I know there are a lot of people out there just dipping their toes in the pet battle water for the first time since 5.3’s launch. This is a technique I personally used on the PTR to get a level 25 pet ASAP. I’ve seen a lot of people discuss and debate how to most quickly grind a single pet to lvl 25 (if you accidentally found this post looking for that information, try elepheagle’s tiered walkthroughs), but not many talk about the quickest way for a newbie to get their first. Once you do get that first one and can start beating tamers which award bags, the whole minigame suddenly gets far easier.
And then sometimes you get junk.
This technique is for people who are higher level, specifically those players who have fast flying. Otherwise this is just as much a huge, time-consuming drag as grinding your pets to level normally. You need to be able to access the stable masters quickly in case you bite off more than you can chew, and fly between zones quickly. I am fudging this a little bit here, because there’s really no way to just randomly start from 0. If you really are starting from nothing this will be a bit more time-consuming just because my trap works more quickly.
To start, you need to grab a pet. Any pet at all! I’m going to start in Dun Morogh, but it doesn’t really matter which starting zone you choose. You’ll also want to set your hearth to your faction’s shrine in the Vale.
So, we start with a level 1 bunny I just bought, and we’re pretending I don’t have my other slots open. Let’s go fight another level 1.
After 1 fight, your pet will now be level 2, yay! Now, fight a couple more pets. If these pets are green or blue, try to trap them. Once you have a green, just kill them (always trap blue pets if at all possible as a rule of thumb). After a couple more fights, you’ll have a level 3 pet, and you’ll be able to unlock your second pet slot. Put the green or blue pet you collected into that slot. If you haven’t found a green or blue, fight one last level 2 and trap it even if it’s gray like mine was, then equip it.
Now, we’ll move from Dun Morogh into Loch Modan (or whichever secondary area is the closest to your starting zone of choice). Here, we’ll fight level 3s and 4s. The fights are a little tougher. You’ll want to trap a level 3 or 4 as soon as you can, even if you get a gray.
Avoid level 5+ if they’re in your area. When you trap that 3 or 4, ditch that level 2 pet you trapped. You don’t have to hit ‘release’ if you don’t want to or anything, just swap in the new pet. Keep in mind though that you can only have 3 of any specific pet at a time, and we’ll be grabbing a bunch of duplicate squirrels and rats and stuff as we go. Keep that bunny (or whatever) for now.
If your first pet from this zone is a 3, use it to grab a 4. If your 4 is worse quality than green, grind until you find a green. Keep that second 4 in reserve. At this point, you need to grind til your first pet hits level 5 to open up that last slot. You can also level up that level 4 you tamed, but by the time I get 2 green level 4s, I’m usually well on my way to level 5 on that first bunny.
You may be able to trap a level 5 before that first pet hits level 5, but it’s very risky to try.
When that last slot is open, drop that 4 you grabbed into that slot, then turn to fight your first level 5. This first fight will be rough, since the lvl 5 comes with a friend. After I get that 5, I try a 6. If I fail, I grab an extra 5. I trap a 6, then make my way to the next zone, because its level range overlaps to 6.
You may see at this point why I’m dubbing this the Cascade Strat. In the next zone, I grab a 7, see if I can take on 8s, grab a couple 8s, next zone.
You can also be less cautious and make larger jumps if you’d like. I was able to go from a full group of 8s in Arathi to tame a full group of 11s in Hinterlands, but if you do it this way you may waste more time than it’s worth on flying to go heal. Part of the reason I pick this particular path is that I can make my way to the Eastern Plaguelands and load a full team of 12s.
Then, I hearth to Vale and port back to Stormwind (Horde players can go to any city, then use the Dark Portal port). Next, I go to Deadwind Pass. That’s the only place, as far as I know, where there are pets above level 15 that show up without friends.
The leap you can take in level makes it totally worth it even if you screw up a couple times. The first one is a bit difficult to nab, so you may need to go back & forth to either Duskwood or Stonard to heal up. If there are no Arcane Eyes or Restless Shadelings up (the latter being generally super rare, so keep one if you cage it!) go straight to Swamp of Sorrows. You’ll find both 14s and 15s there. Be sure to avoid the 15s until you have a full team of 14s. It’s not nearly the pushover as if you had the arcane eyes though.
I load up 2 arcane eyes regardless of quality, then backtrack to my first triple match in Swamp of Sorrows. My Eyes will dispatch the pets easily even with that level 12 anchor (replace that one ASAP, obviously). If you have 14s it might be hard-fought.
One big issue starting now is that from here on out whenever we tame something it’s going to lose a level. When we hit level 20s, they’ll lose 2 levels. I’ll tame a 15 in Swamp of Sorrows just to ditch that one level 12 (and it’ll become a 14) and make sure 15s are doable with my current team, then move on to the Blasted Lands for a tame or two. After that, we cross the Dark Portal. From here, my path is Hellfire to Blade’s Edge to Netherstorm. I start off with taming pets on the lowest side of the level range and move to the highest in each zone.
After you have a team of 19s and 18s, go to Dalaran, tame in Crystalsong and Dragonblight then use the portal again to hit up Pandaria. I would stay in Crystalsong, but there never seem to be pets up there. Again, I’m being a bit reckless so you can take it slower and try less disparate matchups and tames if you’d like. If you’re having trouble try going to Deepholm. The portal there makes it a quick stop.
If all goes according to plan you’ll make it up to Pandaria and level 23 without much trouble.
Well, close enough.
When you do, you have 2 options.
One is to grab your favorite ‘real’ pets, like a cinder kitten or perky pug and start leveling it using the swap method I outlined in this post. You can throw in the lower quests too, to get bags and begin to open dailies for yourself.
The other is to finish the grind with these temporary pets. There are 2 issues with doing so. One is that, unless you tame a blue, you’ll want to stone any pet you’re going to keep. Above level 15, all pets lose 2 levels when you use a stone on them so that puts you at level 21 at best to start, or you have to repeat that last couple of levels when you use the stone. 21 to 23 isn’t a horribly long grind, but at those levels it adds at least 20 minutes onto your time. The other issue is that, unless you stone or get rares, you likely won’t have the offensive oomph to do very many tamers after you hit the Outland ones. Several Northrend tamers in particular are very difficult unless you have the right matchup to beat them. You’ll be able to beat Lydia Accoste and Stone Cold Trixxy easily with 23s though, which means you get bags, bandages and all that fantastic stuff. It’s up to you!
Personally, I would do the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor tamer things ASAP, because those bags are really invaluable.
Doing this on live servers took me roughly 3 and a half hours, so it’s far faster than grinding up the same baby pets. The disadvantage is that this feels almost a bit mercenary. You don’t get a chance to develop favorites or figure out matchups. You’ll also have to go back and collect the pets you want, where if you do it normally you’ll organically get a large bulk of them as a matter of course.
A few final words. Believe it or not there is more to say! Alright whatever.
Try to make sure you’re using at least 2 different families of pets in any team. There are a lot of critters out there, but if you have an all-critter team and suddenly find yourself facing a critter whose backups are both beasts, you’re probably in trouble. I generally found it easiest to just look for water when I first enter a zone, then tame a frog or crab. Aquatics usually have a heal or other defensive ability which gives them a lot of extra longevity against a higher level, especially if it’s being stubborn about getting in the trap. Also, because of the change to accuracy, you’ll want to use 100% chance to hit abilities whenever possible. When you fight higher level pets, your pets have a 2% additional chance to miss per level, so every little bit counts.
Good luck, baby tamer. Pandaria awaits you!