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 tier pets.
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!