Archive for January, 2013

Giving a shout out…

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

So I have to give a shout out to Mike Preach over at Preach Gaming.  I’ve mentioned him before but he is the one I am modeling my UI after.  He has his own UI download if you want to try his.  It’s pretty clean and I am finding that, for the most part, it’s the way I want mine.  Though I do use different addons for some things.

The simplicity of his interface is extremely nice.  You have your main focus in the middle of the screen.  He uses Pitbull for unit frames and I use ShadowedUF.  That’s the big thing you will see.  He also uses BigWigs instead of DBM.  Again, that’s kinda a personal preference and they both work very similarly.    And I use WeakAuras and he uses TellMeWhen.  WeakAuras gives more flexibility for things like adding dynamic groups, but TellMeWhen is a quick and dirty, easy to use monitoring addon.

Overall, if you are looking for a clean interface and don’t know where to start, check out Preach’s interface.  It’s simple to download and he has a quick video on how to set it up.  I’ve gone through it and it’s pretty simple.

There is another popular UI pack out there called ElvUI.  I tried it briefly.  I have to say that though it looks extremely clean, it was much harder for me to customize some of the things I like.  Like additional spell bars, the bag setup, etc.  I do love the unit frames though since you can actually overlay the character portrait directly onto the health bar.  I’ve seen several bloggers/streamers out there that use it.  Again, it looks really nice but it’s kinda like an “all your eggs in one basket” setup.  If you like that, go for it.

Want versus Need

Monday, January 28th, 2013

So I started recording my game play with Fraps (great software but it uses a LOT of disk space) and really looking at how I play and what I use.  And it was kind of a shocker.

I have a TON of addons.  Almost all parts of my UI are customized.  But this comes with a couple down sides.  First, when patch day rolls around, I tend to have at least a few broken addons.  It also puts a bit of extra load on my system though that’s not too big of a deal with the hardware I have.  Lastly, there is the issue of “what is this weird addon and why is it doing something odd?”  Sometimes, things don’t break, they just change.  An addon author adds something, removes something, changes something.  And you sit there and wonder “why does my screen look different?”

So what did I find?  I found that I had a lot of addons just creating clutter.  I had to decide which addons I “want” and which ones I “need”.  And it’s tough!

I had added a Scrolling Combat Text addon just before raid so I had not tweaked it at all.  And it created a lot of “spam” on my screen.  But I also found that some of my addons seemed either unnecessary or duplicated with other things.  Like my SUF raid frames shows buffs and debuffs on a target.  But I also had Raven to track that sort of thing also.  Did I need both?  Nope.  Should I keep both?  I’m still undecided on that.  And here’s my reason why.  Review.  When I watch the video after the fact, I can’t “mouseover” a debuff to see what it is.  So having it up in a text format is nice.  But do I need it when I play?  Nope.  And, depending on what it is and where it is, I might not even look at it during play.

Organization is key.  Making sure the important things that I do look at are in the middle of the screen.  My WeakAuras, Vuhdo, DBM warnings, things like that.  They need to be where I am focused.  Things like buff/debuffs, scrolling combat text, raid frames, they can all be off to the side somewhere.  Smaller.  Invisible while I am playing but visible to look at when I review the video.

Thinking about how I play, I could minimize to just a few addons.  Things I NEED are DBM and GTFO.  Other “almost need” stuff is like Bartender, Vuhdo and some sort of unit frames.  I could use mouseover macros (look up Episode 4 of the Training Dummies if you need help with them) to heal with over the built-in raid frames.  And I may try that at some point.  But I wonder to myself “why?”  Why not use addons if they do a specific job and do it well?  Like Vuhdo.  Vuhdo (or Healbot if you prefer) is an excellent healing addon.  Single clicking to cast different types of heals, it shows debuffs and other peoples heals.  It can even show estimated incoming healing.  Most of that is duplicated by mouseover macros and raid frames.  I think it’s the “ease of setup” and maybe a few minor “better” things here and there that really make the addons shine.

Blizzard has done a great job at making things work well without addons.  But honestly, a few are really nice and they can enhance your gameplay.

Bitten by the bug…

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

So I’ve been bitten by the bug.  The Alt-bug that is.  I started messing around on my Boomkin/Resto druid (86) and my Guardian/Feral druid (85).  I’ve also been working on my rogue (88) and my low level WW/MW Monk (64).  All the while still doing some dailies on my 90’s and farming up crops.

Wholly cow!  How do you keep it all straight?  Well, sometimes I don’t.  LOL!  But most times, I can.  I have a strategy.  When I first started healing and using Vuhdo, I looked into getting a mouse with multiple buttons I could use for Vuhdo.  I tried a couple but ended up with a Steelseries Legendary Mouse.  I love it and use most of the buttons for different heals on Vuhdo.

