This was too good not to POST EVERYWHERE OMG.
/preen some more
[Insert witty and entertaining blog post here.]
Just a note to say that I am glad you are all still out there and that I promise I haven’t abandoned you all to the solitary pursuit of pets. This stupid game I subbed called Real Life has been taking a pretty heavy toll the last month or so and the raid bosses are kicking my ass pretty good. I’m soldiering on. I’ll be back to your regularly scheduled Kia’s Brain mockery very soon.
I interrupt this apparently-interminable series on pet battles to bring you the newest item upon which Kia’s Brain is reflecting, with all due respect and deference (and a thousand apologies) to the venerable Bard of Avon, who, were he alive today, would totally play a rogue.
Kia’s Brain: To daily, or not to daily, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in Pandaria to suffer
The cleaves and ground stomps of outrageous Mogu,
Or to cry out in frustration of too many things to do
And then just not do them. To daily, to farm,
No more; and in defiance of Blizzard to end
The time-sink and the thousand horrible mobs
That dailies require: ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To kill, to slay;
To zerg, perchance to loot – aye, there’s the rub:
For without these dailies, what epics may come?
When we have tricked out our toons to the max,
And bored to tears – then we shall long
For new dailies; what long expansions
Can long bear the scorn of the leet players,
The elitist jerks, the min-maxer’s disdain,
The pangs of bored farmers, the altoholics
Who cry “NOT ANOTHER REP GRIND!”, and the raiders
That blew past the content in two days,
When the developers may their own honor win
Just by making Spirits of Harmony tradeable?
But the dread of endless dailies,
The abyss of dailies, from whose question marks
We flee with our Pandaren Step enchants,
Makes us gaze with longing at empty Valor Points
Which we cannot attain with raiding alone.
Thus conscious does make grumblers of us all,
And thus the desire to be tricked-out raiders
Pales in the light of obsessive pet battles,
And fishing for Spinefish Alphas and mogging,
And so we give the dailies the arrogance
Of our middle fingers.
Oh lord. What have I done??
So you’ve found yourself some pets and you’ve beefed them up a little. Awesome! Now what?
Sounds like it’s time to take on the pet bosses.
Scattered about the world are Master Pet Tamers, people with serious pets who want to challenge you to srs bzns pet battles. You do not need to be afraid of these terrifying individuals! I, Kia of the Sisterhood of Kia, am here to help you.
In the first post, I talked about the two trainers (Audrey Burnhep for Alliance and Varzok for Horde) who guide you though your first pet battles steps. Once you have learned enough about pet battling to satisfy their not-terribly-stringent requirements, they will send you to your first Master Pet Tamer, Julia Stevens for Alliance and Dagra the Fierce for Horde. Once you defeat them, they will then send you on to the next tamer, and so on and so on. The last tamer in the quest series will then send you back to your trainer.
These first six Master Pet Tamers are a quest line specific to your faction, and are the first half of either Taming Eastern Kingdoms or Taming Kalimdor. You currently cannot get credit for both of these achievements on the same character. You will need a character of at least level 5 on the opposite faction to get the opposite faction quest line. If you are not of the same faction, the first six Pet Tamers for the achievement are not interactive. However, if you are stubborn and bullheaded like I am, it is possible to get the victories on your main character as long as you have a level 5 of the opposite faction. Everything pertaining to pet battles is account bound; in fact, once you train pet battling, you never have to train it again – as soon as your characters hit level 5 it becomes available. Therefore, the quests are also account bound. You can pick up the quest on your Horde toon, hop over to your Alliance toon and the Pet Tamer will now be available to battle. If you do it this way, do not turn in the quest on your Alliance toon – go back to your Horde toon to turn it in. Otherwise you won’t be able to get the follow-up.
It doesn’t matter who gets the victory, though. Only Alliance toons can get Eastern Kingdom credit and only Horde toons can get Kalimdor. Fortunately, you only need one or the other for Taming Azeroth - the meta will show credit for the achievement for the opposite faction’s continent once you defeat the tamers that are available - but you will need both of them in order to finish Taming the World. There will not be enough pet tamers unless you complete the quest line on both factions.
