I’ve been seeing breeds mentioned more & more right now, mostly with the addendum, “what are you even talking about? Did you eat a mushroom from outside?”
Um, maybe. Look, I’m a druid. I’m a Worgen. Things happen.
That doesn’t mean that you need poison control on call to understand battle pet breeds, and the benefits of knowing yours. In fact, as you get into the later Pandaren tamers it can be the edge you need to succeed if you know your pets’ breed. After that rhyme I may need poison control after all.
Here’s a bit of pet knowledge you may find surprising. With certain pets, each individual pet with the same rarity has identical stats. All Lofty Librams, all Emerald Whelplings, all Dark Phoenix Hatchlings are identical at level 25. If you level a Celestial Dragon to 25, this is what its stats will be, with no alteration.
You will never find a Celestial Dragon at level 25 with 1648 health, or 239 speed. However, some pets have variations on which set of stats an individual pet will have, and this variation is called a breed.
There are 13 different breeds. Yeah, it’s a lot. But really it’s just combinations of 4 different types of stats–(H)ealth, (P)ower, (S)peed, and (B)alanced–in 2 slots. The first three stat names are rather self-explanatory; balanced means the stat weight is spread across all 3. This is why I tend to go with the X/X notation rather than the numerical. It’s easier that way to tell at a glance exactly what you’re working with. Lord knows there are enough random numbers to remember in the game as it is.
As an example, we’ll contrast my beloved crab Ishmael with another lvl 25 crab I have kicking around.
It’s really obvious to see the differences here. The red crab has over 1800 health while Ishmael has just under 1500. Ishmael has over 350 attack power, and the red crab has just over 250. The difference, besides that garish red color, is that Ishmael is breed 4, or P/P, while Red is breed 6, or H/H.
That bit of jargon means that Ishmael’s stats are assigned to Power (hence the P) twice, as reflected by his radically higher P stat, while Red’s are assigned to Health twice. If you look up Emperor Crabs, you’ll see that they’re also available in the high health version, and that version ends up being identical to Red’s. All H/H Spirebound crabs have the same exact stats as Red, and all P/P Emperor Crabs have the same stats as Ishmael. The reason the pets I cited above all have identical stats is because those pets only have one available breed to choose from.
This is good information to know for a tank. As much as it pains me to say it out loud, the Spirebound crab is probably going to be a better tank than Ishmael because of that increased health pool.
But that’s somewhat relative, and a bit debatable. Crabs are going to be good tanks regardless, and Ishmael’s power stat boosts the amount of healing he does, too, so over a longer fight he may be a better choice anyway. Here, breed just gives you a scale of good to also good. Let’s look at another case where breed can make or break your pet’s functionality:
The big difference here is the speed. The Alpine Hare is S/S, and the Rabbit is B/B. It doesn’t look like an enormous difference, and again, for most purposes the B/B will do just fine. The reason the S/S breed is incredibly popular right now is because with a speed of 357, it is one of the 4 fastest pets in the game.
The critter family perk is to break CC, but this only kicks in at the end of a round after both pets have done their actions. This means that, though they’re not out of commission for very long, a critter which is slower than its opponent will still ‘lose’ the current turn. With the rabbit’s ultra-quick speed, there is only very rarely a scenario where this will occur, making it by default a better pick than a myriad of other critters out there. In general, speed is a very good stat to keep an eye on in PVP because of how it affects swapping, but with rabbits it’s the difference between a win and a loss even in PVE on occasion.
This can also affect which pet you pick as well. Right now you’re probably thinking to yourself that you’d best go farm up a high-level bunny ASAP. The thing is, not all pets have the same available variants. If you want a speedy rabbit, don’t try to run to Hyjal and get an Elfin Rabbit, because you’re going to be sorely disappointed.
There are breed gaps like this throughout the minigame… as noted in my Scooter writeup, there is only one other snail that has the same H/H breed available, while there are 6 or 7 different kinds of snails.
An additional note is that the split of abilities can increase or decrease the total number of stats a particular pet gets. Pure breeds (S/S, P/P and H/H, not B/B) will get full stats. Straight hybrids (eg, H/S) will get slightly fewer stats. Where it gets really messy is when B gets into the act. B/B gets the fewest stats of all, and is generally thought of as the cruddiest breed in any situation. Pure/Balanced hybrids get more stats than B/B, but fewer than the other hybrids. This is explained far better, and with graphs, over at petsear.ch.
So now that we know about breed, how can you figure out what you’ve got in your stable? The easiest way by far is to download an addon. As discussed in my thrilling Addons post, I use Battle Pet BreedID in-game to sort mine out. This is the addon you see displaying the available and current breed throughout the post. If you’re averse to addons, you can also do it on a case-by-case basis using warcraftpets.com or wowhead.com. Each individual pet has sliders for level and rarity, and you can cross-check your pets manually against their database. Additionally, if you sign up for an account with Warcraft Pets and load in your pets via the WoW Armory, the breed, level and rarity of the pet you have in your possession will be pre-set when you look up a pet, removing some of the guesswork.
It’s kind of a complicated idea, but I hope I did an okay job of communicating it. It gets much easier to understand as you use your newfound knowledge to stomp on some pets. Now that you got through all that, I owe you a drink.
Hold your horses John Wayne, five of those bad boys are for me.