Let’s get celestial in here

Beat the Celestial tournament. Obviously I’m now the pet battle equivalent of that guy who resubs for a couple of weeks every time a new tier comes out, and then disappears into the night as soon as it’s sufficiently conquered.

The good:

  • Weird pets are awesome. Most everything else PvE-wise could be handled with a couple of moths and assorted basic types. The tournament’s deliberately obtuse round 1 trainers seriously reward some very odd builds.
  • It’s challenging but not impossible.
  • The reward pets look brilliant.

The bad:

  • RNG will screw you like a soldier on his first night home. This is just an extension of general pet battles, but amplified because of the no-healing requirement. A couple of unlucky crits that lose you some pets that you really needed can mean a complete waste of however long you’ve been in the instance.
  • “However long you’ve been in the instance” can be a long-ass time. Not like “pack a lunch” long, but definitely “go to the bathroom before leaving”.
  • If you don’t have exotics, or just an insanely deep field of pets, give up now. The minimum requirement to get into the tournament is hopelessly optimistic unless your future self has beamed knowledge-rays into your skull and you’ve thus levelled the exact pets that you’ll need for this tournament.

I’ve heard a fair bit of complaining about the pre-celestial trainers. At first I figured that they’re there simply as an ablative measure, but that’s not the whole of it. What got me thinking was the howl-bomb strat.

Basically, it’s a strategy that revolves around blowing the ever-loving fuck out of a pet in a single round, relying on delay effects combined with a damage-taken debuff – read more here for a rundown of one of the variants. Personally, I’m not interested in camping out for days to get a Valk, so I skip that step – it’s still effective. This strat will beat any one of the celestials, and since you can keep up to three copies of any given pet, you can happily spam this combo to beat them all – with a bit of care given to timing. And provided of course that you don’t mind grinding three copies of the same damn team up to max, which strikes me as a bit boring despite its effectiveness.

The pre-trainers, on the other hand, have cheating little bastards in their parties. And those cheating little bastards have abilities designed specifically to deal with their traditional counters. You want to send an undead pet against that humanoid? Have some critter damage! How about a beast against that critter? Surprise, a mechanical DoT that ticks in the hundreds! and so forth. These teams can’t be defeated in a one-round death or glory burst – they need good selections, strategy, and a bit of luck because seriously, RNG. There are any number of strats that work against each team – my brother and I have very different pet loadouts and approaches, and we each found our own ways of making it through.

This is where we can experiment and overcome. It’s also where I gave up after the first time trying the tournament – I went in blind and didn’t realise that there would be legendaries for phase 2, so my experimentation had murdered most of my more effective pets and it had been around an hour since zoning in. Don’t make that mistake. But it’s also the phase where we can afford to lose a couple of fights and try something else – by the time we make it to the legendaries, it’s been way too long and the pressure’s building and HOW IN ODIN’S DROOPING NUTSACK DID THAT 95% ATTACK JUST MISS THREE TIMES /wrists.

The trainers are cheese, yes. But they’re more fun than four intentionally overpowered monoliths, and I like that. Or I just resent the monoliths by now.

Either way, I took Xu-fu as my reward. Personally I prefer the LSD-trip cel shading on the crane, but the tiger actually has good combos – something none of the others seem to do. And his model is far from unattractive. (and he matches my cloak proc…) Meantime, I’ll be levelling some of my weirder pets to try out.

"You okay back there?" "Okay? Bitch, I'm FABULOUS!"

“You okay back there?”
“Okay? Bitch, I’m FABULOUS!”

Before I go, a quick rundown of some easy strats for the celestials.


  • 3 x snail, any.
  • Keep the debuff from Acidic Goo running – this means you can’t use Shell Shield, but the fight’s a DPS race against Tranquility. Critter type means his Fire Quills doesn’t hurt much. Just spam Ooze Touch and try to Dive out the rounds where he uses his avoidance move – you won’t be able to get them all, but it’ll help.


  • Mr. Bigglesworth.
  • Yes, this pet – rewarded from Raiding with Leashes*, and usually bugged to reward once per character, so you’ll often have three of them – can solo the dragon. Sequence: Claw, Ice Tomb, Ice Barrier, pass, Claw until you can repeat the sequence. Don’t forget the pass round, it’s important. Biggles is resistant to the one attack that will hit him, so the dragon should fall over before he does.


  • Pandaren water elemental
  • Chrominius
  • A strong mechanical
  • Yes, this is a howl-bomb combo. Xu-fu is the most frustratingly difficult of the legendaries – he has a massive heal that he uses below a percentage, rather than keeping up a HoT like Chi-chi or healing on a specific round like Zao. And his Feed hurts. And he’ll buff the heal with Moonfire. So, don’t let the heal go off. Sequence: Geyser, Whirlpool, switch to Chrominius in the unlikely event that your water elemental is still alive – it probably won’t be. Howl, then Surge of Power. If he survives Surge, you’re probably screwed – he’ll Feed back an enormous amount.
  • Other strategies include using a darkmoon zeppelin and trying to time the heal with Decoy – it’s on a 4-round timer. It may also help if you switch the weather away from Moonlight, since this buffs his Spirit Claws, but I’ve found that he never misses anyway – as is traditional for legendary pets.


  • Skywisp moth
  • Any wasp
  • Dark phoenix hatchling
  • The skywisp may be unfamiliar – they’re found all over the Timeless Isle. As a flyer with access to Call Lightning, they’re pretty good against Beast types. An example of a wasp would be a Shrine Fly. Sequence: Counterspell, Call Lightning, switch to fly, Confusing Sting, Swarm. Zao will probably get a heal off – watch for the next one. When the shrine fly dies, switch in Skywisp and Call Lightning again, then go to Dark Phoenix for Darkflame and Conflagrate. Pray you didn’t miss.
  • I’ve seen that quite a few people recommend Call Lightning with multi-attack pets against Zao – the Zandalari raptors seem popular by way of Black Claw and Hunting Party. I’ve also heard of at least one person being extremely lucky and soloing the ox with a Nexus Whelpling. I’ve had good luck with a wide variety of pets against Zao – your mileage may vary.

Happy hunting.

* Further cheesy goodness for Biggles: you can get the achievement for RwL by buying the pets or simply having a friend cage theirs and learning them, then recaging and handing them back. You’ll get Biggles in the mail and will get to keep him regardless.

  1. I have yet to jump head-first in to pet battling out of fear for just how long it would take to level all of those damn pets up. I want to. Don’t get me wrong. But the fear! The time sink! MMOs are all one giant time sink, yeah, but I don’t think I’m ready to commit that kind of time right yet. It’s the end of an expansion, though, so it’s on my to-do list prior to whatever comes our way next. But yeah. Fear. Time.

    • Leit said:

      The nice thing is, especially early on, it doesn’t feel like pet battles take all that much time. You’re effectively apportioning many tiny bits… it only feels long in the instance because, well, *instance*. Overarching goals and stuff.

      I also like pet battles as a sort of in-between thing to do when you don’t have anything specific in mind.

      • I guess I don’t really need any other excuse aside from having a level 25 Moonkin Hatchling follow me around. I know leveling pets gets easier once you can hold their hands with higher levels out in Jade Forest, but I can’t see it becoming any less mundane than leveling alts. And I love leveling alts. So this should be my kind of mundane.

      • Leit said:

        Beware if you usually play alongside others – levelling pets cut into the alt-levelling time that my wife and I tend to spend together. :D

      • Oh, my girlfriend is already sucked in to pet battling so anything she wants, she pretty much already has I’d think. It’s usually one of us running off to mine or herb while the other gets stuck killing everything themselves.

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