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Public Service Announcement

If you didn’t hear the news about all the stuff that will vanish with the Legion pre-patch, you might want to get out there and do some research. This helpful guide over at WoWhead can help you figure out what to prioritize during these last few weeks. The Legion pre-patch is due any week now, so don’t delay.

Among those items that will no longer be available after the patch are the mount awarded by defeating Heroic Archimonde, the challenge mode mount, and the guild pet rewarded from earning challenge mode gold as a guild.

If, like me, you are completely pet-crazy and cannot pass up an opportunity to collect a pet but your guild sucks and has been dead for a year, don’t despair. You can get the pet fairly easy before Legion.

The Deathwatch Hatchling is a reward for the guild’s superior efforts in challenge mode dungeons, so not every guild will obtain this fine pet before Legion hits. Thankfully, a lot of great folks have opened up their guilds to the pet collecting community.

Step one is to find a guild that has the pet unlocked. This thread over at Warcraftpets has a lot of good information in it on guilds that are currently accepting new players for the sole purpose of nabbing the pet. Find a guild and get yourself an invite.

You’ll likely have to create a new character on the guild’s server, which probably means you’ll start off with no gold. A fairly easy way to remedy this is to buy a pet off the auction house (or obtain one from its source if you’re patient enough) and then learn it so it is added to your collection. Log onto your new alt, cage the pet, and re-sell it on the auction house. If you aren’t able to do so, I recommend leveling your new character with two gathering professions and selling the materials. Also, if you have any pieces of Timeless or Baleful gear laying around collecting dust, the BoA pieces can be mailed to your new character and sold for decent gold. The hatchling only costs 300 gold, which is easy enough to make with a little effort.

The hatchling also requires revered reputation with your new guild. On your main character, purchase a guild tabard from a guild vendor (the kind that boosts your guild reputation gains) then mail it cross-server (or even cross-faction!) to your new alt. Bonus: you can sell that tabard when you’re done for more money.

There is also a guild raid achievement mount, but I have not seen any guilds offering it up without a hefty gold tag attached.

And lastly, if you’re still hoping to get the moose mount before it vanishes forever, check out Friendship Moose and give it a shot.

Best of luck to you guys!

 

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In Defense of Housing

One thing that seems to be a perennial topic of conversation is player housing, and I still don’t quite understand Blizzard’s staunch disregard for the concept. I think the developers might be thinking a little too narrowly when it comes to housing. They think of a house and not of the context of that house, or of the content that goes into truly great housing systems.

Their usual argument seems to be “we want players out in the world, not sitting in a house.” Or some variant of that theme. Yet, in Warlords, they tied us down to the garrison feature so inexorably that the primary complaint of the expansion was that we aren’t getting out in the world.

I’m perplexed, friends. Really perplexed. Because I think player housing can be an absolutely stunning feature brimming with potential for world wide engagement. So, if you’ll allow me, I’d like to expound on that idea  a bit here. Who knows? Maybe a bored Blizzard developer will stumble accidentally upon my ideas and see their merit.

Player Housing

The first thing I want to make clear about my concept of player housing is that it is 100% interactive, social, and tied to the game world as a whole. Housing should be a vast and expandable system that encourages players to get out into the world to collect and explore. It should not be (as the developers fear) a means by which players become insular and anti social.

The second concept I want to establish is that the housing system should be fully integrated into other aspects of the game. It should be connected to professions (more detail on this soon) and progression and social aspects of the game. It should require players to put in effort out in the world through a variety of activities. It should be connected to the game as a whole, and not simply to its self. Housing should draw from everything else available, not exist in isolation.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, housing should not be tied to one specific expansion and then become obsolete when that expansion ends. It should exist as a feature all on its own, expanded upon with every update, in order to maintain its relevancy and impact. If housing is “this expansion’s big new thing!” that’s fine. But it should tie in with every expansion both retroactively and progressively.

Location

If player housing is to continue to be relevant after it is introduced, I firmly feel that player houses should not be located on the latest expansion’s land mass. No houses on Pandaria, Draenor, or the Broken Isles. Once we are done with those locations, they become obsolete and inconvenient. I feel that player houses should be located in the old world, probably near the capital cities for each race. If plots were available for purchase (one per character; you can’t have multiple houses for one character) at each major racial city, that would keep them tied in to current content the same way that Stormwind and Orgrimmar are always tied in to current content. That is, people still visit them regardless of expansion. If players would rather purchase a plot more out of the way, they can pick Silvermoon, Darnassus, etc.

In my ideal world of fully customizable player housing, I would love to see plots available in every zone in the game. Every. Zone. But you can probably see why that would be a little absurd. For the sake of simplicity and sanity, one per capital city should be fine.

So you purchase a plot of land in Elwynn just outside of Stormwind. It is a literal blank plot of game world, entirely yours to customize. Now what?

A New Profession

I think that player housing would be the prime time to introduce a new secondary profession. Call it woodworking, or something to that effect. Everyone can learn it the same way you learn every other profession. Go visit a trainer (for the sake of our example, this trainer is located in the logging camp in Elwynn Forest) and pay the fee. We already have the basis for this profession on Draenor. It’s called the lumber mill. Woodworking would have a gathering component in much the same way. Trees appear around the world that you can click on to chop down, and wood is stored in your inventory like any other profession material. Alternately (and I do like this idea better), woodworking materials are stored on a profession pane much like currency and do not take up bag space.

So now you run around Elwynn happily chopping down trees. You gather wood and maybe purchase some nails from a profession vendor, use the woodworking profession interface to select your little level 1 house, and build it. Maybe building houses takes a few hours, similar to how building stuff in your garrison takes time. A small level 1 house probably takes 5 minutes. You wait 5 minutes. Your house finishes. You have a house! You get a special hearthstone that allows you to teleport to your house once every 30 minutes. The house even gives resting bonus. Hooray!

Woodworking should be the profession you use to customize everything in your home. The walls, the windows, the architecture, the floors, the furniture. Everything. But it should only come with a few basic necessities, like maybe a simple wooden frame bed and a small chest or dresser, a chair maybe, or a wooden fence. If you want better items made out of nicer stuff, you have to go out in the world and track those patterns down.

Let’s say you want a dining table made out of that pretty bluish-purple wood from the elvish areas around Darnassus. Since you are an Alliance character, you have to go to Darnassus and hunt for the recipe. Maybe it drops off of mobs in that area. Maybe it comes as a quest reward in a night elfy zone. Maybe it is literally sitting on a table in a building and all you do is click it. The point is, different recipes should be earned different ways that make sense for the recipe. If you want a stone table, maybe that comes from the Dark Iron dwarves in Blackrock Mountain. If you want pretty hanging lanterns, you have to go hunt for the recipe somewhere in the world that has pretty hanging lanterns.

Woodworking, like all professions, will require you to skill up in order to collect higher level materials and craft nicer and rarer things for your house. So if you started in Elwynn chopping down level 1 trees, you will eventually progress to Redridge, chopping down level 2 trees, and then to Darkshire for level 3 trees (the levels are just an example. I imagine the trees scale up the same was herbs and ore nodes do)…and so on. Chopping down low level trees gives Simple Wood. The next step is probably something like Better Wood, then Superior Wood, then stuff like Black Oak and Elvish Walnut and rare woods like Polished Teak and Glowing Draenic Maple. See where I’m going? If you went to the Barrens, you might find the rare Dry Acacia, or you might have to scour the jungle for Zandalari Ebony, and if you had a recipe that called for Twisted Scourgewood, well…you can probably guess where to find that.

I think all trees should be a personal tap item. You can harvest it and so can anyone else who spots it. It despawns on your screen but not on theirs until they harvest it. That way rare trees don’t cause upset, and people can go at their own pace. No need to turn wood chopping into a PvP brawl.

So you have built your level 1 house in Elwynn, you’ve leveled up your wood chopping so you can craft a few nicer items. What else is there to do?

Everything.

Let’s say that each time you hit the expansion skill cap for woodworking (profession levels 300 for vanilla, 375 for Burning Crusade, 450 for Wrath, etc) you gain a new house model to craft. Now you can upgrade your floorplan, not just your furniture! So you hit profession level 300 and unlock a level 2 house. This adds more rooms to your existing house. You don’t have to delete the level 1 house, or worry about losing anything inside it. You gather the materials to craft a level 2 house, craft it, and your house is upgraded. Let’s say it takes 1 hour this time to crate the new house. During that time, the original level 1 house is still accessible. You can continue to decorate and rearrange while the additional room is being built.

