Invasions are Great for Leveling before Legion

I’ve been very busy with invasions & World of Warcraft refer-a-friend leveling. Check this post on Reddit for a how-to guide and tips. You can do this by yourself – run two windows of Warcraft on your own computer for two different Warcraft subscriptions. Even if you start Friday evening, you can likely get a full server of characters on your main account to 90 over the weekend before invasions end when Legion launches.

You can save time over the fellow who wrote that guide by using the grant-levels feature of refer a friend. One way of approaching it is leveling two pairs of characters to 90, one pair to 60, one pair to 45, and one pair to 28. Then, use level granting, to bring your main account to two 45 characters, then three 60 characters, then five level 90 characters.

Over the next few weeks, stay tuned for a re-polished class guides compilation for Legion, a roster management tools system for guild leaders, a third user interface post, and more.

If there’s any content you are particularly interested in reading about or any questions you have for Legion, leave a comment and let me know.

Best of luck with the invasions!

Remember to Buy Legion

Legion launches in just a few weeks. You may have pre-ordered the game digitally from Blizzard. If you have, you’re all set. If not, now is a great time to order the game (Amazon US store link).

If you’re like me, and you want a physical copy, ordering from Amazon is an excellent choice. Shipping should be free, you should receive the game on launch day, and, if you have Amazon Prime, they currently offer a 20% discount on pre-orders and recently released games!

Here’s that link again to order: World of Warcraft: Legion Standard Edition PC/Mac (Amazon US store link). I ordered Overwatch: Origins Edition (Amazon US store link) from Amazon and couldn’t have been happier with my shopping experience.

The Legion is ready – are you?

Amazon and Amazon Prime are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.

Seven Tips for Legion that Gul’dan Never Saw Coming

Here are some useful tips that will help you prepare for the launch of World of Warcraft: Legion. For even more resources you may not have encountered, check out the class guides or general raiding guides (both are also linked in the navigation bar).

It has always been a dream of mine to write a useful List of N Things blog post with a catchy title. Enjoy!

Swag Your Spellbook

When Blizzard reworked the Glyph system with the 7.0 Legion prepatch, several classes lost cosmetic effects. Some will be available again from Inscription Glyphs when Legion launches. Others are available for you now!

Are you a Druid missing your stag appearance? A Shaman that misses making it rain (of frogs)? Check out this Reddit post with a list of vendors that sell cosmetic enhancements.

Some like Quartermaster Miranda Breechlock in Eastern Plaguelands sell only a few items (she sells a Contemplation Tome for Paladins and a nifty toy for Priests). Others like Lorelae Wintersong in Moonglade sell many Tomes – any Druids looking for Flap or cosmetic effects should check her out.

Speaking of Flap, if you are a Balance Druid, check out the FlappyBirb weakaura which creates some mini-games based on Flapping!

Enhance Your Exploring

Preach made a great video guide with some Legion leveling tips. Some folks on Reddit summarized and discussed his recommendations – definitely worth a read-through.

A few other tips and tricks threads have popped up on Reddit: here’s another one I found useful. Make sure to plan your attack so you hit the ground running once the expansion drops.

Analyze Your Artifact Weapons

Poneria wrote a lengthy article on the math behind leveling up multiple artifact weapons. Check it out to get a better understanding of where you should be spending your artifact power.

My executive summary? Two fully-filled artifact weapons (a main spec and one offspec) is doable. But once you get to the hidden “percentage improvement” traits, you want to focus on one main spec early on in Legion. The artifact power costs of each additional percentage will get prohibitively high for multiple specs.

If you are interested in looking at more artifact weapon numbers, check out this spreadsheet by Kibo.

Automate Backing Up Your Addons

This guide on the official Blizzard Battle.net forums explains how you can automate backing up your addons (and their settings) to your favorite cloud storage provider – at no additional cost! Once everything is set up, you can also sync addons between different computers. The process is a bit involved and requires some tech savvy, so proceed with caution.

