Jan 26, 2010

The New-New UI

I haven't done a UI post since March, 2009 and when I run random heroics, I've been asked a couple of times how I track cooldowns and such to maximize my DPS. So here it goes. This is my current UI.

(click image to enlarge, click here for full size (warning: 775kb - 2560x1600))

So, let's start at the top. Across the top of the screen, I use ChocolateBar to display all my broker addons. Since FuBar is no longer the bar of choice as most plugins are using the broker display, it only made sense to switch. From left to right, we have:

  • BuffEnough - explained later
  • Cork - explained later
  • Decursive - to be explained later
  • Omen - explained later
  • Broker_BlizzEquipmentSet - an easy way to switch between my 3 defined equipment sets - PvP, PvE, and Naked
  • Broker_CPU Memory - your standard performance monitor
  • Broker_repair - a standard repair status
  • Broker_GemGuild - an easy way to see who is on in your guild
  • Broker_GemFriends - the easy way to see which friends are on
  • Broker_AltGuild - shows you who is on in a second guild of your choosing
  • Broker_Money - how much money you and your alts have
  • Broker_Portals - a one click stop for all portals, teleports, and other means of transportation (e.g. Dalaran ring, Argent Tourney Tabard, Hearthstone)
  • Broker_Wintergrasper - shows you who holds Wintergrasp, how long until the next battle, and best of all, can be configured to announce to yourself, or more (I have it announcing to the guild) when Wintergrasp starts (I announce at 15 and 5 minutes until the next battle)
  • HeadCount - I used to use this to track loot during our Gold Team 25 man runs, but I am no longer the loot master, but I still use it to track raids - a great tool
  • Prat - your standard chat modifier - I have found that it also handles alt names as well which has been awesome
  • Bartender4 - standard bar manager
  • Ora2 - raid manager (tanks, cooldowns, ready checks)
  • Grid - more on this later
  • GatherMate - tracks gathering nodes on your map
  • Chocolate Bar - your bar config

So now we can look at the left side of the screen. I keep it generally uncluttered. The less clutter on the screen, the better. Since our guild hasn't made the move to Ora3 yet, I'm still using Ora2 and it serves me well. I have my main tank frames and below that I can track cooldowns such as battle resses and other class-specific cooldowns. To the right of the cooldowns I have my Deadly Boss Mods timers. Towards the middle of the screen, you can see where they go when they are close to occurring, but we'll get to that later.

Over here on the right, we have a couple of important mods. First up is one I've been using for ages - Elkano's BuffBars. These buff bars are amazing and keep everything in an easy to see spot. I absolutely love them and have found nothing comparable. Next, there's this little box that shows my spellpower, cirt, haste and hit rating at that exact moment. This box is courtesy Mage Nuggets. Mage Nuggets has - as the name implies - many nuggets that are useful to a mage. I use this nugget and one other and have turned the rest off. It's pretty cool to be able to just glance over at any given point and see that my current SP, with all buffs from all raid members is 4,228. What's even more fun is watching my haste move up and down. Fully raid buffed, I'm sitting at about 41% haste. With Icy Veins, Pushing the Limit (2 piece T10 bonus), and Wrath of Air Totem, I'm at 99.98% - with Heroism, it's even better (I have another screenshot with heroism, but no Icy Veins which has me at 116.65% haste). And finally, we have Omen - it's THE threat meter to use. However, it seems like I only really need to use it in random heroics these days as the tanks in my guild rock.

(click image to enlarge)

Now, to the guts of the UI - the middle of my screen where all relevant information pops up and which commands my focus 99% of the raid time. At the very top, middle is me. I have everything spread out around me - it makes it easy to keep my situational awareness up since my eyes never have to stray far from the middle of the screen. Around me, I use Power Auras to give me information that I need the exact moment I need it. The ( 10 ) that you see shows how long I have left on my Icy Veins. Below it, in yellow will pop up a similar counter that shows how much time I have left on my Heroism. These two numbers are extremely important because if you are having mana issues and need an Evocate, if you trigger it with 1 second to go on either Icy Veins or Heroism, it benefits from the haste buff for the full duration of the channel. This obviously reduces your cast time and generates mana in the fastest way possible. The skull-like looking thing directly under my feet is my Missile Barrage alert. It tells me that I have Missile Barrage, and I need to use it ASAP. With 2 piece T10 giving that awesome haste bonus when a Missile Barrage is used, the current theorycrafting advises you use your Arcane Missiles with 2, 3, or 4 stacks of Arcane Blast - in essence, just use it as soon as you can to activate the hast bonus which will haste your missiles and two arcane blasts after the missiles.

