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Crowd control basics by class

So, crowd control. Contrary to the name, it isn't really a good way of controlling crowds; rather, it's a great way to control the size of the crowd of mobs mercilessly attacking your tank. Crowd control in this post means abilities that can be applied prior to a pull. We'll get to abilites like Psychic Scream, warriors' Intimidating Shout and Shadowfury a bit later, but they're not our primary concern right now. There are some situations, particularly in the Rise of the Zandalari dungeons where pre-pull CC isn't possible (such as the adds on the way to Nalorakk in Zul'Aman) where you'll need to CC on the fly, but this is rarely the case.

Not all classes have crowd control abilities of the type we're talking about here. Warriors and death knights have a few stuns, fears and Hungering Cold, all of which can be put to excellent use but aren't really crowd control in this sense as they can't be cast prior to the pull.

So which classes have these pre-pull crowd control abilities, and what are they?

Well, here's a helpful list! I'm too good to you. Remember that this is pre-pull, castable from a distance CC. It also needs to last long enough for the group to finish off a few of the other mobs before it breaks, and should have a cooldown-to-duration ratio that allows it to be kept up.
These are what I'd call "proper" CC, but there are myriad other, shorter abilities, like the paladin Hammer of Justice, or the warrior Intimidating Shout (which should also be glyphed). Rogues also have a huge arsenal of these: Blind, Kidney Shot, Gouge and so on, but they can't be cast before you pull due to the requirement for melee or near-melee range, or they are shorter stuns. These abilities are, of course, helpful. There are also snares, like Improved Hamstring, and huge amounts of slows like Chains of Ice.

Is there anything you should know about the listed CC abilities? There certainly is. The warlock ability Fear must, must, must be glyphed with Glyph of Fear for dungeon use. Why? Well, because if it isn't, the feared target will run off into the distance, alerting every mob it passes of your presence. When it returns, you'll have half the dungeon to contend with. If you know the pack you're dealing with is all by itself and definitely won't pull anything, then go mad, but don't come crying to me when it pulls the boss!

The druid ability Entangling Roots holds its target in place but doesn't prevent it from casting spells. The priest ability Mind Control means you have no priest for the duration of the ability; the priest gets some of its target's abilities, so if your priest is a healer, have him use this on healer targets. If your shaman is a healer, they're unlikely to be hit-capped, so there is a chance their Hex will break prematurely.

All these abilities will break if you hit their target with any damage, including AoE damage.

Tricks of the trade

So what to use and where? It's generally up to the tank to decide what should be CCed, but don't be afraid to pipe up if you think something should be CCed. Addons like Raeli's Spell Announcer (while it's still working) are great for announcing your CC. Also, mark your CC targets. It's very easy to forget about that nasty mob when it's a cute little frog.

CC healing mobs first. Healing mobs will often have the word "mender" in their name, like the Naz'jar Spiritmender in Throne of the Tides, or something that suggests their role, like the Amani'shi Medicine Man in Zul'Aman. Some are more sneaky, like the Temple Adept in Vortex Pinnacle. These are your first priority for CC. If you can CC both of them (there are not often more than two in a pack), then do; if not, CC one and nuke down the other.

Casters are your next priority, if there are no healers in the pack. One particular caster is worthy of special mention, and that is the Amani'shi Flame Caster in Zul'Aman. He deals serious but interruptible damage, and packs with two of these can wipe a group before you know what's hit you. He helpfully has -caster in his name, like many do, but also look for clues like -seer, -shaper, envoker, and conjurer. Pay special attention in Grim Batol, where almost all the trash mobs are caster mobs.

I'm also going to include hunter-type mobs who shoot you from afar as casters, such as the Temple Swiftstalker in Halls of Origination or the Twilight Ranger that Thrall just keeps Thunderstorming away from you in Hour of Twilight. Stop it, Thrall, and read this guide. (EDIT: Thanks to Emile for clarifying that it's the mobs' Disengage! I have been unfair to Thrall.)

For all of the above, I'm sorry druids, but your Entangling Roots just won't cut it. Casters will happily sit rooted and cast all day.

The next, and arguably lowest priority to control is melee mobs. There are exceptions to this, one of which is yet another Rise of the Zandalari mob, the Gurubashi Blood Drinker in Zul'Gurub. His Blood Leech is an interruptible yet very, very high-damage ability, especially in a heavy melee group or a group that don't see it coming. Fortunately, there are only two of these guys just before High Priestess Kilnara.

Any mob that does a whirlwind ability is potentially worth CCing.

Lastly, in certain situations, CCing the leader of a patrolling group will cause that group to stop in its tracks. This can work on the groups of Flamewakers in Firelands, as well as the stacks of three pygmies in Lost City of the Tol'vir.

Know your enemy

To see what race your foes belong to, mouse over them. Their race will be displayed in the tooltip. In lieu of that, they're usually pretty easy to work out.

Here's a list of races and classes that can CC them

  • Humanoids: mages, hunters, warlocks, priests, druids, shaman, paladins, rogues.
  • Beasts: mages, hunters, warlocks, druids, shaman, rogues.
  • Elementals: hunters, warlocks, druids, shaman.
  • Dragonkin: hunters, warlocks, druids, paladins, rogues.
  • Demons: hunters, warlocks, druids, paladins, rogues.
  • Giants: hunters, warlocks, druids, paladins.
  • Undead: hunters, warlocks, priests, druids, paladins.

If you don't have the appropriate class to CC a mob and you're struggling (or you've bizarrely ended up with a tank, priest or paladin healer, two warriors and a DK), remember that for casters, an interrupt is a great CC. It briefly stops them from casting, often drawing them to your tank or whoever they were previously throwing things at and making the tank's life easier.

Used at the right time, abilities like Psychic Scream (again, must be glyphed) or Shadowfury can really help your survival, and in times of dire need, perhaps even a Hungering Cold. If you're worried about the DPS loss, remember my mantra: You don't do any DPS if you're dead.

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