Each week, Daniel Howell contributes BigRedKitty, a column with strategies, tips and tricks for and about the hunter class sprinkled with a healthy dose of completely improper, sometimes libelous, personal commentary.
Damh's first pet was a bear. A regular brown bear from the outskirts of Ironforge, nothing special, not unique, no cool talents. We called out to Mrs. BRK and asked her what we should name him.
"Ooo! You should name him Googlybear!"
We love Mrs. BRK and sleep quite soundly because we take great care not to get on her Enemies List, yet this naming-travesty couldn't happen.
"Honey, he's a ferocious killing machine. Remember I showed you the movie trailer to this game, the hunter standing in the snow outside the gates to the big city under the mountain, a massive bear at his side? That's me and that's my bear. He needs a name that inspires fear, that causes our enemies to flee in terror, and you give me Googlybear?"
"He's so cute! He needs a smoosh-kiss right on the nose. And his name is Googlybear. Type it. Now."
We typed it. /sigh
Thus Damh and Googlybear joined forces and ran around killing stuff and getting not-quite-so-phat green loot and experience and everything else that goes with it and things were good. Until our pet needed a new spell and we had to train another animal to get it; that's when our problems began.
So the day eventually came where we trained a boar. Again, not a special boar, just a Loch Modan boar. He was nice but so unremarkable that we don't even remember his name or if we named him at all. So we got a spider. Nope, no feelings for the spider developed either. Then a crocolisk. We had feelings for the croc alright; feelings of hatred with all his rattling. Couldn't get rid of him fast enough.
/abandon pet PDQ
Eventually we found something that was a great deal of fun: our turtle from the Hinterlands. His name was Panzer and he was spiffy. And huge! We had to reduce our damage because he didn't generate the aggro of our bear but he didn't die, period. Super-Tankage FTW! That was Panzer. He lived in our stable for a long time and we'd bring him out to play and level him. But he didn't take Googlybear's place at our side.
Does everybody but us hate Uldaman? Sometimes it feels that way. Enchanter-trainer runs were fun; we liked them. And Uldaman had Bats! We got our first winged-pet there and thought he was the schiznit. We named him Ding. Whereas Googlybear was beefy and lumbering, Ding was sleek and velvety and glided through the air beside us. His little attack-chirp didn't inspire any love in our heart, but his great flappin' wings and Dive and Screech were tremendous. We dug Ding and leveled him along with Googlybear... until a Lower Blackrock Spire run where a tank yelled at us for having such a massive pet in his face. Ding went in the stable with Panzer to rest and, sadly, never be seriously leveled again.
Winterspring introduced us to white bears. They made Googlybear look like a rusty Tercel compared to a Porsche. We really wanted one... but the Stable Situation reared it's ugly head prevented us from grabbing one.
The Stable Situation is something with which we're all confronted and is probably the one thing Beastmasters, Marksmen and Survivalists all agree is a major frustration of our class. Yes we can have three pets, but once we get three we can experiment no further. To get something new you have to lose something important. Finding that pet that feels right, the pet that is a reflection of one's personality isn't a trivial thing. We didn't run instances with Panzer or Ding but we really liked them, but there was no way we could give up Googlybear! To get a white bear we'd have to release Panzer or Ding. We couldn't do it and we never did get a white bear.
The time came for us to get a cat when we saw the ones in northern Winterspring. We accepted that it was time to bid adieu to Panzer and found a beautiful pure-white cat that we trained. He was bouncy and happy and we liked him immensely.
Until that day in the auction house when we heard a purple cat roar. Love at first sight? With that cat it was love at first sound. We freaked out and demanded to know where the hunter had found him!
WINTERSPRING?! We were just there!
So we smacked our Gadgetzan trinket - we were a 300 engineer at the time - promptly died - we don't miss being an engineer, by the way - rezed and healed and made fast tracks back to the north. We found a purple cat, dismissed our white one, made air-hearts to our feline desire, named him Hobbes and the rest is history. He growls and roars and shakes his jowls and my Elune he is loved like a real pet.