Most healing classes have similar healing spells.  You have your HoT, your “fast, expensive heal”, your “slow, big heal”, your “cheap, slow, medium heal” and general AoE heals and buffs.  I tend to try to put my heals in similar spots for my different healing classes.  For instance, Rejuvenation and Riptide share the right click button in Vuhdo.  Same goes for Regrowth and Healing Surge.  They share the lower button on the left side of the mouse.  I made up a picture of the mouse in Word and numbered the buttons how they are numbered in Vuhdo.  So I can quickly refresh myself what spells are where.  By knowing what spells, in general, are where, I can get back into the swing of things with a healing class faster when class switching.

But what about the dps side?  I have to admit, my controls are probably not optimal.  People always say “to get the fastest response, keybind EVERYTHING and use the mouse to control movement.”  But one thing I have learned over the years is that I move and attack.  I seem to do it a lot.  Especially strafing.  I am never happy just standing in one spot and going through my rotation.  Even on toons like my warlock, I move.  Mostly because the bloody tanks are always moving and grabbing adds and stuff.  Nothing ever stands still.  I move to get out of stuff.  Or to move into good stuff (like heals – do it folks – make your healers happy).  I move to get a better shot on something or get myself into a better position for an AoE spell.  I can’t not move.  And it seems like we have to in MoP more than in previous expansions.

So I still use the standard movement keys.  ASWD and QE to strafe.  “ARRGGHHH!!!  KEYBOARD TURNER!” the mob screams accusingly.  Yeah, sometimes.  But I more tend to use my mouse to turn quick if I need to.  Most times though, I have found things don’t suddenly appear behind you.  And that strafing to the side while keyboard turning can get you re-positioned fairly quickly also.  I’m not saying it never happens though, like in Spirit Kings.  When you fight Qiang the Merciless you run through him when he starts to do the annihilate.  When I run through, I quickly mouse turn.  But if Subetai the Swift starts to volley, I don’t turn and run with the mouse, I strafe and turn with the keyboard.  Remember, I’m a healer normally so I am waiting with my mouse over the Vuhdo panes to heal someone.  It’s hard to move when you click to heal.

DPS man!  Stay on topic!  So after watching all sorts of videos on moving and keybinding and such, and having difficulties translating that into how I play (with the healer mentality) I settled on my own way to keybind.  To my mouse.  I use Bartender to modify my bars on my characters.  Of all the buttons on my mouse, I find I use about 6 easily.  I could use a 7th but honestly, that is the default auto-run button and I like using it for that.  LOL!  The nice thing about the Steelseries mouse is that it is directly integrated into the game.  The buttons can be linked to directly without having to setup something third party.  I do have a Logitech G19 keyboard and I had to do some funky stuff to make use of the extra keys on the left.  But the mouse had none of that.  :)  Go into the keybinds, find the button you want to bind, click and you’re done.

So with my Bartender I setup 3 rows of spells.  Top row was my normal mouse clicks.  This was the 6 spells I used the most on a character.  Normally not cooldowns and such unless they are really short.  Or very special (like Ascendance) and I didn’t really have anything better to put there.  On my second row, I tend to put AoE spells.  Or spells that are still used a lot but not as much.  You might find a few more short cooldown spells there.  Things like buffs that drop frequently.  This second row is cast by holding down shift and mouse clicking.  And then the last row I put my cooldowns.  The last row is simply numbers 1 through 6 on the keyboard.  With 3 being my most often used CD.  This gives me 12 spells I can cast via my mouse while still moving with my keyboard.

Yeah, but you still keyboard turn!  Yeah, sometimes I do.  But we can’t have everything.  I have yet to see a good guide on how to heal and move well.  It just requires too much.  I think my way works for me and after doing it for years, my muscle memory is becoming quite adept at it.  Relating my dps and tank setups to a similar style helps that muscle memory to still work when switching classes.  I find I rarely stand in crap (with help from every raiders buddy, GTFO) and can move well when needed.

If you play a lot of alts, doing a similar thing can help you get into the swing of a class when you switch toons after a bit.  And check out the multi-button mice like the Steelseries Legendary mouse and the Razer Naga.  The extra buttons really do make a huge difference.  Especially if you have the same healer mentality I do and feel that you just can’t get completely away from the keyboard for movement.

