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.
Some Interface Suggestions
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:
- PetJournal Enhanced: Currently the pet journal is simply an alphabetical listing. This addon is the way the pet journal should be (and will be, post 5.1). You can sort pets by family type, rarity, and most importantly – level.
- PetBattle Teams: This gem of an addon allows you to set up to 14 teams of 3 pets which can be swapped in and out with a single click. Also, if a pet is saved in a team, PetBattle Teams will save the ability choices you’ve made, rather than defaulting back to the lower powers when you switch out the pet.
- PetBattle Info: The current default UI will not tell you the rarity of a pet until after you have tamed it. This addon will.
- PetCaught: Find out via mouseover of a wild pet in the world or on your minimap whether or not you have caught it and the rarity if you have.
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.
A Philosophical Choice
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.
Yeah, Forget the Philosophic Nonsense
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.
Okay, but really? How do we start?
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.