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Blood Pact: How to build a better warlock UI

Tyler Caraway

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Blood Pact for affliction, demonology and destruction warlocks. For those who disdain the watered-down arts that other cling to like a safety blanket ... For those willing to test their wills against the nether and claim the power that is their right ... Blood Pact welcomes you.

As the most recent raid on the block and still relatively new, Firelands is a rather popular pastime these days. Who can blame players, either? The place is stunning, the encounters are actually fun and engaging, and it's a blast to run. As a DPSer, a part of that joy is being able to deal the highest amount of damage that you possibly can. It also involves keeping yourself alive. More than all that, you want to look good while doing it.

This week, we'll explore some of the common addons that you can utilize as a warlock in order to maximize both your damage potential and your survivability. While a number of people work with the standard Blizzard UI, there are just some things that it isn't capable of doing (nor does it look nearly as good doing them). Ready to go all out?

DOT tracking

As a warlock, no matter which spec you play, DOT tracking is one of your big to-do's. While tracking DOTs on a single-target mob has been made vastly easier even through the Blizzard UI, there aren't too many generalized addons out there that offer tracking across multiple targets, and those that do generally aren't very good at it. Instead, I would highly suggest that you invest in getting an addon tailor-made for keeping tabs on all of your damage rolling goodness.

I honestly cannot stress enough how important it is that you manage to get a DOT tracker. There is what I would consider a holy trinity of mods for DPS. First is the boss mod; second, the cast bar mod. Third is a DOT tracker. You might be able to keep track of all your DOTs flawlessly during a single-target encounter or an encounter when there are always two targets, but when there are multiple targets with varying DOT times, it gets rough.

  • ForteXorcist It's impossible to make a list of warlock addons and not mention this gem. Created specifically for warlocks, this baby doesn't just track DOTs in a phenomenal way -- it tracks every a warlock could desire. Soul Stones, Healthstones, Dark Intent, everything, all right there. Plus, its DOT tracking is amazing.
  • Tidy/Threat Plates Threat Plates is an extension of Tidy Plates that does far more than the name suggests. This masterpiece will track DOTs on every target via the nameplate, making it super-easy to track which adds have DOTs and which don't. Perfect for adds, it does have a downside with various creatures (particularly bosses) that are too large for nameplates.
Boss mods

Boss mods are the biggest of the big when it comes to required raiding addons. Some boss mod is virtually the single must-have for any raider; surprisingly, there are a lot more choices out there than you might think. Each focuses on something different, yet at the same time, all of them provide virtually the same information. Which you end up using a purely a matter of choice -- but as a raider, you will have to use one.
  • Deadly Boss Mods Probably the best-known of all the boss mods, DBM is a classic that won't steer you wrong by any means. The one and only complaint I could give about it is its gross overuse of the Run away, little girl! phrase.
  • BigWigs The seeming rivial to DBM, BigWigs is virtually identical to the other in every single way (though supporters of either will strongly disagree). BigWigs is great, if not sometimes annoying with its flavor text during boss encounters.
  • Deus Vox Encounters DXE isn't nearly as popular as the other two boss mods, but I feel it's ever so slightly better. DXE is more minimalistic in comparison to the other mods, using fewer bombardments of sound. Every important event has a distinct, small ping, and that's all. It's probably considered more "professional" (read: bland) than the others, but it works.

Cast bars

Rounding out the last of the three major addons that everyone should have is a way of modding the cast bar. While Blizzard has made several advancements to the standard cast bar over the years, there are still quite a number of things it cannot do. Cast bar addons come in a variety of flavors, but the primary things you need are the ability to move and resize the cast bar to fit your needs. Most also offer the addition to recolor or re-scheme how the cast bar tracks casting times, which helps some players as well.

The largest factor for warlocks is the ability to see tick marks. The ability to see where your channeled spells will tick is huge, especially over the standard worthless information given by the Blizzard cast bars.

  • Quartz There has been a stanadrd in the cast bar field since time immorial, Quartz is that standard. It tracks latency, tick marks, and a wide number of things. It also allows you to move your cast bar around, resize it, change its color -- you name it. This is the bar for which all other cast bar mods are set against. You cannot find much better.
  • Castbars Exactly what the name says that it is, Castbars has virtually the same options as Quartz -- but with a flaw. Castbars doesn't play nice with many addons, especially those that hide Blizzard's UI. Extremely lightweight, its biggest draw is also its biggest flaw.