For a paid alternative, consider Curse Premium, which includes an addons backup and sync feature.

Calculate Your Cooldowns

As I noted in my recent post on User Interface, Weakauras can be a great way to manage your cooldowns. I also noted that it can often be a good start – and sometimes finish – to borrow Weakauras from someone else.

Several Weakauras repository websites are popping up for Legion. They include weakauras.online and wago.io. As someone who is very likely going to main Balance Druid, I love Cyrous’s Weakauras on wago.io. Restoration is my favorite offspec, and Ablution’s Weakauras on weakauras.online are a great resource for Restoration Druids as well as Holy and Discipline Priests.

Optimize Your Offspec

Are you still considering what class to pick or what offspec you should prioritize? Are you wondering what specs have secondary stat priorities that mesh well, so you don’t have to maintain two separate sets of gear?

If so, look no further! This spreadsheet, linked on Reddit, lays out which specs have synergistic stat priorities. For me, Balance Druid with Restoration Druid offspec has never looked better, with both specs prioritizing Haste then Critical Strike.

Perfect Your Performance

I may have saved the best for last. This spreadsheet, with discussion on Reddit, is a comprehensive guide to the start of Legion. It covers, leveling, professions, gearing, your artifact, and more. It is focused on players who want to immediately gear up a main and an alt for heroic split runs.

A word of caution: the original spreadsheet was written in Russian, and is being constantly updated by the creator. The translated English version may become outdated.

More Legion Prepatch User Interface Fun

I’ve continued to work on my User Interface since my post last week. In this post I’ll cover a few more addons and UI tips!

Prior UI post: Updating My Addons and User Interface for the Legion Prepatch.

Enemy Grid

In my last post, I listed dozens of addons I find useful and mentioned two addons I had heard of but not yet tried. Enemy Grid is one of them and it is a game changer!

It essentially allows you to have raid frames for your enemies. According to several forum threads, this had not been possible in the past, since non-boss units did not get a UnitID until they were targeted by you or a party member, and thus could not be displayed in a raid frame. Something may have changed in the Legion Prepatch, since Enemy Grid displays every enemy within a range you specify that appears on your screen. At least one other player noticed how powerful this was and even wondered if it was allowed – no Blizzard response.

Just like Healbot or Vuhdo, it has click-to-cast functionality built in, and just like raid frames, mouseover macros work if you hover over your desired target. This addon is especially useful for classes that like to cast damage over time effects on many targets – it’s easy to keep track of 10 enemies if they are all in a tidy grid! Especially if you play a class that has to keep debuffs up on enemies, you owe it to yourself to try this addon.

Raven

Raven is the other addon I mentioned in my last post. Raven reminds me of a specialized Weakauras maker that is focused on tracking cooldowns, buffs, and debuffs. If Enemy Grid didn’t exist, Raven would be my new go-to for tracking debuffs on enemies.

I’ve experimented with Raven, and though I didn’t notice an export feature, which is a bummer, it seems like a ready replacement for creating your own cooldown/buff/debuff monitors. It’s a solid addon worth checking out if you want to experiment with another tracking tool.

AdiBags

After my last post, a few folks referred me to the AdiBags addon. Thanks friends! If you haven’t tried it, you should. It sorts your items into different types, separated by titles. Looking at the screenshots on the addon page is the best way to understand how it works. I will be sticking with this one for a while!

Raid Frame Repositioning

I have tried several different positions for my raid frames, and nothing felt right. To the left or to the right obscured my view of the playing field too much, and at the very bottom of the screen diverted my attention too far down. I looked at a few other people’s UI, and stumbled across Ashleah’s great UI Philosphy post. Keeping the raid frames centered and below my character was great; I didn’t think to raise them up and push the player and target frames to the left and right a bit to fit them. This setup is perfect! My focus lies near the center of the screen, and my vision of the encounter remains unimpaired.

