I’ve devoted a lot of time recently to hashing out strategies for the end-game of pet battling. While I was doing so, it occurred to me that I’ve barely touched the topic of starting out, leveling from scratch, and how to build your teams. So, I’m doing this brass-tacks set of strategies for pet battling.
To start at the beginning, we’ll go to any pet battle trainer. There are some in most lowbie zones and capital cities, but the 2 most notable, depending on your faction, is either
Audrey Burnhep in Stormwind,
or Varzok in Orgrimmar. Varzok is on the upper level, near the flight master and the zeppelin towers.
Your initial cost can vary a bit depending on your reputation. The trainers will also sell you a pet that varies depending on your race. If you’re a Worgen, for instance, you’ll get a Gilnean Raven from Audrey (or any other pet trainer), while if you play a Blood Elf you get a Golden Dragonhawk Hatchling from Varzok. It’s fairly likely that you’ll have a pet or two from a holiday or something kicking around in your pet log, and you can use those as well. You’ll only get one pet from your trainer per character, so you can’t endlessly purchase and then flip those Ravens onto the AH for a tidy profit.
All your pets are shared across your account, so if you’re on a fresh character or bank alt you’ll keep all the pets you already collected and leveled. This can make for some quick cash if you’re rerolling to a new server.
To view your pets and set up your team, open your pet tab (either shift – p for the non-pet classes or click the pony in your minibar and then click on the Pets tab). Yours will be slightly different, because I have a bazillion battling addons. You’ll see all your pets over to the left, with your team pane in the middle, and a selected pet up above. There’s also a search box above the pet list (I was looking for squirrels).
To put your pet on a team, drag the picture of the pet over on the left to the battle slot you want. To start, you’ll only have one, but will add more as you level up. You can swap to a different pet by dragging a different pet’s picture over the icon of the first.
In PVE, the pet in your first slot will always join the battle first, and you’ll have to burn a turn to move that first pet out. In PVP, you get to choose who enters the battle first after you start.
You can sell many pets by right clicking their name on the list to the left and hitting ‘Put in Cage’. You’ll get a cage item in your bags and can then AH or trade at your leisure. When you do so, you can’t use that pet anymore. You can re-learn it if you’d like, though. It will retain its breed and level. If you choose to buy a pet off the AH, you can only learn it if it’s your current highest pet’s level or lower… if you just buy a level 25 right this second, you won’t be able to learn it. You cannot cage any wild pets, and there are a few outlier pets which can’t be caged either (eg, the Creepy Crate).
So, now for the actual fights! To find wild pets to fight, look at your minimap. The battling display should be on by default, but to make sure, right click your map and make sure the ticky box next to ‘Track Pets’ is checked.
Should you see a green paw print on your map, it will correspond to a wild pet with a green paw print hovering over its head.
Any pet with a paw print like this is ready for a fight. If you walk up to one and right click it, you should be drawn into your first pet battle! You do need to be out of combat (if you right click while in combat you’ll just auto attack and kill it, and if somebody PVPs you, even with a non-damaging ability, you’ll immediately drop the fight), and you need to be standing on level ground with enough space around you for battling. If you’re swimming or flying, or in a weird place, such as standing on the edge of a cottage (a completely hypothetical example apropos of nothing), you’ll get an error message.
If you walk around a little bit you should be able to find a place to battle. The battle is seeded from your position, not the pet’s.
At first, you’ll only have one ability for your pet to use. The other slots will unlock as your pet levels up. You will also have a few other player-side options. You can trap the pet once it gets low enough, swap your pets around, forfeit the match, (doing this for non-tamer battles will cause your pets to take 10% damage), or pass your turn. For most of these, you can use hotkeys. Your pets’ abilities are 1-3, swap is 4 and trap is 5. Pass and Forfeit don’t have default hotkeys, so you have to click those buttons. You can see these hotkeys at the upper right of each ability box on the toolbar.
The actual fighting is fairly intuitive when you’re starting out. Just use your pet’s available abilities. You should be able to decimate most pets in starting zones. Generally, if your pet happens to have a ‘strong’ ability, use it. Avoid using ‘weak’ abilities. You’ll be able to tell by the green up arrow (strong) or red down arrow (weak) displayed on the button (eg, the first ability in the screenshot above is strong). If you’d like to capture that pet, use your trap. The catch to trapping is that you can only use the trap when the wild pet’s health is below a certain percent. You may get an unlucky crit and kill the pet, or your trap may miss enough that your pet dies.
After a fight, your pet will likely be hurt or dead. Don’t worry! As a beginner you can either use the free ‘revive pets’ ability, which is right beneath the X close button on your pet tab, or go find a Stable Master and pay 10 silver. You can’t use the free heal within 3 minutes of logging in a character, because it has a 10 minute cooldown, and they don’t want you to just log on an alt, heal & log out to circumvent the cooldown.
If your pet isn’t hurt too badly, you may want to continue fighting. If your pet levels, they refill their HP completely, and after each win they’ll heal a little bit.
And now, you can go out and fight more pets! HOORAY! When your pet hits level 3, your second pet slot will unlock. You can either add a different vendor pet, or a pet you’ve trapped, to your team. The next post in this 101 series will focus on the basics of team building.