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:
- Elemental – ignores all weather effects
- Humanoid – heals 4% of health every round it deals damage
- Mechanical - heals to 25% of health after a dying once per battle
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.
- Fast - very generally speaking, Flying pets and Critters are frequently the fastest, with some higher-level aquatics thrown in as well. Flying pets also have the benefit of the family bonus of being 50% faster while above 50% health. Speed is a huge advantage in pet battling. If you get the first hit, you also get the last one – which means that your pet with 2 health left still has a good shot of knocking off the last 100 health left on the enemy pet.
- Resilient – Aquatics, Dragonkin, and the occasional Elemental are often extremely good healers as well as having abilities that will block and dodge enemy attacks and often a giant health pool. One of the hardest pets to kill? A Strand Crab using both Shell Shield and Healing Wave on cooldown. You might be in combat with one of those for days. Hope you’ve got a really, really good Flying pet on hand.
- Powerful – Beasts, Mechanicals, and some Critters hit like absolute trucks, and it only gets worse if they are attacking something they are strong against. It’s normal to be able to 2- and 3-shot opponents, which is an big advantage when your pet is almost certainly not going to be able to go first. If they can outlast the first couple of hits, they have the damage to seal the deal.
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?
- Start with a Beast, a Mechanical, and one of the following: Aquatic, Critter, or Flying. Mostly what you are going to fighting will be beasts and critters, with some Aquatics or Flying pets thrown in for flavor. The more exotic pet families won’t even appear on the scene until you hit higher Azeroth zones and even into Outland.
- Don’t level it if it isn’t blue. Trust me on this one. You’ll hate yourself later when you do eventually tame the blue version of the white pet that you leveled all the way to 25. Learn from my fail.
- Remember that you get more abilities as you level up but you can only have three active at a time. Don’t forget to check whether your level 10 ability is one you’d rather be using in place of your level 1 ability.
- Have fun playing around with pets! If you forget everything else (and you probably will), the most important thing to remember is that YOU CAN’T DO IT WRONG. Yes, there are strategies that make some things easier or whatever, but in the end… it’s pets. This is not a matter of national importance. You will survive if your pet battling skills are a little rough at the beginning.
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.