Wednesday, December 27, 2006

13 WoW Addons I Use and Love

Being as how the patch broke everything, and we’re all back to square one, I figured it might be a good time to share with you guys a few WoW addons I use that I simply can’t live without. A couple of them have similar addons that offer the same functionality, but for simplicity’s sake I’ll just show the ones I use specifically, how I use(d) them, and why. I’m not going to bother with things like CTRaid or SCT. Anyone who doesn’t already have those don’t know how addons work yet. We’ll let them get those and come back to the article later. I also tend to type (and think) in a pretty haphazard fashion, so don’t get upset if an ‘important’ one is listed before or after a silly one. I originally started writing this article the day after the 2.0 patch dropped, and was going to list the mods I hoped were updated soon, and why… to give you guys an idea for ones to keep your eyes on if you had never seen or used them in the past.

The patch has been out for a while and a bunch of these have in fact been updated, and a few have been replaced with something newer or better since the patch.

1. Outfitter
I hate the world when outfitter doesn’t work. There are alternatives (itemrack, wardrobe), but outfitter does what I need when I need it. Those things basically amount to: 1) making custom armor or weapon sets that can be popped off and on with a single click (‘put on all my FR gear’ / ‘swap my Tank gear for DPS’), and 2) being able to bind a macro to that function (/outfitter wear FR). Outfitter also handles a few bonus features as well. Standing with your bank window open, you can ‘deposit (or withdraw) all my FR gear into (or out of) the bank’. You can see at a glance which full sets you have on you (red = item missing, blue means it’s in the bank (when you have the bank window open), yellow means all pieces are present and accounted for. You can specify ‘I want to put my FR gear on when I hit F10’ (in case you prefer keybindings to macros). You can make a ‘mounted’ set (carrot on a stick, riding boots and gloves) that pops on when you mount and pop off when you dismount. You can set your seal of the dawn to pop on the instant you cross into the plaguelands. You can make a +Spirit set that will pop on when eating or drinking, and pop off when done, etc etc etc… Outfitter rules. Get it.

2. Equip Compare / Link Wrangler
Equip Compare is short, sweet, simple. The kind of addon I use everyday, and should ‘just be a part of the default UI’. You click an item link, it brings up the item’s window. You hold down control, and it shows the same item you’re wearing. Looking at a link for shoulders? Hold down control, and it will show you the shoulders you’re wearing. Simple. By default it shows the window all the time, but you can run a slash command to make it only show when you have control down. Works in the AH, chat links, vendors, whatever. Easy. I recently found Link Wrangler, which can do the same thing, but in a somewhat more clunky way. LW allows you to click a chat link, and then click a little arrow in that frame to pop out a comparison window (i think holding control is just cleaner and easier), but LW has one important extra feature... you can click up to 5 chat links and have all their windows on your screen at once... no more bullshit trying to compare two items and opening and closing and remembering stats. Just open them both and look at them.

3. Telo's Quickloot
Loot a corpse. The loot window appears wherever your mouse cursor is. Easy. Like I said, these aren’t going to all be earth shattering addons. Just ones that I use and can’t live without.

4. Clique
Click casting love for healers. Click on the actual item unit frames to cast heals. I touched on this one with my N52 article a while back. Basically, I use a few key mouse button modifiers (Ctrl, Alt) to cast healing spells and buffs. My druid is my only healer class, and so far (level 32) it’s worked beautifully. The interface is built into the spell book, you just open a tab, and start Alt or Ctrl Clicking stuff in your spell book and it adds the spell in there. Each new rank of spell learned requires a remapping of the old spell ‘out’ and the new spell ‘in’, but it’s a minor inconvenience for the ease of use I get.
Alt+LC = Rejuvenation
Alt+RC = Regrowth
Ctrl+LC = Healing Touch Rank X
Ctrl+RC = Healing Touch Rank Max
Alt+MC = MotW
Ctrl+MC = Thorns
(LC, MC, RC = left, middle, right click)

5. Buffalo
Draggable, scalable, highly configurable buff & debuff icons. I used to swear by Satrina’s Buff Frames, but she has discontinued her mods and stopped playing. After a little digging, I came up with this alternative. Buffalo uses the default little square icons (not some big fruity bar system like CTBuff uses), and can display the timers as “3min” or “3:12” etc. I can choose how the rows populate (left to right, up to down, vice versa, etc), how many columns there are, how big the icons are, how far apart they are from each other, blah blah blah. It has three separate ‘zones’ for buffs, debuffs, and weapon enhancements (mana oil, poisons, whatever), and those zones can be put anywhere. I put the buffs below my own Unit Frame, my debuffs over by the minimap, and weapons a bit off to the side by my right action bars. Hooray.

