Monday, October 15, 2012

Thoughts On Battle-Stones

In the next major content patch, 5.1, a new system will be implemented into Pet Battles: Battle-Stones. There's some discussion about whether or not these are a good thing or a bad thing for Pet Battles. I'm leaning more towards "good" but there's always the other side of the coin to consider.

So what exactly are Battle-Stones? These items are used to "upgrade" any pet to a higher quality. For example, a poor (grey) cat could be turned into a rare cat using these stones.

The stones have a chance to drop from the Sack of Pet Supplies, after defeating a wild pet, or can be purchased for Justice Points. (NOTE: How the Battle-Stones are obtained could be changed prior to the patch release. This is just Blizzard's current plan.)

There are different stones for each quality.
- Polished Battle-Stone can upgrade a pet to uncommon (green) quality.

- Flawless Battle-Stone can upgrade a pet to rare (blue) quality.

- Perfect Battle-Stone can upgrade a pet to epic (purple) quality. Note: This specific stone will NOT be released with patch 5.1, and is set for a possible future update.
In addition to different stones for different qualities, there are also family-specific Battle-Stones. So for example, there are Polished Elemental Battle-Stones and Flawless Elemental Battle-Stones. Each pet family has its own version of uncommon, rare, and epic stone.

It seems like a pretty straight forward concept, right? Obtain a Battle-Stone, pick a pet to use it on and that pet will have better stats than it started out with. This sounds like a perk, right? What flaw could anyone find with this system?

Well, as it turns out, not everyone sees this new feature as a plus. Some players view this as a "dumbing-down" of Pet Battles which will make hunting for rare quality wild pets pointless and obsolete.

If you think about it, why WOULD anyone continue to search for a rare version of a pet when they could simply purchase a Battle-Stone and upgrade at their leisure?

First off, there's no indication of how common or uncommon the droprate will be for Battle-Stones. They may turn out to be extremely rare, which means it would take a very long time to fully upgrade all of your pets to the highest quality possible. If that's the case then it would still be worthwhile to continue the hunt for rare quality wild pets in the meantime.

If the droprate on the stones is high, though, I could see it impacting Pet Battles negatively. There really wouldn't be a reason to spend time and effort on capturing quality pets, and it would be more efficient to just keep whatever you capture and upgrade them at a later date. This would definitely take away from Pet Battles since this mini-game relies on the searching, battling, and capturing aspect.

For now, we can only speculate how often we'll come across Battle-Stones. Until we can determine a droprate, there's really no telling how the stones will change gameplay.

Still, I completely understand and empathize with those that feel using the Battle-Stones on wild pets kind of takes away from the capturing part of Pet Battles.

One possible resolution would be to limit the stones so that they're only usable on non-wild pets. Then players would still need to hunt down rare quality pets to capture, rather than having an easy upgrade for their wild pets.

The downside to this idea, though, is that some wild companions are highly sought after and have a low respawn rate. It can be frustrating to finally capture one and find that it's not the quality that you were looking for.

Having Battle-Stones would help in situations like these, and take the stress and pressure off of collectors searching for a rare quality hard-to-find pet. It would also help reduce the number of players camping spawn points of the more desirable companions. With the implementation of Battle-Stones, many collectors will probably catch whatever they can, and be satisfied with it regardless of its quality since they can upgrade that pet later.

Another reason that I'm leaning more towards Battle-Stones being a good thing is that we will finally be able to use our pre-MoP companions without feeling as if we're at a disadvantage for not using a rare quality companion in battle.

Currently, many of the non-wild pets are not the highest quality. It's a pity since many enjoy these older pets, and if quality were not an issue, would probably use them on their pet team(s).

With these Battle-Stones, those older companions will finally get a chance to shine. A common (white) quality vendor pet could be turned into a rare quality version in an instant. It would allow players even more options and customization of their teams. Everyone likes to have options right? There's more freedom to play how you want.

Until there's more information and detail about Battle-Stones, it's really hard to say whether or not these items will be more beneficial or detrimental to gameplay. But so far, there are more pros than cons imo. Things aren't set in stone yet, though, and things could change between now and patch release. We'll just have to keep an eye on this and provide developers with constructive feedback.


  1. thanks for the info. I really need to look at the other side more often. Though I'm willing to compromise on the part about non wild pet may only use the battle stone, I find it really hard to see it as dumbing down the game. it's a much better option then buying a rare pitch the blizzard store.

    1. @Tadedra: It will really depend on how accessible the Battle-Stones will be. If the stones are so common to the point of removing the need to hunt for wild rares, then in some people's eyes, that's removing the most compelling part of the mini-game.

  2. I suspect the balance here is how frequently they drop. If they are too common then every pet can be a "good" pet. If they are too rare then there is no real point to them being in game. If serious pet battle players can get enough to upgrade only their very favorite pets, then it will still be worth hunting for the rares.

    1. @Heartfruit: Not only how frequently they drop, but how much they will cost from a vendor. Granted, devs could decide to remove the vendor option later on, but going by what the current plan is, JP for Battle-Stones makes it sound as if they will be pretty common.

  3. I would almost disagree with Heartfruit. If the drop rate is "too rare", it doesn't make them worthless. It makes them super special, like finally farming up a dragon whelp pet or getting that phoenix off of Kael'thas. If you get one after a long time of farming, then you know you want to save it for just the right pet.

    That being said, if you can buy them from a JP vendor, then they're never going to be that rare. After a while, everyone is going to run out of things to spend their JP on will say "Hey, I think I'll upgrade my pets." Sort of like how near the end of an expansion, people spend their points on just about anything and everything.

    1. @Rachelle J: There was a small discussion on Twitter about the currency used for Battle-Stones.

      Instead of using JP for the stones, it might be better to spend Lesser Charms of Good Fortune. You can only earn so many of those a day, and it would give collectors a reason to keep doing dailies.

      Charms for Battle-Stones makes more sense because then players who don't want to run dungeons and heroics won't necessarily have to.

      Plus we have so many of the damn things since you can only turn in 90 a week. :P

  4. It should be noted that it is the "General purpose Polished Battle-stones can be purchased for 1000 Justice Points." The polished only upgrade to Uncommon, so the rare-upgrades will still be harder to obtain. We can upgrade those pesky poors and commons to a lovely green yet still have incentive to do battles and dailies for rares.

    The thought of "non-pet" related action getting rares was a little off-putting to me, but uncommon quality seems OK to me. It gives a way to use excess JP on "training" our critters.

    I think it would be interesting if blizzard creates some uber-rare pet to battle that can spawn anywhere and always drops a flawless. Not campable because it can share any spawn?

    1. @Pukanini: I'm still not sold on the whole JP for Battle-stones system, even if they're only the ones that upgrade to uncommon.

      1 - Uncommon quality isn't exactly the first pick if it's a choice between uncommon and rare. Why sell them at all?

      2 - JP for stones might put a little pressure on collectors to dungeon grind for JP.

      Then again, since uncommon qualities isn't all that desirable, it doesn't really matter too much for the majority if those stones are available for JP.

      We'll see what happens, I guess.

  5. I love this. Finally I will be able to upgrade my favorite pet (a vendor uncommon) to rare and he won't look out of place with all the other rare pets.

    1. @Tim: Exactly! I'll be doing the same, and saving nearly all my stones for non-wild pets that aren't already rare. :D


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