Category Archives: Add-On

Addon Options for Healer Problems

Hello, Zelmaru here, minding the blog while Tarinae is away.  Today we’re going to talk about Addon Options for the most common healer problems.

I have a confession.  I was not always a Grid user.  Until WOTLK, I used… X-perl for raid frames.  The HORROR.

Here’s a screenie.

I cringe when I see it now.  However, at the time, it was totally adequate for my needs and what I needed to track.

My point is this: addons are there, and infinitely customizable, to help you see what YOU need to see.  Before you start blindly switching the way you do things, you should be feeling “hey, my healing would be much more effective IF I had a way of knowing…”

This article is intended to point you to some addons that might help you with specific problems you’re having healing.

1.  Group and Raid Frames

There are 3 widely accepted “healer raid frames.”  However, depending on what you need to track, you can do just as well with raid frames from a general unit frames addon.  I would advise against the default frames.  I find them difficult to click on and change targets.

Healer Raid Frames

Grid, Healbot, and VuhDo.

Healbot is a good “starter” frame as you make the transition to healing raid frames.  It is easy to set up and configured to work “out of the box.” However, you may end up wishing you could do more customization.  After that, you would choose Grid or VuhDo, especially if you are frustrated with limited hot-tracking capabilities.

VuhDo is “all-in-one.”  You download it.  You configure its options.  That’s it.  In configuration mode, it creates “dummy” groups, so you know how it will look in a raid setting.

Grid is very “sparse” in features in its base version and is almost unusable out of the box.

You would have to download a significant number of plugins to get to the funtionality of VuhDo’s base options.  This can be good or bad.  There is something to be said for adding only the features you need – but the frustration of dealing with multiple plugins can be a bit much.

Bottom line: Healbot is easy but not particularly customizable.  VuhDo and Grid are similar in customizing options, with VuhDo having a slight edge in user-friendliness.  There are only a very few things that I do in Grid that can’t be done in VuhDo, and I suspect vice versa.

(Stock Photos from Curse.com)

General Unit frames

Shadowed Unit Frames is the one I would recommend.  It comes pretty nicely configured “out of the box” and its menus are easy to understand.


(Stock photo from wowinterface.  I’m not sure about how much customization you have to do to get it to look like this.)

Runners-up are Pitbull and X-perl.  Pitbull is more difficult than Shadowed Unit Frames to set up because it seemed (to me) to be more code-y in its customization.  X-perl has an easy and intuitive menu, but comes out of the box with a lot of “shinies” that you will need to disable because they hog space and memory and are distracting.  A 3D portrait is always a mistake and a waste of space.

Frame MUST-HAVES: Target Status Tracking (Hots, buffs, and debuffs)

If your frames can’t show debuffs that you can cleanse, you need to pick different frames.  The display needs to be obvious, and not just a teeny-tiny debuff at the end of the buff line.  Good options include changing the color of the entire box or box border to highlight a negative effect.

I would advise against a stand-alone mod such as Decursive.  You are already looking at your raid frames in order to heal – having to look at a second set of frames will slow down your reaction times and you may potentially miss a status needing a cleanse.

What else you will need to track depends on your class, spell choices, and raid assignment.  While druids require a unit frame that tracks hots in a detailed manner, a shaman may not need such sophisticated tracking.  In general, both VuhDo and Grid (+GridStatusHots) are excellent for HOT tracking.

Links

These links are just to get you started – no advanced scary stuff.

Grid: Old Wow.com Guide – still very relevant, though from 2008.

Getting Started with Grid by One More Alt.

Tamarind’s 5-part Guide to Vuhdo – very step-by-step from beginning to end.

2. Your Status Tracking – your buffs, procs, etc

I don’t know about you, but I need something to remind me to refresh inner fire and to tell me when surge of light procs (feet sparklies are NOT GOOD ENOUGH).

There are two good options for this: Power Auras and TellMeWhen.

Both of these addons can be configured to show you when something is there (i.e. a proc) or not-there (i.e. a buff).

TellMeWhen has very basic options, and is what I recommend for the beginner.  Essentially you get “toolbars” of icons, and you can set them up as you wish.  The bar of icons can be shown:
(1) in combat only or at all times; and
(2) in one spec only or in both specs.


See the circled area?  There’s a big fat fire on the top row.  That means I don’t have inner fire on.  I’m so fail.  Don’t worry about the other icons, we’ll get to them later.

Power Auras is a more advanced version.  You can display your notification as any effect you want (not just an icon of the target) and has display options beyond in/out of combat and spec.  However, it is far more difficult to set up.


And that’s my inner fire indicator in Power Auras.  Though I didn’t necessarily have to use the icon, I could have used any other glowy thing available in power auras, like the glow I have assigned to clearcasting proccing on my tree.


