Warlock CC and You: How to Crowd Control Like a Pro in Cataclysm

I love Fear.

Let’s get that out of the way right now. There are a lot of things about playing a warlock that I like, and near the top of my list is Fear. That spell is bound to the 4 button in every spec I play.

I am going to quote from the great “How To Battleground” thread by Dusk:

These people want to kill you. You are a warlock. They all hate you.

They are going to go out of their way to harm you as deeply and as earnestly as they can, and then they are going to /spit and /lol at your corpse, because everybody hates warlocks.

They hate fear, they despise dots, your felhunter is a rage magnet and deathcoil once made the entire wow population cry floods of bitter tears for over a year.

You want to know why I quote from that thread so much? Not because it’s about Warlock PvP – though it is – but because it’s about what it is to be a great Warlock, a complete Warlock, a master of this crazy class.

And in PvP, that means you are a master of Fear. You rip control of other characters away from their characters, and then you kill them. And they can’t do anything about it.

But in PvE, Fear didn’t have the best reputation. It tended to send mobs scurrying hither and yon, sending them screaming into packs of their friends that the tank wasn’t quite ready to pull just yet.

That changed dramatically in Cataclysm.


I have been told that the new dungeons of Cataclysm are hard. That they are punishing. That they are not facerolls, where you can press your AoE spell of choice and go check Twitter!

I have also been told that there are damage dealers out there who have forgotten that when the going gets tough on the tank and healers, their job is to make it easier on those tanks and healers! That these people, playing DPS classes, are refusing to use crowd control! That they don’t even know what that is!

I have even been told that there are WARLOCKS out there who are refusing to use crowd control!

This cannot stand. Do you hear me? THE LINE MUST BE DRAWN HERE.


You bring shame upon this great class if you refuse to CC.

If you are a warlock, you have the best PvP CC in the game. Do you hear me? IN THE ENTIRE GAME. You have the biggest damn CC toolbox of any class. You have Fear, which when glyphed freezes the mob in place instead of running to bring their friends. You have Banish and are fighting an invasion of Elementals. You have slows, and stuns, and an instant terror that damages your opponent while healing you.

You have no excuses left, Warlocks. You are going to CC like a fucking pro, because Fearing things while killing them is what you do.


You want to know why CC looks hard in PvE? It’s not because people can’t open up their spellbook and drag Fear to their damn action bar. No, it’s because it involves multitasking. Instead of tracking one target, you have to track two. You have to watch your normal rotation as well as make sure CC doesn’t fall off.

The key is to not treat them as two targets.

Wait, what?

You heard me.

Don’t multitask – integrate your CC with your normal priority rotation instead. Monitor the CC just as you would any other DoT or CD. Do it in the same place on the screen, in the same mental space.

To do this you’ll need two things – a decent macro and a decent debuff tracker. Let’s start with the macro.


The Warcraft UI has a handy feature in it that allows you to track two targets at once – a Focus. Focus are an advanced kind of Target and is only available via macros and slash commands. Your Focus persists until you change it and is independent of your active Target.

If that’s confusing, think of it this way.

  • Your Target is set by tabbing or clicking on things. It shows up next to your character portrait.
  • Your Focus is set by macros, doesn’t care what you click on, and is separate from your Target. It shows up near the middle of the screen.

So what we’re going to do is use a macro to set your CC target as your Focus, while the thing you’re supposed to kill remains your Target.

Let’s take a look at a Fear Focus macro.

/focus [target=focus, noexists][target=focus, dead] mouseover
/cast [target=focus, exists] Fear; Fear
/stopmacro [nomodifier]
/clearfocus [modifier:ctrl]

This macro is straight off of WowWiki. It’s simple and does the job. (If you haven’t used macros before, here’s a brief tutorial.) Make one for Fear and one for Banish.

Here’s what it does when you press the button.

  • Sets your mouseover target – whatever your mouse is pointing at – to be your Focus, if you don’t have one. Then it casts Fear at it.
  • If you aren’t pointing your mouse at anything, it will cast Fear at your normal target.
  • If you press Ctrl while clicking the button it will clear your Focus.
  • It also clears your Focus when your Focus dies.

Here’s how you use it.

