Guide To Creating A PvP Team
Pet battle PvP is quite different from PvE. When facing the trainers you know exactly what move sets they have and often the sequence in which they perform these moves. In PvP you will be facing a thinking opponent and you have no idea what type of team you will be facing. Creating teams to face these thinking opponents can be a daunting task.
What is the purpose of this guide?
This guide is intended primarily for people who already collect and have leveled pets from each family and would like to start PvPing at max level (which is 25 at the time of writing). Choosing your team is a huge part, perhaps the most important part of being successful in PvP. The goal after reading this is for you to be able to create your own viable PvP teams.
What this guide isn’t
It is not a leveling guide. It is not a pet battle PvE guide. It is not a how to PvP guide. The actual act of pet battle PvPing will be up to you to learn after you create your team. This isn’t a guide on how to make a team that will steam roll every other team you encounter. It’s here to get new PvP battlers started making their own teams.
Before getting started there are a few important facts that you need to know. If you have already done some pet battling then you probably already know this. I have included it nevertheless.
Preliminary Knowledge A: Families
Pets are classified into 10 families. In order to PvP you need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each family. Every pet and every attack has a family classification. If an attack is strong against another pet then it does 150% of its normal damage. If an attack is weak against another pet then it does 66% of its normal damage. A major part of being successful in pet PvP is using strong attacks against your opponents.
Listed below is each family, what it is strong against and what it is weak against.
Humanoid is strong against dragonkin but weak against beast.
Dragonkin is strong against magic but weak against undead.
Magic is strong against flying but weak against mechanical.
Flying is strong against aquatic but weak against dragonkin.
Aquatic is strong against elemental but weak against magic.
Elemental is strong against mechanical but weak against critter.
Mechanical is strong against beast but weak against elemental.
Beast is strong against critter but weak against flying.
Critter is strong against undead but weak against humanoid.
Undead is strong against humanoid but weak against aquatic.
Note that a pet may have attacks from a different family. For example, a Bat from the flying family has flying, undead, and beast attacks.
While I have heard the terms used differently in other games, this is the way I will use the following terms:
Hard counter – This pet’s moves are strong against you. My Emperor Crab is a hard counter to your Fel Flame (elemental) because my Surge (aquatic attack) is strong against you.
Soft counter – Your attacks are weak against this pet. My Arctic Hare (critter) is a soft counter to your Fel Flame because your elemental attack is weak against me.
Double counter – Your attacks are weak against this pet and this pet’s moves are strong against you. My Shimmershell Snail is a double counter to your Fel Flame (elemental) because I have an aquatic attack (Dive) which is strong against you and I am a critter, so your elemental attacks are weak against me.
Preliminary Knowledge B: Family Bonuses
Each pet family has its own special set of buffs.
Humanoid – recovers 4% of maximum health at the end of a round if it successfully attacked
Dragonkin – deals 50% more damage on the turn after brining an enemy pet below 50%
Magic- cannot lose more than 35% of their maximum health from a single attack
Flying- 50% extra speed when above 50% of maximum health
Aquatic – harmful DoT effects reduced by 50%
Elemental – ignore negative weather effects
Mechanical – come back to life with 20% health after first death
Beast – gain 50% attack when under 50% health
Critter – cannot be rooted, stunned or put to sleep (currently the sleep part doesn’t work properly)
Undead – comes back to life with 1 health after dying, dies at the end of the next round
Sometimes these are referred to as the “racial bonus” or simply a pet’s “racial”.
Preliminary Knowledge C: Stats and Breeds
There are three stats on your pet: health(H), power(P) and speed(S). Each pet has a fixed set of base stats and a breed associated with it.
Each pet has 24 base stats allocated between health, power and speed. Currently there is nothing you can do to change this. However, There are 10 different breeds (not including gender). Every pet has between 1.5 and 2 extra stat points allocated to it based upon its breed. You can find a chart listing how each breed allocates those points here. Each breed has a number associated with it, but people have developed a two-letter system to make it easier to keep track of. From the add-on Battle Pet Breed ID by Hugh@Burning Blade and Simca@Malfurion:
“The letter system was developed as a way to more quickly tell breeds apart from each other. Each letter represents one half of the stat contribution that makes up a breed. A few examples: S/S (#6) is a pure speed breed. S/B (#11) is half speed with the other half balanced between all three stats. H/P(#7) is half health and half power.”
