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From Zero to... Not Zero!

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Thought I'd do a little write up of my Pet Journey, in case anyone was thinking of trying out battle pets (tl;dr - do it!)

I started from mostly-scratch* 2 weeks ago, and just beat the Celestial Tournament for the first time tonight. I'm sure one could do that much faster, but I had some side-goals along the way.

(*By this I mean I had never pet battled before, nor had I specifically tried to acquire a pet. However, just by virtue of dicking around in this game long enough, I'd happened upon a number of rare-quality pets, such as ones from old raids.)

One of my side goals was to leverage the xp you gain while pet battling into leveling a new alt (horde mage). Though it wasn't my only source of xp, it was a pretty significant portion. From a speed perspective (both for toon and pet xp) it was pretty inefficient, but I found it much less boring than doing quests and dungeons Yet Again.

Another side goal was to take the time to find rare-quality wild pets in the areas I was leveling in. I wasn't obsessive about this, but it added some excitement when that blue name would appear.

The compulsory pet battle quest chain does a semi-decent job of guiding the leveling experience, but I found you need to do a good bit of grinding (for your pets, and especially your toon) in between trainer targets. Also, sometimes the pet levels of a zone don't mesh well with the questing levels. When this would happen to me, I tried to go to the other continent to find a zone that lined up.

For this opening chain, my "main" pets were mostly Mr. Grubbs and Chrominius, since they have abilities that are good vs. beasts and critters, along with a bit of self-healing. (Noob moment: I had beaten like 3 trainers before I noticed the Rez Pet button, and thus made extra trips to stable masters.)

I don't recall any particular difficulty with Azerothian trainers, though for some reason they put the Eastern Kingdoms GM trainer next to Karazhan, which is a scary place to go with a low level character! (Even worse, the trainer battle moves your character to a specific spot that is within aggro range of an Unliving Resident until you hit level 60 or so.)

(Noob moment: while doing wild battles in Desolace, I ran into a pack containing both an uncommon and rare pet, each of a type I didn't have yet. "Sweet, I'll just capture em both!" I thought. As I'm sure you guessed, the uncommon pet was first in the order...)

I enjoyed wild battles alright, but it's kinda lame that so many pets are basically duplicates with different names, and also that such a large percentage are critter/beast. There's probably some balance reasons, but it makes wild collecting while leveling pretty dull. On a similar note, while I realize that ultimately any rock-paper-scissors setup is going to be pretty arbitrary, the strengths/weaknesses are pretty unintuitive. Some make sense, like beast > critter, but others are just hard to remember, like magic or undead. It's also weird when a skill has an unexpected damage type (why is Call Darkness humanoid damage?!)

Trainer battles got much more exciting starting in Outland. By far the biggest jump in trainer difficulty was the GM in Shadowmoon Valley; I don't even want to know how many times I lost to that guy before I got a level 25 pet.

After BC I had to mostly switch away from my leveling alt, who is level 65 atm. However, I do keep him hearthed in Pandaria: you can steal some of the daily turnins from your other chars, since the quests are account-wide, and you can do some joint leveling on Pandaria critters once you get a couple 25s.

This last week has mostly been dailies, trying to get the requisite number of pets to level 25 for the tournament. I still have yet to level some important ones, but I got impatient and did the tournament today anyway. Unfortunately that meant having to improvise beyond Zagam's guide, and I'm pretty sure I only beat Yu-Lu due to luck. I might write a follow up post about the tournament itself.

Before I close, a word of warning to fellow noobs: doing GM/Spirit trainers with a low-level pet on your team does give that pet great xp, but some of them can be quite a bitch to 2-pet if you don't have particularly good options for those 2 pets. I'm stubborn, and I know I've wasted a lot of time trying to make a suboptimal team win. Don't be afraid to step away and get more levels from wild battles if you're having a rough time. Trainers with dragonkin pets seem to be particularly rough, as is that stupid slime pet the Thundering spirit has. Finally, don't bother trying to level on Beasts of Fable; they don't give crap for xp.

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