So okay, let’s just get this out of the way: I seem to be playing WoW again as my primary MMO. I think it’s partially a retreat into an old familiar friend during a time of much external turmoil, and partially the fact that showing up for the end of an expansion means a bounty of content for us slackers. For whatever reason, it’s happening and I don’t wanna hear no guff about it (although I probably deserve some).
Playing Liore-the-goblin again means healing again, which means addons. This weekend I spent far too much time going through a ton of mods, so I’ll share my findings here for others who might be jumping back into it.
My first idea was to just go with one of the established full UI sets so I wouldn’t have to fuss with things. I was running RealUI back when I quit at the start of Cataclysm (many years ago for non-WoW players) so I figured I would give it the first shot. RealUI is still going strong and has a remarkably better installation and set-up system now. That being said, this minimal UI has gone a little too minimalist to the point where I couldn’t tell if that little green stripe on my user frame meant I was getting rested XP or I had accidentally flagged PVP.
After that I tried the extremely popular ElvUI. This also had a slick installation process, and looked good. I liked the raid frames for ElvUI “out of the box” better than those with RealUI. However, the default font choices are pretty terrible and after some fiddling I decided that I would be more comfortable creating a UI from scratch.
My first attempt at creating unit frames was using Pitbull 4. This addon has not changed a lot since its early days during WotLK, which means the customization is powerful but really obtuse. There are almost TOO many options. Also as of this writing some users are getting serious errors with Pitbull 4 after the patch, which left me feeling less than confident.
The alternative was Shadowed Unit Frames, or SUF. SUF was exactly what I wanted — within minutes I had nice minimal user frames that showed what I wanted to know and ignored what I did not.
Raid frames are also known as “what the healer stares at”, so they’re probably the most important part of my UI. There seem to be three popular options: Grid, Grid 2, and Vuhdo. I used Grid for years back in my serious raiding days (with no complaints), so I decided to try something totally different and go for Vuhdo.
I was a little intimidated when I found this 45 minute (!) video on how to set it up, but after about 15 of those minutes I easily figured out how to make my raid frames do what I needed them to do. I am entirely pleased with Vuhdo.
No experimentation here, I’m afraid. I used to use Bartender back in the day, so I installed Bartender4 first and it still works like a champ.
You can set up how debuffs are displayed on your raid frames through Vuhdo for easier dispelling, but there are plenty of other spots on the screen with buff and debuff information. For that reason I downloaded popular mod Raven, which is supposed to handle these things. I then started it up, looked at the configuration menu, made a little face, and uninstalled it. I am sure it’s a great mod that does an array of lovely things, I just decided that for now I don’t care about advanced buff and debuff handling.
Cast Bars and Timers
I downloaded the mod Castbars only to find that it simply edits the Blizzard cast bar, which means you still can’t move it around on your screen. I went with a custom integrated cast bar with SUF.
The timer and cooldown display in RealUI was by far my favorite part of that compilation and after some research I discovered that it was done by the mod Weak Auras, which didn’t exist back in my day. This mod is so amazingly powerful and flexible that I have no idea how to use it. Fortunately I just had to import these strings by Tales of a Priest. If you’re not a priest, I got nothin’.
Mods I tried that did not make the cut: Titan Panel (info display), MikScrollingBattleText (um, battle text) — I used to love both of these mods but now I feel like they just put way to much useless info on my screen
Mods I tried that did make the cut but I’m sorry about it: Deadly Boss Mods. The timers are still super useful in dungeons and PvP, but getting updated definitions seems like a huge pain if I don’t want to install some Adobe Air nonsense
I am pretty amused by how many of my current UI addons are just updated versions of the exact same ones I used 3+ years ago. The only huge new advancement in mods seems to be Weak Auras, which is too smart for me to use myself.