Raid Frame Showdown

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!

7 responses to “Raid Frame Showdown

  1. I’ve only been playing for over a year, so I’m still discovering new stuff in Add-Ons every week. This week I saw where ScrollingCombatText had preset customization. It would be a great improvement if Grid and VuhDu could add in presets for each healing spec based on some of the top healers out there (harder to do for Grid since it doesn’t use just one add-on, as you said). It’d be nice to find out later today that I’m just missing it since I just started healing using an Add-On.

    Great post by the way.

  2. Agreed. Would be nice to have presets for each class, I guess the idea is everyone likes to have different settings, but I think in general it would be helpful.
    If you have a preset for Vudhu for your druid/disc priest I would definitely be interested (as I run a Resto druid and Disc priest as well). I currently use Healbot due to simplicity of setup.

    great blog btw, one of best healing blogs out there!

    • Thank you very much :)

      I’m not exactly sure how I’d go about making/exporting a preset VuhDo setup. I could look into it. VuhDo can take a while to set-up, but I think it’s worth it in the end.

  3. You can make your mana bars verticle, actually. I am doing this from memory, so please bear with me:

    On the General menu page, on the right hand side, there should be a tab called Indicators. Inside that tab you’ll see a bunch of drop down menus and bar positionings. Find the one that is currently set to mana (I think it’s called bottom bar, or something) and turn it off. Then, find the one that is called right side and put that to mana or all powers or whatever you want to see. There you go! Your mana bars are not verticle. ^_^

    –Sean

  4. VuhDo does have vertical mana bars. In your options, go to the General Tab > Indicators > Side Left/Side Right and choose Mana Bars in the dropdown menu. I use them all the time :)

    Other than that, Great post.

  5. Hi, I was wondering if someone could help me figure out why i cannot export my other guild mates my vuhdo settings. Every time i have tried this with a new vuhdo user it does not work and we wind up having to go through it verbally page by page UGH! Is there something they don’t have set right? Do they perhaps have to save a profile first? I make sure to ask them if the have the box checked that enables them to receive profiles, but it still doesn’t work. It says if fails.
    Thanks in advance
    Midsummer

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