Making a UI, the Cranky Tank Way

UI Composite

There seem to be two main schools of thought regarding UI customization in WoW: the “Stock UI is the ONLY UI” school, and the “Addons Vomited On My Screen” school. I dropped out of both schools years ago, and have developed my own design philosophy: “Addons are great, as long as they provide useful information in an organized fashion”. I’ve been asked by several (2) people to write an article about my UI, so here goes nothing.

Addons:

These are the visible addons that I use, with links to Curse provided for convenience. There are several more operating behind the scenes, but since they’re mostly related to auctioning, I won’t list them here.

Most of these addons are a matter of personal preference, and there are a LOT of alternatives out there. For instance, I prefer Skada to Recount because Recount never seems to work properly for me. Other people argue that Recount is the only damage meter worth a damn; if they can get it to work, more power to them. I use Vuhdo for my raid frames because I couldn’t configure Grid if my life depended on it, and I don’t like Pitbull’s raid/party frames. Again, personal preference. I LOVE Big Wig’s minimal approach to raid alerts, but for some reason its pull timer seems a bit wonky. DBM is a bit less glitchy, but has a habit of CONSTANTLY YELLING AT YOU for trivial things.

Layout

UI Composite Annotated

  • Yellow-green = Weak Auras. The one on the left is stacks/duration of Sunder on the target, the middle is duration/absorb of Shield Barrier, and the right is a Weakened Blows timer. I also have a text aura for Vengeance stacks that sits between the stance bar and the player unit frame, but since target dummies don’t hit back I couldn’t make it activate for the screenshot. The Shield Barrier aura changes to a translucent green shield icon when SBar is available, but not active.
  • Blue = Pitbull unit frames. Self on the left, target on the right.
  • Red = Skada. Left side is Damage, right side is Damage Taken.
  • Orange = Vuhdo raid frames. This is a 10-man block; 25 and 40-man blocks expand to fill the space between the two Skada windows.
  • Hot pink = Bartender. Click here to do, um, things. Yes, I do have a macro named “Kaboom”; it’s Bloodbath macroed to Dragon Roar.
  • Yellow = Aura Frames. Debuffs sit on top of their respective unit frames, and player buffs are up near the mini-map.
  • Green = SexyMap.
  • Titan Panel is the strip along the top of the screen, which gives me at-a-glance information on cash, bag space, who’s online, new mail, and such.

As you can see, there’s nothing terribly complicated here. Developing my Weak Auras took a couple of weeks of tinkering (WA is incredibly powerful, but can be a bit obtuse for a beginner), but I’m relatively pleased with the results. I’m not going to post the strings here, but I will provide them upon request. The large strip along the bottom is composed of several kgpanels, and is actually outside the SunnArt viewport. I’m a shameful, shameful clicker, and I often found myself clicking on a Skada window in the heat of battle, screwing up the display. By placing panels over each Skada window, I can disable click-through and protect them from errant mouse actions.

That’s about it, really. If you watch any of my newer (2014) YouTube videos you can see the Weak Auras and OmniCC in action. As always, feel free to leave questions/criticisms/requests in the Comments.


Index to my soloing guides
- My YouTube channel. Please subscribe if you like the videos and/or find them useful!

Soloing Zandalari Warbringers

Jade Warbringer

Why bother soloing these monstrosities? Because MOUNTS, that’s why! There are three mounts dropped by Warbringers: Slate Primordial Direhorn, Jade Primordial Direhorn, and Amber Primordial Direhorn. Each Warbringer has a chance to drop the mount that matches the one it happens to be riding at the time, so you can be selective in picking a fight if you already have one or more of them. They also drop various stolen insignia (good for getting rep for alts) and Small/Large Bags of Zandalari Supplies that can contain ore, cloth, leather, or herbs.

There are two ways you solo Warbringers as a warrior: go Arms/Fury and hope you don’t get insta-gibbed, or go Prot and settle in for a long fight. I generally play it safe, since a wipe tends to guarantee that someone else will get the tag by the time you corpse-run back.

Any given Warbringer will have a set of four abilities chosen from this pool:

  • Horrific Visage. This is probably the biggest cause of wipes/resets. Always keep a Berserker Rage available for these.
  • Meteor Shower. Does significant damage, which can be avoided by moving around a bit. Not a big deal.
  • Scarab Swarm. This one can be quite beneficial! The scarabs do little damage, and each one will proc a Victory Rush when you kill them!
  • Thunder Crush. This one hurts BAD. Get out of it at all costs.
  • Unstable Serum. I’ve yet to see this ability in action, and I’ve killed dozens of Warbringers. I assume it will be used in the worst possible way, such as stunning you in a Thunder Crush or in the path of a Vengeful Spirit.
  • Vengeful Spirit. Summons a spirit that will beat the crap out of you if you get within melee range. Deadly if you’re DPS, trivial if you’re tanking. It can be stunned, and will eventually despawn automatically.

Here’s one that I fought in Kun-Lai Summit, complete with bonus mob pulls because I wasn’t paying attention. Enjoy!


Index to my soloing guides
- My YouTube channel. Please subscribe if you like the videos and/or find them useful!

Transmogs for April 2014!

Here they are, such as they are!

For the tanking set I went a bit old-school: the armor is all from AQ40 (with the exception of the placeholder belt), the shield is from AQ20 (or is it AQ10 now?), and the weapon is one of the AQ quest rewards. It’s not flashy, and the armor lacks detail, but I figured it wasn’t something you see around Stormwind every day.

