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Blood Sport: Essential Arena addons

Every Thursday, V'Ming - who thinks that gnome warlocks are travesties of nature and need to be KOSed - shares thoughts and ideas on becoming deadlier at the Arenas. He also dabbles in the dark arts in Blood Pact.

Like I mentioned in my Building an Arena team article, some PvPers scoff at PvP mods. For me, I like to think of addons as little "fixes" that address deficiencies in the default UI. It's not like they create a huge unfair advantage or anything, but addons, created by well-meaning individuals, simply make our collective gaming lives easier. Hey, if everyone else is using them, why not?

There are literally thousands of addons out there, and some of us quickly develop an almost unhealthy reliance on all the bells and whistles. I'm a firm follower of the minimalistic movement: if I hardly interact with a particular addon during a typical game session, it disappears from my AddOns folder, no matter how nice or "useful" it seems. I prefer quicker loading and response times, to conveniences that are situational at best, thank you.

I'm also a big Ace fan; who doesn't like updating all your addons with one click? Besides that, many of the most functional and bloat-free addons are emerging from the active Ace community. Hence, if there are multiple addons providing the same functionality, I'll tend to gravitate towards the Ace version. The easiest way to grab and manage Ace addons is to download the WoWAceUpdater application. With that, let's look at some addons I consider "essential" if you are a frequent or serious gladiator.

Proximo (Ace)
I've recommended this addon before and I'll recommend it here again. Proximo displays enemy unit frames for identifying and coordinating targets. It creates a unit frame whenever you or anyone in your party mouse-overs or targets an opponent. One of the best options is to have the mod announce enemy units in party chat, so that even your teammates who don't have Proximo installed will quickly know what your team is up against.

Natur EnemyCastBar (non-Ace)
A very popular and excellent addon that shows everything from debuff timers, casts, cooldowns and even diminishing returns! Unfortunately the author has indicated that he will be discontinuing development after the imminent patch 2.4. NECB's functionality can, however, be approximated by Ace's Quartz and ClassTimer.

Quartz (Ace)
Quartz is an infinitely customizable casting/progress bar addon that replaces the default Blizzard ones. A useful feature is the Latency module that displays lag in the form of a red bar at the end of your casting bar. This helps you chain up your spells more efficiently, especially for players with high latency. The Range module recolors your cast bar if your target moves out of range in mid-cast.

ClassTimer (Ace)
This simple addon displays buff, debuff and other timers, depending on your class. You can customize it to display timers for the spell you want. For example, I use it to display timer bars for Seduce and Banish right in the middle of my screen.

FocusFrame (non-Ace)
Another simple addon to display your focus and it looks almost exactly like Blizzard's default target frame. You can also configure it to show your focus' casting bar. Also works with Clique below.

Clique (non-Ace)
A click-casting mod with a great, intuitive interface to bind your mouse clicks to spells and other functions. Great for healing and buffing classes. I picked this over Ace's Click2Cast as Clique is a lot easier to configure.

Pitbull (Ace)
This mother of all unit frame replacements is probably more useful for healing classes in the context of Arenas. As a warlock, I use it to display a second target frame on top of my Quartz cast bar, so that my eyes don't need to look at two places of the screen at the same time. Pitbull may be pretty daunting for addon newbies, as it is not really ready-to-go out of the box.

In fact, many of these addons aren't simply plug-and-play, particularly more customizable ones like Quartz. You'll probably need to spend an entire play session tweaking settings and arranging them just the way you want on your screen. The trick is to customize them so that they become part of your natural play style. If you find that you're still struggling with a mod after some time with it, it's probably not worth the effort: ditch it.

Work through different "mock" PvP scenarios before even using them in real matches. Consult others who may have more experience with these addons and scope out the settings that work for them. Your teammates will certainly appreciate you not struggling with mods in the middle of a rated match.

Do you have more PvP-centric addons that you absolutely can't do without? Do you use other mods that share similar functionality with the ones listed above?

As usual, let's look at last week's games:

Warrior-Druid teams continue to dominate the 2v2 bracket. Paladins are pretty much represented only in the 5v5s, and mages are just about absent from the 2v2s. Hunters are enjoying a better representation overall, compared to pre-2.3 days.

Looking at the three most popular team combos at the top in the US, we have:

5v5

Warrior-Paladin-Priest-Shaman-Warlock 17.1%
Warrior-Paladin-Priest-Shaman-Mage 11.4%
Warrior-Paladin-Priest-Hunter-Warlock 5.7%

3v3
Rogue-Priest-Mage 17.6%
Rogue-Druid-Warlock 9.8%
Warrior-Priest-Druid 8.8%

2v2
Warrior-Druid 34%
Rogue-Priest 16%
Hunter-Druid 6.6%

It's interesting to see Hunter-Druid teams make up 6.6% of the top teams. Taking a closer look at hunters at the top: 25% are hybrid Marksmanship builds (11/41/9), 16.1% are BM hunters (41/20/0). The remaining hunters are different variants of Marksmanship builds: 10.7% being 0/41/20. In comparison, the vast majority of druids are resto, with 8/11/42 the most common build by far (56.8%).

Have hunters finally stepped up to the plate (or mail - ok, sorry) Arena-wise? We shall see if this trend continues.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Add-Ons, Blood Sport (Arena PvP), Arena

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