small-scale violence in the world of warcraft

Monday, December 31, 2012

this might be good to know

the other day i picked up a flawless elemental battle-stone, and chose to use it on my teldrassil sproutling, an uncommon pet i had already leveled to 25. doing this knocked her back down to level 23 - the same penalty you take when you capture a wildling. however, this did not negatively affect my progress towards pro pet mob. today i leveled her back up to 25, and this did count toward the achievement.  just fyi.

Friday, December 28, 2012

pets and those other pets

there's always been a bit of a nomenclature problem in wow. hunters and warlocks and death knuggets have "pets", and so those dogs and cats and baby dragons and blobs of corrosive ooze that follow us around need to be called something else. non-combat pets and companions are terms that blizzard has tried to get us to adopt, but non-combat pet battles sounds pretty silly, so we've all gone with pet battles. which makes them pets, just ... uh ... different than those pets.

now, if you do pet battles with a warlock or hunter or other pet class, sooner or later you bump into a problem - while you're battling, you get put into some little phased bubble so that the wolves and demons and other things wandering around the world don't bother you. however, your pet does not. should something bump into him while you're taking care of business with a bandicoon, you get kicked out of the battle and have to go finish what your pet (no, the other pet) started. which can be mildly annoying or (if, say, you're finally about to capture that scourged whelpling) justification for throwing your monitor out the window. so, try to remember to dismiss your pet (no, the other one) first, if you can.

last night i was doing a spot of pvp'ing. i haven't done much pvp yet because, even though i find it interesting, it's rather a slow process what with queue times and other players taking longer to choose a move than the computer does. but last night i wanted to test out an idea against an all-fluxfire feline team, which some people on the forums say are nearly ubiquitous in pvp. unfortunately, they were not ubiquitous last night, and i didn't get a chance to run my test. another time, perhaps. but something amusing did happen, so i'm gonna talk about that instead.

the game put me into a pvp match and selected the icky smelly swamps of the krasarang wilds for a location. as my opponent and i locked horns in an epic clash of a dead bird against a floating rock, i got a message on my screen: "you have entered combat." the hell? aren't i already in combat? then i notice one of those lizard-man dudes, standing at the edge of the phase bubble, looking really pissed. he's throwing punches and blood is spurting and white and yellow numbers are floating all around him. meanwhile, my opponent and i have moved on to a spider locked in mortal combat with a toy robot. eventually, lizard dude falls down dead. i never did see his opponent, which i assume was my voidlord.

i wonder what would have happened if my demon had lost. would the saurok have come after me? or would he have stood at the edge of the bubble, spitting on me and using harsh language?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

farming the whispering pandaren spirit

one of the more annoying pets used by the npc tamers is the whispering pandaren spirit's elemental pet. this is because if you bring an aquatic pet to maximize your damage, you simultaneously make yourself vulnerable to its flying damage, which is strong against aquatics. the solution is to use a pet which does aquatic damage, but is not itself an aquatic pet. unfortunately there aren't very many of these pets - water jets not being popular with the scorpion crowd, etc.

i've been using frederick, a rare oily slimeling, and his creeping ooze attack, but this is less than ideal, since if you use it every round you overwrite the damage-over-time component. so i end up weaving it in with non-aquatic attacks. much better is an idea my wife had, that i thought i'd pass along:

turn the tables on them. if you've managed to acquire a pandaren water spirit, level it to 25 and it becomes the ultimate air spirit killer. it's elemental, so it isn't vulnerable to flying attacks, but configured with water jet, dive, and whirlpool, it can blast its opponent with a water attack every round. makes this fight hella lot easier.

