small-scale violence in the world of warcraft

Friday, November 30, 2012

pandaren spirit tamer

patch 5.1 extends the "defeat the pet tamers" questline with a new quest, pandaren spirit tamer. you are required to defeat four new tamers, each an elemental spirit with three legendary-quality pets. the pets were mostly elemental (each tamer had a miniature version of itself), critter, and dragonkin, with some variations. you get the quest from the pet battle trainer in either the horde or alliance pandaria capital, and the tamers themselves are located in the vale (earth), jade forest (air), dread wastes (water), and townlong steppes (fire).

i started off with stoppable force (darkmoon tonk), francois (darkmoon monkey), and wild eyes ramona (softshell snapling). stoppable force was configured for dragonslayer mode, with charge selected for its first spell slot. the thundering (ie earth) tamer is reported to cause a lot of people trouble, but i got it down on the first try. the air tamer gave me more trouble, because its elemental pet had two flying attacks which chopped up my turtle something fierce. so i switched her out for frederick the oily slimeling, configured him to use creeping ooze for elemental wastage, and rocked it out. then i proceeded to one-shot the two remaining tamers.

now, to be honest, when i say i "one-shot" them, what i reall mean is this. i start a fight and see what pets it has. then i run away. i adjust my pet team composition, and start another fight. when i see that its lead-off pet isn't the one my lead-off pet is strong against, i run away. repeat until i get the match-up i want. then i one-shot the fight.

after defeating the fourth tamer, i hearthed home and turned in the quest back where i started. the trainer gave me a choice of four pets, each a mini version of the spirits i had just defeated. being a destro warlock, ellspeth of course picked the fire one. cute little rascal, ain't he?

once you've completed the quest, your allowed to go back later and each tamer will have a daily quest for you to defeat them. the reward bag has a chance to contain another mini-spirit, so collecting all four is doable. unfortunately right now the dailies are buggy, and aren't showing up for a lot of people. hopefully this will be fixed before long.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

new pet spells i'd love to see

in among the banana barrages and the chicken stampedes, there are a number of spells from full-scale world of warcraft that have been reborn in pet battles. for examples, feign death, heroic leap, and curse of doom. but there are still plenty of player abilities which are denied to our poor pets. so here is a list of spells i feel blizzard should, nay, needs to add to our pets' spellbooks:

hammer of the righteous
fire elemental totem
victory rush
ritual of summoning
army of the doods
teleport: moonglade
leap of faith

so what would pet versions of these spells do, exactly? i got no freaking clue. do i look like the details guy? shoot, i can't even do capitalization right....

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

listening to my inner pandaren

so when i got home last night, i was one pet away from that's a lot of pet food. so with all the new pets available in 5.1, which ones did i go for? was it the ion cannon-less yeti? the book that escaped from the dalaran library? one of those cool boss drops in molten core or naxx?

not so much. i listened to my inner pandaren, and he told me "slow down".

i downloaded the patch, updated my add-ons, logged on and did the same thing i would have done if the patch hadn't landed: started the golden lotus dailies with my freshly minted 90 warlock, because she's fun to play. those new pets aren't going anywhere, and the ones in the wild will be a lot easier to find after the initial wave of collectors has moved on.

and guess what? while i was doing dailies, i ran across an eternal strider, which i hadn't even realized i didn't have. apparently it was one of those pets that had gotten left out of the original pet journal by mistake, or something. sent in my current leveling team of shianti the teldrassil sproutling and lawrence welk the rapana whelk to rough him up, threw a cage on him, and hey presto! i get the achievement and the free venus. so i got to eat my cake and have it too. thanks, inner pandaren.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

no ion cannon for yeti

yesterday i was talking about the darkmoon tonk's high-power ion cannon. essentially it does 2.5 times the damage of a standard attack, at the price of being stunned and unable to act for the next two rounds. so under normal conditions it actually does less damage than just firing off a basic times three times. it pays off though when either it's enough damage to suddenly kill the enemy (especially if it's your opponent's last pet) or when you're close to dying and won't live long enough to get off three more attacks. under the right circumstances, it can be a game changer, and earn you the right to prance about and point and shout "in your face!" at your computer monitor. these things are important.

the darkmoon tonk isn't the only pet with this ability, but it's the only one that is both "rare" quality and fairly easy to obtain. the tranquil mechanical yeti also has an ion cannon, but it's only 'uncommon". the azure whelpling and lil' tarecgosa both have the magical equivalent surge of power, but the one is an extremely rare drop (or costs approximately one metric crapton of gold on the auction house), and the other requires you to be in a guild that's completed the legendary staff questline in firelands (which mine ain't. edit: well, that ain't really true, 'cause I've got at least two alts in guilds that have, as has been pointed out to me. but still, it's a hard pet to get for a lot of folks.). finally, the orphan's week reward legs also has surge of power, but he's also only an uncommon. so that's a bummer.

