Today is the Grubbles/Scrags/Stings daily at the Menagerie. It’s one of the ones that’s suitable for farming rapidly for XP (although not quite as well-known for this as the Jahan daily). I figured I’d use the chance to mention a few thoughts on Pet Battles.
I captured a short video to make clear what I’m talking about. This is two repetitions of the fight, with a carry pet, in 2.5 minutes. It gets the carry pet (Frostwolf Pup) from level 1-12, although it would go considerably faster if I had both levels of Pet Treat on in addition to the Safari Hat. With those it’s 4 battles to level up to around 22 (at which point it’s easier to get the last few with Training Stones). So you can grind this as much as you want on the appropriate days, powerleveling as much as 1 pet every 5 minutes.
The basic question is whether or not this should be prevented, but that question brings up a few interesting points about how the Pet Battle system as changed since its introduction.
Levels, Rarities, and Breeds
I see Pet Battles as possibly exceeding anyone’s expectations as far as how rich they wound up being. As of now, the gameplay inherent in the massive number of pets alone (and their complex combat interactions) would be a great game, even if there were no levels, rarities, or breeds. I know why those things are needed to some extent (rarities give some excitement to wild pets, levels so that initial progression exists). But it’s worth pointing out that most pet battling among enthusiasts is all max level and among rares (both PvP and PvE), so these mechanics don’t play much part, and it has no shortage of good complexity.
So the solution taken in Warlords has been the right one–don’t cut out these concepts, but make it so that once someone is experienced and capable of doing difficult fights, they can skip past them. Once someone is good enough at Pet Battles to do the difficult Draenor and Menagerie dailies repeatably, they can buy both rarity and level stones cheaply. That removes most of the hassle of worrying about those concepts and lets pet enthusiasts do what they care about–try an interesting variety of pets in different situations.
And I emphasize again, this is largely the case because the Pet Battle system is good, and so rich and complex, that it doesn’t need any filler material. Leveling or grinding or whatever, as a gating mechanism to getting to use more pets, has very little place once someone has moved beyond the basics. I’m sure that when they were starting to put this minigame together, the fear was in the opposite direction, that it was imperative to ensure was sufficient complexity and variation. Like when you’re working on a writing assignment for school, and at some point you transition from the initial terror of the blank page to the realization that you’re gone over the required length and now it’s even more work to remove the parts you don’t actually need.
As an aside: the one pet “variation” mechanic that is still not circumventable by purchasable upgrades, breeds, continues to be a thorn in the side of players. This one the game would have been fine without. I do imagine that it was put in with the idea of anticipating a future system of (oddly enough) breeding, and that of course could be interesting. I’m generally guessing this from the way that each pet’s breed is made up of two “genes” (leading to the typical nomenclature players use for breeds: B/B, H/S, etc.). But right now it’s not needed, and breeds existing on their own haven’t helped anything.
In more detail, here’s how pet leveling looks in the absence of farming XP at Menagerie:
–Every day, do Menagerie daily for 8 tokens (with 3 pets, like you currently do on most days when it’s not a fast farmable one like Jahan or Scrags).
–Do a round of Draenor 2-petting a handful of trainers, maybe 4 out of the 6 that are easy (Cymre is a pain to 2-pet, and Tarr’s out of the way).
That actually works out really conveniently to almost exactly one pet leveled 1-25 per day–1-19 or so from dumping 4 trainers’ worth of XP into the carry pet, and you can buy the last few levels since you got around 24 tokens from doing all that, and buy a Battle-Stone if needed.
That’s how it looks without any unusual grinding, and indeed how I did everything in Draenor since I didn’t discover Menagerie grinding until later, and the pace was okay. As with anything, the longer you do it the more you’d prefer to speed it up. But overall, this scenario was fine. If Menagerie grinding was removed, my ability to do pet stuff wouldn’t be overly hampered.
So between that, and the fact that, from what I hear, people some who get tipped off to Menagerie grinding early might never do any other Draenor Pet content, it should probably be nerfed. However, I do think that its effect, of increasing the pace at which you can level pets, is on balance a good thing, so I’ll be a little sad. One other thought is that having to visit all the Draenor trainers every day, more than many other things, will make the case to get flying back sooner rather than later.
Mixed feelings on this overall. Yes, it’s slightly more aggressive powerleveling than is allowed otherwise. I just want to keep in mind that there were powerleveling methods before this, and they were good and honestly even necessary for fun pet gameplay. So in short, yeah, this breaks the rules a little more than previous methods–and it’s a way of grinding one thing repeatedly, always a red flag. But, giving players easier ways to improve level/rarity of pets more efficiently has only been improving Pet Battles. So it’s hard to get worked up about this one. Overall, I’d say Blizzard realizes this–not only were the easy methods of gaining levels and rarity added in Warlords probably just for this purpose, but in 6.1 they are giving each character one free L25 pet upgrade, further shortening the barriers to get to the good part.
Is it right to nerf the farming of these few easy Menagerie dailies that can be 2-petted? Probably, since ultimately it’s a good principle to not encourage endlessly farming one thing. But it’s not in the least bit because the ability to quickly powerlevel pets is some kind of problem. It’s actually one of the best improvements to the system in Warlords.
P.S.: One intermediate solution might simply be to buff the Jahan fight. This is really only coming up so widely because that one is so easy to farm that even comparative beginners can get a team to do it. 3 pets with the same elemental weakness, plus a huge damage buff (plus they use Arcane Storm with plays right into their own weakness), means it’s really easy to make a team that blows them up in a few rounds. Some others are farmable like Scrags, but 1) it’s slower, and 2) it tends to require rare pets like Xu-fu that you don’t have unless you’ve already put your time in.