Category: Mists of Pandaria Beta


As a businesswoman supplying a product, how would I feel if a small percentage of my customers came to me saying, ‘Due to changes you’ve made, your product is now appealing to more people than before and that’s not right. You’re just not listening to me! This is not what I want! You have to change your product back to what *I* want, or else I won’t buy it. I’ve stuck with your product for years. I invested more time in it. Why should others who haven’t invested that time be able to enjoy it as much as I do? They shouldn’t have that, and also I should have privileges. Give them to me now.’

The obvious answer to this of course, (accompanied by an appropriate flippant hand gesture), is ‘off you fuck, dear’, perhaps followed, (if they don’t go away), by a more measured response, ‘I’m running a business, I’m aiming to be successful. You don’t like my product? Too bad. Lots of others do. And no, you won’t be getting privileges. If anyone does, it’ll be the silent majority who simply buy and enjoy what I produce. Bye.’

I wouldn’t tolerate that kind of treatment from a small percentage of customers, and thank the gods (touch wood) I’ve never had to, but this is the situation I’m seeing when, on my Internet ‘car crash spectator’ journeys, I stumble across Blizzard community managers attempting on official forums to deal with the entitled swarm of mannerless nincompoops who are invading these forums to complain about the current and forthcoming changes to WoW. You know, those changes that make more people get to enjoy more of the game? Really bad thing, obviously. It’s best to make people pay a monthly sub to look through a window at a wonderland they’ll never visit. That’s a popular leisure activity, I understand.

What amazes me, and in fact produces awe, is that the community managers don’t turn round and tell these idiots where to go. They are polite and measured. They ‘listen’ and respond with far more respect than is deserved. If it was my business, knowing these complainers are only a minority of my customer base, I probably wouldn’t respond at all, or if I did it would be with the sharp edge of my tongue. Perhaps Blizzard community managers are all on calming medication, or have undertaken rigorous personality tests before they’re let loose in the job. I just couldn’t be that polite to such … well words fail me, or rather civil ones do.

I was told a lovely fact by a guildie tonight. It involved the whole casual vs hardcore conflict, which centres around such sublime assertions that Naxxramas 40 was a great idea; you know, that old raid only 1% of players got to see? 1% of players back when Naxx original was current was around 30,000 – 40,000 people. It’s amazing that the current 1%, i.e. around 90,000 players, laments the loss of this raid they so enjoyed. Hmmm. I’m no mathematician but… The fact is, the figures are bogus anyway. Of that 1% playing in Vanilla WoW, and who raided, how many of those are still raiding now? We can only assume that at least some of them have left the game.

I can only come to the conclusion that a lot of these people sounding off on forums, about WoW dumbing down/becoming too easy/selling out, and being rude and disrespectful to the patient Blizzard community managers, don’t actually attempt (nor ever did attempt) the hardest content themselves. They just like the idea of doing so, spouting off about it makes them look cool, or so they believe, and let’s face it, on a forum no one can tell what you might or might not have achieved within the game.

There are some things that Blizzard does to WoW that I don’t like, and there are other things that I really do like. But at the end of the day, it’s their product, and they are free to do with it what they will. As long as I’m getting pleasure from it, Blizzard will continue to get my subs. If a day should come when that changes, I’ll take my money somewhere else, but I certainly won’t be bleating on a forum, or making videos to display on You Tube, demanding that a successful company should change their product to suit me. I just can’t dispel the nagging suspicion that the majority of people who genuinely go off WoW, or become disappointed with its direction, simply leave the game quietly and do something else that pleases them more. What we are seeing in this tiresomely raw red maw of complaints at the moment isn’t that at all. Is it.

After a shaky start on the Beta, the pet battles are now up and running, more or less as intended. There are still some glitches, such as pets all dropping down dead the instant you begin a battle, and the occasional utter freeze up so you have to forfeit a game and relog, but on the whole it’s a smooth experience. Although you can only revive your pets yourself once every fifteen minutes, most stable masters dotted around the landscape will also do this for you, for the modest sum of 10 silver for your entire stable to be healed and revived.