You’re in a dungeon, and the tank has marked the mobs Skull, X, and Moon.

  • You target Skull.
  • Put your mouse over Moon.
  • Press your CC button. Moon will become your Focus. You’ll cast Fear at it.
  • Cast your normal DPS spells against Skull.
  • When Fear is about to fade from Moon, refresh it by pressing the CC button again. Do not retarget.  CC will go to Moon, everything else goes to Skull.
  • When it is time to kill Moon, just shift your target to it. Don’t bother with your CC button or clearing the Focus.

The reason to use a Focus macro is so that you do not have to shift your targets back and forth. Your CC goes to one mob, everything else goes to the other mob.

If you’re having trouble understanding this, go to the nearest set of target dummies and try this macro out on two separate targets.


The Focus macro is only the first part of becoming an awesome Crowd Controller. The next step is making sure that your CC is always up, and that the mob you’re assigned to tank stays tanked. That mob is going nowhere while you are on duty. If it gets hit by an AoE attack, or someone tab-targets a DoT on to them, it does not matter.

They are going to stay put until you are damn well ready to kill them!

Remember that crazy thing I said about not multitasking? Well, the one thing you don’t want to do is have to track DoTs on two different mobs in two different places on your screen. Don’t focus solely on your target, because then you won’t see that your CC victim got hit with an AoE attack and is running loose. Don’t focus solely on your CC, or your DPS will suffer.

No, what you need is to unify your interface. Track your Focus CC alongside all of your other important DoTs and CD tracking.

I recommend the addon Need To Know for this.

I’ve covered my personal setup of Need To Know in more detail elsewhere, but the basic idea is to take only those the buffs, debuffs, and cooldowns you need to track and put them all into one central location, like so:

Here I’ve called out the essential things I need to track as a Destruction Warlock for DPS – Improved Soul Fire buff, Immolate duration on my target, Conflagrate CD – but I’ve added in a line for my CC, above my cast bar space.

But it’s important to note something – NTK isn’t monitoring CC on my target, it’s monitoring CC on my Focus. Once I start CCing that mob with the macro above, all I have to do is make sure that that bar stays up. If it breaks, the bar disappears and I recast. If it’s about to run out, I hit my CC button and recast Fear or Banish.

I don’t have to multitask to keep a mob under control. And neither do you. It is awesome when you don’t have to split your attention – just watch the NTK bars.

You set up your CC bar like other NTK bars, but with one key difference:

Instead of monitoring your Target, you monitor your Focus instead.

Also, since you will probably need to switch between Fear and Banish on different mobs, you can make NTK look for both in the same bar. I put all my CC into a single line – just separate them with commas.

These two things in combination make CC a breeze in dungeons. Do them, and Crowd Control becomes trivial. You will make it look easy, which is as it should be.

You’re a Warlock. You are the best damn CC class in the game.


The Glyph of Fear is what makes this all work, of course. It’s one thing to have a great CC toolkit for PvP, but the biggest problem with Fear before Cataclysm was how it sent mobs running all over tarnation, where they’d pull packs of their friends and make you less than popular among your PvE group. But you’re not limited to Fear.

Choose the right tool for the job. Fear is your default, but Banish is useful against Demons and Elementals. There are subtle differences between the two – Fear breaks on damage, Banish does not, but Banish is harder to chain – but they also give you the option of CCing two mobs at once (though you shouldn’t try DPSing the third.) Your Succubus’s Seduction ability is yet another CC option against Humanoid opponents, if you already have her out for her knockback.

You are the tank for your target and responsible for positioning; move them as necessary. You are not helpless in the face of AoE damage to your CC target. Many melee DPS classes rely upon area of effect spells as part of an effective rotation, and they sometimes errantly hit the CC target. Or, the tank might start AoE tanking and nick your mob – perhaps they didn’t pull the main pack far enough away, or things just aren’t going right. If this happens, you are not helpless.

