Welcome back to Reader UI of the Week, WoW Insider's look into the community's interface folder to see what setups you, the reader, are sporting every day in Azeroth. Last week, there was a lot of positive response to Quantus' UI, a re-creation and slimming down of the popular Spartan UI, using the art and assets to create a much more compact version of the UI overhaul. I'm in the process of writing up a guide on how to achieve something similar, and like most things in life, it turned out to be a bit more complicated than you'd imagine. Welp. Look for it soon, though, and you too will be basking in some wonderful Quantus UI.
Until then, we still have a giant community to comb for new ideas and inspiration. This week, I wanted to feature Almagest's UI, a nice setup for tanks that emphasizes buff and debuff visualization, as well as compartmentalizing each UI function with bold borders. Setting up something like Almagest's configuration is also a great way to take the next step up in UI management by learning simple uses for kgPanels. Let's have a look, shall we?
Take it away, Almagest:
This is a pretty simple, organized UI that I put together for myself. I designed it (like everyone) to provide the information I needed in an organized manner, with a special focus on providing easy access to information that I need while tanking.
The most important aspect of this UI, I think, are the dedicated buff/debuff displays for myself and my target, designed to highlight key buffs and debuffs that I will need to keep an eye on during most tanking situations. These were set up using dedicated Satrina Buff Frames panels configured to display a whitelist of spells. This includes important buffs like my shouts, Thunderstruck stacks, Inner Rage, Berserker Rage, Shield Block, Spell Reflection, Shield Wall, Last Stand, etc. For target debuffs, I have it set up to keep track of things like Thunderclap, Demoralizing Shout, Rend, Sunder Armor, Disarm, and various stun effects. If a boss fight comes along that involves a critical buff or debuff that needs to be watched (e.g. Insanity on Yogg), I'd add that to the whitelist as well. These buff frames can show up to two rows of buffs/debuffs each, which is why there appears to be a bit of empty space above each one -- it's room for the second row.
For my main buff display, I'm also using SBF in a pretty standard configuration, but have separated auras (buffs with no duration) out into their own, slightly smaller bar at the top.
I'm also using TidyPlates + ThreatPlates, which, while not terribly customized, is still essential to my UI as it allows me to see at a single glance which mobs are firmly stuck to me, which mobs are in danger of being pulled off, and which mobs are targeting other players. This makes it a snap to grab anything that may have broken loose. I'm also using VengeanceStatus (just below the player unit frame) to keep an eye on what my current level of Vengeance is.
Beyond that, I'm using Shadowed Unit Frames for all of my unit frames, as well as MSBT for combat text information. Bartender4 for my bars, and kgPanels for all of the background panes. Chatter is my chat addon. SexyMap to hide the extraneous minimap buttons that I don't need visible all the time. The bog-standard Omen and Grid are in there as well. Though it might not be visible in this picture, the default game fonts were also changed to be a little more readable using a good old TTF swap in the Fonts directory.
Key addons used:
- Shadowed Unit Frames
- TidyPlates w/ ThreatPlates
- Satrina Buff Frames
Kirin Tor - US
Thank you for the submission, Almagest. As a fellow tank this expansion, I wanted to use your user interface to highlight the two interface needs for tanking that make life so much simpler, and your UI does both well. Hopefully, up-and-coming tanks can take a look at this little list of priorities and UI elements and understand why careful UI management and tanking are vital in this expansion.
Back when I reviewed Tidy Plates and its amazing ThreatPlates companion, I confessed my first experience with the addon was a poor one. Not to be called close-minded, I fixed my UI issues, gave the addon another whirl, and now I cannot live without it. In fact, when it breaks, I feel naked. Cataclysm has changed the way AoE tanking works, and TidyPlates is just so powerful that I wonder when it will be incorporated into the standard UI.
In fact, for most dungeon crawls and group encounters, TidyPlates can replace your threat meter in combat. Sure, pop open Omen, Skada, and Recount after the battle to see how things went -- but during the fight, the real information is whether you've got threat or you're losing it.
For Almagest, in group content, I'd say just toss the threat meter entirely to save space. For raiding, I would keep the threat meter, as it is nice to see how long you have before that one specific boomkin decides that he loves aggro and wants a hug from mister monster mans. You know who you are. Otherwise, Tidy Plates and ThreatPlates are just too good at conveying threat information simply and quickly -- you'll save a ton of space and you'll have the infomation right on top of the mob.
Debuff tracking and timing is even more crucial in these days of avoidable damage. As you may have noticed from regular and heroic dungeons, in conjunction with the healer mana changes, most damage in the game is now avoidable. Interrupts, standing away from fire, and all sorts of other gimmicks now rule the school. Avoidance isn't just about dodge and parry but about movement and debuff tracking. For instance, Erudax in Grim Batol knocks the tank back and gives him a nasty debuff that increases damage taken. It's very nice to quickly see how much time you have left on the debuff in order to mitigate the most damage or see when to use cooldowns.
Almagest's setup for buffs and debuffs is nice because there is a special area for specific target's statuses. When I move my eyes over my personal frame, I want all the information readily available. When I dart my eyes quickly to Anshal from the Conclave of Wind's target bar, for instance, I want to see how much time he has left on his ultimate ability. Almagest gives debuffs the reverance they deserve in this expansion, and I think allowing ample room for buffs and debuffs makes adjusting for different encounters an easy exercise.
All in all, I like the UI, Almagest. As most people know, open spaces always nag at me, and I'd probably have moved down those unit frames to cover the holes next to the action bars. Subjective, of course. Other than that, I think you've got a really nice tanking UI that accentuates the two new paragons of Cataclysm tanking: watch your threat (because AoE tanking has changed), and manage those buffs and debuffs to the second.
Remember, if you're getting into tanking for the first time in Cataclysm, do not let the harder nature of tanking intimidate you. We're all relearning things, and it helps to have people in game who are willing to learn and go slow instead of everyone just quitting out of dungeons because of a perceived "Wrath-mentality" in their group. Tanking gets easier with practice, so watch your threat, manage your cooldowns, and you'll have a cadre of healers who love you. Hopefully, Almagest's setup gives you some ideas on how to position your new tanking tools for the better.
Interested in getting the most out of your user interface? Come back once a week for more examples of reader UIs. For more details on individual addons, check out Addon Spotlight, or visit Addons 101 for help getting started.