The Ultimate Anniversary Gift – Happy Memories

Yesterday, WoW Insider shared some news that had my wife saying, “I may have to resub for that.”

To quote Sarah Pine in the WoW Insider article,

This year is an extra-special landmark: the 10th anniversary of WoW, and the 20th of the Warcraft franchise as a whole. As a result, we seem to be getting an extra-special battle pet, a humanoid called Hogs, who bears a strangely-similar aesthetic to that legend of lowbie leveling: Hogger.

That’s right.

Your own. Personal. Hogger.

A Hogger to hear your screams, tear out your spleen.

Sorry, Depeche Mode moment.  I’m all right now.

I saw that, and my very first thought, absolutely the first thing that sprang to mind was the first time I ever played the game all those many long years ago, and the rush of feelings.

Immediately, I was there. Young(er), knowing nothing, making my Druid way through Elwynn Forest, carefully accepting quests. A Night Elf Druid making her way in the Human world, alone.

I had just shown what my cat claws could do, and my pouches were full of gold dust and, yes, I DID take your damn candles.

Now here were these new enemies to face, enemies that had staked out a corner of lush green arable land for their own.

I killed some, working my way ever closer to the river in search of this leader named… Hogger.

There he was! I snuck up on him, I readied myself, I struck from the shadows…


I want to say it was my first experience with the graveyard mechanic. I think it was the very first time I ever saw that beautiful, faceless angel that had brought me back from the dead. That angel you can only see on the other side.

Epic moment. Total sensory rush, just thinking “Hogger pet”.

Fifteen minutes later, my wife Cassie walks up to me and out of the blue says, “I might have to resub just for that.”

I didn’t have any context for that because at the moment every idiot in the Twitter galaxy was announcing who won Azeroth Choppers before I’d even had a chance to see the episode, so I was distracted. “What?”

Cassie says, “WoW insider wrote they’re adding a Hogger pet for the 10th Anniversary.”

That immediately reminded me about the GOOD things that I’d read. “Oh yeah, I saw that.”

So then she looks at me, and gets that look, and says, “I still remember dying for the first time because YOU didn’t warn me what a silver dragon around a portrait meant. And THEN you laughed when you heard me scream when he killed me.”

What can I say to that?

“Oh yeah. Good times, good times.”

What can I say about a 10th Anniversary gift when it inspires such intense nostalgia in two out of two players tested?

Well done, Blizzard. I’m looking forward to this one. Well done indeed.

So handsome, Hogger

So handsome, Hogger

Taming the Celestial Tournament – Bear Style

Enough time has now passed that I think it’s appropriate to release my own list of pets I use for the Celestial Tournament without unduly influencing anyone through exposure.

Granted, nobody wants me to expose myself, but it’s my blog and I can oh hell no I ain’t quoting that.

I’m going to do this quick and dirty. For once, I’ll spare you my rambling bullshit. If you’re reading this, you want an idea of what pets I use that I find consistently successful, and you’ll probably spin off of that for your own teams based on what pets you have access to.

I warn you up front, the pets I use against most of the Celestials aren’t going to help you much, unless you were as bored as I was and farmed based off my Val’kyr Tom Tom route post.

Anyway, let’s get to it.

All of my pets are upgraded to Rare and are level 25. If you’re fighting the Tournament, you don’t need me telling you what the enemy pets are. And I am going to respect you enough to assume you don’t need me teaching you things like the proper use of Decoy, Call Darkness with Blindness or Burrow.

Opposing Forces One; Sully, Dr Ion and Loremaster Cho.


Effervescent Glowfly (H/B) (1,1,1)
Direhorn Runt (P/B) (1,1,1)
Gilnean Raven (B/B) (1,2,1)

Dr. Ion

Celestial Dragon (H/H) (1,1,1)
Lil’ XT (H/P) (1,1,1)
Ghostly Skull (H/P) (2,1,1)

Loremaster Cho

Lesser Voidcaller (H/H) (2,2,2)
Mechanical Pandaren Dragonling (S/S) (1,1,2)
Anubisath Idol (H/H) (1,2,1)

Opposing Forces Two; Wrathion, Chen Stormstout, Taran Zhu


Grasslands Cottontail (S/S) (1,2,1)
Flayer Youngling (S/S) (1,1,1)
Anubisath Idol (H/H) (1,2,1)

Chen Stormstout

Darkmoon Zeppelin (H/B) (1,2,2)
Curious Wolvar Pup (P/P) (2,1,2)
Gnarly (H/P) (1,1,2)

Taran Zhu

Mr. Grubbs (H/P) (2,2,2) – Sticky Goo is critical to root that sucka and keep him from swapping out. Pin him and slam him!
Nether Ray Fry (P/P) (2,1,1)
Creepy Crate (H/H) (2,1,2)

