What's more, mouse movement is more fine-tuned and more flexible than keyboard movement. While a keyboard movement can be good if you're looking to move a short distance in a straight line, mouse movement and direction is largely superior. I'm not saying that you're a bad player if you move with your keyboard, just that if you want to consider moving with the mouse, you're going to need to free it up from clicking abilities. Both mouse movement and key-binding are generally considered the better way to go, but everyone's different.
Where do I start stopping clicking?
Getting started is the most daunting. The first and most important thing to realise is that there's no one right way to keybind your abilities. In these posts the comments often read "where should I put my frostbolt?" or "where do you have your Hammer of Justice?" and the answer is that while you should feel free to take other people's ideas into consideration, what works for you is what works for you. That said, there are some good ways to begin.
First up, let's look at this:
This is a truly terrible keybinding setup. But, it's the one that you get with WoW out of the box. What's wrong with it? Well, first up, that long thin strip of keys. The red keys are our ability binds, the blue are movement. Much as I've spoken about the superiority of mouse movement, most players will still preserve W, A, S, and D as movement keys, usually moving strafe down from Q and E to A and D. Then you'd have forwards and backwards, and two strafe keys.
Right now, though, let's talk about the other awful thing that WoW comes with out of the box.
This keybinding system is pretty dreadful. Not only do you have to figure out which action bar you're looking at, but also which spot, mostly by trial and error. It's really counter-intuitive, and just generally hard to use. What makes it even worse is how easily the issue is fixed by so many different action bar addons. I always recommend Dominos
. It's extremely similar to Bartender
, but the one key difference is that Bartender creates its own action bars that you're binding your keys to, while Dominos re-uses the standard ones. As a result of this, if Dominos breaks, you still have all your binds. They might not be pretty, but they're there. If Bartender breaks, well, you have nothing.
The great thing about these addons is that, once you've dragged your abilities to your bars, you type /kb and it will open up an interface that allows you to hover your mouse over them and push a key. That key is then bound to that button, and it will tell you so. No more hunting through a long list, no more guesswork. You can see it in action on the right-most empty button slot below. I've got my cursor hovering over it, and have pushed =, ] and [ as binds.
While this is Dominos, Bartender is exactly the same when it comes to keybinding, and pretty much everything else for that matter. The only difference is what I mention above. So get one of these addons, it will make your life far easier.
Initial click-stopping setup
Everyone's different, but what I've found reported as the easiest way to stop clicking from others I've helped is what I'm going to lay out here. First up, let's get our keys moved around. Comparing to the above strip, what we're looking for is something like this:
Again, red for abilities, blue for movement. As mentioned earlier, we've ditched turn left and turn right. That's for the mouse now. W is move forwards, S is move backwards. A and D are strafe. I'd recommend this at first, but if the removal of the turn is too much for you, then leave that setup in place. Q and E are your easiest reached binds, so do try to get them for abilties. What you'll want to do is work out what button you can hit easiest with a key-press, while trying to move with the mouse. It'll probably be Q, E, R, F or one of numbers 1-5.
Put abilities you spam on those buttons -- the one you hit when nothing else is going on. Even better if it's something you can do while moving; a DoT, an instant-cast, a cast while moving spell, that sort of thing. What we're trying to do here is train you to push buttons while using the mouse as your main movement tool. Start small, don't put every ability on keys immediately unless you're happy to be a bit useless for a few weeks. Fill up those easy binds with the abilities you use most often, the ones you spam. There shouldn't be so many that you run out of space at this point -- nine buttons for your main rotation and no other abilities should be sufficient.
The ones below the WASD pyramid -- Z,X,C -- are usually best used for binds that are big cooldowns, or emergency cooldowns that you'll want to hit in a hurry. So now, what we've got is the green buttons (Q, E, R, F, 1-4) used for spammable abilities, and the pink (~, 5, Z, X, C) for cooldowns. Then branch out, F1-F4 are great for rarely-used abilities, same with 6, T, G, V. If you've got bigger hands, 7, Y, H, B can be open for you too. The further a key is from your WASD "home" the more rarely used its bind should be. Keep emergency cooldowns like Lay on Hands
, Ice Block
close by, same with CC if you use it regularly. I'll actually bind things like Hymn of Hope
even further over, because the way I have my binds set up allows my hand more freedom, and it's an ability I'll rarely use in a stressed situation.
Modifiers and Macros
Modifiers are great. Modifers turn that little cluster of easily reached keys into a multiple of itself, depending on your ability to perform hand acrobatics. Alt can easily be hit with your thumb, that generally rests on the space-bar, you should be accustomed to using Shift from typing, with your little finger. CTRL, however, is a tricksy beast, being right down the side there. I actually re-map my CTRL to CapsLock
, meaning my CapsLock key becomes a second CTRL. This makes the most awkward of modifiers no harder to hit than Shift.
And when you've got modifiers sorted out, then you can have macros too. For example,
/cast [mod:shift,@focus] Pummel
will cast Pummel on my target, unless I press shift with the bind, in which case it will cast Pummel on my focus. You can copy-paste this and replace Pummel with an ability of your choice. There's no rule that says you have to use modifiers for macros, though. If you want to have Demoralizing Shout on G, and Demoralizing Banner on shift-G, that's your call. Using something like Dominos, you can bind even the most complicated modifier combinations to action bar slots.
It's worth adding that there's no shame in maintaining a few clicked abilities. Long cooldowns, things you have that you'll only use now and then, carry on clicking. Ideally, nothing you're only going to use in a complete emergency! And don't forget about your mouse buttons either -- middle click, side buttons, even scrolling can be bound to things, just so long as you're able to find another option for camera zoom. I have my zoom mapped to CTRL+Alt+mousewheel, as a suggestion.
And there's no reason to stop there either. Let's talk about my admittedly unusual setup for a second. I'm not saying you should use it, not at all, more that it's an example of what you can do. All my movement keys are on my mouse. The WASD pyramid is gone altogether, strafe left and right, autorun and backpedal are on my mouse side keys. This gives me way more space for keybinding, and more importantly, way more freedom to move my hand across they keyboard. Hymn of Hope is bound to O. There's nothing keeping my hand on WASD, so I can move over to O with no issues at all. I can hit every modifier without having to be a hand-contortionist!
The ESDF system
Last up, I want to talk about ESDF. It's a popular alternative to WASD, simply because it moves your hand a space to the right. This means that you're not only adding keys to the right of your hand. You're getting Q, W and A as really easy binds, as well as 4, 5, R, T, G, H. There's a lot more bind availability, and that means it's a great system. However, if you're used to WASD, it's going to be a learning curve.
A top learning tip:
Get some textured stickers that can be easily removed -- plastic-backed not paper -- and stick small pieces to your keys. That way you can tell without looking down that your hand is in the right place. Razer supplies them with their mice, for this exact purpose, and they are a really excellent learning tool for new keybinders. Good luck!