Guide: Your early pet roster

Your early roster of pets at Level 25.

This is a follow-on from my guide After your first Level 25

Last revised May 2021, patch 9.0.5.

With your early roster, your first 30-50 Blue 25s, you will be trying to

  1. Level more pets, and
  2. Earn Charms to buy Stones
  • BfA and Shadowlands World Quests are for earning Charms, since they give almost no XP.
  • Legion, Pandaria, and Warlords battles are for levelling pets. Six battles will level a pet from 1 to 25, or just two battles during Pet Week.
  • Squirt is the one Draenor Garrison tamer who gives full XP and can be battled repeatedly. She is due every 15 days, and about twice a year her day coincides with Pet Week for three times as much XP; this is called SuperSquirt Day.

You want to find two-pet strategies in Legion, Pandaria, and Warlords so that you can put a carry pet in the third slot to get XP.

You want to find three-pet strategies for BfA and Shadowlands so that you can earn Charms to buy Stones.

The good news is that people have been working on finding strats for years, and have already developed many, and most of them use a relatively small set of pets. Some are collected at Xu-Fu’s Guides. However, these aren’t the only ways to defeat the battles, and especially in your early days, you might want to look for your own until you acquire the “standard” set of pets. In many cases, even if you are missing one of the pets specified by the strategy, you can substitute another.

This “standard set” of pets are what you should be working on first, to collect and level to Blue 25s. They are all “good” pets, above average in battling ability, but more than that, they are the ones strat creators gravitate to using. Every one of these pets is easy to get, and used in many strats, and one of them can usually substitute for another you don’t have.

Within this set, you may prioritise some, depending on your interests and goals.

You might want to prioritise common pets for favoured Tamers, to take advantage of them when they are available.

  • Anubisath Idol and Emerald Proto-Whelp are superheros in Pandaria, and just those two will allow you to farm XP reliably if slowly every day,
  • You might prioritise getting two pets for a Squirt strat. That will guarantee your ability to level 3-4 pets an hour all day on a schedule every 15 days,
  • You might prioritise getting a half-dozen pets together that will defeat most BfA and Shadowlands World Quests for Charms,
  • You might prioritise getting teams for certain Legion World Quests, and taking advantage of those when they are up for pet XP,

… or you might just decide to level what you like, when you feel like it. :smiley: A nice thing about pet battling is that you choose your own path.

If I were starting now, I would prioritise these pets to optimise my progression:

  • Emerald Proto-Whelp and either Anubisath Idol OR Void-Scarred Anubisath mostly for wild battles, captures, Pandaria, and general substitutions.
  • Ikky and Unborn Val’kyr for Bleed&Stampede strats on big single boss fights for Charms
  • Teroclaw Hatchling for wild battles, various, and especially soloing Snail Fight! in Legion
  • Mechanical Pandaren Dragonling for its use in so many places, notably for soloing Ashlei
  • Any team of 2 for Squirt. Mechanical Pandaren Dragonling+Ghostly Skull or Emmigosa+Spectral Raven may be the easiest pairs to get.
  • S/S Nether Faerie Dragon and P/P Emperor Crab, H/P Blighted Squirrel, Chrominius, Lil’ Bling, and P/P or H/H Iron Starlette because they are so useful for such easy to find pets.

but you will always make progress no matter what order you decide. :+1:

You will find many lists of the most used pets. Xu-Fu’s keeps a good one simply called Most Used Pets. What I want to do here is provide an understanding of why you use each of these species, and how you use them.

Some pets are single-minded damage. Some are very tanky. Some are tricky in various ways, with slows, swaps, avoidance. In your early days, you will focus on straightforward burst damage and tanky pets that are effective and easy to play.


First let’s consider what we might call the “burst DPS classes” of the pet world - the species that can do a lot of burst damage.

1. Bleed and Stampede

Bleed and Stampede is one of the main bettling techniques.

