I’ve a confession to make. I already have a level 80 Paladin. A pretty-boy Blood Elf. I rolled Adomas (previously named Alhamode, as a pun) at the start of Burning Crusade, when I was eager to try out the Paladin class after they were made available to the Horde. I haven’t regretted that decision. I also haven’t played Adomas full-time.
Hit the jump if you’d like to read about my preparations at 80 for Alhazad’s re-roll, using Adomas and the mod Power Auras Classic and others.
I’ve been using Power Auras for a very long time. It has been an invaluable mod for my Hunter, Tamsinela. Recently, with 4.0.1 on Live servers, I decided to take a look at my User Interface and start trimming the fat by moving some important cooldowns to Power Auras alerts rather than actual Action Bar buttons (buttons courtesy of Dominos).
I started with Tamsinela, and was able to remove two whole rows of action bars from my screen. I also employed an addon called CoolLine, similar to ForteXorcist, to handle other cooldowns on a timeline-like display.
Now, I like to keep my User Interface similar between my main and alternate characters. It helps to keep me from having to re-learn too much when I switch gears. A “unified” UI layout (including shared keybinds) was invaluable to me throughout Burning Crusade, when I played a bevy of alternate characters: Rogue, Druid, Mage, Paladin, and Hunter alongside Alhazad the Warrior. With this in mind, when I started re-designing Tamsinela’s interface, I thought it might be high time to also prepare for Alhazad’s tenure as a Sunwalker by putting Adomas to use one last time.
Paladins have a number of abilities they have to keep track of. Your Talent Specialization does put more of a laser’s focus on some of them, but you remain a hybrid class with capabilities beyond simply Retribution, Protection, or Holy. As a Ret Paladin, you can sling a healing spell. As a Holy Paladin, you could off-tank in a pinch. Keeping your toolkit of abilities close at hand is absolutely necessary, but what can you do to bring your specialization-specific abilities further into the limelight?
Power Auras, here I come.
Using my Hunter’s new Power Auras configuration as a springboard, I’ve put the following abilities up on-screen as indicators: Art of War’s proc (“use Exorcism now!”), Avenging Wrath’s availability, Crusader Strike off cooldown, Judgement off cooldown, and Templar’s Verdict (with 3 Holy Power, or the buff Hand of Light).
What this allows me to do is show these abilities either when it is best to use them, or when they are available for use. Power Auras is extremely, er, powerful, in its logic and configuration options, but there remains a degree of human (i.e., player) decision-making that a mod simply cannot replicate. I did not want to use a “Rotation Helper” displaying one icon that is always your best ability to use at a given moment. While this would save some screen real-estate, I think it removes one of the more interesting elements of the Paladin class, particularly Retribution Paladins; that being, the need to make prioritization decisions yourself.
This is a work in progress, as is my Hunter’s Power Auras configuration. New iterations are coming, but I am fairly happy with it so far. Before, I had upwards of 4 full icon bars visible on-screen at one time, and I often found myself glancing downward to check cooldowns. Here, I can focus more on the action around my character, his or her Power and Health meters (unit-frame), the enemy’s unit-frame, and the cooldown timeline for anything not covered by Power Auras (again, the mod is CoolLine, similar to ForteXorcist).
Of course, none of this would be possible without a number of keybinds! This is also where my UI unity becomes important. Many of World of Warcraft’s classes have abilities that perform a similar function. For example: A Hunter’s Kill Shot is available when the enemy’s health falls below 20%, and a Paladin’s Hammer of Wrath functions the same way. This is perfect for a shared keybind. Also, these classes share abilities that are used very frequently — I like to bind these to keys easily reached, like F, G, R, T, and the like. As a Hunter, I use Steady Shot (and come level 81, Cobra Shot) very frequently — this will be bound to the F key, as will my Paladin’s Crusader Strike ability.
Keybinds are critical for minimalistic User Interface displays. You need to have them memorized. When you’re playing, and you need to use Scatter Shot, you’ll know that it is your C key — you’ll also want to know the Power cost, if any, the duration, and what it will allow you to do next (or, a contingency plan if an attack fails, misses, is resisted, or is countered). If Scatter Shot is not a button visible on your screen (with a numerical cooldown overlay), then another method of displaying cooldown or availibility is needed. Mods like Power Auras, CoolLine, Ghost:Pulse, and others can help immensely with this.
This is sensible playing, of course — nothing new here. I enjoy this aspect of the game almost as much as the storyline, and my hat goes off to both the systems designers at Blizzard and the very talented modification creators out there who make a great game even greater, and who do so with little personal gain. If you use modifications to World of Warcraft and feel they improve your gaming experience, please consider making a small donation to the add-on authors.
Thanks for reading!