Hopefully, you’ve all bumped into WoW addons at some stage or other. They allow outside developers to write extra features into the WoW interface, and there are some REALLY neat ones out there.
So, how do you get these addons? The easiest way is to install an addon manager. Addon managers generally install addons for you, check for updates regularly, and so on. My current favourite is called WowMatrix: It’s quick, easy to install, and FAR more up-to-date than most addon managers I’ve used in the past. It has a neat “Get More AddOns” tab that’s easy to use and automatically handles installations for you.
So, once you’ve worked out how to get addons, which ones do you want? There are SO many out there.
All good healers should be able to manage without addons. Blizzard provides us with raid frames, and let’s face it: Click on your target, hit your spell. Click on your target, hit your spell. You can even make [target=mouseover] macros (try “[target=mouseover,exists,help,nodead]” to minimise errors).
Unfortunately, Blizzard’s default frames really aren’t that great. Fortunately, there are Alternatives. There are three main raid-frame addons that I hear about often:
This is a mature and commonly-used raid-frame replacement. It is known for being very fully-featured and customisable. I have never used it myself, and I normally hear of it being used by tanks, dpsers, and particularly raid leaders.
Grid is extremely popular, particularly in the healing community. In addition to having similar advantages to XPerl, it provides smaller, more concise frames, and has a wide range of addons available.
Healbot is known for being easy to use, providing integrated click-casting, and several other neat features. It is popular among lower-end healers, however higher-progression healers tend to prefer one of the previous options. HealBot has a reputation for being a bit laggy at inconvenient times. Like XPerl, I have never used HealBot myself, and am relying on what I’ve heard from others.
My personal pick for healing is Grid. It integrates with a number of other popular addons, and is easily extended. It has a large community of sub-developers who write additional addons to provide extra features. When I’m setting up a new WoW install for healing, Grid is THE number one addon I want.
All of Grid’s addons are treated as separate WoW addons. There’s no manual downloading or installing to be done. As a druid healer, the ones I go for are:
- Grid_QuickHealth: I’ll go into QuickHealth later on; this addon allows Grid to access QuickHealth info. Also install LibQuickHealth-2.0.
- GridManaBars: Vanilla Grid has no mana bars: only health indicators. You probably want to know when your fellow healers are going OOM.
- GridStatusLifebloom: This gives you a REALLY neat way of keeping track of the time remaining on your lifebloom stacks. If you install NO OTHER GRID ADDON, GET THIS.
- GridStatusMissingBuffs: Gives you an indicator showing who’s missing various buffs.
There are a wide variety of other available addons, but these are the core ones I go for straight away. If you want to browse a list, and you have WowMatrix installed, just go to the install tab and search for “Grid”.
Installing and setting up grid can be a bit daunting, but once you get into it it isn’t too bad. Basically, you setup your frames to display “Auras” (buffs, debuffs, etc.) in one of the various positions. You get corner indicators, which are little coloured dots, and a whole lot of pre-set auras. You can also add new auras.
I set the “Aggro Warning” to the top-left corner. I always have a little red dot in the top-left of the frame of ANYONE with aggro. Apart from AoE damage, these are generally the people needing healing, and so this is handy information to have.
Top-right I use for my swift-mendable hots, regrowth and rejuv. If there’s a dot on the top-right of anyone’s frame, I know I can give them an instant burst-heal with swiftmend.
Bottom-right I use for curses and poisons. Curses come up as purple, and poisons as green, by default. You can set the priority of any aura between 1 and 99, and the higher priority auras over-ride lower priority ones.
Bottom-left I use for two things: Wild Growth and EMERGENCY. Emergency is any debuff that requires serious attention, from maiden’s holy-fire debuff to Illidan’s Dark Barrage. If I haven’t been told to focus on the tanks and ignore everything else, I need to spam-heal anyone who shows up an emergency debuff. There’s no actual way to set bottom-left for any emergency: I have to manually set up each debuff I want to show here. I set Wild Growth as a low priority and a light colour so I can easily tell the difference, and Wild Growth will never show up instead of a real emergency indicator.
The whole of the frame shows the person’s health, but there’s a nice little feature called “Incoming Heals”: if another healer in your party or raid is using a compatible addon, and they start casting a heal on somebody, you will see a little shaded area showing the estimated size of the heal that’s about to land. If a priest is about to land a massive Greater Heal on somebody who’s just taken some once-off damage, you know not to bother.
Normally, Grid only has a single line of text: the person’s name. You can turn on a second text-line, and this is where you want to put your Lifebloom indicator.
The Lifebloom indicator, provided by GridStatusLifebloom, is GOLD. It shows a countdown timer for the expiry of your current lifebloom stack on every frame. This is REALLY handy, but even better, it gives a colour-based indicator showing how high your lifebloom is stacked. I customise my colours: Red for 1 stack, Yellow for 2, Green for 3. If Grid had no other features at all, it would be worth it just for this.
Raid frames are great, but unless you’re using HealBot (which I DON’T recommend), you still need to take 2 steps for each heal: Select your target, cast your spell. Select your target, cast your spell.
I’ve only ever really looked at one click-casting addon. It was too easy to bother trying anything else, and it’s never let me down. It’s called Clique.
