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Finding Dominant Battle Pets: A Very Preliminary Analysis

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One of the features I'm most excited about with the new expansion is pet battles. I was pretty into collecting in-game companions (161 pre-patch) but never got into TCG or Blizz store pets so I was far from a completionist. With almost triple the number of pets AND something useful to do with them, collecting just became even more compelling!

I didn't have access to the beta, so I haven't been able to test out details of how the system works. I also haven't seem much theorycrafting in this area - if anyone knows of discussions in progress elsewhere please let me know!

Anyway, one possibility that jumped out immediately was the chance to exploit the weakness system. Each attack type does 50% extra damage against one type of enemy, 33% less damage against another, and normal damage to the rest. Therefore, finding a pet that's strong against its opponent's attacks but can also strike their weakness could be a pretty big advantage!

There are obviously ways around these types of matchups - the easiest being for the opponent to switch to a different pet. Also, most pets have more than one type of attack in their arsenal, and will be able to at least partially avoid the disadvantage. I have a feeling that this technique won't be as important in PvP combat, but it may be useful against AI opponents when you're out grinding for rare captures.

Anyway, here are some advantageous pets I've found to use against each type of opponent. I've focused primarily on rare-quality pets as they seem to have better stats in general. It is highly like that better ways to exploit each type will be found once the system goes live, but hopefully this will help at first!

Humanoid: weak vs. beasts with undead damage

[Mr. Grubbs] has a decent attack that also drains health, on a 1-round cooldown. Other tamable Maggots seem to have the same ability in a weaker form - I don't know if they will be on par if they're found in rare quality or if they're inherently worse.

Dragonkin: weak vs. undead with humanoid damage
The tameable Scourged Whelpling has a fairly weak humanoid-type attack that may be helpful.

Flying: weak vs. dragonkin with magic damage

[Tiny Emerald Whelpling] looks like a strong choice - it can add a 10% magic debuff and has another solid magic attack.

Critter: weak vs. humanoids with beast damage
Flayer Youngling looks like the best tamable option available as a rare. In the meantime, the uncommon [Curious Wolvar Pup] is a good start.

Undead: weak vs. aquatic with critter damage
Most of the frog family have a couple decent critter attacks, Jubling and Mojo being available as rares right away.

Magic: weak vs. mechnaical with dragonkin damage
Unfortunately there don't seem to be any pets capable of this, not even the Mechanical Pandaren Dragonling!

Elemental: weak vs. critters with aquatic damage
There are a number of tameable snails with aquatic attacks, such as the Rusty Snail.

Beast: weak vs. flying with mechanical damage
Again, nothing that seems to be capable of this combination.

Aquatic: weak vs. magic with flying damage
The jewelcrafting pet [Jade Owl] looks like the only option here.

Mechanical: weak vs. elementals with... elemental damage??
This is a pretty weird one, since it makes mechanicals weak against pretty much all elementals. But mechanical pets do have arguably the most powerful special ability (coming back to life at 20% health after being KO'd) so perhaps they were intentionally given a big weakness to compensate.