6. ChatMOD
In addition to Satrina’s Buff Frames, I used to use her Chat Frame Extender. It did a few neat tricks to your chat window. It put the ‘text entry’ window at the top (if you desire), which I like since my chat window is at the bottom of my screen. Allows you to set different font sizes besides the 3 choices blizz gives. Allows you to use the arrow keys to move around in whatever you’re typing (without holding down Alt). Disable chat fade, yadda yadda. I recently came across ChatMOD, which does all of this, and a few more nifty tricks. ChatMOD colors party (and combat) chat based on classes (warrior's names are brown, etc), and even colors the dots on BG maps. You can specify certain words to be highlighted, and it will pop up like a raid warning on your screen whenever that word is mentioned. Say you want to do crusader enchants (or are looking for one). Create a 'crusader' highlight entry, and whenever anyone says it, it will pop up on your screen, and be highlited in chat. Anyone saying 'invite' in chat can have the word "invite" clicked to be invited to your party. URLs pasted in chat can be clicked to open in a text box that can then be copied and pasted into a webbrowser.

7. CTViewport & CTMail
Clumped into one entry, since they’re both part of the CT package. I said I wouldn’t mention CTRaid, but these two often get looked over. CTMail allows you to send up to 21 mails at a time. It’s great for cleaning out your bags after a grind session. Have an alt that holds all your runecloth? Send him 8 stacks at once. Just open the mail window, click the Mass Mail tab, fill in the name, and Alt click anything in your bag to add it to the queue. Once ready just hit send, and it will take care of the rest quickly and easily (while you stand at the mailbox… you obviously need to be in proximity of it still). No picture, since it's really self explanitory.

CTViewport allows you to resize the actual viewing window of the game itself. Like you can play on a 1280x1024 monitor, and be playing fullscreen, but cut the ‘viewport’ window down. At first I thought this was the stupidest addon ever made… why would I want to block off parts of my screen? Then I realized that I was making my chat windows have black backgrounds etc anyway, and was getting frustrated with having shit in the way all the time. I’ve basically cut the bottom third of my monitor off, and love it. Let me be clear: my bags, action bar, all that crap is still down there, but no graphics are happening behind them. This one is very user specific. You’ll love it or hate it. I used to think it was dumb, now I use it all the time. In the picture there I've drawn hot pink lines to show where my screen is cropped to (no there aren't actually hot pink lines on my screen). It just eliminates a bunch of overlay, and allows the part of the screen i'm focusing on to be uncluttered with chat windows etc.

8. Perl Classic Unit Frames
OMG. LOVE. I LOVE THESE THINGS. They’re very configurable, without being ‘too configurable’. I used to use Discord Unit Frames, and they were too much. I didn’t want something that complicated. Don’t get me wrong… I love Discord, and used to use it’s Frame Modifier (dfm) heavily, but I just didn’t want to rebuild my unit frames from scratch after every patch. Perl gives nice, clear frames that are easy to read, support Clique, support target of target for every party member, color code by class, can include pets in the same frame as their owners, blah blah blah. Right now there’s a bug where you can’t right click on someone’s frame and choose to duel them, but dueling is for fags with little e-peens anyway, and you could always just target someone and “/duel” if you’re feeling inadequate.

9. Omni CC
Puts an actual number on your skills. How long till you can vanish? In combat you aren’t going to want to stand still and hover your mouse over some stupid icon to see how long the tooltip says you have to wait. You can just look at the fucking button and see it’s up in 12 seconds. Why this isn’t in the default UI absolutely blows my fucking mind.

10. Flexbar / Bongos
I used to use Flexbar, and feel like it still deserves a loving paragraph here, but have since moved onto Bongos. Flexbar is Very Complicated. Not for the faint of heart. No UI. You need to read the fucking manual. Once you get the idea, it’s lovely. I had Backstab buttons that disappeared when I didn’t have enough energy, and were grayed out when I wasn’t behind my opponent. I had little clumps of extra buttons in the bottom corners of my screen full of stupid emote macros on the left side, and tradeskill icons on the right. I had a clump in the bottom middle of my screen that contained all my “in combat weapon switch macros”. I could edit the Saved Variables files in my sleep for when I rolled new toons (I just dragged over an old toon’s settings and created new entries for the new guy). It’s not easy. It’s very powerful.

