When I lived back in LA, I used to spend some weekends working at the Lowrider Car Show. It was an amazing experience, if for nothing else than sheer morbid curiosity about what someone armed with yards of purple felt, rolls of yellow piping and a deep, abiding appreciation for the Lakers can do to a ‘87 Caddy. Sometimes when I’m looking through the UI forum threads on various sites, I get that same feeling I did standing in front of a Chevy with mirror panels or the drop-top with shag carpeting—to each his own.
So, as a new blogger, I thought I would throw my hat into the ring and offer up my own tricked out UI (sans bikini girl), complete with my list of absolutely, unequivocally indispensable add-ons, in the hopes that there might be something useful in my own homage to customization.
The Brief Explanation
I revamp my UI every couple of months, whether due to a new hardware acquisition (which allowed me to finally utilize keys 6 through =) or an attempt to further refine the way in which information is presented. As you can see in the screenshot above, I feature my raid frames front and center. Incidental information, like chat, extraneous spells/actions, meters, and totem bars are banished to the left and right sides, so that my eyes don’t have to stray too far away from the middle of my screen.
The Add-ons I Can’t Live Without
Grid – This compact, powerhouse of information is so integral to my healing that raiding without it feels like I’m back in high school learning how to drive a stickshift. In order to exercise more control over the buffs/debuffs I see, I elect not to use GridStatusRaidDebuff, (though it does require more effort on my part to make sure that I have all necessary auras included.) And because our entire healing team uses Grid, we can establish assignments based on relative positioning, eg: first mage in G3, and know that we’re all talking about the same person. (This makes assigning Penetrating Cold healers to targets an absolute breeze.
Clique – I didn’t fully appreciate the glory of this add-on until Ulduar hit and I was introduced to Hodir, who forced me to either lose my lead healer feet or die. Since then, my Riptide usage has gone up from 0% – 30% (approximately) on movement-based fights, and my response time to incoming damage has improved significantly as well. Although I gave mouse-over macros a try, using Clique allowed me to free up additional primary hotkeys for other crucial CDs and macros. (My eternal thanks to Bogaa on Cho’gall for this one. He is my own shaman Yoda.)
Power Auras Classic – Another add-on that I discovered in the last six months, PowerAuras has quickly become something I cannot live without. Setting up very noticeable visual and auditory warnings has enabled me to increase my WS/ES uptime, stay out of fires, clear debuffs faster and be more efficient about my mana replenishment options. Though you won’t see it in the screenshot above, I have a number of warnings/timers set up, including a BoP timer, a Riptide CD alert, Earthshield count, mana threshold alerts, Watershield replenishment, etc. which display right in the middle of my screen.
Decursive – One of those redundant crutches that I still cling to, I keep decursive on my screen so that I can easily (and peripherally) reference what raid members are affected by what poisons/curses/diseases. Though this is information that I could simply display in grid and solve with one macro, I found that the clutter it added to my raid frames actually degraded the clarity of information and demanded more of my focus to interpret. Since the last thing I want is to be tunneling into my raid frames in the middle of a chaotic fight, Decursive squares for everyone!
Addons that I find helpful (but not crucial):
BigWigs – for obvious reasons, any boss timer out there can be a very helpful tool for a healer by acclimating you to damage trends and fight milestones. In the DBM versus BW versus DVE battle, BigWigs still wins out for ease of use, clarity of information, and timer accuracy. But I can’t say I pay much attention to it beyond the occasional glance.
Skada – Although my competitive edge sometimes gets the best of me and momentarily convinces me that meters do matter, most days I find Skada is a useful tool for identifying the “whys” and “hows” of a wipe or kill. Although our guild runs WoL in realtime during every raid, I often find that a quick death log or incoming damage review in game is quicker than alt-tabbing to query the online log. Dispels, healing breakdowns, interrupts, and target-specific damage are also nice features to have at my fingertips.
The Honorable Mentions for Important but not Live-Saving:
Buffalo, Chinchilla, Pitbull, Kgpanels, Bartender, Outfitter, TotemTimers, Quartz, Omen, Prat, Classtimers