Crowd Control (abbreviated CC) refers to spells and abilities which limit an opponent's ability to fight. CC abilities are used to reduce the number of mobs that the group fight at once. Due to the fact that most groups cannot tank more than a certain number of elite mobs at a time, crowd control is often essential to prevent a group from being overwhelmed. For a guide on how to effectively use CC in instances, see the Instance grouping guide for a crowd controller.
All instance bosses are immune to crowd control.
Types of CC include Charm, Daze, Fear, Root, Sleep, Slow, Snare, Incapacitate, Disorient and Stun. The following Primary Crowd Control Abilities can be re-applied an unlimited number of times, and take a mob effectively out of combat as long as the CCer wants to:
- Mage - Polymorph (beasts and humanoids only)
- Hunter - Freezing Trap (most types of mob, requires good skill to chain trap), Wyvern Sting (talent ability)
- Warlock - Banish (demons/elementals), Enslave Demon (demons only), Seduction (Pet ability, Humanoids only)
- Priest - Shackle Undead (undead only)
- Druid - Hibernate (beasts and dragonkin only), Entangling Roots (Usable indoor since Patch 3.0.2)
- Paladin - Repentance (humanoids, undead, dragonkin, giants and demons only)
- Shaman - Hex (humanoids and beasts only)
These Secondary CC Abilities can control a mob for some time, but either break easily, need frequent reapplication or have other restrictions which make their continued use impractical, and therefore cannot be generally used to take a mob out of combat indefinitely:
- Mage - Frost Nova and other frost spells
- Priest - Mind Control (humanoids only), Psychic Scream, Mind Soothe
- Rogue - Sap (humanoids only rank 1-3, Humanoids, Beasts, Demons and Dragonkin rank 4, cannot be applied in combat), Blind, and various stuns and stun-lock tactics
- Druid - Cyclone, Soothe Animal, and some stuns
- Paladin - Turn Evil (undead and demons only), some stuns
- Hunter - Pet's stun and various root/slow/stun shots
- Warlock - Fear
- Warrior - various stuns
The following is a detailed breakdown of crowd control abilities by class:
- Cyclone enables the druid to "banish" one target for up to 6 seconds with diminishing returns. The target is unable to take any action, even Iceblock or Divine Shield do not remove Cyclone. Cyclone victims are also immune to all damage and healing for the duration of the effect.
- Hibernate is used to put beasts or dragonkin to sleep and works similar to polymorph, except that the mob remains stationary and does not get a heal effect; if anyone causes damage to the mob it wakes up. Many players do not even realize that druids have this skill. Alongside the hunter's Freezing Trap this is the only Crowd Control spell that can affect dragonkin, which makes them invaluable in certain instances.
- Entangling Roots can be used to keep any mob rooted in place for a while. This can last as long as polymorph but, damage done to the rooted mob (not including the damage dealt by the roots themselves) has a chance of breaking the roots early and this skill can be resisted.
- Soothe Animal reduces the aggro radius of one beast without starting combat. This allows a body pull of a nearby mob without also alerting the affected beast.
- Feral Charge is a Bear Form talent that has the potential to root a target in place for several seconds, and can be used as a ranged interrupt. It is also commonly used as a means of (very) swift transportation. A common problem with using this ability as any kind of CC or Oh-gawd-stop-the-runner ability is that once the druid reaches the target there may well be more mobs that are instantly proximity-pulled into the fight.
- Druids in Bear Form can Stun via the Bash ability. However, the short duration and timer on reuse of it limits its usefulness as CC in longer battles.
The hunter has a huge array of crowd control abilities, giving the hunter the potential to be highly influential in altering the course of combat.
- Freezing Trap is placed on the ground and freezes the first enemy to walk over it. The duration lasts up to 20 seconds and can be extended with the talent Clever Traps. This is effective on virtually every type of mob, even most minor bosses, e.g. Highlord Omokk and Shadow Hunter Vosh'gajin. Pulling a specific mob to his trap is a basic skill that every hunter must acquire. A skillful hunter can chain-trap at least 4 to 5 times no matter what spec or gear he has, assuming the mob does not resist. The survival tree talent Trap Mastery lessens this resist chance by up to 10% and makes the freezing trap a nearly always successful CC option except against immune mobs.
- Wyvern Sting is a ranged ability that puts a mob to sleep for 12 seconds. When the mob awakens, it will get a DoT that does Nature damage over the next 12 seconds. This is a tier 7 Survival talent; not every Hunter will have this spell. Because the DoT can break potential crowd control, the hunter can fire Scorpid Sting on the mob to remove the DoT effect, allowing the mob to be re-controlled.
