Giving a pet for the holidays
November 29, 2012 9:34 AM   Subscribe

How can I/should I buy a pet from the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game for my spouse for Winter Holiday?

My spouse plays lots of WoW -- it's his primary hobby. I don't play. He says he has all the pets one can just go out and get, except one that's not in season. He mentioned that there is (was?) a trading card game in which some of the cards contained codes which could be redeemed for otherwise unavailable pets in-game, and that he'd enjoy that as a present.

It looks like these loot codes are available for purchase online, from ebay and other retailers. But I'm not sure how to evaluate the trustworthiness of the transaction. What's a safe way to go about this?

Also, can anyone clue me in on what's driving the price differences? Are some of them more useful, or is it just rarity at issue?

posted by endless_forms to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total)
Looking at the 3-4 very distinct pricing tiers in that list, you can be almost guaranteed the (major) price difference is driven by rarity alone. I mean the difference between $65 and $75 could certainly be a usefulness thing, but the only way the economy can sustain distinct $10, $50, $100 and $1000 levels is relative card distribution.
posted by griphus at 9:49 AM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, it seems that the codes on loot cards are scratch-off. Are there gaming shops near where you live? They should have loose loot cards for sale, and you can see yourself if you're buying an unused code.
posted by griphus at 9:50 AM on November 29, 2012

The safest way is to buy a pet is directly through Blizzard. There's supposed to be a new Fire Kitten coming out this year for $10. Proceeds benefit Sandy victims. But the list doesn't include the ones you linked to. (Might possibly also be old BlizzFest or swag pets, etc.)

The pet system for WoW changed this year. Previously, you could only loot pets or buy them from in-game vendors based on reputation/in-game gold. Now, WoW also has battle pets, where you can train up companion pets to fighting levels, have them battle other critters, and capture them when weakened. So now you can amass lots of pets and hunt for rare ones. He might have already maxed that out.
posted by mochapickle at 9:51 AM on November 29, 2012

In older sets of the WoW trading card game the pets were some of the rarest cards.
It's my understanding that in more recent expansions they made pet cards much more common than they used to be.

So pets that were available in older sets are much more expensive than the newer ones, there is going to be close to zero difference in actual usefulness.

The really expensive ones you see like Tyrael's Hilt and Blue Murloc Egg aren't from the trading card game at all but were given away at Blizzard events that happened years ago.

I bought my brother an $80 loot card a few years ago off of ebay and everything worked out fine, but I made sure it seemed like an established operation that had some history and good reviews.

The most trustworthy route would be to go to a local game store, where you can see for yourself that the foil is still intact. You might have to pay a slightly higher price than what you'd pay online but you will know the cards aren't already used.
posted by CarolynG at 10:27 AM on November 29, 2012

just FYI that you can buy Landro's Lichling, Landro's Lil' XT, and Hippogryph Hatchling directly from Blizzard for $10/each. This is the safest route.

(Actually they're not those exact pets. They look identical but are called different names. Lil' KT, Lil' XT, and Cenarion Hatchling respectively. Without knowing if he's bought these from Blizzard or not, I suggest you avoid the three I listed in my first paragraph)

The wowtcg site you linked is trustworthy. They have a store you can buy some of the stuff from.

If you're going to buy off ebay, keep the following in mind:
  • Only buy from sellers who's feedback rating is higher then 98%.
  • Read the feedback from other buyers from that seller. Run away if someone mentions that the seller sent them a card with a scratched off code.
  • Make sure the ebay listing says the card is new.
  • Avoid listings that say they're only going to email you the code. You want the card.

posted by royalsong at 10:42 AM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I play a lot of WoW and also collect the pets. I've bought a few of the TCG pets and mounts from WoWTCGLoot and eBay alike, and I'd reccomend WoWTCGLoot. I've never been scammed on eBay, but having to deal with the physical cards and different shipping procedures for each seller is a huge hassle.

Also, can anyone clue me in on what's driving the price differences? Are some of them more useful, or is it just rarity at issue?

Pet cost is mainly about rarity, but since Blizzard put in the Pokemon-ripoff Pet Battle system, some of the store and TCG pets are better/stronger than average. The Ethereal Soul-Trader* pet, for example, is fairly rare because it's been out for a long time, but it's also very strong in the pet battle system with a certain combination of qualities and abilities that you can't get anywhere else. On top of that, it has it's own cute little mini-game attached, where you kill monsters with it out and earn currency to buy unique-looking gear with no stats and a potion that transforms you into a little monster thing. By contrast, the Nightsaber Cub is from a recent expansion, and there's nothing special about it compared to the seven bazillion other great cat pets you can get in-game. Then there's the Spectral Tiger cub, which is about as expensive as the Soul-Trader, because it's rare now and looks cool. It's better in the pet battle system than the Nightsaber, but it's not nearly as good as the Soul-Trader.

Basically, you'd probably have to play the game to have a decent idea of why things are priced the way they are, and what each one is "worth" by whatever your husband values. The answer is going to be different depending on if he really really likes the pet battle system, or it's just a means to an end for him. Unless you are really dead set on it being a surprise, I'd ask your husband what specifically he'd like.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 11:21 AM on November 29, 2012

Thank you all for your advice. I ended up purchasing a code from a highly-rated seller on eBay, and it worked out perfectly. He was delighted!
posted by endless_forms at 7:25 AM on January 2, 2013

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