Opposing Forces Three; Wise Mari, Blingtron 4000, Shademaster Kiryn

Wise Mari

Gilnean Raven (B/B) (2,2,1)
Onyxian Whelpling (P/B) (2,1,2)
Emperor Crab (P/P) (2,2,2)

Blingtron 4000

Eternal Strider (P/S) (1,2,2)
Cinder Kitten (B/B) (1,2,1)
Pandaren Fire Spirit (P/S) (1,1,2)

Shademaster Kiryn

Stitched Pup (H/P) (1,2,2)
Terrible Turnip (P/S) (2,1,1)
Son of Animus (P/P) (1,2,2)


Now, I know that this list isn’t going to be universally helpful. This is what I have used so far and had consistent success, and it’s drawn from what I have at level 25 and rare. So no, I am not saying you have to own a Son of Animus to defeat Shademaster Kiryn, or a Creepy Crate for Taran Zhu. I am simply showing what I use, and hoping that if you are looking for inspiration for a counter against a specific pet within a tamer’s team, this might help.

Each week, I take the team I used the week before, and root around looking for something a little different to try, see if I can’t get it even cleaner. So far working very well, though.

Now, some pets that you might think would be brilliant don’t show up here, right? I mean, I’m using an Emperor Crab against Wise Mari, when clearly a Pandaren Water Spirit would be more effective, what with having the two very powerful timed explosions.

Well, there is a reason I can’t use a Pandaren Water Spirit or a Chrominius for any of the tamer fights.

I don’t have one to spare.


The Celestials


Bonkers-A (P/P) (1,2,2)
Bonkers-B (P/P) (1,2,2)
Pandaren Monk (P/S) (1,2,1)

Yes, I have two Bonkers. Actually, I have three. The third ain’t a P/P breed, so I haven’t leveled him yet. Bonkers is freaking AMAZING, and I didn’t have anything better to do with those 30,000 coins than open chests. Getting through Yu’las Emerald Dream takes powa.

All three of the other Celestials =  three teams of;

Unborn Val’kyr (1,2,2) Curse of Doom, Unholy Ascension, die and switch to Water Spirit.
Pandaren Water Spirit (1,2,2) Geyser, Whisrlpool switch to Chrominius.
Chrominius (1,1,2) Howl, Bite, Surge of Power. Enemy dead.


Yep. That’s right. I have THREE TEAMS of the Unborn Val’kyr, Water Spirit and Chrominius. I was bored, and I had spent all that time making the Tom Tom route for the Unborn Val’kyr, and I got one for Alex, and well… I was weak, and I wasn’t raiding, so I kept rolling on the route and ended up with three of them trying for different breeds.

At that point, I mean I’m defeating the Tamers each day, and I’m clearing Blackwing Lair… there didn’t seem any reason NOT to have three of the Water Spirits or Chrominius. I figured while doing the Beasts of Fable dailies I could just rotate through my three teams so I didn’t have to waste Bandages, I could just wait the 8 minutes for my cooldown and still have a team or two ready for the next fight.

When the Celestial Tournament went live, well…. I looked at the four Celestials, picked one to build a ‘real’ team for, and figured I’d try the team designed by Phraide for the Beasts of Fable on the other three, see how they did.

It turned out that the team consistently crushes all of the other Celestial pets, even though they added the “can’t do more than 30% damage on a single attack” limitation.

No, I can’t defend it.

On the one hand, they are pets I have, and there would seem to be no reason to intentionally prevent myself from using every tool I have available to win. What, it’s okay to use Call Darkness and Nocturnal Strike as a way to bypass insane dodge abilities, but not to use Geyser and Howl?

My real problem with using three teams like this is it’s not my strategy. I learned about it from Phraide on the forums. Actually I learned about it from Josh Augustine on his WoW Pet Battle Crew podcast, he mentioned it in passing so I went and looked up what he was talking about on Warcraftpets. I tried it against the Beasts of Fable, and sure enough it was very effective in clearing them quickly every single day.

I figured there was no reason why it wouldn’t work on a Celestial since they’re single pet fights, and sure as heck it does.

Now, for the purpose of accuracy, you don’t have to have three Unborn Val’kyrs. The Ghostly Skull also has the Unholy Ascension ability, and can stay in to do some damage before popping it, ending up withe the same overall effect. And there are many more pets than Chrominius that have Howl, such as the new Moon Moon, Lil’ Bad Wolf, Tito, Core Hound Pup, a lot of Foxes, etc.

Those Pandaren Water Spirits? Those are pretty pro.

There you go. I have no secrets from you! Go forth my friends and conquer.

And by all means, share with me the teams you prefer for some of these tamers. I know that whatever you use will likely be different. That’s why I like pet battling so much!

I’m always leveling new pets and hoping to try them out in the roster, so if you’ve got a mix you particularly like, let me know and I’ll give it a whirl.

Good luck!

Guest Post – Hiemalis – Quality Over Quantity Part 1

For the first time ever, I’m going to let someone have some face time on my blog to do a short series of guest posts. After featuring her on my blog a week ago, I asked her to write whatever she would like to share about  her experience in the Celestial Tournament, and defeating it with only 25 pets at max level in her entire pet journal.

