The Infested Bear Cub: The most distressing Mini Pet in-game

When I ride through Hillsbrad I give those bears with the spider eggs on their back a wide berth because I have this visceral moment of fear whenever I set eyes on them. However this little cub inspires another sort of reaction.

I’m left wondering why my heal pet button doesn’t cleanse those evil eggs off his little back.

He and his similarly effected brothers and sisters can be found with their parents running around between the mine and the Sludge fields.

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My guilty secret: Pet Battles and Me.

I have a confession to make.

I hate pet battles.

I want to like them, I really do. I’ve been a pet collector in-game right from the very start. I sold the clothes off my Night elf’s back to buy my first pet, a bombay cat and ever since then I’ve run dungeons, quested and grinded my way to various pets. I’ve bought them from the pet store and the auction house. I’ve even jousted just for pets but the truth is, pet battles leave me cold.

I love the detail which has gone into the flavour text for each pet.

I’m in awe of the huge scope of both pet families and models which will become available to us and I already have a sort of wish-list in my head. I wanted quite a few of the new pets for years and now we’re finally going to be able to get them. In fact the only way they could improve in that regard is if they made a mini harpy (which is clearly a huge oversight on Blizzard’s part). In fact I look at the different spells available to the pets, to the love and attention shown to them and then I look at my own class. At the clunkiness of Chakras, Power word: Solace and Holy Nova requiring a glyph slot and I feel slightly annoyed.

Then there is the actual battling itself. In the average battleground, Sprout uses over forty five different buttons/binds on vud’ho. Now that includes both defensive and offensive spells, drinks, racials, trinkets, nets, pots and cooldowns and would be much higher if I included her party favours for graveyard camping. In the pet battles, each pet has three abilities and as you level, each of those three slots ends up with a choice of two abilities to fill it. So you have a stunning choice of 6 abilities per pet but you can only use three at once. To make matters worse, at least from my perspective, the only interaction I have is choosing which pets and which of the few abilities to use. There is no equivalent of the hit cap, instead I’m a 100 percent at the mercy of RNG which can be frustrating to say the least. I suppose I’m so used to being able to improve my performance through the use of addons, keybinds, talents, enchants, gear and consumables that paring everything down seems unchallenging and almost boring. Sure you can cherry pick your team but to me at least that’s another issue. I have certain favourite pets, these aren’t particularly special creatures but they have meaning to me. They are the ones that ideally I would want to use in the pet battles but it’s hard to ignore the fact that other pets would have a higher success rate, perhaps due to the whole rock, paper, scissors effect or simply because they have better stats. So far I’ve just been steam rolling my way to victory with a suboptimal team but I’m not sure I can do that all the way.

Once you’ve captured the pets, the frustration doesn’t end. All critters aren’t created equal which means that quite often you find yourself having to let go of little Flopsy the cottontailed bunny because he’s a common bunny and you’re after his rare big brother. I’d much prefer it if there wasn’t a cap on the number of pets we are allowed. 500 seems like a decent number until you start doing the maths.

Now of course there are some plus points, seeing a horde of rats run at an unsuspecting critter is always good for a smile plus it reminds me of the many day trips to Hamelin I had to go on as a child. I’m hugely in favour of anything which gets people out of cities and into the world (unless of course they’re the jerks who like to follow people around trying to kill the critters people are trying to battle). I imagine that just like with Archaeology the gankers will be out in force for the first few months of the expansion.

Will I partake, yes. I at least want to collect my very own baby Vermling but I don’t see myself going beyond that point. I’ll pick up the various pet models that I like along the way, oddly enough, most of these despite being labelled “tiny” are bigger than my Gnome but I miss the complexity of playing my actual characters. I also don’t like the anonymity of the whole system. What’s the point of keeping score without recording losses? In a way I find it a bit insulting that Blizzard are basically implying that the whole pet collecting community can’t take competitive combat. In my experience at least, knowing who just flattened you can go a long way into pushing you to improve, something we should all be striving for. WoW is a multi-player game in which we compete on so many levels, why should this be exempt?


