Crowd control changes in 4.2

I generally prefer not to talk too much about upcoming features because I'm someone who's fairly focused on the present. In fact it bugs me when blogs or podcasts (whose main purpose isn't to just report the hottest news) do nothing but give opinions on things that aren't even released yet. After a while it starts to feel as if they're not even playing the same game as me anymore - usually because they literally aren't and are just spending all their time on the PTR... but I digress before I've even started.

There is one feature of the upcoming 4.2 patch that I wanted to talk about, namely the change to crowd control aggro mechanics. In a nutshell, almost all methods of crowd control will now work like sap and not cause surrounding mobs to aggro. This is a pretty big change if you ask me, and I'm surprised that I haven't seen more backlash in response to it, or any kind of commentary at all. Then again, maybe I'm just not looking in the right places.

I have to admit, part of me is definitely a little peeved. It's silly. We all know that mobs don't display a lot of intelligence to begin with and are very short-sighted, but at least rogues not getting aggro after sapping made a little bit of sense. Sap is not a big flashy effect after all, and the rogue remains in stealth afterwards. With their bad eyesight, it's no wonder that the mobs don't notice if their companion's eyes have glazed over, and even if they did notice it's not as if they could pinpoint the origin of the problem. However, if my hunter sticks a freezing arrow into a guy and turns him into a massive ice block and the surrounding mobs still don't react, that adds a whole new level of ridiculousness to it in my opinion. It makes me sad how the devs don't even seem to consider immersion in relation to game mechanics anymore.

Also, yes, it is dumbing down the game and I think Zarhym's arguments in favour of the change are appallingly poor. Players have been able to cope with crowd control causing aggro for years, but now it's suddenly too difficult? He also says that "there are basically two choices: make the dungeons so easy that they don’t require communication, or make the communication easier", implying that this change is the latter, when it is in fact the former. Making it so that crowd control doesn't aggro the group anymore does nothing if not remove the need for communication.

Right now my hunter can't really trap a mob without communicating at least at a minimum level. If I just start the pull with a trap, without the tank having agreed to it, he's likely going to be unpleasantly surprised and pissed. On the other hand, if the tank just pulls without having acknowledged that he's in favour of using CC, I'll have a hard time trapping as mobs are likely to be moved around, get hit by AoE etc. We have to come to an agreement and work together. With this new system, everyone will be equally independent of each other. I'll be able to just run up to a pull, trap something, and then let everyone else sort their crap out. Hurrah for independence. I think it's pretty sad when having to talk to other players in an MMO gets described as an unnecessary "logistical challenge".

With all that complaining out of the way... I'm actually not opposed to this change, simply because I know the realities of the dungeon finder. I mentioned only a few days ago that while I like crowd control in general, I'm glad to be back to everyone AoEing everything for the most part. How does that make sense?

The thing is, I do like CC, I do like difficult dungeons and I do like having to co-ordinate things. I was over the moon during those first weeks of Cataclysm when everyone actually ran heroics in guild groups, we made our way to the instance the old-fashioned way to summon in the one guy who hadn't discovered the entrance yet, and we spent hours wiping in heroic Grim Batol without even completing it. It was almost like being back in Burning Crusade! Almost.

Unfortunately, there were still things that were different: the dungeon finder, the daily random dungeon reward, the developers' changed attitudes... and fact of the matter is, these things didn't mix well with trying to go back to the BC era in other aspects. I liked Burning Crusade era dungeons best, but WOTLK was okay in its own way. However, the way Blizzard has tried to mix and match aspects of both expansions in the new Cataclysm instances has unfortunately been neither here nor there, leaving fans of either style somewhat disappointed I believe.

With that experience in mind, knowing that the devs are in love with the dungeon finder and its anonymous instant teleports, I realised that we'll never really be able to go back to the way instances worked in Burning Crusade. This leaves us with the alternatives of "okay" WOTLK runs or the annoying mish-mash that has been Cataclysm's style lately, and in that case I think I prefer them to just let us go back towards the silent and easy runs. The 4.2 CC change is perfectly in line with that. You can't very well support grouping without communication and then throw a wrench into the works by having one mechanic that absolutely requires people to talk to each other.

So I'll be happy to just place my traps whenever, and when I'm tanking I'll just let dps figure out their own crowd control if they want to use any - either way the other players' actions won't be my business anymore and I can live with that. Though I think that there's a chance that the average run might not change that much anyway, based on what I see with rogues and sap right now: either the rogue doesn't ever use it anyway, or if they do, the tank will inevitably make a beeline for the sapped target and break it, so I pretty much expect the other crowd controls to end up being treated the same way.

I just don't like the idea of pretending that it all makes perfect sense because bonking someone on the head from stealth is totally the same as turning them into a sheep in plain sight, or that it's somehow not going to affect the difficulty of the instances.