She took me up on it, and I think as you read it you’ll see why I’ve gone ahead and posted it without edits. On this blog, we don’t cherish brevity. It’s Bearwall or bust!

So that’s enough of me. I present to you Hiemalis and her first guest post, Quality Over Quantity (part 1).


Hey guys! I am Hiemalis (known in certain quarters as the Talky Shaman) and I beat the Celestial Tournament with 25 pets.

A little obligatory background. I’ve been playing World of Warcraft for 8 years and I have always loved collecting pets. My little mini-Restoration druid, the Teldrassil Sapling, plodded patiently behind my bear tank Laia during most of Wrath and Cataclysm. Sleet the Azure Whelpling has flown behind Eyowyn, my mage (and internet handle) ever since I farmed for her back during the last days of Burning Crusade. And, I fondly remember the Dark Whelpling my dad got on his hunter, Idoneus, while we were questing through the Badlands in Vanilla. I was (and am) a gleeful Pokémon player, which trained me well for the fateful Tuesday I decided to bash my head against the Celestial Tournament.


I would not recommend doing the Tournament without at least 21 pets. That lets you lose all 3 of the pets you field against each of your enemies—and that’s what usually happens. The trick with limited pets is to get creative. Your pets have more abilities than the three that might seem to work the best together. You want to get super-effective damage on your enemy, so make sure you read all the abilities your pets have. Sometimes they will surprise you.

I probably had to reset the Tournament 6 or 10 times before I beat it the first time. It only took me two tries the second time. Just keep trying—and most importantly, believe in your pets.

Refer to this link, for it is your best guide.


Without further ado, my strategy for the first week’s tamers is…


Lorewalker Cho

His Team: Wisdom (Flying), Patience (Magic), and Knowledge

Wisdom is a typical bird with a Wild Magic/Rip combo that makes her dots hit pretty hard. But we can take care of her fairly easily. Patience is a broom with a humanoid attack that keeps you from abusing dragonkin moves to take him down easily. Knowledge is a dragon who will burst the heck out of you with Amplify Magic followed by Solar Beam.

My Logic:

I can’t use my really heavy hitting magic damage people, because I need them for Chi-Chi and Dr. Ion. I can’t use my heavy hitting humanoid damage people, because I need them for Yu’la.  The broom will kill my dragonkin.

Therefore, it’s time to get creative.

My Team:

Groudon (Pandaren Earth Spirit) with Stone Shot, Rock Barrage, and Crystal Prison.

Aliphos (Lost of Lordaeron) with Shadow Slash, Arcane Explosion, and Curse of Doom.

Hopling (Hopling) who is almost never used, but has Crush and Backflip to clean up.

The Fight:

Wisdom comes out first. I send out Aliphos. Wisdom does whatever she does, it doesn’t really matter. She doesn’t do a huge amount of damage, and Aliphos has a lot of health. Aliphos throws out Curse of Doom and then spams Arcane Explosion until he dies. The Curse of Doom goes off right as Wisdom kills him for the first time, and then he finishes her off with one last Arcane Explosion. Then Aliphos dies.

Patience comes out next, and I send out Groudon. Use Earthquake, Groudon!

Wait, wrong game.

Anyways, the trick here is with how NPC’s ALWAYS switch their pets if they get stunned. So Groudon throws up a Rock Barrage, a Stone Shot or two, and then BOOM! Crystal Prison! Patience smacks Groudon about a bit before this. While he’s switching, refresh Rock Barrage. Then the dragon comes out. Stone Shot him, he charges up with Amplify Magic, and hit him with Crystal Prison the second it comes off cooldown. Cho will switch back to Patience, and Groudon gets a free Rock Barrage on him. A Stone Shot should finish him off, and Cho switches back to the dragon. Just stun him as soon as you can and Stone Shot and Rock Barrage will finish him off easily. Groudon rarely if ever dies to this, but if he does then Hopling can easily kill everyone left alive. Remember that Aliphos has already weakened everyone with his Arcane Explosion. That lets Groudon clean up easily.


Dr. Ion Goldbloom

His Team: Screamer (Flying), Trike (Beast), and Chaos (Magic).

Screamer is an annoying little pteroperson who will Lift Off, hit you with Lift Off, Alpha Strike, and then Feign Death when you first see him. But there’s no surprises here. Trike is a Direhorn, god help us all, and is just as annoying as you would expect. Chaos has a humanoid ability, but it really doesn’t do all that much damage. The damage comes from his huge-hitting dragonkin ability.

My Logic:

Once again, I can’t use my really good magic people. I need someone who can block Lift Off, because it hits hard. I’ve got to use one of my Mechanicals on Trike…oh, god, I only have 3 and I need all 3 for Xu’fu (I came back the next day after I powerleveled the Darkmoon Tony) ok, I’ve got one to spare. And I’m going to use my weakest one, to save the strong ones for Xu’fu. I want to save my strong dragonkin, and I need a tanky one because they might take a LOT of damage from Chaos.

