Family Pet Passives

WoW Pet Battle Guide: Pet Family Perks

February 20, 2013

While our fire healers team continues to duke it out (and doing quite well so far!), we’re going to take a break this week and look at the different pet families available to our furry fighters. Every pet falls into a family, which gives him/her/it a unique bonus ability. The abilities aren’t huge game-changers, but they should always be considered when picking your pets for a team. Here’s how to make them work for you.

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The Basics

The family perks are essentially passive abilities granted to every pet of that type. It isn’t an activated ability on your bar, and you have to hover over the family symbol near the pet health bars in order to see what it is.

It’s a pretty basic system, but it’s easy to get surprised by it in the heat of battle, and they can often make a big difference at key moments in the fight. So we’re going to walk through every family bonus in the game, rate it on a scale of 1-10, and think about how we can make the most of them with our pet choices.

A word of warning before we start: I’m going to talk about what kinds of stats and abilities you want for each of the pet types, based on these perks. But any benefit gained from these perks is very small in the grand scheme of things. The biggest factor for a pet’s value is its ability roster—the benefits I talk about in this guide are more like tie-breakers between two pets of the same tier.

curious wolvar pup

The Family Perks

Icon_Aquatic Aquatic – Purity

  • What it does: Reduces damage from DoT effects by 25%
  • How it affects your pet choices: This one isn’t really worth picking around. Unless the metagame shifts toward DoT-heavy teams, it’s not worth swapping in a pet (and losing a turn) just for this perk.
  • How to deal with it on an enemy pet: Pretty simple. Don’t use DoTs.
  • Rating: 3 — I don’t like perks that are dependent on enemies using certain abilities. You’ll be lucky if this does anything in half the fights you’re in. It’ll usually do nothing.

Icon_Beast Beast

  • What it does: Increases damage dealt by 50% below half health
  • How it affects your pet choices: You want high health and high burst damage reliant on pump abilities or delayed spells (Bombs, Focus Chi, Stealth, etc.) — the high health gives it more turns to benefit from its bonuses. High burst damage and pump spells allow you to get double benefit from the buff by using those abilities before you’re below half health and then getting more out of the buff later.
  • How to deal with it on an enemy pet: Keep an eye on the enemy pet’s health, and be ready to absorb heavier hits once it hits half health. If you have dodges or disables, it’s probably worth saving them if they’re at all close to half health.
  • Rating: 7 — This is a great perk. It’ll almost always be used, and it’ll usually catch your opponent off-guard. I also like that it procs when you’re losing the fight—aka when you need the help.

Icon_Critter Critter

  • What it does: Reduces Crowd Control abilities by 1 turn
  • How it affects your pet choices: If you get a fast pet, you can make your pet immune to stuns–which can be very useful against certain compositions. Other than that, just don’t waste ability slots on skills that remove CC.
  • How to deal with it on an enemy pet: There’s nothing you can do to stop this, just make sure that you take this into account when planning your strategy.
  • Rating: 7 — Combined with the resilience buff being added next patch that makes you temporarily immune to CC, Critters are going to be uncontrollable. But it’s still reliant on pets having relevant abilities, so I can’t give it a higher score.

humanoid pets

Icon_Dragonkin Dragonkin

  • What it does: Increases damage dealt by 50% for one turn after bringing a pet’s health below 25%
  • How it affects your pet choices: There’s not a lot of stat considerations for this one. You could get some extra oomph out of it by using delayed detonation abilities like Elementium Bolt.
  • How to deal with it on an enemy pet: Don’t get scared when the fights get tense at the end. You should get one surprise burst near the end. Also, don’t swap out your pet after it kills an opponent–your next turn is worth 50% more.
  • Rating: 4 — It’s not terrible, but it’s hardly reliable and often requires you to make bad tactical decisions (leave the dragonkin even if it will die because it only lasts one turn). And unlike the Beast family perk, it procs when you’re already winning, rather than when you need the extra boost.

Icon_Elemental Elemental

  • What it does: Causes it to ignore all weather effects
  • How it affects your pet choices: Quite a few Elemental pets have abilities that activate weather effects. If it’s a negative effect (Darkness or Scorched Earth), that’s a huge benefit and something you want to draft. If it’s a beneficial effect, though, (Sunny or Moonlight) you really want to avoid it. Sadly, outside of purchased pets, only Elementals can even cast Sunny Weather, which is kind of dumb.
  • How to deal with it on an enemy pet: Pay careful attention to the wording of weather effects to see if it affects the attacker or the victim. Lightning Storm in particular caught me off guard — it affects the victim, so Elemental pets can still proc the damage bonus on its attacks.
  • Rating: 5 — It’s more frustrating for opponents than it’s useful for yourself. It’s hard to get excited about a passive than can hurt you almost as often as help you.

Icon_flying Flying

  • What it does: Gives a 50% bonus to speed while your pet is above 50% health
  • How it affects your pet choices: Low speed pets gets more benefit out of this ability. High speed pets will get nothing from it when facing low speed pets — it’s overkill. If you have stun effects, use it while you’re fast to get the biggest boost. Having the ability to heal itself will help you stay in the speed zone.
  • How to deal with it on an enemy pet: Get them down below 50% as quickly as possible, or swap in a pet with a big speed debuff if you really need to go first. If the pet is close to 50% health, save your interrupts and stuns until after it’s slower than you
  • Rating: 4 — A barely decent effect that won’t win you any games. It’s a gimmick barely worth its weight in ideal scenarios

Mei Li Sparkler

Icon_Humanoid Humanoid

  • What it does: Restores 4% of maximum health every turn it deals damage
  • How it affects your pet choices: High health and long-duration DoT abilities will get you the most out of it. Especially if that DoT can tick while the pet is on your bench. Aggressive pets do best with this, because you need to proc it every turn
  • How to deal with it on an enemy pet: CC and blocks go a long way towards shutting down the benefits from this passive. Other than that, there’s not much to do. Just keep it in mind when calculating if you can win the current duel.
  • Rating: 10 — A good pet will get at least 6 hits in before it dies, that means it gets at least 24% of its health back, giving it 1 or 2 more turns. That’s already as good as the Undead and Mechanical passives, with the potential to do so much more if you can get DoTs ticking from the bench.