You launch one or more bleeds - which can be damage each round, or a buff to each attack - then execute a multi-round Stampede, Flock, or Swarm type of move that hits three times per round and causes the Shattered Defenses debuff, that adds a further 50% to damage done.

This adds up to a huge amount of damage. It is sometimes the only way to counter the Elite or Boss buff on Boss pets, which cuts their incoming damage by half. It is usually used on single Boss pets. The simplest and most common implementation is:

  • Unborn Val’kyr: Curse of Doom (burst damage after 4 rounds), then Haunt (damage every round)
  • Ikky: Black Claw (adds damage to each attack), then Flock (three rounds of three attacks with increasing damage and Shattered Defenses)
  • In the middle of Flock, Curse of Doom erupts, doing 50% more damage because of Shattered Defenses.
  • As a follow-up, if one is needed, you can bring in a third pet with a big hit like Surge of Power or Ion Cannon to finish the battle while the enemy is still under Shattered Defenses.

That is a full-on example, with all guns blazing, when you can devote all three of your pets to beating one Boss.

Against Mechanical Bosses, notably on Mechagon, the Boneshard’s Elemental damage can be more effective as a bleed:
Boneshard: Blistering Cold (Elemental damage every round) and Chop (damage every round) until dead
Ikky: Black Claw (adds damage to each attack), then Flock (three rounds of three attacks with increasing damage and Shattered Defenses)

Bleed and Stampede can also be applied by many single pets. Ikky’s Black Claw + Flock alone is the single most damaging sequence in general, but others include:

  • Lil’ Bling: Make it Rain + Inflation
  • S/S Chitterspine Skitterling: Black Claw + Swarm
  • H/P Infected Squirrel: Creeping Fungus + Stampede
  • H/P Blighted Squirrel: Woodchipper + Stampede
  • P/P and/or P/B and/or S/S Zandalari Anklerender / Kneebiter. Black Claw + Hunting Party. Also Zandalari Shinchomper Rip + Hunting Party, preceded by Aura of Gonk when available.

Many pets can provide Bleeds separately, and many can provide the Stampede separately, but the combination in one pet is especially efficient.

Of the Bleed and Stampede pets apart from the overpowered Ikky, I personally rely most on Lil’ Bling and H/P Blighted Squirrel, because they both have shields on their middle slot reducing damage taken by 50%, so they last longer, and their racial extra life after being brought to zero .

2. Nukes

Some pets have one big nuke, and they set it up and deliver it. They have one job, to deliver that nuke, and then they can die happy.

Chrominius has Howl + Surge of Power. Surge of Power is a huge hit - 740 damage on its own - and first casting Howl doubles that. That’s 1480 damage in two rounds, enough to kill most regular 25 Blues.

Similarly, Microbot XD has Supercharge + Ion Cannon, delivering 1725 damage, Runeforged Servitor and Tranquil Mechanical Yeti have Supercharge + Call Lightning.

Probably the most used of the Nukes is the P/P or H/H Iron Starlette. The basic idea of the Starlette is Wind-Up + Supercharge + Wind-Up. The P/P breed will likely deliver this and die soon. The H/H will deliver this, with slightly less power, and may then survive for another double Wind-Up. All Starlettes also have a choice of the speed boost of Powerball and the DoT of Toxic Smoke available, which sometimes grants them some extra tactics.

The most dramatic of the Nukes are the pets with Explode. These pets typically do as much regular damage as they can, and then Explode, killing themselves and doing damage to their opponent. Since Explode damage bypasses shields and buffs, this can have extra value.

While it doesn’t have a single big nuke, the P/P Nexus Whelpling has a 4-round sequence of Arcane Storm and three rounds of Mana Surge which does upwards of 2000 damage if it completes. The Stormborne Whelpling can execute the same sequence, and also has a Call Lighning option in an alternate slot choice; it has only a P/S breed, but is easy to get at the AH or as a drop in Legion.

