Basics of Battling: Round 1…..FIGHT!
Let’s get into the actual battle portion of pet battling. After you’ve learned Battle Pet Training and have placed a pet in your first slot, it’s time to go hunting for pets. Turn on your Track Pets ability if it’s not already on, and start looking for those paw prints. When you’ve found one that you would like to battle, right-click on the pet to initiate the battle. When you initiate a battle, the game essentially removes the pet from the mini-map of all players, so that other players will no longer see that pet. This is because only one person can battle a battle pet at one time, so once someone’s battling a pet, no one else will be able to. (The Beasts of Fable are an exception to this rule, but that’s because they’re technically classified as pet tamers and not individual battle pets.) But before the battle can begin, the game has certain criteria that have to be matched before the battle can begin.
The terrain on which you’re attempting to battle matters as well. It’s generally agreed upon that flat, open space is the best place to battle. If the pet is stuck behind a rock or tree, you probably won’t be able to battle the pet and will get an error message. If the open space isn’t large enough, either, then the battle can’t begin and you’ll get an error message. Make sure that where you’re trying to battle, there is plenty of room and no room for error regarding space or obstacles.
If you’re in combat with anything, you won’t be able to battle the pet until you’ve left combat. Also, if you’re attacked while the pet battle is in progress, the pet battle will abruptly end. On the plus side, if you haven’t killed any of the pets that you were battling before you were kicked out of the battle, the pet will re-appear where it was so you can battle it after you’ve come out of combat. (If you’ve killed any of the pets and were then kicked out, you’re out of luck and the pet won’t re-appear.) As unfortunate as it sounds, if the poor, defenseless battle pet you were trying to battle is killed by some sort of AoE, then you obviously won’t be able to battle it when you come out of combat.
Before you start pet battling, there are a few more things to look out for: wild, aggressive creatures and/or players. Creatures that wander into your field of vision during the battle will become invisible to you, and if they’re aggressive, they can attack you without any prior knowledge. Players can also attack you while battling if you’re eligible to participate in PvP. If you’re on a PvP realm, this could be bad news because an enemy could potentially come down to try and wipe you out while you’re battling. Thankfully, Blizzard put in a kind of protection for people pet battling that are attacked by other players. The person pet battling will get a certain amount of damage reduction for 3 seconds so that they can get ready to deal with the attacking player. Be sure to look out for these kinds of encounters both before and during the battle to ensure you’re not interrupted.
Unfortunately, as said before, if you are attacked while battling, the pet battle will end abruptly. Now if you were lucky and hadn’t killed any of the pets you were battling yet, the pet will re-appear for you to battle as soon as you’re out of combat. If you weren’t lucky and you had killed one of the pets, the pet won’t re-appear for you. This kind of protection has both a good and a bad side. The good side is that you could potentially re-battle the pet you were battling before you were so rudely interrupted. The bad side is that players can witness your battles as they happen, so they could wait until you have only 1 pet left to kill before the end of battle then attack, ensuring that any pet you were trying to capture and any experience your pets could get from that battle is now gone. Just something to keep in mind as you’re pet battling.
Who Can I Fight?
Players have many options when it comes to finding things to battle. There are wild pets, which can be battled by right-clicking on the pet that you wish to battle. There are tamer battles, which I will discuss more in-depth a bit later on. There are PvP battles, which I will dedicate a section to later in the guide, and finally there are other people that you can battle. Yes, you are allowed to duel other people and their pets. There are a few things that you should know about dueling other people, though. First, you have to ask the person if they want to duel you. You do this by right-clicking on their portrait and selecting ” “. If they accept your request, the battle will begin. Another difference between pet duels and pet battles are that dueling other people’s pets will not award your pets any experience. Also, any duels will not count towards any sort of Battle Pet achievement. Blizzard placed this protection in place so that people couldn’t scam the system by dueling people they knew would concede, thus granting them free experience and achievements.
The Pet Battle Interface
Now on to the battles! I’m going to post a picture of the pet UI because it’s easier to explain everything that way than using just words.
As you can see from the picture, your pets will be placed on the left side of the battle, while the enemy is on the right. Whatever pet you have in your first slot will be placed front and center on your side as it is your first active pet. You can see its portrait and on the left side, your other pets. The pet in your second slot is on top and the third slot pet is on the bottom. They will come out in that order unless you swap one out early, then you can choose which pet comes out. On the right side of the portrait is the pet’s health.
