My favorite addons

I am a gadget person. I am fascinated by gizmos and whirligigs and electronic devices. I am mesmerized by any new technology that comes out, and even if I don’t think I would ever have any use for it, I always admire the innovation and creativity that went into the idea. So I suppose it is natural that I am a big fan of addons in WoW.

Before I go further, two disclaimers. First, I am in no way connected with any of the addons I am going to mention by name, have no creative or monetary stake in them, and receive no remuneration for them. Second, for all you purists out there, I get that no addons are “required” to play this game, just as there is no “requirement” to own an automobile or a phone IRL, but they sure do make life easier and more fun even if they do complicate things a bit.

I currently have something like 112 addons installed. Before you start with your tsk-tsking, let me point out that many of these are “descendant” type addons such as 6 modules for Deadly Boss Mods, 11 modules for Atlas, 14 modules for Trade Skill Master 2, etc. Also, I don’t use all addons for all characters, each has its own subset configured just for that class and set of specs. Still, it’s a lot.

The addons I feel like I could not function without, for all my characters, are:

ArkInventory has always been — and still is, in my opinion — head and shoulders above the standard Blizz inventory management system. (Bagnon is similar in function, but I have never tried it so can’t comment on it.) I am sort of a tidy freak when it comes to my storage space, and ArkInventory allows me to categorize everything however I want, and tuck it into its own little place, in my bank, bags, wherever. You can even organize your guild bank as you see fit, without imposing your structure on everyone else, because only you see the organizational rules you have established. The only thing I wish this addon had is the ability to do bulk categories — sometimes it gets tedious to individually categorize new items, it would be easier to multi-select similar ones and define the group.

BT4 makes the Blizz action bars usable. Granted, it does not really do anything you can’t do using just the native interface, but it makes the whole process vastly easier and more accessible. I have come to rely on it so much that I am at a huge disadvantage when it is disabled in the PTR, because I have to completely set up my native action bars from scratch, switch between them, etc.

DBM — no comment, most everyone relies on either it or BigWigs for important raid and boss warnings.

WA2 is my biggest cheater addon. I have it set up for every class and spec I play, displaying cooldown timers, spell availability, emergency health warnings, available focus/mana/embers/chi/whatever, and almost anything else you can imagine. I display most of these items in a small circle around my character to be able to see them immediately. I even have a gigantic pulsing red paw that tells me if I have Aspect of the Pack on in raids, and a similar item that warns me if I have Growl enabled in a group. I have configured some of the things myself and have shamelessly copied good ideas from others. Many people offer their WA2 configs for anyone to copy, using PasteBin. (Sorry, before you ask, I don’t, not because I am stingy but because I got tired of catering to individual “I can’t get this to work for me” or “Could you tweak this to also show X” comments and requests. Also, many of my groups contain auras I copied from others, and I do not feel at liberty to share them as if they were mine.)

I am not going to discuss my other addons other than to mention some of my “nice-to-have” ones. I could live without them, but they save me a lot of time and effort:

  • Altoholic — see at a glance what inventory, profession recipes, gear, etc. you have on all your characters without having to log in to them.
  • Master Plan — saves a ton of time on garrison missions, although it could do better on the shipyard ones.
  • AskMrRobot — instantly transfer your current gear config to the site, including what non-equipped gear you have in your bags and bank, so as to take advantage of the site’s Best in Bag, Upgrades, and other services without having to log out first.
  • GTFO — both annoying and handy to have for those times when you may not be paying attention to where you are standing. Cuts down on the ass-chewings from your Raid Leader.
  • HealBot Continued — a must for healers, and as I learned from the Grumpy Elf, for other specs as well. I have gone back and forth between HB and VuhDo on my healers. I find VuhDo to be more flexible, but it has a history of not getting updated for major patches. I think it is being kept up now, but I am sticking with HB just for its reliability.
  • Skada — a lightweight meter similar to Recount. I don’t use it that much, but it is useful once in a while when I am trying out new rotations and/or specs.
  • Titan Panel — lots of useful plugins you can park up there to keep track of info in a handy yet unobtrusive way.
  • TradeSkillMaster 2 — I think there is a version 3 in the works. Lots of handy auction house, selling, buying, profession crafting, etc. shortcuts. It takes some effort to set up, but once it is done it is very efficient. There are lots of helpful tutorials for it also.
  • Tidy Plates
  • Shadowed Unit Frames — a much better unit frame interface than the native one, in my opinion. However, if you use HealBot or another frame-based addon, SUF is redundant. Also, it is not updated that frequently and honestly I am thinking of abandoning it. I have tried Grid but just cannot make myself like it, so if I have to replace SUF it will be with something other than Grid.

That’s pretty much it. Most of my other addons duplicate specific functions of the ones I listed, but maybe in a more efficient manner. Or they are purely social/communication ones. I also like trying new addons, so I usually have a few that I am auditioning, most of which I end up deleting.

One I am currently quite taken with, though, is SpartanUI. I am giving it a try on my Brewmaster monk, since he does not yet have a lot going on that I cannot easily reconfigure. What I like about it so far is that it really cleans up your UI, plus it works well with (in fact, requires) BT4.  A few months ago I tried ElvUI, but I found it was annoying to install, set up, and update, so I went back to my hodgepodge UI. SpartanUI is still in development, but it looks to be shaping up to compete favorably with ElvUI.

