10 September 2008

Mashing vs. Clicking

Didn't do so much last night. I took Sali into regular Underbog with Wyrmm, Firegrin, Mattoo, and Dralkios. We took a couple runs at Hungarfen to hopefully get Dralkios the [Totem of the Thunderhead]. We tried twice and had no luck, but it was a quick and easy run so rather relaxing and fun.

When I was close to Mattoo's tanking, I heard the sounds that were imprinted on my brain from the previous night: the sounds of a bear tank. The normal rotation is Mangle followed by 3xLacerate, and in particular Lacerate makes a distinctive "pshonk" sound.

My fingers began to hurt, in memory. I spent so much time the night before mashing those two buttons that I was sore by the end of the night. I have Mangle on the 2 key and Lacerate on 1. That's great for convenience but it means I was using the smaller fingers of my right hand to pound that sequence out again and again. I might redesign my button layout to use my index finger a lot more, saving the 1 and 2 for slightly less common stuff.

It's a switch because when healing I use very few key presses - it's all clicks on unit frames. This begins with putting my unit frames front and center of the screen. This shot is almost a year old but the visual parts of my UI haven't changed much since then:

I'm using Pitbull to put the unit frames where I can watch them closely. That's great for 5-man stuff but for raids I use Grid because it's more flexible and is already set to be very compact. The Grid box just replaces the Pitbull frames.

The other key healing component is Clique. Pitbull or Grid are important, but without Clique or something similar, I would really have a hard time healing. Basically, it allows me to bind actions to specific click combos. So I just click on a unit frame to heal it. My current setup - which I know by heart - is the following:

          Ctrl-left click    Lifebloom
Alt-left click Rejuvenation
Shift-left click Regrowth
Ctrl-Alt-left click Swiftmend
Ctrl-Shift-left click Healing Touch
Ctrl-Shift-Alt-left click Rebirth
Ctrl-right click Abolish Poison
Alt-right click Remove Curse
Clique is very smart. These keybindings are set up as "helpful" actions — they're only used on friendly unit frames, and I can apply a whole different set of actions to enemy units. This is great for stuff like Insect Swarm or Faerie Fire. Also, I can set up a different set of out-of-combat actions. I'm currently using that for buffs (Thorns and Mark of the Wild) but it's slightly annoying for those times when I'd rather remove poison or curses after a fight.

How does it work? Awesome! I will usually start a fight with the tank targeted, and I'll stack Lifebloom and then add a Rejuvenation via clicks, just by moving from Alt to Ctrl. That's an incredibly instinctive movement for anyone who uses a keyboard. As the fight goes on I can cast other heals or decurse/remove poison when needed through the same motions. If one of the other toons gets hit, I can just click on the frame to throw a heal over there. In fact, Pitbull will highlight anyone who draws aggro; I can often start a heal before the toon takes any damage. There's no need to find the player and target them, which saves a ton of time. Pitbull will even fade the frame if the toon is out of range — though unfortunately it can't track line of sight.

I would hate to heal any other way. My only concern is that WotLK will add two new healing spells (Nourish and Flourish) to my arsenal, and I'm not sure how I'll map those to clicks.

I'm not nearly so comfortable with my tanking setup. I could use Clique but there's not much point. Unit frames can deal with just two enemies — your target and your focus — so for most mobs you're worried about targeting them anyway. So it's all about getting my key mapping set up right so that I can be most efficient. I don't have a solid system for that yet. My basic plan is that left-hand numbers are the most common attacks, while the Num Pad holds reactive stuff — taunts, long-cooldown abilities, trinkets, potions, and so forth.

I would like to set up an action bar addon to manage all this better. In particular I'd love to have a mapping that shows the Num Pad and shifts with modifier keys. I've played a bit with both Bongos and Bartender, and I might use one or the other of those. But that's a whole new level of setup and it'll take some time to figure out. Until then, I'll just have to tweak my mappings a bit... and take some Advil.

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