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Basics of Crowd Control in instances
In most encounters where a group of players faces multiple elite mobs, the basic strategy is to have the tank hold the attention (aggro) of an enemy target while the DPS classes kill it and the healing classes keep the tank alive. Additional enemies who are active may be crowd controlled in some way to keep them from attacking the non-tanking classes, or overwhelming the tank. In a certain sense, the tank is exercising a form of crowd control itself: it's keeping a mob occupied so that it cannot attack party members with less health and armor. However, while tanks, backed up with a good healer, can often 'survive' the attacks of more than one monster, it gets increasingly difficult to keep additional mobs focused on the tank while the rest of the party is building threat with all other monsters.
There's a plethora of crowd control abilities in the game which vary wildly in effectiveness and duration. The key to good crowd control is to time when the ability "breaks" (meaning the monster is then free to charge and attack a member of the party) so that it can either be crowd controlled again, or the tank can pick it up and gain aggro. It is also very important for party members not to use abilities that break crowd control effects before the natural end of their duration: generally this means not to use any AoE attacks in the proximity of CC'd mobs, targeting them directly (and causing damage), or putting a DoT on them. There are a number of abilities that can be used on CC'd mobs without breaking the effect. It is usually the tank that 'starts' a pull that uses crowd control.
The Crowd Controller
Summary of common primary CC types:
- Hunter - Pet, traps and various root/slow/stun shots.
- Mage - Polymorph (beasts/humanoids into Pig, Sheep, Turtle), Dragon's Breath, Frost Nova and other frost spells.
- Rogue - Blind, Sap (humanoids only), various stuns and stun-lock tactics.
- Warlock - Banish (demons/elementals), Enslave Demon (demons only), pet (Seduction from Succubus) and not good for instances: fear.
Summary of common secondary CC types:
- Druid - Cyclone, Hibernate/Soothe Animal (limited to beasts), Entangling Roots (only outside), and some stuns.
- Paladin - Repentance (humanoids only); not good for instances:Turn Evil (demons/undead), Turn Undead (undead only) and some stuns.
- Priest - Mind Control (humanoids only), Shackle Undead undead only; not good for instances: fear.
- Shaman - Stoneclaw Totem as a taunt.
- Warrior - Hamstring/Piercing Howl to slow, arious stuns, taunts and not good for instances: fear.
Preferred general crowd controllers
- The hunter's pet is like having an extra party member.
- Traps can be used pretty much everywhere.
- Ranged CC roots, slows, stuns and taunts give a little extra time to react or change tactics.
- Polymorph works at range on a good range of mobs, has a long effect compared to other CC types, and a relatively short cooldown.
- Frost Nova has an AoE root effect that few mobs have immunity to.
- Sap has a long effect compared to most stuns or stun-like effects.
- Rogues can use stealth do pick rear targets.
- A skilled stun-lock Rogue can keep mobs occupied.
Preferred additional or situational crowd controllers
Druid vs. beasts, dragonkin and outside
- Cyclone works on almost everything, albeit short duration.
- Entangling Roots also works great.
- Several beast CC methods: Hibernate and Soothe Animal.
- Hibernate also works on dragonkin and one of the few CC methods that work on them.
Priests vs. humanoids and undead
- Mind Control works great if there is somewhere to suicide a mob or effect lasts long enough to burn down attacked or controlled mob, but otherwise takes priest out of fight. When channeling breaks prematurely, can be effectively worthless since it adds aggro to what may be a healer.
- Shackle Undead works well most of the time, but can break prematurely.
Warlocks vs. demons, elementals, and humanoids
- Warlock pet has similar virtues to hunter pet, though not quite as good unless a Felguard.
- Banish is one of the best CCs for demons and one of the only ones for elementals.
- Seduction of a Succubus on humanoids can work well.
A Crowd Control Example
The tank marks a mob to be sapped, one to be hexed, and one to be polymorphed. Some of these mobs are casters and will be difficult to move on the pull. The tank also marks a melee unit with skull, and another melee unit with X. The rogue can sap as soon as they have their mark, and the shaman and the mage wait for the tank to attack. A Warrior tank may throw at X and then start backing up so that the CCed mobs are left in place for the most part, as the CCs goes out once it is clear the tank has attacked. Skull and X are running to the tank. The tank charges skull and now has threat on the two melee mobs. A Warrior tank may Rend and then Thunderclap now as the active mobs have been moved away from the CCed ones. The tank is now trying to out threat the healer on all mobs and the dps on skull. Patience from the dps during the pull helps, especially if there are more active mobs when less CC is available. The tank is trying to tag each active mob at least once, and then keeps adding threat to them, while putting sufficient threat on skull which is generally being single target dpsed.
Depending on how the pull is set up, attacks that hit more than one mob may have to be removed from ones dps rotation. Skull dies. Dps switches to X. The tank watches the CCed mobs for loose ones, and the CCers also watch their mobs for possible reapplication of their CC. If CCers can keep the tank between themselves and their mob, this help the tank pick it up if needed. Once X is down. That tank picks the next target to die, and generally single target attacks it until it's dead. Then they pick the next target to die.
When CC works, it can make the run better. It makes them easier to heal. It is generally required when the healer is spam healing the tank and out of mana after pulls. It's required when tanks are using most of their cooldowns for trash. Lower gear levels may lead to having to use it. The tank is looking to control the pull, especially its start. Unexpected 'sheep pulls' make this difficult. As does high dps on skull early in the pull. The tank and the dps should work together.