One last alternative, Mik’s Scrolling Battle Text.  Instead of a static on-screen visual indicator of important statuses coming (and going), you could be notified through scrolling text.  If you do it this way, you’ll have to filter out a lot of extraneous information, and there’s always a chance you’ll miss a notification as it scrolls by.

Links

Guide to Tellmewhen by An Absolutely Ordinary Priest

Wow.com’s guide to Power Auras

3.  Cast Timing

Do you cast mostly “by feel”, and find yourself trying to cast a spell before the previous spell has finished, or casting a spell “late” after the previous spell has DEFINITELY finished.  A spell cast timer might be what you need for efficiently stringing together those casts.

A “casting bar” or circle (or both!) can help you heal more efficiently by giving you information on when your cast will finish, when the global cooldown will finish, and when it is “safe” to start casting the next spell (latency information).

Quartz is what most people use for a cast bar.  It is nicely configurable, and shows latency at the end of the bar.  However, its GCD timer is just lousy.  If you’re not a GCD-slinger like a druid, this may not be a big deal.

But if the end of the GCD is of crucial importance to you, I recommend that you get the GCD addon (inventive name, right?)  GCD creates a circle around your cursor with a little white spark for GCD, and a green spark for your cast time (turning red when it hits the “latency safe zone” where you can begin the next spell.)  After all, you are looking at your cursor as you mouse over healing targets.  You might as well have important information there.

4.  Cooldown Tracking

A cooldown tracker for especially your short abilities, such as Penance, Swiftmend, Riptide, and Holy Shock, is a good idea.  If you hit an ability, only to discover it’s on cooldown, that wastes precious time that you could be using to hit a different ability and save the day.

Fortunately, for you, many of these addons do double duty.  Both TellMeWhen and Power Auras can be configured to show whether an ability is on or off cooldown (or you can show the ability at all times, with a timer to signify when it will come off cooldown).  I prefer showing abilities that are available to me and not showing those on cooldown, but that’s personal preference.

In fact, the way I had them set up was just about the same:


Here I am on my priest using TellMeWhen.  Penance, Prayer of Mending, Pain Supp, and Divine Hymn are all ready and available.

Here I am on the druid using Power Auras.  As you can see, Wild Growth, Swiftmend, Nature’s Swiftness, and Innervate are all available.

If that format doesn’t appeal to you, here’s something completely different: ForteXorcist.  The icons of abilities coming off cooldown are arranged on a line and they march toward zero in the order they will come off cooldown.

Now, Forte isn’t just a cooldown addon.  It’s very cool and can do a lot of stuff.  If you only want it for cooldowns, you’re going to have to disable a lot of crap.

Dotimer.  Dotimer creates countdown bars for your cooldowns.

Again, it has other modules (its main purpose is dot tracking) so you may need to modify or disable certain parts.

And of course, there’s Mik’s Scrolling Battle Text that we talked about earlier.

5. Target Switching and faster casting

There are two main methods to save time in casting.

(1) Mouseover Macros
(2) click-healing

Mouseover Macros work on every frame, even default frames, and are configured using the in-game macro interface.  You simply write it as follows: /cast [@mouseover] spellname.  Seriously.  There are guides for fancying it up, but this macro will cast the spell on whatever your mouse is hovering over.  This eliminates the “two step” of selecting the target and THEN pressing the hotkey to cast the spell.

Click healing can be accomplished with Clique.  This is for people who want to bind a heal to “shift-left-click” etc – a mouse click plus a modifier.  Again, no need for the “two-step”.  Hover over the frame and “shift-click” away.


Clique is not necessary for Healbot or Vuhdo, since they have built-in click healing mechanisms.

Links

Grid + Clique Guide from Pain Suppression – don’t get scared by all the grid stuff, just read the Clique how-to part.

Leaf Head’s Ultra-Terse Guide to Mouseover Macros..

6. Not standing in fire

Fooled you, this isn’t an addon issue.  This is a “where it is on your screen” issue.  Every raid frame, even the default ones, can MOVE.

Break out of the thinking that Blizzard put the group frames “top left” for a reason, and put the frames where it will most benefit YOU.  I stick them right under my feet.

In Conclusion

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are a ton of addons or in-game macros that can help you with your healing needs.  You may find an addon that is not listed here incredibly useful.

The important thing to remember is that the addon needs to work for YOU.  First, identify a need that you have.  Then search out the addon that fits that need.

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Tuesday with Tarinae 5/25

I have been so excited about this post! Recently, I had been in the dumps and felt forced to find something newsish to write about or something but not this time. I still haven’t got my computer back but I have been keeping up with my reader and had virtual post-it notes in twitter for on the go resources! Yay me and my ingenuity so I can post this anywhere! And now, on to the srs bsns (I love saying that!)

