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Resto Shaman UI and Addon Advice

March 1, 2010

There’s no perfect way to set up your UI, so let’s set that up as a ground rule right away.  Some people really hate addons, and think using them is “cheating.”  Those people have likely never raided as a healer.  Healing with the default UI provided by blizzard is going to hold back your performance.  Yes, you can heal with it, and if you set up mouseover macros, you can even heal well by dragging the default raid frames on to your screen.  But, I don’t think you’ll ever heal as well as someone using Grid, Healbot or VuhDo, customized to their character, because you just can’t get the same amount of information on your screen in an easy to digest format.

Once you decide to leave the default UI, you’ll find that tweaking your UI is a never-ending process, and can be a fun part of the “meta game” by itself.  My goals for a great healing UI are to present all the information I need in a concise area around my character, without cluttering things up, so I can still see what’s happening around me.  I also try to avoid presenting information that I don’t need, and enjoy keeping things clean for both performance and aesthetic reasons.  I try to limit memory usage as much as possible, because I don’t want to impact my FPS or connection stability during a raid.  That said, I don’t think I’m on the cutting edge of UI setup.  I’m just taking stock addons and arranging them in a way that works for me, which is something anyone reading this can do.

Here’s a picture of my raid UI in “setup” mode, so you can see how everything looks, roughly, during a boss fight.  When I’m raiding, I always forget to take a screenshot for this post.  If I can remember I’ll update this with a live action shot later! 🙂

Setting up Grid is a project in itself, which I cover here.  As a healer, I enjoy having Grid in a prominent position right below my character.  It’s the foundation of my UI.

Clique is an addon that basically creates mouseover macros for you and allows you to heal by clicking on your Grid frames.  If mouseover macros are your thing, I say go for it.  I just find Clique a bit easier to manage and would recommend it for all new resto shamans.  Setting up Clique is for the most part self-explanatory.  In the future I’ll try to make a post going into some of the finer points of using this addon.

I like to keep my cast bar right below my character, since I pretty much always want to be casting.  I use Quartz, which is highly customizable and shows me a latency range at the end of my cast bar.  I know that I can start my next cast once my current spell hits this range, and it will start right after the current cast finishes.  Always having a spell casting is key to maximizing your throughput, and this setup helps me do that.  I have my target’s cast bar just off the right of mine.  It’s the grey bar in the screenshot above.  I’m sure other cast bars can handle the job, but Quartz has been working for me all throughout Wrath.

IceHUD is something I’ve recently incorporated, and includes a heads up display for my health, mana and the boss’s health keeps me focused on the big picture while keeping my eyes on my character.  I also use it to display my focus target (just to the right of my bars), my current target information (towards the top middle of the screen), and my character info, just to the left of Grid.  It’s not for everyone, but the heads up format works very well for me.

I keep my buffs up at the top right of the screen in their default position, near the minimap.  I’ve never seen a great reason to move either my buffs or the minimap around, as I’m not looking at them during combat very often.  Debuffs, however, are another story.  There are several fights in ICC where you really want to see your current debuffs (Sindragosa is the first one that pops to mind).  I use Bison to move my debuffs down closer to my character and make them a bit larger, so they are in easy view.  I don’t have any debuffs in the screenshot, but they would be right about where the reanimated crusader’s health bar is displaying (using Tidy Plates: Clean Plates, btw).

For my bossmod, I prefer Deus Vox Encounters, or DXE.  Why DXE and not DVE for the abbreviation?  Beats me.  This is a fairly new bossmod, but I appreciate how it’s set up out the box and the ease of adjusting everything to my preferences.  I have also used DBM and Bigwigs, but I prefer the look and feel of DXE.  I keep the DXE control panel off the left, above my chat box.  It will display health bars for each boss on multiple boss encounters, and I can easily adjust settings from here.  I keep the range finder just to the right of the control panel, and bit closer to my field of view during combat.

I like to keep upcoming DXE warnings off to the top left of my character, coming down the screen as they get closer, and then flying over to the right when they are about to occur.  This gives me a nice visual cue to glance at the next boss ability or phase transition, without cluttering up the middle of my screen.  I have urgent warnings come up just above my character’s head.  I still manage to miss these sometimes, but it’s not the fault of my UI setup. 🙂  DXE will also put up nice little arrows suggesting where to run to avoid things like malleable goo, which can be very helpful in the heat of battle, and I have these display above my character.

I manage my action bars with the Razr Naga bar addon, since that’s the mouse I use.  I believe it was based on Dominos, a popular bar replacement mod.  I have also used Bartender to good effect.  Basically, any addon that will allow you to move your bars around, so you can put Grid in a central location, while help you out.  I keep a set of bars with little used spells or items hidden unless I mouse over the bar, since they are things I don’t really need to see in combat.  This helps keep more space free to see what is happening.

