Friday, May 13, 2016

How Quickly Will We Consume Legion Pet Battle Content?

Dissecting how long it will take to complete upcoming Pet Battle challenges/goals in Legion, with thoughts/opinions on account-wide vs. not towards the end.

Battle on the Broken Isles
  • Complete 30 Pet Battle World Quests (37 total possible quests)
  • Rewards the Pocket Pet Portal (on use item that increases Pet Journal cap to 1500)

The absolute earliest we can complete this achievement and increase our Pet Journal cap is 10 days after reaching level 110. Realistically it will probably take 10+ days.

Each day there are 3 Pet Battle World Quests available to complete. With VERY GOOD RNG, each of the quests that first pop up during those first 10 days at max level will be different and not repeats.

Testing has shown that repeats are possible and likely. However, the achievement only requires 30 quests out of a total of 37, so initially all of the quests you come across should be unique. But you never know. Sometimes RNG can be kind and sometimes not.

Side note: Account-wide or not doesn't really matter for this achievement. World Quests are set to be static region-wide, so any quest you complete on your main will be the same quest available to any alts that you have.

Family Familiar
  • Defeat 12 Tamers (15 total possible) using a team of pets from the same pet family
  • 10 different pet families
  • Meta-achievement rewards a new pet, Nightmare Treant

The earliest we can complete this quest is more random than the other one. This is because again, RNG can be unkind.

There are a total of 15 possible "master" Tamers, but that's a little less than half of the total number of possible Pet Battle World Quests. It's more than likely that you'll come across a few days where a master Tamer simply isn't up at all.

On top of that, because you can only battle a Tamer once per lockout you'll need certain quests to pop up multiple times in order to defeat the master Tamers using a team of pets from a different family. For example, defeat Nightwatcher Merayl using only Flying pets one day, and then a team comprised of only Beast pets two days later when her quest reappears.

Thankfully we don't need to defeat all 15 master Tamers 10 times each; we can choose the 12 we want to battle for each of the 10 pet families. Going up against X Tamer is too tough for a Mech team? You can always wait for Y Tamer, but that's leaving it a little up to chance because it's random when a different Tamer will show up.

So we'll need 120 battles total to complete this achievement and collect the new pet, but it's entirely up to the randomness of World Quests that will determine when we're able to accomplish this.

It should be noted that it's still not settled if these quests will be account-wide or not. Developer Jeremy Feasel notes that they currently are not account-wide (so we can complete them on different max level characters), but this is subject to change.

Account-wide quests
Best case scenario: at least 1 master Tamer each day, we'll complete this challenge in ~120 days (4 months).

Absolute best case scenario: 3 master Tamers each day, we'll complete this challenge in ~40 days (a little over 1 month).

Not account-wide quests
Completion time will depend on how many characters you have.

If you have 10 toons, you could check off one Tamer for each of the 10 pet families each day. This would cut down completion time drastically.

But you also have to factor in leveling time for each character, since these quests can only be accessed at max level.

How much time we'll have to invest into Family Familiar is still a bit up in the air. We'll have to wait and see.

Currently, I'm a bit conflicted when it comes to account-wide vs. not account-wide for Pet Battle World Quests.

Account-wide quests would limit our ability to complete the challenges, so it would extend gameplay to the fullest for both of the achievements.

But any alts we level up would miss out on rewards and Pet Battle content in general. Other than the World Quests, the only other pet-related stuff to do is old(er) content, battle wild pets, and collect the new pets.

That would also mean those with full Pet Journals will have to patiently wait out the full 10 days (or more) for a cap increase. A full journal may result in the inability/desire to collect, cutting down pet content for some even further.

Non-account-wide quests would open things up and give us the ability to complete these achievements quickly or as slowly as we please. It would all depend on how much time you want to take to level multiple characters.

The downside is that it might make it a bit mandatory to level up more than one toon. No one likes to feel behind, so that may add pressure to some collectors to speed up the process by adding more toons to their work force. Some may not have the time to do that even if they wanted to.