Unit frames

Generally, the standard framework for building a new UI is the unit frames addon that you'll be choosing. These are generally one of your largest addons, and they often strive to branch out into serving more and more functions. Unit frames are where you will find a lot of additional addons that can integrate seamlessly into your entire UI setup.

Overall, however, unit frames are perhaps the least important addon in terms of functionality, focusing far more on being stylish. While this was once not the case, Blizzard's upgrades to its standard UI has made many of the additional features offered by unit frames mods obsolete. The most important features that you'll want to look for are raid frames and debuff and buff tracking. Other than the aesthetic nature of replacement unit frames, those two features are the primary purpose for getting a unit frame mod.

  • ElvUI More than just a simple unit frame replacement, ElvUI is virtually an entire UI all wrapped up into a single, neat package. Integrated with various other traditional addon features, ElvUI provides you with unit frames, nameplates, chat boxes, action bars, cast bars, bag mods ... virtually anything that you can think of. ElvUI has it all, and it looks good doing it.
  • Pitbull I previously wasn't much of a Pitbull fan, as it had trouble working nicely with other mods out on the market, but recent changes have fixed those problems. Pitbull is one of the better unit frames that you'll be able to find out there today in terms of looks, customization, and functionality. It is, however, quite a reasource hog. That's being worked on, so perhaps it'll improve in the future.
  • X-perl One of my personal favorites for a very long time. X-perl has virtually everything that you could ask for in a unit frames mod. It's decently lightweight in comparison to many of the other mods out there, but it can still run a little heavy if you aren't careful. It's highly workable and setting it up is a breeze, which I always find to be a huge plus.

There are far more than those three unit frame mods out there, and all of them have their merits, but those are the bigger, more popular ones that you will find. They generally work really well and offer up a great choice for changing up your unit frames.

Raid frames

While basic unit frames bring their own raid frames along with them, they generally don't offer the same functionality that a focused raid frame addon would bring to the table. As a warlock, this isn't quite as imperative as it would be for a hybrid or a healer, but that doesn't mean these mods still don't hold some merit.

The major reasons to get more focused raid unit frames are to be better able to track debuffs or to get click-casting functionality. Standard unit frames often don't offer a way of easily casting a spell merely by clicking on a player's name. These mods change that. As a warlock, your primary need for click-casting will be Soul Stones, but we've included this list of mods in case you want to get something that integrates well with your alts.
  • VuhDo My personal favorite and the one that I had been using for the longest time, it is lightweight, highly simplistic, and a total breeze to set up.
  • Grid A long-time standard, Grid is amazing and still the best you can find. It takes a good deal of work to set up properly, though.
  • HealBot Frankly, I don't see the true difference between Grid and HealBot, but people swear to me that it's there. It's obviously geared toward healers, so use at your own risk.

Miscellaneous stuff

There are loads of addons out there, many of which fill specific niches. Whether or not that's a niche you need to take advantage of is up to you. Some players need the additional tools; some prefer to work without them. All in all, it's a matter of choice. While the mods above represent the more popular targets for alterations, there are a few other places that can use a lift. Here are a few recommendations.
  • Power Auras Another long-time classic, PA is perfect for tracking any and all cooldowns. It does require some setting up but it is totally worth it once you manage to get it all down. Blizzard's standard UI has replaced this in some ways, but the glorious thing about PA is customization and the ability to track things such as trinket cooldowns.
  • Dominos This action bar mod allows for quick, easy, flawless customization. Move bars anywhere, size them any way you like, and bind them with a mere click of a button. Need more be said?
  • Omen Threat is always a huge issue no matter what you run. Omen is the threat tracking mod of our time. It does its job gloriously, and many improvements have been made since the olden days of threat meters. Knowing your threat is essential as a DPSer because you should never pull threat off your tanks. Many guilds outright require Omen.

That's all, folks. There are certainly loads of additional mods out there and plenty of them that you might personally find that you cannot live without. While it is easy to go over the top with mods, as many a WoW player has often joked about, make no mistake that addons can do a whole lot of good when used correctly.

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 encounters such as Blackwing Descent and The Bastion of Twilight.

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