Pet PVP 101

Not to get all behind the scenes-y on you, but I look at my wordpress analytics stuff on occasion to see what people are looking for help with. Though really I ought to write more about Unknown Search.

wordpress analytics

So, so helpful. Right now, the thing I keep seeing searches for, and twitter questions about, is pet pvp. It runs the gamut from queries about advanced tactics to just the simple, almost desperate, “pet pvp help”. Though I have been mentioning how fun it is for a month or two now, I haven’t really written much to ease somebody into PVP. Since I just got a relatively glowing plug from that one guy on Eviscerated who does pet battles on this week’s (NSFW) podcast, coupled with ongoing PVP queries from my analytics, I figured it was time to do a beginner’s guide to pvp.

Let me preface with a reassurance that there’s nothing to be afraid of. At worst, you’re going to be out 10 minutes with nothing to show for it.


Let’s be real. We’ve all spent more time than that sitting in far-flung nowheres while we’ve waited on rare tames. Lots and LOTS more time than that. Let’s also say this right now: you are going to lose. Like, a LOT a lot, to begin. I still lose a third to a quarter of the matches I fight, which is an alright win percentage from what I understand. The thing is though, the more you do it, the more you learn, the better you get, the more you win.


My experience is that you should pick 2, maybe 3 teams and use them until you know them in your sleep. This can be a flavor of the month team, like a force swap or a Kun-Lai Runt team, or build one on your own with one of your favorites. I’d recommend starting off with at least one team you know can be successful rather than try to build all your own, but if it doesn’t feel fun to play to you, try a different one. You can’t force a playstyle you hate to feel fun.

I’d recommend listening to the WoW Pet Battle Crew podcast or occasionally Res from the Eviscerated podcast for ideas here (though I need to stress for my younger readers that this is an adult podcast), or this thread on the official forums for ideas on a team you might enjoy. Or, you know, read my site too, or whatever.


That said, unfortunately for my analytics, there is no best pet pvp team. There are good ones to be sure, even overpowered ones, but nearly all of them can be countered once you get a bit more experience. The funny bit is, as you PVP more, you’ll see these team comps constantly, so you’ll know exactly what’s coming as soon as you enter into the match, and you’ll learn how to play your team to beat them.

One of the more overpowered pets, the 3 baby Direhorns, are all mowed down really quickly by my gnome, moreso if I combo it with a debuff. In my experience, buffs and debuffs play a much larger role in PVP than PVE. Though you got a taste of them in first doing so in the Aki fight, players are far more savvy at combining big damage abilities with vulnerability debuffs than NPCs. In general, speed plays an enormous role in PVP, and thus so do speed debuffs, but there are a myriad to watch out for… if you have a debuff up, pay attention to what comes next!


You don’t have an actual physical location when you pet PVP, so you don’t have to worry about the other kind of PVP. Also, your opponent is a placeholder graphic (why I can’t say) so you’re not actually fighting some jerk priest who managed to nab tier 3.


Very unlike PVE, your setup before you queue up doesn’t matter, as you and your opponent both get to choose your first pet after you zone in. This gives you about 30 seconds to look at their team and decide what you want to do. For my teams, I almost always pick a tank pet to lead off, like the Scourged Whelpling, the Crawdad or a Direhorn (though the Direhorn makes a good closer, too). I can take a move or two to figure out what the other team’s gimmick is going to be.


shown: gimmicks.

Swapping your pets in PVP is far more beneficial than it is in PVE. You only very rarely ‘lose’ a turn the same way as you always do in PVE. In fact, your decisions in which pet to play in what order can seriously affect your chances to win. In my Black Claw team, I almost always let my Kneebiter die first, because both my Gnome and Whelpling have failsafes after they die, but I try to make sure to leave the Whelp for last if there’s a pet with heavy elemental damage, because it’ll chew the gnome to bits. Reverse that for critter damage and the Whelpling. Having an Undead pet for your second to last pet is a really excellent idea, because if you win the match on your resurrect round, with no pets left, the fight ends in a draw. In that case, I do forfeit.

