As you may know, Blizzard is planning a 2008 World of Warcraft Arena Tournament in which players can win real money (and lots of it) by beating other players in 3×3 Arena matches. These matches will be played out on special Tournament realms with special pre-made level 70 characters. All the tournament characters have access to the same equipment — which in the case of hunters, includes pets.
And what pets does Blizzard offer for the Tournament hunter? Here’s a list from Blizzard’s Tournament Information page:
- Carrion Bird
- Nether Ray
- Warp Stalker
- Wind Serpent
This list matches the pets currently available for hunters on the Tournament Test Realm (TTR), so it seems pretty well set. But this means that the following families will not be available for Tournament hunters:
And this opens up a couple of interesting questions:
Why only 15 families? Why not all 23?
Unless there are data space reasons we don’t know about, it would seem to be easier for Blizzard to offer all 23 pet families to hunters then to spend the time figuring out which ones to include and which ones to drop. Sure, including all of the families means that some wouldn’t get used, but so what? Why waste the time figuring out what Arena hunters might want, especially given that they have eliminated only a handful of choices?
Why these families?
Now, I’ll admit up-front that I know less than nothing about Arena strategy. (Expect another RFC feature on Arena pets later this week.) But I have to say that I was surprised by some of the pets on the Tournament list.
Boars, Cats, Raptors, Ravagers, okay. Nether Rays?! Well, they do have really high base health, but with only Bite and Dive for skills I wouldn’t have thought them anything more than a novelty Arena pet.
Likewise, Spiders have better than average damage, but no skills besides Bite. I can only assume that they are on the list for those players hoping to exploit their opponents’ arachnophobia. (Maybe that’s why the spider on the TTR is a big furry tarantula — although personally I find the Wetlands model much creepier.)
The rest of the included pets either have very high damage or a special skill, which makes sense. But look at who’s been left out: Gorillas (with Thunderstomp) and Turtles (with Shell Shield). Okay, Shell Shield is probably useless in the Arena, but is a Gorilla really less useful than a Spider?
And while Bears don’t have any special skills, I am surprised that they’ve been skipped as well. They are a solid, rugged pet with both Bite and Claw, and used by a lot of hunters. Okay, they have no Dash — but again, neither do Spiders.
I feel like I am harping on Spiders, and yeah, I probably am. If it weren’t for Spiders and Nether Rays on the included list, and Gorillas on the excluded list, I’d be a lot less confused.
Is Blizzard catching on to our pet family woes?
Arena battles are a specialized type of fighting, it’s true, but I hold out hope that dividing the families up into “useful” and “not-so-useful” categories will help drive home to Blizzard how deep the functional divide between families can be.
Yes, you can level just fine with a crab. Yes, you can do group content with a Turtle. But why would you when there are better families out there? When Blizzard themselves have said that some pets are good and others aren’t?
I’m the last person to tell you not to use any given pet — I love all my furry and leathery and scaly children equally. But I’d really prefer if I didn’t have to work so hard at it sometimes. All it would take is a couple of simple tweaks to make the most unwanted pet families wanted, at least sometimes, at least by somebody.
So I hold out hope that this Arena Tournament list may serve as a flag to some designer at Blizzard, prompting him or her to buff up those lowly excluded pet families at least a little. (Or, you know, they could always hire me to do it. My contract rates are very reasonable!)