Continuing down, we have Scorchio 2 to track my Arcane Blast stacks and other good information. It's always helpful to know exactly when your mirror images will fall off so you can start casting an Invisibility if you are above the tank's threat for some reason. Off to the left, I have my Grid setup so I can at a glance quickly determine who is still alive in the raid or who really needs some healing. It's always fun on a decimate to see everyone drop to no HP and then watch as some die while others are healed up. It's not necessary to really use this, but I just like to monitor the raid when I have time. And, if I can see 90% of the raid is dead, I can pop Invis and maybe stay alive rather than wipe. Directly to the right of that is a little green box. It seems to blend into Decursive, but it's not that...it's BuffEnough. It turns green when you have all the buffs you need. Missing a well fed buff? It'll be red. No flask? Red. No Kings? Red. It's great and helps me if I've forgotten something during the buffing. So next to that, I've got Decursive. Just a quick click here and there to decurse when needed or to sheep that mind controlled target and I'm set. It's a great addon and one a mage might not think to have, but it just makes decursing so easy, there's no reason not to have it.

And now that green bar with all the cooldowns in the middle of it - what this is is a couple of things layered on top of each other. Underneath the green bar, we have a simple Bartender4 bar. This has all my most frequently used items. From left to right, we have: Evocation, Mana Gem, Escape Artist, Talisman of Resurgence, Icy Veins, Presence of Mind + Arcane Blast, Mirror Images, Arcane Power, and then the all-in-one button. The far right button is my macro that activates everything but POM+AB (since you can't use it at the same time as Arcane Power). So with just one click I can activate them all, or if two are off cooldown, I can activate those with one click. It allows me selective use of my cooldown abilities or use of them all at the same time. It's great. Overlaid on top of that is my Quartz cast bar. So as I'm casting, the cast bar shows up there, and I can easily see right under my cast bar which abilities are ready to be used. Why spread these items out when you can stack them and save room? The Quartz cast bar is amazing since it allows me to get a good idea of how my latency is affecting my cast timing which allows me to queue casts in a timely manner.

Lastly, at the bottom, we have your standard Pitbull unit frames. I have mine, the target's target, and my target as the ones that are shown all the time. Using my sheep focus macro, I'll have the focus target show up to the left of my target with my focus' target above the focus bar. To the right, my pet (if I'm controlling a pet or machine) shows up with my pet/machine's target above that. It all works out quite nicely.

Along the bottom, it's pretty standard - from left to right I have - my chat windows (all nicely formatted by Prat), my map (the awesome SexyMap), more Bartender buttons, a large blank space (which actually has more buttons that only show up on hover), and finally, Recount damage meters. Just used for my own personal tracking - because I hate nothing more than someone showing off because they just AOE'd the best on a trash pull - read here for a wonderful article on Why I Hate DPS Meters.

So that's pretty much it - however, there's some things missing. Right above my chat box, if I have to buff someone, Cork will alert me to that. It tells me to give Dalaran Intellect to someone (maybe just one person died on the fight), reminds me if my Molten Armor, and (though it doesn't work perfectly), reminds me to put Focus Magic on another mage.. It's a great little addon. I also use the Mage Nugget that pops up only when the target has a spell I can steal. It's lead to some great discoveries - like in Halls of Stone, a nice buff you can steal called Arcane Haste. I use it mostly for the Deathwhisper encounter, but it's fun to see what other spells are out there to steal. Other addons I use but which don't show up on the screen:

  • _NPCScan - alerts me when a rare mob is found
  • Ackis Recipe List - helps the compulsive collector side of me figure out which recipes I still need to obtain
  • Align - helps me get my screen all lined up perfectly
  • Auctioneer - if you don't know what it is, I can't help you...
  • Mapster - a great replacement for Cartographer which stopped working
  • Gather Mate - used with Mapster to track gathered nodes
  • Map Notes - as it sounds - notes for the map to be used with Mapster (or any other map addon)
  • Gymnast Tooltips - allows me to move the tooltip to the exact position I want it (lower-right just above Recount)
  • MonkeyQuest - the best way to track your quests (hidden in the upper-left corner while raiding)
  • OneBag and OneBank - all your bags and bank slots in one frame
  • Overachiever - THE way to easily browse achievements
  • Sunn Viewport Art - gives me the cool artwork around my top and bottom viewports
  • XLoot - the best way to track loot when used with XLootGroup, XLootMaster, and XLootMonitor. I love it.
And with that, my UI update is complete. Right now I'm extremely happy with my UI and don't plan on making any major changes in the days to come. Later today, when the maintenance boss is gone, I'll post the macros I use while raiding.

A Tribute To Skill

Last night, with our 25 man canceled (not sure why - lack of people on maybe?), we decided to form up a ToGC 10 man run. Previously I had run ToGC10 and we couldn't get past the faction champions, but last night, we tore through the place, reaching Anub'arak with 50 attempts remaining. We spent about 15 minutes explaining the fight, working out our strategy, making sure everything went as planned, and it all worked - almost. We got Anub to 2.0% when he wiped us. We were so close...yet still so far away. After having random fails on the next few attempts due to bad luck, people trying to kite too long, random spike damage on the tanks, we finally got him down with 41 attempts remaining. So no Tribute to Mad Skill when we were so close to a Tribute to Insanity. But we plan on going back in next week after our regular Monday night raid and take him down with 50 attempts left. It's definitely doable.