The health bar determines how much damage your pet can take before it bites the dust. Try to keep it as full as possible. Next to the health bar is a symbol of your pet’s family, which you can mouseover to get information concerning that family’s traits (what its passive ability is, what kind of pets it deals extra damage to, and what kind of abilities it takes reduced damage from.).
Underneath that little symbol will be any effects of combat (buffs and/or debuffs). Be sure to keep your eye on them, as it will tell you how many rounds the buff/debuff has left before expiring.
In the direct center of the battle, at the top of the screen, will be any weather effects in play (when applicable). It will list the name of the weather effect, and to the right of that is a number. That is how many rounds the effect has before expiring. Some weather effects last longer than others, so you’ll have to watch for how many rounds the effect has. Also, if you mouseover the weather effect’s name, it will tell you what the effect does. For example, this says that there is the Arcane Winds effect in play. When you mouseover it, it will tell you that during Arcane Winds, pets cannot be stunned or rooted.
On the right side of the screen is the enemy, and it’s basically a copy of your information, only on the other side of the screen. It shows what pet the enemy has out and what pet(s) the enemy has left to fight before you win the battle.
Around one of the active pets will be a golden cage and the speed symbol (trailing arrows). This means that out of the two active pets, the one with the golden cage around it is faster, and will therefore get to take their turn first. You want to try to always have the golden cage around your pets so you can take your turn before the enemy takes theirs.
On the bottom of the screen is where you will choose what abilities to use, how you’ll capture pets, pass your turn, or forefeit the match. The first 3 boxes will be your pet’s abilities. Do note that while a pet can learn up to 6 abilities, they are only allowed to use up to 3 of them at a time, so you’ll have to choose which abilities you want to use. You cannot switch abilities during the battle, only before or after. So ensure that the abilities you have are the ones you want to use before you begin the battle.
Next to the boxes of your abilities is the box that is used for swapping your pets out. Swapping out your pets is actually something you should seriously consider, especially when leveling your pets because if they’re dead, they do not get experience from the battle. Only living pets get experience. Swapping out your pet will take place before the opponent’s ability is played, so whatever ability the opponent is using will be applied to the swapped in pet instead of the pet that it was already battling. Just something to keep in mind.
The box for capturing a wild pet is next to the swap box. Be aware that you can only attempt to capture a pet when the pet has less than 35% of its health remaining. It also has to be a wild pet. You can’t attempt to capture pets that belong to other players or NPCs. Kind of sucks that you can’t capture NPC pets, but oh well. In addition, when you achieve Going to Need More Traps, you’ll get the Strong Pet Trap which will increase your chance to capture by 25% each time you fail at capturing the pet. It makes capturing pets much easier. There is also a Pristine Trap that you can get from the Pro Pet Crew achievement and it will increase your chance to capture by 30% each time you fail at capturing the pet. It also makes capturing pets much easier. Capturing a pet will still award experience, but not as much as defeating the pet. Still, if you need the pet or simply want the pet, capturing it is still a good, viable option.
The last box in this row is the white flag box. This is used when you want to forfeit the battle. If you forfeit a wild pet battle, the health of your active pets will be reduced by 10%. There is no penalty for forfeiting a tamer battle.
Finally, the last button is right above all of your abilities and boxes. It’s the pass button. You can use that button to pass your turn which you may need to do if you’re stunned and have no other pets alive.
So that’s the Pet Battle UI for you. It’s really not as complicated as it might look or sound, and after a few battles, you’ll catch on to it pretty quickly.
Is it my turn yet?
Pet Battles take place via a turn-based system. A turn-based system means that one person takes their turn, then the enemy takes their turn. Then you take your turn, the enemy takes their turn and so on.* If you’ve played such games as FF7 or even the old Pokemon game for Game Boy, you’ll recognize this system. For PvE battles, there is no time limit to the length of each turn, but for PvP there is. If you wait longer than 15 seconds during a PvP match to make your decision, your turn will be skipped and your future round timers will grow progressively shorter. Be sure that you’re able to make decisions quickly if you’re going to choose to do pet PvP.
