We’re looking out for the little guy today. Usually, we focus on fairly advanced team strategies here, but we were all noobs at one point.
Raiding season is over in WoW, and a lot of players are starting to dabble in pet battles for the first time. So this week, our goal is simple: we’re going to build a beginner’s handbook for pet battling, which should help you, or your new pet battling friends understand how it works and have more fun!
If you’re a veteran looking for hardcore number-crunching and min-maxing pet battle teams, there might not be a ton of new information for you this week. But please jump into the comments and leave some tips for your fellow pet battlers!
What is pet battling?
Pet battling is a mini-game inside of World of Warcraft, where you pick 3 pets to battle against another team of pets. Each pet can have 3 abilities that deal damage, heal, stun, etc.–just like player abilities.
You and your opponent take turns using abilities, trying to knock out the enemy team before yours get’s knocked out.
One of the most intriguing part of pet battling is that there are hundreds of different pets to collect in the game, and many of those have unique and interesting abilities that can combo with other pets’ abilities for new strategies.
How To Get Pets
There are six big-picture ways to collect pets, so you’ve got options!
1. Capture them in the world
These are known as wild pets, wander and spawn out in the open world like NPCs, and can vary in level and type.
2. Loot them
These are looted from bosses in raids and dungeons — these always jump into your collection as level 1 pets and the same type.
3. Craft them
Most of the crafting professions can create battle pets, although most of them are Bind-on-Equip meaning that you can buy most of them from other players without having the profession yourself.
4. Earn them
Most holiday events have at least one pet associated with them that you can earn with currency. Some of the bigger achievements in the game, and a few random quests scattered about give pets as rewards too. These are usually Bind-on-Pickup, which means you can’t buy them.
5. Buy them on the Auction House
Simple — any BoE pet, and some BoP pets can be sold on the Auction House. Prices are usually cheap for most pets.
6. Buy them with real money
You can buy them directly from WoW’s cash shop, or buy them via special promotions, like Trading Card game loot, Collector’s Editions of Blizzard’s other games, or merchandise.
Pets are a varied bunch, right? There are lizards, there are robots, there are tiny little gnomes in bikinis (I’m not kidding). Each pet has a Family, which is essentially the type of pet it is.
The families are:
Aquatic – Water-based or water-related animals
Beast – Predator animals
Critter – Prey animals
Dragonkin – Dragons and their varied children
Elemental – Non-animals that are related to nature, plants or fire
Flying – Bugs, birds, and anything with wings
Humanoid – Anything that’s bipedal and vaguely resembles a human
Magic – Beings of magical energy — often similar to Elementals, but not related to nature
Mechanical – Robots and toys that are mechanized in some way
Undead – Dead, undead, and otherwise creepy objects, bodies, or ghosts
The family of a pet is major definer of the pet. First, each family gives a special passive buff to the pet. For example, Undead pets return to life when killed the first time, and Critters are immune to crowd control. You can read/listen about all of the family perks in a previous episode of the show!
On top of that unique buff, the Family of a pet also determines how much damage your pet takes. Each Family is vulnerable to another Family, and resistant to a another family.
The relation usually makes logical sense, such as Elemental pets taking less damage from Mechanical attacks (metal punching a flame) but taking extra damage from Aquatic abilities (water extinguishes fire).
Family is very important, but it doesn’t define what they can do — that’s where abilities come in.
At max-level, pets have 3 ability slots that has 2 options for each slot (6 abilities total). Your pet will go into battle with 3 abilities on it’s hotbar, and you get to choose what those abilities are beforehand.
The first ability slot may have 2 kind of simple attacks with no cooldown.
The second ability slot may have 2 crowd-control abilities like a stun or a block.
The third ability slot may have 2 huge attacks with a long cooldown.
Ability slots don’t always have the same types of abilities in them — sometimes you’re comparing apples to oranges when picking — but it’s a good indicator of the different types of abilities that most pets have.
Does Rarity Matter?
Pets, like loot, come in different quality levels: common, uncommon, rare, and epic.
If you’re doing PvP, you pretty much have to use epic quality pets. If you’re more interested in lighthearted PVE or collecting pets, you’ll be able to get by with any rarity level.