My Team:

Whisper (Nordrassil Wisp) with Light, Flash, and Soul Ward.

Titan (Personal World Destroyer) with Metal Fist, Supercharge, and Quake.

Gaia (Emerald Whelpling) with Breath, Emerald Presence, and Emerald Dream.

The Fight:

I know Screamer is going to Lift Off so Whisper uses Soul Ward right off the bat. He’s faster than Whisper so she prepares to (hah) Flash him, he comes down and gets blocked and blinded. Light smacks him about a bit, and then she runs out of abilities. So, I pass, and coincidentally he always Feigns Death. So Trike comes out. Soul Ward comes off cooldown, and Whisper blocks the damage of Adrenaline Rush. Now it’s a challenge to see how many times she can avoid being stunned. Flash then Light then Soul Ward until she dies, then out comes Titan. Trike should be at medium health at this point, less if Whisper got lucky. Titan can curbstomp Trike with a handful of Metal Fists, or a Supercharge then a Metal Fist if you are willing to risk getting stunned and losing your buff. If you can arrange it so a quake will kill Trike, do so and get a little more damage on Chaos and Screamer. Screamer will get sent out, Feign Death, and send in Chaos, who will kill Titan eventually. Hopefully Titan gets off a few Metal Fists first. Then, I send in Gaia. If you get a good moment to use Emerald Presence, use it, otherwise Breath Chaos to death so Screamer gets sent out. Gaia may be at low health at this point. The second Screamer comes out, use Emerald Dream. You can good healing in if he Feigns Death, then Lifts Off, and Gaia should be able to finish him off fairly easily. Sometimes I lose in this strategy, though—darn RNG!


Sully “The Pickle” McLeary

His Team: Socks (Undead), Monte (Critter), and Rikki (Aquatic).

Socks is a fairly standard undead. Unholy Acension makes your whole team take more damage, which is icky. Monte has a bleed and a dodge in burrow. Rikki heals when he kills your people, which is annoying, and has an ability that makes your stuff miss him a lot.

My Logic:

I don’t have a single critter at level 25, crap! (forgetting that I actually did have one, but that it wasn’t favorited). Wait…Hopling has a critter attack? Ok, I’ll use that. Sweet, he’s faster than Socks! My girl Trish can crush Monte with her beast attacks, and I want to save Swain the hard-hitter…so let’s use Shimmerwing.

My Team:

Hopling (Hopling) with Tongue Lash, Sticky Goo, and Backflip

Trish (Direhorn Runt) with Trihorn Charge, Horn Attack, and Primal Cry

Shimmerwing (Silky Moth) with Alpha Strike, Cocoon Strike, and Moth Dust

The Fight:

Hopling comes out first versus Socks.

Did you know, I thought Hopling was entirely useless after I first got him to 25? I thought he was just as cute as anything, though. But he has actually  been a huge help both times I did the Tournament.

Anyways, Backflip first. You want to use this every time it’s off cooldown, as Hopling is super quick so you get the free stun every time. Then, Tongue Lash Socks to death. He will probably rake you with Infected Claw once, which will knock Hopling down to half health, but should be easily managed. Try and time it so you can Backflip on him during the round he resurrects, so you can interrupt Unholy Ascension, but if you don’t, it’s fine. Hopling, squeaking gleefully in triumph, then squares off against Monte. Knock Monte down as low as you can with Backflips and Tongue Lashes. You might even be able to kill him, but usually he takes out opling. That’s fine. Trish will annihilate him easily. I might not have even used Trish the first time I killed this guy, but she is certainly a good pick. Then, if Rikki gives you any trouble, any flying type can clean up easily as all of his attacks are weak to flying. Shimmering can Alpha Strike him to death in a couple of turns. I try not to use Moth Dust while he has his evasion buff up, however.


It’s really not so bad (at least for the trainers). Get creative. Hopling is a humanoid pet with a critter ability. Whisper does magic type damage and have a block, unlike Nasus (my Anubisath Idol) who wouldn’t do as much damage but has a block, or Talisma (my Feline Familiar) who does magic damage but doesn’t have a block.

Remember, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight. It’s the size of the fight in the dog.

And I never would have been able to do anything of this without the generosity of a stranger. Can you see baby Nasus in this?


The Celestial Tournament – It’s Skill, Not Size

Hiemalis, Shaman of Korgath US
As a follow up to my most recent blog post about the Celestial Tournament, I wanted to show another side to the challenge.

I related my own experience with it, because that’s what I know. I described my two weeks of tournies, and how with my stable of 95 pets at max level I felt the need to go out and level four more for better synergy.

All that is true, but the implication I left was that in order to enjoy success at the tournament, you must level and then level some more.

