Traveling the Multiverse

Aka Ironyca Stood in the Fire – gaming blog

Are PvP Pet Battles Determined by Skill or Luck?

If you do pet battles, I bet you too grind your teeth when some of your big hits miss – I get nervous every time I do a lift-off or burrow – for an 80% hit chance, those spells sure do raise my tension.

But which is the biggest factor in winning a pet-battle fight? Skill or Luck?

Some games have the skill of the player at the center, say chess. You are not going to win at chess against someone who is a lot more skilled than you. Then we have, say, rock paper scissors. Can you be so skilled at rock paper scissors that you can curb off any opponent?


How to win Rock-paper-scissors every time” by Nathan Yau (creative commons)

Okay, so I guess you can, but you get my point: Skill and luck are two factors influencing the outcome depending on what kind of game you’re playing.

The pet battle forums have a good portion of posts up at the moment about miss chances being too dominant in fights. The point of adding a miss chance is both to allow a variance in “filler” damage abilities (bite/claw/peck etc) so that higher damage is also coupled with higher risk, but also it’s meant to make fights unpredictable to such a degree that no one can calculate the end result.

But the complaint is currently that a hit or miss can determine the entire fight. These are some examples that comes to mind:

  • I have had people flee after about 2-3 rounds if one of their big hits didn’t go through.
  • I’ve also had someone hit every single time, despite effects that increase miss chance were being applied over and over (f.x. blind)
  • I’ve had someone miss against me 3 times in a row while in a sandstorm that they themselves put up (I admit, since it was an Anubisath Idol, I felt like they deserved it).
  • I’ve had someone miss against me 7 times in total during an entire fight. I felt bad for them.
  • I’ve missed on a killing blow so many times, I’ve had someone else miss on a killing blow, then I missed on my killing blow, and then they finally killed me. So close!

Right now I also think miss chances are too volatile. When pets sometimes only survive for 4-5 rounds, sometimes less, a miss can be equal to missing 25% of the damage you deal against another pet. Naturally this doesn’t occur all the time, but the point is, that when it does, it can make or break the game.

You could add that being matched against a team that is strong against you is also being unlucky. (I actually enjoy this factor and fight on even when my odds at winning are unrealistic. I guess I’m trying to be a good sport)

I don’t consider my game design skills to be all that magnificent, but my best suggestion right now is to only change health pools, so that missing a hit is less devastating. The problem would be that it would lengthen the time of the average fight. In the wild it currently takes me 1-2 minutes to kill the team, in PvP perhaps 5-10 minutes depending on how often you meet a Crawdad *grumbles*. It would also have implications for scaling in certain PvE encounters, e.g. Fable Beasts. Since pet battles are meant to be casual (=quick) this might not be a viable idea.

Perhaps the RNG factor is just really bothersome for me: When I win, I can feel really good about it if I really controlled the fight, but I can also feel bad if they missed a lot (see the above examples). Did I win because of skill or luck? When can I really own my victories? – I can’t always tell. Sometimes being lucky robs me of that, and sometimes being unlucky robs me of the feeling that the fight was fair to begin with.

I also think we’re more prone to remember the pivotal fights and thus overestimate how frequently missing really matters. Often I would just have won/lost less convincingly, but that’s it.

As in the rock paper scissors guide above, skill in pet battles is about qualified guesses at the next move of your opponent, and believe me, at least I am getting really good at handling Kun-Lai Runts in the opposing team!

Ps: Blizzard, please I beg you, change the background music that plays when you enter a pet battle to something more calming and pleasant!

10 comments on “Are PvP Pet Battles Determined by Skill or Luck?

  1. Vanessa Blaylock
    June 17, 2013

    OMG! Wait! Wut? So, like, then, you ARE alive? OMG!

    Miss you!


    • Ironyca
      June 18, 2013

      Yeah, but I still don’t have my old computer back :(

      • Vanessa Blaylock
        June 18, 2013

        Doesn’t Bill Gates have some promotion going where you forward a test email for him and he buys you a turbo gaming rig? Maybe look into that! :)

  2. Vanessa Blaylock
    June 17, 2013

    OH PS: I’m opening a dance club in Second Life next weekend – “Club Morpheus” – awesome dance music AND the antidote for moronic summer movies. Do you think Elford might be interested in managing the bar?

    • Ironyca
      June 18, 2013

      Elford in a bar?? Put him at the door receiving people’s money and he’ll be happy! Do you also play classic piano and accordion at your dance club?

      • Vanessa Blaylock
        June 18, 2013

        hmm… I was thinking more like Techno/Trance (or Netherlands “hardcore”) that’s pretty close to piano / accordion… isn’t it? What about working coat check? He could make some nice tips and meet some cute girl pixels…

  3. tomeoftheancient
    June 17, 2013

    While trying to get the 10 PvP wins for the weekly I got so frustrated I left and went to Neverwinter, lol. Once I take a mental breath I’ll come back for the last three wins I need but I don’t know if I’ll take that quest again.

    Missing three times in a row with no debuff on me is crushing and then I feel like a poor sport if I don’t stay to be beaten to a pulp which is not a lot of fun over and over again.

    At least I’ve now gone from being destroyed by Unborn Val’kyr teams to having mine be my star team!

    • Ironyca
      June 18, 2013

      Last time I did the 10 wins, I struggled through the last 5 and closed WoW immediately afterwards. Losing too much can be so aggravating, especially when it feels like you were so unlucky, and they were too lucky. I stay in fights I am clearly going to lose as well, while telling myself I might learn how to deal with them by staying in. Once (only once…) I fought them again, and THAT time I beat them!

  4. Matty
    June 17, 2013

    Thank you, again. Someday, someday I’ll think before I hit the publish button.

    • Ironyca
      June 18, 2013

      Noo, don’t! I think too much before I publish, which is why I am far less productive than you with blogging, I hang on to things for too long. I need to learn how to think LESS before publishing :D
      And thanks for the manual ping (annoying Blogspot and WordPress can’t seem to get on the same page – literally).

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This entry was posted on June 17, 2013 by in Pet Battles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .


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