For some, it is a necessary part of life. The solo artist, travelling the realm of Azeroth on their lonesome, understands the true value of keeping extra mobs at bay. The adventurous soul who solos instances knows that one or two less in a pack of mobs means more health at the end of the pull. The PVPer knows that when a healer can’t heal, the DPS go down quickly.
For others, sadly, it’s a blast from the past.
Wrath of the Lich King taught many up-and-coming raiders that crowd control is little more than an extra button on your toolbar, one that could just as easily be replaced with an AoE ability. And, really, that’s what most of them did. Volley replaced Freezing Trap. Fan of Knives replaced Sap. The abilities that we were once an inherent part of our classes, our instancing, our very raiding environments, were pushed aside when AoE became the weapon of choice.
After all, why bother with all the coordination of trapping and sapping and polymorphing when you can just gather all the mobs together, throw a handful of heals on the tank, and spam-AoE to victory? After all, AoE is super powerful! It does tons of damage! It’s not horribly outbalanced, no, why on earth would Blizzard even dream of nerfing such a thing, you must be a total noob if you think AoE will ever get nerfed!!!!!11!!1!one!
Wait, what’s that?
AoE got nerfed?
And not only did AoE get nerfed, but other important mechanics were changed for the introduction of the “new and improved” instancing environment. Nothing serious, you know. Just, oh, mana regen.
I watched a healer try to spam-heal through an “AoE” pull in Stonecore not too long ago. The Earthshaper, left uncontrolled and not interrupted, started spamming it’s own AoE, and within seconds our healer was OOM. It was a combination of many things that led to that wipe – the general Wrath mentality of “AOE TILL IT DIES BITCHES”, the melee Wrath mentality of “STAND IN THE MOBS BEACUSE THE HEALER WILL HEAL ME”, and the ranged Wrath mentality of “DOESN’T MATTER IF I PULL AGGRO WHILE I AOE CUZ I CAN KILL IT BEFORE IT GETS TO ME!”
This huge, necessary shift in our manner of thinking has brought back valuable lessons from old school raiding, and not all players are adjusting gracefully. That’s not to say that only the old school raiders know anything about crowd control, because I can assure you, I did a double-take when a PuG tank asked me to trap a mob in Vortex Pinnacle last weekend. (Wait, wut?) But there’s something strangely depressing about having to hold up a group while the Mage pulls their Polymorph out of their spellbook because, “LAWL I NEVER PVP I DON’T USE TIHS.”
There is hope, though. During our morning WoW discussions on the way to work, Jeff mentioned that while herbing in Uldum, he’d seen a Human Death Knight kite-kill a quest elite. It involved dropping Death and Decay, throwing diseases on the target, and then using their slowing ability to bait the mob around in a circle through the D&D while it slowly died. The DK even used terrain to their advantage by running up to a small nearby platform and then jumping off, forcing the mob to take the long way back around to come after him. And while it took a long time, it worked, and the DK took practically no damage through the whole fight. Jeff went on his way, and when he came around again, he saw a Shadow Priest kite-killing the same mob. Again, took forever, but he did it, with little damage.
Last night, in Grim Batol, I watched a Rogue effectively control three targets – a Sap on a marked mob, Kicks on the main target, and a Blind on the errant spellcaster who was just outside the tank’s range and merrily throwing shadowbolts at our healer.
Class and raid leaders – as your guilds gear themselves through heroics, professions, and reputation, I have just one request. Yes, DPS is important, yes, situational awareness is important, but I implore you, do not overlook this vital skill in your guildmates. The Rogue who must effectively control three targets is not necessarily going to be highest in DPS that pull. The Mage or Hunter or Shaman kiting things away from the healer may take a little more damage than anticipated. The Death Knight that switches presences on the fly to off-tank and kite a hard-hitting mob in the interest of easing the necessary healing on the tank will not be your top performer. But without them, that pull is unsuccessful.
I’m not being obtuse. I’ve seen some incredibly negative responses to party members who have sacrificed their damage in the interest of protecting the party. Tanks who are butthurt at the insinuation that they can’t hold a group of mobs, healers that are insulted at the possibility they may not be able to heal through it, DPS who are pissed they can’t AoE because of the giant frost trap.
And on a less polite note… to the rest of you, the instancers, the PuG’ers, the random players – LEARN YOUR DAMN CLASSES! THOSE BUTTONS WERE PUT THERE FOR A REASON, LEARN HOW TO USE THEM! *glares* I’m talking to you, Rogues that don’t know how to Sap, Hunters that don’t have the first clue how to trap, and especially you, Mr. Mage that Doesn’t Use Polymorph because “I Don’t PVP LAWL”!
Or, you know, you could just sit back, and watch what happens when the Plaguebringers in Tol’vir go nuts on your party. Or let the Earthshapers in Stonecore switch forms and AoE the tank and melee, or the Rift Conjurers summon to their heart’s content until your healer is swimming in imps a la Illhoof. Or leave any number of mobs in Grim Batol to do their preprogrammed nastiness while you’re trying to fight in cramped spaces. Because until we learn these places like the back of our hands, until we can run them in our sleep like with Wrath, and until we’re geared enough that CC once again becomes a thing of the past…
AoE ain’t saving your asses.
(and if I hear one more “OMFG WUT R U TALKIN ABOUT WE’VE ALWAYS HAD TRAP LAUNCHER” I’m going to fucking murder someone)