Monday, December 24, 2012

the alt - f4 saga

one of the unexpected aspects of pet battling was the alt - f4 bug. if you started a pet fight and then killed your wow client, the pet you attacked would reappear in the world as if nothing had happened. this had two possible benefits. one, if you encountered a pet that you knew a friend wanted, you could start a fight and then whisper her to hustle her butt over to where you where. the pet would then be held in your fight until said friend arrived, preventing anyone else from getting it. then you alt - f4, and your friend real quick-like starts a fight with it and can capture it for herself. the second use for this was if you didn't have a turnip out and accidently killed a pet you wanted to capture. alt - f4 and you get a free do-over - pretty much the only one in the game.

this continued for a while, until one day @alexziebart, the editor-in-chief at wow insider, mentioned using it for the do-over purpose to @mumper, the lead content designer at blizzard.  mumper's response can be summed up as "wait what huh? you can do that?" and within days, there was a hotfix and wild pets no longer re-spawned when you killed your browser. this prompted much wailing on the forums, with absolute universal agreement that it was always used by everyone only to help out friends, that it was a social feature that belonged in the game, and that nobody never ever would dream of using it as a cheat to undo their own clumsiness in attempting a capture.

i has a dubious.

now along come the patch 5.2 notes. looking through them, i see the following:

  • fleeing a pet battle will no longer despawn the pet that was being battled, but doing so will now inflict some damage on the fleeing pet battle team.
  • disconnecting from a pet battle will once again respawn the pets you were fighting.
  • any pet that has been killed in a pet battle will now never respawn

  • assuming the game ends up working the way the notes say (not always a safe assumption with pet battles, i have found), here's how i interpret this: if you want to hold a pet for a friend while they're on their way over, blizzard is okay with that. in fact, they won't even force you to alt-f4 - you can just flee the battle and take a small health penalty. however, if you accidently kill a pet you wanted to capture, too feckin' bad. it's gone for good. i'm guessing that if you kill the first pet, his friends won't somehow re-span either. not sure how it'll work if you kill the second or third pet but not the first.

    sounds like a reasonable approach to encourage cooperation among players while discouraging cheating. we shall see how many salute it when it goes up the flagpole.

    Friday, December 21, 2012

    too much of a good thing?

    i think i've gotten about six more pets to level 25 since tuesday. the majority of them didn't do a blooming thing to actually accomplish this, though. they just charged in, got smacked in the nose one time, then ran away and let the big bad 25s do all the work. sometimes (like when bringing a level 3 to my daily whomping of farmer nishi) they would jump four or five levels in a single fight. heady stuff, man, i'm telling you.

    now, when i look at my army, i still see a lot of rares that need leveling. loud mary and dakota boy and dogcatcher and so on. gods only know how many rare bandikoon kits and the like. but still - is it enough? we're only a few months into this expansion, and getting all my rares to level 25 now looks totally doable. shoot, getting all my pets to 25 looks doable. and then what? pvp, i suppose, but will that be able to hold my attention for a year or more, until the next expansion?

    the xp rule change, combined with the safari hat bonus, has been great. i'm really loving it up. but if blizzard isn't able to come up with a lot more pet battle content in the months to come, i'm really worried that they've given us too much, too fast. and I'm getting nervous about the consequences.

    Thursday, December 20, 2012

    blizzard, you have my permission to do this

    from a blue post on the european forums, discussing patch 5.2:

    "the developers are planning to let you have a chance to earn lesser charms of good fortune through pet battles. basically, if you win, you'll have a chance of receiving charms based on your pet level.

    and if a player is below level 90, they'll get experience equal to defeating a yellow creature."

    I'm not raiding these days, or even doing lfr, so more charms is not relevant to me. but getting xp? my army of alts would be all over that like stink on kodo droppings.

    Wednesday, December 19, 2012

    some of the colors of the rainbow

    my on-again, off-again quest to determine what the limits are for naming our pets is on again. these are the results of the latest testing:

    "black", "white", and "yellow" are not allowed. presumably because blizzard wants to prevent fucktwats from using racist names.

    "red" and "brown" are allowed. presumably because blizzard doesn't want to prevent fucktwats using racist names enough to be completely thorough.

    "green" is allowed. presumably because blizzard doesn't give a flying fuck about offending martians.

