small-scale violence in the world of warcraft

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

there can be only one

the cricket was fast. leaping, dancing, singing his infuriating song - at times it seamed as if there were ten crickets, all striking blows on their enemy only to evade his retaliatory strikes. before her, the scorpion crouched, fighting defensively, claws held to protect his vulnerable unarmored eyes. and then, suddenly, it was over. the cricket, seeking to land a crippling blow, danced too close, waited to long to pull back, and a claw closed down on one of her rear legs. she struggled, but its grip was too strong to break, and then the other claw closed down on her thorax. pinned, trapped, there was nothing the cricket could do as the scorpion raised its menacingly stinger over its head, a single drop of poison glistening at its tip.

then, it was over. the stinger plunged down in a motion too fast for the eye to see, piercing the tough exoskeleton behind the cricket's head. she twitched as corrosive enzymes were pumped into her body, then went limp. the scorpion held the lifeless body a minute longer, then flung it aside.

"yes!" it roared in a dry, rasping voice. "i am victorious! fear my name! i am cuddles, and i shall-"


a bolt of lightning struck the scorpion struck the scorpion directly in the face and tossing it into the air. it landed on its back where it lay unmoving, steam rising from the gaps in its armor.

"cuddles, was it?" asked a sardonic voice. a small dragon entered the battle area, the sun shining on his polished red and orange hide. "yes, i do believe i'll remember that one. hard to forget an opponent so easily dispatched. are there any others?"

there was silence for a moment. then the slow, unmistakeable thuds of heavy armored feet could be heard approaching. then there was the whine of a gauss pulse rifle powering up. into the arena lumbered round, squat, bowlegged figure, clad in blue space armor with the moniker "pvt hudson" stenciled on one side. bulbous, unblinking eyes glared at the dragon behind a translucent face shield.

"mrlgrlgrlgrlgrlgrl," the newcomer challenged.

the dragon's eyes narrowed. he reached out with his clawed hands, and bolts of lightning crackled through the air toward the marine. the space armor's electronics were well-shielded though, and the lightning had little effect beyond scorching and blistering the blue paint. the electro-magnetic pulses from the marine's rifle were a different matter. they hammered the dragon mercilessly, punching effortlessly through his thick hide, until at last he lay dying in the dirt.

"i hate murlocs..." he whispered as his eyes dimmed and his last breath left his body. but the battle was not over. unnoticed, an otter had been stealthily swimming up the creek adjacent to the battle area. now, with the marine's attention focused on his now-vanquished opponent, the otter leapt from the water, sharp teeth slashing toward exposed hydraulics.

but the marine was too fast. with a cry of "mglrrglrgl!" he fired his rockets and shot up into the air, avoiding the ambush. he landed a few yards away, facing his new opponent, rifle at the ready. the otter had seen what happened to the dragon, however, and was too clever to try going toe-to-toe with the high-tech murloc. instead he circled, pounced, dodged, and pounced again, teeth and claws always searching for gaps in the armor. private hudson managed to land a few shots, but in the end he stood still in the middle of the field, unable to move, batteries discharged, hydraulic fluid leaking into a pool on the ground.

"that's all right, dearie," said a new, soft voice. "you've done your part. let grannie mudderclucker take it from here."

"mlrggl," said the marine in a relieved voice to the chicken now standing next to him. and then he exploded in a cloud of mechanical pieces and green goo.

"oh dear," said the chicken. she fixed a steely gaze upon the otter. "somebody  is going to have to clean this mess up." and then the fight was on.

it was not a fair fight. weakened by the battle with the marine, pelted with eggs, blinded by flying feathers, pecked mercilessly, the otter never stood a chance. in only a few minutes it was all over, and grannie mudderclucker stood triumphant upon the field, with none left to challenge her.

aki the chosen, grand master pet tamer of pandaria, bowed to me. "it appears i have underestimated you, foreigner. yours is the superior."

