|Ah Eastern Kingdoms Master, we meet at last...|
Someone far smarter than me has already compiled the Mother of all Pet Battling Guides. I have no real desire to try and outdo such a wondrous thing, because I'm having far too much fun just bimbling into battles with boundless enthusiasm and pretty much no idea of what the outcomes will be. However, after you've completed 250 fights, stuff does begin to sink in. You begin to understand that sometimes, just your favourite three pets aren't enough, and you might be forced to think out a strategy. Especially as fights stop being 1 v 1 and you're needing to fight three high level nasties to snag the rare you want, it does help to have a plan.
As a result, here are a number of things you really should know about Pet Battling from someone whose learning it the hard way, with their nose pressed firmly in the dirt of the Eastern Kingdoms...
1. You Can Spot the Rares.
A while ago someone in Guild whispered me, saying she'd worked out how to tell if she was fighting a Rare Pet. Despite some initial scepticism I did a bit of digging on the Internets soon afterwards and discovered that yes, you can work it out, and that people have macros that can take out the difficult maths. I however have decided to go the easy route, and I now recommend that if you are doing any volume of Pet Battling you really should have Pet Battle - Quality Notifier in your Addons Folder. Not only will it tell you by mousing over a battle pet whether you own it, but it will allow you as you enter a multiple pet battle to ascertain which pets are what rarity.
|Hitting the jackpot as I do my first Winterspring Battle... ^^|
In the later fights, when three pets are potentially useful, you should not underestimate the ability to know which ones are more valuable than others.
2. There's a Reason Blizzard Won't let Us Trade Wild Pets.
Apart from the obvious 'cheesing every achievement' potential being able to trade Wild Pets would give us at high levels, it is really very apparent the advantages a L1 Rare pet gives over every other quality.
|Mine versus Theirs... Yaffle is rare.|
Rares level faster, have superior stats and (in most cases) can take out pets several levels above them of lower quality. This means you can fight higher placed opposition and improve the entire levelling experience considerably. In this case at least, looks won't beat stats nearly as quickly. You may have an attachment to your Golden Dragonhawk Hatchling but it will not get you to L25 as fast as a captured L1 Rare, or one of the pets designated as Rare by Blizzard (in the main these are achievement or feat of strength rewards and Blizzard Store purchases [*]) Of course, there's nothing at all to stop you levelling non-rares, just bear in mind it may take a lot longer, and may result in increased levels of frustration (especially against NPC opposition) I've taken to only using rare captures or pets I know have the levelling advantage, and I suspect I have saved many, many hours of playtime.
3. Never be Afraid to Run Away.
There is currently absolutely no penalty in giving up a fight against the computer or a Battle NPC (well, at least none that I've seen, but I'm betting the stat's being recorded somewhere) The only possible disadvantage I've seen discussed is leaving fights against low quality pets in areas where those pets are on a long spawn timer, but I'm still not convinced of the validity of that assertion. Until someone can tell me, I'm working on the theory that if I go into a fight and I'm not happy, waving a white flag is NOT a sign of weakness. If I'm looking for a particularly rare Pet I'll take anything I can get, but there are cases where fighting multiple mobs fast to find the rare spawn is not a crime. Needless to say if you pick a fight and can find a Mininfernal, don't back out as soon as you get there. Make sure you're pets are healed (bandages, Stable Master, 8 minute WHY IS IT SO LONG cooldown on your pet interface) and you have the three you want before you commit. It's best practice, but if all else fails... the emergency exits are <---- and ---->.
4. The Holy Trinity of Pet Battling...?
I don't like to admit it, but the heal-damage-tank combination's pretty awesome. Pets with a heal are mini powerhouses on their own, those with a group or area heal doubly so, because you can combine them with a 'tank' pet and a 'dps' pet to make some fairly potent combinations. This is one of the reasons I'm levelling a 10 man team on my initial pass, because of the flexibility it gives me as fights become more complex. My favourite pet for this right now is the Celestial Dragon I snagged for the 150 Pet Achievement and it's undoubtedly awesome Moonfire ability:
|Screenie from warcraftpets.com|
Not only does this pet do damage, but it allows you for a massive NINE TURNS to increase magic damage, plus boost healing FOR ALL PETS by 25%. Lung has consistently been the last pet standing in nearly all of my major battles and a lot of it comes down not simply to the Moonfire, but his own impressive self heal. This is where 'learning' how to battle is coming into its own for me, as I get a sense of what pets work best in particular situations, without having to look at a How To guild or moving automatically to what would be the best Pet 'in Slot' by someone else's website. Having a decent healer is clearly awesome, but it won't matter if you can't soak up damage or throw it out when needed, especially when we get to the serious business of Fighting Real People. That's a post for another time...
The key to success is knowing what your pets are capable of, and being ready to use the best on offer in your fight. A Holy Trinity is not to be scoffed at.
5. The Value of the Swap.
You should never be afraid of swapping pets in and out of a fight. Yes, you will incur a penalty when you do (your opposition gets a free hit effectively) but if this means your pet remains alive so that it can get the XP for the complicated three pet tussle you're coming to the end of... but it's not just about that. There are some fairly powerful AoE abilities with multi-round effects available to your pets, and getting them laid down on the playing field early on can give you an edge. Of course, when you're in the heady lands of 1 v 1 or 2 v 2 the swap isn't nearly as effective, but there are a couple of 3 v 3 fights I've won simply by the use of a well placed mid-game tag. You get three pets for a reason, after all. USE THEM!
6. Understanding Speed's Significance.
|So many debuffs, so little time!|
Your pet has a number of basic key stats: Health, Power and Speed, all of which scale with level. The speed of rare pets is better than any other pet quality. However, if your opposition has a faster speed, they'll throw the first punch, and many pets have speed reduction abilities as standard. This is important to know especially if your pet is at low health and is likely to bite the dust with your opposition's next attack. As a result, watch your debuffs, and be prepared to act accordingly. As you can see, Sideways has got his shields up (good lad) and still has a round of healing aoe to bask in. Oh and he's AT FULL HEALTH as well so take that, Badlands opposition!
7. There are More than Three Abilities...
|If it were not for Arcane Storm, I would not be here today...|
It is easy to forget that each of your pets has six potential abilities once it hits L20. If you are having trouble with NPC opposition, I'd strongly suggest checking out your higher level spells. Arcane Storm replaces my pet's self heal which, in a computer-driven battle I'd rather not be without but against the three Dragons you'll encounter when you challenge the Searing Gorge ttrainer NPC, it turned out to be a lifesaver. Your weather effects can overwrite those of your oppositions.
Remember however that when you swap your pets out they will revert back to the three low level default abilities, and you'll have to manually reset them. Hopefully this will be addressed in a patch.
8. When All Else Fails...
Remember, this is just a game in a game. It's not life and death, and its certainly not worth losing sleep over (yes I know you're sadly obsessed with it, I totally get that.) If it all gets too much, other recreational activities are available. Remember to take regular breaks, do not expect your significant other to cook for you (many thanks to my husband for putting up with a weekend of pet battling mayhem.) Next up for me is a wander around Kalimdor, collecting and battling as I go before I have a punt at the master trainer on that continent. More news as we have it :D
[*] I'll do my best to produce an updated list of what qualifies as rare pre-Pandaria and stick it on the site this week.