This is one of those posts that just sort of happened. I had originally planned to do some Haste vs Mastery TDR stuff, but that hasn’t happened yet because I redid my UI. Why did I do that? I’m going to blame DanishPsycho. Why you ask? Because she’s been harassing me about my – admittedly – shitty UI for the better part of a week. I’ve been wanting to hack it to pieces for a while now, but hadn’t really had the incentive. There was a bunch of things I wasn’t happy with when it came to my existing setup, so I sat down for probably 4-5 hours and fixed it all.
Then Andanas asked me to post my new UI. I figured that wasn’t such a bad idea. That then morphed into me deciding that I should explain what I did, and provide the strings/scripts/profiles so people could take it for themselves if they wanted. And here we are. Also Monster is delicious.
Before – The Old “Shitty” UI
Before we go any further I should elaborate on what exactly I didn’t like about my old UI. Unfortunately I don’t have a screenshot to show you, so I’ll do my best to describe it with words.
- Looking at the Actionbar: Humans have great side-to-side (or “peripheral”) vision, but mostly terrible up-and-down vision thanks to the shape of our eyes. You want to minimize the amount of time you’re focusing on the very bottom of your screen because it severely limits the amount of in-combat information you are able to obtain.
- Cooldown Information: I was previously using Forte Exorcist’s cooldown timer. It worked pretty well back when we didn’t have that many cooldowns, can you could easily tell the difference between what was up and what was not. Now we have tons of buttons all on short-to-medium cooldowns. This clutters up Forte’s cooldown bar a ton.
- Buffs: I didn’t have any short-term buff information readily available. I had to go sifting through the giant list of Blizzard Buffs to see what was going on. That list obviously contains a ton of shit I really do not give a fuck about. I wanted to know when specific things I cared about were up, and when they faded.
- Target Debuffs: Tidyplates has pretty neat debuff frames, but they’re always out of your vision unless you zoom way, way out. So I wanted to be able to very easily tell when my debuffs (Lacerate, Thrash, Weakened Blows, Weakened Armor) are active on a target.
- Real Raid Frame: I had recently ditched XPerl due to performance concerns and went back to the Blizzard raid frames for a while. But they’re ugly and provide limited functionality. I wanted something new and “modern”.
- Better Combat Text: I’ve been using the Blizzard Combat Text for a very long time, ever since it was baked in to the base UI. I hadn’t really done any research on new ones in a very long time, but I was “convinced” to get a new one.
Tanking is all about having as much information as possible at your fingertips to make the correct decision. That decision could be what AM ability to use at any given time, do you need to burn a cooldown, do you need an external, etc. If your UI has all of this information scattered all over the place you can quite easily die before you have all of the information required to make the correct choice, let alone communicate that to anybody that needs to know. Similar to deciding how to gear yourself, building a UI is a very personal process. You have to take into account your habits, style of play, and even how you react to certain information or where you want it to be. As a result building a UI can be a very long process, but very rewarding once it’s all done.
After – The New “Awesome” UI
Before we get started here’s a screenshot of my whole UI as it stands now. Some of the pieces (like the DBM bars) aren’t showing up because I hadn’t thought to add some test bars, but everything else is there.
So lets break down each little bit.
1: Vuhdo Raidframes
I don’t really have a good reason for choosing Vuhdo other than “I like the way it looks”. The one-click heal functionality is really nice for those times when I actually need it, but otherwise it’s a small and very unobtrusive raid frame. I guess my point here is that you should figure out which one you like the most. The standard Blizzard raid frames are okay but there are still lots of better options.
2: WeakAuras Cooldown Bar
This little gem is based on something Danish’s guildmate Shifts (a Resto Druid) made for her. I took the original Weak Auras string and removed all of the Resto stuff, then split it into two separate bars. One to house what I would consider strictly “tanking” cooldowns, and the other for “utility” cooldowns. All of the talents you see there will swap out depending on what talents you are currently using. This greatly reduces “button bloat” and removes things you really don’t give a shit about from your field of view. I’ve provided each set for download below if you want to import them to use yourself (for reference these will also be posted in the “WeakAuras” thread on the forums).