For purely DPSing putting the frames off in a corner may work best for some players. I think that the center-down position is extremely solid for healing, and a great fit overall for me. Again, the key component to setting up a good UI was trying different options and discovering what worked for me. I encourage you to do the same.

Key Bindings

I assume the reader agrees that clicking spells is bad. Once we’ve decided to use keybinds though, which should we use?

Changing key bindings is an often-underappreciated component of user interface. In World of Warcraft, the defauly is W forward, QE to strafe, AD to turn, and S to backpedal, with most abilities on the number row. That’s fine for learning the game, but we can do much better for raiding.

Infrequently used cooldowns can go on the function keys, and situational abilities, like interrupts, stuns, and self-heals, can go around the QWEASD block. I have RTFGZXCVB all keybound. The way I do it, remaining somewhat consistent across characters, is: R to inteRrupt, T to sTun, F to Fly (blink or speed boost), G to Go (lesser movement ability), Z to heal myZelf, X for minor proteXtion, C for Complete protection (like bubble or Aspect of the Turtle), with V and B Varying Between characters. Alright, some of those letter associations may have been a tad forced.

In addition, in a raid setting, keyboard turning is sub-optimal. It’s quicker to turn with your mouse, and with a 1.5 second GCD, there’s no reason you can’t use your mouse to turn before doing any clicking you may need to do. I bound A and D to strafe, freeing up Q and E for abilities. I try to place instant abilities that I use frequently on those keys, so I can easily use them during movement.

As a side note to the above: some players like a setup with movement on ESDF, with room for abilities both to the left and right of their hand. It’s too hard to hit Shift/Alt/Control like that form my tastes, but if it works for them, great.

We can also use Alt, Shift, and Control modifiers for certain binds. I use shift + Z, X, C, V for once-per-fight items like potions. I also use alt + 1-4, QE for less-used rotational abilities as needed.

My way is surely not “the one true best way.” However, changing the default settings is a big improvement over taking the standard keybinds. With one month left of Hellfire Citadel before Legion comes, now is a great time to try out different combinations and find what works well for you.

Macros

I wanted to mention macros, because they are so useful for improving your UI. I could easily dedicate a whole post about them – maybe I will at some point. For now, I’ll mention briefly that macros with conditionals can really be a boon to your play. Here are three examples:

#showtooltip
/cast [@mouseover,harm][] Moonfire

This macro casts Moonfire, an offensive damage over time spell, at the harmful unit my mouse is hovering over. If my mouse is not hovering over an enemy unit, Moonfire will cast on my target.

#showtooltip Displacer Beast
/cast [stance:0/4]Displacer Beast
/cast [stance:2]Moonkin Form

This macro casts Displacer Beast, a blink ability that transforms my character into a cat (stance 2), if I am in Moonkin Form (stance 4) or in no stance (stance 0). If I use the macro while in cat form, it will ignore the first line, and shift to Moonkin Form.

#showtooltip
/use [nomod:alt] Aspect of the Turtle
/cancelaura [mod:alt] Aspect of the Turtle

This macro casts Aspect of the Turtle, a defensive cooldown that prevents me from doing damage, so long as I am not holding alt. If I am holding alt, it will cancel the defensive buff early, allowing me to resume doing damage.

For more ideas on what’s possible, check this thread on the official forums and this compilation of macro conditionals on Wowpedia.

Conclusion

A few people e-mailed asking to see my UI. I will continue to tinker with it, but here is a screenshot of my UI as it exists right now: http://imgur.com/pVPsuvI.

Note the Vuhdo raid frames positioning, the raid cooldowns and DPS meters to the sides of the screen, and DBM warnings, Enemy Grid, and my Raven cooldown/buff/debuff monitors near the center.

I hope these posts have helped you think about your UI and how it can better serve you. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.