Once that room has finished construction, you have a two room house! Now you can build another table or another bed, or move the first bed into the new room and call it a bedroom. You have more space on the walls, more space for storage…the possibilities are endless.

As you level up woodworking, you also gain access to new crafting recipes from the trainer. You can build bigger storage chests (which would function like a bank or void storage access point) or learn how to craft different types of windows, or maybe even learn to craft a bathroom addition to your home.

Again, if you want specific aesthetics for these features you’d have to go out into the world and find them. But the basic bones of the house are craftable by default through woodworking trainers.

Now that you have a second room to toy around with, let’s discuss what sort of stuff you should be able to put in your house.

Accessorizing and Decorating

Aside from hunting down new aesthetics for the furniture in your home, I think the house is an excellent place to display trophies and achievements. This is how I think the house would best tie in with other professions. If you have tailoring, maybe you can make a rug or a blanket or a wall tapestry. If you have blacksmithing, maybe a carved obsidian figurine to decorate a shelf. Leatherworkers could hang beautiful animal hides on the walls while jewelcrafters can make glittering fixtures. The recipes for these items, too, should be found in the world. It would be counter to my idea for housing as an interactive, go-out-and-see-the-world sort of thing if you simply visited a trainer to learn how to craft Bear Hide Rug or Tourmaline Chandelier.

As for secondary professions, what about a place to display trophy fish on the wall, or the ability to display unique archaeology finds for all to see. The garrisons had a whole room for archaeology. It was a cool concept but it served no purpose. In a house, those neat artifacts can go on a pedestal or on the wall or sit in the garden outside.

The Garden

Oh yeah, there’s a garden. But not a garden where you grow materials needed for crafting. That was one of the biggest problems people reported with the garrison. The herb garden and the mine made people feel compelled to harvest in order to milk every last cent out of their garrison’s production. They also trivialized secondary professions in a way that hurt not only the economy but also professional enjoyment as a whole.

In player housing, nothing should be tied in to progression. You shouldn’t feel obligated to keep your house going just so you can min-max your character through end game content. Nothing about the house should tie in to end-game raiding advantages, or make you feel forced to do a certain thing in order to get ahead. Houses are for fun, for immersion, for the love of collecting and crafting and roleplaying. So the garden at the player’s house should be full of fun, unique plants that don’t impact the game at all. Except, of course, to entice you to find them, plant them, and enjoy them.

Let’s say you build your level 2 house with its two rooms. Suddenly a quest giver visits your house and remarks that it is coming along nicely, but could do with some curb appeal. Help me out, they say, and I’ll do you a favor by tilling the land in front of your house so you can plant a garden. You complete their quest (probably something easy, as leveling characters will be doing this fairly early on). In Elwynn forest this probably involves killing some Defias that have wronged the quest giver. Easy enough. Now the quest giver keeps his promise and you have a patch of freshly tilled land to play with.

Gardening

In the context of player housing, gardening should be fun. It should be relaxing and, most importantly, obligation-free. No coming back to check your plants every 45 minutes to water them so they don’t die. This isn’t fucking Farmville. We’re getting away from the garrison style of upkeep. Once you plant something, it’s permanent and upkeep-free until you dig it up and get rid of it.

How do you get plants, then? Well, some of them should be drops from herbalism. I think that just makes sense. If you’re an herbalist, maybe you get seeds once in a while as you gather. But if you were to gather, say, Peacebloom, the seeds that drop are not for planting Peacebloom. The seeds are something else entirely, like Foxglove or Bluebells. I think seeds gained in this manner should be rare enough that you don’t have bags brimming with seeds just from picking a few flowers out in the world. If you pick flowers in Pandaria you get Pandaren-themed seeds. If you pick flowers in Icecrown you get something that makes sense for a frozen climate. These seeds should be BoE, so they can be traded or sold to players who are not herbalists, but rare enough that the prices will be something to consider.

How else do you get seeds? Out in the world there should be rare plants that you can interact with, a lot like the rare treasures in Pandaria. Sometimes while you’re out gathering and questing, you’ll find a rare plant growing out in the world. If you click on it, you get seeds to plant it back at your home. Think about all the beautiful flower models in the game that are not used for herbalism. The glowing, dripping ten foot tall flowers from Maraudon come to mind. The seeds for these rare plants should be BoP, and the plants themselves should be one time click only. Meaning, if you spot the plant at the same time as someone else, only one of you can harvest it. Some of these flowers can be found in raids, too.

Other seeds can be found as drops from appropriately themed mobs, like dryads or those flower lasher things in Maraudon. They might even be drops from plant-like dungeon and raid bosses.

Planting these seeds will start the growth process and over a period of hours or days (or maybe even weeks for the rarest seeds) you’ll see it grow to maturity. If you want to move the plant to another spot in the garden you can do so without losing its growth progress or destroying it. There will be some sort of garden UI that lets you move and arrange things how you want, perhaps accessible by clicking a sign in your garden that says “SoandSo’s Garden.”

The garden should also be a place to customize to your liking. Add features like rocks or large gemstones (obtained by mining of course), elvish lamps (those tall street lamps made of vines like you find along the road in Teldrassil) or other aesthetic things like a fountain or an archaeology artifact. A big ol’ Arakkoa sundial in the middle of my flower garden sounds about right to me.

And if you want to tie the garden into other aspects of the game even more, then the rarest flowers will produce a combat minipet for you when they have fully matured. It could also be a place where your minipets can be seen romping about and playing, or you could find a hitching post recipe and then have a place to display a favored mount out in front of your home. If you enjoy fishing, you might be able to place a little pond in the garden where colorful fish swim.

Interior Decorating

Since the outside of the house is largely customized via the garden, the interior of the home is where other professions can shine. You should be able to move furniture and decor anywhere you like with a UI similar to the garden. Every bit of space can be changed to your liking. So you can hang stuff on the walls like I discussed above, or build windows to let in light, or totally redo everything.

Your home starts with standard wooden walls and floors, but there should be ways to make your home unique to your style. So scribes can produce different paints to spruce up the walls (they already make pigments, paints just make sense) and maybe blacksmiths can produce stone flooring.

Maybe the windows need to be changed to suit your tastes. You can take out the standard square windows and replace them with round ones, or big ones, or ornate ones. Maybe the secret to crafting stained glass windows lies hidden in the heart of Gilneas, and you might have to journey there in order to uncover it for your own use.

Other aspects of decor should come from the environment, not just from crafting. While you’re out in the world questing and killing and going about your business, maybe you come across objects that you can take for yourself. While questing in a furbolg camp you find a jar of bees sitting inside a tent and you take it home (for some weird reason*). Or maybe while running Black Temple you steal a couple of hookah pipes from Illidan’s concubines. Perhaps you find a painting in an abandoned house somewhere, or a dreamcatcher in a Tauren village. The game is full of really neat flavor objects all over the world that could easily become interactive. These objects should be looted once per click and then despawn. But they don’t need to be rare and should respawn again soon, though perhaps not in the exact same place.

Some objects could be rewarded to you from quests. Perhaps you complete a quest for the red dragonflight and are gifted a ruby dragon statue as a token of gratitude. Additionally, some decor items are rewards for reaching certain levels of reputation with different factions. Egyptian-style objects from the Tol’vir, really weird bug stuff from the Klaxxi, etc.

Aesthetics

I sort of touched on this before, but I’ll expand on it here. When you build your house it looks like a very basic house. Brown wood, nothing special. If you want different architecture, you have to work for it.

So, since we built our little level 2 house in Elwynn, it looks pretty much like any other level 2 house. It is brown and wooden and square and unremarkable. What if we want our little house in the woods to look like it was built by a night elf, or a pandaren? Well, we have to go learn their secrets.