But it seems like alts are more common place nowadays, so perhaps it won't be as bad.

Conclusion is, I don't know right now. There are pros and cons to both sides.

I don't mind having to patiently wait, and I kind of like the idea of a long-term investment with these achievements and quests.

But I also see the benefit of having non-account-wide quests. It would give us just more pet STUFF to do (even if it's the exact same stuff repeated for each toon), and earning/collecting pets faster is always a plus.

I guess I'll wait to hear more from the community before forming a firm opinion.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Trainer Fame - A New Currency/Challenge Idea

I briefly mentioned this on Twitter but thought I'd expand on the idea here on my blog. Trainer Fame, a new currency and challenge.

Pet Charms are fine and all, as is any type of similar currency, but it doesn't necessarily add anything to Pet Battles. It's just a grind to collect as many as you can to spend at the vendors. There's also stagnation - the only thing that really changes from expansion to expansion is where the Pet Charms come from.

So what if there was a new form of currency? One that adds gameplay value and transitions well into each expansion?

Trainer Fame. The currency you never knew existed (because it doesn't) but you have to have. Something to consider for a future, future expansion.

What is Trainer Fame?
Think of it as something akin to PVP Honor points. It's not an item that goes into your bags; you simply have it on your character and NPCs recognize this. It's "fame" after all, right?

How would you earn it?
Here's the fun part! Fame would not be a static (or random) amount. How much you earn depends on how well you do in a PVE Trainer battle. The quicker you defeat the opponent, the more Fame you earn.

If you defeat a Trainer in 10 rounds, you'll earn 5 Fame. Defeat him/her in 5 rounds and you'll get a whopping 10 Fame. Just as an example. Values can be tweaked, of course.

The goal is to defeat Trainers in as few rounds as possible. Show off your prowess as a Pet Battler, earn notoriety, and then use it to buy awesome pet stuff!

Not only would it give us currency to strive for, it adds a challenge to each PVE encounter. And it continues to add that challenge to newer and even older content. Pet theorycrafters and battlers would constantly be refining teams to get wins with the fewest possible rounds.

Even once a "perfect" strategy has been created and readily accepted by the community, it wouldn't be the go-to strat forever. New pets are always being added, which can greatly impact strats and teams. 'X new pet cuts down my rounds by 3. I can earn a few more Fame points!'

Other mechanics could be added to this currency system as well. Just off the top of my head... ranks? Um, sure. Earn enough Fame and get promoted to the next Pet Trainer Rank. Perhaps certain items will require certain ranks: 'This item requires 50 Fame and Pet Trainer Rank 2' or something like that.

Fun interactions with pet-related NPCs depending on your Fame and/or Rank could also be interesting.

The Drawbacks
The downsides to the idea of Trainer Fame...

I could see newer/casual battlers feeling left out, as they may not earn a lot of Fame in the beginning due to their smaller pet roster or lack of Pet Battles insight. But more Fame would come as they progress and gradually learn the mechanics. There's room for growth.

There was an argument that once a strategy was created, it would spread around like a virus and nothing would change. Everyone would simply look up teams to use and any type of possible challenge would cease to exist. While that's true, it's also true now. Strats are easy to look up.

The difference is that there's no incentive to change anything or try to put together something better right now. Currently, if the community creates an acceptable team composition for a specific fight, that's it. It's done. Everyone can look it up and use it. We move onto the next one.

But with Fame, there's incentive to KEEP refining strategies. We all want to earn more, and with a dynamic currency like Fame there's a real possibility of being able to. So some will continue testing new ideas and trying out different teams, all to get the best possible outcome for the highest reward yield.

Plus the ever-changing battlefield of pets would give players a reason to continue experimenting with teams and strategies. Fame would give us a reason to keep going, and new pets would give us the means to do so.