Oh, and one last thing.  Many people have suggested in their keybinding videos to change strafe to A and D and not turn.  This does open up two more keys to bind spells to and if you need to “circle strafe” something, you just turn with the mouse. While this may work for some dps, I find that moving my mouse on and off the Vuhdo frames to do the turning actually slows me down more.  And with keybinding to my mouse, I can still get enough buttons to do most everything I need to.  But what ever you do, give it a good try.  Don’t try it for an hour of dailies and then give up.  It takes awhile to build up that muscle memory.  Moving the mouse less to “click” your spells on your bars will make you a faster, more reactive player and increase both your survivability and your dps.  And being alive through the entire fight is always more fun than being dead.  :)

Say Cheese!

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Yesterday I made cheese for the first time.  It was not a super long process but it did take some work.  So while I was doing this, I was not playing WoW.  In fact, I did not play it much at all yesterday.  And that got me thinking…

Our characters in WoW are reflections of ourselves.  It’s who we are and what we like to do.  There is so much to do in WoW and I could easily fill a day with just playing WoW.  But making a New Year’s Resolution to spend more time with my wife and to help more around the house has got me thinking.  What are my priorities in WoW?  And what do I like to do for “fun”?

Farming – this is a big one for me. (Check out the Farmville post if you want more info.)  I love the “Christmas” feel of walking onto your farm and seeing how many Golden Lotus have spawned from the crops you planted.  I’m probably averaging about 5-6 a day over my three toons that I have planting crops.  But I have seen as little as 1 and as high as 11.  I try to get on each day just to do my crops.

As a side note, Mysteiria just hit max rep with Nomi yesterday (from her Cooking School Bell) so now she can get a free Iron Paw Token every day.  Eventually, she will have a full set of cooking gear.

Valor Points – I try to cap at least one toon each week in VP’s.  Capping Valor Points each week gives you a buff.  This is really nice for my alts to get a little extra.  The catch is that most times I can’t cap until the weekend so I miss a lot of the extra VP’s.  It’s also a matter of which toon do I cap on?  If I cap Myst, then I get nothing extra from our Sunday night raids when I kill a boss.  If I cap Cyndir, then eventually, I will have a toon with nothing really to spend VP’s on.  Or…  I can cap whatever my most recent 90 is and then play my other toons.

Right now I’ve been capping Cyndir because he is such a blast to play.  And if I get more confident in his tanking, it will go even faster with the bonus of possible pets and mounts.  But Grayghost is coming up in levels and soon, I will be running Scenarios and Instances on him for gear and VP’s.

LFR – I know a lot of people who don’t like LFR.  And it has it’s moments when it feels like a grind.  It can be challenging when you don’t know the fights or have others that just can’t seem to do them.  But it can be rewarding too.  The gear is nice and the fights are pretty cool.  But again, it comes down to time.  I have 2 toons that are LFR ready.  Cyndir and Myst.  Myst is pretty well geared.  She could use a couple pieces from LFR, mostly more tier pieces, but she does not need much.  Cyndir could always use more gear and I do think he is more fun to play.  But can I devote hours of LFR time to him when he is not my “main”?

Raiding – We raid twice a week for two hours a night.  It doesn’t seem like much but it’s fun.  We’re still working on the first two bosses in MV.  I raid on Myst as a healer and so I try to focus on her when I get gear and running LFR.  But, given the option, I would love to sub in with Cyndir for a dps.  He’s a strong dps and can bring some utility to a fight.

Instances and Scenarios – These are fun and go pretty quick.  With having a ranged and melee dps, a healer and a tank, I have a pretty good feel for all of the “heroics” that are currently available at 90.  This makes it fun to do them.  Most times I queue up as dps on Myst or Cyndir and then queue up for a scenario.  This gives me a little extra valor and a chance at a purple piece from the Cache of Treasures.  And it helps to kill the time as you wait for the instance to pop.

Reputation Grinds – These have slowed for me.  I’m not a big collector of vanity items so things like mounts, pets and transmog gear really don’t excite me.  So for Myst, I pushed to get all of her reps to Revered or better so that when 5.1 dropped and the commendations came out for double rep, she could snatch those up right away.  It’s been a huge help in leveling alts.  But honestly, I really don’t worry about those with alts IF they don’t have anything to gain.  Grayghost will work on getting the Leatherworking patterns after he hits 90.  And of course all my toons must have full farms.  LOL!  But other than that, it will be just as I have time.

Auction House – I have two toons that work the AH for me.  Selling all my wares.  This can actually be a major time sink.  It takes a lot of time to post over 1000 glyphs.  LOL!  But the nice thing is that I can do this on a second instance of WOW as I play a main toon.

For now, that’s my activities in WoW.  These suck up the majority of my time spent.  With my resolutions, I will have to prioritize them and be a bit more picky about what I do and do not do.  I could easily play for 8 hours a day, every day and not be bored.  But I don’t want that life.  Get out and make some cheese people.  It’s awesome!