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Raid Rx: The evolving healing UI

Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand pooh-bah of World of Matticus and a founder of No Stock UI, a WoW blog for all things UI-, macro- and addon-related. If you're looking for more healing advice, check out the Plus Heal community.

I race-changed to a goblin. I look so weird with the hair and riding a Frost Wyrm. It feels like my mount could eat me in one gulp.

Little by little, Blizzard continues to make adjustments to the default user interface to make the overall experience better. I don't think its intent is to completely stamp out third-party addons. But it is nice to have tools and features already in place so that a player doesn't have to feel required to get some addon in order to do something. In the past, players used threat addons like KTM and, later on, Omen.

For healers, though, the ultimate addon we need to do our jobs is some form of raid frames. Whether it is Grid, Vuhdo (see the Cataclysm version if you wish to test it on the test servers) or something else, it is these addons that give us the capability to keep the raid alive and remove nasty debuffs. The default raiding UI falls short in many areas. It's not really bad or anything; we just had better choices.

So what new UI elements are out there that help make the experience a better one for healers overall?

Raid frames

We'll start with the frames. It is the basic foundation of a healer's UI, right? At least for me, it is.

This looks like a typical raid setup. The frames can be configured in terms of placement and size. Notice that players now have a role icon next to their names. Never again will I ever see the question "Who is tanking?" uttered in raid chat.

Things like buffs and debuffs will usually appear in the corners of the frames. You can see my Inner Fire on the bottom right, for instance. Anything dispellable for me would appear in the upper right-hand corner of a player frame. In regards to healing interaction with other healers in the group, the mod visually shows incoming heals to different players. This way, you'll know not to overlap your spells. Anyone who pulls threat or has high aggro will be marked, allowing you to either respond quickly to save them or let them die (if you're malicious). You'll have an idea of who is going to need your heal within a moment's notice. One thing this mod does not appear to do is display HoT stacks from other players. If I were a druid, I could see how many stacks of Lifebloom I had active on a player; I would not be able to see how many stacks another druid has on a player.

There are lots of configuration options under raid frames, as you can see. The sliders on the right control the sizes of the frames individually. Actually, if you look at the shot above this one where it shows the frames, you can control how to stack the frames using the lower gray bar. You can have them stack five across or five vertically (or a combination of the two). There's an option for using class colors as the colors of health bars.

Then there are some other additions such as borders around frames, health bars of pets and showing windows for the main tank and main assist. If you really wanted to, the top left option allows you to array the players in a different fashion (alphabetically or by role, for example). Under status text, you can display text for players, the target, a pet or the party -- useful if you need hard numbers to make the right call (and I strongly recommend having health points displayed as a healer).

One suggestion I liked came from reader omedon666 in last week's Raid Rx post:
One recommendation a friend mentioned to me is, for Cataclysm, messing with the threshold of "color changes" from green to yellow to red in one's healbot settings.
Now that is an intriguing idea. I don't know if it's something that can be done (or if it has been done and I can't find the switch for it), but I can see that being an asset for newer healers especially.

Buffs and procs

Below, you can see aura indicators in action. This looks to be a nod to Power Auras.



Whenever your class gets certain buffs (Surge of Light, in the priest example), that is you cue! The issue with these auras is that there doesn't seem to be any method to configure them in (or if there is, I haven't been able to figure it out). I am hoping we'll get some options to play with in terms adjusting the position or size of these indicators. Opacity is the only thing that can be adjusted so far.

Heal leading tools

The new raid leader tools offer some interesting features for healers, but it's up to your raid leader to determine whether or not healers will have access to them. The ability to drop markers (or flares) will be handy. I can already see these being used as a way to alert players where healers will be dropping their AoE spells, such as Healing Rain or Holy Word: Sanctuary, so that other raiders can get into position earlier.

"Group 3, stack up on the blue flare!"

More precision is always a plus, right?

One thing I would like to see is for the chat box to echo who moved which player into what group. I can imagine many raid leaders echoing that sentiment. It would be good to know who can handle a raid assistant status and who can't.

On a side note, I am thrilled to be able to switch back from raid to party.

What do you think of the default healing UI so far? What would you like to see added?

Need advice on working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered. Send your questions about raid healing to matticus@wow.com. For less healer-centric raiding advice, visit Ready Check, and don't miss our strategy guides to Icecrown Citadel and Halion/the Ruby Sanctum.

Filed under: Raid Rx (Raid Healing), Druid, Paladin, Priest, Shaman, Analysis / Opinion

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