People have very different ideas on etiquette here. Personally, with the one exception I mentioned above, I like to play out every match as hard-fought as I can, to see what the other pets can do, to see what their weaknesses are. Some people think this is rude, and think you should forfeit as soon as you ‘know’ you’ve lost. We’re learning, and they can just forfeit if they don’t like it. Besides, you never know what you might be able to pull off at the very end.

If you (yes *you*) would like to, you can contact me on twitter or add my battletag Liopleurodon#1882 to duel for some practice. Or, if you feel I’m a know-nothing noobie noob and want to smash my pets and make me cry IRL, I’ll duel you too. Believe it or not, after you get into pet PVP is fun even when you’re losing.


You just get better stuff when you’re winning and paying attention to your analytics Kardashian baby Amanda Bynes (I think this is how it works).

13 thoughts on “Pet PVP 101

  1. Jabari

    66-75% win percentage is quite good! I don’t believe people that are saying they’re winning 85%+ of matches, unless the player quality on their server is a lot worse than on mine. I only have 30 or so wins, so I haven’t done _that_ much PvP, but I’ve only seen a single non-rare pet and pretty much every team I come up against looks like it’s had some thought put into it.

    My current team is still Clockwork/Scourged/Ooze and is probably around 60%. Lot of draws, too – either I do the “win on the undead turn” bit, or they kill my last guy and the Turrets finish their last guy off at the same time. Doing better against Shields/Sandstorm – Railgun on the Gnome and using Dragonbreath instead of Tail Whip on the Whelpling usually gives me just enough to get through them.

    Aside: As a single strong pet, check out the globule/ooze that comes from Normal/Heroic Primordious. Evolution is insane, and it also has Plagued Blood (!) and Absorb (i.e., kinda good with the Evolution buff). The Scourged Whelpling may not be long for the CWG team if I can somehow get my hands on one of those… *chuckle*

    1. Liopleurodon Post author

      Yeah, some things are really down to server/cluster population and personal experience. It can depend, a lot.

      I’ve been trying to get my hands on one of those blobbies, but I’m too broke, heh. They look like an excellent addition to the team. For now I still enjoy playing this comp, and it wins for the most part, so I’ll keep it. My 2nd team features my Crawdad and Fel Flame, the 3rd one escapes me just now. It’s basically to counter mechanical, weather & undead teams, when I start coming up against those.

      1. Jabari

        Heh I don’t even have a 2nd team right now!
        (Well, I messed a bit with Val’kyr/Val’kyr/(Crow/Water Spirit) – was amusing at times but not all that good. Completely stomped all over Sandstorm/Shields though!)

        Dumb question: How does Sandstorm interact with Elemental pets right now? I don’t believe that the Elemental gets the “10% miss” part of it, but do they get the Shield part of it or not?

      2. Liopleurodon Post author

        They don’t miss more. You can tell because if they’re debuffed the accuracy percent of each ability will be in red and lowered accordingly while the debuff is up. They defend and attack with the reduction though.

  2. socowow

    My highest search keyword is “with clothies as i don t think” – 46. I don’t know what this means so I can’t help them D: That’s exactly how it’s typed to, madness!
    I got really into PvP when they first brought out the weekly quest but after that I seem to have stopped, should pick it back up!

  3. Shealle

    Thanks for another informative & encouraging post Lio!
    I haven’t gotten the courage up to try the PVP battles, although after reading this, I think I’m alot closer. It probably doesn’t help that I feel I need more pets at max (just leveled my 4th to 25).

    I did use your cascading technique to level up my first pet to 25. Since then, been trying to just hit the tamer dailies. I’m stuck in Northend at the moment. Okrut will go down! I get maybe an hour or 3 during the week – so I miss every day getting a pet leveled with the pet tamers I have unlocked.