When battling Pet Tamers, keep in mind that their pets are going to generally be stronger than yours. Do not expect to be able to solo a pet tamer – you will almost certainly need at least two very strong pets at level. It’s worth it, though. Defeating a Pet Tamer will give you 3.5x the experience of a normal wild pet, plus finishing one of the Pet Tamer quests will reward you with a Sack of Pet Supplies, which if you are lucky, will contain a few of the very valuable (and soulbound) Battle Pet Bandages, which work the same as pushing the Beautiful Magic Button. Only without having to push the Beautiful Magic Button. Alternatively, you could get junk. Such is life.
Team composition is a bigger deal when battling pet tamers than when battling wild pets. While you can usually overpower stuff in the wild, pet tamers’ pets are going to be strong enough that you really do want to try to tailor your team to maximize strengths. The tamers have all three pets out when you fly up to them, so you will be able to see what you’ll be up against before you go into battle. I would start out with a Mechanical, a Beast, and either a Flying or Aquatic pet. For the purposes of walking you through the Tamers, I am going to operate under the assumption that you are downing Pet Tamers as you go, rather than going back and zerging them once you hit max levels. I’ll only offer suggestions of pets that you can tame at or below the level of the tamer or are available through drops or vendors.
There, you’ve done it! With both Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor tamed, Aubrey and Varzok will be looking for new challenges for you. Oh, guess what? These were the easy guys. Next up: the Master Pet Tamers in Outland, Northrend, Cataclysm and Pandaria!
Now that you know all about your adorably furry and/or scaly and/or winged companions, it’s time to make them All Growns Up!
Leveling battle pets to 25 is exactly the same process that leveling a toon to 25 (or 50, or 73, or 90) is – you watch your health bar, go kill things, collect your XP, and repeat. Blizzard made the battle pet leveling path even easier because it follows a regular character leveling path. Not sure where to go next for higher-level pets? Ask yourself where you would take an alt next. It’s almost certainly the right answer. Or go look at this page at WarcraftPets.com. I told you they were my favorite people. Or scroll down to the bottom of this post, where I’ve put a handy-dandy quick-reference chart JUST for your convenience.
Now, we all know that leveling alts can be a tedious… okay, downright mind-numbingly boring… occupation. How do you (lolololol) battle through?
Here are two different approaches:
Leveling pets solo (only using one pet per battle) is by FAR the fastest way to level a pet, but only pets that have significant damage reduction and healing abilities can actually accomplish it expeditiously. The key to fast solo pet leveling is using pets that can survive three to four battles in a row. Blizzard has given us a Beautiful Magic Button…
…but you can only push it every EIGHT minutes.
The slowest part of pet leveling is constantly having to fly back to civilization in search of a trainer to heal up your pets. Therefore, if you want to solo level a pet, you need to pick one that can heal itself during battles. If your pet can last three battles, you are going to be very close to the 8-minute mark, and then you can click your Beautiful Magic Button and continue on your merry, homicidal way.
Pets that are great at soloing: Crabs (I soloed my Strand Crab from level 10 to level 25 in about four hours), Turtles, Bears, some Dragonkin (the Celestial Dragon is an ass-kicker), some Elementals (if it looks like a miniature resto druid in tree form, it probably has good heals), and Toads.
Generally speaking, if your pet LOOKS like a player class that does really great tanking or healing or a Tenacity hunter pet, it probably IS a good solo pet battler.
Pets that REALLY REALLY suck at soloing: Exotics – pets that have strengths against hard-to-find families like Humanoid and Magic. Some Elementals (the ones that look like crystals), because their hardest-hitting abilities also damage themselves. Undead pets in general, because they are vulnerable to Critters and CRITTERS ARE EVERYWHERE.
If you want to just zerg pets merrily along as quickly as possible, here’s some tips:
1) Fight with your strengths. How much XP you get for a pet is entirely dependent on the comparative level of the pet you are fighting, NOT what family it belongs to. You do not get extra XP for fighting things that are hard to beat because they are strong against you. If your level 10 Panther Cub battles a level 12 Squirrel and a level 12 Moth, he will get the same amount of XP for both of the wins. However, he is going to have a MUCH easier time beating the Squirrel and will finish the battle faster and with more health.
