From Prague to Masters

From Prague to Masters

It has been a crazy September and even now it’s almost at an end so much is just beginning! I spent 10 days in Prague, Czech Republic for our World of Warcraft Guild meet 2015 and for a celebratory holiday for graduating/my 30th birthday in a few weeks. It was fantastic to see our friends again as we’ve not been on a guild meet for a few years, and Prague was a gorgeous city. We went to a few specific places but most of the time we just picked a direction and walked. It is literally one of those cities where you feel like you are walking through a living breathing art gallery. The people were so friendly as well, and the food was amazing. Massive portions of gorgeous dishes. It’s taken Chris over a week to stop saying ‘I miss Czech food :(‘. Munich was at the top of my list of places I’ve visited but I think Prague has either taken over or is resting in joint first place. We only saw a part of the city, staying in the Old Town, and there was so much more to see. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for somewhere to visit.

 

We came back from Prague and I jumped straight into my Masters degree at the University of Strathclyde; Information and Library Studies. The weirdest part of this is suddenly finding myself a computer science student. I have always been an Arts student. I’ve only had one week of classes, and half the classes were cancelled due to it being week 1, so next week is my first full week. I am in Tuesday and Wednesday all day, which is a long time but there are two bonuses to this; 1) I have no 3+ hour breaks in which to get bored or feel ill in, and 2) all my classes are in a nice neat block and not across the campus from one another. I’ve already found the places to eat, drink and rest in those buildings and in the next few weeks I’ll start exploring the rest of the campus bit by bit.

 

I’m hesitant to say the next bit, because I’m aware I’ve said it before in regards to teaching… but… I really feel settled already. I feel like this is the right thing for me. I enjoyed teaching, but as my placement went on there were parts of it that began to wear away on me; the politics, the two-facedness of some people, the endless critiques and the huge amount of work. A lot of the teachers were welcoming, but some were not. However, everyone I’ve met so far in relation to my course – teachers, students, library staff at the Mitchel Library (placement) – have all been really nice, friendly and enthusiastic. And more importantly, I don’t feel overly geeky. I am a self admitted geek, it is who I am, and I’ve noticed teachers come in all flavours, often not geeky, sometimes looking down on geeky. However, when you’re sitting in your first lecture and the lecturer says ‘I think we’re all geeks here’ in response to a student apologising for being geeky.. I think I’ll be ok πŸ˜‰ I also like looking around the class and seeing marvel t-shirts, harry potter necklaces and so forth. I need to break out the Star Wars and World of Warcraft t-shirts πŸ˜› I just don’t feel judged and everyone I met at the Mitchel Library, which is the base of our placements (1 day a week in both semesters) they all welcomed us with open arms. Like, this is the next generation of librarians and we want to help them become a part of this amazing tradition and profession.

 

One thing that has been really important to me is that among the jargon and technical stuff, the point of what a library is, what it should/can be and it’s impact on the whole community (whether it be local, academic and so forth). It is important. It can and will change lives. That was why I looked at teaching; I wanted to make a difference in young people’s lives, I wanted to help those who were ill or bullied and show them that they can do it. However, teaching only covers one subject and one aspect of people’s lives – being a part of a library means helping everyone and not being limited to one subject area. One of our assignments is to do research in 3 subjects, one arts, one sciences, and one engineering, to prepare us for working outside our comfort zone because we could be asked to research/find information of any topic at any time.

 

My placement really excites me because it feels like a continuation of my time in a school and a combination of all those thoughts. I’ll be working in the schools in Glasgow, and in simple terms, evaluating the current system the library is running in the schools. Basically the librarian is a part of Glasgow Libraries and then visits the school so many days a week. This means a lot of travelling around, and I’ll be splitting the huge list with my placement partner and doing it over both semesters. I’m going to be talking to the students, teachers and library staff to find out what they need and want. The most important part of this is it isn’t just an assignment, it is actual work. Everything I do in this placement matters and will be used by my supervisor to actually evaluate the system. So when I go in to a school and talk to the kids, I could be making a huge difference on their lives. But also I’ll be helping the teachers too. It is something that fits me and my desires/ideas/etc. for contributing perfectly.

 

I am also now a member of two libraries; Glasgow and my home council. Yes, that means exactly what it sounds like. MORE BOOKS. I now have access to a huge range of resources for my Masters, but we are actively encouraged to use the library for pleasure reading because that is what libraries are for! So I went through my massive to read list and now have two lists on goodreads:

There were some cross overs, and local library is still easier as it’s literally at the end of my road, but I will definitely be grabbing some from Glasgow libraries. I’ve already ordered two I have been dying to read and hopefully will be able to pick them up when I’m there on Thursday.

