I’ve been throwing fire, stealing health, and cauterizing wounds for the last two weeks with the Life Leech team, and now it’s time to cast down my judgment on them. Will they ascend to cute critter heaven or roast in the flames of failed pet hell?
Goal of the team
First, a reminder of what this team was supposed to do. The Life Leech team was introduced in episode 7, and is built on two pets doing one thing: harrass opponents with constant damage while healing at every possible turn.
The secondary goal of the team was to get 3 pets that were self-sufficient, so that we didn’t have to rely on constantly swapping pets for intricate combos easily avoided by the opponent. Those two pets are the Molten Hatchling and the Corefire Imp.
- The community was unusually quiet about this team, which maybe I should’ve taken as a sign. But Navimie jumped in with a solid vote of confidence, backing up my Molten Hatchling pick.
- She said: “That’s a great tip Josh. I routinely use a spider, but I tend to use an amethyst or a crystal (probably because I don’t have a rare molten I think), but that double heal is going to be annoying as hell! I love spiders and their brittle webbing against multi attacks like swarms and I use it on that darn darkmoon monkey as well. Off to find a rare and level it!”
Changes I made to the lineup:
I felt really strong about having the Blighthawk in as the third pet, the undead bird that can eat an allied corpse to get a big heal and can lift off to avoid attacks for one turn. I leveled this team from 1-20 with Blighthawk, but eventually dropped it for a few reasons, almost all of which I have to assume are bugs.
- His Consume Corpse ability (his big heal) can miss. It’s the only heal in the game that I know of that can, but it missed several times, usually when a “miss” effect like Darkness was on him. That just ruins his whole strategy for this team, and I can’t imagine is working as intended.
- On top of that, the undead passive is still broken. If the Blighthawk is killed by a big attack–which let’s be honest, happens a LOT nowadays–the passive to ressurect it for one turn doesn’t activate. He just dies. Definitely a bug.
- Now I’m entering conspiracy theory territory, so disclaimer: I may just be bitter and crazy. But Lift-off seems to miss an inordinate amount of the time. And not just Blighthawk or just my pets, I noticed a tons of misses against me as well. This ability is used by a lot of Dragons and Birds and it definitely misses more often than other attacks. I’d estimate it’s close to a 20% miss chance, but I haven’t done extensive testing. Has anyone else noticed this? Please let me know, so I don’t think I’m crazy.
One other major hurdle I needed to overcome with this team is that it didn’t have any burst attacks. Corefire Imp and Hatchling both hit in very small chunks. I noticed this right around the time that I saw my first Sandstorm weather effect, which reduces all damage by 77 at level 25.
So sand is apparently this team’s archnemesis, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. I know at least 3 types of spiders that live in the desert and apparently love sand. I can’t say the same for imps, though. I’m not really surprised to find out they hate the beach. They hate everything.
So I wanted to bring in an Elemental pet that had some burst damage and some synergy healing to basically be a burst damage assassin for this team. I ended up going with the Amethyst Shale Hatchling, it seemed like the perfect fit. It’s a spider (synergy x 1), it shoots webs to proc life leech more (synergy x2), it can lock a pet in place to ensure it kills it (synergy x3!), and it has Stone Rush, a heavy hitting ability that doesn’t synergize, but it does kill stuff, so BONUS NOT-SYNERGY SYNERGY!
When it works:
- I’d start with Corefire Imp and pop on the long-term DoT buff
- They take a swing at me and my passive heals a portion of it back
- I do one punch, and then heal the following turn to put me back at 100% health, while they’re closer to 2/3
- At that point, the Corefire Imp becomes a gattling gun, just shooting fire every turn, only stopping to heal every 4 turns.
- The Corefire Imp’s punch is as strong as almost any punch in the game, and with his DoT and heal, he can almost always win 1v1
- I could win some matches with just the Imp, but I’d swap in the Hatchling if they bring in anything that attacks in rapid succession. It was frankly hilarious to watch rabbits kill themselves due to the Brittle Webbing that hits them every time they hit me.
- And when they brough out something my two core pets couldn’t deal with, I bring out the shale spider, lock the enemy pet into position with Sticky Web and then Stone Rush it til it was dead, using Life Leech in between to keep it alive for a couple extra turns.