2) Fight level 4 or 14 pets until your pet is at least levels 6 or 16. Usually, my approach is to always fight battles with pets at least one level higher than I am, since you get more XP from battling higher level wild pets. However, at levels 5 and 15, wild pets get to add a friend. The cost in XP of fighting a lower wild pet is still far less than the cost of having to defeat a 2nd and 3rd pet.
3) Keep emergency backup at your level. You do still have 2 other pet slots, so keep the bench warm with appropriate-level pets. Remember that a pet must live until the end of the battle to receive any XP; a dead pet gets squat. In a desperate pinch, it’s much better to bring in a closer and take a hit to your XP gain than it is to take that extra hit that kills you and gets you nothing. And if it DOES come down to that pinch, you don’t want to find that your level 22 Dragonkin that’s fighting a level 24 Bandicoon is getting backed up by a white level 5 Rabbit.
Leveling a 2 or 3 pet team will feel 2 or 3 times slower than soloing. That’s because… it is. The amount of XP any individual pet on your team will gain is a function of how many pets were used (AND SURVIVED) in the battle and the relative level of the wild pet compared to you. For example, at level 1, a pet will gain 50 XP if it defeats a level 1 pet by itself. A team of 2 level 1 pets that both hit the wild pet and survive until the end of the battle will get 25 point each. Still, even though leveling a 3 pet team is three times slower than soloing, you emerge at the end with three maxed pets instead of one. In the end, it all works out to the same amount of time invested.
It just feels painfully, grindingly slow. Here’s some tips to make it bearable:
1) Don’t stack families on your team. When wild pets add friends, they are not necessarily from the same family as the original wild pet. A Rabbit might bring along a Moth or a Crab to your pet battle party. You’ll maximize your chances of having a pet that is strong against one of the enemy pets if they are not all from the same family. If push comes to shove and you’re in a corner, stack Beasts. You are more likely to see Critters than any other pet.
2) Whenever possible, fight pets AT LEAST 2 levels higher than yours. The loss of XP that you suffer by using three pets in the battle is alleviated to some degree by the gain you get from fighting higher level pets.
3) Equalize pet health loss. Have each pet in your team kill one pet on the other team, and then substitute the next pet. Don’t keep any one pet in for longer than the time it takes to kill their opposite number. Remember that you still have that (AGONIZINGLY LONG) eight-minute cooldown on your Beautiful Magic Button, so to expedite leveling, your team needs to survive at least three battles in a row. Also remember that a pet ONLY needs to be in the battle for one round (makes and receives an attack) in order to qualify for XP. If necessary, put the your terribly beat-up low-health pet in for just one round and immediately yank it out again.
3) Deploy with wisdom. If the enemy sends an Aquatic, send in your Flying pet. This should be a no-brainer. If you don’t have anything that is strong against the enemy pet, at the very least don’t send in something that is WEAK against it, for the love. Unless, of course, you don’t have any other choice, in which case – best of luck.
4) Press the SKIP button. It’s almost always more of an overall health loss to substitute out a stunned, trapped, or transformed pet because the enemy pet will get extra hits on the way out AND the way back in. Just hit the skip button to skip your turn and take your medicine.
5) Don’t be afraid to wave the white flag. You can ALWAYS retreat from a battle with absolutely no penalty whatsoever, save the health that your pets have lost. If you have a pet die on you, it’s better to retreat and keep the whole team at the same XP level than to continue with the battle and end up with a pet dragging behind.
Whenever possible, try to stay within spitting distance of a Stable Master so that you can augment your Beautiful Magic Button with a very quick trip back to a person who will heal your pets for you for the very low price of 10s.
Generally speaking, every major town will have a Stable Master. Not always, but usually. There are some places where Stable Masters are extremely few and far between, and strangely enough, Pandaria is the worst offender there. You would think that since it’s the expansion that brought us pet battling, you wouldn’t be able to move four feet without tripping over a Stable Master, but sadly that is not the case.
