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The Creamy GUI Center: Combat Log-o-rama

The Combat Log options window.
Each week Matthew Porter contributes The Creamy GUI Center, a column aimed at helping you enhance your WoW experience by offering an in depth guide to addons, macros and other tools we use to play WoW, along with commentary on issues that affect how we all play.

Howdy folks, and welcome to this week's The Creamy GUI Center. Before we get neck deep in addons this week I'd like to say thank you all for the encouraging words and warm welcome back left in the comments last week. Also in the coming weeks look for some of your suggested topics to be covered. But I digress, let's get back to this week's topic, the combat log and its addons. There's something for everyone this week as I show you alternative and supplimental addons to the combat log, and for the minimalists out there I'll show you how to add some bling to your combat log without needing any third party additions. Let's get started!

Getting the most from the default combat log.

As mentioned last week during our look back, when patch 2.4 ht the combat log received some much needed love from Blizzard. All the new options and settings can be a little daunting to set up, so let's break down each tab of the window. The first thing that caught our eye when the combat log was revised were the filters at the top. There's several pre-made filters such as "Self", "Everything", "What happened to me?", and "Kills". While you can add to or delete these filters, these pre-made ones cover practically any situation as they are. "Self" shows everything that happened to you and by you, "Everything" shows every event done to or by any units in range of you, "What happened to me?" shows events just done to you which is useful to see just how you died to that raid boss or how that rogue owned you in PvP. Finally "Kills" tells you who got the killing blow on what you've been fighting. Now to edit these filters or make our own we'd want to adjust the settings on the first two tabs of the combat log's settings window. The first tab, "Message Sources", lets you manage which units you'll receive combat messages from. For example with the "Self" filter, the only options checked are events done by and to yourself (and maybe your pet). The next tab, "Message Types" allows you to select the kind of messages shown.
Editing the message types
For example, say you play a Hunter and want to setup a filter for your ranged attacks and another for your melee, or maybe you're a Priest and want filters for just healing and another for just damage, well this tab is where you make these kinds of choices. It's important to note that each filter has its own independent look, so to get an unified look you'll need to copy the same color and message style to each filter. Now that we have our filters in place lets configure them!

The default combat log message can be rather wordy. For example, "Gulsen's Lesser Heal heals Gulsen for 48." What a mouthful! Well by tweaking the message format we can trim that to, "Your Lesser Heal healed You Editing the colors.56." That's a bit more manageable, but we can go one step further by adding some color to the message so that the more important parts of the line stand out. On the "Colors" tab we can set the colors of each part of the combat message to something that caches our eye. Blizzard even added an example at the top of the tab that updates as we make changes. This way we can customize to our heart's content. (and let's be honest, you and I wouldn't be the addon fanatics that we are if we didn't like customizing.) My personal favorite option here is to make the spell name's color match its school of magic. That way fire spells show up as a reddish orange, frost spells show as an ice blue, etc, etc. Play around until you find a color scheme that best matches your filter. And remember that each filter's color scheme can be as different as you want.

Finally we come to the last two tabs of the combat log options window, "Formatting", and "Settings". On the "Formatting" tab we can hide or show a time stamp that will be prefixed to the combat message. I always have this enabled as it's handy to see when and how far between stuff happening to you. Below that we have an option to add [Braces] around key parts of the combat message. This is a good way Saving your filters.to add emphasis or to break up the message. Some will find this handy, others won't, but it's nice to have the choice. Next is a check box to turn "Verbose Mode" on or off. Turned off message will be displayed as "Your spell hit for...", and turned on it'll replace the word "your" with your character's name. Finally on the last tab, "Settings", you can save all your hard work you just did customizing your filter, and you can set the filter to show only when you're solo, partied, or in a raid. This can be very handy, particularly for raiders who want a bunch of filters for quickly scanning what's going on in their raid, but don't want all these filter types cluttering things up when they're solo. Well that covers how to customize the combat log, but what if you want more options or views than what Blizzard gave us? Let's throw in some addons.

Sometimes Eavesdropping is OK.
The many styles of Eavesdrop.

Eavesdrop, available here, is an alternative to the default combat log. If the message style looks a lot like the ones found in Scrolling Combat Text, you're right, it was made by the same author. This addon Eavesdrop options window.can either supplement or replace the default combat log. Out of the box, Eavesdrop's window separates combat message into two groups, incoming and outgoing. You decide which side of the window the messages of each group show up, such as incoming on the left side and outgoing on the right (or vice-versa). All that is shown on each line is the icon of the spell or ability used and how much it hit for. So on the outgoing side it'll show the icon for Frostbolt followed by how much it hit your target, or on the incoming side damage or heals happening to you each with their respected icon. To see the full line of text for each message all you have to do is mouse over the event. I really like this style of combat log as it takes up little room on your UI, and yet you can still get the details when you want them with a quick mouse over. Eavesdrop is very configurable, allowing you to change just about everything from font type and size, to window color, size, and location. All these options can be a little overwhelming at first, but after about 5-10 minutes of tinkering with it I had it how I wanted. Eavesdrop has profiles so you can quickly upload your settings for each of your characters, so you only need to go through the setup process once. Overall I really like this addon as it can totally replace or supplement your combat log with style and charm.

But wait there's more!

There are even more combat log addons out there like Hits Mode, and Yurr Combat Log just to name a few. There's a good chance I'll revisit this topic in the future with a look at some of these and the others out there. I also encourage you to check out the official addon and UI forum for some good guides. I hope this guide helped you learn how to get the most of your combat log. I feel that just like learning the ins and outs of your class, learning how to get the most from the UI and addons helps in making all of us better players. Join me next week as I take a look at inventory managers. Until then, take care!


Pet BomblingMatthew will continue spending more time building the ultimate UI than actually playing his Hunter and assorted alts in his quest for usability nirvana. Need more for your addon and interface fix? Check out my past columns in The Creamy GUI Center's archives and our other addon features Addon Spotlight and Reader UI of the week.

Filed under: The Creamy GUI Center, How-tos, Add-Ons, Features

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