Twilight Whelpling and Twilight Clutch-Sister have Twilight Meteorite, which does about 700 damage, depending on the breed, with the interesting property that the damage is split among all opposing pets. Thus they can be used for early AoE or nuking a lone final pet. If cast with the Dragonkin racial up, 50% is added to that. All breeds are useful, but I’d prefer H/P Twilight Whelpling and P/S Twilight Clutch-Sister.

“Darkness Birds”, like Ravens, Crows, some Owls, have Call Darkness followed by Nocturnal Strike. This combo can do around 1400 damage in 2 rounds, depending on breed.


As you might expect, Tanks are the species that stand toe to toe with opponents, soak up the damage, heal it off. Tanks have self-healing and damage reduction.

Tanks are the backbone of wild and capturing teams, since they can chew through any wild pets, and need minimal healing between battles. They also plow through multihit opponents in tamer battles, and slug it out or finish remnants off.

Blizzard introduced three great tanks with the original pets in Mists, and they are still going strong today:

  • P/P Emerald Proto-Whelp: Put the Emerald Presence shield up, attack with whichever first slot option you chose, and go into the Emerald Dream when at half-health.
  • P/P Emperor Crab: Put Shell Shield up, use the heal whenever needed, use whichever attack you chose otherwise.
  • Anubisath Idol (or the new Void-Scarred Anubisath): Keep Sandstorm up, use Crush (or Takedown or Spiritfire Bolt), call on Deflection when you are about to take a big hit.

Most of the Pandaren Tamers can be two-petted with just the Idol and the EPW.

There are other tanky pets.

Chrominius can be configured as a tireless critter-killer, with Bite, Ancient Blessing, and Ravage, which you use whenever it will kill the opposing pet.

Elemental “Trees” like Broot, Singing Sunflower, Fozling, and Blossoming Ancient can change the weather to Sunlight, doubling healing, and then use Photosynthesis to heal themselves over multiple rounds, even in the backline.


There is a special place in your early roster for a capturing specialist. As you will be spending a lot of time in the world capturing new pets for your collection, you will find that sometimes you accidentally kill a pet you want to capture. This is annoying, and inefficient.

It will be worth acquiring and levelling one of the pets with an ability that can damage without ever killing, Superbark and Weakening Blow.

I recommend picking up Grumpy or Lord Woofington, both of whom are easy to get and have the Howl->Superbark combo, to use for capturing.

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For each pet, I mention

  • where to get it, whether capture or drop/Auction House
  • how to use it and what to use it for, and then
  • a more technical description of its most common usage priorities.

I am oversimplifying the options and the rotations of these pets, but I want to keep the guide brief. Just be aware that the usage given here for each species is only the most basic and common one, and there are other ways to slot and use these pets that you will learn over time. When it comes to Breeds, some of these pets may be useful in different ways in different breeds, but I’m recommending the breed you will definitely want to have.


Anubisath Idol (or Void-Scarred Anubisath)

Acquire The Idol drops from the Twin Emperors in Temple of Ahn'qiraj (AQ40). Void-Scarred Anubisath drops from Ra-den in Ny'alotha. Both will be available at the AH.
Breed Both Idols come in only one Breed, H/H.
Comment Both are tanky pets with high health plus the Humanoid racial, which gives 4% HP back after every hit. Sandstorm reduces all damage in a battle, for itself and any pet you want to level, but their attacks punch through the Sandstorm quite well. Use Deflection when you expect an extra-big attack.
Use Keep Sandstorm up. Use Deflection when you are about to take a big hit. Otherwise, just use your basic attack.
Priorities 1. Deflection only when you expect to take a big hit. 2. Cast Sandstorm when available 3. Crush (or Spiritfire Bolt or Takedown) otherwise.