Now then, that handy-dandy pet level guide I mentioned: Pet Level
5) Skald, in the northeastern corner of Blade’s Edge Mountains, just south of the Crystal Spine. There’s a sweet spot there that has a bazillion Scalded Basilisk Hatchlings all piled on top of each other. If you’re careful you can easily level 18-20 without moving more than 20 feet in any direction. Unfortunately, there is no Stable Master within easy flying distance, so you’ll have to be VERY careful. Or else spend a lot of time waiting on your Beautiful Magic Button to go off cooldown.
4) The Starting Zones – ALLLL of them. It’s all but impossible to go more than about five feet without tripping over a pet that you can battle. Plus, you can make loops around the central towns like Goldshire and stay close to Stable Masters.
3) Valley of the Four Winds. My favorite part about Pandaria wild pets is that very frequently they come in packs of three and four. Besides the ramped-up cuteness factor, that is VERY convenient. And Halfhill is fairly centrally located, so it’s not terrible to get back to the Stable Master for a quick heal.
2) Northern Feralas. For leveling 10-12, Feralas can’t be beat. The pets are plentiful and you can usually find seventeen of them wandering within ten feet of Veir, the Stable Master at Dreamer’s Rest.
1) Northern Felwood. I LOOOOVE Northern Felwood for mid-level pet leveling. There are TWO easily-accessible Stable Masters (Nalesette Wildbringer in Talonbranch Glade and Hurah in Whisperwind Grove). There are squillions of pets and they are all level 14. I sometimes will take pets as low as level 11 and hang out there until my pets are big enough to swoop up to Winterspring for the last couple of levels before heading to Blade’s Edge.
5) Jade Forest. There are no Stable Masters at all in Jade Forest and the pets are very much intermingled with mobs that will aggro. PRO TIP: If you are leveling pets in Cata or Pandaria zones, the mobs are still high enough to yoink you out of your pet battle if they run into you. If that happens, the wild pet you are battling will be restored to full health – but YOURS won’t be. Do yourself a favor and clear out the baddies before you go into battle. Just don’t use AOE! You’ll hit the pet!
4) Shadowmoon Valley and Blasted Lands. You will spend far, far more time flying around LOOKING for pets than you will actually FIGHTING them.
3) Swamp of Sorrows. Ugghhh. Too. Many. SNAKES. /shudder
2) Undercity and Silvermoon City. Yeah, I know that sounds stupid, but you need to tame pets in the capital cities to get Big City Pet Brawler. If you are a die-hard Alliance like myself, you have NO idea how to get around Undercity. I finally managed to find something that might have been the door and swooped in on a Lost of Lordaeron wandering within a close enough distance before I got swarmed over by the guards. Oh, and guess what? You still can’t fly in the Outland races’ starting zones. FYI.
1) Storm Peaks. In Storm Peaks, the pets, specifically the Arctic Fox Kit, only come out when it snows. Guess what it never does in Storm Peaks? Storms.
Next up – Throwdowns With Pet Tamers! All the skinny you need to know about where they are, what they’ll bring to bear, and how to beat them down.
Since I know that yesterday’s post got all of you all hot and bothered and ready to pet battle, we’ll forge ahead and talk about what to do now that you’ve tasted the sweet, sweet ambrosia. You’ve got a more usable UI, you’ve made friends with your trainer, and you’ve won your first double-handful of battles. You are officially addicted!
Now what? What do I do, I hear you saying, to keep this beautiful stream of adrenaline rushing to my brain?!
Why, you need to build some teams! Let’s talk about the pets themselves.
Most everyone knows at this point that a pet comes from one of ten families, and that each family has strength and weaknesses against other families. For example, a pet from the Beast family attacks a Critter with 150% of average damage and a Flying pet with 66% of average damage. At the same time, a Beast will get hit by a Mechanical for 150% of the Mechanical’s average damage and by a Humanoid for 66% of the Humanoid’s average damage.
While there are several different charts out there that you could use to try to remember all of those variations, I wouldn’t bother at this stage of the game. I never use any of them. If you really want one, WarcraftPets (my favorite people) made arguably the very best one and then put it in a printable format. I don’t use them because Blizzard makes it VERY obvious with a big red or green arrow on the UI if any given ability is strong or weak against the pet you are battling. They also give you a hovertext box that shows the same thing.