    Thank you again for the post – this kind of encouragement really helps us noobs out!

    1. Liopleurodon Post author

      I’m still relatively a noob to PVP… I started just before 5.3 for my leveling project. Up til then, there wasn’t a good enough carrot to put in the effort (FUN, psh, what kind of carrot is THAT). The little green direhorn will be mine! I’m just under halfway there.

      The Northrend tamers are pretty much just there to make sure you’ve leveled up at least one of every family. Okrut is the one most people hate, because nobody levels humanoids, and he throws a wrench in the works by making his one dragon an undead. I think he also relies a lot on big bursty abilities, so if you haven’t tried a speedy bunny yet for the avoidance, you might want to.

      But, you’ll get it! And thanks for the comment. :)

  4. Cymre

    I was dreading the Pet PVP matches when the achievement/pet came out but once I started, getting ten wins was pretty easy. The three stones in my first five or so wins didn’t hurt either… not that I’ve had that kind of luck again.

    1. Liopleurodon Post author

      I keep getting the green stones on my leveling character. Bleh.

      And, pretty much exactly. When I saw the direhorn I laid my head on my desk and cried at how cruel everything was. When I actually started PVPing, lo & behold it’s actually kinda fun. lol.

  5. Yoco (@yoco68)

    Personally I have found it useful to make a large amount of teams (with the help of the “PetBattle Teams” addon), switch frequently between them, and keep notes on wins/losses/ties for each team. That way you get plenty of variation, and have something to switch to when you keep bumping into that one team that seems tailored to beating your setup.

    I have about 26 teams set up (makes identifying them by a letter A-Z easy :) ). Keeping notes on wins & losses & ties has multiple purposes. Of course there is the obvious tracking win/loss ratio, but it also helps figuring out which teams are ending up in ties often. And it helps a lot in making visible which teams you have more fun playing (count wins+losses+ties), even if you don’t win as much with em.

    1. Liopleurodon Post author

      Right now I have 3 real ‘teams’ (Black Claw team, turtling rabbit team, force swap team), and then a few variations on those basic teams (eg, raptor & scourged whelp, then gnome or fel flame depending on what I’m running into).

      I’m a total weirdo, in that I know that the force swap team wins most often, but it feels kinda cheap and un-fun so I don’t switch to it unless I’m losing a lot. I’ve noticed though, that when I get frustrated and switch teams is exactly when I start running into the opponents I can beat handily with my previous team, which is why I’m saying to stick with a handful of teams you know super, super well. My playstyle fits me (ie, crazy stubborn) so I know it’s not necessarily for everyone.

      Thanks for reading, and thanks for the extra advice!

  6. Jabari

    Weekend report:
    Team was CWG/Scourged/Ooze. Won a couple, lost a few. It didn’t seem to be working very well, so I replaced the Ooze with a Fel Flame (H/P I think).
    That change turns it from a “DoT team” into more of a “Plagued Blood team” really. The Turret is still nice, but you’re abusing it to heal up instead of using something to make it hit harder.
    It went FAR better after that change – was winning at least 75%, and it might have been better but I wasn’t tracking it.
    Low point: Getting singlehandedly owned by Frosty. This team is a hair weak against Undead as it is, but that was pretty embarrassing.
    High point: Winning, twice, against a complete “use the broken pets” team. Direhorn, Kun-Lai Runt, Bone Spider. Good grief the Direhorn is too strong – that thing is ridiculous, and the upcoming change (1 turn CD on Charge) isn’t good enough to fix it either.

    1. Liopleurodon Post author

      Yeah, I get battles on both sides of that spectrum too. I may or may not have ended up losing a close match to a team with a green quality moth over the weekend, heh. The *best* is when you win against somebody who named their pets something like ‘Your’ ‘Team’ ‘Sucks’, especially when it’s OP pets. Such an emotional rollercoaster.

      I’m glad you’re getting good win percentages, and very glad you’re having fun! (you’re having fun, right? lol).


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