Site Announcements

Something I have been meaning to mention for a while are some changes that I had finally finished around this site. First off, I have finished up my EPIC About Me and The Toons pages. I really enjoy the way the both turned out and I still have hopes to do new character introductions but for now only active end-game characters are reported there. Also, reflecting that, I have updated the armory links on the *points* left sidebar. If you’re in a reader, you are missing out on my EPIC graphic skills. Nah, not really but I am very proud of they way they turned out too! Also, thanks to Zelmaru and my post on Blog Azeroth, I have fixed the chicklet on the *points again* left sidebar. It now reads “Feedburner Click to Subscribe”…this is written so that people who are new to the site won’t click the default RSS feed that I cannot change to my feedburner. I also try to keep my blog roll up-to-date and it will be dated for the last updates!

I am also going to be attempting to work with the post scheduleing thing as my summer position will require me to be at work Tuesday mornings at 8:30, I want to get my Tuesday goodness out to you guys, but I am…still…a noob, so don’t laugh if I mess something up horribly.

Gendered Gaming

Holding a BA in Sociology, the way gamers interact is pretty interesting. Especially the way that people interact based on gender. Mary Varn of NPCcomic recently conducted a poll of whether or not gamers perceived it was harder to be a gamer guy or a gamer girl. The results were astounding that guy gamers believe that it is harder to be a guy gamer. This could be stereotype related or for other reasons; it could also be related to the ratio of male players to female players because both genders believed it was harder to be their particular gender. Other bloggers have also been hitting on the idea of gender lately; links:

Augmented Virtual Reality (AVR)

This blue post announces that the very popular AVR mod for raiding encounters will be broken as of patch 3.3.5:

This is a notice that we’re making changes in 3.3.5 in attempts to break the ability for the AVR (Augmented Virtual Reality) mod to continue  functioning. For those unaware, this mod allows players to draw in the 3D space of the game world, which can then be shared with others who are also using the mod. In some cases this manifests itself through drawing/tagging/defacing the game world, but more popularly is used to give visual guides for dungeon and raid encounters.

I am not a big user of a lot of popular addons, I have a very bare list of mods actually and a lot of standard UI features. Therefore, I am not qualified to discuss the impact of this change but have read a lot about it from these great bloggers:

Cataclysm Models

Something I am not going to be posting or discussing much here is Cataclysm models. However, I myself am very interested in a couple of them; specifically:

Big thanks to Aphroditi of Fel Fire for doing the links on twitter!

Medicate yourself!

I promise that I stealed this with permission! I cannot even begin to describe how much I laughed at this and it even cracked my evil boyfriend’s grin 🙂

If you haven’t seen it’s original post it’s because you are not checking out the awesomeness that is OddCraft! Vrykerion does a great job at reporting the oddities that exist in the World of WarOddCraft!

Good luck, Gaz!

Gazimoff of The Mana Obscura has taken to publishing a podcast now, The Obscurecast! First episode was up on May 13th so this good luck wish is a little late but it is never too late for encouragement! Taking the step to put yourself out there in such a big way can be a little scary but have no fear, he does a great job!

A Final Thought & Good-bye

As a final thought, as it has been a busy week, the Auction House Remote Beta is now active to all US realms. You can collect mail/gold from auctions, browse, bid, buy, and create all from the WOW Armory App. This app is accessible for free for iPhone users. For those without iPhone/iPod/iPad access, the web version is also in testing is accessible through the standard armory page. After the beta test is over, the remote service will require a subscription fee of 2.99. This service also comes with its own FAQ from Blizzard. Cynwise has also shown us all how to use our Level 1’s from the armory!

Overall, I have had an exciting week of catching up on my reader and I have gotten great reviews from my healer coordination post! Thanks to all my readers! I haven’t been able to (really) play with the lack of a PC really but you guys make it all better…like a giant Greater Heal Holy Light!

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Filed under Add-On, Patches & X-Packs, Tuesday with Tarinae

Add-on Analysis: NeedtoKnow

I am not a fan of running a lot of add-ons. I recently had to downgrade my video card for fan issues and have more lag than ever. I lost about 30 fps on average and have a new found appreciation for running with few add-ons. There are a few that I have decided however, that I cannot LIVE without. NeedtoKnow is one of them. This is a buff timer add-on with a multitude of utilizations.

As a holy paladin, we have access to a lot of timers and add-ons that can watch things like Beacon of Light, Sacred Shield, etc. There is BoLT (Beacon of Light Timer), CLCBPT (it is recommended in this post at wow.com), PallyPower, Power Auras, and tons more! Nonetheless, I wouldn’t trade NeedtoKnow for any of them. The sheer utilization of the addon outside of the Paladin class makes it useful to have unlike some of the paladin-specific. I will analyze the use of the addon in several ways; ways that I have implemented it for Paladins (holy and ret), Mages, Priests, and a recommendation I have been given for Warlocks. Maybe you will be amazed, maybe you won’t but this add-on is one of my lifelines.