You can also mouseover the family icon on the top of the UI frame or in the pet journal to see if what the pet is strong and weak against in defense.
Keep in mind that just because a pet is from one family, that does not mean that the abilities they can use are also from that family. You can see that the Fossilized Hatchling I’m currently leveling is Undead, which means he takes extra damage from Critters. However, his main attack ability is Claw, which is a Beast ability and does extra damage to Critters as well. Most of the pets will have abilities from more than one family. Some weird outliers will have more abilities from other families than their own. For example, the strange case of the Fledgling Nether Ray, one of my favorite pets. Every last one of her abilities is from a different family. You can use her to attack Flying, Critter, Humanoid, Aquatic, Mechanical, and Magic pets with a reasonable amount of success just by changing which abilities you have active.
There are two other important concepts to keep in mind while pet battling. You can’t do anything about these, but knowing how they are affecting your battles can help. First, each family gets a unique bonus, sort of like character racials. Some are significantly better than others, but none of them are particularly bad. In my humble, unasked-for opinion, the Three Best Family Bonuses are:
Your mileage may vary.
Secondly, each pet has a set of stats that are affected by the pet’s quality – health, power, and speed. These all increase with every level; how much they increase depends on the pet’s quality and specialization. For that reason, blue pets are always going to be better to level than anything else – they will always end up with more health, more firepower, and a higher speed bonus than lower-quality pets. If you use PetJournal Enhanced, you can also sort your pets by these stats under the Specialization. Some pets are more heavily slanted one way than another. PetJournal Enhanced labels them as balanced, fast, resilient, and powerful.
Pet teams are, usually, the best way to go, although you can have success with solo-leveling an individual pet if it has the right combination of abilities. Once wild pets get to level 5, they get a 2nd pet friend to help them, and at level 15, they get two. Soloing down three pets is therefore all but impossible if you don’t have really solid self-healing. Instead, build some teams that go together well. It may take some trial and error, and you may find yourself switching out pets in the higher levels, but part of the fun is figuring out which pet abilities sound good on paper and which ones actually do totally rock.
Some pets also have abilities that generate weather conditions which benefit other pets’ abilities. I leveled up my Celestial Dragon with my Nether Faerie Dragon. Even though the Nether Faerie Dragon is a Flying pet, most of its attacks are Magical. That makes the Celestial Dragon a terrific partner for it, because she has Moonfire, which turns the weather into Moonlight and gives a 10% buff to Magic abilities for 9 turns.
Kia’s Brain: /moan
Kia: What is it?!
Kia’s Brain: You are giving me a headache with all this totally useless information.
Kia: It isn’t totally useless! Wasn’t it Sun Tzu that said something to the effect that knowing your enemy is half the battle or some such nonsense?
Kia’s Brain: “If you know both your enemy and yourself, you can win numerous battles without jeopardy.” But that isn’t the point.
Kia: What’s the point, then?
Kia’s Brain: Weren’t you the one saying yesterday that you needed to forget the philosophic nonsense and just have fun doing pet battles? This isn’t fun.
Kia: You’re right. I hate it when I have to say that.
Kia’s Brain: Then, fix it, for the love.
So what should you do for your first dozen or so levels?
Next up – Raising the Bar! How and where to get your beloved pets all the experience they need in life, including my most and least favorite places to level pets.
Pet battling is the greatest thing ever.
I freely and fully admit that I was scornful, even derisive, towards the very idea of pet battling before Mists came out. “I am a hunter,” I soliloquized (because no one was listening to me) grandly and melodramatically. ”I already have all the combat pets I need in Jake and his little-used brothers and sisters.”
Of course, that was long before I knew that you can get nearly 100 achievement points in the first hour or so of pet battling.
That is the hook, my friends. Bite carefully. 100 achievement points in an hour is a most shiny and alluringly wriggling bait.
But let’s say that you, being of stronger intestinal fortitude than I, have thus far held out against the temptations of pet battles but now wish to succumb. Where do you begin?
First, open your web browser of choice and bookmark WarcraftPets. You’ll thank me. If you want to skip all the idiocy I spout and talk to the people who REALLY know what they’re talking about, here is a link to their Getting Started page.
Now, you have a Curse client, right? Of course you do. Go open it. I’ll wait.