Obtaining the ability to change your house from default to elvish should be an involved process. If you want elvish architecture, you should have to be exalted with Darnassus, and have the achievement for completing all quests in every primarily night elf zone (Teldrassil, Darkshore, Ashenvale, etc.). Maybe only then will the night elf woodworking trainer offer you a quest to learn how to craft a night elf building. And that quest, too, should requite a bit of work on your part. Collect a bunch of rare materials, prove you can craft a bunch of stuff properly, etc. When you finish the chain, you will have the ability to re-skin your boring old wooden house into a night elf house. Yay!

Alternately, the original house you build will be set to your race’s default architecture. So if your character is a night elf and you build your very first level 1 house, it defaults to a night elf house. If you character is human, it defaults to human architecture, and so on.

Either way, I think it is important to bring racial flare and identity to these homes. They represent your character, and should feel like something they would live in.

I don’t feel like Alliance races need access to Horde architecture or aesthetics. Not on this sort of scale, anyway. A night elf will never be able to build an orcish hut, nor will an undead character get to build a Draenic home. But smaller pieces of decor should be available that transcend the factions. So your night elf might have a Tauren dreamcatcher in her home, but her home won’t look like a Tauren built it. Hopefully that makes sense.

Leveling Up

So you built your little level 1 home in Elwynn, and you put in the work to gather the wood and materials to upgrade it to level 2. Aside from adding new rooms, how do we make these homes really feel like they’re progressing?

After a certain skill level I think you should be able to build a completely new story to your home. So levels 1, 2 and 3 add a room to your home, and level 4 adds a second floor. Then levels 5 and 6 add more rooms to that second floor. Everyone has access to these floorplans and everyone can build them if they put in the effort.

What sets homes apart from one another if everyone can build the same 6 levels of upgrades? What about rare building plans out in the world?

See, there’s a theme here with my housing ideas. Get players back out in the world. Players at level 100 or 110 who have “done it all” now have a reason to go back and poke around the open world. I think floorplans should be available to those who are dedicated enough to look for them.

Floorplans, unlike decor and gardening items, should be exceptionally rare and difficult to get. That way when you visit someone’s house (and you totally can) and you see they have an addition to the basic level 6 house, you know they worked hard to get it. If everyone has it, it’s not nearly as interesting. What kinds of floorplans, then, and how should they be obtained?

What about finding the plans to build a hidden room behind a bookshelf? Or plans to build a basement, or a master bath, or a hookah lounge?

Maybe while killing necromancers somewhere you get a rare floorplan drop. It teaches you how to build a basement, and once you gather the materials (which are also rare) you build a basement fully equipped with a freaky demon summoning pentagram and eerie purple candles. Or, a rare spawn mob out in the world drops an item that takes you on a quest chain across the continent to learn how to build a deck around your house from a master craftsman who is now living hidden in the mountains of Grizzly Hills. Other floorplans can be obtained as rare spawn items hidden out in the world. For example, an ultra rare book might spawn in one of the shelves in Dalaran that, when looted, teaches you how to build an arcane library in your home.

I’d like to stay away from a lot of rare housing goods dropping in old raids. That doesn’t help get people out in the world and engage with other players. It just facilitates raid grinding, and running Icecrown 400 times for a rare bone and ice light fixture isn’t nearly as fun as I’d hoped housing to be. Some stuff should certainly come from dungeons and bosses, but the majority of these items need to tempt players out into the world to explore. Adding more rare drop stuff to old raids that players have already burned themselves out on farming mounts and pets and transmog isn’t going to go well.

Holiday Decorations

The garrisons saw a neat version of holiday flair, in that you could use holiday currency to purchase decorations for your entire garrison. I love it. I want that to carry over to housing in the same iteration. Use holiday currency to purchase decor for your home and display it however long you wish. If you want Winter Veil lights up in June, go for it. It’s your house. If you enjoy the cobwebby, spooky look of Hallow’s End, that’s awesome. Decorate how you want.

Being Neighborly

Obviously the house is a phased place exactly like the garrison. You see your own house and not anyone else’s, and when you enter your property you vanish to other players. Like garrisons, I think you should be able to see other people’s homes if you’re in a group with them. “View Leader’s Home” is simple enough.

But beyond simply admiring your friend’s home and garden, houses should tie in to achievements to encourage people to poke around outside their own four walls. It could be as simple as “visit X number of player homes” or as involved as “visit player homes that have each of these objects listed below,” in which you have to go on a scavenger hunt of sorts to complete the list. It would encourage people to see other houses, meet other players, and give them something to work for. If they see a cool thing in a friend’s home, they’ll likely want to get it for themselves.

To further social interaction, I think most (if not all) of the housing stuff created by professions should be BoE to allow for trade. If you have a couple of extra Lupin seeds you picked up while gathering herbs and your friend who isn’t an herbalist has an extra Amethyst Doorknob (I’m kinda half joking with that example) then you should be able to trade them. Of course, selling items on the auction house sort of ruins the idea of neighborly trading. Maybe housing items can’t be sold on the AH but can be traded between players? I’m not sure if that’s possible, but it’s a thought.

There can be achievements for collecting all of a certain type or style of decoration, like “Pillow Fight” for collecting all of the throw pillows available, or “Draenic Decor” for collecting all items that are considered Draenic in style. This might also encourage people to cooperate a little bit. If they’re out in the world and they see a decor item has spawned that they don’t need, they might actually announce it so other people can come get it.

Meta achievements can be created to award special decor items as prizes. Collect and plant all of the rare flower seeds in your garden and you will receive a bird bath, or a fountain, or something along those lines. Collecting all of something might mean you actually have to cooperate with other players in order to fill in the gaps.

Trophies might drop off of raid bosses, encouraging people to raid together if it is a drop for everyone in the group.

I think there are a ton of ways to encourage cooperative social play when it comes to a feature like housing, that isn’t progression-related. This notion that player housing will turn people into hermits is absurd. If you do it right, a feature like this is overflowing with potential for social interaction.

The User Interface

While woodworking could use the default profession interface, your house would need a more interactive UI for customization. I could see something similar to the garrison UI, which gives you an aerial view of your housing plot and allows you to drag and drop stuff into your garden area from a visual panel that shows every plant you own. Similarly, clicking on the house will let you click through the rooms to move stuff around and add furniture. It would have visual lists displaying all your items in categories for easy navigation and selection. Decorating your home would be as simple as drag and drop.

You would use the woodworking profession UI to create items, and use the housing UI to place and arrange them.

As far as storing unused items goes, I haven’t really figured that part out yet. I think it would make sense that one of the first items you learn to craft is a chest that allows you to store housing items in it, like furniture and decor. You could learn to upgrade your storage over time.

BoE, BoP, BoA?

Trading objects and items between players would be necessary for people to get the items they want from professions they don’t have. But some stuff should be exclusive, in order to make it feel meaningful. This is just kind of a rough list.

Seeds found while herbing, as well as many items made by professions, should be BoE to encourage trade. Wood obtained by chopping trees could also be BoE, just like materials for any other profession. Recipes for crafting decor items should be BoE.

Rare items found out in the world such as decor items should be BoP. The idea is to encourage people to get out and explore, not sit in front of the auction house. Items that drop in a raid should be BoP, but able to be traded to other eligible group members the same as raid gear. Rare floorplans should be BoP, to encourage people to go look for them rather than spend 100k gold on them.

As for BoA items, I haven’t really figured that one out. I can’t think of anything off the top of my head that seems like a prime candidate for BoA. However, I kind of feel like any floorplans you obtain on one character should be usable by all characters on your account. So if you stumble over a rare floorplan while playing an alt you don’t intend to play much, it isn’t a waste. Floorplans are unlocked by all characters, decor items are not.

Balance

One of the most important tenants of my housing idea is the notion that player housing should be a fun, optional activity that players can pursue at their leisure. It should never, ever feel like an obligation or like a chore. When you log into the game, your first thought shouldn’t be, “I have to go to my house first…” It should be, “I want to go to my house first!” The difference is crucial.

Garrisons felt like a chore to a lot of players. They felt obligated to log in and take care of the million different garrison activities. This obligation created resentment. They wanted to be out in the world doing something else, but first they had to manage their follower list, send followers on missions, take care of their buildings, pick herbs, mine ore…

It gets to the point where the entire game feels like it takes place inside the garrison. Log in, do garrison things, queue for raid, run raid, return to garrison, repeat. My main, Sylvestris, rarely leaves his garrison anymore. Once he was done leveling, he ended up parked there and I had to make a concerted effort to find non-garrison things to do**. The idea of player housing is exactly the opposite. It is a small hub that compels you to go explore the rest of the world, and return only when you have something you want to do. You don’t need to come back and pick herbs, or repair anything, or take out the trash. You come back because you found something cool in the world you want to add to your home.