H/P Blighted Squirrel

Acquire Blighted Squirrels are easily captured in Silverpine Forest There are many of them around.
Breed Because the Undead racial guarantees that the opponent can be left with two rounds of Shattered Defenses, Speed is of lesser importance, so go for Health and Power
Comment Yet Another Bleed & Stampede pet, the Blighted Squirrel brings Crouch and the Undead racial as well, making it more durable than the usual glass cannons
Use Get the Woodchipper bleed up, reduce damage with Crouch, and Stampede until you drop.
Priorities 1. Woodchipper when it is not already cast. 2. Crouch to reduce damage. 3. Stampede .

S/S Chitterspine Skitterling

Acquire The Chitterspine Skitterling is an easy pet to find and capture in Nazjatar.
Breed The 335 speed of the S/S means it will usually have the move advantage, but if you have the time, it's worth picking up a P/S as well, for times when that speed is not needed.
Comment This is an Aquatic Bleed & Stampede pet, resistant to Undead attacks, so its ideal niche is taking down big Undead bosses.
Use Set up Black Claw, then Swarm, and Skitter or Pinch twice to take advantage of Shattered Defenses.
Priorities 1. Skitter or Pinch only when the opponent has the Shattered Defenses debuff. 2. Black Claw 3. Swarm


Acquire Chrominius drops from Chromaggus in Blackwing Lair, and can be bought cheap at the AH.
Breed Only H/H breed is available.
Comment You will mostly use Chrominius for its huge nuke, which consists of Howl to deal double-damage, then Surge of Power which is a big hit that will stun you for two rounds. It is ideal for finishing off a big opponent. It can also be used as a Critter-farmer with Ancient Blessing as a heal, and Ravage to kill and heal.
Use You will probably be killed in that two round stun after Surge of Power, so do as much damage as you can while being sure to end with Howl and then Surge of Power.
Priorities 1. Bite until you have two rounds left to live. 2. Howl 3. Surge of Power

P/P Emerald Proto-Whelp

Acquire Capture the EPW in a small clearing in Sholazar Basin. There are usually only a few, so it may take some waiting, or more than one visit.
Breed The best breed is the P/P, especially so its shield and heals provide the maximum protection.
Comment The EPW is a tanky pet, that will shield and heal itself, and survive a long time with little need for healing between battles.
Use Keep your shield up as much as possible. Cast the 3-round heal when at about half-health, and use either of its basic attacks otherwise.
Priorities 1. Emerald Presence when it is not up, or has one round left if you are slower. 2. Emerald Dream when health < 800. 3. Breath or Emerald Bite otherwise.

P/P Emperor Crab

Acquire Capture the Emperor Crab in the Briny Muck south of Dread Wastes, often found as backup to the Rapana Whelks there.
Breed The best breed is the P/P, especially so its shield and heals provide the maximum protection.
Comment The Emperor Crab is a tanky pet, that will shield and heal itself, and survive a long time with little need for healing between battles.
Use Keep your Shield up at all times, and use your Heal when available. Use Surge or Snap otherwise.
Priorities 1. Shell Shield when it is not up, or has one round left if you are slower. 2. Healing Wave or Renewing Mists when it is available and you are not at full health. 3. Surge or Snap otherwise.


Acquire Get it from a short quest series in Talador, or pick one up cheap at the AH.
Breed Ikky comes in only one Breed, P/S, so you can't go wrong. However, it originally comes as Green quality, so if you get it as Green, you will have to upgrade it to Blue.
Comment Ikky is an overpowered Bleed & Stampede glass cannon. Use it against something that needs to die fast. Against Boss single-pet targets, often use an Unborn Val'kyr first, then Ikky, then a nuke after Ikky dies.
Use Apply Black Claw to add damage to each hit, then Flock to deliver 9 hits. If Ikky and the target are still alive, Savage Talon twice to take advantage of Shattered Defenses.
Priorities 1. Savage Talon only when the opponent has the Shattered Defenses debuff. 2. Black Claw when the opponent has no Black Claw debuff. 3. Flock

