When I originally tamed Frothy back in December of ’04, it was with dreams of a unflinching rock that mob’s stuck to like glue. Now at level 70, I find I have to use a high DPS pet just to have a chance of keeping a mob at ranged.
My friend this should not be so.
It is my opinion that Blizzard never thought through the design of pets, but that’s understandible. They’re having enough problems balancing classes, how could they possibly balance 15+ pet families to make each desirable but not have a single ‘best’ pet. Unfortunately, except for the wonderful 1.7 patch, they’re response has been to make every pet the same (see attack speed, and persuit speed). Many families of pets are completely inferior simply because of lack of abilities.
The problem is that it’s very hard to see the consequences and place required limitations on the pets. My suggestion is to create spells based on ‘ability schools’ and allow each family to learn only set abilities from each school, and any given pet can only learn one ability from that school. Here are the schools and some examples
1) Agro – controls threat in some way
- Claw twist – each attack does additional agro
- Blind spot – each attack does slightly less agro
- Bristle (Taunt)- Pet jumps to top of mobs agro list
- Pathfinding – Passive, but gives X% speed boost always
- Leap – Damaging attack
- Pinch – Target’s movement is reduced by 30% for 3 sec.
- Side-step – Increases Dodge by X%
- Cobra Reflexes
- Blind Flurry – Increases attack speed and threat (higher than CR) but DPS remains the same.
- Spirit of Lupos – lower’s damage but attacks are shadow damage.
- Opportunist – Lower’s attack speed, increases damage.
- Sloth Reflexes -Lower’s attack speed, increases threat (higher than Opp.) but DPS remains the same.
- Heaviness -Each attack has a X% chance to knockdown the target.
4) Zero CD ability (Focus dump)
- Bite (40 focus, 0 CD)
- Lightning Breath
5) Secondary ability (has a CD or a crossover from a different school)
- Bite (current version)
- Fire Breath
- Shell Shield
- Mule kick – Knocks target backwards X yards.
In general, as long as the abilities are balanced within a school and every family has access to at least one spell within that school, every family will be balanced. This is not to say there will not be ‘best’ pets, but instead best pets for certain situations. And that’s really what we’re going for, tough choices based upon what you want to do and how you want to play.
At this point I’m not interested in discussing which families get what, but more giving a framework to what each familiy needs. For instance, one could say there are no zero cooldown abilities for gorillas, but to create one that’s already balanced all that is required is to rename ‘claw’ to ‘punch.’ Also note that any school can have either passive or active spells chosen. I’d like to state again that for some families, there will only be a single possible spell to learn, but as long as they get extra options in other schools I believe this will even out.