In other geeky news I have been playing Guild Wars 2 again. I will be popping back into World of Warcraft for bits and pieces, such as holidays like Brewfest, but otherwise my motivation has just ceased up and died. I went in to do the 5 pvp pet battles for pet battle weekend and just ended up going ‘meh’ and logging out again. I go through phases with everything, gaming is no exception. I will probably post more on GW2 and gaming in general soon.

A starters guide to World of Warcraft pet battles

World of Warcraft Pet Battles Guide

This isn’t the first guide out there but in honour of the first pet battle weekend in WoW I decided to finally get off my behind and put together my own one. I’ve been an avid pet battler from the start, as has my Pokemon loving fiancΓ© Chris, and I hate seeing people avoiding this fun addition because it looks too complicated or overwhelming. With a whopping 752 pets overall currently in game it’s easy to see why people might find that, or not have enough time. So this guide is written in hopes of dragging a few more players into the fun that is pet battles πŸ™‚

 

The Basics

Pet Families

There are 10 pet families – a family is basically the term used to describe a type of pet. The 10 families are: aquatic, beast, critter, dragonkin, elemental, flying, humanoid, magic, mechanical and undead.

Knowing a pets family is an important starting point for pet battles as different families are stronger/weaker against each other. For example, a critter will take more damage from a beast, but will kick ass against an undead. Here’s the full list for you:

  • Aquatic – Strong against: Elemental
  • Beast – Strong against: Mechanical
  • Critter – Strong against: Undead
  • Dragonkin – Strong against: Magic
  • Elemental – Strong against: Mechanical
  • Flying – Strong against: Aquatic
  • Humanoid – Strong against: Dragonkin
  • Magic – Strong against: Flying
  • Mechanical – Strong against: Beast
  • Undead – Strong against: Humanoid

Just as a pet family is strong against another family, they can also be weak against them which means they do less damage against that particular family. In game you can find out these information by hovering your mouse over the pet family icon in your pet journal. As seen in the screencap below an Aquatic takes more damage from an Elemental (which is strong against Aquatics) but it will do less damage to an Undead.

strengthweak

This is probably already seeming a bit complicated, so when you’re starting out in pet battles my advice is to concentrate on using a pet that is strong against it. For example, if you want to battle a critter pet in Elwynn Forest you would be best using a beast. Weaknesses are not entirely unimportant but they are something you will learn to incorporate the more you play.

 

Passive Abilities

Each Pet Family has a passive ability, exactly like race passive abilities in game. They are:

 

  • Aquatic –  Harmful damage over time effects are reduced by 25% on Aquatic pets.
  • Beast –  Beasts deal 25% extra damage below half health.
  • Critter – Critters break out of crowd control effects more quickly.
  • Dragonkin – Dragons deal 50% additional damage on the next round after bringing a target’s health below 25%.
  • Elemental –  Elementals ignore all weather effects.
  • Flying – Flying creatures gain 50% extra speed while above 50% health.
  • Humanoid – Humanoids recover 4% of their maximum health if they dealt damage this round.
  • Magic –  Magic pets cannot be dealt more than 50% of their maximum health in one attack.
  • Mechanical – Comes back to life once per battle, returning to 20% health
  • Undead –  Undead pets return to life immortal for one round when killed.

Taking note of these abilities is important because it gives you an edge in a battle, helps you survive and can also cost you a battle if you’re unaware of them. For example, even though an Undead pet will only be alive for one round after reviving that could be all it needs to kill your pet.

 

Abilities

A pets abilities are not always the same as their family, but the good news is the same rules apply for families as they do abilities. You may have a Beast pet that has elemental abilities, which means it is strong against a Mechanical rather than Critter. Keep in mind though that the family rules still apply – so the Beast will still take heavy damage from a Mechanical, it just has more of a fighting chance against it. Here are a few examples of pets from one family who have abilities from a different one: Fel Pup (Beast with Elemental & Undead abilities), Moon Moon (Beast with Magic abilities) and Sunreaver Micro-Sentry (Mechanical with Flying & Elemental abilities).