Here is a list of all the breeds:
Breed 3 – B/B
Breed 4 – P/P
Breed 5 – S/S
Breed 6 – H/H
Breed 7 – H/P
Breed 8 – P/S
Breed 9 – H/S
Breed 10 – P/B
Breed 11 – S/B
Breed 12 – H/B
Creating a Team
Now that we have all the preliminaries out of the way it’s time to make a team. The first step is simple: choose a pet. This sounds simplistic, but you have to start somewhere. It is my belief that you can make a viable team out of almost any pet you choose. Blizzard has done a decent job of nerfing previously overpowered pets and not introducing new ones. There are currently no Fluxfire Felines (5.1) or direhorns (5.3).
So how do you choose that first pet? You can pick a pet based on appearance. You can pick based on emotional attachment, you know that you love that pet that’s been following you around for all these years. You can pick a pet that has performed well in PvE. You can pick a pet that you read is good on the forums. You can pick a pet because you like its family bonus or some effect it applies to your opponent.
Just pick one, and now the trick is to create synergy, a buzzword that is thrown around pet battle discussions quite often. From dictionary.com synergy is defined as “the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements”. Basically we will choose your two other pets in a way that will make your starting pet better.
Types of Synergy
Below I have listed some of the many types of synergy you can create. The more of these you have, the better your team will perform. However, you don’t need them all to have a good team.
One of the most basic things to consider when trying to build synergy is coverage. Coverage is based on what type of family your pet is. You want to pick your second pet so that it is a strong counter to a pet that is strong against you. Let’s say you started with a critter. Then beast attacks are strong against you. So you would choose a pet with mechanical attacks, which are strong against beasts. Now your second pet is exposed to a certain family of attacks. Not to worry, pick your third pet to deal with that pet family. You only get three pets so the coverage has to stop somewhere.
Example 1: Start with an Arctic Hare. Since it is a critter it will be vulnerable to beast attacks. You then pick Robo-Chick (a mechanical) to attack the beasts. Now your Robo-Chick is vulnerable to elementals. You then pick an Emperor Crab (an aquatic), so he can attack the elementals.
Note that you don’t have to stay within families to use this method.
Example 2: Start with an Arctic Hare. Since it is a critter it will be vulnerable to beast attacks. You then pick the Enchanted Broom, a magic pet that has mechanical attacks to attack the beasts. Now the Enchanted Broom is vulnerable to dragonkin. You then pick Flayer Youngling (a humanoid), so he can attack the dragonkin.
B. Diverse Family Attacks
Ok, you have a team that has coverage, what’s next. Depending on what moves you choose you may need to spread out the strong attacks onto different families. Let’s continue with Example 1 above. The Robo-Chick is used to kill beasts so you need to chose a mechanical attack. But there are three slots to choose moves from.
In the first slot you can choose between Batter and Peck. The second slot is a choice between a self-buff and a heal. The third choice is between Wind-Up and Supercharge. All of the attacks are mechanical except for Peck (a flying attack). For that reason you would choose Peck over Batter. Why? You will still get the strong attack against beasts with Wind-Up, but now you are better equipped to handle more families. Not only will beasts cower at the Wind-Up but any aquatics will now fear the Robo-Chick and his flying attack Peck!
Unfortunately, this is not as clear cut as it may seem. By relying on Wind-Up as your sole mechanical attack you are now telegraphing the move (it is a charge up, two turn attack) and any potential beast victims can swap out. For every choice there is a trade-off, but in most cases having more types of attacks is a good thing.
The goal with diverse family attacks is to have strong attacks against as many families as possible. If you want to give up some coverage and focus on diversifying your family attacks you can always exchange a pet used for coverage with a pet that has three different family attacks. Some pets have more than three different family attacks to choose from. The Nether Ray Fry can choose form six!
A different type of synergy is based on effects. There are many moves in the game that add effects to the pets. Let’s pick the example of the bleeding effect. There is a beast attack called Rip that does a minimal amount of damage but puts a DoT and an effect called “bleeding” on the opponent. There are other attacks that have increased damage against or increased chance to hit a bleeding target. Blood In The Water is a powerful attack that normally has a high chance to miss but always hits if the target is bleeding. Maul does extra damage if the target is bleeding.