Most pets can be acquired at multiple rarity levels, and there are various ways to improve the quality of your existing pets even if you can’t get a rare right away. We’ll cover that another show, though.
What the Heck is Breed?
This is where pet battlers can succumb to OCD madness. The Breed of the pet is a hidden number used behind the scenes to make minor tweaks to the stats of your pet: speed, attack, and health.
Hardcore PvPers who want to maximize their win potential can focus on getting the “perfect” Breeds of every pet they own. But that’s a major time or gold investment, and as a new pet battler, you shouldn’t worry about this at all.
I did a full guide of Breeds in a recent episode, if you want to learn more about those. Fair warning, though. Once you start min-maxing breeds, your sanity will be tested. It could take years to get the perfect breed of every pet — if it’s even possible.
Picking Your First Pet
First off — there’s no wrong first pet. As long as you’re having fun, you’re doing it right!
That said, our community has some great advice to help you pick your first pet!
- Daniel Nordstrom and Eleanor: First and foremost, pick a pet whose appearance you like. You’re going to be staring at them a lot.
- James Waddell III says that you should pick a Beast and a Mechanical pet as your first picks, because most of the early pets you’ll fight are Critters and Beasts, which your pets will get bonus damage against.
- Me: If you have a rare pet that you like, use that one. the bonus stats for being rare will give you some wiggle room while you learn how to use the pet effectively.
- Me: Before you pick a pet based solely on looks, glance over their abilities and make sure it seems fun to you. I picked my first pet (Clockwork Gnome) just because I loved the idea of building turrets that shoot bullets every turn.
12 Great First Pets
Still not sure? Well our community is happy to tell you what pets they think you should take first!
- 1. A Moth — Eleanor: “It can solo almost all wild pets”
- 2. A Spider — Glaciel:“It’s level 1 in Orgrimmar, Gilneas, or Dun Morough (And has a perfect combo: Brittle Webbing, Leech Life, Poison Spit, Leech Life, Repeat.)”
- 3. Terrible Turnip — Fumblefoot: It has an ability that will never kill the enemy pet, which makes it great for capturing a wild pet. Because if you accidentally kill the pet, you can’t capture it. (However, I should point out that Terrible Turnip is not a top-teir pet on its own for PvP. Tamer Liopleurodon told me that they would “haunt me” if I recommend the Terrible Turnip as the first pet, so I just wanted to clarify. Loipleurodon, please haunt Fumblefoot, not me!)
- 4. Corefire Imp — James: This is also one of my all-time favorites, and the one pet I’d say every new pet battler should get in their first 10 at least. It has good damage and great heals, letting it take on more dangerous pets than most.
- 5. A Rabbit — James: These are great evasive pets, which have a lot of ways to dodge enemy attacks. That’s great early on because it helps you survive and also teaches you to pay attention to what the enemy is doing so you know when to dodge
- 6. Nether Ray Fry — James: It has a ton of different ability types (like magic, elemental, flying, etc.) which means it will counter more pets in the game than almost any other pet. It’s a great wild card to have in your pocket early on.
- 7. A Crab — James: They’re the quintessential tanks of pet battling. They usually have a defensive block ability and a heal, which lets you chip away at the enemy pet while keeping yourself alive.
- 8. Free pets! — Daniel: “If you’re a new WoW player, level each race up to level 5 to get the free pet from the pet battle trainer in your capital city (Audrey Burnhep in Stormwind and Varzok in Orgrimmar).” This is great advice. The trainer will give you one pet for free, and because your pets are shared across your entire account, all of your characters can use it. This is a good way to try out different classes and races too, to see what character you want to level more.
- 9. Lil XT — Fumblefoot: If you’re only going to buy 1 store pet, Fumblefoot wants you to buy Lil XT. I agree that Lil XT is fun and very unique, because of his cool AOE potential. Lil Ragnaros is another really awesome store pet though. His power is just cranked really high, so you’ll win a lot of games with him.
- 10. Anubisath Idol — Fumblefoot: This one’s a little harder to get, but it’s a great pet and, at least in my opinion, he looks great. It also has a weather effect, which was really cool to me as a new pet battler.