- Frost Traps trigger an area of effect snare that slows movement of all enemies in the radius of the trap. It should also be noted that with the Survival talent Entrapment, all Frost, Immolation, and Explosion traps have a 20% chance to immobilize the target upon triggering.
- Concussive Shot - ranged attack that slows a target for 4 seconds, with talents it may be upgraded to give a 20% chance of stunning the target for 3 seconds.
- Wing Clip - melee attack that slows a target for 10 seconds. With talent points placed into Improved Wing Clip, Wing Clip has a Proc to immobilize the target for 5 seconds.
- Scatter Shot - short-ranged attack that disorients the target for 4 seconds. The effect is nearly identical to that of a Rogue's Blind ability. Requires 20 points in Marksmanship.
- Counterattack - a Survival talent that causes damage and roots the target for 5 seconds.
- Scare Beast fears a beast for 10 seconds at rank 1, 15 seconds at rank 2, and 20 seconds at rank 3.
- Pets can essentially act as an off-tank, keeping a mob busy for as long as the pet can stay alive and/or retain aggro. Pets with a large amount of health (e.g. bear, boar) or armor (e.g. turtle) are better at this job.
- Intimidation - A Beast Mastery talent. Command your pet to intimidate the target on the next successful melee attack, causing a high amount of threat and stunning the target for 3 sec.
- Mages have the ability to Polymorph humanoid or beast enemies, turning them into sheep, pigs or turtles for up to 50 seconds at level 60. While polymorphed, enemies regenerate health quickly, at a rate of 20% HP per tick. Only one enemy can be polymorphed by a single mage at a time.
- Frost Nova roots nearby enemies in place for up to 8 seconds, and deals a small amount of damage. This spell is commonly used before using Arcane Explosion and other AoE attacks to maximize the number of targets hit, or to dramatically increase their critical hit chances with the Shatter talent.
Paladins have some limited Crowd Control abilities;
- Turn Evil (formerly Turn Undead) is a medium duration Fear Effect (albeit only castable on Undead and Demons). The fear lasts for 20 seconds, with no cooldown (the spell had a cooldown of 30 seconds prior to patch 3.0, so two paladins were required to keep the mob fully crowd controlled). As with other fears, there is a chance that it will break on damage or before the timer runs out.
- Hammer of Justice is a ranged stun ability with a 1 minute cooldown. The cooldown can be reduced to 30 seconds with max rank Improved Hammer of Justice.
- Paladins can also get Repentance as a talent from the Retribution tree. It is a 1 minute incapacitate, has a 20 yard range and a 1 minute cooldown. Unfortunately, this works only on certain types of targets.
- Paladins have, beginning at level 22, Seal of Justice which gives their melee attack a chance to stun the enemy for 2 seconds. The corresponding judgement (Judgement of Justice) prevents the target from fleeing, which is helpful to prevent dying mobs from fleeing to aggro further mobs, and with higher ranks prevents any movement speed increases such as the rogue's Sprint.
- Shackle Undead, which is effectively a sleep only usable on an undead mob (does not work on undead players).
- Psychic Scream is an instant-cast AoE fear with a 5 target limit at level 60. With a 30 second cooldown, it's the only escape spell available to priests in PvP combat. However, it is rarely, if ever, practical within an instance, because the feared monster will probably aggro more monsters.
- Mind Control (MC) is a channeled spell which transfers control of an enemy humanoid to the caster. During this time, the caster stands in place cannot use their own spells, and will lose channeling time if struck in combat. When the MC target is a mob, the caster gains access to select abilities that the mob may have. These can include standard attacks, buffs, or special abilities. Mind controlling an enemy player does not give access to any abilities other than auto-attack. MC on players is more commonly used to plunge enemies into lava in Blackrock Mountain or off of the cliff in the Arathi Basin Lumber Mill.
Rogues have many short-term crowd control abilities at their disposal, primarily making use of stun effects at melee range.
- Sap is a long-term (up to 45s) single-target effect which may be used versus out-of-combat humanoids within melee range. Sap is one of the primary CC abilities used by rogues in instances prior to pulling a group that contains humanoids. Because it cannot be refreshed while in combat, the "sapped" mob is often the first CC'd mob to come permanently out of CC, meaning that it is generally the first which needs to be dealt with after the main tank's first target. It furthermore breaks on damage.
- Cheap Shot (which requires stealth), and Kidney Shot. are both short-term abilities may be used to eliminate the opponent's ability to move or attack.
- Gouge is a short term (4-5.5s) single-target incapacitate that is broken by damage.
- Blind is a disorient effect that disorients the target for 10 seconds. It breaks on damage.