but we're getting new pets today, with the arrival of 5.1! and when i was reviewing this preview page over at wowhead news, i saw that just like his mechanical cousin, the stunted yeti of feralas would be packing an ion cannon. booya! a capturable pet packing the biggest nuke in the game? farm that bitch 'til you find a rare, baby! now, okay, i realize that the idea of a primitive woodlands ape packing space age weaponry is a little far-fetched (although, you gotta admit, it would make the show "finding bigfoot" a lot more exciting). but who cares if it makes sense? this! is! pet battles!

if only i had some poor shmuck i could kick into a pit of oblivion. woulda made that last bit a lot more dramatic. oh well.

sadly, it is not to be. checking the entry for stunted yeti on wowhead's ptr site this morning, i saw a perfectly sensible set of humanoid and beast abilities. no ion cannon, no light saber, no buck rogers. i has a disappointed.

i figure blizzard initially copied the tranquil mechanical yeti abilities as a place holder, and that got datamined. then they went back and made it what they really wanted. or maybe wowhead just made a mistake. or something. doesn't really matter. but if i get the right stone to upgrade legs to a rare, i'm gonna use it. and some poor bugger's gonna get a heckuva surprise one day.

Monday, November 26, 2012

don't bring three crabs to a darkmoon tonk fight

i haven't done much pet battle pvp'ing yet. it's not that i'm not interested, it's just that i've been busy collecting and leveling and, you know, playing that old-fashioned ordinary wow. but yesterday i had some time and curiosity, so went and dabbled. put together a team, lost a few rounds, went back to other stuff, then came back a few hours later with a slightly team. i had a voodoo figurine, a rare oily slimeling, and a darkmoon tonk. i queued up, and a minute later was facing a team consisting of three rare crabs. i can certainly understand the appeal of crabs for battling. a lot of health combined with shell shield and renewing mists make them quite hard to kill, and as aquatic pets they take 25% less damage from harmful dots. since none of my pets had any flying attacks, this didn't look like a good match-up for me. but i had a secret weapon.

my voodoo figurine and my slimeling didn't fare particularly well. they managed to kill the first crab, but the second one still had more than half its health when it finished them off. and then i brought out the tonk.

the tonk hits hard. very hard. it pays a price for this, in that its attacks have long cooldowns, but that was okay. the crab defenses are primarily effective against mitigating lots of small attacks, and then healing back up over time. so i didn't let it. first round, i hit it with shock and awe, knocking it below 50% health. second round, before it had had time to heal much, i hit it with the ion cannon, which i believe is tied with surge of power as the hardest hitting pet attacks. and we had dead crab number two. now, the cannon left me stunned for the next two rounds and crab number three got in some free shots, but that was all right. again, all i had to do was get him down to about 40% of his health before i died, and then the ion cannon ended it.

i queued up again with the same pets, and apparently no one else on our server was playing, because the game matched us up again. same result - the short-term blasts from the tonk's big weapons secured victory before the crabs' long-term abilities could catch up.

the game put us together again for round three. my opponent was no dummy, and this time he'd switched out one of his crabs for a topaz shale hatchling, which is also defensive but as an elemental would have a strong edge against the mechanical tonk. unfortunately for him though, i'd gone to a completely different team, in which all three pets were capable of doing a lot of damage quickly: grunty, a stripe-tailed scorpid, and a chicken. this time the fight wasn't even close.

so, the moral of the story is, no strategy is going to work against every opponent. had i brought, say, a rabbit to that first fight instead of the tonk, things would have gone very differently and this would be a very different post. but i did bring the tonk, and i timed its attacks to maximize their effectiveness against an otherwise solid opponent. mismatches are going to happen, sometimes in your favor and sometimes not, so try not to be all down on your pets or yourself if things go badly. it's most likely you just went scissors and your opponent went rock.

and blizzard? i hope this "fight the same person three times in a row" thing isn't going to be the norm. maybe we should bring some of that cross-realm technology from lfd and lfr over to pet battles, yes?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

what happens when lady rng gets shnockered?

she rolls the same result, every time. you should lay off the hard stuff, lady rng.

