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Crowd control (often abbreviated to CC) refers to spells and abilities which limit an opponents ability to participate in a fight. Crowd control abilities can be divided into two distinct categories: loss of control abilities, and positional control abilities.

Loss of control abilities are such that when used, the target loses the ability to participate in a battle (be it an NPC or player). They are essentially taken out of play for the duration of the controlling spell. Positional control abilities, however, do not remove control over the unit but may hinder it in some other form (target may still use its abilities to an extent).

All raid bosses are immune to all forms of crowd control. Elite mobs may or may not have high resistance to, or be immune to, specific CC that would normally work on their non-elite counterparts. Player characters are susceptible to most forms of CC, but are subject to Diminishing Returns.

Within the two categories discussed, further forms of crowd control exist, similar to the way magical spells are divided in to schools (e.g. Holy, Shadow):

  • Loss of control
    • Charm: target is under control of the caster.
    • Fear: target runs randomly around.
    • Stun (controlled and random): target is unable to move or perform any actions.
    • Incapacitate: a stun which breaks on damage to the target.
    • Sleep: target is put to sleep, unable to move or perform any actions.
    • Disorient: target wanders around slowly, unable to perform actions.
    • Polymorph: target is transformed into a critter, unable to perform actions. Most Polymorph effects also include Disorient.
    • Banish: target is made immune to all effects but is unable to perform any.
    • Horror: similar to Fear effect, but duration tends to be short.
  • Positional control
    • Snare: targets movement speed is limited, often slowed to below normal run speed.
    • Root (controlled and random): target is locked in place, stationery, but abilities may still be performed.
    • [Dazed]: targets movement speed is reduced to 50%, and dismounted if applicable.
    • Grip: targets are pulled from their original position, often having spells interrupted.

However, as of Warlords of Draenor, the number of CC types with diminishing returns in PvP was drastically reduced to just six types: Roots, Stuns, Incapacitates (including Polymorph, Sap, Charm and Sleep types), Disorients (including Fear, Horrify, and Cyclone), Silences, and AoE Knockbacks. While Snares continued to exist, they were never affected by DRs and hence never given a classification during this transition.

Class abilities

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The following table details a list of all crowd control abilities throughout the 10 classes.

Ability Type Class Tree Duration
[Asphyxiate] Stun Death Knight Multiple 5??
[Chains of Ice] Snare Death Knight Multiple ??
[Gnaw] Stun (controlled) Death Knight Pet ability 3/3
[Hungering Cold] Incapacitate Death Knight Frost 10/10
[Chaos Nova] Stun Demon Hunter Havoc ??/??
[Fel Eruption] Stun Demon Hunter Havoc ??/??
[Imprison] Incapacitate Demon Hunter All 4/60
[Imprison] ( [Detainment]) Banish Demon Hunter PvP Talent 5/5
[Master of the Glaive] Snare Demon Hunter Havoc ??/??
[Metamorphosis] Stun Demon Hunter Havoc ??/??
[Sigil of Chains] Snare Demon Hunter Vengeance ??/??
[Sigil of Misery] Disorient Demon Hunter Vengeance ??/??
[Mighty Bash] Stun (controlled) Druid Talent 4-5/4-5
[Cyclone] Banish Druid Multiple 6/6
[Entangling Roots] Root (controlled) Druid All 10/27
[Hibernate] Sleep Druid All 10/40
[Maim] Stun (controlled) Druid Feral 1-5/1-5
[Mass Entanglement] Root Druid Talented 30??
[Pounce] Stun (controlled) Druid Feral 3-4/3-4
[Entrapment] Root (random) Hunter Survival 4/4
[Freezing Trap] Incapacitate Hunter Survival 10/20
[Pin] Root (controlled) Hunter Pet ability 4/4
[Scare Beast] Fear Hunter Beast Mastery 10/20
[Scatter Shot] Disorientate Hunter Survival 4/4
[Intimidation] Stun (controlled) Hunter Pet ability 3/3
[Ravage] Stun (controlled) Hunter Pet ability 2/2
[Sonic Blast] Stun (controlled) Hunter Pet ability 2/2
[Wyvern Sting] Sleep Hunter Survival 6/30
[Deep Freeze] Stun (controlled) Mage Frost 5/5
[Dragon's Breath] Disorientate Mage Fire 5/5
Freeze Root (controlled) Mage Pet ability 8/8
[Frost Nova] Root (controlled) Mage Frost 8/8
[Polymorph] Polymorph Mage Arcane 8/50
[Shattered Barrier] Root (random) Mage Frost 8/8
[Slow] Snare Mage Arcane 15/15
[Frostbolt] Snare (controlled) Mage Frost 9/9
[Clash] Root Monk Brewmaster ??
[Disable] Snare Monk Windwalker ??
[Flying Serpent Kick] Snare Monk Windwalker ??
[Keg Smash] Snare Monk Brewmaster ??
[Leg Sweep] Stun Monk All 5??
[Paralysis] Incapacitate Monk Windwalker ??/60
[Blinding Light] Disorient Paladin Talent 6??
[Hammer of Justice] Stun (controlled) Paladin All 6/6
[Hand of Hindrance] Snare Paladin Retribution 10??
[Repentance] Incapacitate Paladin Talent 6/60
[Turn Evil] Fear Paladin Holy 10/20
[Wake of Ashes] Snare Paladin Retribution 5??
[Mind Control] Charm Priest Shadow 8/30
[Psychic Horror] Horror Priest Shadow 3/3
[Psychic Scream] Fear Priest Shadow 8/8
[Shackle Undead] Stun (controlled) Priest Discipline 8/50
[Holy Word: Chastise] Stun (controlled) Priest Holy 3/3
[Sin and Punishment] Horror Priest Shadow 3/3
[Blind] Disorientate Rogue Subtlety 10/10
[Cheap Shot] Stun (controlled) Rogue Assassination 4/4
[Gouge] Incapacitate Rogue Combat 4-5.5/4
[Kidney Shot] Stun (controlled) Rogue Assassination 2-6/6
[Sap] Incapacitate Rogue Subtlety 10/60
[Bash] Stun (controlled) Shaman Pet ability 2/2
[Earthbind Totem] Snare Shaman Elemental 45/45
[Stoneclaw Totem] Stun (random) Shaman Elemental 3/3
[Hex] Polymorph Shaman Elemental 10/30
[Banish] Banish Warlock Demonology 6/30
[Death Coil] Horror Warlock Affliction 3/3
[Fear] Fear Warlock Affliction 10/20
[Howl of Terror] Fear Warlock Affliction 8/8
[Intercept] Stun (controlled) Warlock Pet ability 1.5/1.5
[Seduction] Stun (controlled) Warlock Pet ability 10/15
[Shadowfury] Stun (controlled) Warlock Destruction 3/3
[Charge] Stun (controlled) Warrior Arms 1.5/1.5
[Concussion Blow] Stun (controlled) Warrior Protection 5/5
[Intercept] Stun (controlled) Warrior Protection 1.5/1.5
[Hamstring] Snare (controlled) Warrior Arms 10/15
[Improved Hamstring] Root (controlled) Warrior Arms 5/5
[Intimidating Shout] Fear Warrior Fury 8/8
[Shockwave] Stun (controlled) Warrior Protection 4/4

