How to build a good PVE pet battle team
Even your very first foray into the melee will require you to slot your precious little fuzzy friends into a pet battle team. However, some teams are more effective than others, and if you want to start conquering those big challenges (like the new legendary pets coming in patch 6.2) you’re going to need to learn how to build a good team. Here’s a bit of insight on how I pick battle pets to fill my teams, and advice to help you build your own.
The first team any newbie is going to need is one to grind out battles in the wild and trap more pets. This is also a good place to start talking about the general steps in how I make decisions of which pets to add to a team. I’ll be using a few concrete examples to describe the process and post the final screenshot of the team first so you can trace the logic I used get there.
Ready? Too bad, let’s go.
Wild Grinding Battle Pet Team
The first member on most teams I make to grind out in the wild is the Terrible Turnip or Molten Corgi. On most teams you create, you’ll need a special tool for a specific job. In other situations it’s usually dodges or big buff moves, but here it’s a move that makes it so you won’t kill a pet you’re trying to tame. If I don’t have everything I want from an area I definitely don’t want to take the chance killing the pets I want to trap accidentally, so that Weakening Blow-style move is an essential for my wild grinding team. If I don’t need any tamed pets, I just double up on pets from the next paragraph. The Corgi and Turnip are overall cruddy battlers.
As long as you keep family interactions in mind you’re usually going to have a good time. You can find these interactions by mousing over the circle icon next to the text that says their family type, or by mousing over any ability in your journal. Keep in mind that many pets have off-family abilities too. My Perky Pug, a Critter, has several Beast moves. In most zones you’ll do fairly well with a pet that deals Beast or Flying damage because most zones have a lot of Critters (which Beast hits strongly), Beasts, Aquatics (which Flying hits strongly), and Flying. Having a pet that can deal damage to hit one of these strongly while avoiding others, like a Kun Lai Runt (Humanoid, so defends against Critters, with some Beast moves), can be doubly beneficial. Each zone and area has a unique spread of pets to counter, so you’ll want to tailor your team around your environment. If you’re in an area with a lot of frogs and other watery creatures, like the Vale in Pandaria, a Flying pet to dominate all those Aquatics is a good idea.
A unique note for wild pet battles is that you’ll likely want to pick something with a bit of longevity. Some heals, some avoids, a shield, things like that, so you don’t have to mend up after every battle. Cats are pretty good choices because you’re going to be able to Devour a whole lot of pets while you’re grinding. This isn’t necessary if you’ve got a ton of bandages, are near a stable master, or have a few pets you can swap in, but I find that breaks my flow so I avoid it when possible.
Lastly, for wild grinding I like to add in a pet that needs a bit of leveling. I usually go for a relatively high level pet for grinding so they don’t get one-shot when they’re collecting their XP and can go a few rounds before getting swapped out.
If I were grinding in Gorgrond, which tends to have very heavy Flying & Beast contingent, a good team would feature my Molten Corgi, my Emerald Proto-Whelp with Emerald Bite to tear through Flying pets and Ancient Blessing to stay healthy, and a level 21 Twilight Wasp.
PVE Encounter Battle Pet Team 101
For this one, I’ll discuss specifically my team to battle Taralune from Talador. PVE teams are generally built around countering your opponent’s known moves more than anything else.
Off the bat, it’s easy to see Taralune’s pets are all Flying with lots of Flying moves, so picking a pet from the Dragonkin family will defend against Flying attacks. Similarly, if we choose pets with Magic attacks, they’ll hit Flying harder. If possible considering the size of your personal stable, we’ll be cross-referencing those two things: Dragonkin pets with Magic moves. I find it easiest to do this using either the Pet Journal Enhanced or Rematch addons discussed (and linked) in a previous column, but you can do so manually too if you’d like. Keep in mind that even using those addons you’ll still have to comb through your results a bit. For instance, this will include the Infinite Whelpling in our search, and its sole Magic ability, Weakness, deals next to no actual damage. If I don’t have a ton of pets to choose from that work in both categories, I may keep that pet in mind as a backup.
