This is a follow-on from my guide How to get your first pet to 25
Last revised May 2021, patch 9.0.5.
It assumes that you have got your first pet or two to 25, and are now looking around for what to do next.
There are several directions you can go. You can follow one closely, or make progress on them all at the same time. Much depends on what you want to achieve with pets. For some people, the Collecting aspect is most important; for others, it’s the challenges and Achievements in battling. And for some, it’s a convenient way to rack up some World Quests and grab a little extra rep here and there. Personally, I most enjoyed just going out into the world, searching for the pet I wanted to capture. How much you follow each strand depends on what you enjoy doing, but also on where you want to get to.
- Important: Before we start, equip yourself with Battle Pet Breed ID addon from Curseforge. A lot of the early selection of pets depends on Breeds, and knowing the right breeds now will save you time, gold, and frustration later. In some cases, it’s very important to use the right Breed of pet, so make sure you know what you’re getting.
At all stages until the last, the life of a pet battler follows the loop:
Identify pets to collect
Use them to defeat more challenges
It is always good to collect more pets. Some are more attacted to the collection aspect; some to battling and achievement - but we all want more Level 25 Blue pets. Especially in the early days, a lot of your time will be spent collecting and levelling pets. As you get more experience and more resources, levelling will get easier and faster, but at this stage, levelling will consume nearly all of your time, so select the pets to acquire and level carefully to get the most out of your time spent.
For now, you want to collect the pets that will help you level more pets faster.
No matter how you got your 25, you will have done some levelling of your pets by wild battles: see a pet in the world, beat it and its buddies, rack up some XP. Great!
But that’s not a lot of XP. Wild battles do level your pets, but not very quickly.
Tamer battles in Pandaria, Warlords, and Legion give 12.5 to 15 times as much XP as wild battles! If you have a strategy to beat one of those with two pets, then you can work in a levelling pet, and at the end, since the 25s can’t get any more XP, your levelling pet scoops the pool and gets all the extra XP for all three of your team.
This means that these tamer battles will level one of your pets from 1 to 25 in just 6 battles - 2 battles during Pet Week, when pet XP is tripled.
This is Powerlevelling. Xu-Fu’s has a Guide to Powerlevelling you should check out.
Legion Family Familiar tamers can be battled as many times as you like while their World Quest is up. I level my pets in Legion these days, since I already have teams for all the tamers.
Pandaria and Draenor:
If there is no Legion repeatable tamer up, and I’m in a hurry, I do a circuit of Pandaria or Draenor. These are dailies, and you can do each battle only once per day per account, so there is travel time between the tamers to add in.
If I have a few pets I want to level in my Rematch queue, but in no rush, I usually wait for Pet Week, and then pick up a Legion tamer some time during the week.
Every 15 days, we see Squirt Day in the Draenor Garrison. This gives as much XP as the Legion tamers, but it’s up for a whole day from reset to reset, and scheduled in advance, so if you have a queue of a couple of hundred to get to, you can knock yourself out for hours. About twice a year, Squirt Day falls during a Pet Week, when just 2 Squirt battles level a pet 1 to 25; it is called SuperSquirt Day.
Polished Pet Charms are the current currency used to buy Stones and Bandages from the Pet Vendors.
Pet World Quests in BfA and Shadowlands and Dragonflight reward either 14-20 Polished Pet Charms, or a Blue Stone, or Bandages. With 35 Polished Pet Charms, you can buy an Ultimate Battle-Training Stone that will boost one pet to Level 25 instantly.
Personally, I’d rather level pets by battling, but some people do collect their Charms and boost pets by Stones instead.
But everybdy needs some Blue Stones, formally Marked Flawless Battle-Stones sometimes. Some pets come only in Green quality, and you need to make them Blue if you intend to level and use them. And when hunting wild pets, it can be painful to find one in the Breed you want that is also Blue quality, so using a Blue Stone on the right breed will save you lots of time and frustration. You can buy Blue Stones for 15 PPC.
I present these with numbers, but you should not take this as a prescription for the order to approach them. It can be easy to get frustrated or burned out at this stage if you keep hammering against just one of the available directions. If you can’t find that P/P EPW you’re looking for, take a break and knock off a few tamers, or browse the Auction House, or get a bit of levelling done.
Everybody wants the Safari Hat! The Safari Hat gives you an extra 10% pet XP for every battle, and with all the pet levelling you will eventually be doing, that will add up to save you a ton of time in the long run. As well as that, along the way, you will open up the Pandaria Dailies, which you can use for levelling more pets.
Getting the Safari Hat involves following the trail of Tamers from Taming Eastern Kingdoms (Alliance) or Taming Kalimdor (Horde) and then both factions go through Taming Outland, Taming Northrend, Taming Cataclysm, and Taming Pandaria, in that order.
Then, for some bizarre reason, you find you have to do one more tamer - but you have done them all! So you should make a level 1 on the opposite faction, and do the first tamer in their continent to finally achieve Taming the World and proudly don your Safari Hat!
Let’s face it: now that we have a pet at 25, we’re all going to visit the AH to figure out how much progress we can buy!
