Sunday, January 24, 2010

AoE and Crowd Control

Often the debate on Crowd Control sounds like it is a choice between AoE or Crowd Control. If tanks don't have good AoE threat, then obviously you can't cast AoE spells, but you might use Crowd Control more.

Are we doomed to have choose between Blizzard and Polymorph? If you could only cast one of those spells in instances, which would you pick?

Perhaps the solution doesn't lie in player abilities, but in how mobs are created. For example, you can't really AoE in Faction Champs because the mobs have a -75% AoE buff.

What if we extended that buff to all elite creatures? The major difference between Elite and normal creatures would be that elites would be very resistant to AoE and normals are not. At the same time, rather than only having elites in an instance, Blizzard could put in more normal creatures, or convert some elites in a pack to normals, with higher health and and attacks.

Right now, pretty much every mob in an instance is elite, which has made that designation lose a lot of its meaning.

So now you get a choice, depending on what mobs you face. If you face elites, you might have to use Crowd Control. If you face normals, you can use AoE. Fights that currently use Crowd Control can have the adds tagged as normal, but with the same stats as now.

It might even allow Blizzard to make more interesting trash packs. Imagine a pack with 5 elites and 10 normals. You might have to separate out the elites so that they can be controlled while the normals are AoE'd down.

The big advantage of this solution is that you don't have to nerf tanks. They still have good AoE threat for when it is necessary, or when AoE would make a fight better. But they can't rely solely on AoE threat, and they have to single-target at appropriate times. In a multi-type fight, a warrior would use Thunderclap to pick up the normals, and Shield Slam to hold the elite.

In many ways, I think this solution, creating a difference between elites and normals regarding AoE, could give us the best of both worlds.


  1. It looks like Blizzard uses different developer teams for instances and class design. Because they often fix the same problem twice.

    In TBC you had shattered halls (up to 7 pulls) and shadow lab (7 pulls with casters). These instances were a major pain to tank for warriors or druids because it was real work. Getting aggro on 7 mobs without a real AE thread spell before the healer got heal aggro was challenging. Tanking them on a paladin was much more straightforward. Holy shield and consecrate are your friends.

    They solved the problem on the class sind:
    - Swipe is no longer limited to 3 targets and doesn't need you to face the mobs.
    - Thunderclap is no longer limited to 4 mobs and produces enough thread to snap the mobs.
    - Shockwave was added.

    Now all tanks are perfectly able to tank heroic shattered halls and shadow lab eequally easy because they have comparable tools. You no longer need to mouseover-sunder oder tab-swipe.

    At the same time they decided, and there was even a blue post about that, that they will not create anything with more than 4 elite pulls in WotLK because that's the limit what all tanks can handle.

    The second change would not be required anymore but went through anyway.

    The change is easy for Cataclysm:
    - Remove block value from gear (announced) to make all tanks as squishy as DK (in heroics).
    - Let avoidance scale even worse than today, making tanks more squishy. (Something like that they would like to do according to blue tracker.)
    - Reintroduce 7 pulls.

    I think there is a chance to reintroduce CC.

    The only question is. Will people be willing to put up with 1 hour heroics again? Or are we getting 6 trash packs, 3 boss instances?

  2. I should have read mmo-champion first... :-)


    4) Long-term, the paladin manner of generating AE damage and threat is probably too good, especially given how simple it is. To be honest, we have very mixed feelings on the whole AE tanking game. We brought the druid and warrior more in line with the paladin for fear of recreating the Shattered Halls / Mount Hyjal experience, where other tanks just weren't competitive. What that has led to of course is the AE tank + AE style of damage for almost every pull. You need the tools to be able to tank legitimate adds fights (imagine lots of incoming mobs), but does that mean every pull needs to devolve into that? We'd like to see less AE overall, so buffing everyone's AE tools isn't going to be tops on our agenda. That does however mean that we really can't afford to have a "best AE tank", and while things are more fair there than they were in BC, they aren't fair enough.

  3. Another option is what LOTRO does, adding another level between elite and normal (signature).

    Great thought, though, Rohan.

  4. Great post! I love where my prot warrior is now,and i loved the challenge of TBC tanking as well.

    My only dislike was what the MMO-Champ stated and i totally agree with is that it seems EVERY fight has devolved into an AoE fest, mindless spamming of spells.

    It seems most dps folks fail to even know or care what type of mobs...caster,ranged,melee, they are fighting or the abilities each mob and boss is capable of. It's just gogo, aoe, aoe!

  5. hmmm I don't remember when's the last time I had to use Crowd control in a 5 man instance...Oh wait, ya I do! It was in Heroic Halls of Reflection because not enough of us were exactly geared enough to do it. Ret Pally and My priest had to Crowd Control the hunter.

    All the heroics I've been doing have just be "Kill down! Ask questions later!" *Party AoEs* Kind of why I hate tanking on my druid at the moment. She's not geared enough to where Swipe does decent threat quick enough!

  6. Ah, crowdcontrol in instances.. The good old days.. The times where a mage would actually get a bit nervous if asked to do the pull, instead of blinking past you with a pack of pre-pulled pissed of mobs as soon as your loading screen dissapears.