    Tuesday, December 18, 2012

    change of strategy

    today's rolling restarts are supposed to implement a change in how experience is awarded after a successful battle. up until now, the experience was divided equally among all of your pets which participated (ie, cast a spell or received damage). if any of these pets were level 25, then their share of the xp was lost forever. now, however, the max-level pets will not be included in the division of xp. this means that if you fight a battle with one low-level pet and two 25s, the lowbie will get all the experience, instead of only one-third of it.

    this changes things.

    my standard system for leveling pets has been to pair two of them up with a 25 and go to the valley of the four winds. if the two lowbies can defeat three wildings, that was great because no xp was wasted. but depending on the pets, it was sometimes necessary to suck it up and bring in the 25 to finish things off. now, however, the optimal method is to team a single low-level pet with two 25s. since all the wildings in the vot4w are either a critter or an aquatic, the 25s should be one with attacks that do beast damage (preferably rampage because a cold methodical analysis of this attack has demonstrated that it is fucking awesome) and one that has flying damage attacks. send in the lowbie to take one hit, then pull her out and then let slips the 25s and end the fight as quickly and brutally as possible. having a second pair of 25s available to swap in when the first pair get worn down should be sufficient to keep grinding without needing bandages or a stable master visit until the cooldown on your revive is up, allowing you to keep the party going until your eyeballs bleed.

    myself, i'm going with a rare scorpion and sea gull for team 1, and a flayer youngling and chicken for team 2. there will be pain, blood, sweat, tears, rending of flesh, flinging of parts, screaming, roaring, and much nomming of xp. you get the picture.

    Thursday, December 13, 2012

    odds and ends

    hats! safari hats for everybody! blizzard appears to have finally gotten the taming the world achievement working properly, and julie's and my characters all got their own hat in the mail. so that's a yay. they all also got loremaster tabards, which was a little baffling since i got that achievement over a year ago, but whatevers.

    been doing a lot of leveling lately. mostly taking the various rares i've captured in pandaria and pushing them up to 25, so the top stable now has a number of bandicoons and plains monitors and marsh fiddlers. along the way i hit the pro pet crew achievement. pro pet mob will happen at some point, but not a high priority for me at the moment. at least the reward will now be a rare singing cricket - i feel for those who pushed hard to get the achievement quickly only to get an uncommon one.

    was talking to tome of the ancient about pet leveling, and told her that my preferred method was to let two lowbies pick a fight with a critter in the valley of the four winds, let them each take a hit and swap them out, then send in a level 25 scorpion to rampage on the critter's ass. it gives you a boost over your base damage, in exchange for locking you into the same move for three rounds. not a great move against an opponent than has a real brain and can respond, but against wild crickets and bandicoons it's like a chainsaw vs butter.

    i've picked up five flawless battle-stones in something like 400 battles now - all in pandaria. fighting low-level pets in old azeroth, the drop rate is much lower. four were the same family as the wild pet i battled, and one was a "any family" one. can confirm that you don't need to capture a pet to get the stone, and you don't need for any of the three wildlings to be rares. looks like it's simply a flat percent chance (1%? 2%?) for one to drop, and any special tricks people claim help are just the result of the human brain's ability to see patterns when there's really just noise.

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012

    on the other hand, it's only gold

    my wife started picking up some of the new pets that drop in old raids on the auction house, i believe mainly because she liked how they looked. but she ran out of cash about the time she realized she was actually getting credit towards raiding with leashes. so she gave me a shopping list of what she still needed and sent off to pick up the remaining ones. the viscidus globule was the priciest, at 17k on our server (the others were running 5-10k). a few minutes later:

    she thoroughly enjoyed her mr bigglesworth, and promptly leveled him to 25. i do find the idea of an undead pet that does beast and elemental damage to be interesting, from a mechanics standpoint.

    for myself, i'll be doing it the old-fashioned way (in part because i now find myself with a lot less gold than i used to have). i've resumed working on weekly molten core runs with ratshag, as he pushes towards his 50th exalted reputation, so i figure i've got decent odds of getting the pets from there along the way (picked up a harbinger of flame last week). then the missus said she'd help me farm for the rest. i know they're all theoretically soloable now, but these things always go faster with a healer, and she's good company.

