Friday, July 31, 2009

Crowd Control and PvP

Note: This post is from a high-level perspective of what is "fun". I fully admit that I am not an experienced PvP player, and am just going by what is fun or not for myself. I am not calling for any specific class to be nerfed and/or buffed in a vacuum.

Crowd Control--by which I mean effects that cause a player to temporarily lose control of her character--is an important part of PvP. It adds a second layer of strategy over just inflicting and healing damage. To make an analogy, Crowd Control is like executing a pin in chess. You prevent a piece from being used, without actually needing to capture it.

But Crowd Control is also very frustrating to play against. No one likes losing control of their character, even if only for a short while. So Crowd Control is in somewhat of an awkward position. It needs to exist, to add that extra level of complexity, but it also needs to be kept in check or games become miserable.

There are two situations where Crowd Control in WoW goes over the boundary, in my opinion. The first situation is being able to lock down a character for an excessively long time with multiple abilities. At this point, you are simply not being allowed to play, which is extremely frustrating.

The second situation is being killed while being affected by Crowd Control. The primary culprits here are Stuns and Fears. No one likes being stunned and then blown up. It feels very unfair, like the player is unable to even try to defend themselves.

I would offer two suggestions for WoW PvP:
  1. All abilities which cause a player to lose control of her character share diminishing returns. No more categories for different types of Crowd Control. Treat them all equally.

  2. In PvP, all abilities which cause a player to lose control of her character break on receiving damage. This includes Stuns and Fears.

The first change already somewhat exists in WoW. Most abilities are separated into categories, and abilities in each category share diminishing returns. This just removes distinctions between different types of Crowd Control.

The second change is the bigger one, and would probably require balance adjustments. If necessary, glyphs or talents like [Glyph of Polymorph] could be added to make Stuns or Fears more usable.

Crowd Control is necessary in PvP, but it can also be overused and make the game less fun. Separating out Crowd Control from dealing damage lessens the frustration in PvP, and would remove a major source of irritation between classes.


  1. The most evil form of CC, i think, is Mind Control.

    There's nothing more rewarding (if you are the priest) than hurling someone off the edge of lumbermill in AB.

  2. In my opinion CC is perceived as a problem in PvP, because CC duration is often longer than time needed to kill a player.

  3. Fear does already break on damage

  4. Fear does not break on damage

  5. Maybe you would like to have a look at the spell description?

  6. Most of the time I been feared, it takes some time to break even when taking damage. I have been feared and a mob of hordes beating on my toon till fear wore off and that was when my toon died. But then again if it is used to many times it becomes resisted and that really don't matter as it only takes 1-2 fear to kill your target if affliction lock. And it doesn't matter what the skill description says, i been feared enough to know it rarely breaks when damged. Rogues also got some annoying cc. But not calling for any nerfs for them as I will be playing both toons in bgs =)

  7. I didn't say fear is ineffective. I just said that it already breaks on damage.

    That was the suggestion to balance CC and I doubt that would be the solution.

  8. Then you have to consider what should be done about classes that "depends" on these crowd control moves.

    As a rogue, the most frustrating part is when I am chasing someone and the server lag puts him at 5.1 yards, just outside melee range. With rotating jumps, that person can still kill me while I can do nothing. I kind of depend on stuns to close the gap and be able to do some damage.

    Warriors and druids have charge-like moves followed by a small stun to close the gap, paladins have the hammer and repentance with divine storm, and death knights have death grip. All these moves help close the gap and allow a hit or two.

    What do rogues have? We do have sprint on a long cooldown, but then again it is easy to overshoot the target. We also have blind on a long cooldown to stop someone on his track, but that break on the first sign of damage. And we have crippling poison, but that still requires being in melee range at the first place to apply it.

    I would guess that putting all the CC diminishing return would require more than just doing it. It would require a complete impact study on all melee classes.

  9. I like the idea of all CC breaking on damage (what I wouldn't give for Hex to break like sheep does!), but I don't know if that should apply to stuns, more specifically rogue and cat druid stuns. I certainly wouldn't be one of the first to complain about how bad it is to be stun-locked by a rogue, but having played a feral druid in PvP I can also say how incredibly difficult it is to do melee damage against a target that isn't forced to stand still. Rogues and cat rely on being behind an enemy and no good PvPer is going make it easy for them to do that.

    If stuns break on damage then rogues and cats would either need talents to keep the existing stun functionality (so they can continue to use their current mechanics) or their methods of doing damage will have to remove the positional requirements.

    I don't think the other classes would suffer quite as much if their stuns broke on damage. Personally my paladin uses Hammer of Justice as an interupt for casters more than anything else.