  1. Were you around for the says of Improved Sap? Oh man... 10% chance that your rogue will get facestomped. Fun times.

    This change doesn't sit right with me. It just feels like there's something wrong when this is needed. I can't quite say what's wrong with it, maybe just some left over elitism, but this just doesn't look like a healthy direction for WoW.

  2. Wrath baby here and this is not necessary.

    Then again, I enjoy tanking and marking targets for CC (especially mind control pulls).

    Maybe most tanks are too lazy/ignorant and causing groups to wipe because they aren't directing CC?

    Maybe this is Blizzard's way of addressing the tank shortage by lowering the requirements to be a tank?

  3. You are not honestly trying to argue that something in WoW doesn't make sense from a simulation-point-of-view, do you?

    I think you're a little late ;)

  4. @Kleps: Yeah, I was around for improved sap. And I remember getting into a Shadow Labyrinth run with a rogue who didn't have it and everyone going "WTF?" when he constantly got aggro from sapping.

    @Potatoe: The problem is that CC is not considered common (knowledge) anymore, so when you try to organise it in a pug you inevitably get one guy who just shouts at you to gogogo because CC is for noobs, another who has never used his CC ability and ends up putting it on the wrong mob, one guy who uses his to pull before everyone else is ready etc. You can only lead and teach if people want to work together, and like Zarhym expresses in the forum thread above, apparently many consider that too much work.

    @Nils: Making sense is not necessarily a binary thing. And there is such a thing as things going from bad to worse. :/

  5. Considering that all CC --except sap-- will cause mobs to aggro, I think this is a huge change. Not for the better, either.

    I prefer CC to cause an aggro, because otherwise I could sit there and hit my CC abilities without penalty. In an instance, you're supposed to coordinate things as a group, but this encourages more solo play. It also encourages idiots to go without waiting for the group.

  6. Right now the change seems out of place. First, as you pointed uout, it's ridiculous that turning someone into a sheep, frog or ice cube won't provoke any reaction on the near mobs. And secondly because on normal heroics CC is having a very marginal use. When the tank has over 200k hp and the healer can smash the bigger heals without his mana bar displaying any changes, who needs CC? I was running some heroics the other day (now that waiting times have gone down to 10 minutes, like Wrath days) and the 4 different groups I had just charged and aoe'd everything. Only in Vortex Pinacle sheep was used in the last tol'vir groups to put one of the healers out of play.
    I think Blizz fails to realize the BC style has failed, but doesn't want to admit it and go back to the Wrath "pull everything and smash aoe" days. But hey, that's nearly here. So instead of dumbing the game more and more, just say "ok, BC style dungeons hasn't worked as we expected, let's go to the Wrath days and just nuke happily everything". Reserve CC for new heroic dungeons (as ZG and ZA) and raids.
    It's a pity? Yes, but I think the change hurted the game more than they will admit. Was a good idea, but forcing everybody to go back to use a lot of cc after it was nearly forgotten for 2 years wasn't the right way of doing it. Why not make it in a progressive way? The harder the dungeon, more cc is needed, but even in simpler dungeons, the closer you get to the final boss, more cc is needed, instead of putting a very hard pull at the begining of the dungeon thta causes a lot of people to bail out.

  7. Just after writing my previous comment I saw this:

    See, when I said Cata dungeons hurted the game more than they wanted to admit... seems I wasn't wrong.
    Of course there're a lot of factors. WoW starts to show aging problems. No matter how many expansions or patches you release, or changes you do to specs, people will get tired of the game one day or another and look for other places. But thinks like the way of playing the dungeons I'm sure has been a big factor here. Nad it's not only the people refusing to use cc, it's also how this affected the waiting times, the bad ambient in pugs, etc. I haven't quit the game but so far I've refused to tank and heal in pugs.

  8. Excellent post. I think it's a ridiculous change, though, like Kurnak, I don't see it actually affecting the game.

    It is, indeed, easier to make communication less necessary than it is to get people to communicate with each other. /cry

  9. An additional effect is that the DD will be expected to CC without being babysitted by the tank. And if a big group wipes your group you will say "mage, why didn't you sheep" instead of "tank, you suck". Some pressure which is on the tank today might be shifted to the DDs.

    The DD will be forced to learn which mobs are the dangerous ones because they have to CC the dangerous ones. That leads to more awareness of the dungeon, better play and more focus damage.

    In the end this change could be the major required change to make tanking fun for the masses and drag enough tanks into the LFD to bring down the queue time. I wouldn't be surprised if the effect of that on the tank population, in the long run, will be much more significant then the "call for shinies".

    Then again, nothing could happen because jerks can destroy everything. :)

    And, Klep, there is always the chance that you get aggro of the whole group when your target is immune or resists. At least that's how mind soothe worked in vanilla. No aggro on success, face melted on resist. Hope dies last. :)

  10. @Kring: That's one way that change could have a positive effect, but considering how lazy many puggers appear to be, I'm not holding my breath.