You can now take this effect and try to create a team around it. Let’s say you choose Snarly to start with, who has both Rip and Blood In The Water. You will then choose either another pet that has Blood In The Water/Maul or another pet that can apply the bleeding effect. You could choose Dun Morogh Cub because he has the move Maul. Now not only does Snarly benefit from the Bleeding effect, the Cub can really pack a punch on bleeding targets with Maul.
Ok, you have Snarly and the Dun Morogh Cub. Next you have a tough choice. Do you want to provide some coverage for Snarly or the Dun Morogh Cub? Or do you want to create more effect synergy by including another Rip or Maul? You could choose a Hyjal Bear Cub (beast) or Infested Bear Cub (undead) with Maul. Out of these two choices you should pick the Infested Bear Cub because it is undead and you already have a beast. Or you could choose a Squirrel so that you have another pet to apply bleeding. So many choices. After you make those choices you can then try to diversify your family attacks or provide some coverage by choosing the appropriate moves for each pet.
Just a reminder in case you forgot, this isn’t a guide about how awesome bleeding and Maul are. It’s supposed to help you create your own team. Go find another effect and build a team around it. Others types of effects are blinded, plagued blood, burning and chilled to name a few.
Some effects are brought about by using skills that apply weather to the playing field. Weather differs from other effects because it applies the effect to all active pets, not just the pets that the move was used against. Creating a weather team is very common in PvP pet battles. While weather usually provides a powerful effect that benefits you it also has some big risks. Your opponent may be using weather also. If they change the weather your team might lose most of its effectiveness. Another risk is that it benefits both teams equally. I just love when I have a healing team and my opponent applies Moonlight (which buffs healing). Thanks for the help! Keep in mind that the elemental racial makes them immune to negative weather effects, so you may lose some effectiveness if facing an elemental.
As an example of how to make a weather team I will choose one of the lesser used weathers, Cleansing Rain. Cleansing Rain gives aquatic attacks a 25% buff and reduces harmful damage over time effects by one round. An obvious choice would be to pick three aquatic pets for this team. Picking three (or even two) of the same family for your team is an extremely risky choice. If the opposing team has one hard counter you’re in for a world of hurt in the form of strong attacks. In other words, if I have three aquatics just one flying pet on the opposing team will destroy me.
So you have to be creative. Lets start with a Leopard Tree Frog. He can apply Cleansing Rain. Instead of choosing two more aquatics you can choose non-aquatics with aquatic attacks. How about Curious Oracle Hatchling (humanoid) and Legs (magic). Both of these pets have aquatic attacks. They also have magic, humanoid, and mechanical moves. If you decide to give the frog Tongue Lash then you also have a critter attack. That’s five families of attacks with one of the types being buffed by 25%. This team also has coverage with the humanoid attack covering the magic pet.
E. Diverse Damage Types
Another consideration while making a team is the way in which your attacks do damage. I classify attacks in the following ways:
Normal – Your standard attack, it hits the opponent once for a set amount of damage.
Nuke (or CD) – hits for a big amount of damage and has a long cooldown (3+ turns)
End of turn – like a nuke these hit for a big amounts of damage, they are usually telegraphed in some way, have a long cooldown and do their damage at the end of a turn
Multi-attacks – Hits the opponent for a less than normal amount of damage multiple times, usually dependent upon speed
DoT – Applied once, it will continue to damage the opponent for multiple turns, even if they are not the active pet
Avoid – a move that allows you to completely avoid all incoming damage
Mitigation – A shield or attack debuff, or anythng that lessens incoming damage
Effect – Does a small amount of damage but also applies an effect
Effect based – Does more damage or has some utility if a certain effect is present
Charge (or wind-up) – These attacks take one turn to charge and another to attack. Some of these like Pump and Wind-Up apply a small buff while charged.
Ramp-up – Damage increases after each use on the same target, up to a maximum amount. Reset when pet attacking with ramp-up is swapped.
Priority – These moves almost always go first, regardless of the speed of the pet using them
Utility – Does damage but also performs some other action.