last night i was leveling my warlock up in the kun-lai summit and picking fights with the local beasties in between quests. without fail, every time the third pet on the local team was a rare plains monitor. now, this was kinda cool at first, since it allowed me to toss the one poor quality one i started with, and replace it with a full stable of three rares. these are gonna come in handy when i begin to seriously push toward pro pet mob. but after the first three? it got a little depressing, having to deliberately kill rares. not to mention the fact that they took more work to down than their poor siblings.

i know the game wasn't doing this the last time i went through kun-lai. i'm curious to see how long it keeps up. a day? until the next server restart?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

a brief word on pet names

being able to finally name pets (without being a hunter) is something i thoroughly enjoy. as usual, blizzard has a secret list of words you cannot use (two secret lists, actually - one for "reserved" words and one for "offensive" words). the illustrious pike pointed me toward the petopia forums where there is a list of names people have determined to be illegal, but i'm hoping to delve deeper and see just how far i can push the envelope, because i'm weird that way. after last night's research, i can confirm the following:

"the" is a reserved word, which is a total rip-off given that some of the npc tamers use it in their pets' names.

most military ranks are restricted, but standard abbreviations are not. for example "adm bigs" and "sgt dingles".

"duke", like most ranks of nobility, is out. "duck", however, is fine. since there are currently no actual duck pets, i picked my nether ray fry to be the "duck of death", and "iron duck" will probably go to my sea gull.

more to follow, as my brain comes up with pointless things to try.

Monday, November 19, 2012

"how to level the terrible turnip"

someone landed on my blog the other day after running that particular google search. unfortunately, while this is a reasonable question to ask but there isn't much here to answer it, so our intrepid googler left empty-handed. time to fix that.

why is it a reasonable question to ask? well, when you look at the turnip's spells they're almost all elemental, which makes it strong against mechanicals (rarely encountered in the wild) and weak against critters (which are everywhere in the wild). meanwhile, aquatics (which are fairly common) are strong against it. so, fighting with the turnip is like fighting with one hand tied behind your back. in addition, most of its spells include some form of self-healing (such as leech seed) or damage mitigation (such as sons of the root), and therefore do less damage than purely offensive spells. there's nothing wrong with this, except they lead to longer fights, which means fewer victories (and less experience) per hour.

so what do you do, given the turnip's limitations? the answer is, don't use it. put it on a team with at least one level 25 rare that hits hard. my personal favorite for this is francois the darkmoon monkey, but there's lots of other good pets for this job. a second level 25 that is strong against pets that the first one is weak against is ideal, if you can do that. then, go pick fights with wild pets that are much higher level than your turnip. after one round, swap the turnip out and send in your level 25, and unleash hell. the fight will be over quickly, and the turnip still gets half of the xp it would have gotten had it stayed in and managed to win the battle entirely on its own. after the fight, the victory heal will get the turnip back to full health, and hopefully the level 25 pet somewhat close to it. then you can quickly move on to the next fight.

this method becomes a lot less effective when you reach level 20 or so, and try using it against cataclysm or pandaria pets, but this isn't a big deal. the value of the turnip is when trying to capture low-level pets, the ones that can be one- or two-shots by conventional pets. against, say, level 24 pets in the valley of the four winds, the danger of accidently killing a pet you want to capture is pretty minimal, so it isn't necessary to get your turnip all the way to level 25. i've set mine aside now that he's reached 20, to be saved for the day i happen to encounter a, say, silithid hatchling.

so, that's how i leveled my terrible turnip.

Friday, November 16, 2012

five ideas for new pets

patch 5.1 is going to introduce a number of new pets that can be captured in vanilla zones or drop from bosses in vanilla (or originally created for vanilla) raids, such as molten core and naxxramas. along those same lines, i have a few ideas for pets that i'd like to see added in burning crusade content.

roflcopter. mechanical pet with several flying attacks. capturable. most often found around shattrath city before raid time.

shadier shade of aran. undead pet with magical attacks. drops in karazhan. its flame wreath attack does nothing unless your opponent tries to swap pets - then it blows up the battle.

image of image of archmage vargoth. magical pet. capturable in netherstorm. doesn't actually do anything in battle, just stands there.

gronn pup. humanoid pet with humanoid and beast attacks. drops in gruul's lair. grows larger during every combat round.

lil' reliquary of the lost. mechanical? undead? magic? elemental? yeah, i really don't know. wails a lot. drops in black temple.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

pets i am currently leveling

why am i leveling him?

because i still need a level 25 undead for all pets allowed.

why is new named jobu?

for cerano's "help me hit a curve ball" loa in major league
why am i leveling him?

because i want a level 25 rare magic

why is he named frederick?

because of reasons

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

pet profile: twitchy mctwitch

twitchy mctwitch is an accomplished violinist and silent film critic. he likes boring through solid granite and beating pets up.

i picked up this rare topaz shale hatchling in deepholm (they can also be found in the orange side of maraudon). i like to configure him with leech life, sticky web, and stone rush. this gives attacks from three different families (undead, beast, and elemental) for maximum flexibility, and the high healing from alternating the first two counterbalances the self-damage from the third. if you prefer maximum survivability, you can switch from stone rush to stoneskin for five rounds of damage mitigation.

there are four variations of shale hatchlings running loose in the wild (topaz, crimson, amethyst, and emerald), all with the same abilities but somewhat different stats. there is also the tiny shale spider which drops from jadefang and is considered a rare.

