Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Why We Fight :: An Introduction to Pet Battling

A little from Column A...
Any guide to anything, at least in my mind, needs to have a reason for being. Before we begin, therefore, it is time for some essential exposition.

When Blizzard announced Pet Battles back in October 2011 I was, I'll happily admit, one of the sceptics. I'd been collecting pets for a VERY long time: it began somewhere during The Burning Crusade (I still kick myself for not having either the Vanilla or TBC Collectors Editions for the pets even to this day) and I had spent many, many hours grinding mobs for drops so hard to obtain I would often question my own sanity for doing so. To have a world crawling with pets made part of my brain bask in an endorphine rush that no amount of exercise or chocolate consumption would ever replicate. To have to fight for them somehow just seemed WRONG: I'd already done that for the 175 plus I owned before Blizzard opened the floodgates. Why would this even work as a concept?

My 12 year old son provided me with the answer: a veteran Pokeman trainer knew gaming gold when he saw it, and I can remember the discussion we had shortly afterwards. Collecting was half the fun, the other was learning the ways to beat the other pets, to get the best quality you could. I knew at the time that I didn't want another 'game' to play, I already had one of those taking up my time, but I found myself considering the possibilities this departure would afford me with, and I'll admit I was gradually hooked. My contrary stance shifted, as I realised that, just like anything else I might pick up and be a part of, the experience was what I made of it. As soon as the game appeared on the Mists of Pandaria beta, I knew it was too late. I was DOOMED.

A lot of that has to do with the sheer amount of time and effort the game developers put into the nuts and bolts of gameplay, the level of thought that was ingrained into every part of the experience, including the things you might not immediately consider important. If you are reading this guide of the first time I'd urge you to press Shift+P (other keybindings are available,) go to your pet interface, and click on some of the pets you could own as you begin your journey as a Battler. Every one has a description: some are priceless (my particular favourite is for the Horde Balloon) and are written by people who clearly understand that to make such an endeavour work successfully, there needs to be a particular investment of emotional energy. With such a solid foundation, it is no wonder that battling is now as much a part of the game landscape as professions or the Tiller's Farm Experience (TM).

This Guide will do its utmost to explain to you what is required for you to fight: there is a questline embedded within the experience which will pit you against an increasingly fiendish (and often downright evil) set of NPC Trainers whose job it is to hand your behind to you multiple times unless you can begin to grasp that actually, yes, there is a way to win. That involves understanding pet 'families' (there are ten), abilities and how the rarity of your pet itself can have a significant effect on the outcome of your endeavours. It will also take up a great deal of time, because to do all of this requires an investment that many people I know will be unwilling to give considering what else the game currently asks of its players. However, if you are willing, I am able, and I'll be spending as long as it takes to pass on the extent of my rapidly evolving knowledge, most of which has been gathered face down in the dirt across five continents.

If you ask me why I fight, the answer is simple: because I can. I've found something in game which is truly special, and hugely entertaining, to the point that even my committed non-pet loving husband has begun to grasp its significance for me. I love the business of looking for rares, for fighting battles, even sitting for hours in the vain hope that the right pet will spawn so I can go and add it to my collection. As I write this I have collected 497 of the available 523 pets I could own in game: I'll keep going until I can get as many as conceivably possible. I may not ever own a Baneling (I can't justify buying a CE for a game I'll never play) or a Zergling (damn you Vanilla CE!) but you can guarantee that if I can own it, it's in my sights. You will be mine, oh yes.

That's how committed I am, and I'm ready to teach you everything I know. Make yourselves comfortable, because we're going to be here for quite some time.

I know why I fight. Now it's time to find your answers.


Navimie said...

Well written and well said Godmother :) I look forward to reading - though like you I am hugely addicted and I will get every pet I can.. though the Vanilla CE is a little beyond me yet...

Anonymous said...

I'm hoping for vanilla CE purchasable upgrades at some point, or availability on the Black Market. Got my Spectral Cub the other day - squee!