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World of Pokemon. Does that sound like fun? In case you never heard, Blizzard is adding pet battles to World of WarCraft in Mists of Pandaria (due out September 25th) and to my surprise, despite the obvious Pokemon overtones it’s actually kind of fun.

Using my main Gavelier (who I’ve chronicled over the past few years on Alazar until recently when I all but retired form the game), imported to the beta server I quickly trained up the pet battling skill and picked a fight with the nearest squirrel. The game auto-picked Snarly who nearly got his tail handed to him. I rearranged my pet queue and set my mechanical squirrel, now named Mechy, as my main pet. A few quests and 5 pet levels later, I ventured into Elwynn Forest, looking for more wild pets to battle. After getting Mechy to level 5 I trained an Obsidian Hatchling up to level 3 before beginning training my panther cub. Said cub got killed by a Crystal Lake frog so I next took him to fight sheep instead.

Panther Cub, I chose you!

Here’s the now level two panther cub facing off with a black lamb (still a sheep if you ask me). You can see the interface here, with the pets’ health bars atop the screen and the pet command bar front and center. From there, it’s straight Pokemon. You pick an attack, the other pet picks an attack, and the pet with the higher speed goes first. That’s what nearly got Snarly killed earlier; he was always attacking second against the squirrel. In any case, let’s attack the lamb/sheep.

Panther Cub Rakes Black Lamb!

He does ‘strong’ damage against critters like the sheep, and this Rake attack weakens the sheep on his next attack. That makes winning this battle easy.

The pet selection bar

Here’s the pet change bar, with Mechy 2nd and the Obsidian Hatchling 3rd. You can see the button, second from the right on the bar is now glowing. That’s the capture button, like throwing a Pokeball.

Capturing a black lamb

Instead though, you toss a crate. You have to wait until the pet has less then 35% health to start trying to capture it.

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There’s a percent chance on capturing based on the pet’s level and their health. You odds go up each time you fail a capture so if your pet holds, you will capture any pet through attrition.

The pet menu

Here’s the pet screen, with my three chosen pets on the bottom right, ad the black sheep (or lamb) of my collection selected on the left and displayed on the top right.

There are also battles with NPC trainers and you can duel with other players. What I found interesting is that the world outside of your pet battle continues apace. I once had a Tauren warrior assaulting a Night Elf tree-form druid  all around me while I was pet battling. That’s a nice touch. In short this is a cool new feature that I wasn’t sure I would like, but I do. I’m interested in trying the promised farming feature in the end game, since it has been compared not to Farmville but to an old favorite of mine, Harvest Moon. We will see.

Alphasim out.