Hit it, Sakuyan:
As a new player, I'm always looking to make my WoW experience better. This includes convenience and performance. I've checked out many of the UIs listed in WOWInsider, and none of them really tickled my fancy. I wanted a clean look and everything accessible, but at the same time, be able to see important information in as little eye movement as possible. Awareness is key both in PVE and PVP. As a mage, you have 2 things to look out for: DPS and Threat. Keeping tabs on these two elements will help you become a better party/raid member, and ease off on your mates.
If you plan on replicating this, please note that I am running on a weird 1600x1000 custom resolution. I'm ghetto, and I'm taking a 19" Standard CRT, and playing widescreen on it.
Here's a list of the important addons I have:
MikScrollingBattleText (MSBT) This is a great replacement for Blizzard's floating combat text, as it groups together your damage output, instead of having a ton of numbers popping up when you AOE (try popping BW or FS in the Executioner staircase showdown in Zul'Farak!)
Dominos A lot of people will use Bartender4, and I don't blame them. They are an excellent replacement for the Blizz action bars. However, I like Dominos because you can actually snap bars together. It takes a bit of getting used to when you're tweaking it, but after that, you barely have to touch it. Also, you may notice that I'm only using hotkeys up to 8 (1-8, S1-S8). This is because I will have too much trouble reaching for S9/9 while WASD-ing (yes, I WASD in PVP). There's also an extra 3 buttons up top. These are bound to my Q, E, and R keys, and comprises of "clutch" skills. For my Fire Spec, it includes Ice Block, Mana Shield, and Mage Ward. For my Frost Spec, it's Ice Block, Mana Shield, and Ice Barrier.
Omen You can't DPS effectively when you're taking threat from the tank and having to worry about survival. Omen makes an awesome threat meter, and will warn you with an audible sound plus a screen flash. When that happens, let off the casting.
Skada Skada actually doubles as a threat meter and DPS meter, but I mainly use it to keep track of my damage. Checking this everytime an instance/raid, or even just a boss fight, will help you maximize your potential, by properly pushing yourself to improve. DPS meters, however, isn't life, and should be there as a guide to help your DPSing.
Prat 3.0 + WIM Combining these two together make socializing that much better. Prat has modules that could be turned on and off, and allow you to resize your chat box, move the editbox when you type, remove the tabs, etc. WIM is basically like your average IM software, except it's ingame. Every whisper you get is slapped onto a separate window for each person, and have that telltale IM sound, notifying you easier.
Titan Panel This little strip of an addon is more help than people would expect. It gives you easier access to addons (if you don't like the minimap buttons), as well as having more accessible readouts like your ping, FPS, and the clock (if you have it off on your minimap through another addon).
Decursive Mainly a personal addon when I'm a mage, Decursive lets you remove status ailments from in-range party/raid members by a click of a mouse button (or modified with Shift/Alt/Ctrl). As a mage, I only have Polymorph (for charmed players) and Remove Curse (for, well... curses). I usually just cast this on myself and the tank, as my main role is DPS. Still, it is a very handy tool for healers.
Grid + Clique One of the more popular combinations, Grid allows you to replace party/raid frames to a more compact view, therefore minimizing eye movement. As a mage, my only use for this is for PVP, as I could easily check on bigger battlegrounds how much of my team is down. As a healer, however, combining this with Clique is phenomenal. Clique allows you to bind spells to mouse and keyboard combinatons, and allow you to perform these by just clicking on their nameplates.
Sunn Viewport Art I wanted an opaque divider in the bottom to keep my "lines" straight. I want my viewport to look as boxed as I can, none of the funky jagged edges. Sunn makes for good bottom art.
ForteXorcist Mainly a warlock addon, ForteXorcist's spelltimer and cooldown timer is excellent. Instead of having Scorchio + Sexycooldown, having just this one addon saves you some memory. I like to keep this near my character's nameplate, which in turn is near my character. As I've said many times before, minimum eye movement is key. Also, it allows me to see my DoTs, like Flamestrike. Refreshing FS only after the 8 seconds saves you a lot of mana, while keeping your DPS up. Also, this helps me see if I have enough stacks of DoTs for my Combustion.