Abilities have the same icons as pet families so when you’re battling a pet check its abilities first. Different abilities open out as your pet levels. At level 1 it will have one ability, the next at level 2, then level 4, level 10, level 15 and finally level 20. As your pet gains new abilities check what you have and swap their abilities as wanted/needed. To do this drag a pet to a pet battle slot (if a pet is already in that slot you will simply pop the new one in on top of it – don’t worry, you’re not deleting a pet πŸ™‚ ) and then click on the small arrow below its ability and the other ability will pop down:

abilities

You can check what a pets ability does and what it is strong against by hovering your mouse over it, like so:

ability2

As you can see here the Blazing Firehawk pet has an ability called Fire Quills which is an Elemental ability and therefore strong against Mechanical and weak against critter. You can still use it against any other family but you will do more damage and thus give you a higher chance to succeed when using it against a mechanical.

Rarity

This tends to be something people forget about when pet battling, especially in PvP battles. Rarity isn’t just a thing that makes your pets look prettier or more important, like gear in WoW rarity means your pets are better and stronger.

There are four different rarities (from highest to lowest):

  • Rare (blue)
  • Uncommon (green)
  • Common (white)
  • Poor (grey)

You cannot change a pets rarity by leveling it, the only way to change a pets rarity are through pet battle stones. You can now buy Pet Battle Stones to level a pet up to Rare, however, this is done with pet charms from your garrison’s Pet Menagerie and requires a selection of level 25 pets. Also your pet collection will grow to be quite large so I really do advise trying to farm for Rare pets.

Keep in mind that you wouldn’t go into a Raid with grey gear, so likewise, don’t go into a pvp or tamer battle with grey pets. A Rare pet up to 2-3 levels lower than a Grey pet will most likely win – even if it is weak against that pet.

Starting Pet Battles

Now that I’ve explained the basics you are ready to start pet battling! But where do you start? Well first of all you need a few pets. As I said there are over 700 pets and you need to be realistic; you are not going to necessarily be able to start off with the best pets. Many you need a high level (3 pets of 25) to be able to get them. However – at the end of this guide Chris and I have put together a list of pets that we personally rate above others. Most of the time pet guides and players list their top pets and they can be hard to find, especially when you’re just starting out. So when we put this list together we chose pets that can be caught, bought and then an honourable mention for other pets. We highly recommend checking out the ‘bought’ list for those of you starting out and have hardly any pets. All you need is some gold, sometimes some rep and bam you have a full level 1 team ready to go πŸ™‚ Once you’ve gotten into them you can then use our ‘Catch’ list to build up your collection.

So with that in mind if you have absolutely 0 pets then go check out some vendors or the AH. You’ll find some pets on the AH are super expensive and if you’ve got the gold then it is your choice, but if not then don’t worry. A lower price in the AH does not mean the pet is rubbish, it means it is EASY to obtain. The highest priced pets are often ones from rares, raids and TCG cards. For vendors I recommend checking this list here on WoW Wiki.

Pet Teams

You can have a maximum of 3 pets in a team and you must choose their abilities before you start a battle. In a battle you can swap between these 3 pets as many times as you wish, but you cannot add new pets or new abilities. As you get more experience you’ll find certain pets compliment one another and for higher level pet trainers, such as Garrison Menagerie and the Celestial Tournament, you will need to have a team that works well together. But for leveling and the easier pet trainers you can pick whatever pets work for you πŸ™‚

Types of Battles

There are three types of battles available in World of Warcraft:

Wild Pet Battle – You can access these by clicking on a wild pet in a zone. Enable track pets on your mini-map and they will show up as little green paw prints. You can battle pets for experience to level your own pets or to catch a pet (see more below).

Pet Tamers/Legendary Pets – There are tamers (also referred to as trainers) all over the place, varying in levels. They have a set team of pets with a set choice of abilities. For most you will need to tailor your pets accordingly to beat the tamers team. Low level tamers can be beaten very easily by using higher level pets, so it can be easily to use a team of lower/same level pets and then one higher level pet to ensure pets get experience and you win the battle easily. In Pandaria and Draenor you will also find Legendary Pets which show up on your mini-map as a yellow paw print. Like pet tamers they have set abilities, however, you are fighting one boss pet rather than a team of three. Like pet tamers you will need a team that can combat the legendary pet.

There is one exception to pet tamers having the same pets and abilities every time and this is Eris, a wandering pet tamer who can visit your garrison. She has a selection of different pets, of different rarities and different abilities each time.