I think the success of player housing falls squarely on its balance with other game activities. Player housing shouldn’t become a focus point, the way garrisons definitely are. Housing should instead be a flavor piece, an accompaniment to the rest of the game. Players should feel perfectly free to return to their home only when they want to, as opposed to planning their play time around when they feel they have to be home.

And finally, the player housing system should be entirely, absolutely, 100% optional. If you don’t want to mess with a housing minigame, you simply don’t purchase a plot of land. The end. No quests bugging you constantly to talk to someone about buying land. No reminders. No worries. If you don’t have a house you won’t even see housing items out in the world, loot them from bosses, or stumble over them during questing. Players should never, ever feel like the house is something they have to do in order to gain a competitive edge over other players in PvE or PvP. It should not be tied to gear progression, profession progression, or any other sort of progression except its own.

If you go on vacation and don’t play the game for a month, everything is there just how you left it when you come back. If you decide you don’t want to mess with your house anymore, that’s it. No consequences. No falling behind. Play with it when you want and ignore it when you don’t. It really should be that casual.

I feel like Blizzard is missing a golden opportunity to add longevity to the game by creating a housing system that encourages players to collect, share, and personalize. Systems like battle pets and transmog have already proven the success of collection-based side games. Most people love to collect. That’s just how the human brain works. When we’ve exhausted our current expansion content, run every dungeon, downed every boss, and saved the world, we still need something to do. I think housing can help fill that niche the same way pet and mount collecting fill it, and the same way achievement hunting helps give people something to do.

This isn’t a system that can be done half-assed and succeed. It needs to be fully integrated into the game world, tied in with other systems, and allowed to flourish well past its introduction. I think Blizzard can do it. They just need to stop resisting and arguing and digging in their heels. When the game goes more than a year between content updates and subscription levels dip to record lows, I don’t think it is in their best interest to discard content ideas. They need to be perfecting them.

 

* My house in Skyrim has like 8 different jars full of bees as decor. I have no idea why.

** I really liked the garrison feature, and I’m not one of those people who feels “compelled” or “forced” to do garrison stuff. But even I got kinda closed in a little bit and had to remind myself that I am capable of leaving the garrison if I so choose.

 

 

 

 

 

Rare Pet Watch: Scorpling

It has been a while since my last RPW! Let’s talk about another pet that gives folks a little trouble: the scorpling.

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Most Azerothian battle pets are quite common. They’re numerous and scattered all over their zone, ready to be plucked up by eager pet battlers. Some pets, though, are annoyingly uncommon. Like the minfernal and scourged whelpling, the scorpling can be a pain in the ass to find. It’s not as rare as either of those, but neither is it as common as the glut of rabbits and beetles found in other zones. If you want it, be prepared to put in a bit of an effort, and doubly so if you want a rare. Its scarcity might lead you to believe it’s a superior pet in battle. You’d be sadly mistaken. The scorpling is mediocre at best. It’s no different than any other scorpid battle pet, but to a dedicated pet collector that makes little difference. If you want one, here’s what information I’ve collected in my hunt for a rare Scorpling.

Where?

Scorplings are found only in the Blasted Lands. They spawn in the hills south-east of the Dark Portal. If you run a coordinate add-on, they spawn around 60, 58. In my time camping and farming them, I have never seen one spawn to the sourth-west of the portal. I have only ever seen them on the plateaus of the hills to the south-east. You won’t find these as secondary battle pets anywhere in the zone. If you want one, you gotta catch it here.

When?

Time of day makes no difference here. I have seen them up mid day and in the middle of the night. The only impact time makes is on server population. If you want to catch one on a high population server, I would suggest camping out late at night or early in the morning to avoid competition.

How?

There’s nothing to it. No tricks to get them to spawn, no gimmicks, no events, no rare spawns. They’re either up or they’re not, it’s that simple.

Conventional internet forum wisdom states that killing other battle pets in the zone will force these to spawn. The theory is that battle pets work a lot like fishing nodes in a zone: only a set number can be up at any given time. To make more spawn, you have to kill (or fish) others. That’s all nice and dandy, but in all my time pet hunting, I have never seen anything to back that up. My theory is that people like to assert control over things that are out of their control. Pet spawns are not under their control, so they try to find ways around that. A lot of people state that after they flew around the Blasted Lands killing battle pets, a few scorplings spawned. That’s great. But correlation does not prove causation. I think the more likely explanation is that a few scorplings spawned while they were gone. The end. So if you have a lot of time on yours hands, go fly around killing battle pets in the Blasted Lands and let me know how that goes for you. But here’s my counter: I’m on a next-to-nothing population realm in a completely empty zone where no one (myself included) is killing battle pets…and the scorplings keep spawning.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to rare battle pets. One person asserts that they spawn one at a time every ten minutes. Refuted: I watched them spawn 5-6 at a time. My very best advice to you is just to be patient. Plant an alt in the area and check back every hour or so. Best of luck!

Rare Pet Watch: Unborn Val’kyr

When I set out to write these little pet guides, I knew I would have to limit it to the pets I was able to catch myself. After all, if I can’t catch it, I have no business writing a guide on it. So when I caught my Unborn Val’kyr yesterday, I knew it was time to make this guide. Bear with me, it’s a long one.

The Unborn Val’kyr was introduced in patch 5.3 as a new elusive undead pet for us to chase after. She was intended to be rare, but not quite as rare as the minfernal or the scourged whelpling. If you have camped and captured either of these pets, you know about what to expect when you go after the Val’kyr.

Unlike her rarer cousins, the Val’kyr has quite a few spawn points: 27 total, in fact. This means that camping her is more difficult than camping a pet that spawns all in the same spot. But for the dedicated pet collector, the val’kyr is a worthwhile investment that should not be foregone due to the daunting task of collecting her. Hopefully the information I was able to collect during my time hunting her will be useful to you in your hunt as well.

WoWScrnShot_102413_141744

Where?

The Unborn Val’kyr spawns only in Northrend, excluding the zone of Wintergrasp. She has three spawn locations per zone and can spawn at any one of them randomly. Only one val’kyr can spawn at any time in all of Northrend. You won’t ever find more than one up. She can spawn in Sholazar and then next time in Grizzly Hills. There is no discernable pattern to her spawns. Be prepared to trek all over the continent in search of this pet. This map of Northrend shows all of her spawn locations in blue and the suggested route to travel in red. For more precise locations, the following are her spawn points as you would input them to a coordinates addon like TomTom:

/way Icecrown 47.9, 86.6
/way Icecrown 73.8, 64.5
/way Icecrown 43, 33

/way Storm Peaks 42.5, 78.5
/way Storm Peaks 65, 41
/way Storm Peaks 29.0, 50.0

/way Borean Tundra 48, 8
/way Borean Tundra 80, 48
/way Borean Tundra 32.7, 60.1

/way Sholazar Basin 58.5, 22.0
/way Sholazar Basin 44.47, 69.59
/way Sholazar Basin 36.8, 19.4

/way Zul’Drak 57.0, 39.8
/way Zul’Drak 75, 22
/way Zul’Drak 24.3, 63.7

/way Dragonblight 82, 66
/way Dragonblight 26.9, 54.1
/way Dragonblight 64.4, 43.7

/way Grizzly Hills 61, 18
/way Grizzly Hills 79.60, 50.79
/way Grizzly Hills 26, 57

/way Howling Fjord 71.91, 43.39
/way Howling Fjord 45, 43
/way Howling Fjord 68.10, 67.63

/way Crystalsong Forest 19 57
/way Crystalsong Forest 43 44
/way Crystalsong Forest 67 49

When?

The val’kyr can spawn at any time of day or night. I caught mine at roughly 2pm. There has been much debate and inquiry into how to force her to spawn, since it was originally hinted that she only spawns under certain circumstances. But the issue has been laid to rest: nothing the player can do will influence her spawn rate. Simply put, it’s out of your hands. However, players have noted (anecdotally) that she respawns faster after a successful capture than after a failed attempt. So if a player battles her and fails to catch her, she will respawn much later than she would have had they succeeded. Anecdotal forum evidence suggests her respawn timer is less than 2 hours.

