While running around in Shadwomoon Valley, Miacoda happened upon Gara the Spirit Wolf. I’m guessing that Mia must be a dog whisperer because she’s the only beta tester who decided to speak to Gara, and that’s when the magic happened.
— Mia (@Miacoda) August 2, 2014
So is this the new Spirit Beast for Warlords of Draenor? Let’s piece together what we know so far. Early on in the beta the Void Wolves in the Tanaan Jungle were tameable. Here is was Muffinus had to say about that.
— Jeremy Feasel (@Muffinus) July 1, 2014
Then, just last week we got confirmation of sorts that Void Wolves would be part of the Spirit Beast family.
@TheSlickrock Not as many this time, spent more time fleshing out other families, SB family is getting fairly robust, you get Void Wolf tho
— Jeremy Feasel (@Muffinus) July 26, 2014
I’m hoping that this is the start of a cool quest chain. Without giving away too much story, perhaps that orcs are turning spirit wolves into aberrations. You scratch her behind the ear, and then several orcs come out of nowhere and capture poor Gara. You track her down and rescue her before she becomes a full blown aberration.
Another possibility is that you scratch her behind the ear and are whisked away to Sholazar Basin in alternate Azeroth where you must endlessly camp one of seven spawn points in hopes of claiming your prize. Unless you’re me of course, I’m sure Gara would be patiently waiting when I arrive.
The interesting thing to note is that Gara is not a Void Wolf. I think she’ll become one, but I’m sure there are folks who will be disappointed if they can’t tame her in her current form. I personally prefer the glowing purple of the Void Wolf, but not everyone may like that.
Whatever the outcome, it does make one wonder though what the current philosophy is towards Spirit Beasts. The first four were introduced in Wrath of the Lich King. Each were hard to get based on demand and long spawn timers. If you happened to be in the right place when lightning struck you had yourself an easy tame, if not you were in for long and boring wait.
In Cataclysm, Blizzard added five more Spirit Beasts. The first two were modeled after the Wrath Spirit Beasts; simple tames with long spawn timers. The last three had long spawn timers, but they were part of a new breed of pets that were taming challenges; each had a trick you needed to figure out before you to tame them.
Cataclysm is also where Spirit Beasts’ ooh and ahh factor started to diminish. In Wrath they were arguably the most unique and coolest looking pets you could find. With stable slots limited to five you were truly dedicated if you opted to fill four of them with Spirit Beasts. Especially since Beast Mastery did such terrible DPS that there were few places in the game where you opted to play that spec.
Starting in Cataclysm Blizzard began introducing rare pets that were arguably as cool looking as Spirit Beats. Skarr, Terrorpene and Sambas are three that come to mind. Taming one of those felt every bit as awesome as taming a Spirit Beast.
In Mists of Pandaria it felt like Spirit Beasts had run their course. Three were introduced and they were all spectral porcupines. They had very short spawn timers making them readily available if you wanted to tame one. They each had a unique taming challenge, which I thought were excellent. They just didn’t feel that special though.
Which brings me back to Warlords. If taming the void wolf is going to be a quest and taming challenge, will it also be rare?
I’m going to guess no. It looks like this is setting up to be a fun event for all Hunters to experience if/when they choose. That doesn’t mean the tame will be easy, but just always available.
I’m okay with this. We have fifty stable slots, and Warlords is introducing more than enough pets to make us beg for more.
Factor in that raid sizes are going to be larger and we should have more freedom to raid with whatever pet we choose, because buffs/debuffs will likely be covered.
Blizzard doesn’t have to go out of their way to make Gara rare. Gara will be rare because she won’t be everybody’s favorite companion. She’ll be cool, every Hunter will tame her, but not every Hunter will use her because the options that we have for pets are utterly astounding.