    Wednesday, December 5, 2012

    holy hand grenade of antioch sold separately

    the darkmoon rabbit is a pet which drops off of a world boss that spawns on darkmoon island, also known as the darkmoon rabbit. because it only drops one pet, and only spawns a few times a month, the supply of pets is fairly limited. the pet itself is unique (i think it's the same polygons as the crude basic rabbit, but with a more detailed texture applied). consequently, the auction house prices have been bid to astronomic levels - i was amazed to see it listed for 80k on my server, but apparently 200k is not unheard of. wow.

    now, if you're a pet collector who wants one of everything, then only you can decide how much a unique pet is worth to you. for a pet battler looking for an advantage, though, the value is easy to determine: same as any other rabbit.

    for starters, don't be fooled by the fact that the tooltip is epic. this means nothing, and i really wish blizzard would stop pulling this nonsense. the battle pet is rare. it has the same stats as a rare level one alpine hare you can catch in dun murogh. it does have a couple of unique abilities - huge, sharp, teeth! and vicious streak - but these are sidegrades from the standard rabbit abilities. possibly better in certain circumstances, but also possibly worse. certainly not worth dropping a small fortune for.

    so, if you want a unique pet model, and you understand that's all you're getting, then rock on. but don't get suckered into thinking that because it is hard to obtain or has a pretty tooltip that it is somehow "better" or "op" for battling. 'cause it ain't.

    Monday, December 3, 2012

    flawless battle-stones

    spent a few hours leveling pets in valley of the four winds this weekend. along the way, i picked up three family-specific battle-stones - the kind that can only be used to upgrade pets of a particular family. (note that this contradicts the patch notes, which said family-specific ones only came from battling tamers.) since the valley is full of critters and aquatics, that's what i got. it's kind of unfortunate that the pets most needful of upgrading, because they are really rare and therefore hard to farm for a rare, are also the ones hardest to get a battle stone for. yes magic i'm looking at you - willy needs an upgrade! (apparently you can also get a general purpose battle-stone from battling wild pets, but the odds are super low.)

    anywho, when you get one of these stones, the way you use it is as follows: (1) summon the pet you want to upgrade. (2) target the pet. (3) right click on the stone in your inventory. a little clunky, but at least it works. since rare critters and aquatics aren't too hard to find in the wild, i ended up using my stones on quest reward pets that have a distinctive, if not unique, look. so war pug the perky pug, commodore bob the fishy, and peanut all got the goods.

    got some traffic from folks looking for the polished battle-stone vendor. you can buy them from commander lo ping in townlong steppes - he hangs out in the niuzao temple, out in the islands. i'm not feeling any need to buy these myself - as many rares as i have at this point, paying to make a pet uncommon is not appealing. but not everyone is me, so if it fits your plans, then rock on.

    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    the squeaky wheel gets the worm

    one of the nifty features for pet battles blizzard introduced in patch 5.1 was a safari hat as a reward for completing taming the world. put it on, and your pets get a 10% xp boost, which is always nice, plus it has a dashing and distinctive look. not transmoggable, sadly, but one can't have everything.

    unfortunately when the patch went live last week, they forgot to include the bit of coding that said "send a hat to everyone who already has the achievement". so people complained about being completely surrounded by no hat, and blizzard said "oops. our bad. we're sending them now." and some people got them and rejoiced. but some did not. some hatless people discovered that when they walked into an instance (old school, not lfd) the game suddenly remembered you were supposed to have a hat and *poof* you got one. but some tried this and got nothing.

    the godmother has a good post that shows just how bad this omnishambles is. saturday lead content designer @mumper bragged about how sweet the hat was on twitter, only to have breanni reply "dude. still waiting for mine." if the name breanni sounds familiar, it's because she's the one that's done so much for the pet collecting community with that blizzard made a npc outta her. she's the one running the pet shop in dalaran, the one whose name is on all the in-game mails delivering pets to you. kind of a big deal. hoping this results on somebody gets called on the carpet monday morning and told "you made me look like an idiot. effing fix it now!" but we shall see.

    meanwhile, i got tired of waiting for mine and submitted a ticket saturday morning. sunday, i got a response:

    having customer support send these out one at a time seems rather inefficient, and while it's boa that does nothing for my characters on other servers. but, it does look rather dashing, and it should tide me over until everything gets fixed on tuesday. assuming it does.