Monday, October 29, 2012

pet quality

all pets have three statistics: health, power, and speed. health obviously is how much damage it can take before it dies, power is how hard it hits or how well it heals, and speed determines who goes first in a given round. having higher value stats means a pet is more likely to defeat its opponent, and winning is good, so that's why we give a darn. several factors go into determining a pet's stats, most of which i'm not gonna talk about a lot today. species is one - turtles tend to have more health, birds tend to have more speed, and so on. pet level is another - every time a pet levels up, its stats go up. there is some variation amoung individuals of the same species (nancy the scorpion might have a little more power than doug the scorpion, but less health, for example). and then there's the thing i wanna talk about today: quality. sometimes, crazy dave the tundra penguin is just plain a better fighter than mad mortimer the tundra penguin.

world of warcraft has always a quality system for gear: rare/blue is better than uncommon/green, and so on. pets received a similar design. all else being equal, a rare fire beetle has higher stats than an uncommon fire beetle, which has higher stats then a common, which has higher stats than a poor. (currently, player-owned cannot be higher than rare, but some of the master pet tamer npcs have epic or even legendary pets.) at level 1, the difference between a poor and a rare isn't very noticeable, but as pets level up these differences grow and grow until a level 25 rare can easily smash a level 25 poor.

so, how do you know what the quality of your pets is? once you've captured a pet, the game will tell you what it is in the pet journal, but the only way to know before you decide to start flinging traps is to look at its stat values and make a guess. there are however a number of add-ons which can tell you what the quality of a pet your fighting is. i personally like battlepetcount, which also tells you if you already own a pet of that type, and what its level and quality are, but there are plenty of others. it looks like patch 5.1, which will be landing before too long, will report the quality of pets you are battling as part of the standard interface, which will a nice improvement.

pets that you've acquired through any other method than capturing them in the wild (quest rewards, drops, purchased, etc.) are slightly different. for one thing, they are never poor or common. for another, the default game interface currently gives no information at all as to whether they are uncommon or rare, even when they are in your journal. add-ons will tell you, or you can look them up on or, if you're a lazy-arsed git like me, you can fall back on some rules of thumb. if it came from a real-money transaction, the darkmoon fair, the molten fron, the guild vendor, or a low probability drop, it's probably a rare. if it was a quest reward, crafted by a player, or bought at the argent tournament, it's an uncommon. i think that covers most of them.

should you farm wild pets until you get a rare, and throw away the rest? hell if i know - it depends on what you want to do. if your goal is to pvp or fight the master pet tamers, then yeah, maybe, if its a hard to get species, like humanoid or dragonkin. harder to justify for a critter, since you'll get like a bajillion rare critters in pandaria without trying. if your goal is to have a cool looking baby ape or minfernal to follow you around while you do tillers dailies, then no, probably not worth it. howver, my position on this and every other aspect of pet battling is that there is no wrong way to do it.

happy capturing!

update: anonymous points out that the red cricket, awarded from becoming best friends with the tiller sho, is not automatically uncommon or rare, but instead is apparently given a random quality like captured pets, and can therefore be poor or common. a little digging shows that the sapphire cub, created by jewelcrafters, also has a random quality. i'm inclined to suspect that these are bugs rather than what blizzard intended, but there's no official word as to why these are different. lotta folks pissed about getting shafted with a crappy cricket, though.

Friday, October 26, 2012

one milestone at a time

i've had an alt parked in what used to be the alterac mountains (and is now just 'that part of the hillsbrad foothills full of snow and ogres and yeti') for a while now, looking for the elusive snowshoe hare. which is completely different than the snowshoe rabbit. even though they are identical. one you buy from a dwarf kid, the other you freeze your troll toes off, standing in the snow for weeks.

anyway. a few nights ago, i got all excited when two popped up on my minimap detector. i figured i'd catch one, then put out a realid message that i was looking at one in case anyone wanted to party up and crz in and catch it. (you know, i've never actually done that, so while i think that would work, i'm not 100% sure.) and then it all went wrong. first, i added a lowbie pet to my team so that i could damage him without killing him in one shot. but the pet i added (level 10 lil' deathwing) was still too high, and its first attack knocked the hare down to about 45%. uh oh. nothing to do at that point but hit it again, and of course that killed it. so I hurry up and kill its partner (a rat or something) and swap in a level 6 pet. and step forward to boldly to battle with the other hare, only it's not there anymore. crapdoodle.

last night though, when i did my daily check-in on the alt, there was a hare on the minimap. woot! more carefully this time, i swap a level 6 pet into the team and into battle we go. a minute or so later, we've got us a snowshoe hare. i checked the achievement list for what else i need. twilight fiendling it says, so we drake up and head for the highlands. flew around for a bit, and there one was. huzzah! and sure enough, that was all i needed for eastern kingdoms safari. i wasn't sure, given what a hot mess that achievement is - there are six pets it shows me as still missing, four of which are actually sold by vendors (three dragonhawks and the cockatiel), as well as the crimson moth and wharf rat (which weren't in the pet journal when i caught them early in the expansion).

moral of the story, then, is be patient. some pets are pretty hard to find, and have really long respawn timers, but they do exist. use wowhead or the resource of your choice, figure out where they span, and park an alt there. check in every now and then to take a quick look. no sign of them, then move on to something else. sooner or later, you'll get lucky. and i'll be telling myself this as i hunt for the never-seen-by-human-eyes minfernal....