- Stunlock refers to successive use of the abilities mentioned above (except sap) to keep a mob at stunned/disorientated state. A good rogue can keep a mob stunned/disorientated for a long time until it is picked up by the tank or killed by the group. Stunlocking generally requires the full attention of the rogue, as combo points must be built up for Kidney Shot.
- Hex transforms the enemy into a frog. While hexed, the target cannot attack or cast spells. Damage caused may interrupt the effect. Lasts 30 sec. Only one target can be hexed at a time. Only works on Humanoids and Beasts.
- Stoneclaw Totem summons a Stoneclaw Totem with a set amount of health that increases with higher ranks at the feet of the caster for 15 seconds that taunts creatures within 8 yards to attack it. Enemies attacking the Stoneclaw Totem have a 50% chance to be stunned for 3 seconds. Note: in PvP, taunt only works on pets but not players. Therefore, it becomes quite useless against players (unless someone hits it).
- Seduction is used by the succubus pet and works much like Polymorph, except that the mob stays put and doesn't get healed: Hit the humanoid mob and they drop out of seduction. Seduction only affects humanoids, and the succubus must channel this spell, meaning that the ability will break early if the succubus takes damage. This can be recast before the duration is over and the mob will be out of control for only a very short time.
- Banish can remove a demon or elemental from a fight for 20 seconds (Rank 1) or 30 seconds (Rank 2). The demon will be immune to damage and other effects while banished so it can not be broken and it can not be re-banished. However, there is a chance that the banish breaks by itself. A warlock can only banish one demon or elemental target at a time.
- Enslave Demon can be used to charm one demon for up to five minutes, although doing so will cause any summoned pet the warlock has out to be dismissed.
- Fear only works on one target at a time. It can be used as form of primary crowd control (making the lock one of the only non-tanking classes to be able to effectively CC two mobs at once, using both this fear and seduce) however it carries significant risk in instances given that the feared mob will run randomly, potentially aggroing new groups of enemies. Generally when warlocks are asked to use this ability as a form of CC, parties will pull mobs back into sections of the instance that have already been cleared so as to avoid this problem.
It is possible for a warlock to control a feared mob by placing Curse of Recklessness on a mob when it flees towards another un-aggroed group. This will neutralize the fear effect (but not remove the fear debuff) and force it to come running back to the party. By switching Curse of Recklessness with another curse, such as Curse of Weakness, it is possible to "ping-pong" a feared enemy, as they enemy will start fleeing again once the curse of recklessness is removed by the other curse. Be advised that doing this will almost certainly take all of the warlock's attention, so their dps on other targets will be lowered. Also remember to reapply the fear debuff as necessary.
- Death Coil is similar to a very short Fear, but it is an instantaneous spell and not subject to Fear immunities such as Death Wish and Will of the Forsaken. Deathcoil will also deal a small amount of damage and heal an amount of the Warlock's health equal to the damage caused.
There are a number of minor CC abilities warriors can use to temporarily stun or slow enemies:
- Intimidating Shout, which is an AoE fear in which the warrior's main target does not run in fear but rather is briefly immobilized (however, any damage done will break the effect, meaning that the warrior must stop auto attacking or move out of range to avoid almost instantly breaking the effect on the targeted mob). The enemies that were sent running only have a chance to be unfeared on damage, while the initial target always is unfeared on damage taken (like druid sleep).
- Hamstring can reduce an enemies movement speed significantly, often preventing it from easily moving to attack other party members or run away. With Improved Hamstring, there is a chance that the target will be briefly rooted in place. Neither ability actually prevents the enemy from attacking.
- Piercing Howl is a talent-based AoE daze effect which reduces their movement speed by 50%. This is an effective AoE alternative to Hamstring as it can affect many enemies at once without directly targeting them.
- Also available are the short term Charge and Intercept stuns, as well as the talent-based Concussion Blow, Mace Specialization, and Improved Revenge stuns, all of which are of fairly short duration.
Often forgotten as a crowd control ability is to kite a mob, that is: to force it to chase a player while he/she outruns it. Hunters and mages are the best at this job, though it is also possible for other classes with movement-slowing abilities to do it. While this generally means that the dedicated kiting player cannot deliver DPS to the main tank's target, it is often a very effective way of keeping a powerful melee mob away from the party until the full party is ready to deal with it.
Goblin Rocket Helm, Various Bombs. Also they can control mechanical mobs by Gnomish Universal Remote device. Engineers can also build net guns and trinkets with a polymorph effect, but both have a chance to backfire (Gnomish Engineering at its finest!).
Tailors of at least skill 300 can make and use Netherweave Nets. This acts as an immobilization effect, but only for three seconds, and is suffers diminished effects versus targets above level 72.