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AddOn Spotlight: NeedToKnow

Addon Spotlight focuses on the backbone of the WoW gameplay experience: the user interface. We'll look at everything from bags to bars, buttons to DPS meters and beyond -- your interface folder will never be the same! This week, we look at a different style of cooldown, debuff and buff tracker.

In a previous Addon Spotlight, I reviewed Sexycooldown, a timeline-style buff/debuff/cooldown timer that brings with it functionality and an awesome look and feel. This week, I wanted to showcase another of my new favorite addons that performs certain tasks similar Sexycooldown/ForteXorcist, but does so in a different style. A few emails that I have received have asked for a bar-style cooldown and debuff tracker. Well, here is your answer: NeedToKnow. I've tried my absolute best to avoid a dumb joke about "you're on a need-to-know basis," but you do need to know about NeedToKnow! NeedToKnow.

If you're playing the unofficial AddOn Spotlight drinking game (drink responsibly, kids), you've probably already had too much. Let's make it another. NeedToKnow is a comprehensive buff/debuff/cooldown/internal cooldown tracker that functions through user created bars and parameters. Up-front disclosure -- a gnome recommended this addon to me. I don't usually deal with gnomes, as the members of my particular faction want them a lot less alive then they currently are. But all gnomes aren't that bad, I guess, as this particular gnome gave me a pretty good suggestion.

NeedToKnow (NTK) operates through user-created bars that appear on designated areas of the screen when the named buff/debuff/effect occurs in the game world. The user creates bars that then can be populated with variables and the name of the spells or abilities the player wishes to track. Much like PowerAuras, there is a setting for only buffs or debuffs cast or created by you, allowing for a simple setup of just your cooldowns and timers to watch. On the other hand, NTK allows you to track boss buffs and debuffs as well, so you have quick access to the types of abilities already present on boss fights. Much like Sexycooldown, a set of bars could be added that display the debuffs present on the boss, allowing the player to gauge what abilities to use.

NTK runs really smooth and light, and I absolutely love the fact that there are separate settings for each of my talent specializations. I know that my protection and retribution specs have radically different tracking needs, and switching on the fly is not a problem at all. NTK also offers four groups of six bars, which is absolutely plenty for me and most likely enough for the average user.

In a couple of weeks, I'll be doing something big with Power Auras, which you will read about below. Part of the reason I am recommending NTK is because I feel like it is a great stepping stone and a learning environment for Power Auras. I do not want people to think that I am trying to put down my own addon suggestion, but so many people are intimidated by Power Auras, and something like NTK might help them get into the habit and the mindset of tracking name abilities, etc.

Internal external

Internal cooldowns for trinket procs are a useful bit of information to have. These cooldowns exist on many trinkets in Wrath, and they are easy to set up using NTK. Internal cooldowns reference the time before a trinket or ability that has procced can proc again. First, create two bars with NTK; one bar will be used for the duration of the self-buff that the trinket or proc gives, and the second for the internal cooldown of the trinket or ability. Select the "internal cooldown" option for the bar's display, and enter the name of the buff that you want to track. The best resource for figuring out the precise name of the buff given is Wowhead, as sometimes the buff given is not the same name as the trinket that procs said buff. Remember that NTK needs exact spelling and capitalization, so doublecheck the name and your work!

NeedToKnow some tips

How about some tips for this simple yet powerful addon?
  • Use NeedToKnow for short-duration buffs. This is my favorite use for it. I tried out NTK on tracking my judgments as well as Art of War. The setup was easy and worked perfectly.
  • NeedToKnow has some awesome configuration and easy-to-use appearance options. Play around with colors to give each of your bar sets an eye-catching, situationally relevant hue. My Judgement of Light, for instance, is yellow, and Judgement of Wisdom is blue.
  • You can track multiple buffs or debuffs with one bar using a comma to separate each named buff. Remember to make sure everything is spelled correctly and has the proper capitalization.
  • Spell IDs work in lieu of names. If you know the Spell ID, use that instead.
  • NTK has no adverse affect on my system, and AddOn Profiler has it running really light. You know how much I appreciate light addons.
  • Use the slash commands /ntk or /needtoknow to lock and unlock the addon. Bars will only display for abilities and tracking when the addon is locked.

With NeedToKnow, you get a robust yet simple package of bar-style cooldown, buff and debuff trackers. Like most addons of this kind, there is a little bit of a setup process. Once it is all in place, however, you're golden. Frankly, I like this setup procedure. This gives you the chance to rummage through your buffs and equipment to find out what information you truly need on your screen, instead of just having every buff or debuff up on the screen in all corners. Tinker, friends, and you will find in NTK a perfect complement to any user interface.

Download NeedToKnow at [Curse] or [WoWInterface].

Power Auras needs you (to win this contest!)


Power Auras is a big deal for many people. It's one of those addons that fundamentally changed the way I played World of Warcraft. This addon has an amazing following, so let's do something awesome utilizing that fan fervor.

Two weeks from today, I want to do a big spotlight on Power Auras. We have done a Power Auras spotlight in the past, but this time around we are going to get not only my insight into my favorite users for Power Auras, but the community's as well. And here's the best part -- when you submit an entry for our little Power Auras expose, it's your entry into winning a WoW TCG loot card! The powers that be have given me both a Tiny and Party G.R.E.N.A.D.E. cards, so two random contributors will get a card.

Here's the deal. Submit your favorite uses for Power Auras, including the actual code if you would like (it helps), before Friday, May 7, 2010. Sending in multiples doesn't get you a better chance -- just one entry per person. Let's see if we can pool lots of community resources together and make a really awesome repository of Power Auras for all the people our there who don't know how incredibly awesome this addon is.

Send your Power Auras ideas/submissions/code to mat@wow.com, with Power Auras in the subject. See you all next week!


Addons are what we do on Addon Spotlight. Are you a druid, hunter, rogue or a warrior? That was last week, simpleton. I have been using this swipe to be mean lately. I am truly sorry. And remember, Addon Spotlight is fueled by viewers like you, so if you have a mod you think we should take a look at, email Mat at mat@wow.com.

Filed under: Add-Ons, AddOn Spotlight

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