Prat isn’t strictly a “tanking UI addon”, it’s just something that’s incredibly useful. I definitely recommend having at least some sort of chat addon, regardless of what you pick. Being able to copy&paste things from inside the game is pretty important :\
4: XCT+ – Scrolling Combat Text
xCT+ is the scrolling combat text addon I mentioned during the intro. I love it. It organizes events into several distinct sections, allowing you to very easily tell what exactly is going on. All events come with an attached icon, and are colour coded by type and/or school of magic.
- 4.1: Incoming Heals
- 4.2: Incoming Damage
- 4.3: Outgoing Criticals (Heal/Damage)
- 4.4: Outgoing Normals (Heal/Damage)
- 4.5: Misc. Events
It’s possible that I may just end up removing 4.5 in the future, and I’ll explain why a little later on. Overall I’m really happy with this combat text addon, and even if you don’t choose this specific one I definitely recommend something. As usual Blizzard’s base combat text is just merely “okay”. You can get a lot of additional functionality by going with an addon of some kind.
DBM. Not really much else to say. However a lot of you may not actually be aware of what version of DBM you should be using. On one of my Twitter LFR outings a few weeks ago Omegal let me know about the DBM Alpha Version. This version is typically updated several times a day, and during cutting edge progression sometimes many more. Like DBM you can simply maintain it through the Curse Client, but you have to install the alpha first. I heartily recommend everyone get the alpha version, I haven’t looked back since.
I had DroodFocus before, and ended up coming to the conclusion that it couldn’t do anything for me that I couldn’t get better versions of. I came back to it on a whim since it has been receiving regular updates, and actually is the 5th most downloaded “HUD” addon on Curse. Turns out there have been some amazing enhancements made to Droodfocus over the past several months, and it now has some great functionality. It’s worth noting that none of this isn’t something that couldn’t be replicated with some other addon, but this one is specifically developed for Feral and Guardian Druids in mind. That makes a lot of it very easy to use.
- 6.1: Savage Defense Tracker, Health Bar, Power (Rage Bar), and temporary buff tracker.
- 6.2: Target Health and temporary debuff tracker.
A neat little enhancement that I discovered while configuring DroodFocus is the ability to colour-code the power bar based on a value. I set mine for 30, 60, 90, and 100. That way I can easily tell what I have enough Rage for without even looking at the number. The buff tracker has to be manually populated with the spellIDs you want to track. I assigned a specific colour scheme to my buffs so I would know what is happening.
- Procs: Blue
- Rage Cooldowns: Red
- Defensive Cooldowns: Green
The Savage Defense tracker at the top is also colour coded. It will be grey if the charge isn’t available, red if it is and you don’t have enough Rage, and green for available charges you can use. DroodFocus has really come a long way and I definitely recommend it as a great “bundle” addon for Guardians.
These are just the standard Blizzard Mangle and Tooth and Claw Auras. They’re actually quite pretty and well positioned on the UI so I saw no reason to get rid of them.
I honestly don’t know how any tank can live without TidyPlates. I don’t know how I did tbh. It’s worth noting that as of the time of this writing Omegal is working with the author to resolve a performance issue that may affect some people with lower spec computers. Expect a fix soon.
This is another “personal choice” thing. I definitely recommend at least some sort of action-bar addon. I use Bartender personally, and it has served me very well.
10: Raid Mob Marker
RMM is just a dinky addon to make marking targets easier. I’ve had it since basically forever, and it rarely requires updates.
11: Default Blizzard Buffs
Since I’ve now added a temporary buff tracker thanks to DroodFocus, I now basically just ignore these. I suppose if I was smart I’d find a way to hide them completely. I still want to be able to see the long-term buffs up there though, so /shrug.
12: Vengeance and 2t15 WAs
Something that I forgot initially are a couple of neat little WeakAuras that Shifts made for me. The first is just a basic Vengeance tracker, and the 2nd is a WA to track the stacks and duration of our 2t15 bonus. Both are available below for download.
Constructing a UI (and this subsequent blog post) takes a lot of time, thought, and energy. It’s definitely not something I recommend you do right before a raid. Try and do it over a weekend if at all possible, or at least a day you have completely off. You might be surprised how much time you can spend tweaking every little bit :)
What about you? Do you have an addon you especially love? Let me know!