To maximise DoT damage, efficient re-casting is key. You should certainly check out guides for your specific class to ensure you're using the right method, whether that's clipping -- replacing a DoT before it's expired -- or allowing something like a mage Living Bomb to explode. It's often useful to be able to start the cast of a DoT to time it with its expiration, and of course, to maintain maximum DoT uptime for the minimum of GCDs and mana, and for all those reasons, you need to track your DoTs.
What the heck? Why am I starting with a nameplate addon? Well, dear reader, I understand your confusion, but for PvP purposes, Tidy Plates, or any similar addon such as the built-in ElvUI nameplates, is a pretty decent way to track your DoTs.
The reason for this is that, as can be seen in the image to the right, they display your DoTs, fairly clearly, above the nameplates. This look that you see to the right is just one of many looks Tidy Plates offers, for both the nameplate itself, the combo points, and the DoTs above. There are even options available to highlight CC or other important DoTs, such as Unstable Affliction or Combustion, so that their icons appear larger than others. There's the option to display just your DoTs, or everyone's, as you see fit. Simply install and it'll do the basics by default!
But why is this only recommended for PvP? Size matters! In PvP, and often in questing, mobs are a similar size to the player, meaning that their nameplate is easily visible, and therefore the DoTs above it. In PvE, this isn't so much the case, and playing with bizarre camera angles in order to use this or a similar method to monitor your DoTs is a bad idea.
Weak Auras is another viable way to track your DoTs. It's only getting a very brief mention in this particular column for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I've already dedicated an entire column to its basic setup, and there's another in the works for more advanced use. And secondly, to be completely frank, while Weak Auras is undeniably a fantastic addon, there are easier ways to track your DoTs with addons! Weak Auras requires quite some setup, but the results are fantastic.
Need To Know
Need To Know was recommended to me by several people as something they use to track their DoTs, and it was among the better, but not the best options. Need to Know can be used to track just about anything, like most of the addons we're going to touch on today, so not just DoTs, but also cooldowns, trinket procs, totems, all manner of things. I found Need To Know's setup a little counter-intuitive, but it's indisputably simple.
The default appearance of Need To Know is three grey bars that pop up on your screen. Configuration is carried out by right-clicking on these bars, and, for our purposes today, setting the Bar Type to "debuffs", then selecting to choose the debuff or debuffs you wish to time on each bar, and typing them into the window that appears. Multiple DoTs can be separated with commas and spaces to track more than one per bar.
Then pick the unit you wish to track them on, then set various other visual customization options. The last, and to me confusing step, is to type /needtoknow into chat, to hide, lock, and activate the bars you've designed. Need To Know can track debuffs on your target, target of target, focus and friendly units.
ForteXorcist always comes with a heavy dose of patience for me. Why's that? The configuration menu. It's really not well laid out, and this is a huge impediment for what is otherwise a pretty brilliant addon!
ForteXorcist, like many others, offers a bar-type display for debuffs. In the image to the left, I've switched off the cooldown timers, proc timers and so on to just have debuffs shown.
It's highly customizable, if you can work out how, meaning that you can pretty it up to match your UI of choice. It does several really excellent things by default, such as pulsing for ticks of a DoT, and flashing angrily when your DoT is about to expire! It also has the option to show the spell name or the target name, but not both, it seems. The default is to have the target name, which is great if you can identify your spells conclusively by icon, but less great if you can't. It seemed to flatly refuse to track Pyromaniac, a debuff that appears with Nether Tempest or other mage bombs, which was decidedly odd.
I also struggled to work out how to create a bar block for my target and one for my focus, as per the Need To Know setup above, but this is quite feasibly just my inability to find the right checkbox in the labyrinthine configuration menu.
Ellipsis is marketed as a multi-target DoT timer, and it does exclusively that. Unlike every other addon we've looked at so far (with the exception of Weak Auras), Ellipsis will scan your entire party or raid's targets for debuffs, and, if you want it to, tell you about all of them, as well as your own. My preliminary testing of this in the Raid Finder indicates that it's probably a very good idea for your sanity to just track your own debuffs at first, while you get to grips with this excellent little addon.
Other features I really like? The grayed out bars you see above indicate recently expired DoTs, as a reminder to refresh them (this feature is off by default). There's also the huge floating text that you might have noticed, indicating that your DoT or effect has expired. This can also appear if your DoT or effect has broken, but that can get a little tiresome as you get several messages when things die!
It also tracks CC, so you get a handy timer and warning when your Polymorph has dropped off that mob. One thing I'd love to see from Ellipsis is for that warning, as well as the similar audio warnings it offers, to be usable for "about to expire", rather than just "has expired". Altogether, this is a fantastic, simple addon, that I'd heartily recommend.
Like some 1990's UK TV advertisements, I've saved the best 'til last. Frankly, Raven deserves its own column to illustrate its huge feature catalogue, but for now we're just looking at DoTs. Raven offers two methods to display DoTs, one of which is a bar display very similar to Ellipsis, and the other of which is what they call a "timeline".
I've also set it so that the bars to the right track all targets of my spells, but the bar only tracks my current target. This is all set up with relative ease in Raven's spectacularly well-designed configuration menu, and best of all, the default "just switch on a bar" setup does almost all of it as standard! There's so much more to say about Raven, but I don't have the space. If you only try one addon from the six I've covered today, make it this one.
Addons are what we do on Addon Spotlight. If you're new to mods, Addons 101 will walk you through the basics; see what other players are doing at Reader UI of the Week. If there's a mod you think Addon Spotlight should take a look at, email firstname.lastname@example.org.