Nope. Nope, nope, nope.


There once was a Shaman named Hiemalis
who healed and chattily charmed us.
The Tournament she won
with skill second to none
and twenty-five pets in her toolbox.

That’s right.

One of the friends I made over the course of the old IceCrown Citadel cross-realm heroic achievement runs was Hiemalis, who at the time was tanking for us on her Bear.

We were chatting earlier in the week, and she was lamenting the way her schedule was going to prevent her from raiding with her guild. That whole real life thing in the outdoors and all, you know how it is.

I mentioned that Team WANDA and the Band of Misfits were going to do our weekly Flex Raid on Thursday, and she’d be very welcome to join us.

She said she’d bring her heals and her charm, and I have to admit, she was true to her word and brought an abundant measure of both. She also brought a few of her friends along with, and they were quite fun to have as well.

As the night progressed, and we normally taciturn Misfits dubbed her ‘the talky shaman’, I learned that she has defeated the Celestial Tournament each week herself, just like I had.

Except, of course, in her case she did it while only having 25 pets leveled to 25.

Let me say that again. It bears repeating.

Hiemalis-Kargath (US) defeated the first week of the Celestial Tournament with only 25 pets at max level.

The Tournament doesn’t sound so all-fired impossible and grindy now, does it?

I asked her the secret to her success, and she told me it was fun to match up lots of different abilities that worked great together.

In other words, she prefers synergy teams and smart play to brute force. And clearly, she can pull it off.

She ran down every pet she used for every fight off the top of her head, and why they worked. I asked why she didn’t use one pet over another, like a Darkmoon Zeppelin instead of a Personal World Destroyer, and of course the answer was because she didn’t have one.

Some of the pets she used against tamers I used as well, like Gnarly/Chuck when facing Chen Stormstout. But for the most part, I was sitting there looking at the list of pets she matched against tamers and the mini-Celestials, thinking “Wow, don’t I feel like a dumbass for not being able to get it done with 95. Talk about an abundance of riches.”

Because it’s the truth. Where I looked for brute force solutions first, and fell back on synergy when all else failed, she looked for fun combinations to work together as the first choice.

I won’t list the pets she used or her strategies here. If she wants to share them, then I think it’s only right she share them herself and get the appropriate measure of respect and admiration she’s earned.

At the time of my writing this, while we are still in the midst of the second week of the Celestial Tournament, a glance at her WoW Armory account shows she still only has a grand total of 30 pets at max level, including all the ones she told me she used in the Tournament…

And also Xu-Fu, the Cub of Xuen, currently at 10th level, the perfect proof that she has done what she said and in the way that she said she did it.

I wanted to share this story not to make you or me feel bad, but to show you that it is possible for someone with skill, talent and an abundance of creative thinking to win the Celestial Tournament with 25 pets. And that’s not even with the ‘perfect’ set of pets, but the ones she had that she made the best use of.

I think a heartfelt ‘well done’ is in order, don’t you?

You know what else I like?

I like seeing that she has taken the trouble to name all of her max level pets. As if she formed an attachment to them and thinks of them as her actual pets when she takes them out to play.

It shows that you CAN mix playful fun with a determination to win, the best of both worlds…. of Warcraft.

Oh God, what a cheesy sign off sentence.

I love it so much, I’m leaving it there.

The Celestial Tournament, Revisited

Welcome to week two of World of Warcraft patch 5.4, and that means the second live week of the Celestial Tournament.

For those of you just tuning in, the Celestial Tournament is a brand new venue for you to enjoy a pet battle challenge, so long as you meet the requirement, which is to have at least 25 pets each leveled to 25.

In previous patches, new pet battle tamers were added that were significantly tougher to deal with than those that came before. Specifically, the Pandaren Spirit Tamers, and then the Beasts of Fable.

Those patches introduced us to the idea of tamers with teams of epic (or legendary) pets, and also ‘boss pet’ fights, where you bring an entire team to try and take down one single, super tough and hard-hitting pet.

The Celestial Tournament rolls both of those into one event, with a new twist; a sequence of fights with no healing or pet resurrections allowed between matches. None.

When you do accept the quest to take part in the Celestial Tournament on the Timeless Isle, you are transported to a scenario version of the Isle itself.

You find yourself within the massive courtyard of the Celestials on the Timeless Isle, and it is fully populated with the mini-Celestials themselves. Also, many famous personalities in the game are there as tamers with their pet teams, there are vendors that sell noodles, and basically it’s like a little village dedicated to celebrating your taking part in this tournament.

The courtyard in the scenario, just as in the shared Timeless Isle, has a set of steps leading up and out, and yes, you can take this opportunity to leave the courtyard and explore the Isle, without monsters or players or encounters or treasure of any kind.

The scenario makes for a perfect opportunity for you if you love taking screenshots of the scenery without having random Ordos minion and three players named “Dickcheeselolz” strolling across your shot. You can wander around most of the island without any problem, no other soul at all to deal with. I can’t say that it is all clear, or that there are no secrets lurking in a cave somewhere because I haven’t fully explored it yet, but so far no sign of surprises.

