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WoW Rookie: Stay on target with raid icons


New around here? WoW Rookie points WoW's newest players to the basics of a good start in the World of Warcraft. For links to all our tips, tricks and how-to's, visit's WoW Rookie Guide.

In your group of regulars, who's the nipple and who's the thong? Raid target icons can take a new player by surprise. Baddies look that much more terrifying with a skull icon floating over their heads -- yet all in all, it seems like a logical mechanic that you didn't happen to notice whenever it kicked in. But what about that mob over there, with something that looks like an orange nipple? And why does the party leader keep saying to hit the "thong" next?

Talk about a blast from the past ... With the death of crowd control, target icons don't get much of a workout any more. They were a staple of play, however, back in the days of huge pulls that needed to be controlled and taken down in a specific order. Icons are still used today on a limited basis in raiding and a few notoriously twitchy instance pulls, and they can make it easier to spot players or NPCs who must be protected or escorted in a crowd. Still, it's fairly likely that you can run all the way up to 80 and through the Dungeon Finder system without ever seeing more than the occasional skull or three -- and that's no good for building savvy players.

Raid target icon basics
  • Raid target icons make it possible to identify particular mobs and set the kill order for an encounter in an objective, unchanging fashion.
  • While tanks or group leaders usually handle marking duties, anyone can set a raid target icon over a mob. Right-click on any mob's portrait and choose a symbol from the drop-down menu.
  • The skull icon is almost universally set as the main DPS target. The cross (also often called X) is usually next in line ... but practice varies widely after that. Whoever marks for your group or raid should clearly state the kill order or assign players to tank/crowd control particular mobs. (If you need clarification, ASK!)
  • Raid icons make it easy to spot players or NPCs (including you!) who move around a lot or need to move through a large crowd.

They're magically delicious

You'll often hear raid icons called "lucky charms," a reference to the ubiquitous kids' breakfast cereal of the same name, which is filled with little marshmallow shapes ("Hearts, stars, horseshoes, clovers and blue moons, pots of gold and rainbows, and the red balloon!"). In practice, the chewy little nuggets proved nearly impossible to identify unless you knew the jingle ... Sharing something in common with WoW's "nipples" and "thongs."

Common WoW icon parlance goes something like this:
  • Yellow star Star
  • Orange circle Circle, coin, nipple, condom, the orange
  • Purple diamond Diamond
  • Green triangle Triangle, thong
  • Silver moon Moon
  • Blue square Square, box
  • Red X X, cross
  • Skull Skull

[Edited to add a few of the more common naming suggestions. Thanks, readers!]

Advanced targeting

The easiest way to set raid icons quickly and efficiently is with keybindings. Use the game's default interface to set them to whatever keys are convenient for you. Several nifty icon add-ons such as Lucky Charms do exist. If you find yourself marking frequently and you prefer to use your keybindings for something else, investigate a good mods site like Curse or WoW Interface for more options.

Even more on-the-fly marking can be done with mouseover macros. These can become a little too detailed for WoW Rookie, but feel free to add your own favorites in the comments.

Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to all our tips, tricks and how-to's, from game lingo for the beginner to joining your first guild as a mid-level player and on to what to do when you finally hit level 80.

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