Would it make content feel mandatory since some players will want to min/max their earnings? If there's the potential to earn/collect a reward, players will want to do it right? That's always a big concern, and if yes, perhaps Fame could be limited to only current content. Something along the lines of, 'Defeating older Trainers is so yesterday's news. But I hear there are some new Trainers that are looking to prove themselves...'

How would we transition from Pet Charms to Trainer Fame? One way would be to redeem them at a pet vendor. Or if there's an internal tracker that keeps track of how many charms your account has earned, perhaps the appropriate amount of Fame could simply be awarded to you at the start.

Right now I just don't see that many downsides to this idea. The pros seem to outweigh the cons. Am I missing anything? It's possible that I'm just too biased.

Anyway, this is merely one idea out many great ideas for Pet Battles. Something to catalog for consideration in the future. :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Magic Pet Mirror Updates In Legion

Exciting news from Legion least it's exciting to me hehe. ;)

The Magic Pet Mirror might be getting some updates in the expansion! I say "might" because all of this could change; nothing is set in stone.

Currently on live servers the Magic Pet Mirror costume disappears when you do ANYTHING other than emote. Need to hearth? Say bye-bye to your buff. Summon a different pet? Nope, can't do that. Cast a spell? Sorry, can't do that without losing the costume either.

But good news everybody! In Legion you can do all of that and more! *throws confetti* :D

After doing some testing, it looks like the following will work with the Magic Pet Mirror:
  • most player spells can be cast
  • logging in and out
  • shapeshifting
  • summoning another pet
  • mounting (will temporarily remove the costume, but you retain the buff and regain the costume after dismounting)

Entering combat will still remove the costume.

Most player abilities can be used, but there seem to be a few that will yank you out of pet-form. Shadow Priest Psychic Scream for example. There are probably others that still don't work with the mirror buff, but I haven't been able to test everything.

A few fun combinations:
- Druids retain the costume while shapeshifting (minus travel form)
- Fishing while a pet
- Paladin bubbles + pet costume
- Hunter Feign Death + pet costume (it's a bit sad-looking though...)
- Priest Levitate + pet costume

Magic Pet Mirror + Mage Mirror Image causes your images to turn into whatever pet you copied. If you enter combat, you lose the costume, but your images don't!

Monk using Zen Pilgrimage while a pet

There are so many more awesome combos, I'm sure, but since I don't have time to try them all out we'll just have to wait and see what creative things players come up with once Legion goes live. ;)

And just for fun, rogue kitty! When claws just don't cut it anymore hehe.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Legion Alpha: New Pets and More Pet Battle World Quest Updates

New Alpha build yesterday means new stuff and updated Pet Battle World Quests.
  • 6 new pets (2 of which were datamined way back in WoD Alpha/Beta, but never released)
  • Handful of updated pets - full list of Legion pets
  • Pocket Pet Portal (item that increases Pet Journal cap to 1500) is now rewarded for completing Battle on the Broken Isles
  • Confirmed(???) price for Narcissa's Mirror - 1000 Pet Charms (UNSURE about this, vendor was updated but it's still unclear if Pet Charms will be *the* currency for Legion)
  • 3 Pet Battle World Quests active daily (up from 2)
  • Better quest rewards! Pet Charms, multiple battlestones (but not Polished yay), and even Artifact Power

Also, seems like the Corgi Pup will come from a special vendor during the WoW anniversary period.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Legion Alpha: Oh, Ominitron

I haven't gone into depth about most of the Pet Battle World Quests (I've only been keeping track of them here), but today's battle was especially interesting.

I just can't resist gushing about a particularly hard or engaging pet battle, and this one was a bit of both!

One of today's Pet Battle World Quests on Alpha was in Stormheim. Oh, Ominitron - 3 level 25 epic pets: Mini Magmatron, Mini Arcanotron, Mini Electron

Don't let their 'companion' status on Wowhead fool you -- these constructs can kick some butt.