For the Tournament itself, your first challenge on entering the Tournament courtyard is to defeat three famous people who have teams of their own. You can challenge these three tamers in any order you would like. The only thing is, you have to defeat all three before you can move on to the next step.

There are nine potential tamers, split into groups of three. Each week, you have no idea which group of three tamers will be there to fight. The members of each group are always the same, but which group you get changes from week to week.

Maybe one week you get Wrathion, Chen Stormstout and Taran Zhu as the three tamers. Maybe it’s Sully, Loremaster Cho and Doctor Ion.

The point is, if that is the group you get, it will always be that group for the remainder of the week until reset, and of those three, they will always have the same three pets each. From my playing, it seems each pet will also always start in the same order, so planning a counter-team strategy is very possible.

As I said, your first challenge is to defeat all three of these tamers, in any order you wish to face them, but you are not allowed to use bandages or pet rezzes or other ‘out of combat’ pet healing in between fights.

Your pets CAN self-resurrect and use healing abilities in the fights themselves.

I find myself leaning heavily on humanoid pets that get a little self-healing every time they do damage, mechanical pets that get to spontaneously resurrect once when killed, and undead pets that come back as unkillable engines of destruction for one round after dying. I’m not saying that’s a good strategy, I guess what I’m saying is my subconscious apparently likes that ‘crutch’ to rely on greater longevity from inherent pet mechanics rather than from a well thought out strategy of my own.

How it tends to play out is you field a team of pets, and at least some of them will die, but at least one has to live to beat a tamer. Once that fight is over, any of your pets that died stay dead for the rest of that instance of the Tournament scenario. Any pets that lived get the familiar ‘after fight pet heal’ of a few hundred health, and thus can be used in another fight.

Suppose you zone into the Celestial Tournament, face down Wrathion and get your face chewed because you thought all three of his pets were dragonkin types, and the fact the first is an undead takes you by surprise. You get your ass handed to you.

You can choose to leave the scenario at any time you please, after any fight. When you leave the scenario, all progress you have made is lost, but you can heal your pets, immediately requeue and enter the Tournament for a fresh shot.

What this means is, you can build your initial idea of a team, go in and take on a tamer, fight it out, and analyze your own performance. If you defeated him but want to refine your strategy for all the weeks to come and really nail down that perfect team, you can leave the scenario, change abilities. Heal the team. Move pets around. Swap in a different choice for a position.

For true clarity, you can change your teams, abilities, swap pets, anything and everything inside the scenario itself EXCEPT heal or rez. If you’d like, you can take as many attempts against the same tamer as you want, so long as you have the pets alive to put in the battle. One team dies, you can immediately build a new team of different fresh pets and try again. Every pet down, however, is lost to you for the rest of the time you are in the Tournament scenario. You don’t get to use those again later.

The only time the Tournament remains completed is when you’ve beaten the entire thing.

After the three tamers are down, you are given the second stage of the Tournament. Each of the four Celestials has a mini-me version Legendary pet, and you must face each one down individually just like defeating four Beasts of Fable. Call them the Celestials of Legend if you like.

You can challenge any of the four in any order you’d like, and you get your full team of three just like with the Beasts of Fable.

Once you have defeated all four Celestial pets, you have won the Celestial Tournament for that week. You can stay and explore for as long as you’d like with no timer that I’ve ever found, or you can choose to ‘leave the instance’ via the interface button and return to where you were standing next to the Tournament quest-giver (and Celestial Coin vendor).

Each time you complete this Tournament, you get one Celestial Coin. It costs three such coins to buy your choice of one of the Celestial pets.

The very FIRST time you complete the Tournament, after turning in the quest there will be a follow up quest giving you two more coins. This means that, the very first week you win the Celestial Tournament you will be able to buy one of the four pets and enjoy the victory with a new friend.

It will take three victories (and thus three weeks) after that first win to earn enough coins to get one of the remainder of the pets.

So. All clear? Good. Damn, that was a lot of hot air to make sure the framework was laid down.

The first thing that becomes clear is, any pet you use on a team that dies cannot be used on another team later. Any pet you use that gets wounded CAN be used again, but unless they are healed back up to full you will face another fight with a weakened team.

The first week I worked up my teams against Sully, Doctor Ion and Loremaster Cho and saved them as I went, refighting the same battle multiple times to make sure I had consistent results for next time.

My only concerns were to have teams that consistently won, and didn’t rely on that pet later in the tournament against someone else. Easy enough to do when you’re doing it live, since any pet that is dead in your roster clearly is used on another team earlier, right?


This week, I entered the Tournament and faced a different lineup of tamers from last week; Wrathion, Taran Zhu and Chen Stormstout.

Again, I built teams on the fly, starting with Wrathion, then moving on to Chen, and finally going to take on Taran Zhu.