How?

Since you cant influence her spawn rate, there’s no need to run yourself ragged trying. My best advice to you, the intrepid pet collector, is to input all the coordinates I listed into TomTom (or whatever you use) and have them displayed on your map in-game. You can either camp one specific spot, or you can fly loops around Northrend. If you have limited time, I recommend parking an alt or two in Northrend at a specific spawn location and checking them periodically, especially late at night and early in the morning. But if you have time to spare, actively flying around seems to be a better bet. That’s how I found mine. I started my circuit in Zul’Drak and found her in Borean Tundra. With 310% flying each circuit takes about 15-20 minutes at most. If you run in to another pet hunter flying the same circuit, go the opposite way.

Quite a few of her spawn points are accessible to a low level character, so long as they have means of transportation. A character as low as level 60 with a flying mount can reasonably camp out at some of her spawn locations without fear of dying.

If you do manage to find her, congratulations! You’re only half way done with this nightmare. The val’kyr has two abilities which cause it to die in combat. One of these abilities, Unholy Ascension, is permanent. If she casts this during your combat, she is dead, and you are done. Go find another one. The second ability, Haunt, is not permanent. She will “die” and enter your active pet as a spirit to deal damage. Do not allow your pet to die while Haunt is active. Heal, absorb, whatever you can do to keep it alive until Haunt is over and the val’kyr reappears. She was hotfixed soon after going live so that she wouldn’t cast these abilities very often, but she can still use them. For what it’s worth, mine never did anything but cast a simple attack (not sure if it was Shadow Slash or Shadow Shock). Your best strategy is to bring her down quickly and cage her as soon as possible.

Good luck!

Rare Pet Watch: Moon Moon

Moon Moon, for those of you who don’t crawl around the internet often, is an internet meme which began on Tumblr. It features a mentally challenged wolf doing very odd things in moderately amusing photographs (wild wolves are about as silly as domestic cats apparently) with dumb captions…it’s basically like any other animal meme on the web, except this one made it’s way into WoW.

For those who don’t give a crap about internet memes (I don’t) then here’s the low down on this pet: Moon Moon is a wolf battle pet with a unique model obtainable from a rare boss found only during the Darkmoon Faire. Rare drop off a rare mob found only one week out of the month? Yeah, I’d say that qualifies this little guy as a rare pet!

Where?

Moon Moon is found as a drop off the rare spawn boss Moonfang, who spawns on the Darkmoon Isle. You can get to the isle via portals located in Goldshire (Alliance) and just south of Thunder Bluff (Horde). Take the portal and head south-west from there. The shortest way to Moonfang is to cross through the woods and jump down the cliff. Moonfang spawns at approximately 39, 43.

When?

The Darkmoon Faire occurs only one week a month, beginning on the first Sunday of the month. Check your in-game calendar for dates and times for your region. Moonfang is only around for seven days a month, so if you’re hell bent on this pet you will want to make the most of it.

How?

Moonfang isn’t so much a conventional rare spawn as she is the end result of an event. This event cycles about once every hour and begins by the spawning of numerous Moonfang Snarlers. These are non-elite wolf mobs that spawn all over the forested areas of the island. Kill a number of them (a large number, probably 15+) and Moonfang Dreadhowls will spawn. These are elite and difficult to solo, but thankfully there are a lot of people on the island waiting for Moonfang. Kill a few of those (about 2 or so) and Moonfang will spawn to avenge her fallen children.

While killing the non-elite and elite wolves, you will notice emotes in your chat log if you’re paying attention. “There is a pained howl from deep within the woods” and variants of this pop up every so often as you kill wolves. Kill enough, and the text “BEWARE: Moonfang Dreadhowls now roam the woods” will appear in the middle of your screen like a raid warning. Similar text flashes on your screen when Moonfang spawns, so missing her spawn is next to impossible.

Moonfang hits very hard and can be difficult for smaller groups. Larger groups of players can zerg her without a lot of difficulty, but you should be wary of her all the same. Her attacks are:

[Leap for the Kill]: Leaps at a target and all enemies within range of that target suffer massive damage. Get out of the way FAST.

[Moonfang’s Tears]: An AoE similar to Starfall. It is easy to spot and easy to stay out of, just get out of the white lights.

[Moonfang’s Curse]: This transforms all enemies close to Moonfang into her servants. If you get caught in it, you will be transformed into a worgen and you will heal her. Run away when you see it being cast. This is mostly a concern for melee.

[Call the Pack]: This summons non-elite wolf adds, and a ton of them will appear. One for every person within 40 yards of Moonfang. They should be killed so they don’t eat your healers.

So the basic strategy is to run away from any bright lights on the ground, run away from her when she casts Curse, and don’t stand next to anyone who is being targeted for Leap. Keep the ads off healers and if you die, run back quickly.

A few tips: Reports suggest that Moonfang can reset if kited too far from her spawn location. Don’t do that. Also, if no one is around to kill the Snarlers to start the event (or if people are being dumb and ignoring them) they will eventually despawn and the event timer will reset. Kill the wolves!

When Moonfang is dead she can drop a few different vanity items, which includes the pet [Moon Moon]. If this is your first kill, she will drop an item which begins a quest. If she died and you don’t have the option to loot her, don’t panic. Moonfang has no trash loot (no coins, no currency of any sort, and no grey items) so if she didn’t drop one of her unique items for you, you won’t be able to loot. It’s not a bug and you’re not missing your shot at loot. You just didn’t get anything this time.

From personal experience I can say that the non-elite Moonfang Snarlers begin spawning again about 45-50 minutes after Moonfang dies. I have been able to reliably camp and kill Moonfang with a 50 minute timer set. I kill her, set the timer, go do other things, then come back when the timer goes off. Anecdotal evidence suggests the pet has a reasonable drop rate. Not too low, not too high. But as always, RNG is nobody’s friend. The pet can be caged and traded, so check your local auction house if camping isn’t going your way.

Best of luck getting the pet to drop!

A Guide to the Timeless Isle Pets

I’ve been enjoying this latest patch and it’s brand new island, mostly because I enjoy content that I can experience by myself and at my own pace. So far I have done nothing but run around in circles killing things, and while that probably sounds like a recipe for boredom, I actually quite enjoy it. The island is beautiful, there’s always a rare spawn up to kill, and I enjoy hanging out with my server’s community. I might come to regret it later, but for now I like hanging out on an island with the folks who call Bloodhoof home.

One thing I’m not too keen on is the pet situation. I love all the new pets, and I love that many of them are fairly unique, and I adore the fact that every patch comes with buckets of new pets…but I don’t care for the drop rates on these pets, and I don’t enjoy running frantically all over the island trying to tag a rare spawn before it’s five second lifespan is up. I’ve done a bit of research and testing since the patch launched in order to maximize my own pet collecting efficiency, so I thought I would post it here so other people might benefit.

Let’s start with a simple overview of the island. You must be level 90 to access the Timeless Isle, and you can do so either by flying there all on your own or by talking to Chromie, who now sits atop Mogu’Shan Palace. She’ll give you a quest and a teleport to the island. Once there, you’ll be given a few quests to orientate yourself with the island, but there are no major storyline or quest chains here. The zone isn’t on rails, it isn’t unlocked piece by piece and it isn’t phased in any way. Nothing is stopping you from ignoring the quests and running amok all on your own.

The island is covered in elite mobs, most of which are easy to solo if you aren’t a complete dunce. There are also numerous treasure chests to open, all of which are specific to you. No fighting with other people over chest spawns! There are also a ton of rare spawns to kill, events to participate in, and five world bosses to poke. The fifth, Ordos, is only accessible if you have the legendary cape from Wrathion, but he doesn’t drop a pet so who cares.

Take some time to orient yourself on the island. It feels a bit overwhelming at first because almost everything drops a pet. But instead of drowning in the sea of rare spawns, I recommend going about it one pet at a time. Focus on one, and when you get it, go to the next. Mods like TomTom and NPCscan can be invaluable when you’re camping things. New with this patch is a skull icon on your minimap whenever a rare is nearby. No more target macro spamming, no more guessing. If a rare is up, it will appear on your minimap as plain as day.