  • Death Coil will break Fear and send the mob fleeing for a short burst of time, letting you reposition them away from the main fight. Reapply Fear when you get them where you want.
  • Searing Pain can be used to break Fear and draw the mob towards you. Position yourself in the direction you need the mob to go and use Demonic Circle to get out of harm’s way while you reapply CC.
  • Your Succubus has a knockback effect – Whiplash – and you can get your controlled mob out of the way of AoE with it. Blow a shard, summon the Succy instantly, then move the mob.
  • If your mob is Banished, casting Banish will break the banishment and move them towards you again. You can apply DoTs to make sure you have the mob’s attention, then reposition them as they come after you.

Howl of Terror and Death Coil are in case of emergency. These two spells are both very powerful when used correctly. If the tank totally loses aggro on a pack of mobs and they are all going towards the healer, Howl at them. Tanks don’t like gathering up fleeing mobs, but at least they’re not eating the healer. Death Coil is a similar tool; it can be used to peel a mob off a healer, but you aren’t in control with it. Use it as a way to seize control, since it’s an instant cast on a CD.

I personally also recommend that you glyph Shadowflame, as that will give you an awesome slow for PvP and PvE alike. It is a huge, huge slow – 70%! – but not everyone will want to spare the glyph slot. Consider it, at least.


I know that I can be… uh… enthusiastic? about Warlocks. But if you’re another DPS class with CC, you can absolutely take this approach and use it to become awesome Crowd Controllers, too.

Mages, if you can’t see that this works perfectly with Polymorph, I don’t know what to tell you. It’s bad enough you have Frost Nova, but there is no reason you can’t be sheeping and pigging and lord knows what else to mobs! Seriously, you have a rep to protect here! Are you going to let Warlocks show you up? Again?

(Also, buy my Tomes of Polymorph: Turtle off the AH. I have alts to support.)

And all the rest of you! Every DPS class with CC, no matter how good or how poor, can use focus macros and a good debuff tracker to ensure that they are controlling their assigned mob. Rogues have Sap. Ele Shammies have Hex. Druids have Hibernate and Entangling Roots. Hunters can trap and kite like no one’s business.

Every DPS needs to look at their bag of tricks and figure out what they can do. If you can’t CC, you can interrupt. Everyone has something. If you aren’t CCing, you should be on Interrupt duty. Period. End of story.

But this is what Cataclysm PvE is like; DPS needs to look at CC as something they have to do, and take pride in doing well.

And to my fellow Warlocks: I expect you to be among the best in the game. Show those Mages what we’ve got.

When everyone competes to be the best CCers, we ALL win.


Filed under Cynwise's Battlefield Manual, Warlockery

49 responses to “Warlock CC and You: How to Crowd Control Like a Pro in Cataclysm

  1. –> “If your mob is Banished,” then you have nothing to worry about when people are AoEing next to it since Banished mobs are immune to all damage. 🙂

    Cool article! I like yours better than mine, actually.

    • Oh, derp. Thanks for catching that!

    • I think yours was an excellent overview of how to use the warlock CC toolkit in the current content. I’d forgotten about Enslave Demon (bad Cyn!) and how much fun it was in Outland taking control of demons and using them to beat on each other.

  2. “The key is to not treat them as two targets.”

    If you take nothing else from this article, take this. Great advice!

  3. Mortis

    Fantastic article, this is exactly what I needed. I just hit 85 on my warlock and I’m just starting to learn about CC on a lock. I was wondering about addons and macros for CC, so thanks!

  4. Noodlenose

    Thanks for the tricks on positioning, I must admit that is the hardest bit for me at present, if my target runs into the consecrate/cleaves while Im still casting fear its all over for me.

    The other big problem I have is my imp, I have learnt to switch him to passive before casting fear so that he doesnt immediately break it. I have been then switching him back to defensive, but Im sure Ive seen him swap back to the CC target once my DPS target dies. Do you leave him on passive with a /petattack macroed to something? or do you do it manually?

  5. Noodlenose

    Oh and another thing: Ive seen how cool Mind Control can be in the hands of a good shadow priest (e.g. MC one of the Nazjar Spiritmenders in TotC and use it to Hex the second one). What about Enslave Demon? Has anyone tried that on elites in a dungeon? The only demons I can only think of off the top of my head are the felhunters in Grim Batol, but maybe there are others.

