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What's with bats?

Discuss pet battles, strategy and theorycrafting.
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What's with bats?

Postby Abashera » October 12th, 2013, 7:54 am

Yeah I know, it sounds like the opening to a Jerry Seinfeld stand-up comedy routine. "So what's with bats? . . ."

Anyway, here's the punchline.

Two of their abilities are only made useful by abilities they don't possess.

Leech Life: "The user restores 172 health. Double if the target is Webbed."

Nocturnal Strike: "Always hits if the target is Blinded."

. . .But, but. . . the bat doesn't have abilities that either blind or web. What am I missing?

Seems to me that you absolutely have to team this pet with other pets to maximize damage and healing, because it's abilities aren't self sufficient. Either that or Blizz screwed up.

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Re: What's with bats?

Postby Rendigar » October 12th, 2013, 8:37 am

Nope, blizzard didn't screw up, there are a lot of pets that have 1/2 of an ability pair. It's so you can build teams that work well together (both in PvP and PvE).

You lead with your spider and cast web, your opponent forces you to swap, you can leech life with the bonus.
You lead with your Crow and cast Call Darkness, he forces a swap, and you Nocturnal Strike him anyway. :)
There are several pets with abilities that are buffed by Arcane Storm, if I remember correctly, that cannot cast it.
Same thing with pets that have Dreadful Breath that cannot make it rain.

It's all part of the design.

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Re: What's with bats?

Postby Poofah » October 12th, 2013, 3:08 pm

Many of the "original' battle pets (ie 5.0 pets) have movesets like this: they have one half of a 2-part combo. The initial design clearly intended people to build combos into teams, where one pet brought a weather (or bleed or etc), and another pet brought a weather-dependent (or bleed-dep. or etc) move. But they underestimated how costly it is to swap pets, and consequently nobody used the nifty combos. And, they made a small handful of pets that had both halves of a combo baked into one moveset--the best example being Fel Flame and Lil Ragnaros with their conflag combos (and later, once we had battlestones, Tiny Snowman/Winter's Helper, and Gilnean Raven). Those effectively raised the bar for how powerful a moveset had to be in order to be competitive: consequently, the pets with only 1 half of a combo were mostly left behind.

Pet battles are not particularly complex, but they've definitely evolved since 5.0. The 5.1-5.4 pets have a ton of internal synergy and built-in combos, they often have stats better suited to their movesets, and in general are much more adventurous in their design than 5.0 pets. I think that's great, but the downside is that it obviates a ton of the older pets.

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Re: What's with bats?

Postby Undeadgoat » October 15th, 2013, 4:53 pm

I NEVER rely on full-team synergy in PvP, it can be very powerful in PvE (e.g. the Call Lightning team against a boss beast) but I take the "Shademaster Kiryn" approach when building my PvP teams now--at least 2 weather effects and self-synergy on every. Single. Pet. I REALLY hate swap-reliant teams--they die way too much--but it's very clear from the 5.0.4 design of pet battles that they initially intended you to build your teams that way.

Bears, incidentally, have the same "problem" as bats--they Maul but they don't apply bleeds. But your enemy will just smash your face in if you're trying to do some complicated swap dance with a croc and a bear. It will be interesting to see what kind of changes 6.0 brings to pet battles--they've definitely stated that they want to remove Elemental pets' double strength against Mechanical, and I'm sure we'll get more changes to movesets than they were willing to do mid-expansion. Of course, if they don't add on any additional levels, we'll have to "solve" a lot of the Trainers all over again (which is why they didn't make such a big change for 5.4) . . . I'm excited for Blizzcon to happen mainly so we hear our Pet Battle announcements.

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Re: What's with bats?

Postby Finnelis » October 16th, 2013, 6:09 am

I think this remains an interesting subject and I have to wonder why, at the design stage, they made pet swap so damn costly when they obviously designed pet to work in combos. I mean, it took all of my 10 first battles or so to realize that I would just *never* use one pet to apply the first part of a combo and then switch to a second one to apply the second part.

So for me the question remains, why such a desgin choice when it was obviously not going to work.

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Re: What's with bats?

Postby Sanzul » October 17th, 2013, 4:28 am

As has been pointed out, a lot of the original battle pets work this way. The problem was that the buffs/debuffs didn't last long enough and didn't offer enough of a benefit to be worth it. Taking three turns to put up web (swap to spider, use web, swap back) is obviously completely useless when the web only lasts 2-3 turns. The idea was good, but the implementation of a lot of abilities was far too cautious and a lot of the original abilities are grossly underpowered or completely inconsistent. Compare Sticky Web to Sticky Goo: the web does 50% more damage but the goo lasts 150% longer; hardly a fair trade for an ability where the ongoing effect is the whole point.

The end result is that most PvP battles are just three random powerful pets versus three other random powerful pets, with little thought given to synergies (aside from the occasional weather effect, but even then it's still mostly crows and other pets that provide their own weather). The only time it's really worth caring about is for legendary burst teams, and then only because damage mitigation stacking makes the +100% damage abilities effectively be +200% against legendary pets.

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Re: What's with bats?

Postby Poofah » October 17th, 2013, 4:01 pm

Finnelis wrote:I think this remains an interesting subject and I have to wonder why, at the design stage, they made pet swap so damn costly when they obviously designed pet to work in combos.

I think it's interesting too, especially looking at how far pet battles have evolved since then.

It's worth noting that in 5.0, this design did sorta kinda work. Damage was relatively low; a turn was 'worth' more-or-less 20% of a pet's health, and the design was conservative. Weathers such as Darkness/Call Blizzard dealt 9 base damage instead of the current 25 or 30. To get the main advantage of these weathers, you had to swap, because pets with 'good' movesets (ie Weather+weather-dependent ability) didn't exist yet (Kun-Lai Runt), or else were stuck at uncommon and were never used (Snowman, Raven). Swapping gave you a big benefit relative to the 'average' move, ie weather-enabled Nocturnal Strike or Deep Freeze were massively powerful compared to the other available moves (except Ghostly Bite--but this was also stuck on an uncommon-only pet at the time).

At some point very early on, they increased weather damage from 9 to 25/30. This was an attempt to get people to play with weathers, by making the weather itself a worthwhile button to push. But it had bad consequences.

Maybe the uncommon Snowman/Raven/Ghostly Skull were given especially good movesets with the assumption that they'd always have subpar stats? In any case, they decided to add rare stones, and they let stuff like Fel Flame slip through. The result was that Weather by itself was a good button to push, *and* there were now pets with both a weather and weather-dependent ability. So they'd gotten away from their original conservative design. From here, there were two main possibilities: either a) reign in the power level by nerfing weather combos, or b) embrace the new power level and design pets with 'good' movesets from here on out. Clearly they went with (b).

The big advantage of the original design was that it was very easy to balance -- moves combined in mostly predictable ways, and that made it easy to recognize when a moveset was too strong. The disadvantage is that it was boring. Pets bonked each other in very predictable ways; there was hardly any opportunity for a clever player to gain an advantage by combining moves in interesting ways. The current design is much more wild. Damage has gone way up, and there are many many more interesting abilities to take advantage of. It's harder to balance, but it's also more fun, imho. Thankfully they do a good job of addressing the truly stupid abilities (ie Fade), so even though balance isn't perfect, it's not degenerate. Moves can be crazy strong, but there are counters -- we place a lot more value on utility and avoidance moves now, for example.

I wrote an eye-bleeder long ago discussing these sorts of balance issues -- I think it was during 5.1 or 5.2.


section 8.vii is the discussion of weather (2nd page, first post).

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