Once you’ve engaged a pet to battle and the battle itself has begun, the game will recognize one of the active pets as being the faster of the two (indicated by its portrait being surrounded by a golden cage) and will allow that pet to take their turn. You will choose one of your abilities and your pet will perform that ability when it is able to do so. Likewise, the enemy pet will choose an ability and perform it when it is able to do so. You have no way of knowing what ability the pet is going to use, so you’re going to have to take your chances and hope for the best. Also, just because a pet may have a higher speed stat one round doesn’t mean that it’s guaranteed to stay that way. There are plenty of options to reduce the enemy’s speed or to increase your own. Look out for those kinds of attacks and abilities to help augment your strategy.
Each turn, you will get to choose an ability of yours to use on the enemy and the enemy will do the same. Sometimes, your abilities may have cooldowns (and sometimes VERY long cooldowns at that). In this case, that ability will become grayed out when used, indicating that it’s on cooldown. Once the cooldown timer is up, it will no longer be grayed out, and you can once again use that ability. In addition to cooldown abilities, some abilities add debuffs to the enemy or buffs to yourself, some abilities can deal damage and change the weather, and some abilities can completely dodge attacks. That’s the fun of pet battles, though, is that the possibilities are endless (or close enough to endless that it’s not worth mentioning the exact amount of combinations that you can use). Experiment with pets and find out what kind of playstyle you like the best. Do you enjoy using DoTs to slowly (but surely) bring down enemies’ health? Or perhaps you like to take a defensive approach and outlast the opponent with damage reduction? Or maybe you like to go all out with burst damage? No matter the case, you can certainly find pets to fit your playstyle.
Play will continue with each team getting to choose an attack for that round (or turn, they are used interchangeably since they basically mean the same thing) until all of the pets on one team are dead. The living pets are considered the victors and receive any bonuses (experience, battle stones, etc.) from the battle. You should know that when you get past the beginning level pets (usually 3+), there will be more than one pet to battle when engaging an enemy pet. It’s something to keep in mind as you don’t want to go into a battle thinking that there is only one pet and end up having to fight 3.
While battling, you may find that your attacks aren’t doing as much damage as they should be. In this case, mouseover the ability you feel is performing poorly and see exactly what the ability does. The tooltip will also list information concerning pet families and bonus or reduced damage. This information can help determine whether or not an attack is performing as it should be. You should also look at the enemy to see if it has any damage reduction abilities in play that would reduce the amount of damage they take. If so, that could also potentially be a reason why your attacks aren’t doing as much damage as they normally would. There are many possibilities and scenarios that could be in play and you just have to look at everything individually. Whatever the case may be, you can always swap out your pet for another if you feel that the current pet is underperforming in its task. Sometimes it’s a necessary evil in pet battles, especially if you want the pet to get experience. Keep in mind that only the 3 pets in your pet slots are eligible to battle and you cannot switch them out for new pets from your journal during the battle.
Gaining experience is the most important thing for a pet, as that is currently, the only way to gain levels. I’ve heard rumors that there will be a new Battle Stone coming out in WoD which will allow you to gain levels. (Update: They did wind up implementing Battle-Stones that will give pets a level.) I’m not sure how I feel about that. Anyways, any pet that participates in the battle will gain experience, but that pet must still be alive at the end of battle. If it has died, it will not receive any experience whatsoever. Keep that in mind while you’re battling. I’ll explain experience a bit more later in the guide.
After the battle, you can swap out any injured or dead pets for new pets in your journal if you should choose to do so. You can also heal your pets if you would like to continue using those same pets. It is generally recommended that you swap out injured or dead pets for new pets in your journal should any of them come up injured or dead. If that is not an option, then healing is all that you can do.
*If a speed buff or reduction ability was used, it may end up with one side getting to do 2 turns in a row. For example: If both the enemy and I are using rabbits to battle and I’m faster than the enemy, I’ll get to go first at the beginning of battle. So the turn-based system would go:
I attack then enemy attacks
I attack then enemy attacks
I attack then enemy attacks
So it is Me, enemy, me, enemy, me, enemy, and so on.
This would continue on until the end of battle. However, if a speed buff was used by the enemy in the first round, they could potentially be faster than I am (for the sake of this discussion we’re going to go ahead and say that they are indeed faster than I am now). So the turn-based system would go:
I attack (since I was faster than the enemy before they used the buff) then enemy attacks and gains a speed buff making them faster than I am
Enemy attacks (because they used the buff and are now faster than I am) then I attack
Enemy attacks then I attack
So it would go: Me, enemy, enemy, me, enemy, me, enemy, me, and so on.