In short, pet battling feels a bit like a single player Strand of the Ancient, only the demolishers have cute little faces.

BETA: There is something terrible in the Turnip Patch

This little chap to be precise, the terrible Turnip mini-pet.

So how do you farm him up?

When you start work on your Tillers farm, (which by the way you can currently do at lev 85)  you can ask Jogu the Drunk for crop related tips. I followed his advice and the next morning when I was harvesting my carrots, I got this “interesting” looking seedling from amongst my crop.

Once planted, it turned into a spiky looking plant and the following morning, I found this:

I tried again on another character and didn’t get an ominous seed however the advice I got that day was to plant witchberries so I’m thinking it’s either got to be a root vegetable like carrots (what I originally planted on Sprout) or it’s just a random chance to get. Either way, starting off your Tillers rep and also growing lots of ingredients for cooking as soon as possible is probably a good idea. My advice today was to plant carrots again, so hopefully there will be a seed awaiting my Monk tomorrow.

So far the only idle animation he has is a sort of roar, where he throws his little leafy arms up into the air but when you pull him out, he leaps out of the ground rather adorably.

All in all, another reason to play around with the Tillers.

Choices

The more I play and read about the beta, I find myself struggling with an unexpected dilemma. Do I keep playing my Priest even though I’m not 100 percent happy with some of the changes or do I switch to my Druid?

Whilst I do want to get back into raiding at some point during the next expansion, given the fact that I’m about to start a new job in a new city a month before MoP is released, plus we’re going to be moving house in the next couple of months, raiding other than LFR is out of the question probably for the first tier. So it’s not the PvE side of things which bothers me, after all I was healing heroics at the start of Cataclysm despite the “Oh, it’s a priest…. this is going to suck” comments from my party members. In the words of the song, “I can get by“, grumpily sure but I’d manage.

My problem is PvP which brings with it a whole new set of issues and problems. The thought of losing to certain people, the ones that my current Disc Priest can happily beat in one v ones at the moment despite the fact that they’re similarly geared and dps specced is enough is to make Sprout curl up into a ball and cry (I know I probably have that effect on them but that’s totally different okay!). We’re losing so many of the tools I use on a day to day basis and getting little in return.

  • No more shadow cast time spells. Ignoring the kick/interrupt aspect especially when fighting melee because you can get around that, smite just doesn’t have same oomph as “mind blast” or “mind spike” in terms of the imagery it conjures up.
  • Mind control being a talent with a 30 second cooldown. This is perhaps my biggest issue because  I use it a lot in PvP. It’s won me arena games, it’s allowed me to hold nodes solo in maps like AB and of course throwing people off cliffs is priceless.
  • Losing our damage reduction talents. Resilience will probably fix it but you never can tell.
  • No more holy nova unless you glyph for it but you can’t afford the glyph slot because you need a whole bunch of other glyphs to get back the stuff which has become optional but isn’t really for PvP. Now I know mind sear works just as well for killing snakes and stopping people from tagging flags but when you’re solo, it doesn’t help you find the rogue that you know is sneaking up waiting for his moment.
  • Mana being a bit of an issue. Although not sure this is a real issue, at least in random battlegrounds because drinking is always an option if you’re careful.
  • The cooldown on dispels helping create an issue with mobility, something Priests have always had a bit of an issue with.

Which brings me to my Druid. A class that like the Priest I’ve played since vanilla and just like the Priest I have multiple Druids scattered across servers. I lost interest in the class when Tree of Life was introduced because it went against everything I loved about mine. I didn’t want to be stuck in one form, which all things considered was a bit odd since I’d spend hours chatting away to people sprawled in catform next to a brazier in Ironforge, purring at passer bys. I kept trying but I couldn’t bond with mine any more. The final straw was feral charge being moved out reach of Resto and my Druids, disillusioned and angry became feral and balance. I went back to Resto last season because playing the underdog is always interesting if not always fun. Tree form as a cool down, not a permanent form definitely helped too. I like being able to blend in, not being the healer instantly recognisable by anyone because they look like a slightly past its sell by day stick of broccoli.