First, I have to say this is one of the best things brought into WoW for a long time. It’s fun, absorbing and extremely addictive. Like with Archaeology, you have to travel around a bit to track down and train up your pets, but it’s nowhere near as boring as the aforementioned. Each time you begin a battle with a wild pet of the appropriate level, you have the option to capture it once it goes below 35% health. And what turns up in your trap is a surprise: the captured pet can be of grey, white, green or blue quality, i.e. poor, common, uncommon or rare. What this means is that a ‘poor’ pet will have the lowest stats in comparison to a rare, and therefore is not really worth keeping. If you want a particular pet for your team, it’s best to farm the relevant creature until at least an uncommon one turns up in the trap. I didn’t realise this to start with, so am really glad I’ve been messing around with the battles on Beta so that by the time it goes live I’ve got more idea of how to build up my stable and not waste time levelling a ‘poor’. I’m assuming there might well be epic or purple pets in the game too; just not come across one yet.

Pets that you buy, have earned through achievements, or other means within the game, do not have a ‘quality’, but from what I have seen so far, they seem about on a par with an ‘uncommon’ or ‘green’ quality pet from the wild. I bought a Jade Crane Chick from the pet battle trainer in Stormwind (think it’s a limited supply, occasionally available purchase) and it’s one of my best pets.

I also found that pets you might consider a bit drippy and pathetic such as fawns, mice, squirrels and rabbits are no such thing. Squirrels are hard as nails, with their AOE nut barrage! Rabbits and hares can burrow underground and are not weak foes. Mice and rats get a stampede ability to assault your pets with an army of rodents, and fawns, well, don’t get me started on those gits! The standard Fawns you find in places like Elwynn Forest are bad enough. They heal, they annoyingly heal. I got one for my team, but have yet to find a decent quality one, mainly because they’re virtually extinct owing to player numbers in that area. Once I got to Eastern Plaguelands with my pet capturing, (when I had a team of pets around level 10 or so), I was confronted with the infinitely more evil Infected Fawn, which is an Undead pet. This does a soul siphon on your pets that heals it virtually to full for 4 turns on the trot while decimating your valiant critter. I of course swiftly captured one of these for my pet stable. The Giraffe Calf, found in the Northern Barrens also has an AOE heal skill that lingers after they depart the field, as do crabs – who also mix it up with an effective shield to make themselves doubly annoying when you confront them, but handy in your own team. I assume that eventually I’ll come across pets who have silencing abilities that will offset the strengths of healing pets.

Pets also have strengths and weaknesses depending upon what kind of adversary they’re facing. There are several different families of pet – beast, elemental, dragonkin, critter, flying, undead and so on. Some pets perform better against certain families than they do against others. You’re advised of this by a red or a green arrow next to your pet’s skills when they go into battle. A green arrow means your attacks will be strong, a red that they will be weak. Therefore, as you learn about which pets do best against what, you can assess a fight before you start it and choose pets for your team best suited to it. You can only have 3 active battle pets at a time and can’t change these in combat. But you can swap the 3 active pets around as much as you like in between combat ‘turns’.

Another thing I didn’t realise at first is that although only 3 pet skills show on their individual action bars, they will gain more as they level up. You can only have 3 active at a time though, so you need to click on the arrow beneath each skill in the Pet window to select the skills you want to use on them.  I think it’s about level 10 when they get their 4th skill, up to a maximum of 6 at top level.

Once you get beyond the starter level areas, such as Elwynn Forest or Durotar, and you have worked on your pets enough to have 3 available at a time in your team, wild pets will come at you in pairs when you initiate combat. This might make it rather random as to whether your team will work well against the second foe in the fight, since you’re not aware of its exact type before you start, but it will be a creature found commonly in whatever zone you’re in.

The best way to level pets that are lower level than others you might have is to put them in a team with two stronger pets. Put the lowbie into battle first and swap it out before it’s killed (i.e. after one turn most likely). Finish the battle with the better pets, and the lower one will then get bonus experience for the kill. This is the quickest way to level a new pet you might get that’s only available in lower level areas. Rares can turn up anywhere. I got a level 1 rare ghost from Tirisfal Glades.

