Player and target
You can do it with the default frames by unlocking and moving them around, or you can use a unit frame addon. I personally use Shadowed Unit Frames, so naturally you're going to see a lot of that addon in this column today. While you can have centralized frames like RealUI or a central heads-up-display (HUD) like IceHUD, a popular arrangement is to have your player and target frames down in the bottom third or bottom fourth of the screen, like ElvUI does.
Either way, nearly all user interface layouts will have your frame and your target on the same horizontal line of sight. Putting that line either right on your character (centralized/HUD layout) or just below your character (ElvUI, etc.) keeps your eyes at your character's feet, which helps your personal situational awareness.
When it comes to customizing the frame information, player and target frames are very similar in design. The player and target frames are most likely to be the biggest bars in your unit frame collection, so you have room to display detailed information.
Text: Perhaps you think it's redundant to have your name on your player frame, but you'll want at least a partial name on your target frame. You'll want percentage health definitely, since a lot of phase changes and abilities revolve around percentage-based health, but it won't hurt to add exact health for a few rare cases that require that precision.
You may not care for measuring your mana bar, but you should keep a text indicator on your target's energy or mana bar for bosses who add or change abilities based off their energy -- General Nazgrim, for example.
Bar organization: Some people like the default health-on-top layout; I prefer health-on-bottom. Some people put in a portrait bar for aesthetic reasons; I don't use a portrait. You can put your cast bar in the frames if you wish, or leave it off for another addon or spot.
If you have a unit frame addon, there's likely an option to put the alternate boss bar in the unit frame itself instead of being an extra big bar somewhere on your screen. Similarly, unit frames will show secondary resources, if you prefer to see your shards, demonic fury, or embers there.
Icons: It's up to you whether you want to include combat, resting, leader, and master looter icons on your frames. The only icon you really need to have is the big marking icon -- skull, red x, blue square, etc.
Focus and pet
Warlocks go solo only when talented
; otherwise, we are a pet class that needs to manage an extra minion.
Since the controllable warlock pets each have a unique sprite graphic, I put in the portrait bar to help me tell which pet I have out. I have a small health bar below their portrait, but I don't care about the fel energy expenditure. below my pet frame, I have room for a few debuff icons so I can monitor my voidlord when out solo. Above my pet frame, I have a slim health bar and a name -- my pet's target. I only care what my pet is attacking or if my pet is attacking at all.
One of the tricks I've picked up from PvP is to put personally important targets in my focus frame. Like the pet frame, i generally don't care about the details of my target, but I do take an interest in the general health and name.
The most obvious use of a focus frame is when you have a personal mob to manage, like the pink dinosaur on heroic Horridon. Along the lines of monitoring casts or debuffs of your focus target, you can use it to "bookmark" mobs, like the Farseer Wolf Rider
in the mess of Kor'kron Warbringers on the Garrosh encounter. Once you find the mob, set it to focus, and you can easily reselect the mob specifically, like after a Soul Swapping
Finally, your focus frame will work with mouseover macros, meaning you can damage it without having to specifically select and target it. All the more reason to stick your focus frame close at hand.
Target of target and your tanks
Part of the damage dealer-tank relationship in party or raid functions is that the DPS will hit only what the tank has generated threat on. While this isn't so starkly important in the age of Vengeance, it's still important to be hitting the correct target. This command often comes in the form of "please hit my target," so the tank's target is still good information for a damage dealer.
Assuming pets are quiet and forgetting about randomly targeted abilities, the target of your target will be your tank. Therefore, the target of your target's target is your tank's target. Like the focus frame, you can leave these as a simple health bar and name, with perhaps a marking icon.
If you have more than one tank active, then you will want some main tank frames! Shadowed Unit Frames, among other unit frame addons also offer main assist frames, but I find that tanks are most often used as the focal point for targeting operations.
Again, we don't really care what's going on with the tank, so a small health bar and name suffices. However, we're very much interested in what our tank is targeting, so I made that frame bigger. For comparison, I can fit my mouse pointer inside the main tank target frame. I added a short name (Shadowed Unit Frames abbreviates names), the marking icon, and the health percentage. The health percentage is useful for phase changes, yes, but also for telling where exactly you wiped at.
Boss frames are like main tank frames, except for the current encounter boss. In council-style encounters, the multiple available bosses also show up here, and lately, important mobs will show up, too. For example, in the Fallen Protectors fight, the three Golden Lotus warriors will show up in the boss frames, but as they phase change, their different Embodies will also show up in the boss frames.
I laid out my boss frames like my main tank target frames -- with minimal but important information. I have the name and the percent health along with a cast bar and the marking icon on the unit frame. Lastly, the frame fades if I am out of range with mob.
To the side, I have debuff icons and I've told Shadowed Unit Frames to show only debuffs I've placed on the target. As a warlock, this gives you a special DoT tracker for boss mobs. You need four for affliction (Agony
, Unstable Affliction
, and Haunt
), three for demonology (Shadowflame
), and two for destruction (Immolate
and maybe Shadowburn
: Chaos Bolt
Raid frames for a DPS can be very minimalistic as we're not often focused on our raidmates. You can use the raid frames that come with your unit frame addon, or you can go with a dedicated raid frame addon like Vuhdo
. I like Vuhdo because I use it on my healer toons for the click bindings. On my warlock, I have only one click-binding -- Soulstone -- so I can rapidly battle res someone when called for.
At the very least, you'll need to know what group you're in (my frames spread horizontally first, then down, so "Holy" the priest is in the fourth group). After that, you can add in range, threat status, class color, dead/afk/disconnected unit flags, and more if you want to.
The last set of frames is more dynamically placed than a raid frame or unit frame addon: nameplates. Nameplates move with the mob or player, but they give you an idea of what's happening in the field. With nameplates, you can grab a mob to drain its soul for extra shards, or see what mob you can bounce
off onto your regular and more healthy target.
can now do much of what its child ThreatPlates
has done for ages, the best feature for warlocks is the debuff widget. Here, "White List (Mine)" will only show those debuffs I have listed that I have placed on the target, and I've listed all my DoTs there. Although I caught my Garrosh screenshot at an addless moment, you can see my three affliction DoTs on his nameplate.
I'm going to switch it up a little, for I think "pitch" will include a lengthy talk on swinging with TellMeWhen and WeakAuras. So next week is looking at keybinds and macros as we revisit warlock rotation complexity.
Blood Pact is a weekly column detailing DOTs, demons and all the dastardly deeds done by warlocks. We'll coach you in the fine art of staying alive, help pick the best target for Dark Intent, and steer you through tier 13 set bonuses.