Listening Music: Dead or Alive with "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)." Long live the '80s.
Today's column is about nifty arena addons. Changing up your PvP UI for the better is an awesome way to improve your awareness of what's going on. Having easy access to valuable information can often be the difference between a win and a loss. We'll be discussing the best addons to use for a variety of different aspects within the arena.
Proximo / Gladius
Both of these mods do the same thing; they tell you who is on the other side of the arena, while providing some cool bells and whistles. Right-clicking names to cast targeted crowd control is one of those neat little perks. Gladius also has cast bars that you can position so you know what the enemy team is casting at all times. The enemy-team casts are particularly helpful when you're dead, as you can call out enemy casts to your team.
Even though this mod has all these nice little things, a lot of people just use it to see who the enemy team is. I use Gladius to right-click for a focus target when the match starts (as well as click to target sometimes; I won't lie). When those rogues pop out of stealth and onto Gladius, sometimes I'll just click Gladius and start casting, not even knowing where the rogue is right away.
If there were one universal arena mod, Gladius would be it.
Locknotes is one of my all-time favorite mods for PvP. It's an absolute shame not a lot of people know about it. The first thing I do when I join an arena team that I think has a lot of potential is to tell them about Locknotes.
Locknotes is kind of like Afflicted on steroids, but not in an over-the-top-give-you-too-much-information-that-you-can't-see-the-screen kind of way. Locknotes keeps track of important enemy cooldowns and gives you giant, 72-point text warnings in the middle of your screen in red or green. "Divine Shield up!" will appear in giant red letters alerting you to an enemy paladin's bubble. After 8 seconds (or if the bubble is Mass Dispelled), "Divine Shield down!" will appear in giant green letters, letting you know it's time to kill that paladin (or hit him with a clutch crowd control).
The addon also has a secondary bonus that is absolutely enormous: You'll soon begin to time your spells and abilities around immunities falling off. When a rogue's Cloak of Shadows appears, I just have a natural rhythm that allows me to apply spells to him within milliseconds of his immunity disappearing -- largely because Locknotes has conditioned me to the ebb and flow of certain cooldowns. It's the only addon I know of that actually teaches a player an important concept within arena: Pay attention to immunity cooldowns and get a feel for when they are disappearing.
There is a downside to Locknotes; unless you know .lua, you can't edit what spells appear or disappear. I changed a few things around with my particular setup about a year ago, but I lost all my addons a while ago in a computer crash and am currently using the default version. It's still awesome.
Side note: Even though the mod was created for warlocks, it works for every class.
I used to use Afflicted as a mod to track enemy cooldowns (and before that, NaturCastBar, for those of you who remember that addon in its infancy). Lots of arena players use Afflicted and swear by it. I can completely understand why -- it does the same thing as Locknotes with more information.
I've found that having numbers beside cooldowns make players more reliant on those numbers (and therefore the addon itself) to time everything right. I've actually had game losses in the past with partners who have been paying attention to the clock ticking down on an Ice Block timer so much that they didn't switch targets to some one else who was very low.
I'll always recommend mods like Locknotes over Afflicted. More information doesn't always mean more wins, while conditioning yourself to certain abilities gives you a knowledge that often translates to arena success.
This lightweight mod is awesome for spellcasters who don't want the bulkiness of Afflicted but still want to know if their opponents can Kick them or not. InterruptBar tracks six cooldowns by default: Feral Charge, Counterspell, Pummel, Kick, Spell Lock, and Mind Freeze. You can add numbers to the timers, or you can just have them appear without timers. I personally like without numbers for reasons already mentioned, but I know lots of arena players who like knowing exactly when a Mind Freeze is going to be up.
It can also be changed fairly easily to track stuff like Bladestorm -- it's pretty configurable.
I use unit frames to change the position, size, and layout of the player/target/focus frames and the debuffs associated with those unit frames. Debuffs are particularly important to me on certain characters, like my warlock -- so unit frame modification is an absolute must for certain characters. I discuss why a strong debuff scheme is necessary in one of Mathew McCurley's more recent Reader UI of the Week articles. Go ahead and check it out if you want to hear more about why easy debuff recognition is super important.
Or I guess you could check it out if you just want to see what my UI looks like.
I predict Power Auras will remain a fixture within the arena community, even though Blizzard's new Power Auras-like feature is pretty awesome. The high level of customization and unique ability to implement your own art is just awesome.
Macaroon's primary function is to give you a near-infinite list of macros. Instead, I've opted to use it for a variety of other features the mod comes with.
I bind every single ability and item with Macaroon. It's far more simple than using the default interface or an action bar mod. I don't like my screen being clogged up by unnecessary keybinds or having to go into my action bar mod, unhide my keybinds, bind them, hide them, and leave/lock the action bar mod. Sound tedious? It is.
However, the most important feature that Macaroon has is a simple checkbox that allows you to use your abilities upon pressing your keys down. This might seem odd to many of you who haven't realized this, but your abilities (by default) actually are triggered when you release your key. That is, if you were to push "1" to cast a spell, your spell only starts casting whenever you release the key. If you don't believe me, go ahead and try it inside WoW right now. Behold the truth.
Macaroon has a checkbox that makes WoW realize you're trying to perform an action when you press a key down! Even though it is a small margin, it will improve your DPS, and your reaction time will improve too. (Well, not really, but the millisecond it takes you to release a key rather than press it can make a difference.) Yeah, that's pretty awesome.
Professional anti-addon tournaments
PvPers who attend tournaments for cash prizes often opt to not use arena addons on the live ladders. This isn't because they think addons are for chumps; some tournaments just won't allow them to use addons. The tournament wants as level a playing field as possible -- what if one of the teams have an addon that gives them a distinct advantage?
Players who play in these tournaments want to practice in conditions that are very similar to a tournament environment, so they don't play with addons. Unless you have plans to drop what you're doing and become a professional WoW PvPer, you should probably use mods that provide you with useful information. Gaining arena insight will do nothing but help you to understand the game and ascend those ladders!
Want to ascend the arena ladders faster than a fireman playing Donkey Kong? Read Blood Sport for pointers on arena play. Don't miss our interviews with successful arena PvPers, and see The Art of War(craft) for the inside line on battlegrounds and world PvP.