Mechanical thoughts

(Apologies for being MIA for the past several days — been having a specially nasty bout of strep throat, but meds seem finally to be kicking in.)

Lately, with a lot of time on my hands in the game, I’ve been trying to get a bit more efficient with my game play mechanics. Mainly I am concentrating on better organizing my UI and improving my keyboard response time. As part of that effort, I am working on standardizing my UI and keybinds as much as possible across all my alts, and on being less sloppy with my movement mechanics.

I am a creature of habit, so I like my game screen to look familiar no matter what alt I am on. That means that my raid bars, character/pet bars, and action bars are the same size, in the same position, etc. My class-specific Weak Auras are clustered around my character, and cooldowns and DBM countdowns are on bars in the upper right.

I use a gaming keyboard and mouse with tons of configurable keys, and I like my keybinds to follow a pattern on all my alts. For example, my main action bar is set up to generally reflect basic rotations, with 1 and 2 being setup or build shots, 3 being a filler shot, 4 a signature shot, and so forth. My main AoEs are always 6 and 7. My main interrupt is key bound to control-C, which I program to a mouse button for quick reaction. Similarly, I bind a few shots that I need to use very frequently or very rapidly to mouse buttons I can reach almost immediately with a quick thumb movement — things like hunter Disengage, rogue Stealth, monk Roll, final killing blows.

I use the auxiliary keys on my keyboard for talents, cooldowns, and defensive skills. So for example, my top 3 aux keys are for opening sequence cooldowns and in some cases talents with cooldowns not critical to shot rotation. For example, on my BM hunter I have both Stampede and Dire Beast there.

I have a few macro keybinds standard for all my characters. My legendary ring or, if I don’t have the ring, an on-use trinket, is always bound to V. Health potion is always P, pet heal or revive is always Y, and priority target macros for certain fights are always U, I, and O in that priority order. I macro many of my shots/spells, especially ones that benefit from precise timing, to include a /stopcasting component. (This is good and bad — good because you can get the critical shot/spell off immediately, bad because you have just wasted the long-cast shot you interrupted, you might just as well have been standing there with your [select digit] up your [select personal orifice] for the second or so you were starting to cast the interrupted shot.)

One standard macro I have found invaluable is my “Stop” macro. I bind it to the same key for all characters, and it basically targets myself, puts my pet if I have one on follow, and does a /stopattack. So when the raid leader yells “Stop attacking the boss!” it is very quick and easy to do so. I present it here, knowing it is extremely kludgy, so please refrain from making fun of me for my inelegant macros. I am sure someone out there can make it more efficient, for example by conditionalizing existence/non-existence of a pet. But it has worked for me for years (I just leave out the /petfollow line for alts that do not have pets).

Stop Shooting Macro

/target player

Well, anyway, you get the idea. Even though my goal is to standardize character functions as much as possible, periodically things get kind of messy and out of whack, so I need to spend a few hours rearranging and tidying up, especially on my less frequently played alts.

But the problem I am trying to come to grips with is that I just cannot make this scheme work between damage dealers and healers. And I think the main reason is that I use HealBot for healing. (I have used VuhDo, but it has the same problem.) Now, I admit up front that I am a rank amateur at healing, so I may have missed some key feature of HB. But I find that using it makes me completely change my mechanical play style. For one thing, when I heal I generally must revert to WASD movement from my normal mouse movement. This is because I cast heals (except area/raid heals) by mousing over players in the HB raid box. If I am targeting players by mousing over them, I can’t be using the mouse to move myself.

Basically, when I am on a damage dealer, I am moving with my mouse hand, casting with my keyboard hand. But when I heal, it is the opposite. In fact, it is even more inefficient than that on my healers, because sometimes my heals are bound to a keyboard key, so I have to be both mousing over the player’s bar with my mouse hand plus casting a heal with my keyboard hand.

Also, when I use the HB raid layouts I need to suppress my normal raid bars (I use Shadowed Unit Frames for them), so that tends to throw my “standardized” UI into a more disorganized state.

At any rate, I am sure none of this is news to any of my readers, but I have lately become much more aware of it as I spend more time on my healers. I have come to the conclusion that I need to have role-specific UIs and movement patterns, that “One UI to bind them all” is not practical.

I am always interested in how other players deal with UIs and keyboard/mouse mechanics, so if you have any pointers for me, I would love to hear them.



About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

2 Responses to Mechanical thoughts

  1. Tor says:

    I very much so tackle UI and alt standardization in the same way you do. Interrupt always the same, on demand stun or other CC on the same buttons , etc. Rotational class/spec specific stuff varies a bit more based on frequency of use rather than a strict X is like Y on my main so I’m going to bind it the same.

    In regards to movement, UI arrangement and variations between dps and healing, I’m in the other boat. I primarily main a resto Druid, but often play balance and am likely maining hunter for legion. I keyboard turn healing for the exact reason you mention, mousing over raid frames is less precise when mouse turning, and likewise my movement is less precise trying to do both movement and cast selection with the mouse as opposed to having independent movement on the generally less precise WASD.

    If you like Shadowed, which I use for all but raid frames, which is Grid, I highly recommend dropping healbot and adding a mix of Clique and mouse over macros such that you can retain your UI homogenization and thusly retain your muscle memory for where stuff is going to be on screen. With that said, my raid frames are center low on my healers, and off center and smaller on my hunter to use that screen estate for a proper focus bar, rotational auras, CDs etc. I’d be happy to share screenshots if you are interested.

    Wall of text over, sorry I’m a UI junkie. My wife is looking for a program for it.

    • Fiannor says:

      I actually tried Clique with mouse over macros about a year ago, and I couldn’t get used to it. Part of the problem was that I could only make it work if I programmed my mouse clicks to a key combo, I could not for example assign “right click” to the macro. This tended to mess up all my mouse functions for my damage dealers and for solo play. But I suspect that all had to do with my incompetence and not with the approach. I think I will end up with two basic UIs, one for damage and one for healing (I don’t so far have a tank), since I basically like HB for heals. I will just have to throw that mental switch in my head when moving from one to the other.

      Thanks for reminding me of Grid, I may in fact try to use it instead of SUF for my raid frames, I will play around with it.