How does mob aggro range/kiting work?

Can someone explain to me how mob aggro range works? Why do mobs run away after you run a certain distance from where you pulled? Is there like a virtual “tether,” the length of which correlates with the amount of threat you have?

As I remember, you had to repeatedly tag a mob to keep kiting it. If you’re outside it’s “spawn zone” and don’t tag it (hit or shoot it) then it will retreat back. Many mobs could be kited indefinitely… Some blizzard designed with or hot fixed to have a “lasso” (virtual anchor) that will cause them to retreat back to their path, even if you keep tagging them.

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So if a mob is being kited by player x and player y also has some threat on it, if player x stops hitting it will the mob attack player y or will it run back to its spawn?

That depends. The second player would have to damage it before it’s commanded to retreat. If they are not grouped, it will likely retreat. There’s a ton of variables for mob behavior, and it can vary from mob to mob. In some instances grouped players could rotate kiting responsibility, if there’s an aggro reducer (like feign death). In some cases trying to rotate kiting will reset the mob.

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Kiting is a little more difficult on regular mobs, you have to maintain that distance of ‘can’t touch me but I can range hit you’, keep the occasional damage coming in, and not get too far out of that area once you’ve pulled them beyond their normal area so they don’t go ‘evade’ and run back to their assigned spot.

Elites will keep chasing you though, so they can be a bit easier.

the distance to trigger a mob to attack you is a function of the difference between your level and theirs. gray mobs you have to practical step on to get to attack you because they’re far weaker. red are over your level and come from a huge range. skull (boss or way over your level like a pvp guard) will come from screens away so be wary of the other factions towns.

this is the evade mechanic. mobs are designed to not leave their original area otherwise you would never be able to leave combat. point in fact in several of the betas the evade flag was missing from some mobs and they LITERALLY chased you across the entire world until you or they died. after 30m of this you had a literal zombie apocalypse horde of mobs wiping entire zones. happened especially in auchindoun during the TBC beta that I recall. it was like roving weather reports trying to dodge the carnage :smiley:

threat is a different mechanic. the evade works by range and combat. the rule in classic is if you don’t get hit or hit anything for 5 seconds (+/- next server tick) you drop combat IF the mob would exceed their evade tether range before reaching you again. so basically if you pull too many mobs running away is a viable way to trigger evade and reset the mobs and try again.

evade only works outdoors. mobs in dungeon instances can and will keep on chasing you until death. they can only be evaded in specific glitch situations or specific player abilities (vanish/feign death/etc).

all your abilities generate various amounts of threat. if your threat is #1 for that mob you take ‘aggro’ for that mob and it comes for you instead. so if you heal a tank and a tank hasn’t smacked that mob yet with some ability your healer may have aggro on a mob due to being highest threat. the tank needs to hit that mob and pass your threat on the mob to become aggro for it over you. the amount varies based on proximity to the mob so ranged want to stay away from tanked mobs when/if they can

The question you should have asked is “what’s the NPC combat timer?”

after x stops attacking it his threat on the mob will be X. Y would have to perform activities (attack, heal x, buff x) to pass x on the threat list. if he passes x by 10% and is in melee range he can take on aggro. it would have to be >30% at range. if x drops combat somehow then the mob would immediately come for #2 on his list which may or may not be player y.

in general a mob will not evade reset to their original position until all players that have threat on his ‘table’ have left the table by running away or leaving combat in some manner.

so kiting between two hunters using distracting shot to keep juggling the mobs attention is a common method

I’m having flashbacks of Everquest mobs chasing me to the next zone. “TRAIN TO ZONE!!!” and people would scatter. Or I’d run into the next zone, there was always a loading screen, and there’d be 20 mobs standing around waiting to shred anybody who appeared until they finally reset. I appreciated WoW’s improvements to mob tethering.

You can definitely kite things indefinitely if you keep hitting them every once in awhile in vanilla, as evidenced by Kazzak’s infamous Stormwind vacation. Hell, I took some other mobs from the Blasted Lands to Stormwind once.

yep kazzak and other raid bosses of the time had no evade enabled. kazzak does now so that cant happen in classic. tho the dragons can be.