PvP Pet Battle – Before you run away at the mention of PvP take a moment to read what I have to say πŸ˜‰ I’m not a big PvP fan but I LOVE PvP pet battles. First of all you can PvP with pets of any level, not just level 25 (the max level a pet can be). The higher level a pet is the increasingly harder a PvP battle will get because more abilities open up. So if you’re scared of some of the higher and more powerful abilities and thus getting your ass handed to you, I suggest playing with a low level team. Even a team of level 1s. You will be matched up with someone with pets in the same level bracket as you. Sadly, some people take advantage of this system and have 2 low level pets and 1 higher level pet. So sometimes you will get a bad match, if this is the case I would advise just quitting it. Unlike dungeon queues you don’t get a debuff for leaving a pet battle so you can just queue again.

Pet battles are also a lot slower than normal PvP because you have to take turns. This means you can plan your moves and the more you play and experiment with pets the easier PvP becomes. You’ll begin to recognise pets and their abilities and even anticipate what the other player will do. They’re also (almost) completely anonymous! You can’t see the players name, level or even faction in a battle. (You can see pet names though, so it is possible to “recognise” a player in that way).

Catching Wild Pets

There are various ways to collect pets in World of Warcraft; buy them from vendors, from faction reputation, professions, quests, completing achievements, promotions (i.e. TCG), drops from raid bosses and catching them in the wild. Pets also come in four different rarities (see above) and as mentioned, I strongly advise farming for a Rare quality of a pet. Some of these are easier to find than others and sometimes it is just about luck – to find out if you’re looking for a difficult pet check the comments on a pet on WarcraftPets.com. If you’re looking for a Rare pet get a friend to come with you and you can check twice as many wild pets.

You need to complete the achievement “Newbie” (raise a pet to level 3) to be unlock the ability to trap pets in pet battles (note: you can only trap pets in the wild, you cannot trap pets in tamer battles). To catch a pet you need to battle it in the wild and lower its health down to 35%, only then will it become catchable and your Trap ability will flash.

 

trap

 

As you can see here my trap is a “Pristine Trap” and this is because I have unlocked it by completing additional achievements. The traps go from Trap —> Strong Trap —> Pristine and you can read more about them and the relevant achievements here.

Using weaker abilities

I feel that it is important to mention that there is a use for weaker abilities – catching pets in battles. It is very easy to kill a pet when you are trying to catch it. It is extremely frustrating so I recommend having at least one pet that is weak against it. A pet strong against the catchable pet can easily crit and kill a pet if it’s under 50% health.

There are a certain ability found on the Terrible Turnip pet called Weakening Blow which will not reduce a pets ability below 1 health point. This is very useful for catching wild pets as it prevents you from accidentally killing the pet.

 

Leveling Pets

There are multiple ways of leveling pets and you’ll find different people recommend different tactics for getting the most experience. To start with lets cover the basics; you can get experience from any battle (except a duel), this includes pet tamers and PvP battles (I find these excellent for low level pets, you can gain a level per battle when they’re low). There are various items you can use to increase the experience your pet gets; Safari Hat, Pet Treat and Lesser Pet Treat (all of which stack). Gaining experience only causes your pet to gain levels (and thus new abilities) and does not affect their rarity in any way.

Pet Tamer Tactics

After spending many hours grinding pet battles in MoP, Chris and I picked up a few tricks along the way. For example, you can use very low level pets on certain pet tamer battles. It all depends on what pet you want to level and the pets you are fighting. Lets take the pet tamer in The Jade Forest as our example; Dor the Wall (the Turtle) has two non-damage abilities which means you can swap a low level pet (also called a ‘carry’ pet) in for a round (make sure you hit the opposing team and/or take damage, you need to be active in the battle to get XP), hit Dor and then swap it back out again. For this battle you need to do it after Dor has used his damage ability otherwise your carry pet will simply die.

The perfect carry pets to level in battles like this are Mechanicals and Magic pets due to their family passive abilities. Mechanicals revive when they die and Magic pets can only be hit for 50% of their health.

 

Addons

Like all addons there are various available for pet battle related things and our top two are:

PetJournal Enhanced – I cannot live without this addon, it makes a pet battlers life so much easier by giving you tonnes more filter options.

Rematch – Following closely behind PetJournal Enhanced is this one; a way to save your teams. You can name them, put them in folders and also use the target feature which means the right team loads as soon as you click on the right npc/pet. Saves a lot of time when you do a lot of pet battles!