Now, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with the default UI for pet battling, except that the default pet journal sucks. Blizzard very, very quickly figured out that pet battles were insanely popular and are implementing huge, sweeping fixes in patch 5.1 that all current pet battlers are thrilled and excited about. Or maybe that’s just me.
But in the meantime, what can you do to ease your way?
Here’s four basic pet battle addons that you need right now:
Now then. Do you absolutely need these addons to pet battle? Of course not. You don’t absolutely need DBM to raid, either. Will it make your pet battling life so much better? Uh, yeah.
Fortunately, if you are a true, die-hard addon holdout, there’s hope for you. Some of the changes being implemented in 5.1 totally eliminates the need for three of the four of these addons. Your patience will be rewarded.
If you are not at all like me and actually tend to think about things before you do them, rather than being hypnotized by the wriggling allure of fast and cheap achievement points, you might take a minute to think about what kind of pet battler you think you might be. There’s generally two types: collectors and champions, although you can very easily be both at once (I’m both at once). Generally speaking, collectors are after getting every last pet, while champions (my term, I just made it up) are interested in maxing out a few pets and beating Zen Master Aki.
It’s absolutely fine to want to do both. However, if you are leaning one way or another, be aware that there’s different strategies for each that will make your chosen path easier and more fulfilling. If you’re a champion kind of pet collector, you’re probably interested in picking maybe five or six extremely strong pets and just zerging them straight up to Pandaria. Collectors, on the other hand, may have forty pets at level 10, so that they have a nice, comfortable stable that can easily defeat and trap any wild pet they come across.
Pet battling is fun. That is the whole point. Do whatever makes you happy. If you’re really thinking this hard about it, you’re defeating the purpose anyway. Stop it. Go enjoy yourself.
First, check yourself: are you at least level 5?
You are? Excellent. Now, are you Horde (patooey) or Alliance?
If you are Alliance, go visit Audrey Burnhep (yes, a play on Audrey Hepburn) in Stormwind, near the portals to the Cata zones. If you play Horde (patooey), you want to stop and see Varzok, an orc who lives near the flight point in Orgrimmar. They will be your guides through the first half-hour or so by giving you easy quests and stepping-stones to pet battle infamy. They will also give you a pet based on your race, on the off-chance that you have been thus far living under a rock and have not acquired a single one yet.
After you learn the skill Battle Pet Training from Audrey or Varzok, you will also learn Track Pets, which allows wild pets to show up on your minimap. Wild pets are always the little critters that wander about the zones that up until now you’ve probably totally ignored, unless you’re one of those people like me who always do the Loving the Squirrels achievements immediately. Note that not all critters are wild battle pets. The ones that you can actually battle and tame will have a green paw print over their heads. The rest are just critters.
You will start with just one battle pet slot available, but you will add the second and third by completing the Newbie and Just A Pup achievements, which require you to level a pet to levels 3 and 5 respectively. If you are solo-battling, it will take you three battles to get to level 3 and about four or five more (depending on the pet level you’re killing) to get to level 5. Possibly around the same time you hit level 5, you’ll also finish Cat Fight!, and if you did that without dying once, you’ll get On A Roll, too.
Of course, you’re likely to be like me, and instead of actually killing all of the pets you are battling, you start catching them instead. Then you’re talking about getting points for An Uncommon Find, A Rare Catch, and That Was Close!, too… all of which you can possibly hit within the first thirty minutes of pet battling.
Audrey and Varzok will also direct you to the very first pet tamer challenge – either Julia Stevens south of Stormwind or Zunta south of Orgrimmar. Both of these first tamers have 2 level 2 pets, which can very easily be defeated by your level 5 pet or 2 level 3 pets or 3 level 2 pets… or whatever combination thereof. Thus you will finish Taming the Wild.
And once you’ve hit that milestone, my friend, you might as well admit to yourself that you are well and truly addicted. It’s okay, we have a support group here – as in, we totally support your addiction and can’t wait to give you more tools to further ensconce yourself in it. Don’t worry. We have cookies.
Next up: Building Your Army. All about the pets themselves, why you will love them and why you will hate them, and which ones you just can’t live without.