Friday, October 12, 2007

Keybindings and the Nostromo Speedpad n52

Although there are certainly players out there that excel using nothing but mouse-clicks, most players' find their reaction time is greatly improved through the use of keybindings. All classes have lots of skills in their arsenal, but the majority only need a half dozen or so to be truly effective (with most everything else clickable in a more leisurely fashion).

As shaman, we don't have that luxury. Between our various healing spells, shocks, lightning bolts, and totems, we could easily fill the entire keyboard with key bindings. The most difficult part is that we actually use most of those skills and don't want to rely on getting our cursor over the right spot to click. For maximum speed, however, we need those key bindings to be close by and easy-to-reach.

Enter the Nostromo Speedpad n52 (and the soon to be released n52te). This wonderful accessory gives you a bunch more keys in a comfortable, more accessible fashion (especially if you're willing to use the mouse to move, freeing up your other hand for casting spells exclusively). It takes a little bit of time to set up initially, but after you've gotten used to using it, you won't want to go back.

The first step is to configure your Speedpad to the desired key configuration. By default, it's set to the usual QWERTY keyboard layout. I chose to use the keybindings used by Blizzard's action bar (plus a couple extra) simply so that I could still function using the basic keyboard if I was using a different computer. I bound the most commonly used skills to 1-4 since they're the easiest to reach on the standard keyboard, and assigned them to the middle keys of the n52 because they are where my fingers rest naturally. The layout I eventually settled on was:

My Speedpad n52 Layout

Fourteen keys weren't enough, however, so I assigned the thumb button to the 'CTRL' key to double the number of possible keybindings (either through directly binding macros to the CTRL-<#> key or by placing a [modifier:ctrl] in my macro to switch spells). I also set the directional pad to forward/back and straffe left/right and the red button to 'ESC.'

After you have your Speedpad set up, it's time to assign bindings. I prioritized my list of spells and came up with the following keybindings (keys refer to the key map above). In all cases, I tried to group the base key and the CTRL-key functions to similar skills.

KeyAction+CTRL Action
1Lesser Healing WaveNS + Healing Wave macro
2Chain HealHealing Wave (Rank 1)
3Healing Wave (Rank 8)Healing Wave (Rank 12)
5Lightning BoltChain Lightning
6Earth Shock (Rank 1)Grounding Totem
7Frost ShockEarthbind Totem
8Flame ShockMount macro
9Healing Stream TotemTalasite Owl trinket
0Mana Spring TotemMana Tide Totem
-Cure PoisonCure Disease
=Earth ShieldWater Shield
\Fire Resist. TotemFrost Resist. Totem
`Tremor TotemTranquil Air Totem

In all cases, my healing spells use the [target=mouseover] modifier as I described in my Useful Macros post.

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