Multi-turn – Does good damage or has good utility spread out over many turns
Buff/Debuff – Increases or decreases a certain stat (Health, Power, or Speed)
CC – Stuns, freezes, roots or otherwise makes your opponent have less control over their pet
With 600+ pets there are probably some moves that don’t fit nicely into any categories, but for the purposes of this guide we have most moves covered.
It’s good to have a mixture of many types of these on your team because they all have their pros and cons.
Nukes hit for a lot but can’t be used often and are telegraphed, thus easily mitigated. Using nukes that take multiple turns are not a good way to finish off an opponent who has a small amount of health remaining. Where nukes do a really good job is versus shielded opponents. Shields usually reduce damage by a flat rate rather than a percent. So a a small percentage of nuke damage will be mitigated by a shield, as opposed to a much larger percentage from normal, multiple, or DoT attacks.
Multiple attacks are great for killing mechanicals since the second and third attacks will hit after the pet has resurrected.
Multi-attacks can be shut down by shields and Sandstorm (a type of weather) very easily. Shields reduce the damage from each hit. Using a multiple attack against a shielded opponent means your normally small amount of damage is even smaller, so it’s better to use normal attacks or nukes against shields.
Another drawback of multi-attacks is the dependance upon your speed. Most multiple attacks will attack an extra time if you attack before your opponent and have a higher speed. Thus your extra attack can be stopped by speed debuffs or moves like Surge, which always goes first.
DoTs are great because you can apply them to your opponent’s active pet and they will continue to do damage if either you or your opponent swap pets. DoTs tend to hit for even less than multiple attacks. For this reason their major drawback is that they are even more vulnerable to shields and Sandstorm than multiple attacks.
Mitigation will be discussed further below. Some form of mitigation is recommended for every team.
Effect and effect Based attack synergy was discussed in detail above (the bleeding team) so I won’t get into detail about effect attacks. I will say that effect based moves can be risky if the effect is missing. For example, Maul on the Dun Morogh Bear is a mediocre move if the target is not bleeding.
Ramp-up attacks I used to be somewhat weak because the damage was reset when the pet being attacked swapped out. It was too easy to swap pets when the damage started getting high. Then the mechanic was changed so that as long as the pet attacking with the ramp-up attack doesn’t swap the damage will continue to rise (up to a maximum)
Priority attacks greatly inflate a pet’s speed so that it will go first on the turn the move is used. Not only is this a good offensive skill, it is also good for defense against pets with attacks that benefit from going first.
Utility moves are situationally useful. Some common utility moves include Death Grip, Sweep and Nether Gate, which force a pet swap on top of doing damage. Traps will both interrupt and stun the enemy pet.
Multi-turn attacks should be avoided in PvP whenever possible. When you choose one of these attacks you are committed for two or three turns. This allows your opponent to easily switch to a hard counter and do some serious damage to you, all while you are helplessly committed to your attack. There are some exceptions to this. Many people love swarm/flock/stampede type moves because of the 100% damage increase debuff they provide. I say use these moves with caution.
Buffs, debuffs and CC are all situationally useful and should be considered when choosing breeds. Perhaps you can go with a slow and powerful breed if you are going to include a Speed buff on your team.
Ok, back to why we are here, creating teams. I discussed the different types of attacks for a reason. Your team will be better if you have different types of damaging attacks. Why? In PvP you never know what types of opponents you will be facing. Bring too many multiple attacks and DoTs against a shield or Sandstorm team and your damage will be shut down. If you have too many nukes and no multiple attacks you may find that when you need to kill a mechanical quickly or knock out that last bit of health from an opponent it will take you multiple turns.
Let’s take a look at Example 2 from part A to make sense of diverse types of attacks. So far you have an Arctic Hare, an Enchanted Broom, and a Flayer Youngling. For the Arctic Hare you choose Flurry (multiple), Dodge (avoid) and Burrow (avoid and attack). For the Enchanted Broom you will choose Broom (normal), Sweep (utility, forced swap), and Wind-Up (charge).
Now you have some tougher choices for the Flayer. Since you brought him into your team to cover the Enchanted Broom you will definitely want to take Blitz (multiple) because his only other humanoid attack is Kick (CC). Kick does minimal damage, stuns the opposing pet and has a three round cooldown so it doesn’t really provide the dragon killing power that you chose the Flayer for. For the middle slot you have a choice between Deflection (mitigation) and Focus (buff). Neither is an attack. You could choose Deflection for more mitigation.
