Raid Frame Showdown: Blizzard, Grid, VuhDo

Three raid frames enter. One raid frame leaves.

As a healer, my raid frames are the most important part of my user interface. If you had asked me 2 months ago what my raid frames of choice were I would have said Grid, hands down. This is both because it is an excellent addon that tells me everything I need to know but also because I’m stubborn and refused to try out any others. After patch 4.0.1 Grid hit me with some very annoying issues that caused the most important parts, the HoT timers, to stop working as I liked. This gave me a very good excuse to broaden my horizons and try out some new raid frames, namely the default Blizzard raid frames and VuhDo. Here’s my evaluation of them. For the TLDR version, skip down to the summary.

Blizzard Raid Frames

I’m going to insert a big spoiler here and tell you that the default raid frames do not win this contest. However, they underwent a major overhaul recently and I thought they deserved a proper look.

Customization and Options

Customization of the default raid frames is extremely limited. You can change the size of the frames, though even the smallest settings are still very large, you can choose to display class colours or leave everyone green, you can also choose whether or not you want to see things such as incoming heals, aggro, power bars, and debuffs.

Blizzard raid frame options
The default raid frames don’t allow for nearly as much customization as I’d like. The biggest problem for me is the size. I like to keep my raid frames as small as possible so I get a good view of the action rather than have the raid frames take up too much space on my screen. The size of the smallest setting needs to be cut in half in order to make me happy. I also prefer vertical health bars, which is not an option.

Aesthetics

I’ve set up the Blizzard raid frames to my liking, as much as the limited options allowed. Here they are:

Blizzard raid frames

The raid frames really aren’t bad-looking. The things I like most are the incoming heals and the raid roles clearly indicated on everyone’s frame. However, there are many things I don’t like. As I mentioned already, the frames are too big. I also think the percentages are unnecessary.

Information Displayed – HoTs and Debuffs

Default raid frames - HoT displayYour own HoTs are shown in the bottom right corner of the raid frame, represented by the spell icon. There are no numerical countdowns to tell you how long the duration is but it does show time left though shading. Only three HoTs are shown at a time. There are no options to change the size or display of the icons. As you can see in the above example, with mana bars showing and the smallest setting, HoT icons cover the health percentage display.

Default raid frames - Debuff displayDebuffs are shown in the bottom left corner. There is an option to show only dispellable debuffs.

Ease of Use

Lack of options make the default raid frames very easy to set up.

Grid

I’ve been a staunch Grid supporter for almost as long as I’ve been healing. It is highly customizable and can show you everything you need to know to heal effectively.

Customization and Options

Grid can be customized in many ways.

Grid frame options
You can change the fonts, size of the notification icons, how many characters of each person’s name displayed…

Grid layout options
Size of the raid frames can be anything from teeny, tiny to very large. You can set it to expand/contract to a certain number of groups based on your circumstances.

Grid Indicator options
Triggers (HoTs, debuffs, aggro, etc.) can be set to appear in the area of your choice. You have the option to show things in the four corners, on the four sides (requires an additional mod), in the center of the frame or as a border.

Grid Options - auras

You can customize how the triggers display by changing the colour, priority or adding filters. You can add custom buffs and debuffs, or use a mod like GridStatusRaidDebuffs to add them all for you.

Aesthetics

Grid Raid Frames
Grid has a nice, compact layout. Of course, it all depends on how you set it up, but Grid can really look any way you want it to. My favorite parts of Grid are:
1) debuffs shown as icons so I know exactly what people are affected by;
2) numerical countdowns to let me know how long my HoTs are ticking for.

Information Displayed

Grid HoT tracking
I have a separate countdown timer for each of my HoTs, displayed in different areas of the frame. This makes it very easy to tell, at a glance, which HoTs are up and how much longer they will tick for. The Lifebloom counter is colour-coded to tell me how many stacks are up.

Debuffs are shown as an icon in the middle of the frame. I do not use a generic trigger to tell me when I can dispel something (though you can), instead I learn to recognize all the icons.

Ease of Use

With many options comes much confusion. I’ve introduced a few people to Grid and they were quite overwhelmed by it at first. The menus are not very intuitive and it does take quite a bit of work in order to turn the out-of-the-box frames into something usable and informative.