Thursday, October 25, 2012

blizzard's gonna fill in some gaps

there's a list of the new capturable pets blizzard will be giving us in patch 5.1 over at perks n peeves. there's more, like the new pets dropping in vanilla raids, but those aren't what i'm excited about (though they are cool). no, what's got me tingly is the fact that almost all the new pets are from families that are horribly underrepresented in the wild right now - humanoid, mechanical, magic, and dragon. i'm hoping this is a sign that blizzard realizes that the current dominance by critters, beasts, and flyings is monotonous as crap, and that they'll make it more varied and interesting in the future.

plus, you know, a flying book? i gotta have that!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pet Profile: Wild Eyes Ramona

Type: Aquatic

Species: Softshell Snapling

Source: Capturable in Valley of the Four Winds. Other turtles have the same or nearly the same abilities.

Interests: Relaxing with a glass of pinot grigio, slow walks along the beach, and beating other pets up.

I captured Ramona as a level 22, and leveled her to 25 as part of the quest for All Pets Allowed. Her combat style is a slow methodical approach, using her high health and defensive abilities to wear her opponent down. When battling she typically opens with Shell Shield (refreshing it every five rounds), then use Powerball until she's got the speed advantage over the enemy. At that point it's hammer away with Bite (pve) or Grasp (pvp) until the end.

She's named for Ramona Singer and her pinot grigio-fuelled "turtle time" dance:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

let us begin at the beginning

and at the beginning, we find a movie cliche.

the first rule of pet battles is there is no wrong way to do pet battles.

the second rule of pet battles is there is no wrong way to do pet battles.

that said, nobody like flopping around haphazardly like an orc wearing too-large boxer shorts, with no idea of where to go or what to do next. so i'm planning to lay out some suggestions and recommendations i've learned, either through reading in other places or through plain old trial and multiple errors. hopefully, some of it will be of some help to somebody. since my knowledge on this new mini-game is nowhere near complete and never will be, i'd be pleased to pick up some tips from you buggers as well.

i'm also planning to put some creative writing and artwork about my pets up here. if nothing else, this will amuse me. your mileage may be your own damn problem.

now that that's all out of the way, we can move on to battles. "which pets should i put in my team?" is a reasonable question, with several aspects to the answer. today i'm gonna talk about the pet family aspect, 'cause i'm gonna talk about the other aspects when i'm not talking about this one. now, there are a total of ten pet families, but when you go out into the wilds to level and capture, you don't find anything remotely like an even distribution. instead, there are lots and lots of critters and beasts, a bunch of aquatics (usually near rivers and lakes and oceans. duh.). once you've leveled up a bit, you'll run into a fair number of flying pets. if you go into tirisfal glades and the plaguelands, you'll get a lot of undeads, which makes sense. everything else - humanoids, mechanicals, dragons, elementals, and magics - often don't appear until you've leveled up a good chunk, and either way they are pretty rare.

starting out then, you'll win battles faster if you go with pets that do beast damage (25% bonus against critters), mechanical damage (25% bonus against beasts), and flying damage (25% bonus against aquatics). the faster you kill them, the less time they have to kill you, which means you win more often. typically this means going with a beast pet, a mechanical pet, and a flying pet, but there are a lot of exceptions too. for example, a lot of critters have attacks that do beast damage, while some mechanicals have elemental- or undead-damage attacks. blizzard did it this way either to make it more interesting or to annoy the crap outta you, depending on your perspective.

so that's one factor to consider. other factors, such as quality, long-term goals, and freakin' adorableness, will be covered when i get to them.

Monday, October 22, 2012

whispers in the shadows

“is it true what they say?”

“i heard he got blown to a million pieces fighting that dragon.”

“is he building an army?”

“they say he’s in krasarang fishing with nat pagle.”

“he’s recruiting, man, i tell you. dragons, mechanicals, beasts, everyone.”

“he died like a damn fool”

“spiders? are there spiders in the army?”

“my brother’s friend’s dad’s cousin saw him in felwood, running through the trees.”

“he’s a ghost now. you can’t stop a ghost.”

“he’s building an army, I tell you. there’s hundreds of them now, and it’s growing.”

“is it raining on jaguar island?”

“he was never real.”

“i heard they wiped out everything in the burning steppes. even the cockroaches.”

“i heard he’s building an army.”