Clique lets you bind various mouse-buttons to spells, and cast them on your current mouse-over target. Sure, you can accomplish this with macros, but Clique is just so easy and adjustable you’d be crazy to bother. When you install Clique, you get an extra tab on your spell-book. Once you select this tab, it brings up a new menu showing your current mouse-bindings. You can then select other spellbook tabs, and simply clicking on a spell (with an optional key-modifier like shift, control, or alt) binds that spell to that mouse-click.
Personally, I leave left-click unbound generally. I need this to select a target, which I sometimes want to do. If you’re rolling lifebloom on one tank in particular, sometimes you just want to select them and use your keyboard to do the casting. My only exception is on Archimonde: I select our MT as my current target, and then bind left-click to decurse.
Right-click is set to lifebloom. I find this nice and convenient: to roll lifebloom, I just hover around my tank’s frames and right-click them. Middle-click is Wild Growth.
Now we get to our modifiers. As I use control for my PTT button for Vent, I’ve avoided control. I use shift-left for rejuv, shift-right for swiftmend, alt-left for regrowth, and alt-right for Healing Touch. Shift-middle is Abolish Poison, and alt-middle is Remove Curse. This gives me all my primary heals easily cast by clicking on people’s Grid-frames. SUPER convenient. I’ve been meaning to play with assigning an NS+HT macro to a click, but I just haven’t gotten around to it. I’m sure it’s possible.
That’s about all there is to click-casting. It sounds like a bit of work to set it up, but it’s really quite easy. Once you’ve tried click-casting, you’ll NEVER go back.
I mentioned Grid_QuickHealth before. There’s a neat little addon called LibQuickHealth-2.0, and its aim is to make the health bars on your raid frames adjust to damage and heals more quickly.
The way things happen by default is that a combat event, like some incoming damage, occurs, and you see that in your combat log. THEN, Blizzard’s server updates the health of the person who took the damage, and sends the updated health amount to your client. THIS IS LAGGY. You have to wait a moment between seeing the combat event, and seeing the resulting decrease in health. QuickHealth attempts to allow for this by adjusting health-bars based on the combat log, and only checking it’s already-calculated value when the updated health amount arrives. I’m not really sure how much benefit you get out of this, but I use it. The only real problem I get from it is that it doesn’t account for the rez-at-graveyard thingy in TK instances, and it’s a bit buggy just after you’ve rezzed there.
HealPoints is a handy little addon for assessing healing gear. It adds a number to the tooltip of any item you hover over, telling you whether it’s better or worse than the gear you’re currently using. I don’t really pay this a lot of attention anymore: I can generally compare the various stats and make my own decisions. This is a great tool if you’re still learning about healing gear, though, and I used it extensively for quite a long time.
This one is GOLD. I’ve also been recently told some good things about Outfitter, but I’ve been using ItemRack for so long, and I love it. I have a heal set, balance, feral tank, non-feral tank (uncritable without talents), resto pvp, feral pvp, shadow resist, fire resist… The list goes on. It can throw whole sets in and out of the bank too.
I don’t use this one directly, but it’s very useful for raiding. It gives me a set of tank frames (with target and target-of-target), it lets raid leaders see what my current cooldowns are (mainly for brez), and does all sorts of other things. If you raid, you should probably have this.
Recount probably deserves a whole post all to itself, and this one’s gotten long enough already. It lets me see all sorts of statistics about what’s going on in combat: heal meters, damage meters, dispells… The one to really pay attention to is the Deaths option. If you show Deaths, you can click on someone’s name to have a look at the last few seconds before they died. Try not to use it to blame people for deaths, that can get unpleasant. It is a good tool for seeing, for example, why a tank died… Were the assigned healers not landing heals as fast as they should? Or maybe they were spamming the heals, and you know you need more or better geared healers on that tank.
Talented is simply wonderful for anyone who respecs even occasionally. You can set up different talent specs as templates, play around with them, post the whole spec list to chat channels… And most importantly, automatically apply a template. No more expensive mistakes while selecting talent points, and no more tedious clicking. Just choose a template, click apply, and come back in a few minutes.
There’s also an addon called Talented_Data that lets you play around with templates from the talent tree of any other class.
Messaging and Copy-Pasting
WIM and ChatCopy are the two addons I use for this stuff. ChatCopy lets me select text from just about any chat channel and copy it to the windows clipboard, to paste somewhere else (great for vent details). WIM is a window- or tab-based “msn-style” application to replace whispers. No chance, now, of missing a whisper in the middle of loot-spam, or when you make the mistake of hearthing to shatt just before a server shutdown. It can also store your chat history, and brings your recent history up when you open a new chat window with someone you’ve talked to before.
I use a whole bunch of other addons too. To be honest, I’m a bit of an addon-whore. QuestHelper and WHDB. ProfessionsBook. LootLink. Cartographer, AND Atlas. Beql. In fact, WowMatrix tells me I currently have 82 addons installed. The above ones, however, are the ones I’ve found particularly useful, as a druid healer, or just handy in general. If you find any of them a bit too tricky to get into, drop me a comment and I’ll try to write a howto. In the meantime…