Cataclysm dungeons are built to keep faces off of keyboards. At current levels of gear, they encourage hunters to make use of the dusty corners of their spellbooks and play roles that, well, they didn’t have to think about much at all in Northrend dungeons. Namely, we have to use crowd control (CC). This post goes over some general advice and then specific tips for hunters regarding this job.
Let’s start with a brief overview of the dungeon basics that carry over from Wrath:
- Keep your pet under control.
- Be careful to not agro nearby trash packs.
- Feign Death before you steal agro, not after.
- If you steal agro, it’s your fault. You are the person in charge of your threat.
- Misdirect to the tank at the beginning of each pull, providing MD is off cooldown.
These general rules still apply, but now Cata has given us more because, well, extra rules come with extra jobs.
1. Be Ready to Crowd Control
Cata dungeons need crowd control. Trash packs often deal too much damage to be taken all at once. As such, it behooves a hunter to be prepared to use Freezing Trap (and Wyvern Sting if SV). If you’ve had no experience CCing before, practicing laying traps for wandering world mobs works fine. Try to get a handle on the following trapping skills because they will likely all come in handy at some point:
- trapping stationary, walking and running mobs
- laying one Freezing trap after another onto the same mob to keep it on lockdown
- using the Trap Launcher quickly and effectively
- avoiding breaking your own CC
- laying a trap so that a mob runs into it upon agro
- pulling a mob out of melee combat (say with your pet) and into a trap
- trapping and Wyvern Stinging at the same time (if you’re SV)
Your goal should be to work the kinks out of your system for CCing before you set foot in a dungeon. Some things will only be learned by trial and error in dungeons, though. For example, it is an open question how many times you’ll have to ask a frost DK to not use Howling Blast right next to your trap.
2. Have an Understanding with Your Group
Silent steamrolling worked fine for the vast majority of Wrath, but Cata dungeons currently require players to coordinate. And coordination requires communication. When you enter a dungeon, make sure that everyone is on the same page about Raid Target Icons, CCing and kill orders. This helps to avoid redundant CCs, broken CCs, stealing agro, mispulls and other potential sources of wipes. The information that you want to be clear and agreed upon includes:
- what the main dps target is (skull on my server)
- which CCs from which players are going onto which Raid Target Icons (square gets trapped on my server)
- whether your traps are going to initiate combat (if not, your trap needs to be in a place where it’ll get run into)
- which CCs are to be broken first (some CCs are better than others)
- if no Raid Target Icons means “go nuts and AoE”
This list assumes difficult pulls. For easier dungeons or at higher levels of gear, “trap square, hunter” or “just assist the tank” may be all anyone needs to know.
3. Accomodate Your CC’s Weaknesses
Our traps have disadvantages. Once a monster is engaged within melee range of the tank, placing our CC on it is pretty much useless and wasteful because it gets broken by any damage (including dots). Trapping is also harder to perform when a mob is already agro’d and running because (1) it requires judging movement direction and speed, and (2) our launched traps require two globals, reticle aiming and flight time to get in place, often making it difficult to snag a mob based on time alone before it reaches the tank. This leaves huter trapping working best when it is proactive and anticipatory. The trap needs to be where the mob will be. The trap needs to be in a location that will be away from sources of damage. If you have a say in the matter, try to be assigned to mobs whose movement you can predict and get locked down in the opening seconds of a fight.
That said, when traps work, they work well. Trapped mobs stay in one place and can be trapped repeatedly. We are really quite good at long-term lockdowns.
For its part, Wyvern Sting is good at snagging a running mob because it is instant cast. However, it suffers compared to traps because not only is it broken by any damage, it also resists chain CCing. It has a duration much shorter than its cooldown and it leaves a dot once broken, making it impossible to subsequently keep the target in a trap or a poly. Wyvern Stings are useful, but are best for targets that need only be CC’d for a short duration.
4. Prioritize Crowd Control Over DPS
Once you know your job for controlling trash, make it a higher priority than dps. CC keeps your group alive, and that’s categorically more important than downing a trash pack a little faster (because you can’t dps if you’re dead). This premise leads to several directives:
- Be willing to forego optimal dps. CCing necessarily requires spending globals on non-damaging abilities, and so your numbers will go down. Fortunately, trapping does not require skipping autoshots, and for SV hunters it can force Lock and Load procs.
- Monitor your your CC. Keeping a target locked down requires paying some attention to both it and the cooldowns on your CC abilities. Addons like NeetoKnow or Power Auras can track the spell cooldown on your Freezing Trap.
- Be proactive about crowd control and don’t leave it until the last second. It is much easier to trap an already-trapped mob than to try and catch a loose one.
- Assume repeated trapping. It is far better for the tank to choose to end a CC by breaking it than for the hunter to make that call by not refreshing a trap.
- Don’t ignore dps. Though CC is a top priority, it is also a tenuous arrangement that can be ruined by player error and resistances. The less time that it has to be maintained the better (all else going smoothly). Optimized dps given maintained crowd control is a good thing.
5. Have a Plan B
Crowd control has enormous potential to go bad. Feared mobs can pull extra packs. Polys and traps can get broken by careless tanking. Traps can get resisted. As yet unknown mobs may end up being immune. For such reasons, it helps to have a plan B. It may be “dps as normal.” However, it may have to be something else like “kite the mob” or “Wyvern Sting it.” Thinking these things out ahead of time and communicating them to the group will help to avoid confusion and maybe even a wipe if things go wrong.
- There are a variety of ways for getting a mob into a trap. You can trap a mob by laying a trap where:
- it is
- it will path to
- it will run to when the pack is agro’d
- it will move when you snag it with a pulling shot
- Use Camouflage for tricky situations. A freezing trap can activate without breaking Camouflage. Note, though, that if nothing else is done to agro the mobs when the trap activates they will reset because they have nothing on their agro tables.
- Targeting the mob you’re trying to trap will cause its hitbox to appear beneath it. This can allow for more precise trap launcher aiming and is particularly nice for mobs that float above the ground or have deceptively small hitboxes.
- Setting your CC target as your Focus is an easy way to allow addons to track your CC even while you don’t have the mob targeted. Granted, it prevents you from using the tank as your Focus for assisting.
- If you’re SV, trap on cooldown rather than merely before expiration in order to proc more Lock and Loads.
If you’re SV, you can extend a Wyvern Sting’s post-CC dot with Cobra Shot.Edit: As Methuus points out below, this is no longer the case.
- It is possible to have two mobs trapped at once, though one has to get its first trap at least placed 24-30 before the other. This strategy works best with SV owing to its faster trap cooldowns and longer trap durations. It’s also worth mentioning that a two-trap strategy can work well when the second trap chains off a non-damaging CC like a Sap or Repentance.
- Edit: I forgot to mention Scatter-Trapping. Look at Scabbers’ comment below for a sense of what that is.
Do you have any additional advice for hunter crowd control? If so, please share it in a comment below.