Tag Archives: grid

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!

Hunter UI

I’ve finally morphed my hunter’s UI into something I’m willing to share.

My hunter UI is similar to my druid UI and I use most of the same addons. The biggest difference is what the focus of my screen is. On my druid, the focus is Grid. On my hunter my focus is my ability bars, my own unit frame and my target’s unit frame.

As a raiding hunter, the things I need know are:

  • When my abilities are available to use
  • When stuff procs (trinkets, armor bonuses)
  • The position and health of mobs
  • The duration of my DoTs and debuffs on my target
  • When the boss is using a special ability
  • My threat level
  • When a mob is enraged or casting an interruptable spell

Other things I like to know:

  • The status of the rest of my raid group (health, dead, debuffed, out of range)
  • Who has aggro
  • How much damage I’m doing

The abilities I need to have extremely fast access to:

  • Umm…all of them. Main damage abilities, traps, pet abilities, aspects, life-saving abilities, misdirect, tranq shot, cooldowns. I have lots of buttons to press.

Here’s an action shot of my UI (click for full-size version):

Hunter UI

Here’s a brief rundown of the addons I use:

Action Bars

Dominos, OmniCC, ButtonRange (not shown)

Hunter UI - Dominos bar mod
  • I use Dominos to place my actions bars at the bottom middle of my screen, so my eyes don’t have to track too far between my character and my abilities. I also set the size to 85% so they take up less room. I use faded action bars for my menu options, bags and buttons that are not used in combat (mounts, mage food).
  • OmniCC adds countdown timers to my abilities that are on cooldown (see on Chimera and Aimed Shot above)
  • ButtonRange turns your ability butttons red when your target is out of range.


OPie

Hunter UI - OPie
  • OPie creates radial menus for different ability types which are brought up by pressing the keybinding you assign to them.
  • I use OPie for Aspects, Traps, Pet Maintenance and Trade Skills – things I want fast access to, but do not need to see at all times.

Frames

X-Perl Unit Frames

Hunter UI - Xperl unit frames
  • I use Xperl for self, pet, target, target of target and focus frames.
  • For my target’s frame I make sure to check the options: Enable Buffs and Big Buffs so I can clearly see my own debuffs on the boss, along with timers for how long they will last (seen on Serpent Sting and Piercing Shots above). I use this in place of any additional DoT timers.


Grid

Hunter UI - Grid raid frames
  • I like to know what’s going on with the whole raid group. I use Grid to see debuffs, health, range, aggro and incoming heals.


Tidy Plates

Hunter UI - Tidy Plates
  • As the name suggests, these name plates are much tidier than the default ones. They also look much nicer when stacked.

Combat Text and Notifications

Deadly Boss Mods

Hunter UI - Deadly Boss Mods
  • This one is self-explanatory. The only modification I make is to move the timers close to my target frame so they’re easy to see.

Mik Scrolling Battle Text

Hunter UI - Mik Scrolling Combat Text
  • Seeing 30k Kill Shots pop up on my screen always puts a smile on my face. I remove my pet’s damage as well as energy gains to cut down on the amount of spam from this mod.

Power Auras Classic

Hunter UI - Power Auras
  • Most of my Power Auras were taken from the great set posted at The Huntsmen’s Lodge. I copied the strings then modified the icons, colours and sounds to my liking. I use PowerAuras to notify me when:
    • Armor/trinket bonuses proc (with timers)
    • Kill Shot is ready
    • Hunter’s Mark missing from my target
    • Serpent Sting is missing from my target
    • Rapid Fire is up (with timer)
    • I’m low on mana (not shown here)
    • My pet is low on health (not shown here)

Other Good Stuff

Clique

  • I use Clique for two things: Misdirect and Master’s Call. With Clique all I have to do is use the appropriate mouse button over the tank’s unit frame in order to cast an MD. I never have to change my target and I don’t need to worry about focus macros.


Omen
and Recount

  • Aggro bad.
  • Hunters at the top of the damage meter, good.

Sexy Map

  • Gives the minimap a nice frame and hides all buttons until you mouse-over it.

Prat

  • Prat cleans up the chat frame. It enables me to move the text input box, so there is no longer a gap between the bottom of the chat frame and the bottom of my screen. It also lets me get rid of the scroll arrows and Social button.

User Interface Part 3 – Unit Frames

If you’re still using the default Blizzard UI for your unit and raid frames, you could be doing much better! There are a number of great unit frame mods around. My addons of preference are X-Perl Unit Frames and Grid. Both are highly customizable and can show you a lot of information in a very neat little package.