Collectionator – Shows you what pets (and mounts and toys) you are missing and where/how to get them. This little addon has shown me a few I’ve forgotten so it is always worth checking when you’re looking at a large collection!

Random Companion – A cute little addon that randomly changes your summoned companion – great if you have 100s of pets and want to a range of them πŸ™‚

Pets to Buy – An addon for Auctionator that creates a shopping list auto-matically for the pets you do not own.

 

Our Pet Choices

Now to the fun part which took us about 45 mins of  debating to decide πŸ˜› Here is our list of the best pets available divided into three categories: Bought, Catchable, and Honourable Mention. We made this list based on our experience, the usefulness and versatility of the pets. We also made it with new pet collectors in mind which is why we divided the list into Bought and Catchable. Bought pets can easily be bought from vendors or the AH and while they may vary in price, they are all easy to obtain and give you a great team of level 1s to get you started. As you grow your collection you can add to it by grabbing some of the Catchable pets from the wild. And finally the Honourable Mentions are our favourite pets which aren’t so easy to get hold of but we seriously advise getting them especially for higher level teams such as the Garrisons and especially the Celestial Tournament.

[C] designates Chris’ choices and [H] designates Heather’s (aka me) choices.

 

[table id=1 /]

 

Afterword

And that is the end of the guide πŸ™‚ I hope it was useful to you and if it got you pet battling, even better! If you have any questions please leave a comment and we’ll get back to you – please note that comments debating or arguing with our pet choices will be deleted. It’s not that we believe we’re right and you’re wrong, it is because this is a guide for starters not a debate for experts πŸ™‚

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Uni Updates

While thinking about writing this entry I couldn’t help but think ‘I really need to get better at blogging’. It’s a thought I had just under a year ago, and many times before that. There are so many things I need to do, so many I have done and the last year really has just felt like an ongoing list of things I need to do. I guess that is what life is about, moving from one thing to another and on a positive note at least I am progressing. It’s especially important that I remember that right now because since September I have been quite seriously ill. Not at death’s door or anything like that, but my god did I feel like it a few times. I caught the flu and for three weeks it was absolutely awful. I’ve only ever had flu one other time I can recall and I had the same reaction. It’s why I am such a big fan of the flu vaccine and have been getting it since I was 16. Unfortunately the flu vaccine isn’t a cure, and every year the doctors need to choose which flu strain they think will be the most prevalent. Apparently this year they made the wrong choice and one of the other strains turned out to be more widespread, so my flu vaccine did nada.

 

As if flu wasn’t bad enough my body decided to add to the fun; I developed tennis elbow in my left arm and had sinusitis. The flu took such a toll on my body that I developed became post viral which basically means my immune system got smashed to bits. For a while there I had pretty bad fatigue and every day I’d get up for an hour or less before having to collapse into bed with crippling fatigue. I’m still feeling post viral, which basically means I’m really run down, have not been able to concentrate for more than 15 ish mins at a time (end of term essays were great fun…), and generally feeling really crappy with every symptom under the sun. I’m  slowly regaining my health back because I have exams in May and being able to concentrate for 15 mins at a time ain’t going to cut it in a 2 1/2 hour exam.

 

I missed pretty much all my classes, including the creative writing workshops I have been looking forward to for years. Fortunately I managed to persevere and got my dissertation completed, as well as all my assignments on time. The past few weeks have been incredibly difficult and stressful, but I did it. Now just my exams and that’s my final year over with and I graduate. What I’ll graduate with is yet to be seen. I had planned to go into teacher training, however, my Maths GCSE grade doesn’t quite cut it up here in Scotland. I could go to college for a year, struggle with the one subject I find terrifying and still not get the grade. I’ve also had time to think about it and have decided for various reasons not to pursue teaching. My dissertation supervisor, the author Laura Marney, was very supportive of my writing and teaching takes an awful lot of time up. If I want to seriously pursue my writing I don’t think I have the time to do both. So I am applying for a postgraduate course in Library and Information studies which leads to working in libraries (duh) as well as publishing.

 

At present I am coming to the end of my ‘week off’ before hitting the revision. I really enjoyed the selection of texts from my term 2 courses, Children’s literature and Science fiction, to the point that they both added a pile of more books to my ‘to read‘ list. I’ve also registered with our local library at last, which is handily located at the end of our road πŸ˜› So I am catching up on some much needed reading for pleasure πŸ™‚  Also playing some WoW and catching up on various online projects.