Ok, so my brain is something of a train wreck. I was wanting to work on leveling up some pets. So why not just go do it? Because my brain doesn’t work that way. Here’s how it does work…
First, I thought, “Well, you may as well do the battles on a toon that isn’t 90 yet to get some character XP, too.” So, I did. And guess what? Toons are getting some pretty crazy character XP from pet battling, especially with level 25-ish pet battles. I’m talking about 10-14K XP per battle at levels 85-89 (for comparison, a quest is worth 12-16K at that level). I don’t know if this scaling for pet XP is intended, or how long it will last if it wasn’t. That said, it made it past the first round of post-patch hotfixes unscathed, so who knows?
Anyway, I was pretty happy with my scheme except for one little thing: I’m nearly out of level 85-89 toons to work on. So, then I thought, “Well, maybe you should see if the crazy XP scaling still works on lowbies.” So, I did. Crazily enough, it works pretty well. I was completely surprised *how* well it worked. I took my then-level-36 (now 38) pally out there to test the waters and what I found was that it’s completely viable to level up this way. I’ve been getting 3,700, 4,200 XP per battle (which is about 8% of a level on average). It is perhaps not as efficient as doing dungeons and quests at your level or in appropriate zones, but it does have the added bonus of killing two birds with one stone: you’re leveling a toon and a battle pet. Also, it’s a little something different to do, or at least to add into the mix.
Still not convinced? Bear with me.
Ok, so I know what you’re thinking. It’s the first thing Askevar asked me, and believe me, it was the first thing I was worried about myself. “Won’t you die horribly the second you step out into the world?” Shockingly, no.
One of the strangest things about the stat squish is that even at level 36-37 my little prot pally can take a couple hits from level 85-90 mobs and survive. Now, granted, he’s a tank, so he’s a little sturdier than most, and admittedly he wouldn’t ever be able to kill the creature attacking him, but you do have a few hits worth of time to run away or find help (guards, friendly players, etc.). Yes, you will still have an enormous agro radius, but it could be worse.
Ok, so your chances of survival aren’t as abysmal as you expected, but how about getting around? Isn’t that terrible, too? Actually, not as bad as you’d think.
Granted, toons below 85 will need help getting to Pandaria. I know that a mage portal does the trick. A warlock summon (or instance summoning stone) may work, but I haven’t tried it, so I can’t vouch for those. At a guess I’d say probably yes to warlock, no to instance, unless they’re a big enough level that they are able to walk into the instance, but again, that’s just a guess.
Once you’re there, though, you have a variety of options near flight paths to do your pet battling. Having a toon with a 2-seater mount fly you around to get the flight paths makes traveling between the spots I mention quick and easy. Once you have them, you’ll be self-sufficient, even on a baby toon.
- The first is obviously Halfhill. Halfhill, and the bulk of the farming lands across from it, are free from hostile mobs, making it easily the largest safe zone for your lowbie. There is a single pack of wolves that will agro on you if you’re little, but if you kite them into the town, the Halfhill guards kill them for you, giving you an easy passage into the safe zone beyond. As long as you don’t stray too far in any direction, you’ll be fine, and there are plenty of little packs of critters to fight. And I do mean critters. You’ll be facing mostly critters with a few aquatic thrown in. Any beast with Devour (most cats have it) will tear through critters quickly and Devour will keep him healed to full. Simply have a carry pet strong enough to survive a single attack in your first slot, then swap out to the cat to finish them off. Rinse and Repeat.
- The second is Tavern in the Mists (near the Black Market Auction House). There aren’t as many critters, here, and the zone isn’t quite as large, but there’s still plenty of space to move around. You can actually roam around anywhere from the foot of the big stone staircase in the Valley to the grassy ledges toward the cave separating the Veiled Stair from Kun’lai. Exactly how far you can roam at the top depends on your level, but even on an extreme lowbie there are quite a few pets scattered around. Although not quite as many as there are near Halfhill, they are usually *all* critters, meaning you won’t waste a round swapping to a flyer or doing sub-optimal damage. (The difference isn’t enough to completely make up for the increased travel time, but it helps.)
- The third is the small pond near the legendary pet No-No in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. Unlike the first 2, this one is not near an inn, although he is near a flight path. You can reach him by using the flight path to Serpent’s Spine, and then jumping down off the wall and riding around to No-No. The pets here are mostly aquatic, so you’ll want to counter with a strong flying pet with self-healing. Chi-Chi, Hatchling of Chi-Ji fits the bill nicely, as does the wild pet Flamering Moth. Any strong flyer will work if you don’t have those, but you’ll need some other way to counteract low health in your workhorse pet. You could swap out for a similar pet (moths and birds are plentiful) if you have them leveled, or you could simply use pet bandages to fill the gaps in between your free 8-minute-CD heal.
- Let me just say up front that, unlike the others, the final spot is not easily accessible. The spot is on the ledge in the Dread Wastes where the legendary pet Gorespine resides. Because it isn’t near a flight path, you’ll need to be dropped off with a 2-seater mount (or else you’ll be doing a ton of corpsewalking) and because it also isn’t near a flightpath, you won’t be wanting to move once you’re parked there. It’s strictly a “get there and camp out” option if you’re a lowbie. I only mention it because the pets gathered around Gorespine are beasts (see tip 2 below for why that is important). Counter beasts with mechanical pets.
A few tips:
- Don’t forget to click your Safari Hat, if you have one. The item is no longer worn. You click it to give you a buff that increases pet battle XP by 10% (for your pets, not you). The buff doesn’t appear to have a time limit, and it doesn’t seem to go away when you log out, but if you should happen to die, be sure to check for the buff and refresh it if needed.
- Wild pet battles have a chance (admittedly low) of randomly rewarding you a flawless battle-stone that allows you to improve one of your pets to blue quality. These are almost always of a specific type (ex: Critter, Beast, Aquatic, etc.) and the type you get is almost always the type of pets you’re battling (i.e. critters give you critter stones, beasts give you beast stones, etc.). This is why I mentioned the Gorespine spot. Critters and Beasts are the most common types, so they will require the most stones to maximize your collection.
- To travel between Halfhill and Tavern in the Mists you’ll need 3 flight paths learned: the one at Halfhill, The Grassy Cline (at the foot of the big stone stairs), and Tavern in the Mists.
- To travel between Halfhill and No-No, you’ll need 3 flight paths learned: Halfhill, your faction’s Shrine in the Vale, and Serpent’s Spine.