For me, the biggest downside to Grid is the number of addons you need in order to get it working optimally. Search for Grid on Curse and you will get 3 pages of results. In addition to the main addon, I use extra modules in order to show: side indicators, text indicators, mana bars, HoT timers, raid debuffs. As you can imagine this makes staying up to date a bit of a pain. They are not all updated at the same time and occasionally (like after 4.0.1) this can cause problems.

Vuhdo

No longer the new kid on the block, VuhDo has been around for a while. Those who use it swear by it, so I finally decided to test it out.

Customization and Options

VuhDo has almost every single option for customization that I could want.

VuhDo size options

Customize the scale, size and spacing of your raid frames.

VuhDo HoT options

Customize where you want your HoTs displayed on the frame (2 layout options with a total of 7 spaces for HoT icons), which HoT goes where, how big they are and how they look.

VuhDo debuff options

Decide where to display debuffs and how they look. You can set sound alerts or animations to draw extra attention to certain debuffs or set it up so the frames change colour to indicate what type of debuff is present (not pictured).

VuhDo mouse bindings

You can assign your spells to mouse keys, add keybinds and set smart casts.

Aesthetics

VuhDo Raid frames 2
I’ve set up Vuhdo so it looks almost identical to Grid. The frames are a little brighter, and there are many different textures to choose from for the frame backgrounds. HoTs are shown with both icons and countdown timers which I really like. The only aesthetic problem I have is that there is no option to make mana bars vertical (if I’m wrong about this, please let me know).

Information Displayed

Vuhdo HoT tracking

All my HoTs are displayed in their own part of the frames. The icon for each HoT is displayed along with the countdown for how long it will tick for. This makes the frames very easy to read. Lifebloom has an extra counter to show the number of stacks.

Debuffs are shown in two ways. First, the icon is displayed in the top left corner along with a countdown timer. Second, name of the player changes colour to let me know what type of debuff they are affected by (blue for magic, purple for curse, green for poison).

VuhDo out of rangeThere is also a nifty feature that shows which direction people are, relative to you, when they are out of range to make finding them easier.

Ease of Use

As with Grid, the huge number of options makes setup a little complicated. A nice thing about VuhDo is that the option screens are clear and full of large, well-labelled, colourful buttons and tabs. When setting it up I was able to figure out most things fairly quickly, but did have to resort to Tam’s excellent guide a couple of times to figure out some of the options.

The best thing about VuhDo is that you get everything – frames, HoT timers, debuffs, mana bars, click-bindings – all in one addon.

Summary

Blizzard Raid Frames

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Part of the standard UI – adds no extra memory usage to your game
  • Each person’s raid role is clearly displayed

Cons:

  • Lack of options
  • Frames are too large
  • Can only display up to 3 HoTs
  • No numerical countdowns for HoTs

Verdict: The default raid frames have improved immensely, but they still aren’t quite there for healers who want to track everything that’s going on. Customization options are very limited. If there was an option to scale down the size of the frames further, I would use the default raid frames on dps characters, but as they are now these frames do not fulfill my healing needs.

Grid

Pros:

  • Extremely customizable
  • Compact and attractive (once it’s set up correctly)
  • Extendable – there are many modules available to help you track any specialized spells or information

Cons:

  • Menus are not very intuitive
  • Takes time to set up
  • Need for separate modules makes staying up to date a bit of a pain

Verdict: Grid, combined with the click-healing mod Clique, has provided me with everything I need for in a raid frame for years. There are a ton of options which let you customize the appearance and information displayed to suit your needs. The biggest downside to Grid is that you need multiple addons installed in order to have a complete raid frame package. Most modules are maintained by different developers which means they are not all updated at once and can lead to problems.

VuhDo

Pros:

  • Extremely customizable
  • Compact and attractive (when set up properly)
  • Includes everything you need to see on your frames in one mod
  • Includes built-in click binding assignments
  • Menus are attractive and mostly straightforward

Cons:

  • Takes time to set up
  • No option for vertical mana bars

Verdict: VuhDo has a ton of customization options and can be set up in almost any way you could think of. All HoT timers, debuffs and notification options are included in a single addon. With its built-in click and keybindings, it provides everything I need to stay informed and heal effectively.

