There are lots of fun changes coming to vanity pet ownership with the upcoming Wrath of the Lich King expansion for Blizzard‘s World of Warcraft. But what exactly are vanity or mini-pets, as I prefer to call them? Well, mini-pets are a variety of small creatures, which exist in World of Warcraft for no useful purpose beyond the fun of owning them. They live quietly in your pack or your bank, demanding nothing from their owners. They have no value in combat. They won’t get you a raid slot. They won’t help your Arena team. Many folks are indifferent to them, but for those who collect these winsome creatures, their appeal is extraordinary.
Most of these pets are cute and the cuteness factor is certainly part of their charm. Still, creatures like cockroaches and oozlings are definitely cuteness challenged, yet are still valued parts of most collectors’ menageries. Rareness of the pet is a large part of its appeal. But perhaps “pet” is the wrong term. Technically, our little friends are named “companions.” So a mini-pet will say Phoenix Hatchling <Debby’s Companion, > while a hunter’s pet can be named by the owner and is labeled “pet”: Fido <Debby’s Pet.>
Unless you raid with the most hard-nosed, no-nonsense and joyless people in the game, you’ve no doubt encountered mini-pets as part of the raiding scene. The group gathers, but a few folks aren’t there yet. Or a few matters need to be attended to. Everyone is standing around bored and “poof” a mini-pet appears. Suddenly mini-pets are popping out of packs throughout the raid. No, not everyone, but I think most groups of any size will contain a mini-pet collector or two or three and we like to show off our collection.
Of course owning a mini-pet isn’t hard. They are available from vendors for reasonable prices. That’s where the “vanity” word comes into play. People want to show off their mini-pets, but most of all they want to show off their rare mini-pets. Anyone can buy a pet from a vendor, but it’s a little more difficult to get a pet that is sold by vendors of the opposing faction, for example.
There are a number of ways to obtain mini-pets. Some are easy to obtain; others are more difficult to achieve. As previously mentioned, some can be purchased from a vendor. Some are obtained by completing a quest. Other pets are drops from a particular mob. Farming is the only way to get such pets: killing mob, after mob in hopes a rare mini-pet will drop. Some mini-pets have a drop rate of 1:1000, so you may be killing a lot of Bogflare Needlers before you get your Firefly, or be prepared to pay more than a few gold pieces to buy one from the Auction House.
Engineers can make a variety of pets. Some are Bind on Use. These can be sold on the Auction House. Others are Bind on Pickup. Only an engineer will be able to own these pets.
Pets are also available from certain World of Warcraft playing cards. One can either go out and buy pack upon pack of these playing cards, hoping to get that special desired card or one can buy the card of choice on Ebay. When I first saw the hippogryph hatchling following another player I asked the typical pet collector’s question, “Where did you get that pet?” When I heard it came from a trading card, I went to Ebay and sure enough, the card was on sale. What can I say? I bought myself a Christmas gift and now my adorable hippogryph hatchling nests inside my pack.
The most uncommon pets are promotional, however. Each Collector’s Edition of World of Warcraft comes with its own mini-pet or pets. The Collectors Edition of Wrath of the Lich King is no exception. Frosty, the baby frost wyrm will be one of the premiums that comes with the CE version of WotLK.
The rarest pets are from Blizzard sponsored events, where attendees are given codes for in-game items. The code for the baby merloc, for example, was given out at the first BlizzCon. These are nearly impossible to obtain at this point in time.
Up until now, most vanity pet collectors have been limited by bag space. A mini-pet takes up a valuable bag slot in your pack or your bank. And that is the big news coming out of beta. Wrath of the Lich King will bring a new way to store our treasured mini-pets. With the new expansion, we mini-pet aficionados will be able to store our mini-pets in a special pet tab and summon them from there. No longer will carrying around my 14 mini-pets hamper my ability to farm due to bag space limitations. Now I can have as many mini-pets as I can collect and not impact my pack space one iota. Huzzah!!
“But wait,” you say. “I had this great mini-pet before The Burning Crusade went live, but I was out of storage space and I destroyed it. Is there any way to recover my smolderweb hatchling or my worg pup? Those pets are only available through quests, which can’t be repeated.” Well, take heart. Blizzard has anticipated this problem and supplied a solution. If you have destroyed a pet obtainable through a quest, you will be able to go to any stable master and reclaim these pets. This feature is currently available in Beta and, at present, only pets obtained through non-repeatable quests can be reclaimed.
But the good news doesn’t stop there. Wrath of the Lich King will bring a large number of achievement titles to World of Warcraft and we pet collectors have not been ignored. With the introduction of WotLK, there will be a number of titles for pet collectors. These titles include Plethora of Pets for 25 pets, Pandemic of Pets for 50 pets and Shop Smart…Shop Pet for 75 pets as well as a wealth of other titles for various pet-collecting achievements. The most exciting title is Pandemic of Pets. Those who achieve this title will also receive a Reeking Pet Carrier in the mail, which contains your own pet skunk, Stinker.
If you want to learn more about mini-pets and pet collecting, the “go to” spot is Warcraftpets.com. This fan site, run by Breanni, contains a wealth of information about all things mini-pet. If you like vanity pets, you’ll certainly want to have this site bookmarked.
Even Blizzard has recognized the value of the site Breanni has created and has honored her contribution to WoW fandom, but placing a vendor named Breanni in Wrath of the Lich King. Located in Northrend, she will sell a number of pet related items, including Happy Pet Snacks, which makes little hearts appear above your beloved pets and a grooming kit, which can add a special sparkle to your little guy. In fact, when you receive your Reeking Pet Carrier in the mail it will come to you from Breanni.
Kudos to Breanni for her excellent site on vanity pet collecting. Cheers to Blizzard for recognizing her unique contribution to World of Warcraft pet collectors and three cheers for recognizing the importance of vanity pets to many of their customers by adding achievement titles and a growing number of new vanity pets in WotLK. There’s even a baby penguin!