  7. I tanked as feral in BC and stopped pugging because of the headaches, and CC was one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I liked having to work with CC, but it got tiring with people whose skill was unknown. As a tank you needed to know all the pulls, the abilities of all the mobs, the CC available in your group and the pro/c ons of that CC. And this was just to set up the pull. Then the pull happened. Did the mage sheep the right target? Has that hunter trap expired and is the hunter capable of chain trapping? Has anything broken early? I think that making CC unnecessary was more about making the game easier than being an effect of equalizing tank AoE abilities. CC made the game more enjoyable, but only if you had a competent group.

  8. In my experience, Crowd Control died when Blizzard decided to clone all the tank classes. Now, instead of Paladins being the AoE multi-tank gods they were in BC, everyone can AoE tank.

    Crowd Control seems to be much more important at the beginning of an expansion cycle, when people have limited gear, but as we approach the end of an expansion cycle, like right now, everyone has the gear to hold aggro on half the instance and survive.

    CC was much more usefeul in previous patches. I still remember having to chain-banish raid mobs in MC. It seems like after that though, CC became marginalized in raids.

  9. I think Bliz already accomplished something similar to what you stated in your post with some of the Freya trash. The large lasher mobs needed to be tanked far away from the 10 or so sproutlings and killed first so the little ones wouldn't heal.

    Combining this with an idea from one of your posts earlier this week, you could make a rather good transition of this mechanic into 5 mans. The large mob gives a massive buff to the small ones, say -90% aoe damage, and +arbitrary number of hp/sec. Then when the large mob dies, either have another small one transform into a large mob, or have the small ones all enrage and start hitting considerably harder.

    It's just an idea, but it forces a concept which most dps seem to ignore (a burn order), and rids us all of obnoxious and tedious cc targets.

    imo, CC is much too dependent upon the mob type for it to be present in 5 man dungeons. I remember not being to get into a dungeon in BC many times because my dps didn't bring the proper type of CC required for it. It was incredibly frustrating, and I think *most* players don't want to see the return of that sort of behavior.

  10. Or the other great concept of Shattered Halls.

    "Fighter down!"

    If the ltd. wouldn't die first, he calls for a replacement for every killed soldier. So at least the first requires some kind of focus.

    The mobs to be controlled would have to be humanoid.

    Mage: Poly
    Warlock: Fear/Seduce
    Priest: Mind Control
    Druid: Roots
    Rogue: Sap
    Shaman: Hex
    Hunter: Trap
    Paladin: Repetance

    All but Warrior/DK have a "good enough" CC for humanoids.

  11. I miss CC on raid instance trash.
    It was fun when you had to actually think about the trash packs.
    My favourites were always the packs after Lashlayer in BWL.
    As a warlock, all I ever did there was CC.
    On a good day it was possible to CC 3 of the summoned demons (1x banish and 2 on a fear bouncing rotation). I can't remember if they were seduceable.

    Focus and Focus macros have also trivialised CC to a large extent for the few times it does get used.

  12. The original game had precisely the balance you're talking about. Consider a run through Scholomance. For most spawns, you really needed Shackle Undead/Polymorph - if your tank tried to take everything on at once, they'd die. But you also had non-elite spawns where AE was the preferred tactic. This design method changed early on in the first expansion when they nerfed heroics. I believe they did this to make finding groups easier - most dungeons required not just a tank & healer but also certain fairly specific CC classes.

  13. I think part of the problem here is the class we are talking about. No I don't think paladins are broken they work fine, in fact they are awesome against the undead. That is their real strength. The last two expansions have been about demons and undead. Are we on top of everything in PvE? Yep Naxx? Yep. ToC? Meh kinda. ICC? Yep.

    How about Ulduar? Uhh no... actually druids are better in there. Why? Because they are not UNDEAD/DEMON mobs that's why. Look at all the other raids this expansion pack. Naxx undead all over the place. ToC? The last 3 bosses are either demons or undead. ICC? undead undead mobs like no tomorrow.

    Now if the next expansion cycle paladins are still on top, then we are OP. Either that or Blizz makes the mistake again of making too many raids based around the undead.

    I think Druids will have their turn at the plate though with underwater raids and so forth. I love my paladin, but it isn't my only class. (It is my main, though.)

    I am not saying paladins will be broken then either, but it will likely even out for tanks somewhat. The point is right now our class is built around taking down undead and has extra tools that are situationally useful for tanking endgame content, both five mans and raiding, but it only works against undead. Once that is gone I think that our OP tanks will go right back to normal.

  14. I don't think people would mind seeing more CC in raids, hopefully something more creative than Sheep "X". Honestly the most difficult part of that is figuring out how to make a focus macro for sheeping.

    I don't want to see CC in heroics unless Blizzard radically changes their design philosophy for heroics.

    Right now people generally run Heroics to farm Emblems, Rep & Frost Orbs. You gear up in the first 3-4 runs in each dungeon and after that, its all about farming emblems.

    That makes CC a problem, because people just want to get through the the dungeon quickly and efficiently. They don't want to spend 30 minutes there doing CC pulls and admiring the scenery they have seen 20 times already.

    Heroics are about speed and being efficient. Pull as much stuff as humanly possible and kill it as quickly as possible. Your goal is to clear each dungeon in less than 15 minutes, your Random Group Debuff.

    So, until you break the "heroic farm" design, people will want to AoE dungeons and speed run the dungeons as none of us really want to be there, we just want our emblems.