Conclusion

In terms of aesthetics and ability to display the information I need Grid and VuhDo are neck-and-neck. Both show me everything I need to know in a compact and attractive package.

In terms of setup, both mods do take a bit of work. VuhDo has a slight advantage in this area as the option screens are cleaner and more intuitive.

The biggest difference between Grid and VuhDo is the number of mods needed to get it to work effectively. In order to set up Grid as I like I need 7 or 8 different mods, for VuhDo I just need one. Because of this, VuhDo is now my raid frame addon of choice.

Winner

VuhDo!

25 Responses to Raid Frame Showdown: Blizzard, Grid, VuhDo

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Raid Frame Showdown: Blizzard, Grid, VuhDo | Cannot be Tamed -- Topsy.com

  2. In the last section labeled Conclusion, you switched from calling the addon Grid to calling it Clique. This may cause confusion.

  3. Welcome to the Vuhdo side of things – I’ve used the addon for over a year and I would hate to have to switch away from it. Life is so much easier with only having to update one addon, and I’m continually finding new features that I love. Those arrows? Loved when they showed up.

    I’m always interested in seeing other people’s raid frames. I can’t figure out squares like yours though: I use rectangles because they give me immediate feedback into how much health people still have. I find that information transmits far better from a bar-like rectangle than a square but I know other people work differently…

    • I had heard all kinds of good things about VuhDo but was always to resistant to change to try it out. I’m glad that some of the Grid modules broke after 4.0.1 and gave me a good reason to try it out.

      I don’t find too much difference in being able to tell health levels between squares and rectangles, I just like squares because they take up less space. I also know a lot of people prefer horizontal bars, which makes sense since unit frames are all horizontal, but I like vertical.

      • And that’s why addon makers cater to both of us!

        One thing to make sure to turn on for druids is the Swiftmendable option – it’ll show up as a red dot when A. your swiftmend is off cooldown and B. that person has a Swiftmendable effect on them. Even if it’s another druid’s rejuv. Very very handy if you’re in a raid with another druid.
        Analogue recently posted..Gnome Priest Day!

  4. I absolutely love Vuhdo, I’ve been using it for ages now. I set it up on all my toons as raid frames even if they can’t heal (though some of them can set up their buffs or other abilities to Vuhdo – my hunter’s misdirect is on my vuhdo as well as its normal macro ^^).

    I do think you can put the mana bars as vertical, though I’ve never attempted to so I’m not certain exactly where it would be. I would check the ‘indicators’ tab on the general tab first, as most of the powers set up is on there (you can set it to show all power bars, eg energy and rage, or none). There’s also an area to adjust the size of the mana bars too I know, either in that area or on the Panels tab.

    Only thing I’m trying to figure out now is how to get my rez notification into my guild’s druid channel rather than raid chat for when I do BRs.
    FeralTree recently posted..I survived the Shattering! Quick update post-403a

    • I’ve taken another look, but still don’t see a way to fix the mana bars. All the options show horizontal bars and I can’t find a way to change it. Maybe I’ll put a suggestion on curse or the developer site. I’m sure it wouldn’t be a hard thing to implement.

      • For vertical mana bars you just have to go to the general tab/indicators and you can change the Side Left or Side Right to mana bars, there is no changing the size of the mana bars when you do this, but they will appear vertical

        • Thanks. I think I’ve tried this before, but the problem I had was using this option showed me not only mana bars but also rage/energy bars. I’ll check it out again when I get online.

  5. OMG! I can’t believe you went to the DARK SIDE.

    I honestly HAVE tried Vuhdo, no really, no joke (when my plugins borked and I stomped and cursed), and I ended up being SUPER-peeved at it because I couldn’t put my icons and boxes exactly as I wanted them. Notice, above, you can do a couple of different patterns. You did icons in the 4 corners and then an extra one in the middle on the upper and lower edge of the frames. What if you want an extra one along the left or right edge of the frame? No option for that. And that is why I just couldn’t make the swap to Vuhdo, because I got too used to those stupid boxes on the left and right edges of the frames.