  10. Fear having a chance to break on damage (and eventually after a certain amount of damage) is not quite the same as saying something breaks on damage - the latter implies it breaks on any damage (scatter shot, polymorph, wyvern sting, ice trap, blind, that frost DK one etc...). Some CCs have glyphs/talents to increase that damage threshold. Fear also gets the double benefit of being CC+kiting all in one. (and an AoE CC in the case of priests)

    I like when there are considerations and drawbacks to CC.

    Cyclone is a decent one, the CCed player can't be damaged.

    Sheep is a great one as it heals the CCed player. (in addition is breaks immediately on any damage)

    Seal of Justice has the tradeoff of it being both random and short, and you have to sacrifice a valuable utility/damage seal in order to use it.

    These trade-offs are compensated for by allowing these CCs to be practically spammable.

    Most stuns and fears don't have a tradeoff. The only choice in using them is timing.

    To many classes, the stun/fear CC is a critical part of that class's PvE arsenal.

    My suggestion, rather than have them ALL break on any damage, is to give MORE classes a 'tremor totem' or fear ward type ability that targets fear and stuns specifically. They can be AoE, or single target, single use or with charges, short duration or long, just a buff or a tradeoff with another class buff, etc... It would bring a valuable class utility to arenas (other than just MS) and may have an impact on the always dominant rogue+mage+FotM trio in arena 3s as well as adding another layer of strategy.

  11. I don't think it's a good idea to give all classes something to break fear, it would make it a little useless. It can be a pain fighting a warlock and die without anyone to fight back from cc and if they have a void out even more fun. As a pally I always try to take out the first warlock i see, usually fail but I find it fun anyway. As for rogues, i think they need their cc, and stuns or else they wouldn't be able to kill anyone. I don't see how cc can be balanced in pvp unless there is a change in all class skills and that would be a global nerf. Not all class is suppose to be supreme in the arena. They all got their weakness and strength like rogues own clothes, mages and locks can own pallies.

  12. I think the main problem with the original post is that it only assumes 1v1 battles.

    Regardless what anyone may think, nothing in WoW is balanced to make 1v1 fights fair. It's a literal impossibility. While each individual engagement may end up being 1v1, even in arenas you're supposed to still be fighting as a larger party, and your party is supposed to be the ones to help you if you get, say, stun-locked.

    That people may not do that is not a failing of the system, and is not indication that CC should either be weakened or have more counters.

  13. RJ, you're completely wrong. I'm not talking about 1v1. I'm talking about team PvP, where removing someone from the opposing team temporarily becomes important.

    I think the whole idea that "everything is acceptable in PvP because you have teammates who can help you" is completely wrong and misguided. Some things are just not fun, and being killed whiled stunned, or continuously crowd controlled are two of those.

  14. But the fact is, if your team mates were assisting you, then you shouldn't be locked out for so long.

    I don't know about you, but after I started wearing some resilience gear, I was able to survive upwards of 5~10 seconds while being completely stunlocked and not able to perform any actions before I died. In those 5~10 seconds, one of the following could have happened:

    1) The Rogue could have been counter-CCed,
    2) I could have been healed until DR prevented me from being locked enough to respond,
    3) Someone could have attacked the Rogue, hopefully driving him away.

    You can't completely discount the effect that other players have. The game is meant to be played as a group.

  15. PVP will never be balanced until 1v1 is balanced. 1v1 will never be balanced. Ergo PVP will never be balanced.

    Blizz can't balance 1v1 because doing so would turn WoW into CounterStrike. No one complains about class balance in FPS games because the players are all the same.

    The key to making pvp be fun for you is exploiting this imbalance. The downside is that this is not very fun for the person being exploited.

  16. There are three primary purposes for CC.

    1) To take someone out of action temporarily so you can focus on another target(repentence, sap, cyclone, etc).

    2) To allow classes balanced around damage over time to be able to do damage(fear).

    3) To allow certain squishy classes to attack without being killed(largely rogue stuns, but also Death Coil for warlocks).

    Almost no one really objects to 1, but a lot of people object to 2 and 3. The problem is, the classes which use them are very much reliant on them. Without fear, a lot of affliction warlocks wouldn't last long enough for their DoTs to actually kill anyone, and without stuns, rogues are actually really rather pathetic.

    As someone who plays both classes as well as someone who has been a victim of both classes I think I can safely say that everyone would be happier if they weren't required. The problem is that without them the classes would be broken. If fear and stuns broke on any damage at all, then rogues and warlocks(though to a lesser extent as blizzard is slowly weaning them off fear) would basically be free HK's.

    The fact is that CC is part of the mechanics of the game, and has been since before there were battlegrounds let alone arena. Nothing short of a major class redesign for the three classes with these sorts of abilities would allow for that to change.