- 11. Clockwork Gnome — Me: This pet is a great attrition pet. He does a lot of DoT damage and can repair himself for big healing. I also love his appearance and find him quite charming.
- 12. Zandalari Kneebiter — Me: This pet won’t be available to new WoW players, but it’s a great first pet for veteran WoW players who are new to pet battling. He has a very easy to execute, massive damage combo that works wonders against AI pets who don’t know to avoid it.
Building Your First Team
Your team is made of 3 pets, which means you’ll need to pick 3 pets you want to level first together. You can put 3 of any pets together, even 3 copies of the exact same pet, but we’ve put together some basic tips to help you understand the pros and cons of different team types.
This is probably the most important. You’re going to be fighting a lot of different pets, which means you want to have a lot of different threats on your team — that makes sure that you can never be fully countered, and have a better chance at having a pet that’s strong against whatever you’re fighting.
It’s the same idea on a soccer team — you want a defender, a midfielder, and a striker — if you had all defenders, you’d be great at stopping goals, but you’d never score.
The equivalent of this is that you don’t want all Undead pets with Undead attacks. You want multiple pet family types and ability types, to ensure that you won’t get beat by one counter pet and will have more counters.
The best way to do that is to pick one pet first, then when you want to add the second pet, check if it has the same family and the same ability types of your first pet. If it does, find a new second pet.
Your pets should be trying to do the same thing.
For example, if you want to do big area-of-effect damage, try to ensure all your pets play into that theme, and do AoE damage. Or if your team is all about applying big DoTs onto the enemy and then stalling while they tick down killing the enemy team, then make sure they’re all playing into that.
Going all in on a strategy is usually the best way to ensure that you’re able to pull it off. Later on, you’ll learn how to finesse strategies like that, and add in some insurance or back-up plans. But at the start, just focus on one strategy
Combos are nice, but…
Combos are super fun to pull of. Like the Gilnean Raven, which is a flying pet that has two great abilities that work together. One blinds the enemy pets, and then the second is a big ability that is guaranteed to hit if the enemy is blinded. Two good abilities that work better together.
It’s even better if all of your pets can work together to execute bigger combos — but it’s risky, because sometimes your pets will be dead or unable to swap, meaning the combo can’t be done.
It’s usually better to have self-sustaining pets at the start: rely on pets that can execute their own combos., like the Gilnean Raven
Put It All Together
Pick 3 pets all from different families that each can each execute a big two-move combo on their own.
We’ll base our next team featured on this show on this philosophy (because I think it’s honestly one of the best team philosophies, even for veterans). We review our Christmas team next episode, and then we’ll introduce this team idea after that.
The best way to level your pets is to fight tamers. I’ve shown how to beat two of the Pandaria Tamers before, but we’ll do a full guide soon that shows you how to beat every tamer in the game.
We have an awesome community of pet battlers here on the show, and some of my favorite things is when I see you all helping each other and sharing your experiences and advice. So, here’s a quick collection of the best advice listeners of the podcast sent in to share with new players.
James Waddell III
“Rome was not built in one day, do not be intimidated/frustrated by all of the strong teams you will face in PVP. You will get better and collect stronger pets with time.”
I love this advice because a lot of pet battlers try to force PvP. I really enjoy PvPing in pet battles, but it’s not for everyone. A lot of pet battlers just like to collect pets and play the PvE content. That’s awesome! There’s so much pet battle content that you could do just that for years without getting bored! Play PvE and have fun with that, and dabble in PvP every now and then to see if you’re enjoying it. Oh, and of course, listen to this show, because we’ll help you find the best teams to play in PvP
“Even though you’re not at pet battle endgame yet, working with endgame in mind makes everything easier later on. I wish I had realized that from the beginning because when I was getting to the endgame I wasn’t really set up to play endgame.”
It might confuse new pet battlers to hear the phrase “endgame” for pet battles. Pet battles do have endgame content, where you have to use great pet teams with powerful synergy to conquer more dangerous opponents (in both PVE and PVP). So, what Fumblefoot is saying is keep your eyes open for cool or powerful strategies while you’re leveling up your pets.
