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.
CROWD CONTROL IS A REQUIREMENT 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.
THIS FAR! NO FURTHER.
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.
DO ONE THING WELL, NOT TWO THINGS POORLY
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.
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.
CC FOCUS 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
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.
NEVER DROP A BEAT
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.
WARLOCK TIPS AND TRICKS
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.
THROWING DOWN THE GAUNTLET
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.