  6. Wrenz

    I use a /petpassive command at the end of my fear macro, and a /petdefensive at the end of my bane macro to get it started again(/petattack will interrupt his casts). Impsy loves nothing more than to break your most carefully laid CC as soon as its dropped. Don’t be the guy who lets him. 😉

  7. Lycanthrope

    Must bookmark and make my 51 lock read this. She’s Affliction/Demonology so may need tweaking.

  8. Very good points, I think we’re definitely one of the classes with the most CC options. The one place that makes me cry though is Heroic Shadowfang Keep where the majority of mobs are Undead. It makes me feel so useless *sniffles*

    But pretty much every other dungeon and we can bring the shine (of felglow perhaps?) of awesomeness.

    Good points (in the comments) about Enslave Demon, I’d forgotten about that one too!

    The imp isn’t too horrible for me CC wise (though I tend to keep him passive and tell him to attack when I do), because it seems the Fear target can usually take a fireball without breaking. My biggest culprit was the Felguard for the period when I was Demonology. The big guy would be on Passive and STILL charge (pursuit) my CC target.

    It’s like having him attack one target gave him free reign to attack anything else too. I kind of smashed my forehead against the desk when he was attacking the 3 tanked mobs, I hit Felstorm only to see him suddenly charge into my Feared target and the Sapped one standing next to it.. Felstorm is awesome.. but yeah..

    So my Felguard is now banished from using Pursuit in dungeons. Since he doesn’t know how to use it wisely! It’s like a kid with a BB gun really.. “Now, don’t aim that thing at people.. Pick the targets.” *aims at his little sister*

  9. Having never used a mouseover macro…

    Is it as intuitive as it sounds? Like… Leaving the pointer on the fear/banished mob, then hitting the CC button retags the jerk with fear again while you can keep up on the main target?

    • Ronzily

      You don’t even need to do that, Snack. You hover the mouse
      for the first cast, which both sets the hover target as your focus,
      and casts fear. After that, it will cast fear on your focus target
      no matter whether you’re targeting it, or your mouse is over it, or
      whatever. It’s VERY powerful, and only takes a few minutes of
      testing on target dummies to get used to.

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  11. Wait…did you just make a First Contact reference? Or am I reading too much into that?

    “They go into a dungeon…and they don’t CC. They [try to] destroy entire trash packs…and they don’t CC. Well not again. The fear must be done HEAH! This mob, not that one!… and CYN…will make them PAY! for what they’ve done!”

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  14. Fidjit

    Great post, really helpful!

    Speaking of Dusk’s famous “How to Battlegrounds” thread, is this preserved somewhere? I like to go back and read it every now and then, but I just realized it’s gone with the old forums.

  15. Eater of Birds

    Thanks for the macro explantion, im a little foggy on mouseovers and focus macros usually. ill be making that one later tonight to practice with 🙂

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  19. Brimbar

    I just want to say thanks Cynwise, I found your guide (and the other I also found on your site) great! As a post-vanilla PvE lock it was a great lesson for me!

  20. HittingStuff

    Way late, but still: all shamans have hex. I’m Enh/Resto,
    and I hex stuff. Being Resto, however, means that it can miss –
    also, refreshing hex while trying to heal people can be fiddly.
    we’ve got Bind Elements, too. Awesome in all instances that has
    elementals standing around. Other than that, great

    • This should be taken as further evidence of how bad I am with Shamans. I mean, seriously – I thought Enh was supposed to use a shield for the longest time.

      Some of my best friends in WoW play Shammies, too. I really need to go to shaman boot camp or something to fix my ignorance.

      (Thanks for the correction! I obviously need all the help I can get!)

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  22. I love this post! A few paragraphs in I could already hear the emotive music gathering strength in the background, and see the army of warlocks lined up as you ride along the frontlines on a horse shouting at them.

    “We shall fear them on the beaches!”

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  24. Googlybear

    I generally agree with the line about not DPS’ing a third target, especially if youar enew to an instance and the trash groups, but I recall fondly the days of TBC heroics where I had one mob Seduced, one Banished and then Fear tanked a third – often killing this target before the tank and remainder of the group had finished off the other mobs…

    While seduce is the worst of our CC, if you use a @pettarget – petfollow macro you can monitor it quite well if you use Pitbull, allowing you a further CC option.