This would continue on until either the speed buff wore off, a speed reduction ability was used on the enemy to make it slower, or until the enemy pet dies. It’s something to watch out for in case you think your turn is being skipped for some reason.
Some people encounter a problem where they are faster than the enemy, yet they are still being attacked by the enemy first. There are a few abilities that allow this, and I call it the Surge Dilemma. Surge is the most prominent ability such as this. As you can see from that link, Surge’s description indicates that it will always go first. That means that no matter how fast the other pet is, Surge will always go first. Now normally, that would mean that Surge would always attack first. But what if there are two pets using Surge at the exact same time? Which one goes first? They both can’t go first, and they can’t attack at the same time, so which one goes first? The pet who is normally faster than the other is the one whose Surge would activate first.
Surge generally multiplies a pet’s speed by 5 or 6, so a pet with 225 speed will generally come out having between 1125 and 1350 speed, almost always ensuring that it would go first. There are times, though, that the other pet will be faster and it too will use Surge, allowing for them to go first. So don’t think that just because you have Surge that you are always, 100% guaranteed to go first, because that’s simply not true.
Edit: From what I’ve seen, it looks like the developers have increased the multiplication number for speed when using Surge, as I’ve seen pets using Surge having a speed over 20,000 which is MUCH faster than what they used to be.
Who’s that Tamer?
Pet Tamers are special NPCs who have pre-determined pets with pre-determined abilities. To challenge a Pet Tamer, you must first obtain the quest to do so. The beginning quest is obtainable from the Pet Battle Trainers in your respective racial capital. From there, it’s basically a quest chain with several different parts:
Eastern Kingdoms (Alliance)/Kalimdor (Horde)
Cataclysm Zones (excluding Vashj’ir zones)
Pet Tamer battles are much like wild pet battles except that, as said, the pets are always the same and always have the same abilities and you can’t capture any of their pets. This allows players to devise strategies to defeat them without having to attempt hundreds of different pet combinations looking for one that will defeat them. Believe me, once you get to the higher pet tamer battles (Outland through Pandaria), you’ll be glad that you have this chance. Even with the chance of strategizing, some of the pet tamer battles are simply brutal. One difference between pet tamer battles and wild pet battles are that some pet tamers have pets that are Epic or Legendary in nature. No wild pet battles will contain these rarity of pets. The highest wild pet battles go are rare pets.
Another difference between pet tamer battles and wild pet battles is that sometimes pet tamer pets have abilities on them that do not match anything that a wild pet or even a player’s pet can do. For example, a tamer may have a dragon whelpling that can cast Frog Kiss, a combination that no wild pet or player pet can do (and as far as I am aware that specific combination does not exist, even for tamer battles, I was just using it as an example).
While engaging in a tamer battle, those on PvP realms should watch out as both factions regularly gather around the pet tamers to do their daily quests and sometimes it can take a while to finish them if you’re constantly attacked by the opposing faction. Because while you are invisible to other players when in a tamer battle, your pets are not, so players still know you are there even if they can’t physically see you.
Now You See Me, Now You Don’t
Eventually, you’re going to come across a pet and you’ll be battling and all of a sudden it’s not there anymore. A new pet has swapped in to take its place. Normally, you would think that the pet was simply swapped out. However, that may not always be the case. There are abilities that cause a pet to swap out without the tamer or pet actually swapping the pet out via the conventional way. I’m going to use Feign Death as an example. When a pet uses Feign Death, it is preparing to swap out. However, instead of the new pet swapping in and the opponent using that round’s ability to attack the new pet, Feign Death is considered an ability, so the opponent’s attack will still attack the pet that used Feign Death, but since it’s swapping out, the ability automatically misses. The new pet will swap in and play will continue on as normal.
There are also abilities that will force your pets to swap, such as Death Grip. Death Grip will deal a certain amount of damage to the pet, then force a pet from the back row to swap in. Death Grip’s tooltip indicates that it will force the opponent’s lowest health pet into battle. But what if the current pet is the lowest health pet in battle? The tooltip is kind of confusing because it really means that it will choose the lowest health pet from the back row. The current pet will always swap out regardless of whether or not it has the lowest health of your pets. It’s also kind of confusing in the fact that does “lowest health” mean lowest maximum health or lowest current health? The latter is the correct answer. Whatever pet has the lowest current health will be the one to swap in. It’s something to watch out for when battling (especially Nearly Headless Jacob in Crystalsong Forest).