That is when I realized how badly I’d screwed up. My first problem was, I wasn’t happy with my Chen team. I open with my Darkmoon Zeppelin, a solid fighter against Chen with a heavy hitting missile, Decoys to open the fight, and when I’m about to die anyway a huge hitting bomb to take them with me.

The problem I was having was if the missile missed once, I usually lost. Also, I wasn’t happy with my third pet against the Elemental. Sure, I won a few times, but it felt like I was relying on RNG a ton to get a lucky series of hits while suffering the reduced hit chance.

Then against Taran Zhu, fighting an all-humanoid Pandaren Monk team, it occured to me I used not only my Monk but my Anubisath Idol in my team to take down the dragonkins of Wrathion. I needed them to fight Yu’la if I followed last week’s strategy against the dragon Celestial.

Oh crap. I used up pets earlier I’m going to need later. And I don’t like the pets I’m selecting as long term solutions against Chen and Taran Zhu.

Although, and let me be perfectly blunt here… against Taran Zhu, I love love LOVE the Creepy Crate and Bonestorm. It’s hilarious. I get to use The LUGGAGE in battle finally! Just wonderful, cheers me up no end.

But it was still an amazing feeling. I was sitting there struggling to build a consistent team against Taran Zhu, realizing I had to go back and rethink my entire team build against Wrathion to free up pets to use against Yu’la later….

And I have 95 pets all rare at level 25.

There are people doing this with 25 or 30. Here I am, Tuesday night, I’ve got 95 pets to choose from and I’m scouring my roster looking for a good mix, and realizing there are at least four more pets I really should take the time to level up to solidify my teams.

HOLY CRAP. How can I still need more pets?

See, the thing is there are three different kinds of strategies to use.

There are pets that rely on being strong defending against an attack type. You know what kinds of attacks the enemy will use, and you bring in a pet that takes reduced damage from those attacks.

There are pets that rely on having attack types particularly strong against the enemy, relying on doing massive damage in a short enough period of time that the enemy doesn’t steamroll you.

And there are the synergy strategies. Fights designed around using a team with complimentary abilities against the enemy. A pet that sets up the fight by Blinding or Bleeding or Chilling the opponent, and then the rest of your roster has abilities that capitalize on that by always hitting, doing massive damage or stunning.

The ideal pet for a brute force approach to a fight is the pet that is strong in defense against the majority of an enemies attacks and is strong in the attack against that enemy type. You stand behind your wall and lob nukes. Kinda hard to beat that strategy.

Developing a strategy around pet ability synergy is, to me, more satisfying. But it’s also harder, right? You need to know your pets, their abilities, the strength and weakness dials and your opponent to craft a nice synergy team.

When it works, though. Oh, that moment when your enemy is Bleeding and you pop Blood in the Water for a guaranteed hit on a double damage attack? Ooooh, that feels good. I’m looking at you, elemental on Chen.

This has gotten ridiculously long, and I apologise.

What I’ve been wondering about this last week is how the addition of the Celestial Tournament has affected pet battle as a gametype for players.

We were told what the gate to entry was in advance. 25 pets at max level, and you could get in. Then that was reduced to 15, I think it was. Not really sure, since I’m way beyond that point.

The thing is, I’ve got a reasonable stable of pets to choose from, and I spent months trying to pick a wide variety of solid pets to level so each family would be well represented. I didn’t level, say, 15 critters and 1 flyer. I tried to balance it all out.

And even still, with over 95 pets at max level now (warcraftpets only shows I have 92 at max level, but it doesn’t count the pets I have two or three of at max) I am still looking at my roster and thinking, “None of my pets have the moveset I really need, I should level up my Gnarly to be part of this team.”

That is a lot of pet leveling. A lot.

When the Celestial Tournament went live, I went in and was excited to have enough pets to have the fights be really challenging, but feel like I had plenty to draw from to build teams and get the job done. I won the first night, and I thought that was fair because of the months of leveling I spent beforehand, nothing but leveling in preparation for the Tournament.

Yes, that is sad. I spent months to be ready to win a PvE pet battle tournament. The lengths a grown man will go to, just to get that spectral tiger kitty pet, I guess.

This week, it went live and it took me four days of attempts, rebuilding teams and the leveling of four more pets to max before I could get it done, and yes, in the end I had to build a synergy team for Chen because brute force wasn’t cutting it against the hit debuff.

The feeling of satisfaction was even greater, but at the same time it was frustrating to go in and try again and again, and look for new pets in my roster to try something different, and to finally accept that I was going to have to go level some more to continue.

What if I didn’t have all of these other pets to choose from? What if I had gone in with only 30 or 35 pets at max level, thinking I was above the cap needed so I had a cushion, and then found out I really couldn’t field anything that had a chance to make it all the way through the whole shebang?

The big question. Now that the roof of pet battles has been raised with the Celestial Tournament, do you feel overwhelmed at all it takes to fight inside?