What's so unique about this battle is that each of these pets only has one ability. HOWEVER, upon hitting any of your team with their single attack, they automatically swap on that same turn. Each one's attack is pretty hard-hitting, but two are particularly annoying.

Let's take a closer look at each one.

First pet to come out is Mini Magmatron. He uses Incineration Security Measures before switching to the next pet (on the same turn). This is just a large AOE on your team. If he doesn't hit any pet on your team, he will not swap out. Instead he'll try using his ability again on the next turn, and will continuing trying until he lands a hit on *any* of your pets (doesn't have to be your active one).

After swapping, Mini Electron steps up to the plate. He uses Lightning Conductor, which is a single target ability but stuns your pet for one round. He's quite fast, so unless your pet has 311+ speed, he WILL be going first. Under most circumstances, that means he'll stun your pet before immediately swapping out (again, on the same turn). Same as the previous Mini, if his hit misses your pet, he won't swap.

The pet switching gets a little random at this point. Sometimes Mini Magmatron will pop back in and it'll go back and forth between him and Mini Electron.

But the real threat is Mini Arcanotron. You absolutely want to avoid this guy's attack, Arcane Annihilator. Not only is this ability a gigantic single target nuke, it also puts the Shattered Defenses debuff on your pet. Ouch. Again, once he hits your pet, he'll immediately switch with one of his teammates. If he misses, he stays and tries again until he lands his attack.

My Struggle and Eventual Success
Initially, I tried to prevent the pets from stunning my pets. Arcane Winds to the rescue! But the drawback was that that also meant I couldn't stun or root any of the Minis either. The constant swapping became an issue at that point. Especially when it came to the giant nuke + debuff.

Next I attempted to root the Minis, but that also seemed to be a mistake. Root Magmatron and he'll just AOE your team into oblivion. Root Arcanotron and he'll finish your pet all on his own with his super hard hitting + debuff attack. And last but not least, Electron - very few of my pets on Alpha are faster than Electron, meaning he has the move advantage and can get his attack + stun off first. Rooting him meant my pet was stunned and then dead before I knew it the majority of the time.

Side note: There might be a bug with this battle. Mudslide didn't seem to work on any of the Minis. Magmatron is an elemental, so it wouldn't work on him of course. But the other two... they just kept swapping like mad. I had no problem rooting them with other abilities though, so yea, probably a bug.

At this point I was pretty flustered. This was the first fight on Alpha that I had run into that left me feeling stumped. The rest I managed to work out, even with the limited number of pets that I have on Alpha, but this encounter...THIS ONE. Geeze.

I decided to enlist the help of the OH and see what his thoughts on it were. After a brief overview of the Pet Battle mechanics involved, we came up with a team that seemed to be more successful than my other attempts.

We decided that the biggest threat was Arcanotron, followed by Electron. Magmatron's damage wasn't to be ignored, but avoiding it wasn't as high a priority as dodging his bros. Avoidance was key.

So the team we made was Stinker, and two rabbits (both with 322 speed). Stinker was really just a damage/damage soaker to be honest. We used Stench but that ability is so unreliable. It did cause a couple rounds of misses for the Minis though. That probably helped a little. A third rabbit would have been preferable but my collection is lacking on Alpha. The MVPs were the bunnies and their speed.

With a full critter team, not only was the AOE weak against them, but they also couldn't be rooted/stunned. This neutered Magmatron and Electron somewhat (the damage was still high and shouldn't be ignored), which let us focus on Arcanotron.

Dodge and Burrow were the way to go to! My rabbits couldn't avoid EVERY attack from Arcanotron, but it was enough so that they could put some decent damage in on all the Minis. I had to really focus and think about each move before using it; any slip up would have been really punishing.

In the end I finally defeated this swap-crazy team - my Dust Bunny had 29 HP left. THAT'S how close it was. THAT'S how tough the battle was, at least with my limited collection on Alpha.