After last month’s skimpy red DPS set, I decided to switch gears and go for more of a “spiky bad-ass” theme. The armor (again, with the exception of the placeholder belt) is the Destroyer set obtained from tokens in Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep. I was tempted to use my perennial favorite weapon (Ashkandi), but decided against it when I saw how well the Worldcarver axe from Ulduar matched the set.

What have I been up to this week?

Not making any soloing progress, that’s for sure! I’ve been stuck on Ultraxion 10N for quite some time now and don’t see any way past him without significant gear upgrades. On the other hand, I’ve been revisiting old raid bosses and recapturing videos for each of them, so there is that. The new videos feature a standardized template, information on the gear/spec/glyphs used, and annotations! These were all features that were requested by readers in my recent poll, so it’s your fault that I have all this extra work to do!

Just kidding.

As far as current content goes, my guild (Weeping Angels on Echo Isles-US) has been kicking ass and taking names, in a manner of speaking (10N difficulty). In the last three weeks, we’ve gone from major stuckage on Galakras to completely obliterating Iron Juggernaut, Dark Shaman, General Nazgrim, Malkorok, and Spoils! The secret, for us, for many of these fights seems to be to 4-heal them; this strategy has worked very well on Galakras, Juggernaut, Shaman, and Spoils. Sadly, the loot deities have been exceedingly capricious, and we’ve DE’d most of the gear that has dropped from our progression kills. Seriously, if it weren’t for bonus rolls some of us would see no usable loot at all (I’m STILL trying to ditch my TI ring, but this seems to be a lost cause at this point).

The local transmog market seems to have slowed down considerably since the semi-recent merger of Echo Isles and Draenor. I’ve gone from making 5-10k per day to 1-2k per day, which doesn’t really bother me since I don’t have the time or desire to continuously monitor the AH for undercuts. Leather and mail pieces are the easiest to flip these days, followed by weapons and off-hands. Cloth, plate, and miscellaneous junk don’t seem to sell at all.

… I’ve joined the ranks of Those Who Stream WoW on Twitch (not a real organization)! I try to make a point of streaming my guild SoO 10N runs each week (8:30-10:30pm PST, T/TH), along with my soloing runs (when I can remember to activate OBS). Check it out at twitch.tv/thecrankytank. Please. Seriously. Soloing is so, so lonely. So very lonely.

So, Hearthstone. I love the game, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m absolutely terrible at it. I know I need better cards, but I don’t want to buy them with real money, and I can’t win enough matches to get the gold to buy them that way. Sigh. Also, don’t talk to me about Heroes of the Storm. Yes, it looks incredible, even for an alpha. Yes, I’d love to try it out. No, I can’t because I’m a nobody.

Last, and certainly least, I finally caved in and boosted a toon. More specifically, I boosted a druid and named him Crankytank. This actually makes little sense, since his sole spec right now is boomkin. I pull about 20k DPS if I’m paying attention, and I’ve yet to successfully kill any Timeless Isle elites without getting smooshed. At least I haven’t queued for LFR yet, so I can’t be blamed for the recent drop in run quality (if it were indeed possible for LFR quality to drop any further).

In which I respond to your votes

The votes are in! Nearly fifty visitors participated in my first blog improvement poll extravaganza, so it’s only appropriate for me to return the favor and discuss the results of each poll in detail. Let’s jump right in and see what you thought!

Question: What type of content would you like to see more of?

Content

The responses seem pretty straightforward. Soloing “stuff” and transmog sets are the clear winners, with videos and Q&A serving as lesser favorites. I do plan to add some more soloing content in the near future, starting with a brief blurb on Zandalari Warbringers. In addition, I will eventually expand my soloing guides to include all Vanilla and Burning Crusade raids. While it’s true that any given level 90 player can burn through these without much regard for strategy, it can be fun to watch someone do so at quadruple speed in a video! Finally, keep watching for new transmog content in the coming weeks: I have a lot of ideas but haven’t yet narrowed them down to something manageable.

Question: What do you think of my soloing guides?

Guides

First of all, thanks to everyone that responded with “They’re useful”! When combined with a complete lack of “Don’t like ‘em” votes, you’ve all reassured me that my efforts are worthwhile. I agree that some of my guides could use more detail; “run in, kill boss, collect loot” isn’t very helpful for some bosses. Each guide will get a major revision in the next month or so, as I slowly remake all of my videos.

I’m not really sure how to best address the issue of “They’re too warrior-centric”. Many of the soloing tactics I use are specific to warriors, and are sometimes specific to certain talents and glyphs. MissTorgo has been my main since Vanilla, and will likely remain so until the end of the world (of Warcraft). I suppose a potential band-aid would be to add generic references to actions such as interrupts, defensive/offensive cooldowns, and the like. An alternative approach would be to do some research and actually reference specific Paladin/DK/Monk/Druid tanking abilities, though this might require more research than I have time for. I’ll think about it.

Question: How can I improve my soloing videos?

Videos

They’re already perfect? Excellent! My work here is done!

/slams door
/leaves for a year-long tropical vacation
/remembers that whole job/family/responsibility thing
/returns to small gray cubicle

Prior to posting these polls, I was seriously considering re-capturing and re-encoding as many of my soloing videos as possible. Based on the results of this poll, I’ve jumped headfirst into the project! My goals are to standardize the videos to a common template, provide accurate gear/spec/glyph information for each boss kill, and add useful annotations whenever possible. I’ve completed one such renovation already; check it out and let me know what you think!

In closing, I’d like to thank everyone who participated in my little poll experiment! If you’d like to respond to my responses, please leave a comment!