In the last slot you have a choice between Rampage (multi-turn) and Kick. Rampage will do two things for me, it will give me another family of attacks (beast) and it will provide some much needed damage. The major drawback it that is a multi turn attack. Many flayers have died to my Ghostly Bite (undead nuke) because they made the mistake of casting Rampage. I am also losing the Kick, which can be a useful interrupt.
It’s a lot to consider, I know. If you take a step back and look at the types of attacks you will notice that you have 3 mitigation, 2 multiple attacks, 1 utility, 1 CC, 1 normal, 1 nuke, 1 multi-turn. Those three mitigation moves really stand out as being a bit too much.The attack potential of this team isn’t looking too good. While survivable, it might be hard to kill opponents. At this point you can go back and make some changes to your move set. Or you can rethink your choice of pets. Do you really need coverage for your Enchanted Broom? Maybe your third pet doesn’t need to be a humanoid. If you feel more comfortable having coverage, maybe the flayer is a poor humanoid choice. What other humanoids do you have at your disposal that would be a better fit? These are questions you should be asking and answering yourself.
Again I would like to remind you that there is nothing special about this particualr team or set of moves. It’s the thought process that goes into creating a good team that I am trying to convey to you.
So now you have it all worked out. You have coverage, diverse family attacks, diverse damage types and effect synergy. You’re not done yet. You still need to decide on which breeds to choose. First you need to know what breeds are available. You can either get an add-on like Pet Battle Breed ID or you can visit Pet Search. A nice function of Warla’s site is that it lists all of your pets along with each pet’s breed.
Before continuing on this topic I would like to say that this is a beginner’s guide and breeds are a more advanced type of synergy. If you would like to skip this section for now then by all means do so. The last thing I want is to do is dissuade someone from trying a team because they feel they don’t have the best breeds. Feel free to skip this section and come back after you’ve had some practice creating and trying out a few different teams.
The breed you choose really depends on what the role of your pet is. Let’s look at Example 2 from above. The Arctic Hare has a multiple attack and Dodge. I really need speed for this pet. Why? Getting an extra attack out of the multi attack is based upon your speed relative to your opponent’s speed. It is also beneficial to go first in order to maximize Dodge. If you cast Dodge before your opponent moves then you dodge all attacks for this turn and the next. If you are slower and cast dodge, you end up casting it after your opponent has already attacked you, thus dodging attacks during the next round only. The choice is obvious, you want a fast breed. Look at all the breeds of Arctic Hares and pick the faster breeds.
I go to the website listed above and notice that there are 6 different breeds of Arctic Hare (not counting gender). Two of the breeds have 322 Speed (S/B and H/S) and one has 357 speed (S/S). Since there are a lot pets with 325 Speed in my meta game I will choose the Arctic Hare with 357 Speed so that I am always faster than my opponent.
So now here’s what you need to do: go out and catch yourself an S/S breed Arctic Hare. If you already have an Arctic Hare that is a different breed don’t let that stop you from using it, but know that it could probably perform better if it were a different breed. You should also check to see if you have another Rabbit or Hare pet that is an S/S breed. There are many similar pets with different names and most rabbit pets have the exact same move set. I should mention that there are other rabbit pets besides the Arctic Hare. They have the same exact move set but come in different breeds. If you have a pet without the breed you want there’s a chance that there is a pet with a similar (or exact) move set that does, especially if the pet is wild caught.
Lets look at another example of breeds, the bleeding team from above. While technically different pets, Snarly, Toothy, Chuck, and Muckbreath are realistically the same pet (same move set and same model) with different breeds. Let’s analyze the breeds.
Snarly is H/P, his stats are 1546/305/244 (Health/Power/Speed)
Muckbreath is B/B his stats are 1481/293/260
Toothy is P/S his stats are 1400/305/273
Chuck is B/B, his stats are 1481/293/260
What do you want from your little crocolisk? The Bleeding team that you made is all about doing massive damage, so you want high Power. Snarly and Toothy both have the highest Power, so you will choose between those two. Now you need to decide what is more important to you, 273 speed and less Health or 244 speed and more Health? Speed is a tricky stat to work with.