It was a solid lineup that felt very reliable as I was leveling up pre-25. And I was actually surprised how often Magma Wave, the Molten Hatchling’s ability that you have to use before you hit 20 and unlock Cauterize, came in handy. It was really useful at burning down mechanical pets on the bench and clearing turrets, blockers, bombs, and all sorts of stuff. It helped make this team even more versatile and responsive to threats.
When it doesn’t work:
This team is many things, but it isn’t overpowered. And there are a lot of overpowered pets out there right now. After I hit level 25, I was getting absolutely crushed by teams that had a full roster of pets that could kill you in 2 or 3 turns. This Life Leech team is good, but it wins by stalling out the game and just winning by heal power, and the current metagame for pet battles kind of makes that impossible.
When Lil Ragnaros swaps in, you know his first move is a DoT and his followup move is the smash that does 900 damage in one turn. That means my Imp with 11k health has 2 turns to kill Ragnaros before it dies. Or I can swap out a pet that then has 1 turn to kill it or die. Most of the time, I sacrificed the Shale Spiderling to giant burst pets like Ragnaros or Fluxfire Feline or Chrominius or there’s just so many of them in vogue right now!
Losing the Blighthawk lost me that really important avoidance ability — this team had no way to dodge big hits, even if I could see them incoming. My only choice was which pet I wanted to die.
Those big-hitting pets were pretty much the only problem I faced with this team that I couldn’t overcome. The problem is just that big-hitting pets are so popular right now that I faced them in at least 75% of the games I played at level 25.
The other hard counter to this team is the Darkness weather effect. 50% reduction to healing is brutal for this team because it survives on self-heals. This one isn’t as hard to face as burst damage, as the team can usually stall out through 10 turns if it can kill the per that Calls Darkness. But it’s still pretty painful.
See it in action
56 wins, 28 losses — a 66% win ratio
Do I still use the team?
Not right now. This is a great team that I will keep on my roster, but I’m storing it in the warehouse until the meta changes. After burst damage is no longer the cool thing to do, this team will be super fun to play when (should I say if?) pets are no longer getting one-shotted on a regular basis.
I think this is a great PvE team, and both the Molten Hatchling and Corefire Imp are great pets for fighting pet tamers. They were actually able to beat a Pandaria master before they were level 25, with the help of one 25 pet.
Individual pet reviews
- Corefire Imp: 10 — This is a great pet that is extremely close to perfect balance in the game. He decimates the family he counters (Mechanical), does reliably well against the majority of other pets, and is quickly countered by the pets that should (Undead attacks, burst damage, damage reducers). Everyone should get this pet and everyone should level it. It’s the best, non-overpowered pet we’ve talked about on this show so far.
- Molten Hatchling: 8 — If the Corefire Imp is perfect, the Molten Hatchling is an affordable knock-off brand. It does all the same things (leech life, hit in small damages, big heal), but it’s a little less reliable than the Corefire Imp. It feels a little flimsy without the Humanoid passive and it’s damage is reliant on the enemy pet attacking you, which doesn’t always happen. It’s rotation is also a little less than ideal, forcing you to waste a turn every rotation re-casting the web while it’s already active. Still, it trades extremely well and has some great diversity in damage types it deals.
- Blighthawk: 5 — It’s a cool lineup, and one of the few undead pets with a big escape like Lift Off, but it’s just so buggy right now. Even when Consume Corpse works properly, the 50% heal isn’t as big of a deal as I thought it’d be since you can usually only do it once, and it has a 5-round cooldown even if you have two corpses to eat. It’s a fun trick and I like the aesthetics, but don’t rush out to buy this one.
- Amethyst Shale Hatchling: 5 — When batte pets first launched, I thought that Stone Rush was one of the hardest-hitting abilities in the game, so it made sense to me that it did ⅓ of the damage to itself as well. But now that we’ve had the change to explore all the crazy abilities available to us on the hundreds of pets out there, it turns out that Stone Rush’s damage really isn’t that special. It’s barely above average. And it’s tough to justify it nowadays.
Isn’t it weird that we’re talking about changes to pet battles like they’re some far off distance past already? Pet battle strategy moves so fast, it’s insane! There’s so much to theorycraft and test here, I think that’s why I love playing it, and love sharing this podcast with you all.
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