In terms of off-spec, I’d much rather be Balance or kitty cat than Shadow which is a plus for the Druid. Also who doesn’t love pouncing people. But then am I looking back with rose tinted spectacles. The days of being able to tank 5 mans as Resto merely by changing your gear are long gone. As are the days of perhaps my Druid’s greatest triumph, holding the Blacksmith solo versus five or six well geared Horde through feral charge, cheetah and lots of healing whilst reinforcements rode in.

Perhaps it’s time to play something else entirely. After all, having healed for over seven years maybe it’s time to just dps and let someone else take care of the healing. Both the Druids and Priests have some fundamental flaws at their core, healing mushrooms and chakras for example. I’m not also hugely in tune with Blizzard’s movement towards pushing healers into dpsing because to me it’s for the wrong reasons. You should be dpsing to dps, not to gain mana or boost your healing. I suppose that’s partly why I’ve grown to prefer PvP healing than raid healing even though I still miss the buzz of downing bosses with people I generally like. In raids it becomes routine, you learn what the boss does and figure out the optimal strategy to counter that but in PvP that’s not possible because there are too many variables to consider.  Of course there is a rough order to your spell choice/the abilities you choose to counter the enemies choices but it pushes you to find uses for all your spell book. Whilst both are dances, in pvp especially encounters outside rated/arenas it’s like comparing “Strip the Willow” (PvE – formulaic unless someone screws up) done properly to a wedding disco where everyone is dancing to a totally different beat (random battlegrounds). Arena should be more like ballet but often ends up resembling the disco too. I suspect the over all theme here is that most people can’t dance. I actually got knocked unconscious once doing Strip the Willow because my partner had two left feet and far too much muscle. The fact that we were both drunk at the time was purely accidental.

Of course, the eventual end-game will be to level them all my characters but which one will come first, right now I’m really not sure and that is a source of great frustration.

World PvP Powerless: Some are more equal than others.

This is a rant so if you are of a nervous disposition you might wish to look away now.

The only thing that doesn’t work is PvP Power-fueled healing. At the moment, you only gain the healing benefit when in BGs and Arenas. The reason is because that we don’t want PvP gear to be super effective for PvE content (useful is fine, but super effective is not). 

That design goal is easily met for damage dealers, because they won’t benefit from PvP Power when damaging creatures. Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple check for us to determine if a healer is healing damage done by PvP or PvE. In an Arena or BG you can make that assumption, but in the outdoor world you may be engaging in world PvP, or you may just be questing. 

Ghostcrawler.

No no no!

The healing component has to work everywhere out in the world because PvP, especially on PvP servers is often just a heartbeat away. Doing dailies is just an excuse for outright war and as a healer under this system you run the risk of being damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

The world should be consistent, the second you start having to have rules within rules it points to bigger issue, highlighting that the PvP Power system is flawed. This is like trying to use a bandaid to stop the Niagara Falls, futile, frustrating and something which will need fixing in the long run.

Group questing is a joke as it is, on the beta I haven’t really come across a quest that we needed more than 2 people for and I’m sure that on most quests a handful of dpsers with zero healers would have managed. As for World Bosses, long term they’ve never been taxing in themselves, the hard part is usually cross faction guild competition, i.e. World PvP. Neither of these is a good reason to start treating healers like second class citizens. The game isn’t balanced around low levels and it shouldn’t be balanced around group quests or the difficulty of a World Boss where you could technically use four separate raids.

We are considering just letting PvP Power affect healing everywhere but dungeons and raids. That would solve world PvP and only risk unbalancing group questing and world bosses. Even the world bosses probably don’t represent a huge game balance risk, given that the option always exists to get tons of players together to zerg them.

Ghostcrawler

Yes please. The other point to note is that by the time we all have enough PvP Power to make a difference, group quests and dailies are hardly going to be relevant content that the game needs any form of balancing around.