I think I would have had an easier time if I had access to all of my pets that I have on live, but I really couldn't say for sure. Maybe it wouldn't be easier; these Minis are no push overs.

Anyway, fight completed. It's been the most challenging (and frustrating) one on Alpha so far! I immediately went out and captured another 322 speed rabbit right after. Yenno, just in case this quest pops up again. ;)

Kudos to the pet battle dev team for this one. The encounter mechanics are new, different, and really make you consider your pets and strat carefully.

Tough fight, not impossible, but I could definitely see some players struggling with it. Pretty fun and feels rewarding when you get though!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Legion Alpha: Narcissa's Mirror (aka: *SQUEEING NOISES*)

I can't even begin to describe my excitement over a new toy coming in Legion (how we obtain it still TBA, however Wowhead has it listed as a purchasable item from a vendor for 1000 Pet Charms): Narcissa's Mirror!

This toy is sort of a sister toy to the Magic Pet Mirror, except instead of turning you into your pet, you turn your pet INTO YOU. How freaking awesome is that?

After some testing on Alpha, here's how it works. Keep in mind that all of this is subject to change, nothing is set in stone yet!

Legion Alpha: Pet Battle World Quest Updates

Alpha received an update yesterday (build 21531) and so did the Pet Battle World Quests (initial overview can be found here).

Here's a list of changes.
  • Pet Battle quest is NOT available in all 6 six zones on a daily basis anymore. Yesterday there were only 2 quests up, and today there's only 1 Pet Battle quest available (second quest was hiding in Suramar; thanks to @SerrinneWoW for pointing it out XD). (see this post where I track the available quests each day)
  • Pet Battle encounters are phased out unless they are the quest(s) of the day.
  • You cannot re-enter the battle once you've completed the quest.
  • Players sub-level 110 cannot battle the World Quest pets.
  • New type of quest: Find and defeat or capture X wild pets.
  • New achievement related to Pet Battle World Quests: Pet Battles > Battle > Battle on the Broken Isle (Complete 30 different Pet Battle World Quests - no reward (yet?))

Keep in mind that all of the above is still subject to change!

I'm a little sad to see that not all zones have Pet Battle World Quests available each day anymore. This greatly limits the amount of Pet Battle PVE content we'll have (initially) in Legion.

However a concern was brought up that the Pet Battle quests may take the spot of another type of activity, even though Pet Battling isn't as common a style of gameplay as questing, killing elites, etc. While I don't know if this reduction in the number of pet quests each day was made because of this concern, the change does seem to address it.

More testing will have to be done; it's not clear just how many Pet Battle World Quests are supposed to be available each quest rotation. One? Two? Enough to satisfy at least one objective in each of the emissary quests?

Personally, I'd like to see at least 3 up each day (half of total number of zones). Maybe 4. I think that would be a fair compromise. Depending on the randomization of quests each day, it would also still take at least a week+ to complete the new achievement.

Also, there was a new type of Pet Battle World Quest the other day - defeat or capture 3 different wild pets in the zone. One would think that that's pretty easy right? I mean, there's no legendary or elite/boss pet encounter to complete. However, I actually found this a bit more challenging purely due to travel time and time constraints.

Unlike the static PVE encounters, your objectives are spread out all over the zone. The challenge isn't in the battle, it's simply FINDING the battle.

For my quest, I had to defeat or capture a Vale Flitter, Shimmering Aquafly, and Spring Strider. The first one was easiest to find, but the last two were a lot harder since I wasn't very familiar with the zone yet.

On top of that, there was only ~20 minutes left on the quest duration before the World Quests changed for the day. That added even more pressure.

Some unknowns: Are the quest objectives static or will they change? Does each zone have a similar "fight 3 different wild pets" quest? Since I didn't have much time, I was unable to test if secondary pets counted towards completion. The Vale Flitter and Shimmering Aquafly were both primary pets, and I never found a Spring Strider.