Updating My Addons and User Interface for the Legion Prepatch

I haven’t been playing much Warcraft since my previous guild <Cake Plantation> went on indefinite (and likely permanent) hiatus in April 2016. I poked around a bit on the PTR, and watched a good deal of Beta and PTR streams. But I had little desire to continue farming Hellfire Citadel, having fully geared three separate characters and killed Mythic Archimonde on each.

With the Legion prepatch here, I find myself wanting to be ready for raiding. Part of that preparation was revising my user interface, including addons.

Subsequent UI Post: More Legion Prepatch User Interface Fun.

Goals of a Raiding UI

Progression raiding motivates my activities in WoW. To optimize my play in raids, I look to set up a Raiding UI that alerts me to everything I need to know and removes, as much as possible, information I do not need to know.

I try to focus important information, such as my health and resources, my target, and the status of my long-cooldown abilities around the center of the screen. I use addons to move my Unit Frames (my character, the boss, my focus, etc.) near the center of the screen, and use Weakauras to display important information about my spec there as well.

I place information I need to refer to less frequently or in-between pulls, such as written raid strategy, DPS meters, a full list of raid cooldowns, or all my buffs and debuffs, on the edges of the screen.

For Legion I want my raid frames near the center of the screen, offset either to the right or to the left. For healing this will help me keep my focus on my surroundings even when intently watching the frames. Even when doing damage, for any class that needs to decurse, battle resurrect, or otherwise cast abilities on fellow raiders, raid frames near the center can be a good idea.

In Tier 18, when I played a healer, I tried out a frames-at-the-bottom UI. I liked the idea of it at the time, as it cleared up space in the middle of the screen, allowing me to see more when I was looking there. However, I was looking there less often. Ultimately that sort of UI made it a bit harder for me to focus on my surroundings, as most of the time I was looking at the bottom of the screen rather than at what was happening in the middle of the screen!

Hamlet goes into detail about boss mods and UI in general in his great post Raid Awareness is a Learned and Practiced Skill. I edit my boss mods and make sure that the relevant notifactions appear near the center of my screen.

Weakauras

I wanted to explore Balance druid first. After scanning my prepatch guides list and reading the excellent Balance prepatch guide by Cyrous, I decided I wanted Weakauras to improve my UI for playing the spec.

While it’s very doable with some patience and work to make your own weakauras, I like to check around and see if folks have already done so and shared them. As luck would have it, there is a thread on MMO-Champion with links to weakauras for each druid spec! The Balance Druid Astral Power Pro Bar weakaura set happened to be made by Cyrous as well. Great guide and great weakauras – what a guy!

Addon Philosophy

Addons are cumbersome to manage and adjust as compared to the default UI. They are also like prescription medication, often causing conflict the more that you combine together. So, I try to review my addons, keeping only those that I have a need for. If the default UI is just as good, there’s no reason to have an addon. If my UI is at all slow or buggy, I often disable all my non-raiding addons for raids.

Even with regular pruning, I usually have dozens of addons installed – I could easily have double that if I never deleted an addon.

Where to Get Addons

For better or for worse, I use the Curse client for downloading addons. It makes keeping addons up to date simple and efficient. Almost every addon friends recommend or I see on MMO-Champion or reddit threads is available on Curse.

ElvUI is the one exception for addons I use, and I use the Tukui client to keep that up to date. If you want to see what ElvUI looks like, check out this thread on icy-veins or this youtube video from 2014, both of which show ElvUI setup and features.

New Addons

Before getting into raiding preparation, I had about a thousand Salvage Crates that I waited until prepatch to open. I wanted to equip the random items inside to expand my transmog collection.

I could have made thousands more gold opening them before prepatch and vendoring the item upgrades for several gold each (they now vendor for a few copper each). But the convenience of immediately deleting items as I opened and equipped them made doing it after the prepatch worth it to me. I quickly realized that the default UI did not show if I already had the transmog for an item. I needed an addon to do this, and several folks recommended the simple – but very useful – Can I Mog It?.