If you see an ability that does heavy magic damage, and then a few weeks later see an ability on different pet that increases all magic damage your team does — make a mental note of those two abilities, and maybe try building a team around them. Spotting little combos like that will help a lot later on once you’re trying to overcome more challenging pets that require powerful teams to overcome.
“As tempting as it may be to catch ALL the things! Focus on leveling your first team to 25. Not only does it let you participate in the pet battle endgame content sooner, it makes the grind to catch all the other pets a lot faster.”
I’m guilty of this one! I still have a ton of pets hovering between levels 10 and 20, that I got bored with before I leveled them up. This is great advice, though. Once you have a few level 25 pets, it gets WAY easier to level your other pets, because you can essentially powerlevel them. You put your low level pet with two level 25 pets that can one-shot low-level pets and just farm through pets to get a ton of XP.
“Once you get to your Pandaria Tamers team to 25, I suggest a dodge team. The dodge team Josh presented was a lot of fun to play. I run a variation of it that is a Scalded Basilisk Hatchling, rabbit, Terrible Turnip team. You won’t win all the games, but as you start playing PvP it is a good way to see what other people are playing. Plus it’s always fun to play 11-12 rounds and only get hit 2-3 times while hitting your opponent 9 times. From there you can try some of the other pet battle teams on Game Diplomat, build teams around your favorite pets, or what I think many people do… start building teams to beat the teams that beat you!”
That’s a great point, that Dodge teams give you time to see what the enemy is doing and learn what type of team it is. I also like the idea of building teams to beat whatever just beat you. It’s pretty unlikely that you’d face the exact same team multiple game in a row, but it’s a good way to think about what the enemy team did well, remind yourself of what families counter what, and look through your roster”
Wee Mad Aggie
“Personally I’m a nub so cooing all over my newly acquired Arctic Foxling which seems to tear up all the things!”
So if you want a super cute pet to coo over that seems to tear up all the things, you know what to get!
Patrick wrote in with a great email that had a lot of good feedback for the show. I won’t read the whole thing here, but here’s a part I thought you all might like to hear:
“I think the show would benefit from 1 or 2 small podcasts extra per month about new pets that come out, and maybe some standout pets that deserve special mention. This way you can attract a more steady audience and perhaps get people to comment more. I think you are more likely to get responses on a post about Anubisath doll and its different uses, and since he is fairly common and popular people can talk about their experiences with him on their various teams.”
I like this idea a lot. But, unfortunately, I’m not able to do an episode every week — my free time is pretty much maxed out as-is — but I like the idea of adding something that’s a little easier to emulate.
So what I’m going to try out is adding a Crew Combo segment to the show, where we highlight a specific combo that works well. If it sounds interesting to you, it’ll be a lot easier to jump into and starting trying it, without having to build a full team. And even if you don’t want to try it, it should help you see what your opponent is trying to do when they use one of the abilities or pets we talk about.
Ideally, I want these combos coming in from you all listening — tell me your best fight stories, how one cool move saved your team from defeat or how you nuked their biggest pet in one hit because of a great combo.
The Crew Combo
We’re keeping it nice and simple this week: one pet with three abilities that all work well with each other.
Turn 1: Eyeblast — Deal damage and reduces the enemy’s speed
Turn 2: Rot — Apply a 5 turn DoT onto the enemy that turns them into Undead
Turn 3: Tongue Lash — Critter attack that deals bonus damage vs Undead and hits an extra time if you’re faster.
2-3 Hits X 150 Damage per hit = ~425 Damage
~425 Damage x 50% Damage boost for hitting Undead = ~600 Damage!
Not too shabby for a no-cooldown ability! That’s a simple, easy to execute combo. Hopefully we’ll get some more interesting combos in the future! If you have ideas, post them on the blog or email them to me!
Nordy7694: “Josh, Man I have torn through the library and can’t tell you how much I appreciated, actually my kids have really enjoyed it as well. Keep up the great work, you are making a difference!”
Join The Podcast
- SUBSCRIBE to the WoW Battle Pet Crew podcast on iTunes or this RSS feed.
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- SUBMIT your ideas for a pet team we can try on the show, or your questions about what pets to use to my email.