I’ve had success with the following camping style: park yourself somewhere close to a rare spawn location. Add the rare spawn to NPC’s database so that when it spawns, NPC scan will yell at you. Wait. When the rare spawns, kill it, then set a timer for 30 minutes. You can now log out, switch to an alt, go make dinner, whatever. When the timer goes off, make sure you’re back at your camping spot. You will want to clear your cache between spawns, too.

Armed with a good camping strategy, a few good addons, and a lot of patience, you’re probably ready to tackle the Timeless Isle. So let’s look at what pets it has for us.

First off, here’s a map I made on which I have marked every rare spawn that drops a pet.

I am a bad cartographer.

I am a bad cartographer.

While the Timeless Isle brings with it 21 new pets, only 8 of them are dropped by rare spawns. The map I made above shows the spawn locations of each rare spawn visually, and I will also provide coordinates for those who use them. All rares on the island are unable to be tapped, meaning that no matter who hits them first, everyone who participated gets loot. Now then, a list of the rares with as much info as I can provide.

Monstrous Spineclaw: This rare crab drops a [Spineclaw Crab] pet. Unlike other rares which have a set spawn timer, this rare has a chance to spawn in the place of any elite crab on the island. In order to see it spawn, you will need to kill the crabs. As such, its spawn location varies and is difficult to camp.

Imperial Python: This snake drops a [Death Adder Hatchling]. Like the Spineclaw crab above, the python spawns in place of one of the many Death Adders on the island. Killing the adders has a chance to spawn the Python. He’s up fairly often, and more than one python can be alive at one time. He hits extremely hard and must be killed quickly, so wait for backup.

Zhu’Gon the Sour: This alemental spawns at 37, 77 right in the middle of Old Pi’jiu. An event must be completed before the rare will spawn. When the event begins, alementals will swarm the village. Killing ten will force Zhu-Gon to appear. He drops a [Skunky Alemental]. He has a 30-60 minute respawn timer.

Gu’chi the Swarmbringer: This is a rare grub the size of a small whale and he drops the [Swarmling of Gu’chi]. He is on a spawn timer of approximately 30-60 minutes and spawns at 41, 80, or just south east of Old Pijiu. He will patrol in a north-easterly direction if not killed, but nine times out of ten he is slaughtered seconds after spawning.

Bufo: This frog looks only slightly different than the other frogs hopping about in the Croaking Hollow on the south east side of the island. He has multiple spawn points within a few yards of each other but does not need to spawn in place of a regular frog. His respawn timer is 30-60 minutes. Like the frogs, he deals a stacking debuff which causes instant death at 10 stacks, so be sure you can burn him quickly or else wait for reinforcements to arrive. He drops a [Gulp Froglet].

Leafmender: Hiding among his fellow sprites, he drops an [Ashleaf Spriteling] when killed. He spawns at 67, 44, along the northern part of the Blazing Way. His respawn, like all rares on the Isle, is 30-60 minutes.

Garnia: This Pandaren elemental spawns way up at Ruby Lake, at 64, 27. The only way to get to her is to hitch a ride on one of the island’s albatrosses. The best place to catch one is around 33, 54 at the stairs of the Celestial Court. Tag an albatross by hitting it once with a ranged attack as they swoop through the court. It will pick you up and carry you around the island (slowly) in a set path. After several minutes you will pass over Ruby Lake. Attack the albatross again to force it to stop midair over the lake, and kill it. You will fall into the lake. It is recommended that you park an alt here at the lake and check frequently rather than making the trip up several times a day. Garnia hits very hard and her primary attack must be interrupted. She drops a [Ruby Droplet] when killed.

Spirit of Jadefire: Another Pandaren elemental, the Spirit drops a [Jadefire Spirit]. It can be found deep in the Cavern of Lost Spirits, the entrance of which is at 43, 40. Like Garnia, interrupts will greatly reduce the damage taken when fighting the Spirit.

So that covers the pets that you must obtain by killing a rare spawn. Keep in mind that the drop rates for these pets are fairly low, so you will need to kill them repeatedly. My best advice to any would-be pet collectors is not to run all over the island chasing the latest announcement in general chat. Park your butt firmly in one place (I prefer hanging out at Pi’jiu since multiple rares spawn very close by) and wait. Watch TV, listen to music, annoy your friends in guild chat. But camping one spot will ensure you get a kill, rather than forcing you to race around the island and always end up being two seconds too late for that rare you really wanted. Finally, these rares die fast. Like, really fast. So pay attention and get your tag in as soon as possible. Tabbing out for even a minute might cause you to miss the spawn and the kill entirely.

Now that we’ve looked at rare spawn pets, lets look at the pets the isle offers that can be picked up by other means.

More wonderful map making.

More wonderful map making.

The map above shows you the relative locations of all pets on the isle which do not drop from a rare spawn. However, it excludes wild battle pets and pets given as a reward from the Celestial Tournament. We’ll cover those further down. As you can see, there are a ton of pets available on the island that don’t require you to camp for weeks on end.

[Dandelion Frolicker]: This pet drops from an event which takes place around 45, 72. At this location there is a large tree surrounded by friendly little sprites. About once every 15 minutes or so, a large pink crystal will spawn nearby. Click the crystal, and these sprites will attack you. Murder them in droves and a Scary Sprite will spawn (at a rate of about 1 every 10ish seconds if you’re killing sprites fairly fast). Kill the Scary Sprites and they have a chance to drop the Frolicker. This event is a “solo” event, as whoever clicks the crystal is the only person who can attack the sprites. However, if you are in a group everyone can loot the Scary Sprites and you can receive healing while you go on a rampage.

[Azure Crane Chick]: This pet drops from the numerous birds’ nests found on the ground all over the island. The yellows dots on the map represent only a tiny handful of total nest spawn places. Anywhere you see cranes hanging out, there will be a nest. Looting the nest usually awards only a small amount of coins, and will always aggro nearby cranes. But sometimes you’ll get a pet out of it, too.

[Bonkers]: This pet drops from treasure chests in a cave located at 57, 42. Speak to the hozen inside and purchase a key from him for 500 coins. Use the key to open a chest – any chest, it doesn’t matter which. The usual reward is a number of coins, usually several hundred. You can also receive epic BoA armor items, Burdens of Eternity, and, more rarely, a pet. You can buy as many keys as you want, so go nuts.

[Sky Lantern]: Finally a pet that doesn’t require any funny business to obtain. If you have 7500 Timeless Coins, you can purchase this peaceful lantern from Ku-mo at approximately 40, 63, on the southern edge of the Celestial Court. This lantern cannot participate in pet battles, but it’s pretty all the same.

[Ominous Flame]: This pet has a small chance to drop off the elite Foreboding Flames inside the Cavern of Lost Spirits at 43, 40. These flames die quickly if you’re all roided out with Timeless Isle buffs, but you will still want to make a habit of interrupting their primary spell attack. Click on the fires inside the cave for added defense against their attacks.

[Jademist Dancer]: Like the Ominous Flame, this pet drops off of the elite elemental spirits flitting around on the beach at about 25, 29, on the very northern coast of the island. These, too, should be interrupted as often as possible to minimize the damage you sustain in combat.

If you’re looking for easy pets to add to your collection, these require no camping, no headaches when you miss a spawn, and no pulling your hair out because other people killed a rare faster than you could whip out a Moonfire. Most of them simply require a little patience and a little coin.

The next pets the island has to offer are wild battle pets, which you must fight and capture. While adding three more moths to your collection may sound boring, these three moths are worthwhile additions to any team. They each have a unique set of moves which makes them unlike any moth we’ve had before. Two of them can be captured on the ground but the third must be sought high above it, on the windy peaks accessible only by albatross ferry.

More MS Paint!

More MS Paint!

The above map shows the approximate spawn locations of the three wild moths on the isle. The Flamering and Ashwing Moths can be fought and captured all over the island. Both will appear as primary pets (those places marked on the map) and a secondary battle pets to other moths. The Skywisp Moth only spawns high up on mountain tops, where it must be reached by albatross. I was able to catch a ride on a friendly bird (which I then murdered by way of saying thanks) to a slope high above the Blazing Way at about 74, 34 (not marked on map, my bad) where a group of 4 or 5 moths were hanging out. The birds can be tricky because if you stop DPS they will continue to fly, so more than once I missed my mark and had to wait for the bird to come around over another mountain top before it was safe to kill the bird and drop down. The Skywisp moth does in fact appear as a secondary pet when you battle other moths, so it is possible to catch without every bothering with the slow as molasses bird taxi.