Just like Death and Taxes, World PvP will always be with us but group quests come and go. I just two manned the Crucible of Carnage in PvP gear…… oh noes, what an exploiter I am. Oh wait, it’s hardly relevant content and to be honest even if it was, it still wouldn’t make up for me dying to some random dpser who got 100 percent of the benefit of his gear whilst I only got a fraction of mine. Lets take me and Mr Harpy, we PvP a lot but we both put in the same effort in to get that gear and thus should always get the same benefit from it. Stats shouldn’t just turn on and off because you zone (unless it’s a raid/dungeon).

If Blizzard want content to present a challenge then make it hard, don’t penalise healers.

BETA: On Fairytales and Folklore

One of my favourite aspects of WoW is the merging of fairy stories and folk lore from our world into Azeroth. My Warlocks all make a point of visiting this slightly suspect character

whenever they are in Kalimdor because her namesake was such a staple of my childhood. My Grandmother and Great Grandmother used stories to explain everything, no question ever phased them and they had a tale for everything. Don’t stray from the path because there are big bad wolves lurking amongst the trees whose only wish is to eat you up. Always be polite because you never know who you are talking to and of course, always do what Grandmama says.

In Northrend we have the Frog Princess and the Darkmoon Faire gives us Rona Greenteeth, that charming lady who sells rather dubious edible goods, the WoW version of this delightful creature. Wherever we look there are the images, the monsters and the heros from our childhoods transformed yet again.

So when I first zoned into the Temple of the Jade Serpent, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. The first boss was interesting enough but it was only as we cleared towards the second I started to get excited. The trash mobs seemed familiar, not their models but their names.

I knew somewhere I’d seen or heard of them before but the answer lay just out  of reach, dancing away from me. It was only after we had finished that I realised why they seemed familiar. I had seen them before, not of course as WoW characters but as illustrations in a book.

Which made perfect sense, the library had come to life, animated by Sha magic. From each scroll had come the trash mobs, sliding from the pages into flesh and blood for us to slaughter.

The Nodding Tiger, the Talking Fish, the Golden Beetle and the Two Jugglers, all there, a child’s dream or nightmare come true.

If you aren’t planning on doing anything to prepare for Mists, do one thing for me. Go and research the stories behind these characters. Get to know them before you put them back where they belong, back on the shelves. As a starting point check out this and don’t forget to look at the illustrations because who knows, they might escape. After all, anything is possible.

BETA: Ravens, Cranes and Crabs

When I first started playing WoW, I came across the Crazy Cat Lady whilst trying to find Westfall and knew that I had to have a cat of my very own.  Unfortunately however, at that point I hadn’t quite found the AH or really got the hang of making money at all, so scraping together 40 silver was a little tricky. I got there in the end though and by lev 18, I had my very own Bombay cat following me. As I made more characters, I quickly discovered that there were more pets to be had and set about locating them. My first ever Gnome got lost in Dun Morogh trying to track down the rabbit seller and some sweet Norwegian ran from Darnassus all the way to Tanaris to give my Warlock an owl as a token of his affection (he wasn’t quite level 40 and so it took him slightly longer than it took us to clear ZF to get there). I loved the idea of most of the races having a pet associated with them as it added to the flavour of the starting zones and home cities. Visit Orgrimmar and buy a snake or come to Exodar and purchase a moth, just a little something to set them apart.

So when Cataclysm was announced, I admit to being disappointed that the Worgen and Goblins didn’t come with their very own pets. However with the coming of MoP, it looks as if that is about to change.

At the moment, the Pet Battle Trainers will sell you a pet based on your race.

The rather large and glossy Raven for the Worgen. A must I would say for any Shadow Priest, especially when combined with the shadow raven glyph.

A white Crab for the Goblins.

And for the Pandarens, a very pretty delicate little crane, the Jade Crane Chick.

Assuming this will be the only method of obtaining these pets, I think it’s a great idea. It pushes people into playing through each of the phased start zones at least once if you want these pets on your account as well bringing a bit more flavour to the races.