A comment I made in a recent podcast interview touched off a tad bit of a twitter explosion as folks argued about tanking and crowd control.  I believe what I said was something along the lines of tanking can be a form of crowd control.  I tried to explain what I meant via twitter, but in 140 characters replying to a handful of people it gets very hard.  So, I figured I’d step back and explain what I meant as well as provide a few examples of my logic.  Notice I mention “my logic” such that I’m not claiming it is right or the best way to do it, but how I look at it.

Tanking usually refers to the practice of making a mob (or many) so mad at you or believe you are the most threatening person in the group that they attack you and not your friends.  Crowd control (CC) typically refers to some sort of knockout that keeps a mob out of a fight for a period of time.  In LOTRO, typically the tanks are Guardians or Wardens while usually Loremasters and Burglars excel at CC.  I’m pretty sure most in the discussion were in agreement with these loose definitions.

What I was trying to get at was the idea that in a group setting, CC and tanking can result in similar looks for the other group members in that they’re doing their thing (healing, damage, etc) and not being bothered by the other mobs.  When approaching a fight the goal is always to meet your objectives (usually killing something) while not dying, which usually means keeping things off your healers.  One option is to CC mobs and deal with them later, another can be to tank them and pick them off one at a time.  Either way, then end result is the same in that nothing hits the group resulting in a happy and successful group.

A very common place this comes up is during challenge (or hard) modes of boss encounters.  Many times there will be a condition that certain mobs need to stay alive until the boss dies, or some such variation.  One way is to just CC said mobs and keep them in a corner until they can be killed, but another option is for a tank to grab that mob and keep him occupied in said corner.  One fight in particular that springs to mind is the last fight in the Grand Stairs with the archers and the Devoted.  The Devoted must not die to preserve hard mode and the archers are just annoying to everyone.  One way I’ve handled this fight on my Warden is to grab all three and hang out healing, taunting, and generally occupying them while the rest of the group deals with the boss.  The Devoted is immune to most CC, but the archers certainly can be locked down in the traditional sense such that the fight both ways would look pretty similar for the rest of the group.

After all this, all I intended to say was that there are many ways to succeed in encounters in LOTRO and depending on the leader and group makeup you may lean one way or another.  In my case, I’m a pretty arrogant (and successful) Warden and I’m more then comfortable grabbing everything in the room (controlling the crowd) and letting the group pick things off one by one.  But if my group happens to have a Burg or LM, I’m quite happy to have them keep something busy and make my job easier.  And on the flip side, if we can’t find a true CC class, most of the time there are other ways to handle the encounter to still succeed, albeit not necessarily the most optimal solution.  The end result is very similar and if you’re flexible about your strategies and groups you can accomplish quite a bit with non-traditional means or implementations of tactics.

For me, I look at a general crowd control term, that includes both tanking and traditional CC, which refers to the overall tactic of keeping the fight moving in the direction you want it to.  I don’t try to label folks as tank, off-tank, CC, etc. but more how they fit into a particular fight as your role can change quite a bit during a raid or even a fight.  I’m confident in the fact that all classes can fit multiple roles and as such usually try to figure out how different pieces can all fit into the puzzle to work through a particular encounter based on what tools we have on hand.

Hopefully this clears up a bit of where my comment was coming from, but certainly let me know if it isn’t clear.