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.
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!
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.
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: KuiNameplates, Bartender4, ShadowedUnitFrames, MoveAnything, Quartz, AdiBags, TitanPanel, and Prat.
And ElvUI features several other improvements.
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.
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.
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.
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.