Outland came and Ding was abandoned when the necissity of having a Warp Hunter became overwhelming. Felreaver is a happy level 70 but rarely sees the light of day outside the stable.
Googlybear survived until we wanted to try a Ravager from Hellfire Peninsula. This guy was given the boot in favor of a Nether Ray from Zangarmarsh, which was quickly sent off in favor of a Sporebat, which was abandoned with extreme haste for a Carrion Bird from Hellfire, which was turned in for a Scorpid from Terrokar Forest, which was drop-kicked over the mountains in Skettis for an Owl, which was kicked to the curb for a Dragonhawk from Shadowmoon Valley, which sat unnamed in our stable for a long time until it was finally let go to try a Windserpent from Netherstorm.
Now the Windserpent we liked and named Calvin, but he too is a stable-denizen; Hobbes just can't be supplanted.
But we're up against the Stable Situation again and cannot train another pet to play with until we abandon one of our level 70 pets. It's a calculated risk; we did a one-for-one trade with Ding for Felreaver, but it took for-bleedin' ever to replace Googlybear.
But what's next? If one tries the Public Test Realms and does pet-research, one will find that the level 70 Ravagers in the Netherwing cave are trainable and that Raptors can be given Dash. Do we want another Ravager? Not really. Would we like to try a Raptor with Dash? Oh you bet we would! Unfortunately, we'd have to give up Felreaver or Calvin to do so. Choices, choices, choices.
How do you feel about your pet? Do you know we've received pet-adoration email about every species? We have, you better believe it. We get mail from a rather infamous player who collects crocolisks; his name is Irwin and his pet Steve is his no-so-quite-huggable friend. He must do 1v1 arenas or something because we don't know anybody who could stand being near a croc for too long without going insane, but he does love his crocs.
We've been told about the Tallstrider-lover who takes his Pink Flamingo of Death into battlegrounds. We know of an arena-player who uses his Bat to just flap in the other team's healer's face the entire match. Our Raptor-owning friends who tell us running Karazhan with their dinosaur is the highlight of their Warcraft careers.
My Elune, we don't need to tell you about the Boar-fanatics, right? Well there are Bear-freaks who demanded our head on a platter after we omitted them from our previous WoW Insider pet-roundup column. When we said we'd received no emails about people and their Scorpids, our in-box overflowed with tributes like, "I LOVE MY PINCHY!" and, "His name is Feathers and he is the meanest SOB of a pet there is, bar none."
Remember when we said that the one thing all of us will agree is a major disappointment with the hunter class is the lack of stable slots? Well think about that again. If you're like us and the people who have written to us and have a pet with whom you've connected and bonded and can't imagine PvPing or running instances or questing without, are you really going to ever replace him? Yes, we'd love to experiment and try new things, but we're never ever going to replace Hobbes. The lack of more stable slots isn't really killing us, is it? Yes it would be a sacrifice to lose Calvin to try the new breed of Raptor, but in the end Hobbes is still going to be there.
"But... but I wanna Raptor and run Kara with him, too..."
Yes, we know; we're right there with you. But at the end of the day, you're not going to replace your Best Friend either, are you. You'll logon today and see him there and remember that the world is a pretty good place with him beside you. You'll smile... give him some food, see his little happiness-face turn green... you'll forget all about the Stable Situation and move on to more important things. Like getting enough pet food and making some bandages... and creating that petition to make Felboars trainable and put Gorillas in Terrokar Forest! Gorillas, baby!
But you know, if that ever does happen we're going to need more stable slots.
Daniel Howell continues his quest to be able to run with two pets at the same time - wouldn't that rock! - as the hunter-pet duo extraordinaire known to lore as BigRedKitty. More of his theorycrafting and slanderous belittling of the lesser classes can be found at bigredkitty.blogspot.com.
[Fan art by Moony]