Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The C(rowd) C(ontrol) Disconnect

New fury warrior CC: "Summon Riot Police"!!
It is just a few months into the Cataclysm. People seem to largely be getting along, the initial shock of heroic dungeons has abated somewhat. We are discovering that outfitting your char in ilvl 359 gear (current raid gear) takes a lot of the edge off dying and stuff.

I've written about how RL is messing with my play time, so in order to do any dungeons, the Randon Dungeon Queue and I are becoming reacquainted, so I have been able to see how the random groups are going

However, in general...very much in general... There are still a few problems going on with how a general heroic run goes: In particular, the tanks are starting to ignore the need for CC again. Tanks are approaching 200 thousand health of course, and healers throughput is growing and growing and those two things reduce the need for CC considerably. I can honestly say that I have met some tanks who can do all this. Most however, cannot.

Why tanks still shouldn't ignore CC.
Mobs that do things besides hit the tank If all the mobs you're fighting are content to smack the tank, then that reduces CC needs a lot. If, however, one or more mobs are interested in healing, throwing interrupts at the casters, or have abilities that cause them to randomly target non-tanks, then CC remains a good idea.

Example 1: Temple Adepts in Vortex Pinnacle sometimes cast smite but they mostly cast heal. Over and over and over again. You might be able to interrupt one of them enough, but you won't interrupt two of them. And if they could just be CC'd, the whole fight is over in less than 30 seconds.  There have been fights when my people can't interrupt or CC, and eventually, the wipe occurs once the healer's mana is gone five or six minutes into not killing the group of mobs.

Example 2: Twilight Beguilers in Grim Batol will just stop looking at a tank and grab some other player by the neck and strangle them for a while. If one does this to your party's healer, you can expect tank death to follow shortly. CC could have prevented this.

Why make the healer drink after every pull?
There are many tanks who can survive having a bunch of mobs hit them, particularly at the beginning of a pull. However, they will only survive if the healer is spamming everything they got for a few seconds, at least. Besides increasing the chance of cardiac arrest for your healer, tanks who expect this sort of frenetic healing should also come to expect 30 seconds of down time between almost every pull while the healer recovers from having blown all their mana on the previous pull. Again, using some CC, even on one mob can reduce this. Frenetic, all or nothing healing is not sustainable and tanks should not want to provoke that in their healers.

Increased chance of DPS pulling aggro
Tank AoE aggro really has not improved AT ALL since the beginning of this expansion. And, since tanks get thunked on the head and it seems to affect their memories, I should remind them that AoE aggro output was severely nerfed since Northrend. So tanks plowing into a pack of unmarked mobs are more likely to lose control of something than of being able to really hold the pack. Unless the DPS are specifically picking their targets off the tank's target, they are going to inevitably pull aggro. Usually, I blame DPS for this, but with no marks, one can hardly blame them anymore. Nevermind CC for a moment, if tanks would at least put a skull up for the first target, this sort of thing wouldn't happen.

CC Mistakes
Once parties start using crowd control again, there have been some common mistakes that people should be learning from:

Hunters Trap First - The dynamics of how things work make it so that if you are going to have a hunter trap something, they really need to lead off the pull. The trap launcher is basically instant cast followed by a long pause before the trap goes off (assuming it was aimed correctly). Once the trap flies, mages can sheep, loladins can repent, shamans can hex and the tank can pull. But if the trap doesn't go first, the mobs will move and a launched trap has a 90% chance of missing.

Make space from your CC targets - Any time the tank runs up to fight some mobs in between CC targets, the CC is inevitably going to break. The death knight is going to spread a disease, somebody is going to swipe, or the mage's Living Bomb is going to 'asplode. There is a place for CCing, and there is a place for fighting. They are not the same place.

Healers can CC, but this is not the best choice - The other day in Vortex Pinnacle, Merinna was asked to hex three times. Twice it hit and stuck and once it missed completely and Merinna went running back to the tank with six mobs in pursuit. Healers are lacking in hit rating. It is a condition of healing, I'm afraid, but it's just not one of those stats that never get stacked. Low hit rating means that mobs have a greater chance of being able to resist CC, or even pop out of CC early because they basically made their saving throw. This brings us to a murky point that I'd swear developers tinkered with this resist rate without telling anybody because I see 95% fewer CC resists than I did before Cata started. But still... if you need your healer to do CC, fine. But if there's any DPS in your group who can do it, that would be a better choice.

(Disclaimer: There are some talent classes with abilities like Elemental Precision that would allegedly allow a healer to have hit rating. However, reaching these abilities is never simple, since they are not parts of the healing trees and to reach those talents means forgoing other, generally more valuable talents. I'll be so bold as to say if you meet a healing shaman with Ele Pre, they have forgone really important enhancment skills like Improved Shields, Elemental Weapon and Ancestral Swiftness. In other words, you have met a fail Shaman.)

Tanks need to be consistent and clear about whether they will pull the mobs or charge the mobs - I tell ya, there is nothing worse than a tank who pulls a pack of mobs and pulls the next one, and pulls the one after that, and for good measure... pulls the fourth pack of mobs. And then suddenly decides to charge. DPS are taking their motion cues from the tank, and sudden changes in a tank's way of doing things lead to funny premature pulls, or else aggro lost. Also, it can be a hoot when a pulling tank suddenly charges and leaves the healer's range. Healers like staying as far from the action as possible. We know our distances, but if the tank pulls a fast one, he's liable to be sitting out of range for several precious seconds when he most needed healing.

Warrior Tanks, Heroic Leap = Bad - This is difficult to describe, but the way this ability animates, there is no visual warning that the leap is about to happen, and there is no audio cue that the leap is happening. A warrior appears to be standing in one place, and suddenly he's in another place with a loud thunk that only tells us that the leap happened. It surprises your party every time you guys do this. It's not the same thing as charge, which has a slightly longer animation sequence and also has a very distinct sound that everybody recognizes.  I totally understand that Leap is pretty much pure warrior awesomeness, so I don't say this lightly, but I don't think this ability plays well with others.

DK Tanks! Great work getting over Death Grip Pulls - Lest I seem like an inconsolable whiner, let me take a moment to applaud something being done well:  I almost never see DK tanks lead their pulls with a death grip anymore, which is great because really, starting a pull with DG was not just fail, it was super-fail.  It only ever established aggro on one target, and never a group, and ... sigh... I can't remember how many times in Northrend, the DK would grab the closest mob and start hitting him only to let the other four mobs run right past him. Wow. I almost feel nostalgic there for those heady days when every noob thought they could tank.


  1. Aww, not one mention of Sap by a Rogue. This can last a very long time and is certainly very useful in Vortex Pinnacle.

  2. If you are CCing some mobs and you need to bring the fight away from them, Death Grip is an awesome tool to start the pull by grabbing a caster. Of course you should drop DnD just after or just before, in order to aggro the other mobs.

  3. Lol. Sorry Soma, no Sap bias here. It does work wonders in a fight. Quik, I'm with you there. Death Grip is the shizzle for use on casters. I think that was part of what went into the design of DKs as the anti-magic tanks. But man, don't you remember early Wrath... all the DKs grabbing just the closest mob? Argh. I shudder at the memory. But yeah, it really is better now.

  4. Soma & Merinna did a Heroic Stone Core the other day. After charging the first group of mobs, TWICE, the Tank had to be reminded that the Rogue (Soma) could easily SAP the caster. Doh. Crowd control people, crowd control.