guides, I discovered that I lacked most of the recommended pets for these battles. So my goal became hunting those down and then leveling them up.
A few possible contenders, like the Iron Starlette, I had but just needed to level up. Some candidates were fairly easy to find. I stumbled upon an Unborn Val’kyr on my first attempt to find one, and bagged a pair of Emerald Proto-Whelps along the way. Others took a bit more time. I had to run through Ahn’Qiraj about a dozen times before I managed to get the Anubisath Idol pet as a drop.
I also came up with a daily leveling routine that would take a level 1 battle pet all the way up to level 25 in five fights, which I will post about later.
In the mean time I took on the Wailing Caverns and Deadmines pet battle dungeons. Those are somewhat easier events based on the Celestial Tournament model, where you battle a series of challenges in the dungeon environment but cannot heal or revive your pets. Doing Wailing Caverns has a chance to award pets when you finish, while the Deadmines awards you tokens that you can use to buy one of three pets.
Then one evening as I was killing the same mobs over and over on the Isle of Giants in Pandaria looking for one of the Zandalari pet drops, I decided that maybe I ought to go check out the auction house. Most pets you catch can’t be traded, but some you get through other means can be caged and handed off or listed at the auction house.
A visit to the auction house and 50,000 gold later and I had filled most of the gaps in my potential Celestial Tournament line up. (Remember when that was a lot of money?) I wasn’t aware that quite so many pets were tradeable. Granted, they were all level 1, so I had some leveling up work to do, and a few need to be boosted to rare quality, but I had a clear path forward.
And then, when adding those pets to my collection I crossed the 600 pet mark, which gets you an achievement and another pet.
Meanwhile, I stumbled across another achievement reward out in the Broken Isles when I did the 30th unique world quest pet battle. That gives you a token to up your battle pet storage.
I was actually starting to wonder about storage. The initial limit was 1,000 pets and, while there are only currently 946 pets you can get (Warcraft pets says that number is 917, with 960 total, so take your pick) you can have dupes. You can catch up to three of any pet… and I have dupes of some of my more useful ones… plus any pets that pre-dated Mists of Pandaria you got one for every character that had it, which is how I ended up with five Creepy Crates in my collection. So my total was edging up towards 800. But now I have more breathing room on that front.
At this point I think I have all my Celestial Tournament pets at 25 and boosted to rare quality, so I plan to give that a serious run this weekend.
And collecting… that keeps on going. My count is currently at 614 unique pets and I have a bunch I can still get if I work at it. I’ll never get to the full 946 though.
That count includes pets that came with collector’s editions of the game and, while you can find a collector’s edition of the 2004 release of WoW still, the price is way too steep for me.