Monday, October 6, 2014

Pet Battling: Getting Started

plus you can name all your pets after pokemon
While there is a little something for everyone in World of Warcraft, pet battling is something most people tend to either love or hate.

Maybe you dislike pet battling or actively avoid it, but would still like to collect pets and earn achievements - for example [Crazy for Cats] for "the Crazy Cat Lady/Man" title.

Maybe you're just at the end of your rope for things to do until Warlords of Draenor releases.

If you're already interested in doing it, it won't be that hard for you to get into - there are already plenty of guides around. Warcraft Pets goes much more into detail than I will about the whole system here.

The thing about the majority of guides is that they are incredibly in depth and, while I'm not at all trivializing the hard work that these authors put into their guides, if you aren't actually interested in pet battling, it can make it seem like simply getting started requires a lot more work, thought, and effort than it actually does. While high end tamer battles and PvP battles will require a lot of work, thought, and effort, simply battling and capturing wild pets does not.

Blizzard has a four minute official tutorial on starting out, though it was released in December of 2012 and inaccurately defines the maximum allowance of battle pets as 500 - it has been increased to 1000 as of patch 5.4.

To summarize, you have to learn how to pet battle from a trainer: Horde learn in Orgrimmar with Varzok, Alliance in Stormwind with Audrey Burnhep.

Once you have pet battle training learned, any character on that account can do it. The very first win for a 1v1 battle for one of your level 1 pets versus another level 1 pet will be a level up. Note that successful pet battles grant experience to the actual character.

Make sure you have track pets toggled. There are low level pets in Orgrimmar and Stormwind, so you can begin your training immediately after learning pet battling. Starter zones have low level pets and the level of pets raises slowly as you travel into higher level zones.

To heal your pets, you can use an ability you gain when you learn how to pet battle, [Revive Battle Pets], or visit a Stable Master, which is a trackable NPC under "Townsfolk."

While the official tutorial assumes you will own no pets and have no gold with which to buy pets, I'm going to assume you have access to more than just the pet given to you by the trainer. The vast majority of pets can pet battle and there are plenty available for miniscule amounts of gold on the auction house.

At the end of the day, the first pets you level up could be anything. My first level 25 team was actually [Sand Kitten], [Nether Faerie Dragon] (which used to be flying type), and [Fel Flame], no real synergy and not too impressive. However, I was very entertained by pet battling and I did not see it as a chore. If you're simply looking to level up some pets so that you can capture cool looking companions or earn achievements, you'll want pets that make the journey easier. 

You'll want a pet team that has attacks that are powerful against the majority of pets you will fight in the wild, or at the very least don't take increased damage from these types. The majority of wild pets will be critter and beast with a healthy serving of flying and aquatic type.

while other types certainly pop up, they are rather rare

As we can see
  • beasts will harm critters more easily
  • flyers will harm aquatics more easily

but additionally
  • critters harm undead more easily
  • aquatics harm elementals more easily

Even though beasts are weak attackers against flyers, a strong beast is highly recommended as the amount of critter pets in the wild is staggeringly high. A flyer will be excellent as not only do they take reduced damage from the second largest pool of wild pets, beasts, but magic attacks are uncommon in the wild.

Therefore, some pet types that would be unwise to include in your initial team would be
  • undead
  • elemental
  • aquatic
  • critter

While aquatic pets have a large amount of healing and tanking abilities, flyers will be strong against them. Moths are flyers that are incredibly useful and incredibly easy to find - they will be strong against aquatic pets and they have the protective ability [Cocoon Strike]. At least one beast (with beast type attacks) is highly recommended.

Most wild pet battles will not include high level strategies - the vast majority of difficult battles will be at the max level end of the spectrum. Just in the realm of getting started and capturing wild pets, the first pets you level shouldn't necessarily be the best synergized, strategized team for battles, but rather be capable in terms of taking hits and healing themselves.

The reason for this is two fold:
  • While your pets heal a small amount after you win and when they level up, they will gradually end up at lower and lower health forcing you to return to a stable master to heal every couple of battles. Having tanky and healing capable pets gives you less downtime as you don't have to travel to a stable master as often. The [Revive Battle Pets] ability has an eight minute cooldown, and without self healing, you will have to heal your pets much more often than that.
  • You will not always be immediately successful when attempting to capture a wild pet, and you sacrifice your turn to attempt a capture. Depending on how difficult that pet was to fight in the first place, it's possible that you may need to fortify and heal your own pets in order to have enough chances to capture a wild pet without it defeating your pets.

Here is a list of all available battle pet healing abilities. While there are a ton of healing abilities, there are two notable ones due to the types of pets that normally have them.
  • [Devour]
     Many pets have this ability, and a good amount are available to be purchased for small amounts of silver, namely cat pets. It is also useful as it is a beast type attack. [Ravage] works exactly like it, but is found on mostly captured pets.
  • [Ancient Blessing]
    Typically found on dragonkin, there are some pets available for collection or auction house purchase that have this. Notable pets with this include [Pterrodax Hatchling], which has an advantage from also being a flying type, and [Chrominius] as he has beast and magic attacks along with having two healing abilities.

Although it's an elemental type, [Terrible Turnip] will make capturing pets a lot easier as it is the only pet that has the ability [Weakening Blow], which will never kill an opponent. However, note that it is very difficult to level for the same reason and a lot of its other abilities have long cooldowns.

Having a type that is weak against a common type is not the end of the world - remember that after leveling a pet to level 5 and earning [Just a Pup], you have three battle pets to battle with. Just ensure that whichever pet you have that is weak to a common type has enough of a benefit to justify it.

As showcased at the end of my last addon highlight post, there are two pet battle mods that will make the experience easier and simpler. PetJournal Enhanced modifies the pet journal UI to offer more sorting options, making finding pets easier and seeing their stats and quality easier. Pet Tracker will aid in battling, showing which attacks of yours are stronger against your opponent and your opponent's abilities versus your own and the cooldowns of your opponent's abilities, along with the quality of the opposing pet.

This guide is a compliment to my previous guide Crazy for Cats to help people who want the title but aren't pet battlers.

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