Armchair Designer: Pursuit Speed

After I go off on one of my rants about the flaws in the current pet system in WoW, people sometimes ask me “Well, how would you handle it?” They rarely ask twice — I have charts, and I am willing to use them. But I thought it might be fun to share some of that armchair design here. First up: the problem of pursuit speed enhancers. (Pursuit speed is the speed at which pets run to their target. You can read more about it on the Petopia Pursuit Speed page.)

When WoW launched, different pets had different pursuit speeds — differences that apparently depended upon their wild behavior. Pursuit speed is important in PvP (and to some extent in PvE) for chasing down running foes, so there was good reason that fast pursuit pets were popular. But more than that, fast pursuit pets are convenient and rewarding — it just feels good to see your pet close on a foe more quickly. You spend less time waiting — often, only seconds less, but that can feel like a lifetime when you’re farming. So fast pursuit pets were popular even for players who didn’t spend much time chasing down runners.

Eventually all pursuit speeds were normalized, and pets were given other ways to increase their pursuit speeds. These other methods include both talents (primarily Bestial Swiftness) and pet abilities (Dash, Dive, Charge and Warp). Note that all pet families have access to the talents but only certain families can learn the abilities. On the other hand, only certain hunter specs can realistically pick up the talents, whereas all specs can tame a pet family with access to a pursuit speed ability. So on paper, the system seems nicely balanced.

The problem, of course, is that the talents and abilities are not equivalent — Bestial Swiftness adds 30% to pursuit speed, while Rank 3 of Dive or Dash add 80% and Charge and Warp also have other effects. Given the choice between two otherwise identical pet families, most players will choose the one with access to a pursuit speed ability. Is this a real problem? Depends on your philosophy about diversity — but for myself, I’d like to see more pet families considered as valid and valuable choices. Sure, most people will continue to choose cats … but I’d like people who choose raptors to not feel stupid about their choice.

So here is what I’d do:

  1. Give Dash or Dive, as appropriate, to several more pet families. Let’s say Dash for Raptors and Spiders (if you are afraid of spiders, you know how quickly they can dash towards you :>), and Dive for Spore Bats, since they fly.
  2. Give Charge to a few more families. We may think of Charge as a boar-specific ability, but there are many creatures that use a charge-like ability in the wild, and several other skills (like Screech and Gore) that are spread between just a few families. I’d suggest adding Charge for Crocolisks, Gorillas, and Scorpids. Gorillas are an obvious choice, and for both Crocs and Serpents I have this great mental image of the pet rocketing forward like a reptilian bullet train.
  3. Add a new pursuit speed enhancer with other effects called Rush: “Charges an enemy, dazing the target and all enemies within melee range for 3 sec.” (Why an AOE daze? Because it seemed useful but not overpowering.) I’d give this to Bears, Crabs, Scorpids, and Turtles. (Anyone who thinks a turtle can’t rush you has never had to deal with a pissed-off snapping turtle.)
  4. Warp Stalkers keep Warp all to themselves. It’s not really appropriate for any other families.

To sum up:

  • Dash: + Raptors, Spiders (for a total of 7 families, not counting Boars who also have Charge)
  • Dive: + Spore Bats (for a total of 7 families)
  • Charge: + Crocolisks, Gorillas, Serpents (for a total of 4 families)
  • Rush: + Bears, Crabs, Scorpids, Turtles (for a total of 4 families)
  • And there you are — all the families have some sort of pursuit speed enhancing ability available to them. In addition, because this increases the number of active skills for many families, there are more interesting trade-offs involved in which abilities you choose to train — or at least there will be after more families get more interesting abilities … which I will address in my next Armchaor Design degment. *grin*

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    7 Responses to “Armchair Designer: Pursuit Speed”

    1. mordreade Says:

      interesting……. I like your ideas.

    2. darkbander Says:

      I vote that wolves and spiders get prowl, just as some do pre taming. Why do cats have all the fun? Windserpents should also have the option of poison spit like the ones in thousand needles. And a few pets could benefit nicely from a rend ability.