Duration numbers are outlined as PvP first, PvE second (PvP/PvE)

Long duration crowd control summary

The following class abilities will take a mob out of the fight for 20 seconds or longer and are thus commonly used for PvE content. Caution should be taken, however, with Fear effects due to the nature of the control causing the target to run around which can cause problems in PvE by aggroing other mobs. This can be minimised by the use of new glyph additions such as Glyph of Fear which essentially root a target in fear.

Death Knight Demon Hunter Druid Hunter Mage Monk Paladin Priest Rogue Shaman Warlock Warrior
Any [Entangling Roots] [Freezing Trap]
Wyvern Sting
[Paralysis] [Fear]
Abberration [Banish]
Beast [Imprison] [Hibernate] Scare Beast [Polymorph] [Sap] [Hex]
Demon [Imprison] [Turn Evil]
[Sap] [Banish]
Enslave Demon
Dragonkin [Hibernate] [Repentance] [Sap]
Elemental [Entangling Roots] [Freezing Trap] Bind Elemental [Banish]
Giant [Repentance]
Humanoid [Imprison] [Polymorph] [Repentance] [Mind Control] [Sap] [Hex] [Seduction]
Undead [Control Undead] [Turn Evil]
[Shackle Undead]

PvE strategy

Main article: Instance grouping guide for a crowd controller

The strategy for crowd control was generally well understood in vanilla World of Warcraft and the Burning Crusade expansion. During the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, use of crowd control diminished as it was not well suited to the AoE based tanking style of play that the expansion favoured. With the release of the Cataclysm expansion, crowd control is once again used frequently in instances.

Raid icons

To use crowd control effectively in an instance, it is necessary to select and communicate which mobs will be controlled. This is most commonly done through the assignment of raid icons and the establishment of a default "kill order" based on the icons chosen. For example, it is customary for players to treat a mob marked with a skull icon as the first target to be killed, followed by X. At the other end, it is often customary to use the moon icon as the "last target" to be killed, and to designate that target for a repeatable crowd control such as the spell [Polymorph]. The blue square is also commonly used for this purpose. The star icon is often associated with the rogue's [Sap] ability, and is also often associated as a third or fourth target in the kill order. This dual-meaning is partly due to the fact that Sap may only be used at the beginning of the fight, so it is necessary to kill the rogue's target as the fight progresses sooner than other targets that may be crowd controlled indefinitely.

It is reccomended that the kill order be established to include the order in which crowd controlled targets will be killed (for example, one could declare that square will be killed before moon). Repeatable crowd control abilities should be kept last in the order, for maximum effect. In the event that group participants confuse the targets and go out of order, is generally best to follow the tank's lead. If possible, crowd control the other target instead. To aid in preventing confusion, group leaders might consider assigning the skull icon to a key and then progressively assigning the icon to the preferred target as each previous target is killed.


To effectively employ most forms of crowd control, it is necessary to avoid causing damage to a target that will break the effect prematurely. For this reason, tanks should take care to pull the fighting mobs a short distance away from controlled ones so that AoE abilities will not cause accidental damage. One way to mitigate this problem is to select casters or ranged-attackers to be controlled, or to use line of sight tactics.

If the crowd control fails and the mob enters the fray, the player may have to abandon the use of crowd control. It is particularly difficult to apply crowd control once there are DoT effects on the target. If possible, select an alternative target and announce the change of targets.


Players responsible for the application of crowd control are well advised to take advantage of macros. A common strategy is to assign a focus target and use a macro to cast the crowd control ability on the focus target without diselecting the current target.

Warlords of Draenor

Main article: Patch 6.0.2#Crowd control and diminshing returns

With Warlords of Draenor the amount of crowd control in the game will be dramatically reduced, and the number of diminishing returns categories reduced.

For the lastest announced patch changes, see Patch 6.0.2.