    What can I say? I’m set in my ways. The lack of a box on those sides was a total deal-breaker for me!
    Zelmaru recently posted..A Peon Retrospective

    • I knew you’d be disappointed in me :(

      I know what you mean about being set in your ways. I would never have even tried VuhDo if it weren’t for the problems I was having with Grid after the patch. The horizontal mana bars were almost a deal-breaker for me. However, after updating and re-installing Grid and all the modules many, many times and still not getting HoT timers to work I decided I didn’t care that much about other people’s mana bars.

  6. Oh I absolutely HATE the Blizzard raid frames. I don’t understand what in the world made them think it was a good idea to have a huge raid frame covering half your screen. If they’d at least allowed a proper resizing to a more decent size maybe they’d been okay.

    I usually use Grid, not because I really need a lot of details but because I want something small that doesn’t cover my entire screen. Not being a healer I can get away with that, but I’m sure healers prefer something with more options :)

    • The size of the raid frames is my biggest complaint but I still think they are much better than the old ones you used to have to drag out from the raid tab.

      For non healers I think Grid and VuhDo are quite interchangeable. VuhDo looks a little better out of the box, but it doesn’t take long to get Grid fixed up.

  7. I switched from Healbot to Vuhdo about a year ago because of the way Healbot just kind of seizured when I entered a BG, and I’m quite pleased with it. I use Vuhdo on most of my characters, it’s also useful while tanking for Hand of Freedom and such. Lastly, it provides a nice big “oh snap” button in the middle of both screen when dual-boxing.
    Bri recently posted..Be Gay About it Together

  8. It always seems to be the Grid vs Vuhdo debate, but I use Shadowed Unit Frames for my unit and raid frames. I love them, they are even more customizable than Vuhdo although it does take a little more work than Vuhdo to get it looking and behaving exactly how you want.

    Also, I really wanted to think that there is a way to get Vuhdo to display vertical mana bars. I only used Vuhdo for a few days after the patch while SUF was being worked on but I seem to remember doing something wrong ;-) and making all my bars work vertically.

    • I wasn’t aware of Shadowed Unit Frames capabilities for raid frames. Do you have a post or a screenshot of your raid frames? I’d like to see how SUF looks.

      I want to think there is a way to get my mana bars vertical too. Maybe the secret is to stop trying so hard and find the way by accident. :P

  9. Pretty sure I used this info below to flip my mana bars to vertical (aka I know it is possible).
    … Additional functions can be found under “More” button next to the indicator you’re modifying. For example, in case of Health Bar indicator, this will contain options to invert the bars (bars grow as health decreases), change axis to vertical (bars will grow/shrink in vertical direction) or flipped (direction of growth changes from right to left).
    Source: Vuhdo Documentation: Setup+Walkthrough

  10. Belated apologies – I was one of the 113 idiots still signed up to the wrong blog. So now there are only 112 idiots. I’ll even update my blogroll, assuming I can find it under all the dust.

    Speaking of belated, just wanted to say how much I loved this post – and not just because Vudho won, since I am fanatical about Vudho.

    Okay, well, maybe just a bit because Vudho won :)

    • Thanks Tam. I was once a Grid fanatic, but now I too am a VuhDo fanatic. I’m planning more posts on it, but need to find some time to write them.

      Thanks for adding me to your blogroll.

  11. I might be taking the VuhDo plunge soon since the TEXT plugins for Grid are abandoned by the developer. If they aren’t taken over and updated…. well I need mah numbers.
    Zelmaru recently posted..Testing a Discipline Smite Build in the Name of Science

  12. OK, I spent 2 hours fighting with vuhdo last night and while I have not been able to make it work for MY purposes, I think I found the way to get the vertical mana bars.

    http://murlocparliament.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/vuhdooptions.jpg

    Ok, see this screenie? See where it says mana bar… try setting that to “off/empty” …. then see where there are side bars? Set one of them to “Manabars: mana only.” Does that work?
    Zelmaru recently posted..Choices in the Holy Tree or Lack Thereof

    • That’s too bad, what problem are you having?

      I tried the side mana bars. Although it did make them vertical, they were too fat and they also took up a chunk out of even the non-mana users frames. I know: picky, picky. I’ve sort of gotten used to the horizontal ones along the bottom now. Thanks for letting me know about this though.