So, now you have a few slots and probably a few pets. This is where team building and synergy come in. Yes, I know I sound like I stepped straight out of Office Space in the previous sentence.
The general idea of team building is that there are certain abilities and certain pet types which work together really well. If you can find pets that go well together, you’re frequently far better off than just picking 3 pets at random. A really good example of this is the Howl Bomb team previously discussed on the blog. Each specific member of the team brings something to buff each other, or an ability which benefits greatly from the buffs of the others, and then you annihilate your opponent.
There are a few basic guidelines that almost always apply, all the way up & down the gamut of battling.
1. You almost always want to use pets from different families.
2. Buffs, Debuffs & Weather Effects = Good.
The first is easiest to explain. In both PVE and PVP, most teams you face will have more than one family in its makeup. A family is a subset of pets with common defensive strengths and weaknesses. For example, all Undead pets defend weakly against Critter attacks.
However, if you were to make up a team with a couple rabbits and a squirrel, all critters, and fought a snake and a couple scorpions in the wild, you would have a really hard time winning the fight, because the wild Beasts would eat your Critters alive. If you added a turtle you’d be better off, and a clockwork gnome in your 3rd slot would even things out nicely.
Occasionally in PVP you may get lucky, and your team with a fel flame, water waveling and lil rags will come up against lil bling, a clockwork gnome and a tranquil mechanical yeti, but best believe the next opponent you face will be packing aquatics.
The second point is easy to explain, but as you delve deeper it gets into additional impenetrable Office Space-style jargon. It starts out with the same idea as say, Curse of Elements. If you’re a mage and have a choice between bringing along a warlock friend with CoE or a dps warrior friend with the Sunder debuff, you’d probably bring the warlock, because sunder does nothing for you, and warlocks pretty much exist to give mages buffs. It’s similar with pet battles. If you have an Eternal Strider with Cleansing Rain, you’d be far better off bringing, say, a Curious Oracle Hatchling with Dreadful Breath than a Spider which has no bonus to give to the strider’s abilities and vice versa. That’s synergy.
For lowbie wild fights, the family part is the most important. In the wild, there are usually lots of critters and beasts, and a smattering of aquatics and flyings. For the most part, if you join a wild pet battle, the seconds will be one of those 4 families. There are a few exceptions (winterspring & the plaguelands, for instance) but if your team features a pet which attacks strong against 3 of those 4, you’ll be in good shape. Namely, you’ll want something with beast, mechanical, flying or magic attacks. Some pets have attacks outside their family, so keep that in mind when you make your selections.
If you’re going to level up organically (ie, not through a cascade method), you’re going to want at least 2 teams of pets, so you can swap things around and not visit the stable master every other battle. Keep in mind, you can supplement with caught pets if your current choices fall flat. When I first leveled up, my team included a Terrible Turnip I eventually had to ditch, because he did less against both beasts and critters, so my other 2 pets were pretty much dragging him along. And if you do make a poor choice, you can swap out on the fly without a ton of consequence.
At this point, go level your chosen pets up to level 3 or so. Next post is team building for your very first tamer battle.