Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Fear: the King of Crowd Control?

Me and my friends were going through a low level WSG battleground when we ran into the problem of a flag carrier being escorted by two warlocks. As any of the melees on our side got close to the carrier they were feared which effectively kept them from ever catching back up to the flag carrier. We did have one hunter on our side and his concussion shot did slow them down a bit but he could never get in range to use wing clip. As our enemies returned the flag for the third time using this method my teamspeak channel broke out into a ton of complaints about how overpowering fear is at the moment. Usually not one to call for nerfs I got into a discussion about just how effective fear was as crowd control.

There are several types of fear spells but the ones most often complained about are the Warlock's deadly duo of fear and deathcoil. Warlock's have the standard fear spell which on average always seems to last longer then ten seconds. This time can effectively be extended with the use of deathcoil which is a shorter but irremovable version of fear. This makes warlock fear one of the longest lasting crowd control abilities in the game with only sap and polymorph lasting longer. However, both of those abilities automatically break when the target takes damage.

The crux of the complaints about fear stem from the change made with the way it interacts with Damage over Time spells. It used to be that every time damage was dealt to a feared target there was a chance to break the spell. This made the spell fairly balanced except that warlocks who were the main users of fear were very dependent on DoT spells. Plus there were rumors that people used low level DoTs on themselves to beat raid bosses that feared. Thus the rules were eventually changed so that only the initial damage of a spell had a chance to break fear. Thus DoT spells went from having a very high chance to break fear to a very low chance. This change combined with fear's effectiveness in PvP is why many claim that spell is overpowered.

Liability in PvE but Benefit in PvP
1) Aggro Management: Fear in PvE has to be used carefully so that the feared target doesn't aggro more mobs which will then attack you. Yet in PvP combat the feared target is the one who is attacked by any added mobs. Thus fear gains an added boost to its effectiveness during world combat and battlegrounds with mobs.

2) Range Control: Fear is the perfect ability to gain range on your target. While in PvE it can be annoying to have to chase your target to recast your DoTs it becomes quite beneficial in some forms of PvP. Mainly any type of PvP that involves flag capture or running since the crowd control spell effectively allows the claiming of the flag without having to kill your target.

If you look at how Fear works you can see that by its very nature its not an effective PvE crowd control method. In fact the only time Warlocks are in demand for a raid or group instance is when their banish ability is needed. Inside a dungeon you are almost never going to see anyone use fear since it is too chaotic and unpredictable. Yet this becomes its strength in PvP combat where your opponents can be controlled for a long time and perhaps even killed by one spell alone. Thus Fear is the ultimate PvP crowd control ability but is balanced by its uselessness in most PvE instances. Still since players compete directly in PvP most only ever see the overpowering side of Fear.


Anonymous said...

Warlock's have the standard fear spell which can be improved with talents


In BC, you can take howl of terror to a .5 second cast. But currently there is no talent a warlock has to "improve" fear.

Anonymous said...

I hate fear. That is all. :P

Relmstein said...

Bah was looking at the BC talent calculators.

It seems to me the standard strategy is to use deathcoil followed by the DoTs then the normal fear. The DoTs already existing on the target won't break the newly cast normal fear I believe. Deathcoil isn't a talent but it deffinitely improves the working of the normal fear spell.

Anonymous said...

I don't know the order, but I'm always corrupted and deathcoiled and feared and what have you non-stop instantaneously a lot. It's the warlock version of one-shotting me.

My only joy, if I have the opportunity, is to fire off my pet at the clothie, give her intimidation, then rage, and watch the clothie's health drop. Fire a viper sting and watch the mana drop. My pet's a cat too, so claw, claw, claw, claw... with horrible tearing sounds.

I can only hope that she is virtually eating the liver of every clothie she tears apart.

Because sheepers and feardealers deserve the worst death uncivilized beasts can offer: To be torn apart by wild animals.

P.S. I'm not a fan of the fearing and dotting classes. I can't wait to join their ranks myself with my Blood Elf.

Relmstein said...

The beastmaster tree will be the ultimate fear killer in the expansion. A properly specced hunter should be able to make both him and his pet immune to most crowd control effects long enough to kill most cloth classes.

I think the only reason warlocks were given such powerful fear abilities was because the class had such a problem dealing with rogues. Especially rogues with will of the forsaken.

yunk said...

"If you look at how Fear works you can see that by its very nature its not an effective PvE crowd control method"

Um .. excuse me? Fear is a warlock's only choice when soloing. Unless you want to force them to spec so their pet takes damage and to only use the blueberry and no other pets when soloing. Having it break on damage means it never lasts the full duration.

One of the big complaints I have is PvE effectivesness is constantly nerfed due to PvP whining. Do I hate getting feared? Sure! But I don't think it needs a nerf. It already has a chance to break on damage, that's enough for me. And my priest's psychic scream is pretty much shot now thanks to the warlock nerfing. Rarely does PS last more than 2 seconds since the chance to break on damage now makes it break with the meagerest of dots. And over half the time it gets resisted anyway.

BTW, I also hate getting stunned by paladins, by rogues, getting sheeped, counterspelled, seduced, and I REALLY hate hunters who can keep me from casting with their their pets or with concussion or distracting shots and keep me far enough away i can use psychic scream (i hated them on my rogue too). Big deal. Everyone complains about other people's classes but always thinks their own classes are balanced.

One of my big pet peeves is complaining about CC. We all hate it but that's part of the game - some classes have more CC than others, the ones that have less have other abilities. Warlocks are fine, fear is fine, it's not worse than any other CC ability.

Saylah said...

Warlocks definitely pwn much face with Fear, not to mention Deathcoil on top of that. My warlock was already level 60 before the DC patch so I didn't get to use if for soloing. But when I was farming, pity the fool that tried to attack me unprovoked. He/she got a DC, Imp Agony, Imm and Corr. If that didnt scare the bejezus out of them and they came back for more, Fear, SPain and SB them into the ground.

I will say that I used fear in my leveling days as an escape hatch. Unlike many Warlocks that I see now who use it as an opener and spam it to hell. I tried, as best I could, to conduct my pwnage with some class. MUHAHA.

Now that I'm on the receiving end, I really hate people that spam fear. I never recall doing that to people. Only exception might have been those sneaky rogues. If you want to jump me while you're vanished, you get what you get. I was Demo spec'd until 60 so surviving wasn't an issue. And once I got raid gear and went Afflic - well, I DOT you and basically, you die. Hmm, why did I stop playing that toon?

But if we want to raise voices for a nerf, the amount of stuns a rogue can lay down on a target is very annoying.

yunk said...

Yeah those affliction locks don't even need fear. how can you call it a dot when it kills me in 2 ticks? :P

Relmstein said...

Haha, the first time I fought a DoT and Fear class back in Everquest I swore DoT stood for (Dead on Target).

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