Shadowed Unit Frames These are replacements for nameplates for players, party, raid, and arena. I've set these up as cleanly as possible, to make sure I could easily check my status. Also, I only have Player, Pet, Target, Boss, and Arena units enabled. Adding others makes for more clutter.
Tidy Plates Though annoying at first, having the accessibility of seeing enemy health much closer to your character's viewing area is a plus. The biggest tip I could give for this is overlapping frames. If you don't, you'll have frames going in circles trying to avoid overlapping, and it doesn't give an accurate reading on where exactly a mob is located. Neon/DPS is what I use.
Quartz Quartz has proven to be the best castbar replacement out there. To keep my UI clean, there is no spell icon.
And here are the rest of the addons I have:
Elkano Buff Bars
Panda + Gatherer
Deadly Boss Mods
eAlign actually helped me arrange the addons, and when I do it on a new character, every test/config mode is usually on, to get everything right the first time. I also talked about "boxing" your UI view (no need to punch the monitors, because that's not what it is). Here's an image for you:
You can actually use an addon like Viewport to edit the rendered space. This could grab you some extra FPS and a bigger viewport, considering your other panels don't go over the rendered space.
Hope that explains everything, and thanks for the awesome articles WoWInsider!
Sakuyan of Sargeras-US, 51 Mage
Thanks for the great submission, Sakuyan. It is rare that we get a user interface submission from such a new player, and to be honest, I don't even recommend this many addons to people when they first start off the game. However, Sakuyan has got this whole ordeal down pat, and I think we can all learn a little something about priority.
Sakuyan's setup is fairly standard fare -- the basic bottom-up bar with a focus on keeping screen real estate free. However, the depth in creation comes from zoning off areas of the user interface for primary, secondary, and lowest priority areas. That way, by knowing where your notifications are, you can immediately figure out where your attention is needed. For example, if you are a DPSer who is required to interrupt on a fight like Nefarian, Maloriak, or the Ascendant Council, you could put your cast bar notifications in the "primary" priority area of the UI.
Take a look at Sakuyan's image of his priority boxes. Starting at the top and working downward is a good setup, especially because the primary priority box is so large. Nothing other than the absolutely important notifications go in this box, because something showing up there needs to be important! The secondary priority area can be all about your own health, bars, targets and targets of targets, and all that jazz. Your tertiary priority box can be all about out-of-combat addons, chat boxes, action bars and the like. Personally, it's a philosophy that I am going to slowly incorporate into my own UI building.
The Sunn-eAlign combo
When you're first starting out setting up your user interface, I cannot recommend more the Sunn-eAlign combination. If Sunn doesn't tickle your fancy, you can always go with my little kgPanels tutorial on creating a simple bottom box
. Whichever you choose, these two addons in concert will help you tremendously.
By setting your bottom panel or box to a predetermined height that perfectly aligns with an eAlign marking, you can slowly build your UI upward without having to eyeball measurements. After you "breach" the bottom bar, just start stacking addons and giving them eAlign dimensions. I've been known to write things down such as "unit frame -- target -- 5sq x 2sq," indicating UI measurements in eAlign squares. It helps me remember.
If you're a neat freak (and hopefully all of you reading this are at least taking home a little collateral neat-freakiness), you'll want UI elements to look nice and uniform. Unless you don't. Isn't that the best part about user interface creation? Relativity!
Magey ... things ...
Now, I'm not the best person
to ask about mage addon usage, as the last mage I played was in a different game. However, my mage friends and our astute mage commenters will most likely have some recommendations for a mage addon that will combine a good deal of notifications and timers into one package that is usually more comprehensive and less intrusive than doing it all yourself.
is the name that always floats across my screen after I ask the mage addon question. You've got everything you need in one addon: procs, stat monitor for hit, haste, crit, spellpower, and more, as well as sounds for procs and mirror image and a living bomb counter. As you head from the 50s into the 60s and beyond, new abilities will require more daunting timers. Fear not, though. You've already got the addon knowledge and backbone to figure this all out.
Wrapping it up
I like that, even at such an early level, Sakuyan has the basics down pat. Priority areas on the screen are a great way to recognize where your attention is needed and is a great trainer for the inevitable raiding that hopefully Sakuyan will participate in. Over time, your mage might grow into a new addon, as spells get a little more bothersome and timers more important. You're solid, Sakuyan.