You can also reach these peaks by swimming out into the water until you can mount on a flying mount, then flying up as high as you can over the place you want to end up (such as over the lake where Garnia spawns). Then dismount and use a glider or a slow fall mechanism in order to pilot yourself to your destination. I gave it a shot and died spectacularly, so use at your own risk. Gliders can be purchased from Ku-mo, the same little Pandaren boy who sells the lantern pet.

Finally, the last pets you can obtain on the island are those you can purchase from the Celestial Tournament. I haven’t managed to win the tournament yet, so this guide will not feature walk-throughs or helpful tips on how to beat it. Sorry. If at some point I manage to get it down, I will write about it so others can do it too. But I haven’t, so I won’t. The gist of the Tournament is this: you enter a solo scenario where the Celestial Court is full of pet trainers instead of standing empty. You fight three initial trainers who each have a team of three legendary pets. I managed to defeat these just fine, actually. But then you must defeat all four of the Celestials in battle, and they are hard. Win the tournament and you will receive currency used to purchase one of four new pets modeled after the celestials: [Xu-Fu, Cub of Xuen], [Yu’la, Broodling of Yu’lon], [Zao, Calfling of Niuzao], and [Chi-Chi, Hatchling of Chi-Ji].

Patch 5.4 introduced a lot of new pets, and most of them can be obtained right here on the isle. Hopefully this guide and the maps I painstakingly slopped together in Paint will help you figure out what’s what and where it is so you can gather pets to your heart’s content.

Happy collecting!

Battle Pet Spotlight: Flamering Moth

Hi guys. Long time no see. Let’s talk about one of the pets that came in with 5.4

I was kind of disappointed when I saw that all the new wild pets in this latest patch were moths. Really? More moths? We already have, like, twenty. But fine, if you insist. I’ll catch three more friggin’ moths. This was my attitude until today, when I pulled out my Flamering Moth to do a little leveling in the Valley of the Four Winds. The aquatic pets there were chewing through my Bat and Crow within a few battles and I needed a temporary alternative while my heal was on cooldown. The second I brought the moth into combat, I knew I had to write a BPS about it.

He’s a strong little moth, and moths tend to be strong pets in general. But moths, at least all pre-5.4 moths, share the exact same move set. If you have one moth, you pretty much have them all. But the 5.4 moths break that mold and I think the Flamering moth is the best of the three. It’s one of the few flying pets with a strong self heal, making it a great choice for chewing your way through aquatic pets.

If you get your hands on this pretty little firestarter, keep a few tips in mind for optimal performance. First, try to use your heal after you take a big hit. The moth’s heal (Healing Flame) heals for a base amount and then an extra amount based off of the damage you just took, so don’t waste it after you just got hit for 100 damage. Save it for after large hits, such as from a geyser or dive attack, and it will heal for a lot more. Second, keeping your health above 50% guarantees that you get the speed boost from the pet’s flying-type passive ability. Being the faster pet means the moth will hit harder with Alpha Strike and will be able to squeak off heals at more opportune moments.

Breed ID: Being a flying pet, the Flamering moth doesn’t benefit from extra speed, and all breeds have nearly equal speed anyway. A moth with a higher attack, such as breeds 8 and 18, will hit harder and heal its self for more. Keep your health above 50% and you will always have the faster pet and thus will do more damage. .

Where to find it: The Flamering moth was introduced as one of 3 new wild pets on the Timeless Isle. Any level 90 character can visit the isle either by flying out there (it’s off the south-eastern coast of the Jade Forest) or by speaking to Chromie at Mogu’shan Palace in the Vale for a quick teleport. They generally appear along the eastern half of the island, and can appear as both primary and secondary battle pets.

Pets with similar skill sets: Like I stated before, all moths except the three introduced in 5.4 have the exact same set of abilities. But no other moth has a self heal.

Pair it with: For extra healing oomph, pair this moth with a pet who can turn the weather into Moonlight (25% bonus healing). Abilities that cause Moonlight are Moonfire and Starfall and can be found on a number of different pets. The moth’s move, Nimbus, is handy if you pair it with pets who have moves with sub-par hit chances. Cast Nimbus, swap in a pet with a low-hit-chance nuke, and have fun.

Pro Tip: I used the moth to great effect today while farming pets in the Valley. The moth’s self heal made it a real monster against the legions of aquatic pets in the area. I paired it with a Darkmoon Cub and used his Devour ability to self heal. The moth is strong against aquatics and the cub is strong against critters, and there’s virtually no other kind of pet you’ll encounter in the Valley. I was able to go long periods of time without stopping to heal or revive my pets outside of battle, and it really made things more efficient on my end. Many other beast type pets have Devour, and since that is the key here you can use one of them instead of the cub. Happy farming!

Turbles

In an effort to force myself to collect all the zillions of pets I don’t have yet, I logged in and queued for the raid finder. Sighing at the wait time (17 minutes for a healer? preposterous I say) I poked around some of the fishing pools nearby. I figured, why the heck not. I might get one of those carps. After depleting one pool of its squirmy little shrimp, I moved to the next, and…

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[Turtles All The Way Down]!

Well hey, I’ll take that. It’s not a pet but it’s one of the rarest mounts ever, so what the heck man. Not bad for less than two minutes fishing, eh? Well, you know, if you don’t count the YEARS I have spent fishing in this game. I figured that by the time I had all 4 of the new carp pets I would probably have the turtle too, but it was sort of a pipe dream because, let’s face it folks, fishing is boring and even my best intentions to fish usually go by the wayside after half an hour of bobber-plopping.

So now I have a shiny new mount that I will likely never use. But that’s cool. One more mount towards the 200 achievement. And as far as pets go, I’m not sucking so hard on that front despite having little interest in actually logging in and collecting them. I nabbed a blue carp while fishing a few days back and got a Sunfur panda from the Beasts of Fable bag. Not bad.

I have decided that I need to pace myself with the pet collecting because having so many pets left to collect (and more coming in the next patch) is getting overwhelming. So I will make a goal for myself each week or so and go for that pet. If I get others on the way, that’s cool too. Let the pet collecting commence!

Dinosaurs!

I have been woefully absent from the game lately. I got sucked into Skyrim; my bad!

But I did get a chance to check out the new patch content. I finished grinding to exalted with my remaining Pandaria factions (August Celestials, Shieldwall, and Shado-Pan), which earned me the Pandaren kite mount and the 55 exalted reputations achievement. That felt good. I really do dislike the emphasis on daily quests so far in this expansion, but I thought the way Shieldwall and Dominance Offensive handled daily progression was well done. I hope this becomes the norm, with dailies giving way to storyline quests at certain reputation intervals.

I also liked the changes to reputation gains this patch. The work orders at the farm and the reputation gains for daily dungeons and scenarios was a welcomed change from simply doing a truckload of dailies every day. I wish I could just slap on a tabard and run dungeons to my heart’s content (the lack of rep gains has been a primary factor in my lack of interest in dungeon running this expansion) but this is a step in the right direction.

I ran a bunch of scenarios on Saturday with the ret paladin and got the Scenaturday achievement. We ran really close to running out of time, but we squeaked by and now we have an awkward title to show for it. Speaking of titles, I earned “the Relic Hunter” a week or two ago for finding 20 rare treasures in Pandaria. That was a lot of fun. It netted me a lot of BoA weapons to ferry between my alts, too, so that is a bonus. Next title on the list is “the Seeker of Knowledge”…whenever I get back into archaeology. I’m about half way through the achievement.

I made my first trip to the Isle of Giants this morning. I went on my hunter, who is poorly geared, because while my druid is decently geared he has no real damage output and I anticipated it would make killing elite dinosaurs a long, tedious pain in the ass. Even on my hunter, who does acceptable damage for her ilevel, killing a dinosaur is a matter of popping every cool down twice, spamming mend pet, and praying. Also some swearing.