Monday, November 12, 2012

terrible turnip vs minfernal

i've had an alt parked in felwood at the minfernal spawn point for a while now, and try to check in once a day or so. usually all i find are a few other high-level characters, all chilling out on their flying mounts. but last night when i popped in i was all alone. except.... two pets showing up on the minimap! a quick mouseover showed the first one to be a tainted rat. phooey. but the second one, glory of glories, was a minfernal. huzzah! another quick look around to make sure no one would steal it from me, and then a quick check of which three pets i had up.

this part is important. if you have been lucky enough to farm up a terrible turnip, then i strongly recommend that you level him up. reason being, he is the only pet with weakening blow - an attack which cannot reduce its target below 1 health point. it cannot kill them, as long as you remember not to any of its other attacks - definitely do not hit leech seed! this makes it ideal for capturing lower level pets, but only if you've leveled him high enough to beat them. good news is, i've gotten mine up to 20, specifically for this purpose.

sure enough, i send in the veggie and pretty soon mister demon is sitting pretty with minimal health. throw a few cages, and bob's your uncle. (anybody know where that expression comes from? i mean, wouldn't uncle bob have been your uncle the whole time anyway, regardless of how things turned out? or is it just a metaphor for, i dunno, bricklayer tools or something?)

so, one step closer to kalimdor safari. the minfernal himself was poor quality, but meh. he still looks cool following me around in stormwind, and i've got some rare quality magics in my roster already.

do i have any tips for catching this elusive bugger? just be patient, i guess. i hear they're more likely to be out right after a server restart, but pretty much everyone looking for one will have heard this too, so i expect there'd be a crowd. i found mine about five o'clock server time (my server anyway - no idea if cross-realm zoning shifted me or not) on a sunday, and as far as i know there hadn't been any restarts all day. so maybe the trick is to keep checking at times when other people won't be, until you get lucky. however you do it, good luck and good hunting!

Friday, November 9, 2012

the first rule of brawler's guild is "black tie only"

i really like the idea of the brawler's guild, for some of the same reasons i like pet battles. it is a line of pve progression independent of raiding. it is completely soloable content. you can go at your own pace. the fact that other players can actually watch you fight is a really nifty addition. the only catch was that, since it is one fight at a time and players have to queue for it, there's the danger that waits would become frustratingly long. but i expected blizzard to handle that through a sensible method such as, say, grouping players into batches of 20 (or 40, or whatever) and putting them into an instanced version of the guild (similar to how battlegrounds work). plenty of people to make a respectable audience, but nobody has to wait all day to fight.

but now we have details of how blizzard plans to keep the queue lengths in check: the guild will be invitation only, with invites auctioned off ten a day on the black market auction house (minimum bid 1000g, no maximum bid). once brawlers reach a certain level in the guild (currently rank 7, which as i understand it is rather non-trivial) they can start issuing their own invitations, with nothing to stop them from charging whatever price the market will support.

blizzard's been trying real hard to make us think of fight club without actually violating copyright laws, but does anyone remember the scene in fight club where a small-time gangster comes down to the basement and interrupts the club's clandestine activities?

tyler who are you?

fat man (lou) who am I?! there's a sign on the front that says "lou's tavern." i'm fucking lou. who the fuck are you?!

tyler tyler durden.

tyler extends his hand for a shake, but lou slaps it away.

lou who told you motherfuckers you could use my place?

tyler we have a deal worked out with irvine.

lou irvine? irvine's at home with a broken collarbone.

everyone glances guiltily at each other.

lou he don't own this place, i do. how much money's he getting for this?

tyler there is no money.

lou really?

tyler it's free to all.

lou ain't that something?

tyler yes, it is.

but not the brawler's guild. it will go to the highest bidders. now, i have no idea how much these invitations will ultimately sell for (other than "over one thousand"). but i do know that when i try to picture how the brawler's guild will look in my head, i don't see a lost, frustrated generation searching to escape the meaninglessness of their lives in some dark basement. i see distinguished gentlemen drinking tea and discussing market trends in an oak-paneled lounge while waiting for some properly attired servant to discreetly inform them that the arena is ready for them now. and that makes it all sound a lot less fun.