    • Yep, the third CC option is always there for Warlocks, and is a great one if you can juggle it. I think most folks will settle for just one CCed mob at this point.

      The @pettarget macro with Seduction is a good idea. I should try that on my spells. *ponders*

  25. Higg

    Excellent article. Why do people refuse to use the tools they’ve been given? I simply don’t understand the thought processes that go on when, for example, Mages refuse to make drinks, Warlocks refuse to Soul stone and Health stone, and as you say, all classes refuse to use their CC tools.

    The one problem with your macro is that if your cursor happens to be over a different mob when you press the button to re-cast Fear on your CC’d mob it will Fear the ‘new’ target.

    I find it’s better to have 2 macros, one for setting Focus and one for applying your chosen CC to your focus target. You could use 1 macro with a modifier for setting the focus, (as you have used in your macro for clearing focus), but personally, I prefer 2 macros as I can never remember which modifiers do what for each macro I have.

    • The great thing about this macro is that it *doesn’t* reset your focus if you happen to mouseover something when your focus is set. This kinda drives me nuts in PvP when I focus the wrong target, but in PvE your focus is set until it’s dead.

      Having the ability to set (and clear) Focus quickly is really important. If you’re managing it better with two macros, go for it!

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  27. Mike

    Thanks for this – it’s really great.

    One request – can you make the fear focus macro (very useful, btw), into a single-button Set focus/fear humanoid/banish elemental macro? I realize sometimes you’ll have to do both in a single fight, so it won’t work in that case, but it would be great to have a macro:
    –mouseover focus
    –if humanoid, fear,
    –if elemental, banish.


    • Unfortunately, you can’t put conditionals like you describe into macros. That crosses a line Blizzard put in as far as “playing the game for you,” so they’ve disabled that kind of functionality that would let you cast the right kind of spell depending on environmental factors.

      You could take out the mouseover/focus parts, and make it either something where you have your mouse buttons cast different spells when you use different buttons to click on it, or use modifier keys to select which one you are trying to use.

      Personally, I keep two macros – Fear bound to 4 and Banish bound to Shift-4 – and use those as the situation requires.

      • Darlaan - Sentinals US

        I did not know that this crossed the border as I have a macro like this set up for my mount. If able to fly choose “This”, if unable to fly choose “that”, and for my druid, if able to swim choose “seal form”. I have had no problems with it and no warnings from Blizzard.

  28. Darlaan - Sentinals US

    The fear and banish macros work perfect. Thank you so much for posting this! I was able to kill 4 respawning NPCs in a row in Tol Borad while keeping a 5th in fear the whole time. Love how it works.

  29. Methaz

    I have cut and paste the fear focus macro into wow and it just spams in /say over and over and does not work. What am I doing wrong? I have tried the default blizz UI and my shadow unit frame UI. Nothing works? Any ideas?

    Thank You!

  30. Caliria

    This article is awesome- very helpful for a new/old warlock. I started playing when we still had to carry bags for our soul shards around and quit…for over two years. Leveling up has been a strange process. Cataclysm is a new world- thanks for helping me figure stuff out! =)

  31. Incendax

    I’m trying to CC like a pro using Need To Know but I cannot figure out how to make the program track the duration of a CC that is neither my target or my focus.

    For example, I apply DPS to my target, Fear my focus, and Banish my mouseover. How do I make Need to Know track the Banish in this example?

  32. Tyler

    Hey I’m trying to find a macro that will allow me to say in party chat what CLASS i am sapping. (I understand this is blog is for warlocks, but lets imagine i am using Fear instead of Sap)

    all i need it to do in chat is:
    Sapping Mage
    or whatever class i am targetting.
    I’d really appreciate any feedback! 😀

    Tyler D.

    • Meehayi

      #showtooltip Sap
      /cast [stealth, harm] Sap; Stealth *
      /run SetRaidTarget(“target”, 1) **
      /channel name or number msg ***

      * If stealthed and targeting a neutral or hostile enemy, performs Sap, otherwise uses Stealth or cancels it depending on your current form. or you can use simple /cast Sap
      ** sets “star” mark on your target
      ***f.e. /ra Sapping %t.