I will have to find a group later, I think, and take the island by storm. Doing it alone is slow and not very exciting, and given my timidity I haven’t seen anything beyond the beaches of the island. I heard that the drop rate of the little raptor pets was very high, but it was hotfixed and I have no idea how hard they nerfed it. I killed maybe 10 dinosaurs and saw nothing but bones. No pets, no eggs. Sadness.

I tried running around on the Isle of Thunder killing rares for pets, but had no luck there either. In fact, thanks to a wonderful bug, I was unable to loot all but two rares I killed out of a total of, again, around 10. How a bug like that got past the PTR and onto live realms amazes me. Sometimes I wonder if quality control is a concept at Blizzard. It’s been fixed though (a week later…) so I may go back and resume my rampage. Running amok with fifty other people swarming rares is pretty fun. Not having to deal with CRZ is also a nice change, since I find the island crowded enough as it is with just my server to contend with.

For now, I think I will take a break from Azeroth and go outside. It’s a beautiful sunny day and there’s no excuse for wasting it. Enjoy the patch folks 🙂

The Very Best Pet Collecting Server Ever

I have a little “secret” to share with all you lovely pet collectors. There exists a server that is untainted by the foul stench of CRZ. It is a haven, a paradise, a mecca if you will. Where the lands flow with pets and competition is scarce. Where you can frolic and play and collect to your heart’s content. Where even rare pets are plentiful.

That server is Ravenholdt (US).

I first heard about Ravenholdt on the Warcraft Pets forums. I thought to myself, “Self, you need to bite the bullet and roll a death knight on Ravenholdt, because rare pets are extinct on Bloodhoof!” And so I did. As I was busy bruising my fat tauren backside through the initial quest line in the death knight starter zone, I reminisced on my luck pet collecting on Bloodhoof.

I’ve done fairly well for myself, all told. My usual policy is to catch first, hunt rares later. I catch the first pet I find just to be certain I have it in my collection. Later I will go back and hunt for specific rares. So I have a lot of individual pets in my collection that might be considered uncommon or hard to find, but they’re of a low quality. And I like rares. The problem is that, since Bloodhoof has a large population and is part of CRZ, I am at a severe disadvantage when it comes to camping select hard to find pets. Minfernals? Forget it. At least 10 people swooping around during the day, more at peak hours. Spawn of Onyxia? Only seen one or two. Giraffe Calf? I wasn’t even sure it existed. Scourged Whelpling? I’ve never seen one before. The issue wasn’t my dedication. I devote a huge amount of my play time towards pet battles and collecting. It was the combined forces of nasty CRZ and a naturally high population server that kept me from obtaining some of the pets I want most. I got a minfernal months ago much to my surprise and delight, but that had nothing to do with tedious camping. It was sheer luck. A fluke.

When my little tauren death knight was all ready to head out into the world on his own, I immediately took a flight from Orgrimmar to the Southern Barrens. Armed with my trusty level 19 Terrible Turnip, I set off across the plains. My hopes were high that I would be able to find a giraffe calf this time, and oh man. Was I not disappointed. The first pet to pop up on my radar was a calf. It was poor and I didn’t care at all. I had a giraffe calf! But five seconds later I found another…and then another…and by the time I had run once around the zone, I had an uncommon quality calf in my possession. That was good enough for me. I’ll come back and hunt for a rare later, but my curiosity was killing me. What about the rest of the pets I had been hunting fruitlessly for months of Bloodhoof?

I hopped a flight into Dustwallow and galloped towards Onyxia’s lair. On my home server the place is usually devoid of battle pets. As soon as I got close my screen began to bloom with little green paws. Spawns everywhere! It took but four battles to nab a rare. I gleefully deleted by old poor quality spawn and raced off to catch a flight to Tanaris. Infinite whelplings next!

On Bloodhoof the Caverns of Time usually spit up one or two whelps every time I visit, but the area is heavily camped and I have never caught a rare. The first thing I noticed upon landing was that Tanaris was in the throes of a sandstorm, and the first pet to appear on my minimap was the elusive Silithid Hatchling. What an amazing stroke of luck! Thankfully, I already had a rare hatchling in my possession so I left it for some other worthy pet battler to find. I raced off to the Caverns of Time. It was loaded with whelps. They appeared beneath my feet (hooves?) with a greyed out paw on the map indicating that the Caverns themselves beneath me were chalk full of little whelps. And the ruined area outside by the summoning stone was packed. I battled one and another respawned only a few feet away. Two minutes later, I had a rare. Oh this server rocks!

What else could I add to my collection? I was feeling rejuvenated. Pet collecting had gotten stale for me, circling endlessly around waiting for pets that never spawned. But this was fun! I remembered trying to find a Stunted Yeti in Feralas and the irritation over the number of people in the area doing the same thing. So I boarded a wyvern and sailed off into the blue. I landed in Feralas and rode to the yeti caves and sure enough, they were crawling with wee little yetis. There was no one in sight. I pranced happily through the yetis, knee deep in battle pets, and before I had cleared even half of them I had a rare. By the time I headed back out of the cave, more had spawned outside, and my minimap was a sea of happy green paws.

Ecstatic, I flew back to Orgrimmar and hopped a zeppelin to the Undercity. Where should I go next? The possibilities were endless. I remembered my grueling ordeal trying to find a rare Tiny Twister in Arathi, and flew there next. I landed and ran towards the Circle of Outer Binding. On Bloodhoof and my alt server Madoran, I had spend countless hours trying to coax the little farts to spawn. I did everything I could to force them out of hiding. I battled quite a few of them, but never found a rare. It was frustrating as hell to compete with other folks, especially when I was the one doing the work killing other battle pets in the zone trying to force the Twisters to spawn. When I arrived on Ravenholdt, the zone was empty, and I could not actually see the Circle of Outer Binding on my minimap through the swarm of little green paws. Twisters everywhere! And two battles later, I caught my rare. On to the next!

From here I decided my next destination would be the Wetlands. Here is another place I have spent so many hours flying in circles, moonfiring little critters, and praying to eldritch gods for a Tiny Bog Beast. I’ve seen a few of them before, of course, and caught one for myself. They’re not that rare. But I could never find more than one or two at a time, and even then I had to dodge other pet collectors. Would Ravenholdt be different or had my lucky streak finally come to an end? No, as it turns out, I was still on fire. The area around the Green Belt was crawling with tiny little bog beasties. I didn’t find a rare my first time through, but they began to respawn fairly quickly, and I resolved to come back later after I had poked around southward for a Fluxfire Feline.

On arrival in the toxic airfield in Dun Morogh I found a smattering of felines waiting for me. Two battles later, I had the rare that had eluded me for so long. I then promptly died to a level ?? guard, but that’s fine. I got what I came for. I rode back to the Wetlands. The tiny bog beasts were nowhere to be seen. Oh well. Can’t win them all. So I rode back to Hammerfall and caught a wyvern to Hillsbrad. I had forgotten to check for the Lofty Librams while I was up there. Dalaran Crater was packed with the little flappy books and after a complete circuit around I finally found my rare.

So ends my tale of joy. I caught one elusive pet I had never seen before and upgraded 6 pets I had been having a hard time finding on my home server. It only took me a couple of hours from creation of my new death knight to the end of my journey. I have to say it was incredibly fun to actually be able to catch pets, rather than just circle around for hours waiting on spawns.

I wholeheartedly feel that some pets should be exceptionally difficult to find and capture. But I don’t like the way CRZ impacts pet collecting. It feels artificial. I’m not a CRZ fan by any means, and this just kind of furthers that distaste.

So if you’ve been beaten down by your server’s lack of pets, consider rolling a death knight alt on Ravenholdt and doing what I did. It’s an RP-PVP realm but if you’re worried about being ganked, take heart. I didn’t see more than two people the entire time I rode around Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms, and neither of them paid me any attention.

My next goal is to level up a bit and make enough gold to purchase flying, so that I can finally get myself a scourged whelpling.

TL;DR version: Ravenholdt US is an RP-PVP server that is exempt from CRZ. This means those hard to find pets you’ve been scouring the globe for are readily available and pet collecting is easier than ever. I proved this by catching a giraffe calf first time out and upgrading a lot of elusive pets to rare. I highly recommend rolling a death knight alt and suffering through Arthas’ questlines so that you can get out there and get pet collecting.