I would argue that the H/P breed is a better choice. If you go with the P/S breed (Toothy) you get less Health and 273 Speed is really not that fast. Many pets will be faster that Toothy, so you are sacrificing health for no reason. Plus, you have a move called Surge which always goes first regardless of Speed. This makes Speed an even less desirable stat. It’s all pointing to choosing Snarly, the H/P breed.
Before proceeding I would just like to clear something up. The above example is special in the sense that you are comparing the breeds of different pets that have the same move sets. Most of the time you will be looking at one pet and trying to decide between the different breeds available for that one pet. For example, if you want a Scourged Whelpling on your team you will have to decide which of the two breeds is a better fit, the H/H or the P/S.
Let’s look at some simpler examples.
The Scalded Basilisk Hatchling (one of my all-time favorite pets) comes in two breeds: H/S (1465/260/305) and H/B (1465/273/289). Just like the crocolisks above you need to decide what you are using the pet for. The move set I like for the Scalded Basilisk Hatchling is Thrash, Feign Death and Crystal Prison. Thrash is a multi-attack that has a chance to hit an extra time if the basilisk is faster than the opposing pet so speed will be beneficial. Crystal Prison traps the opposing pet in a prison where they are unable to perform any actions (other than swapping). This means if I am faster than the opposing pet I will imprison them on the turn that I used Crystal Prison before they can attack me. They will also be imprisoned on the following turn, which means that my basilisk is robbing them of two turns rather than one. If my basilisk is slower, it will get attacked on same turn that it uses Crystal Prison, making it much less effective. I hope you can see where I’m going here: speed is important for the basilisk. I will choose the 305 speed H/S breed of Scalded Basilisk Hatchling. I know that there are many pets around with 289 speed and I want to be faster than as many pets as possible.
For another example let’s take a look at the Eternal Strider. There are only two breeds of Eternal Strider, P/S and S/B. However, there are three other pets that have the exact same move set as the Eternal Strider. These pets are the Mirror Strider, Aqua Strider and Dancing Water Skimmer. Here are the breeds and stats of all of the striders (health/power/speed):
S/S Aqua Strider 1319/227/374
B/B Dancing Water Skimmer 1481/260/292
H/S Dancing Water Skimmer 1546/244/305
S/B Dancing Water Skimmer 1465/257/305
H/B Dancing Water Skimmer 1546/257/289
P/S Eternal Strider 1400/273/305
S/B Eternal Strider 1465/257/305
H/S Mirror Strider 1465/244/322
B/B Mirror Strider 1400/260/309
H/B Mirror Strider 1465/257/305
(if this looks familiar it’s because I copied it from my own daily battle: 3/29/14)
As usual you have to ask yourself what you want from your pet. I like to use the move set Water Jet, Cleansing Rain and Pump. This is a combination designed to buff the Strider’s aquatic attacks and hit really hard. I see that in the P/S Eternal Strider 273 is the maximum power that I can get in a strider. This is great, but speed should always be a concern. The striders don’t have any multi-attacks that are based on speed or any CC’s that benefit from going first, but being faster than your opponent is usually a good thing. If it comes down to a final round where both your pet and the opposing pet have just a little bit of health left you really want to be attacking first so you can win. The P/S Eternal Strider had 305 speed, which is not considered especially fast, but will be faster than a lot of pets. Let’s call it high midrange speed. It seems like the P/S Eternal Strider is the best choice since it is reasonably fast and has the most power, but it’s a good idea to explore all of the options.
If you look at the other striders there are some with 257 power and 305 speed. What are you giving up for this loss of 16 power? 1465 health, or 65 more health than the P/S Eternal Strider. With most normal attacks hitting in the 300-400 damage range that 65 extra health isn’t getting you much. It’s really not worth it. What about more speed instead of power? Again, even though there’s no moves on the strider that are directly related to speed you still usually want to be faster than your opponent. The 322 speed H/S Mirror Strider may be a good idea then, right? Not really. The most common speeds of pets are 244, 260, 273, 289, 305 (less common), 309 (less common), 325 and 357. Of course there are a lot of exceptions to this, but you’re very likely to face pets with these speeds.