Several hours and hundreds of new transmogs later, I then went to adjust some in-game settings. I wanted to turn on LUA errors to see why my addons were causing errors and adjust my scrolling combat text settings. These options had been removed from the default UI in Patch 7.0. I needed an addon to bring them back, and, luckily, AdvancedInterfaceOptions does the job nicely.

To Elv or not to Elv

I was tempted to ditch ElvUI and use addons for the features I specifically need. I thought that might give me finer control over each UI element. But, with more addons come more compatibility issues. In addition, having many UI elements controlled by ElvUI gives my UI a cohesive look and feel.

ElvUI solves five essential raiding UI problems for me, and I like the ElvUI implementation for all five! It provides: Nameplates, the bars over enemies’ heads; Action Bar Management, the ability to move and adjust my ability bars; Unit Frames, customizable and movable player, target, boss, focus, etc. frames; The ability to move anything on my UI; and a Cast Bar with a lag indicator (useful for pre-casting my next spell if I ever have lag).

It also solves many nonessential UI problems, such as: Nicer Bags; A Panel with customizable info (total gold, time and date, frame rate, etc.); and Improved Chat.

For those improvements alone, I would need eight separate addons, such as: KuiNameplatesBartender4ShadowedUnitFramesMoveAnything, QuartzAdiBags, TitanPanel, and Prat.

And ElvUI features several other improvements.

Raid Frames

If you never heal and rarely cast spells on party members, you may not need to spend much time selecting good raid frames. If you want to try healing, or even decursing and battle-resurrecting party members, spending time customizing your frames may be worthwhile.

Some world-top healers use default, non-customized raid frames, click to target party members, and once that person is targeted, cast a spell to heal them. To me, this has always seemed like a needless additional step that also makes it harder to keep focused on what the raid boss is doing. Results don’t lie, but I personally think people who do well doing this (and recommend it to others) are exceptionally talented and succeed despite being hindered by an inferior setup.

There are several ways of going about a raid-frame setup in which you need to cast spells on your party members including: (1) Mouse-over Macros + Separate Raid Frames; (2) Clique + Separate Raid Frames; (3) All-in-one Packages.

Some great healers use the default raid frames and mouse-over macros, which allow you to cast a spell on the character your mouse is hovering over. That setup is especially useful for world-top raiders who often heal on Beta builds of World of Warcraft that disable addons. I think this setup is very viable, unlike the click-to-target then click-to-cast setup described above.

I like being able to customize the frames a bit more than the default raid frames allow. There are many good options: ElvUI‘s raid frames, Shadowed Unit Frames, Grid, and Grid 2. There are several all-in-one packages, that combine raid frames with click-to-heal functionality, such as Healbot Continued and Vuhdo.

Having tried many of the above options, I prefer Vuhdo. It offers customization that rivals any other raid frame. Also, I prefer click-to-heal, and do not find that any other click-to-heal option is as easy to setup as using Vuhdo (though using Healbot Continued comes very close).

The key takeaways here are (1) don’t click to target then cast a spell and (2) try different options and find one you like. For non-healers, if you do nothing else, at least set up mouse-over macros for your decurse/battle rez/other.

A handy tip if you like mouse-over to cast but don’t like setting up macros: apparently Bartender4 allows you to set an entire bar to try to cast on mouse-over, then target.

Conclusion

I hope the above has given some insight into how I constructed my UI. There are other aspects of my UI and more addons that I use, but I think that that is enough detail for the moment. Perhaps I will cover more in a later post. For now, a full list of my current addons, as well as some notable past addons, will appear below.

If you want to check out another addon compilation, see this list by maximumcharactercoun on reddit.