It’s your gold; spend it as you like - but let me suggest these Pro Tips before you jangle your purse:
Pet prices are completely irrational. Many people list pets with no idea of their value. It’s a gold-making opportunity for people who know the market, and a sucker-trap for people who don’t. You might find a pet on the AH for 50 Gold one day, 500 the next, and 5000 the next. Or vice versa. Do yourself a favour: visit The Undermine Exchange before you buy, and check out the prices across various realms and region-wide. Don’t pay 5K for a pet that normally sells for 50.
Know the Breed you want. Get the Breed you want. An S/S Fiendish Imp is a top-tier PvP pet; a P/B isn’t useful even as a paperweight.
If you have characters on multiple realms, check all their Auction Houses for the best price.
In very general terms, a Level 25 should probably cost about 1K more than a Level 1, but see the first Pro Tip above, so they typically don’t. When looking at the listings, consider the price difference, how much gold you have to spend, and how easily you can level a pet.
I have always found hunting and capturing pets in the world the most enjoyable part of the whole pet minigame, and I envy you the journey of finding them all. You may not think yourself enviable when you’re camping for that P/P Emerald Proto-Whelp, but you will understand later.
This is getting rather long, so I will make a separate post about the most useful wild pets to prioritise.
Apart from the especially useful wild pets, you will also want to catch 'em all for the Safari achievements. Just watch out for the Snowy Owl, which spawns only in Winter, and the Qiraji Guardling, available only in Summer, and the rare pets that spawn only in certain weathers.
You should be using the Rematch addon, which saves teams for you, and recalls them when you mouseover a tamer.
This part of your battling life will be dominated by using the Pandaria, Draenor, and Legion tamers to level pets, and the BfA and Shadowlands World Quests to earn Polished Pet Charms. The key to success will be having the strategies available to do this reliably, and the pets you need in the right breeds to execute those strats.
When you have a team set up for every tamer in all those continents, you know you have arrived! You will then be set to earn Charms or level pets at will.
Xu-Fu’s Guides hold various strategies for all max-level tamers. You should look for strategies that work with the pets you have, and look for pets you don’t have that are used in multiple strategies. Xu-Fu’s keeps a Most Used Pets page that lists all the most common pets, but does not specify breeds.
The various Raiding with Leashes achievements
let you run through old raids and kill bosses that have a decent chance to drop pets. All are must-dos. Some of the pets from thse are among the best battlers in the game - if they drop for you in the right breed - but they all add to the roster!
I found running old raids quite enjoyable, when I was in the mood. They are all easy now, except maybe Karazhan Chess, and you will pick up a vast amount of great transmog as well in your hunt.
The earlier raids can be done only once per week per character, but Pandaria raids can be done on every difficulty including LFR, for extra chances to get those pets quickly.
Pets you learn from cages also count for the achievement, so if something is not dropping for you, you can hit the AH to fill in the gap.
When you have finally defeated Aki to open the regular Pandaria Dailies, a quest becomes available in Shrine to defeat the four Pandaren Spirit Tamers. When you finish, the reward is your choice of a pets that are miniatures of the four Spirit Tamers. (I recommend the Water Spirit for your first choice.) This also unlocks dailies for the four, and each has a 10% chance to drop its pet every time you defeat it.
The Celestial Tournament is, in my opinion, the greatest piece of pet content. It was nervewracking and exhilarating to do back in Mists, with a skeleton roster of the original pets. You must have levelled 15 pets even to be allowed in, and 15 pets isn’t going to get you through it.
It’s an eternal beautiful lazy Sunday afternoon, facing the toughest battles you have yet seen, in an attempt to earn the miniatures of the four Pandaria legends. And you can’t heal your pets! Once inside, if you fail a battle and have no substitute team, you start again.
It’s easier now, of course, with the faster levelling and the power creep we’ve seen in our pets over the expansions and the explosion of strategies people have devised, but once you have enough of a roster together, it should be a priority,
The various pet dungeons, from Wailing Caverns to Blackrock Depths, contain pet battles you have to work your way through, like the Celestial Tournament, from start to end without heals.
Unlike the Celestial Tournament, they are in the dingy depressing holes that are WoW Classic dungeons, and without the excitement or action of playable dungeons. They all reward pets, Wailing Caverns by a bag drop at the end, and the others by a currency you earn per run each week.
The Stunted Direhorn is the one pet available exclusively from Pet PvP. It is awarded for 250 wins. It is a strong battler in PvP, but not uniquely necessary; there are other Direhorns. However, it is a symbol that you have matched it up against other players.
PvP is beyond the scope of this guide, and it is an acquired taste that is not for everybody. But those who enjoy it really love the challenge and the need for skill. It is the most anonymous thing you can do anywhere in WoW - you are presented to your opponent as a random NPC without a name, and even GMs have to do some work to figure out who played a particular match - so you don’t have to worry about being embarrassed, but playing against other people is usually much harder than anything you will do in PvE, where the tamers execute pre-scripted moves.
PvP does not require a large roster of pets, since about half the teams will be comprised largely of up to 20 “current meta” pets.
There is also a timer per move, and of course the average win rate is (slightly less than) 50%. And the rewards are miniscule compared to PvE battles. But there is the Stunted Direhorn and, for 1000 wins, the Trainer title.