I would be interested to hear what addons you can’t live without. I expect I will add some tanking ones if I decide to stick with my Brewmaster much longer, so if you have any of those to recommend, that would be welcome.

6 thoughts on “My favorite addons

  1. You’ve already mentioned the one I couldn’t live without now: ElvUI. It is an utter PITA to set up, but it was well worth the effort for me. It transformed my ability to raid. I found a great tutorial video on Youtube and used that as my basis, then tweaked away until I got it just right. I made a few changes last night as well for my Arcane mage to move his mana bar and improve the info on it. I love it.

    I have poor raid awareness generally, and I have to strike a balance between giving me the info I need about my rotation, but not getting information overload and missing what’s happening in the fight. It does mean that GTFO is compulsory for me, I need that “wake up you idiot!” reminder.

    I’m going to have to get my head around Weakauras at some point, but for now I’m using Tell Me When to prompt me when important cooldowns are available. Properly configured they can probably do the same job, but I’ve been worried that I’ll find WA too distracting. Maybe once I know all the fights I can play with WA to help me optimise my dps in raids.

    Another add on I like (but *could* live without) is Spellflash. That’ll probably shock the purists, but I find it a big help when I’m learning a class or when I pick up one I haven’t used for a while. It’s also good for letting you know when you can interrupt or dispel your target, which in the chaos of battle I really like. Once you know your rotation you just ignore it, of course, but it flattens out the learning curve.

    Altoholic is the one I find most useful outside raids, but since 6.2 it’s had an annoying bug which stops you displaying which alts have the mats you need when viewing a crafting recipe. Bit worried that the author hasn’t addressed it yet.

    The guy who wrote Master Plan should get a Nobel prize as far as I’m concerned. Or a sainthood. He definitely ought to get a cut of my Blizz subscription because without him I’d have quit the game even earlier than I did. The buzz in our guild when that add-on came out was hilarous in hindsight. If only it could do the mines too 😉 I think it handles Galleonville very well: what do you think is still missing?

    1. While I was tinkering with ElvUI I had the sense that it would be great if I could ever get it set up, but I just didn’t have the patience to do so. The other thing I did not like about it is that it is not available through Curse, which meant it was always going to add a step to my frequent addon update checks. Still, I believe it is probably the gold standard for addon frameworks. Good for you for sticking with it. At some point I may give it another look.

      I have not noticed that Altoholic bug, probably because I use TradeSkillMaster to queue up my crafting recipes. TSM has a feature called “Gather mats” that tells you which alt or guild bank has the mats, and when you log into that alt you can get the exact number of mats with one button click and mail them to the crafting alt with one click also.

      Some of my guildies use Tell Me When and like it a lot. If I had not gotten so far into WA I probably would have given it a go.

      I might give Spellflash a try for my mage, since I need all the help I can get there! I do use Mage Nuggets for her and also Spellsteal.

      The thing about Master Plan on the shipyard missions is that I have to go through every mission completion mini-cutscene and then click on the rewards before going on to the next. Maybe I am missing an option somewhere, but I would like to be able to complete all missions with one click like you can do for the follower missions. (Did I mention I am the impatient type?)

      Thanks for your suggestions.

  2. I encouraged all of my guildies to use Gatherer when the Tanaan Jungle opened: so we could collectively compile an idea of spawn lines for ore and herbs.
    Tom Tom and it’s way points are golden. I used this addon to find all the Tiny Terror pet battles and for many achievements.
    I’ve dialed my AH use way back since everything is on a silver platter: but I still scan using Auctionator.

    1. I do use Gatherer but didn’t mention it. It really does help set farming paths once you have a database established. I also like the cleanup feature that merges very close nodes, because after a while the paths can get very crowded and give you a false impression of how many may really be in an area.

      I have used Tom Tom in the past but don’t any more. Probably would go back to it if I started doing some of the more map-intensive achievements. (Which I may do if this xpac drags on until next summer!)

  3. I have long been anti-add-on FOR ME (not others) but I finally gave a few a try and…yeah, some of them are great.

    I have altoholic installed and love it. the current problem with 6.2 is driving me batty with the errors it is throwing. The person does it for free (as far as i can tell) so I can’t be mad, but I LONG for that to be fixed. I logged onto an account the other day that doesn’t have it and didn’t realize how much I had already become accustom to it. Which I’m not really comfortable with but that’s for another day.

    I also have a pet battle one that seems pretty helpful. That one is less vital, (pet battle teams maybe?) but the quick switch out is pretty nice with different fights or different characters. Because of course different characters have different pets that go with them.

    I may have to give some of the ones you mentioned a try. I’ve seen the names often enough that I should. I’ll just have to get over my semi-anti-add-on stance.

    1. I completely understand the purist or even semi-purist approach. The good thing about addons is that they tend to make the game more objective-focused and less mechanics-focused — that is, you can concentrate more on goals and less on process, at least in my opinion. But the bad thing about addons is that you can become very dependent on them, to the point where you almost cannot function without them. I know for myself I really play very poorly when they are disabled, for example on the PTR or at the start of a new xpac.

      In an ideal game there would be no need for addons, the native UI would be user friendly enough to allow for individual configuration and optimization. The UI options would grow with the complexity of the game. Unfortunately, WoW is not such a game. Blizz has never been very good with user-defined optimizations, possibly because it goes against their very controlled and centralized philosophy, possibly because it is easier to let third party addons fill that gap.

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