Omen is basically a required addon at this point, and I have mine near the bottom right of my screen, to the right of my action bars.  As a healer, this is not quite as important to me as it would be for a tank or DPS, but I still like to have this information available, and see if any DPS is about to pull aggro, and therefore need big heals.

Skada damage meters are on the far bottom right.  I like Skada over Recount, because it is modular and seems to cause less lag for me.  I can choose exactly which things I want to track, and it will only load those functions, saving me some memory.  I pretty much only want to know damage, healing, and healing+absorbs.  Absorbs is another advantage to Recount, which does not handle this type of healing well, at least out of the box. Note how my alt paladin Edhelarn rocked the damage meters while tanking at level 36.  That’s what a lot of heirlooms will do for you. 🙂

TotemTimers lives just below Grid, where I can see which totems are out, how many players are in range of my totems, and can adjust my totems as needed.

Above my right action bar I display the ankh timer, shield and weapon buff information from TotemTimers.

To manage everything, I use ChocolateBar.  ChocolateBar is a LibDataBroker display.  This gets a bit complicated to understand if you’re not a programmer, but the actual addon works great.  Basically, if you’ve used TitanPanel or FuBar, ChocolateBar is trying to do the same thing.  It can take information from most of your existing addons and display them in a central location.  There are also lots of standalone “plugins” that consolidate very useful information.  You can see ChocolateBar along the bottom of my UI.

On the bottom left I have the small icons for most of the addons discussed above, where I can access their configuration menus and make adjustments.  On this side I also have a plugin to show my guild members (great for easily seeing who is online, inviting with one click, etc).  Towards the right I can see my bags using Baggins and manage my gold across all my characters.  There are many useful plugins for the LibDataBroker system, and I encourage you to head over to Curse.com and see what works for you.

Those are the basics of my UI and addon setup.  I may do a future post on some of the “optional” addons that I find most helpful, but they are not really things I use in a raid.  Hopefully this post, along with my post on Grid and upcoming post on Clique, will give you a nice start towards tweaking your own UI.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 1, 2010 12:46 AM

    One Grid plugin I’ve found really useful as a resto shaman is GridStatusCloseup, which adds a status indicator to show when people are within a configurable range of each other (I set it to 12 yards). It can also change the indicator colour depending on how many people are in range – I’ve set mine to show a yellow indicator if 2 or fewer people are in range, and green for 3 or more. I find it useful because I can tell at a glance whether it’s worth CHing someone, or if they’re not near anyone else just RT/LHW them.

    • March 1, 2010 10:24 AM

      Great tip; I will definitely look into that Zobu.

  2. March 1, 2010 1:41 AM

    Just so you know, you can create an additional window within Skada for threat, or have it switch from DPS/Healing -> Threat when you enter combat. I’m not sure if there is another reason you’re using Omen, but this might free up an addon that may not be required.

    Also, good call on using Tidy Plates, I found this helped across all my chars whether they’re tanking, healing or DPSing; it’s just so much cleaner.

    RE the HUD: I’ve never personally found that type of display to be helpful to me (mainly because I already have powerauras showing me Tidal Waves around my char), but use the default UI unit frames yet I’m thinking of switching to something a lot cleaner. Do you just use grid? Or do you have another addon for unit frames?

    Cheers

  3. March 1, 2010 7:13 AM

    It looks lovely! You use almost the same mod lineup as I do (which means great minds think alike or we’re both horribly horribly wrong.) But yours looks somewhat cleaner than mine. Hrm…

    I really really have been meaning to try Skada… recount is laggy. I have just turned the thing off and I’m kind of enjoying a meter-free world…

    Which unit frames do you use for target, target of target, etc?

    • March 1, 2010 10:45 AM

      I used Skada for threat for a while, but for some reason went back to Omen. I don’t remember why, but if you want to use less addons, that’s definitely an option!

      I don’t have much need for unitfames. IceHUD will give me a frame for myself (above my left action bar) and my target (top of the screen). I have my focus target’s health/mana just to the right of mine on the HUD. I find that I don’t really need to know target’s target, focus target’s target, etc. as a healer, so I don’t display that info.

      I use Grid for everything else unit-frame related. Note, you can set a keybinding in Clique to allow you to select the unit on a left click within Grid, instead of cast the heal you have bound to that action. I’m slow, so it took me a while to figure that out. I use CTRL+ALT at the same time, which allows me to select a character as my target to summon, make him my focus, set a raid mark, etc.

      Thanks for the great feedback, I love learning about new UI features.

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