Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's time to get your mod on!

Blizzard's basic UI has just about everything you need, but most players, including myself, find that third-party modifications can make playing the game easier and more visually appealing. I've always tried to remain "mod light" to avoid unwanted problems and system slowdowns, but since beginning Draezele's career, I've found myself slowly adding mods and am currenty up around two dozen altogether. I'm constantly reevaluating these mods in the vague interest of "performance," but there are several that, while I could live without, I'd sorely miss.

The majority of the mods I use are from the Ace2 library, so if a link isn't provided, I suggest trying WoWAce Downloads first. Failing that, Curse is the other major source of mods I use.

  • Deadly Boss Mods - An indispensible tool for raiding, DBM provides timers and raid warnings for all boss fights currently in the game. No serious raider should be without this mod!
  • Natur Enemy Cast Bars - Displays debuffs, stuns, cooldowns, DoTs, HoTs and respawn timers for a wide variety of PvP and PvE scenarios. DoT- and HoT-heavy classes may want their own specialized timers, but I've found this more than sufficient for my needs as a shaman (or hunter).
  • X-Perl Unit Frames - One of many unitframes mods, X-Perl modifies all of the unit frames to more visually appealing versions. It allows a fair amount of customization, including moving frames to different locations and (for the visually inclined) 3-D portraits. I actually don't use the raid frames myself (I prefer Grid), but a lot of my guildmates swear by them.
  • Bartender 3 - Bartender is one of the better bar addons I've found, which allows you to create (and hide) up to 12 different bars. It is highly customizeable and can be used to place buttons where you really need them, such as the middle of the screen, and to hide the ones you always use keybindings for.
  • Grid and GridManaBars - Of the variety of raid frames available, I've found Grid to be the best. It's compact and can be customized to provide just the information you need (I'll describe my own settings when I post about my UI setup). For non-healing classes that want to see the entire raid at once without all the clutter of most raid frames, I would recommend Grid.
  • Totem Timers - There are a dizzying number of totems, more than you can reasonably assign to keybindings. Totem Timers organizes them all for you in an easy-to-use format, allowing you to cast your "usual" totems with a single click, or to select others from a drop-down (or drop-up) list. It also includes timers for weapon buffs (Windfury, etc.), your Reincarnation cooldown, and Earth Shield and Water/Lightning Shield procs/time remaining.
  • zHunterMod - An autoshot timer is critical to playing a hunter well and zHunter provides just that. There are a lot of other timers out there (including Quartz below), but I like the included Aspect and Trap selection menus simply so that I don't have to clutter my UI with them. (Jezele's UI is much less modified, otherwise I'd probably just use Quartz and Bartender to achieve this functionality.)
  • Quartz - One of the best casting bar replacements available, Quartz includes a latency indicator as well as a swing/autoshot timer. It will also display casting bars for your target and focus target.
  • FuBar - FuBar is a modular addon that can be used to dock a variety of mods and information. A list of plugins is available on the WoWAce Downloads page. The ones I currently use are: AmmoFu, BagFu (displays empty slots), ClockFu, Durability (shows armor durability), FactionsFu (tracks faction gains), FarmerFu (item tracker), HonorFu (tracks honor earned), LocationFu (includes coordinates), MoneyFu, NameToggleFu (toggle character nameplates), PerformanceFu (displays FPS, latency and memory usage), RegenFu (displays time inside 5-second rule), SwitcherFu (switch to full-screen/windowed mode), Usage (shows mod memory usage), and VolumeFu.
  • ItemRack - Although no longer supported by the original author, I still find ItemRack to be the most intuitive and easy-to-use gear-switching addon out there. It's also integrated with TrinketMenu for those who swap trinkets frequently (I don't, so I don't use it).
  • Rating Buster - Integrates with tooltips to display the actual effects of the combat ratings (crit rating, hit rating, etc.) and provides comparisons to currently equipped gear.
  • Aloft and AloftPresets - Replaces the health bars displayed over characters' heads using the 'v' key. I find it less visually cluttered than the default, plus it integrates with MobHealth3 (also found on WoWAce) to provide estimates of health remaining.
  • Recount - One of the most complete damage meters out there. For personal use, it may be a bit much (it's definitely a system hog), but it's a great tool for raid leaders to judge players' performance on the fly. I previously used
  • KLH Threatmeter or Omen - Being able to gauge your current threat is a major advantage for all DPS and tanks, to the point of becoming a "must have" addon if you play either of these roles. For healers, it's less critical since you should rarely be pulling aggro unless the MT is dead (I personally don't have either installed, but it could be useful in knowing who the next target of a loose mob is likely to be).
  • Proximo and WitchHunt - I use these mods for arenas. Proximo displays your opponent's health bars and syncs with your teammates, while WitchHunt displays alerts for all spells cast by your opponents.

Other mods that I'm currently using, but are not "critical" are:
  • Align - Displays a grid over the UI to assist with aligning UI components.
  • ArkInventory - Customizable inventory/bag replacement
  • Cartographer - Map replacement, including instance maps (and loot). Can also be used to track gathering nodes.
  • Clear Font 2 - Font replacement
  • Range Recolor - Colors buttons red when out of range.
  • Simple MiniMap - Modify and move the minimap.


Dajay said...

Very nice post, just a little remark, don't forget that some "serious raiders" plays without any boss mods.

Dajay said...

Hey, you almost forget a real good one for Shamies : Shaman Friend :D

Draezele said...

You don't have to use DBM or another boss mod to raid, but most of the high-end guilds require their members to use one and considering how much easier it makes most fights, you'd be crazy not to use one. They're not always perfect, but they're definitely a big improvement over just reading the chat/combat log.

I haven't seen Shaman Friend before, but most of its features are already included in the mods I use. The one feature I might be interested in is the report of which spell was purged (although with the display of enemy buffs in 2.3, this may be less useful). LO and Windfury reports are nice, but as a Resto shaman, they're of little use to me. ;) Thanks for pointing me towards this, though - if the developer adds more features, it may very well be worth trying out.

Finwe said...

There's a couple key things that seem to be missing here.

Omen / KTM - Threat Meters to make sure you don't pull aggro (or keep it if you play a tank)

Decursive - If you're not using the cleansing totems (or even if you are), this provides a quick way to see who has a debuff you can fix, and it offers a left-click or right-click option to remove the debuff. Very helpful as a raid healer.

That's about it for the major things, but I don't like to go out fishing without my Fishing Buddy mod.

Draezele said...

As a Resto shaman, I don't have much use for threat meters since the only time I'm likely to be pulling aggro is when the MT is dead. For DPS, however, it is definitely an important mod to have (I listed it on my guild site as a "must have" for all non-healers). The post was written from the perspective of a healer, but I'll add that in for completeness!

I've never needed Decursive because I've always stuck to raid frames that are capable of selectively displaying debuffs that I can remove (formerly used OzRaid, now use Grid). It doesn't have the one-click functionality (although Clique will give you that), but as all my keybindings include the [target=mouseover] modifier, it's essentially one-click -- just of the keyboard, rather than the mouse.

I don't spend a lot of time fishing these days (never bothered with Drae), but a fishing mod of some sort is definitely a huge plus if you spend a lot of time fishing.

Thanks for the comments!

Obso1ete said...

As a resto shaman I personally am in love with healbot, though for larger raids it does get cumbersome. I haven't searched around much for a replacement though so I'm not sure how the spread is in that regard.