Oh it can still be useful, largely due to the above mentioned no save slow effect. Still as compared to similar spells like Web and Grease it comes up short. Unlike Web it can't be used to tie up ranged attackers or casters, and due to its slow casting time and large area of effect it can't be used to block off melee attackers with the same efficacy as Grease (which slows and stuns). Sure you can set up some decent combos with it, but a first level crowd control spell isn't something you should need items or higher level spells to get use out of.
I'll grant you that party friendliness may