So I'm not sure I like that type of quest. Maybe once I'm more familiar with the area and know where to find each wild pet, it won't be as bad. But I also worry about competition over these wild pets to not only complete the quest, but also collectors simply trying to collect them. Will there be enough pet spawns to adequately meet the needs of the number of players participating? We'll have to see I guess.

The other changes made seem more like bug fixes than anything. Being able to enter any Pet Battle World Quest, whether or not it was part of the day's rotation didn't seem like it was intended. Nor did the ability to repeat the fight over and over again, or sub-level 110s being able to engage in the battle.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

More Pet Tuning In Legion - Farewell Howl-Bomb

A number of pet tuning changes are coming in Legion, however even more updates are being considered.

New to the list:
  • Cleave damage reduced by 25% (no longer has a 1 round cooldown).

Dev note: We heard your concerns about adding a cooldown to cleave and agreed that this felt like a better solution.

  • Shell Armor duration reduced from 3 rounds to 2.

Dev note: Shell armor was very powerful compared to other flat damage reduction abilities, this should bring it more in line with them.

  • The damage bonus from Howl now only affects one attack.

  • Pandaren Water Spirit's Whirlpool and Geyser now share the same ability slot.

Dev note: This is our first iteration at disarming the Howl Bomb strategy in PvE, which has proven to be very powerful in too many situations. The goal is to make PvE battles more interesting and encourage the use of a wide variety of pets.
Developers are welcoming constructive discussion and feedback, as always!

I've left some feedback on one of the changes (Howl), because that one hits home for me. I'm biased since I *do use* Howl, but in non-Howl-Bomb strategies.

The Howl-Bomb nerfs were inevitable IMO, and while I'm a little sad to see it go (it was always nice to have a clutch strat if you got stuck on a fight or were short on time and needed a quick win), I'd like to think that it will be better overall for Pet Battle gameplay.

I wouldn't be surprised if a new 'go-to' strategy pops up though lol.

I don't think these changes are ready for testing on Alpha just yet, so those are just my initial thoughts. Depending on how these new tuning updates play out, I may change my point of view.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Baby Winston Has Arrived

I caved this morning and pre-purchased Overwatch Origins. It's a good thing I did because Baby Winston was delivered to those that bought Origins today!

So far I haven't noticed any interactions, but he's got some neat idle animations.

Adjusts his glasses

Throws down a force field shield and stands in it

Holds and charges up an electric weapon

And last but not least, he enrages and grows larger with glowing eyes and fists

Oh and throws out a few swipes and swings too

He's only got one tooth, which I guess is appropriate for a little baby. Still teething! D'aaaww. :)

Legion Alpha: List of Pet Battle World Quests

Keeping track of Pet Battle World Quests from Legion Alpha. My original post on this new feature found here, and an update to World Quests here.

► DAY 1 quests completed:

Azsuna - Training With the Nightwatchers (Nightwatcher Merayl, reward: Flawless leveling stone)
Pets: Breezy Book, Helpful Spirit, Delicate Moth (all level 25 rare)

Dalaran - Fight Night: Sir Galveston (Sir Galveston, reward: Magic leveling stone)
Pets: Sir Murkeston, Coach, Greatest Foe (all level 25 epic)

Val'sharah - Only Pets Can Prevent Forest Fires (Living Coals, reward: Polished Magic stone)
Pets: Cackling Flame, Devouring Blaze, Living Coals (all level 25 rare)

Highmountain - Snail Fight! (Odrogg, reward: Dragonkin leveling stone)
Pets: Rocklick, Slow Moe, Snot (all level 25 rare)

Stormheim - My Beast's Bidding (Robert Craig, reward: Undead leveling stone)
Pets: Thrugtusk, Wumpas, Baeloth (all level 25 epic)

Suramar - Threads of Fate (Felsoul Seer, reward: Polished Humanoid stone)
Pets: ??

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