P/P or H/H Iron Starlette

Acquire The quest chain in Blasted Lands leading to the Dark Portal, or buy from the Auction House.
Breed Most breeds work, but the P/P has extra power for the big nuke, while the H/H may live to get a second nuke off.
Comment The starlette has one job, to deliver that Supercharged Wind-Up, doing massive damage. The P/P has more power, but the H/H may live to deliiver another Supercharged Wind-Up, or at least a second Wind-Up without the Supercharge.
Use Wind Up, Supercharge, Wind-Up - then figure whether you can live to do it again. You may use Powerball to outspeed your opponent, or Toxic Smoke to leave a DoT.
Priorities 1. Wind-Up when Supercharged. 2. Wind-Up when nou Wound-Up, or when Wound-Up and expecting to die before you can Supercharge again. 3. Supercharge when Wound-Up.

Lil' Bling

Acquire Lil' Bling has a low chance to drop from Blingtrons, so you will be heading to the AH for it.
Breed Only S/S breed is available.
Comment This is a Bleed & Stampede pet, with an option for a Shield to live longer.
Use Make it Rain to do damage each round, then Inflation to increase that damage. Optionally, use Extra Plating either before or after Make it Rain to live longer.
Priorities 1. Make it Rain if not active. 2. Extra Plating if not up. 3. Inflation

Mechanical Pandaren Dragonling

Acquire Made by Engineers from Ghost Iron Ore, you will probably find this at the AH.
Breed Only S/S is available.
Comment The MPD is notable for its Decoy, which with its 309 Speed and Mechanical racial, can save it from otherwise deadly mechanics. It has a very useful split damage in Thunderbolt, and a decent basic attack in Breath.
Use Use Decoy either specifically against a big hit, or on cooldown. Use Thunderbolt on cooldown, and Breath otherwise.
Priorities 1. Decoy, or save it for a known danger point. 2, Thunderbolt. 3. Breath.

Nexus Whelpling

Acquire It spawns only in Coldarra, circling the crater around The Nexus. These are not the easiest pets to find and capture, but they're worth it!
Breed P/P is ideal for the raw power its blast needs. The Stormborne Whelpling can act as a P/S Nexus Whelpling, and you can probably use that in most cases.
Comment The Nexus Whelpling lays down a mighty barrage of Magic damage - up to 3000 over 5 rounds.
Use Arcane Storm, then Mana Surge, then Arcane Storm again for a huge burst of damage over five rounds. if it lives that long.
Priorities 1. Arcane storm. 2. Mana Surge. 3. Whichever of its Basic Attacks you have slotted.

Teroclaw Hatchling

Acquire Teroclaws are a reward from a short quest line in Spires of Arak, or you can usually buy them on the AH for a few gold.
Breed Only H/P is available.
Comment The Teroclaw is a prodigious Critter-farmer with Claw, and Ravage to kill and get the extra heal, while Nature's Ward keeps it tanky. With Dodge and its racial Speed bonus instead, it is used to avoid mechanics and devastating nukes.
Use Keep Nature's Ward up at all times. Use Ravage when it will kill your target, to get the extra heal. Use either Claw or Alpha Strike as your vasic attack, depending on the target.
Priorities 1. Nature's Ward when it has expired. 2. Ravage when target is in kill range. 3. Claw or Alpha Strike.

Unborn Val'kyr

Acquire The Valk can ve captured at many spots in Northrend. There are three in Grizzly Hills, and when one is captured, another spawns at one of the three sites, so they are easy to get.
Breed Both breeds work. The H/H can be used in slightly more battles, but since they are so easy to get, you might as well pick up both.
Comment The Valk is most used as an amplifier for a Bleed and Stampede pet. Lay down Curse of Doom, then Haunt, and let your Bleed and Stampede pet increase the Haunt's DoT with Shattered Defenses. Then the Curse of Doom explodes while Shattered Defenses is still up.
Use Curse of Doom, then Haunt.
Priorities 1. Curse of Doom. 2. Haunt. 3. Shadow Slash.
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