Addon List

Raiding

Nameplates/Unit Frames/Action Bar/Move Everything/Cast Bar:
ElvUI (See the above section for individual-addon alternatives).
Raid Frames: Vuhdo (See the above section for alternatives).
Cooldown Management: Weakauras2 – Create timers/counters/etc for anything, including your resources and cooldowns.
Boss Mods: Deadly Boss Mods (Alternative: BigWigs).
Raid Cooldowns/Buff Reminders/Boss Mods/Sharing Raid Plan/Other Tools: Exorsus Raid Tools.
Talent Reminders: Angry Boss Reminders – Don’t forget to Swap to the right talents.
Damage Meters: Details! – A damage meter that has more details than Recount or Skada, and has several great plugins, such as a detailed death viewer and a streamer-friendly plugin that shows that spells you cast.
Avoid Standing in Fire: GTFO – This addon makes a loud warning sound if you are standing in fire.
Make Loot Council Work: RCLootCouncil – If your guild uses loot council, this is a great way to have players input what gear they want.

Other Activities

AdvancedInterfaceOptions – Adds back several interface options that were removed in Patch 7.0.
Can I Mog It? – Identifies if an item is already in your transmog collection.
Cross Realm Assist – Makes realm hopping (e.g., to find rares) much easier.
Foglight – Shows minimap without fog of war.
Gatherer – Shows resource icons to gather on the map.
HandyNotes – Shows treasures to gather on the map.
Master Plan – Makes maximizing the Draenor garrison mission table much easier.
Minimap Button Bag – Consolidates addon buttons into one button.
Opie – Lets you use mounts/spells in a nice circle-interface.
Pawn – Helps compare new gear to equipped gear and is especially useful while leveling.
Premade Group Finder – Alerts when groups are formed, you can specify titles like “Poundfist” or “Tyrant.”
TomTom – Adds coordinates to the minimap.
The Undermine Journal – Uses data from https://theunderminejournal.com to add auction house prices to item tooltips.
Worldflightmap – Replaces the less-detailed flight map with the world map.
TradeSkillMaster – Is a comprehensive gold-making and and auction-house addon.

Addons that I had in Draenor, but don’t have (yet) for Legion

Elvui Shadow & Light – This enchanced the ElvUI look and feel. If I miss it it’s easy to find; I found that it constantly reset itself and required me to reload my UI on alts.
_NPCSCAN – Alerts on rares appearing. I don’t need it right now and it’s easy to find.
Action Bar Saver – Saves action bar setup. I no longer need it, since I no longer have to replace my secondary spec and lose its bar setup.
Angry Assignments – Shares raid plan text in game. I don’t need this unless the guild I am in requires it, as Exorsus Raid Tools has the same functionality.
Battleground Targets – Shows battleground targets. I don’t play BGs much anymore, and this is easy to find if I resume playing them.
CLCret – Helps ret paladins with their rotation. I do not plan to play ret in Legion.
Deathnote – Shows detailed death information. I may pick this up again if it is maintained, but this information is mostly baked into Details! now.
Gladius – Helps you play arena. This is easy to find if I resume playing arena.
Hekili – A rotation guide for several specs, including elemental shaman, hunter, and ret paladin. This is easy to find if I resume playing those specs.
LFG Call to Arms Broker – This alerts on satchel reward availability. It will be easy to find if I need it in Legion.
Premade Filter – This adds a few enchancements to the premade group finder. If I miss it, it’s easy to find.
Raidbuffstatus – Shows if people buffed, flasked, ate, and used augment runes. Exorsus raid tools covers this, and most raid buffs are gone.
Simple iLevel – Show players iLevel on mouse hover. This works by inspecting players frequently, and can make normal inspecting lag.
Stratafix – If addons get hidden or leave artifacts on the screen, this can fix it. There’s no need to have this installed if everything is working.
TrufiGCD – Shows icons of recently cast spells by you or others. For my usage, this has been replaced replaced by the Details! streamer plugin.

Notable Other Addons that I’ve heard of but have not yet tried

Enemy Grid – Shows enemies in a list. I don’t think you can click on them, so having good nameplates seems like a better solution.
Raven – Customizable HoT and DoT timers. I am not sure what I am missing here, as I can do (some of?) this with ElvUI.
Any other addons I should try? Let me know in the comments.