Every Tuesday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting druids and those who group with them, brought to you by Dan O'Halloran and David Bowers.
Two weeks ago we had a look at how macros could make your druid lifestyle a little easier, and today we're going to look at some addons which were specially made for druids. These addons help you solve a couple problems that many druids are likely to face, helping you get at important druid information that isn't easily available in the standard interface.
First is the problem of druid mana while in feral forms. It's tricky to keep track of this without any addons; you have to remember your mana in your mind while you look at your rage or energy bar and do other things. Sometimes you might shift out of a feral form to cast a heal only to find yourself without enough mana to do what you had planned. There are actually several addons which can help you with this, and we'll take a brief look at each of them so that you can choose which is best for you.
The second problem has to do with comparing the best druid gear without having to shift out of World-of-Warcraft form and into Browse-the-internet-for-15-minutes form. Several addons are out there which can give you the lowdown on gear quality right in your item tooltips.
Hidden mana bar revealed at last!
For a long time I used a mod called DruidBar, which puts a nice little bar of mana on your screen for you to view no matter which form you are in. You can move it around, integrate it with the standard interface, or set it to show up only under certain conditions, such as when you shift into bear or cat form. It has some special features you might find cute too, such as letting you set a certain automatic emote to occur whenever you shift forms (i.e. "Darthmoo says, 'Oh no, the full moon!... I'm.. I'm... changing!.... NooooaaaarrrrRRAAAAWRRR!'") For some this might be very fun, but for others it might get annoying fast. For those who want a similar DruidBar without such bells and whistles, there's the aptly named "SimpleDruidBar," as well as another simpler (and sexier!) alternative called SmartyCat. It's basically the same thing as SimpleDruidBar but within the Ace2 framework, and it should work with SharedMedia to produce the most beautiful dragable druid mana bar you can find. (Click here and here to download SmartyCat and SmartyCatManaBar from files.wowace.com -- both are required for it to work. Beware, however, that it may be buggy sometimes; there's no standard "release version" I could find.)
Ever since I tried out PitBull, however, I discovered that they built this DruidBar type of functionality right into the player unit frame itself (X-Perl Unit Frames will integrate DruidBar, if you have it installed, but PitBull doesn't even need DruidBar at all). In it, a third bar automatically appears for druids in feral form just underneath the health and rage/energy bar, which shows you how much mana you have left. With PitBull especially, you can define exactly how big you want this bar to be, and what you want the text inside to say.
Once you get your mana situation squared away, however, you may realize that you need more of it -- or you may find that you have way more than you need. Gear is your problem, and finding some tool that could help you compare the relative worth of different gear sets would be really handy.
Honey, does this dress make me look WTFpwned?
First of all, you'll want to get EquipCompare, which lets you see your equipped items' tooltips right next to the tooltip of whatever you're looking at, just like in the Auction House or on the Armory. You may also want to get Lootlink or a similar database addon so that you can search for great druid gear and compare it to what you've got without even having to open up the Auction House or the Armory -- although on older computers, Lootlink and the like may slow you down a bit.
RatingBuster includes certain comparative functions built in for every class in the game, but, while it is still handy for druids, beware that it does not take special druid talents or abilities into effect when calculating various items' worth. Fortunately there are druid-specific addons for comparing stats, such as DruidTips and DruidStats. DruidTips uses the point system outlined in Emmerald's excellent loot lists and comparisons of different druid gear. It's very extensive, and is usually very accurate, although you do want to keep in mind actual stat balance over just using whatever item has the highest "Mitigation," "Bear DPS," or "Cat DPS" point rating. DruidStats gives you a more direct look at what stats each item will give you after the various druid talents have been applied, so that you can judge its rating for yourself. (I should mention that Eliah swears by Theorycraft 2 to help compare stats, but I myself don't use it much.)
Those are the special addons I use as a druid, as well as some alternatives for you to choose from if you don't play exactly the same way as I do. Do you recommend any other addons for all druids to use? If so, feel free to let us know in a comment. We can try them out and perhaps include them in a future edition of Shifting Perspectives.