Holy Paladin

  • Excellent for Beacon of Light: Setting the tank as your focus, you can adjust the buff bar to monitor your focus target and regardless of whether you alter your target, NeedtoKnow is displaying a timer for your Beacon (your focus target). This allows you to heal around if needed, and is a considerable help in 5-man healing.
  • Sacred Shield: As the bars are in groupings, you can have your Beacon of Light timer together with your Sacred Shield timer. It allows you to know that your shield is about to fall off and gives you the chance to sync up the re-cast with your BoL timer.

Retribution Paladin

  • Art of War: This is a talent that you spec into that will allow the ability to proc when you critically hit with melee. The ability allows your next Flash of Light or Exorcism be an instant cast. This is a great proc to take advantage of for your DPS output, or when questing can be a difference between life or death. Without constantly focusing on your buff bar, you can set NeedtoKnow to monitor yourself and the bar will appear when the ability is up. Setting the bar to a large size and in a bright color, it is hard to miss that you have it at your disposal.
  • Sacred Shield: As a questing ret pally, it helps to use the shield always and setting it differently to monitor yourself, this is an efficient timer for you as well.
  • Judgement: While I strongly encourage you to have Judgements as a major part in your rotation, you can set a target monitor to know that your judgement debuff on the mob has fallen off and you need to re-cast.

Arcane Mages

  • Missile Barrage: Much like Art of War for a Paladin, Missile Barrage is a proc ability that you talent into near the bottom of the tree. Very similar to what I described above, setting this to monitor yourself will tell you when the ability has procced and it is efficient for you to cast Arcane Missiles.
  • Arcane Power: A cooldown that an Arc Mage has at their disposal, tracking this allows you to watch the timer on the buff and to know when it is fading away. It isn’t significant to track this but it can help when you are monitoring all your buffs for maximum output.
  • Icy Veins: When you use this to quicken your Evocation, watching the timer on this buff is significant to timing it right with your channeling. You can also, should you be the raid leader, sync Bloodlust/Heroism at the last few seconds of Icy Veins to maximize your output for the longest amount of possible time.
  • Focus Magic: If you have a couple casters in your group and you wonder who to put it on, monitoring YOUR focus magic buff will tell you how much your target player is striking critically, allowing you to change your target should you feel someone else has a higher percentage rating for Critical Strike Rating.

Frost Mages

  • Fireball!: If you have the talent Brain Freeze, it procs the ability for you to instant cast your Fireball spell. This as of 3.3.3 will also cost no mana under the “Fireball!” buff. Like all other self-monitoring buff effects, this is great to know when to cast that otherwise-forever-long-cast of a Fireball.

Holy/Disc Priests

  • Renew: When you are throwing this around, you can have it set to monitor your target. This is great for raid healing utilization. Regardless of who you are targeting, this add-on will let you know the status (or existence) of their Renew. If you are tank healing, it is also a great Focus target feature to ensure your tank always has this HOT.
  • Power Word: Shield: Much like a paladin, this is great for ensuring your shield is available on a target. It does not account for Weakened Soul, but your casting ability is grayed out when a target is effected by the debuff.

Warlock

  • Immolate: This was a use that was revealed to me by Cynwise over at Cynwise’s Battlefield Manual. You can use NeedtoKnow to also monitor debuffs put onto your target. This is significantly helpful in raids where boss fights can last several minutes. You can set the bars to monitor any and all debuffs on the target; I only have Immolate up in the picture but it does work for curses, Corruption, etc.

While I do not know how, I know this add-on can be used by rogues as well. The add-on was recommended to me by a rogue who was making use of it at the time.

One of the other pluses to this add-on is that it is fully customizable. The default setting for the add-on will give you 1 group of 3 bars. It is set to monitor the player and buffs. In the Interface window for add-ons, you can alter the number of bars per group (The Arcane Mage image above has 4 bars in a group), you can add groups, change bar patterns, etc. You can customize each bar color, the way time is displayed (i.e. 2m, 1:58, 1:58:01), you can do a variety of unit monitoring including player, focus, target, target of target, etc. With patch 3.3.0, this add-on recieved a hefty overhaul allowing all of the extra customization. It was great before, but it is spectacular now.

It has become a lifeline for me for several of my characters. I find sometimes I get a little lost healing without it, and that is kind of sad, but serves to prove how useful NeedtoKnow is. You can get your own download of Needtoknow over at Curse or by clicking here.

PS. If you find that you have the add-on and have it customized to your liking but it isn’t timing, be sure to enable it and toggle out of customize-view by using the command /ntk or /needtoknow.

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Filed under Add-On, General Warcraft, Holy Paladin