On the subject of rares, I am finding them in my traps fairly regularly, and am somewhat sceptical this will carry over into live. Pets can be sold on the AH, and Blizzard does love its gold sinks. Commonly dropped rares wouldn’t really hold a price. What astonished me yesterday concerning the AH is the amount of idiots putting pets on there for 500K or more. In fact, few of the pets on the AH are cheap. On a Beta… Why? The only explanation must be that these are people who aren’t on there to test the game, merely treating it like a preview of the real thing. What is the point of trying to make millions on a Beta? Every single bit of gold will disappear into oblivion the minute the Beta is halted. You don’t get to keep anything you acquire on there. I despair of people sometimes. Still I suppose we have to take this as an indication of what prices will be like initially when pet battles go live. It would be great if it’s not too onerous to farm up your own pets rather than rely on the AH (shuddery, horrible memories of my short time in Diablo III, urgh!), so I’m hoping the drop rate for good pets doesn’t plummet too drastically once Mists of Pandaria is released.

Today a Beta patch brought in the new pet battle system – for all of a few hours. By the time I downloaded the patch and started playing, the battles had broken. None of my huge pet collection was available, (it was all greyed out in the list), except for a new pet I’d bought, the Gilnean Raven, from the pet battle trainer in Stormwind. After also purchasing the ability to train battle pets, I took a quest from the trainer to win my first pet battle. This would enable me to train my pets up beyond level 1. Sadly, whenever I spotted a wild pet advertised by a huge green paw on my mini map, and attempted to engage it in battle, both it and my Raven died instantly. From what I was seeing in general chat around me, this was the same for everyone. PvP pet battles were still possible, but you had to have a pet of level 3 or above to take part in those. So it was rather a Catch 22 situation. It seems from what I’ve read on the Beta test forum that the glitch is happening everywhere, the US included. Although from what I can make out, US players were able to test the pet battles for a bit longer than their EU counterparts.

Speculation is that Blizzard will hotfix the problems as soon as they can, since the whole point of having the pet battles available on the Beta is not to please players who don’t quite get what a Beta is for, but the all-important job of testing the system. We can hardly do that if it ain’t working!

I browsed through the lists of pets in the Pet Journal and there are a lot of interesting new additions, as well as scores of the same pet reproduced simply with a different name – particularly snakes, roaches, frogs and rabbits, none of which were particularly exciting to start with. (Really disappointed that clunky old models such as the rabbit and frog/toad are being reused so much. If there was ever a need for redesigning, those two in particularly were screaming out for it.) But there are also many new intriguing pets to hunt down and capture, from undead ones, to those based on new creatures in the game, and from throughout the history of Azeroth, all down-sized to be mini pets. Some are particularly interesting, owing to their history. The Macabre Marionette is listed, which was previously only a temporary pet from the Day of the Dead festival. I assume now that when we get it this year, we’ll be able to keep it. The Onyxian Whelpling was Blizzard’s 5th anniversary pet, available only to players who logged on during that time a couple of years ago. An identical model, Spawn of Onyxia, will be huntable in Dustwallow Marsh. And two previously very rare and expensive pets have also now been reproduced – the Hyacinth Macaw model, worth 10s of thousands on the AH, will apparently (if the pet journal is not to be tweaked or changed in this respect) share its model with a bird simply called a Parrot, catchable in Northern Stranglethorn, Swamp of Sorrows and Ungoro Crater. Another rare and pricey pet, the Firefly found in Zangarmarsh, has an identical counterpart in the Jade Forest that can be caught. Some pets that were rare drops from zone mobs continue to be so, such as the Crimson and Emerald Whelplings, so will still demand a lot of grinding if you want to get them, while others can be acquired perhaps more easily through pet battles with wild pets in the zones. I was surprised about some of these rares being made sort of common, and wonder if (and hope that) the half dozen or so cool pets that were offered only to players in China and Korea for various promotions eventually get the same treatment. There were a couple of nice jewelled panthers, and the Chinese version of the small drakes that we only saw in the Spirit of Competition pet in the West, during the last Olympics. I think my favourite so far, from browsing the list, has to be the Qiraji Guardling, obtained via pet battles in Silithus. This is based on the half insectoid/half woman found in the Ahn Qiraj raids as a hostile mob. She’ll probably be first on my list when pet battles go live and I’m of a proficiency to capture her!

Wish I had more to say about the battles themselves but no doubt the glitches will be sorted by tomorrow.