Icon_Magic Magic

  • What it does: Pet cannot lose more than 40% of its maximum health in one hit
  • How it affects your pet choices: Low health pets get slightly more out of this one, as the passive will proc more often, absorbing more damage. So go for the other stats on these.
  • How to deal with it on an enemy pet: Avoid burst damage spells while the magic pet is in the front, and avoid all big pump spells if they have a magic pet on their team. Any good pet tamer will swap it in if you show your hand of planning a big attack the following turn.
  • Rating: 5 — This is one that’ll swing in and out of usefulness–right now, when burst damage pets are in vogue, it’s a huge help–but two months ago it was totally useless because everyone was doing small rapid-fire hits. I do like that just having it on your team forces your opponent to change his or her plan — it’s giving you benefit, even when it’s not proccing.

Icon_Mechanical Mechanical

  • What it does: Returns the pet to life, with 20% of its maximum health, the first time it dies
  • How it affects your pet choices: You want a pet that can heal itself, preferably in a fast, big chunk. That lets you turn this passive into more than a 1-turn save. Otherwise, it’s usually one or two turns. Being high speed will definitely help you take advantage of the post-death turn, but that’s a small bonus.
  • How to deal with it on an enemy pet: Keep in mind that the pet will most likely get 2 turns after you “kill” it the first time. Don’t blow your big hitting abilities if it’s low. Getting that “kill” is not as important as it usually is.
  • Rating: 8 — With a heal to support it, this passive is a huge help. And even without it, it almost always comes in handy. I also like that it helps when you’re in trouble.

Icon_Undead Undead

  • What it does: Returns to life, unkillable, for one turn after death
  • How it affects your pet choices: A low speed will allow you to get more out of this passive, since it’ll give you two immortal ability turns—if you’re not running with CC, go with low speed. Having a big burst ability that has a long-term penalty is ideal. Something like Reckless Strike or Ghostly Bite that exchanges weak defenses for more offense. That lets you get the most out of that last, free turn.
  • How to deal with it on an enemy pet: If you have a stun, you can use it to completely negate this passive. It’s perfect if you’re faster than it as well, so you knock out two of its attacks.
  • Rating: 7 — This passive is good, but it’s almost always worse than Mechanical. The enemy team is not pressured to kill you before you can heal. They just have to wait out the turn, and often can just pass the turn.

magic pets

Balance Thoughts

Let’s take an overall look at the balance of these different abilities. It’s tough to compare these directly, but there definitely seem to be some that are much more desirable than others. For example, I would always prefer to have the Beast passive (50% damage buff 50% of the time) over the Aquatic passive (less damage from DoTs).

The Mechanical passive will almost always be better than the Undead passive, but that’s kind of okay because Mechanicals are at a huge disadvantage due to their counter family, while Undead have great counter families.

Here’s what I would change:

1. I would change either the Undead or Mechanical passive so that they aren’t directly comparable. I really like the flavor of Undeads, so I wouldn’t change that.
Mechanical could:

  • Do low (~5%) splash damage on each attack
  • Give each attack a chance to spawn a small bomb that detonates in X turns
  • Automated shielding: blocks every 10th attack. It’s not a huge damage reduction, and can be manipulated by the enemy player. It must be shown as stacking buff so enemy can see when it’s coming.

2. I would change Aquatic to reduce all damage taken by X (and have the value scale with level). This would essentially provide the same protection from DoTs (which hit in small amounts), but make it still do something when the enemy team doesn’t have DoTs.

3. I would make the Flying passive be “always attacks first.” No exceptions. The current speed buff is fairly underpowered now and I don’t think this would be unreasonable.

These are fairly minor gripes though. Overall, I think the passives are not disrupting gameplay, and that’s a win in itself. But that’s just my thoughts. What do you think: what are your favorite pet family perks and which do you hate? I’d love to hear stories of how one of these helped you win a game.

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19 Comments

  1. Family balance is a complicated creature. Beasts have one of the better passives, but mechanical pets hit hard to begin with, and do you really need to have attacks that are strong against critters? I think Blizzard was also inclined to go weaker on passives in part because these then apply to every pet that ever gets made in that family. Something like auto-first-strike probably wouldn’t break every flying pet (though it also hoses any non-flying opposing pets with abilities that key off of striking first) but there could be a pet someday where that becomes a problem.

    One of the big things I look for in pets more generally is pets that have unusual out-of-family skills. For instance, I love the enchanted broom (which I upgraded with a battlestone) because it can chew up beasts with mechanical attacks without that pesky vulnerability to relatively-common elemental attacks. It’s also great when you get a pet that has cross family skills that counter the family that you already have strong defenses against – e.g. Dragons with magic are a double threat versus flyers.
    Green Armadillo recently posted: Mixed Early Thoughts On PandariaMy Profile

    • Josh says:

      Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right about the power level of the passives. It makes perfect sense to keep them low-key because they’re going to be so prevalent. Let the actual abilities be what keeps the pets interesting.

      Finding that sweet combo of having abilities that counter the same family that your pet’s family counters is beautiful. That’s why I love Snails for killing Elementals. I also like finding the combos where it has the abilities of the family that counters its own counters (i.e. A Humanoid with Critter attacks). These seem to be more rare, but it gives you the perfect way to ward off counters, or at least punish them for countering you :)

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

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