So where does the 322 speed Mirror Strider fit in here? It’s right below all of the 325 speed pets. However, it’s way above the next common speed of 289. That doesn’t matter, faster is faster, right? Not exactly. A lot of stats are “wasted” on speed. By being so much faster than all of those 289 speed and below pets you are giving up a lot of stats in health and power. You see, the trick with speed is that you want to be just a little bit faster than the opposing pet. That way you aren’t giving up much in the area of health and power, but you are still faster. The Aqua Strider listed above is a great example of this. It has 374 speed which makes it one of the fastest pets in the game. That much speed is almost always unnecessary since there are so few 357 speed pets around. The cost of being that fast is 227 power and 1319 health, both extremely low. So our initial conclusion that the P/S Eternal Strider is the best breed for us holds true.
As our final example let’s look at another one of my favorite pets, the Spirit Crab. It only comes in two breeds: H/H and H/S. These breeds give the stats 1807/292/195 and 1709/292/224, respectively. The H/H breed is far superior with 195 speed. This makes the Spirit Crab the slowest pet in the game right now. Why is this a good thing? Absolutely no stats are being wasted on speed. Even at 224 speed the Spirit Crab will be slower than every other pet except for a handful. This means that there is absolutely no need to choose the H/S breed, you want that extra health rather than the useless extra speed.
In general, you want to avoid and balanced breeds if you have the choice to do so. The reason is that balanced breeds have less overall stats. The pure breeds (S/S,H/H,P/P) have the most stats. This does not mean that any breed with a “B” in it is bad. In the Cleansing Rain team discussed above both the Curious Oracle Hatchling and Legs are B/B. That’s the only breed those pets come in, so there is really no choice if we want to use them. The B/B Unborn Val’kyr is faster than the H/H Unborn Val’kyr so some people prefer the faster version when these pets go head to head.
Those are what I classify as the important types of synergy necessary to build a good team. There are other concerns that go into team building that can’t really be classified as types of synergy. These will be discussed now.
Sometimes you don’t want to get hit. There are many mitigation type moves in the game. Dodge is a common move that makes you unable to be hit for the turn it is cast on and the next turn. Burrow, Lift and Dive are two turn mitigation attacks that will make you unable to be hit on the first turn and then attack on the second turn. The attack part of these moves has a high chance to miss so most people consider these moves defensive rather than offensive.
I suggest taking at least one. That way when your opponent casts a nuke or end of turn move you can get out of the way. Or maybe you just need to stay alive for one more turn while your DoT kills your opponent. Mitigation moves, although not quite mandatory, are very useful. If you don’t have a mitigation move there are other ways of diminishing the damage done by nukes. You can always put in a soft counter to the nuke, but of course it’s better to avoid it completely.
H. Damage Ranges
Back in the early days of pet battling there existed two of the most annoying things in the history of pet battles: base miss and base dodge. This meant that you could do everything right in a pet battle and if rng decided on a miss or a dodge there was nothing you could do about it. Thankfully Blizzard changed this in 5.3 and put a lot more control into the hands of the players. Each move was given an accuracy percent, with lower accuracy moves generally doing more damage. Well, that still wasn’t good enough for some people; they complained about losing due to misses.
Now most moves have a 100% chance to hit. Instead of different accuracies, now different moves have variation in the range of damage done. For example, the move Burn on an S/S Fiendish Imp (which used to be a 90% accuracy move) does 235 to 352 damage, with a higher chance of doing damage near the endpoints of the range than in the center. For a detailed explanation of the distribution look here: Burn Damage Distribution. If you don’t want to get too into the math think of it like this: Burn will either “hit high” and do damage near the top of the range or “hit low” and do damage near the bottom of the range.
So what does this have to do with creating a team? It’s really up to you how much you want luck (or rng) to play into your battles. Take a look at the B/B Unborn Val’kyr. In the first slot you have a choice between Shadow Slash and Shadow Shock. Shadow Slash does between 262 and 393 damage, while Shadow Shock does between 240 and 446 damage. By taking Shadow Shock you have the chance to hit high and do up to 446 damage, but you also have the risk of doing as little 240 damage when you hit low, which is a huge range. By taking Shadow Slash instead of Shadow Shock you can reduce the range of damage done, but at the price of not being able to do as much damage. Some moves have no damage range at all; moves like the H/H Spirit Crab’s Snap always hit for 312 damage (apart from modifiers due to strong and weak attacks).