And should there be an expansion for pet battles that goes in the opposite direction?

Cassie liked the idea of pet battles until she learned that you had to match pet types and abilities and all that to win. She wanted to pet battle as a role playing type of thing, by picking pets as though they were PETS, with names and personalities, and take those pets she loved out on adventures.

When you have to strategize and min/max abilities and pet types and swap pets out for advantage, it removes a level of personal involvement with the pet.

By way of comparison, you go from being the Hunter that has only ever had one pet since level 1 (or ten when you could tame another), has named your pet and traveled across the entire world with your best friend by your side…. to that hunter that the raid expects to swap your stat beast in and out based on what special buff it can provide the group.

So she doesn’t like the Tournament, and pet battling in specific. She’s fine with the lower level fights that allow her to bring a team of her pet friends. The more it requires a specific pet for a task, the less fun it is.

Has the Celestial Tournament had any of that kind of impact on you? Do you wish we had more RP opportunities with our pets?

No, not costumes.

Would you like to see something added going in a different direction. An adventuring or questing path that focused on you leveling your pets by taking control of them on adventures of some sort?

For that, I refer you to the Alliance quest in the Operation: Barrens that had you take control of a robot remote controlled cat to scout the Horde positions. Clearly, there was some effort put into a player being able to take control of a pet with the abilities of the pet on an action bar.

Would you like to see that explored in the game, expanded on in more detail? Something where you could have your pet Pumpkin the Feline Familiar fly through obstacles to get to the halloween candy, or something else probably a lot more fun? Something less stat vs stat driven.

The blog post that would never end. I blame not blogging about pet battles since I got obsessed.

Anyway, let me know your thoughts about any or all of this in the comments, okay? I live in a bubble and I’m curious what folks think.

Celestial Tournament… DONE!




This victory was so, so sweet. I have done nothing for months but prepare for this, leveling pets, battling tamers every night for Battle-Stones, planning and building teams.

That you get a special, bonus quest that gives you two more coins JUST so you can walk away from your first win with a pet of your choice is true class. Blizzard knocked this one out of the park.

I love being Buttflame the Crazy Cat Lady, with my giant kitty following along beside me.

Now, I need to get my Druid in kitty spec up there so I can hunt with a buddy!

I wish you all the best of luck and good fortune in your battles.

You CAN do it!

Thank you for your support!

Thank you to everyone that has had kind words for the Pet Battle tamer post I put up over the weekend.

The core reason for my post was to help someone who had yet to level a full team to 25.

When you are just starting out with pet battles, knowing that it is going to take a long time to level that first team to 25 is challenging. If you’re going to level a team to max, you want to know that those pets will continue to aid your pet battling goals on into the future.

Having a small list of pets that you know will all work well together can help provide focus on what to capture and level first.

That was the purpose of my post, to provide a small list of pets that are fairly easy to get and work well together. Pets that you know, with some helpful tips, will be able to complete daily Pet Tamer battles while you level up more pets for some variety and fun.

My friend Monstre was the one that originally said it would be helpful to have a list like that. He enjoys leveling pets he tells me, but he sure would’ve liked to know what to level first.

So, I wrote a post.

The greatest reward I can ever have is when someone tells me something I wrote was actually helpful. In this case, I got immediate gratification, because when I logged in Sunday Monstre told me he’d already obtained all the pets from the list, beaten the tamers (including the Pandaren Spirits!) and was happily working through the Beasts of Fable.

He also gave me a Flawless Battle-Stone in thanks. That’s right, one you can use on any pet family. A greater gift no pet battler can ever give to another, and I am very thankful. Tips are not requested, but will certainly never be turned down.

Turn it down? What do I look like, crazy? My Unborn Val’kyr was Uncommon for far too long! I already had my Tentacle named Monstre, so I’ll have to think of something else fitting to name the Val’kyr in his honor.

The moral of the story is, there are many paths to victory in Pet Battles. This is just one starter guide, and it serves a very specific purpose. There are other guides out there to seek and enjoy.

Probably the most highly recommended I’ve seen were pointed out to me in the comments, the Pet Battle Strategies (PvE) written by Phraide, true works of genius with incredibly fine-tuned tactics for both beginners and veterans, that can be found at this link at the WarcraftPets forums.

BUT! Don’t get too caught up in the hunt for that one specific recommended pet before you take a shot at a battle. If you take a close look at what types of pets the enemy has, what they are weak against, and what abilities they use you will probably find something that will be strong against it. It may not be the ‘right’ pet to use, but if you win, there is plenty of time to refine your technique or play around with various other pet combinations later.

I know I am always learning. Always. I keep finding out that there is often a much better way to do something, but after I found something that worked I stuck with it. It’s great to see how other folks solve the same battle challenges.

I hope that when the Celestial Tournament arrives, it finds you sitting pretty with a wide variety of pets eager to nom nom nom all over the competition!