When we join in and try out the fight, I find that the biggest issue to contend with is Taralune’s second pet, Grace. It casts Call Lightning, a weather effect which deals damage on every hit done. Because Grace and Atonement both have abilities which hit multiple times, it’s very beneficial to have a pet on our team which can change the weather.
The cross-section between Dragonkin, quality Magic abilities and Weather is a narrower list: the Sprite Darter Hatchling, Nether Faerie Dragon, and Emerald Whelpling all have Moonfire, while Lil’ Tarecgosa, the Nexus Whelpling and the Bronze Whelpling have Arcane Storm.
When deciding on a final strategy it becomes obvious that Serendipity, with both an avoid and a stun, is a bit of an issue to deal with because of its longevity, so I’ll backtrack a bit and choose a Dragonkin pet with good Magic Damage and some heals or avoids of its own: either the Emerald Whelpling or the Emerald Proto-Whelp. The second slot belongs to one of those triple threat pets. I usually choose the Nether Faerie Dragon, largely because that Moonfire buff helps a lot with Magic DPS burst.
The third slot is the one I use for leveling. In this particular fight, I can sneak in a level 5 or so in the first slot without compromising strategy too much, because Serendipity uses a stun immediately — so the level 15 Frostwolf Pup goes in first. Even if I led with my battling pets it wouldn’t affect the fight too much in this instance. Your placement of the carry pet can vary greatly depending on the fight, but because the moves are scripted, drop it in when you know your opponent is going to use a lower-yield move.
PVE Encounter Battle Pet Team 201
The big guns. No leveling slots here. For most tough encounters, there’s not a lot of point in keeping a leveling slot. Especially in the case of single-pet fights, the XP granted for the headache gained is not a worthwhile trade. In addition to regular old counters, we’re going to add in synergy combos. Aside from marketing buzzwords this means we’re going to stack buffs, debuffs, weather effects and whatever else we can to hopefully implode our opponent. This time I’ll pick Lucky Yi, the Beast of Fable from Valley of the Four Winds in Pandaria as our example.
Most of the big, single-pet bosses have some kind of buff like Elite, which means you’ll just have to work harder to do any damage at all. This is where synergy comes in. There are some pets with excellent self-synergy but in this case we’re going to use the whole team to make it work.
There are two basic types of debuffs: additive and multiplicative buffs. Additive are the ones like Black Claw, which increases the damage done per hit by a flat amount. Multiplicative buffs are the ones like Acidic Goo, which increases the damage done of every ability by a percentage of the damage dealt. There’s a sliding scale between amount the damage increases and the length of time a buff persists, and you’ll want to find the sweet spot between them for the battle you’re doing.
The additive ones generally have debuffs that last longer, so we’ll start building there. Mangle doesn’t increase by enough, while Black Claw doesn’t persist long enough to build a really stellar combo in this instance. Exposed Wounds or Wild Magic is the way to go. Because Yi is a critter, I’ll choose Exposed Wounds, which comes on a number of raptors that pack heavy Beast damage. We won’t use that right away though, because after putting up that debuff, we’ll swap on over to our second pet.
That second pet needs to have an ability that applies Shattered Defenses and also uses multiple hits. The only one which applies Beast damage is Call The Pack from the pet shop’s Alterac Brew-Pup, which I don’t currently have because I’m super cheap. So, we’ll go for off-family damage, because between the Exposed Wounds buff, this multiplying business and the way each hit of an ability like this applies tons of damage, the family interaction isn’t quite so important. I do like the Summit Kid in particular here because of how Chew works well as a delayed ability, but chickens with Flock or crickets with Swarm are fine. Delayed abilities in combos like this are especially treasured in the pet battling community. It’s basically what the colloquial Howl Bomb timing is built around.
Those pets and abilities can do the job themselves, but I like a bit of insurance, which is why I break out another Beast pet with a Beast damage over time spell to complement the other 3. There are lots to choose from — snakes and scorpions are favorites — but I went with the Darkmoon Monkey & Banana Barrage for Lucky Yi’s nail in the coffin.
Because PVE fights are so dependent on your opponent, it can take a few tries to come up with a team that really shines. Don’t give up! Just use a little logic and the tools you’ve got at hand and you can build a great team.
If all else fails, just Howl Bomb. I won’t tell.
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