Now I use Bongos, though. It would have taken 30 minutes to rebuild my Flexbar UI from scratch. I rebuilt it using Bongos in about five minutes during a BRD run. Some of the functionality is gone (my magical disappearing backstab button), but the ease of use makes up for it and then some. Like I said, Flexbar is complicated. Once you learn it (and I did), you can do crazy shit with it, but Bongos is just very drag and drop, and slide and scale, and ta-daa! Bongos also eliminates much of the UI clutter crap that I had to rely on Discord Frame Modifiers to squash… things like the griffons and stone textures on the main Action Bar, and those 3 ‘stance’ buttons for my warrior and the ‘stealth’ button for my rogue.

A picture for this is hard to do, so here's a big fucking JPEG of my entire UI. All my side, action, and little 'clump of button in the corner' bars were done using Bongos.

11. OneBag / vBagnon
I used to use AllinOneInventory. Loved it. It hasn’t been properly updated. The TOCs have been updated, but the functionality is fucked, right-clicking an item in your bag produces an error, sooo… yeah. Anyway, I was freaking out having all these little tiny bags to deal with again, and Bagnon was the first ‘one big bag’ to come along after the patch. I jumped on it, and wasn’t pleased.
Bagnon does some shit where it only shows the items that are in your bags, and not the empty slots. That’s great for a minimalist, but it fucks up my spatial representation of my bag that I had grown accustomed to. Each time I took something out, or put something into my bag, everything would shift left or right one slot, and everything just became a big fucking mess. I arrange my bags in a way where quest items are in the bottom left corner, armor in the bottom middle, hearthstone and poisons or pots in the bottom right and a big empty chunk of space in the top half of the bag that fills up as I loot crap and quest around. Bagnon allows you to ‘show’ the empty slots, but it does so in the most unintuitive way possible. A bunch of ‘empty’ slots all clumped to together that shrink as you get items (making everything shift around). It’s hard to explain, it just drove me nuts. OneBag is the first one I’ve come across that uses AIOI’s old style, and I use it now. OneBag has some issues (itg starts getting really ugly as you scale it down), but a few good features too. I like it.

12. KLH Threat Meter (sometimes called KTM)
This one gets kind of “poo-poo”-ed by some guilds, but should be used by anyone not familiar with how threat works, and why they keep dying by pulling aggro. It’s pretty transparent… you (and everyone in the party or raid) install it, and you can see where you are in the threat index for any given mob you’re fighting. During stage one in Onyxia, it’s possible to know precisely when you need to lay off a bit and let the tank get a few sunders in before you throw another hit on her etc. Simple, easy, everyone needs to have it or it’s pointless.

13. PoisonMaster / Poison Pouch
Rogue only. These get lumped together since they work together to make poisons easier to manage. PoisonMaster is a window that pops up at the poison vendor. You say ‘I like to have 60 flash powder and 20 of each type of poison in my bags at all times’. Go to the poison vendor and hit ‘buy’. It buys all the crap. If you have 10 deadly poison already, it will buy enough to make ten more, to bring you up to your desired 20 limit. Then hit ‘make’. It makes it all.

Poison pouch is a simple icon on your minimap that you can click to drop a list down of posions (or sharpening stones, or whatever). Left clicking applies the poison you clicked on to the main hand, right clicking puts it on the off hand. Simple.

Anyway… these are just 13 of the many that I like. These are the ones I kept checking on after the patch to see when they’d be updated. I’m already starting to think of ones I should have included in the list and didn’t, but this article needs to end somewhere. Some things like Auctioneer and Gatherer haven't been updated yet. Before the patch, I had over 100 folders inside my Addons folder. Some were only for my rogue (CCWatch, PoisonMaster and PoisonPouch), some were only for my warrior (tauntbuddy), and I’m sure some of them weren’t even turned on anymore, but were just taking up space. It’s good to ‘force a reformat’ every once in a while, but it makes me cranky when the UI I’m used to is pulled out of under my feet. It’s frustrating when things like EquipCompare and OmniCC aren’t just built into the framework from the gate. I feel like I’m back on an NT 4.0 workstation, and I have to do everything ‘the old way’ again.

Anyway. Check em out, see which ones you like. I have no interest whatsoever in helping you make them work, or trying to figure out how to do certain things with them. Learn them yourself. Fell free to post any extras you know or use in the comments, but i'm pretty well squared away at this point

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