blizzard's had a great success with pet battles. brawler's guild clearly has the potential to be another one, but they could screw it up with this nonsensical gating scheme.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

flawless battle-stones

these consumables will be appearing in patch 5.1, and can be used to upgrade any pet to rare quality (there will also be a polished battle-stone which upgrades pets to uncommon, but meh). according to the patch notes,

"players will have a very small chance to obtain a general purpose flawless battle-stone after winning a match against wild pets; defeating higher level opponents increases the chances of obtaining a stone. these valuable items are not soulbound, and can be sold on the auction house."


there will also be pet family-specific versions: flawless elemental battle-stone, flawless mechanical battle-stone, etc. these stones can only be used to upgrade a pet of that particular family, are soulbound, and are won not by fighting local pets but rather will show up in the sack of pet supplies you get from defeating the npc pet tamers.

different, but also interesting.

so, how should we respond to the introduction of these stones when 5.1 goes live? the answer is, of course, however the hell you want. take a team of low-level but high-performance pets out on the road to farm the locals for stones to sell on the auction house? go for it. try to hit every pet trainer daily, every day? go for it. pretty much the same as before, and sometimes say "oh look, a stone"? go for it. there is no wrong way to play.

me, i'm not that excited about the stones, because i already have more rares than i know what to do with. there are a few pets that i like enough that i'd be willing to spend a non-soulbound stone on to upgrade (depending on how the prices settle out, i might even buy the stones). the upgrade priority queue will be sleepy willy, personal world destroyer, creepy crate, sinister squashlingmechanical squirrel, and the enchanted broom (unless i change my mind). after these, i'll probably give away any unbound stones i get to family and friends. i've found my interest in hitting the dailies kind of comes and goes, depending on what else i have going on, and that will probably stay the same. any stones i get from these will probably be applied after careful deliberation of at least three or four seconds.

any pets you folks are particularly excited about being able to give the rarification treatment to?

Monday, November 5, 2012

why i'm hanging out in tanaris a lot

well, for starters, i still need the silithid hatchling, which only come out during sandstorms. so i keep an alt parked in gadgetzan and i periodically hop over to her to check the weather. so far, no luck, or, as my grandfather used to say every morning after moving the family to southern california in the 1950s, "well, another goddam beautiful day."

another reason i can often be found in tanaris is that it is the perfect spot to grind on those "raise x pets to level 10" achievements. the locals are all level 13 which means that (a) they still operate in pairs instead of triplets, and (b) it's almost impossible for them to one-shot a level 1 pet. so i typically run with one baby out front, and at least one 25 for back-up. send the baby in first, let him take a single hit, then swap in big sister to crush the locals. if you only do one swap during the fight (ie, don't use your third pet at all), you can go from level 1 to level 6 with just five fights. getting the next four levels takes a little longer, but with a stable master in gadget for quick repairs and lots of pets not far from the city, it still doesn't take that long. just watch out for the desert spiders - their sticky web ability can snare a baby and keep you from swapping it out before it dies. best to send a level 25 in first, and then swap the baby in for a round against the second local (assuming it isn't a spider also).

so far i've used this system to finish out no favorites and rookie pet group, and i've nearly finished rookie pet crew (just 3 or 4 more to go). then comes the seventy-five pets for rookie pet mob - i suspect i may cheat some on this and trap a bunch of level 9 prairie dogs over in the south barrens for part of this...

anywho, once you've gotten a pet to level 10, if you want to continue to level him you can actually take him to pandaria. again, the odds of getting one-shot at that point are pretty low, and the xp you get for surviving is truly bodacious.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

i twisted their nethers

my friends fim and hydra of the twisted nether blogcast asked me to come on the show and talk about pet battles last sunday. had a really good time, and hopefully managed to say one or two interesting things without too many "uh"s and "um"s and "you know"s. you can download the show here.

we were kind of winging it, which was cool with me, but it meant that they forgot to ask one of the standard questions: "what is your ideal ice cream sunday?" so i shall tell you now. multiple scoops of strawberry ice cream, bananas, fresh strawberries, more strawberry ice cream, whipped cream, and a maraschino cherry on top.

unrelated to the show: apparently if you are a snowy owl in winterspring (or a software developer in southern california) winter begins today. so those working on eastern kingdoms safari can head over there now and check another pet off the list. myself, i figure i'll wait a week and let the crowds die down - might be easier to find one that way.