    3. gigiya Says:

      I like these ideas, but I think that a bigger issue to pet balance is the lack of no-cooldown abilities for a lot of pet families. I agree with your “Easy Mode” sentiments from that post, but I still hate to see Bestial Discipline or Go for the Throat go to complete waste with Gorillas, Netherrays, Tallstriders, Crocolisks, Turtles, Spiders, and all the well-rounded pets except Carrion Birds.

    4. darkhallow Says:

      Great work Mania, these would be great changes. My bear would love Rush!

    5. slippyhunter7 Says:

      I love the changes you think up, Mania. They would be great, especially for gorillas (i have always thought they were awesome pets and had my Uhk’loc for 10 levels).
      I always thought that Nether Rays should get a class ability. Something like Netherbreath, a direct damage Arcane ability like Netherspite or a DoT cone attack. It would add some usefulness to the fact that only one type of Nether Ray is worth taming, and they would finally have a practical use with Go4TheThroat.
      Also Tallstriders should have an class ability, like a Snapkick or something that immediately knocks the target down for 2 seconds (not usable against players) because the ostriches deserve some love. :)
      Keep up the good work, Mania. Your ideas are gold!

    6. levesk Says:

      I totally agree. I also would like to have more pet-specific skills (like Prowl for cats) available on one kind of pet.
      This would help players to differentiate their choices.
      Everybody use cats because they are after all a very good choice. I would love to have a different pet if only I could use it with my playstyle, instead of having a cat because it’s the best DPS or a Boar because of Charge and Gore.

    7. alphawoolf Says:

      1st off thanks for the wonderful site!

      Here’s some ideas I’ve had for various pet family abilities (1st posted to alt.games.warcraft by myself on Apr. 21):

      Bears

      New Ability – Swipe. Works like a mini version of the druid bear
      ability Swipe, striking the target and 1 adjacent enemy with a
      sweeping paw strike.

      New Ability – Maul. Basically Gore with a cooldown. An extra attack
      that has a 50% chance of doing double damage.

      Crabs

      New Ability – Pierce Armor. Works like a mini version of the warrior
      ability Sunder Armor, generating threat and reducing the target’s AC.

      New Ability – Camouflage. Allows the crab to blend into it’s
      surroundings (stealth) while remaining still. Not the most useful
      ability but it’d fit the species. :)

      Crocolisks

      New Ability – Groan. The Crocolisk periodically groans, causing
      revulsion (loss of AP) in all nearby creatures and players. Ok, ok,
      I’m just kidding on this one. :)

      New Ability – Clamping Bite. When the target is below 20% health, an
      added attack that does double damage. A mini version of the warrior
      ability, Execute.

      Hyenas

      New Ability – Diseased Bite. A DoT poison attack, perhaps even
      stackable in much the same way as Scorpid Poison.

      Nether Rays

      New Ability – Hypnotic Gaze. Dazes the target for x seconds.

      Raptors

      New Ability – Disembowel. Rakes the target with the raptor’s hind
      talons, causing DoT bleed damage.

      New Ability – Dash. Add Dash to the abilites learnable by Raptors. A
      long-requested addition on the WoW Hunter forum.

      Spiders

      New Ability – Spider Poison. DoT poison attack like Scorpid Poison.

      New Ability – Prowl. Add Prowl to the abilities learnable by Spiders
      (as some wild ones already do).

      Sporebats

      New Ability – Spore Attack. Releases spores for a short duration AOE
      DoT attack in front of the sporebat (like the wild ones can).

      New Ability – Dive. Add Dive to the abilites learnable by Sporebats.

      Tallstrider

      New Ability – Swift Kick. The tallstrider does a powerful knockdown
      kick to the enemy. Would require a substantial cooldown (60+ sec?).
      I don’t think Blizzard is too keen on players being able to knockdown
      so this might better be tried as a short stun.

      New Ability – Screech. Add Screech to the abilities learnable by
      Tallstriders.

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