There are still a few moves that have accuracies attached to them, such as Demolish and Cataclysm. These move hit for very high damage but only have a 50% chance to hit.
I. The Meta
One of the final things you should take into account is the meta game. This phrase has different meanings depending on who you ask or where you search but in pet battles it generally refers to which pets are the most commonly used in PvP. You want to take this into account when creating your team because even if your team has a lot of synergy if it doesn’t do well against common enemies you will most likely lose a fair amount.
Patch 5.3 and the rabbit is a good of example of how the meta can effect certain pets. The fast rabbits (like the Arctic Hare discussed above) have been a mainstay in PvP pet battles since its inception due to their ability to avoid incoming attacks so well. Rabbits use the moves Dodge and Burrow to avoid attacks. The most common attack found on a rabbit is Flurry, a multi-attack that relies on being faster than the opposing pet to get a potential extra attack. Then in 5.3 along came the direhorns. These pets were the most feared pet of 5.3, considered overpowered my most pet battlers. Direhorns are beasts with a beast attack priority move. Since direhorns were so powerful and had a good move set they were the most common pet in the 5.3 meta game. These direhorns could utterly dominate rabbits because they could use the priority move to hit rabbits with strong beast damage before the rabbits had a chance to attack or use Dodge. The point here is that even if you came up with a great team that included a rabbit you would often be at a disadvantage due to the prevalence of direhorns.
The meta game can also be used to your advantage. One of my long time favorite pets is the Mongoose Pup (that’s the third “favorite” I’ve mentioned, I know, but I have about seven). I liked it so much not because it was so good but because I thought it was fun to use due to an interesting move set. In 5.4 the most common pet in the meta was by far the Unborn Val’kyr. There was another powerful pet called the Death Adder Hatchling. What worked out well for me is that my Mongoose Pup is really good against both of these pets. The Death Adder Hatchling is a fast beast that relies on its speed and my S/S Mongoose Pup is one of the few decent pets that are faster than it. The Death Adder Hatchling is much less effective against my Mongoose Pup than other pets. Also, the Mongoose Pup is an aquatic pet which is a soft counter to the prevalent Unborn Val’kyr. The Unborn Val’kyr has a strong DoT which is somewhat countered by the aquatic racial. Since the Mongoose up is so good against the common and powerful pets it has become powerful itself.
You should never have to take the stance “if you can’t beat em’, join em'” if you are losing a lot to a certain pet or team. In pet battles it’s more like “if you can’t beat em’, then you probably haven’t searched hard enough for a counter”. That’s what playing the meta game is all about.
J. Top Pets
I’m a bit tentative about including this last section. In the beginning I stated that you can make a good team out of any pet that you choose and I stand by that. However, not all pets were created equal. Some pets just have better move sets and breeds than others which makes them a top pet. Here is a link to the current list of top and high tier pets (used for the team making competition). Please note that currently there are none of the new WoD pets on this list. As the 6.0 meta develops the list will be updated.
Please do not think that you need to use any of these pets in order to win battles. The whole premise of this guide was that you can create a decent team out of any pet, so if you want to make a team based around a Cinder Kitten or your Onyxian Whelpling then go for it. Just make sure that there’s some synergy!
To sum it all up, I have covered different ways of creating synergy within your PvP pet team. To create a PvP team, pick a pet you like. Then pick the two remaining pets in order to create the following:
B. Diverse Family Attacks
C. Effect Synergy
D. Weather Synergy
E. Diverse Damage Types
F. Breed Synergy
Other things you need to consider are:
H. Damage Ranges
I. The Meta Game
J. Top Pets
You do not need to have all of these, but usually more is better.
In the future you may find that you like some of these synergies more than others and you can build teams around just a few of them. That’s great, develop your own style. I started with coverage teams, then branched out to diversifying my family attacks. Lately I have been having a lot of fun and success with effect synergies.
I suggest just starting with one or two from the list above and then braching out later. It might be hard to get all of these synergies on one team, but go ahead and try if you like.
Now that you have your team go queue up!
published March 2013, patch 5.2
major edit April 2014, patch 5.4
minor edit December 2014, patch 6.0, changed Accuracy section to Damage Ranges and changed Top Pets section