X-Perl Unit Frames

X-Perl Unit Frames is what I use for self, focus, target and target-of-target frames.

Xperl unit frames

Since I use Grid for my raid frames, the first thing I do when setting up X-Perl is turn off the built-in party and raid frames (I also make sure to turn off the Blizzard party frames in the interface options). You don’t want a million frames on your screen. I also turn off the self buffs option, because I use default Blizzard buffs at the top right of my screen.

Open the X-Perl configuration menu by clicking the button on your minimap. When the menu is open, you can click and drag your frames to position them where you want them. X-Perl has large set of options that control how your frames look. I suggest playing around with them to see what you like. Here are a few of the options I find especially helpful:

Global:

  • Fat Health Bars – This makes the health bars wider than the default and I find them easier to see.
  • Buff Cooldown/Buff Countdown – Shows the time remaining on your buffs and debuffs on your target.

Player:

  • Player Portrait, 3D Portrait – This adds 3D pictures to your frames. Not overly useful, but it looks nice.
  • PVP Flag – Shows when you are flagged
  • Values – Shows absolute health and mana values
  • Percent – Shows percentage of health and mana
  • Cast bar – Shows your or your targets cast bar within their frame.
Xperl cast bar


Target

  • As with my Player frame, I use the options to show 3D portrait, values, percent and cast bar.
  • Target’s target – Shows an extra frame for this person/mob.
  • Enable Buffs, Big Buffs, Pet Too – Displays your buffs on your target larger than buffs from other players. Also shows buffs that come from your pets. The Pets Too option  is good to have on fights which use vehicles, like Flame Leviathan, as your vehicle counts as a pet.
  • Enable Debuffs, Big Buffs – Displays your debuffs on your target larger than debuffs from other players.

Grid

Grid is a raid unit frame addon, and I find it absolutely indispensible, especially when combined with Clique (I’ll get to Clique in my next post). There are other raid frame mods, such as Healbot and VuhDo (which I hear is excellent), but Grid has been my mod of choice for a couple years now. When set up properly, Grid can let you know pretty much everything that is going on in your raid.

Grid raid frames - druid UI

There are a number of extra Grid modules I use to make it even more informative. These are:
Grid Indicator Corner Text – Adds text indicators in the corners of the Grid frame. I use this for keeping track of the duration of my HoTs.
Grid Status HoTs – Adds timers for any spell with a HoT component. Essential for druids.
Grid Status Lifebloom – Shows the time remaining on your lifebloom, color-coded to show how many stacks are up.
Grid Status Raid Debuff – Displays all debuffs applied to players in raids.
Grid Mana Bars – Displays mana bars. Let’s me know when someone could use my Innervate more than me. Also great for shamans to see when their group is in need of a Mana Tide Totem.

How Grid looks is extremely customizable. There are three main menus in the Grid setup. Frame allows you to assign which spells and effects you want to be shown and where they are displayed. Layout is used to adjust the size, shape and spacing of the raid frames. Status is used to add new buffs/debuffs and specify how each effect is displayed.

Frame
When you go into the Frame menu, you will see all the regions of Grid where effects can be displayed. When you click on one, you will see a list of the effects you can assign to that region. Just check the boxes next to the effects you want to display.  Here is my setup:

  • Border – My target
  • Center Text – Unit name
  • Center Text 2 – Death warning, Lifebloom Duration, Lifebloom Stack
  • Center Icon – Raid Debuff, Ready Check
  • Top Left – Aggro alert
  • Corner Text Top Right – My Wild Growth
  • Corner Text Bottom Left – My Rejuvenation
  • Corner Text Bottom Right – My Regrowth
  • Mana Bar – Mana
Grid HoT tracking

In the advanced options, you can specify the size and placement of the mana bar and the font for any text displayed. You can also set the orientation of your frames, either vertical (what I have) or horizontal. This will change direction the health bars go.

Layout
Use Layout to specify the size and shape of your frames. I display mine as small boxes, so my frames take up as little room as possible. Play around with the options until you find a setup that works for you.

Status
From the staus menu, you can add new buffs and debuffs (if you dont want to use Grid Status Raid Debuffs), as well as specify the colours used for each effect on Grid. For example, my aggro alert is red. My Lifebloom stacks changes from yellow to orange to green depending on the number of stacks. In the status menu you can also filter out raid buffs that you don’t want to see, or assign them lower priority so more important buffs will be displayed first.

Druids love their raid frames. If you don’t like my Grid setup, take a look at Rejuvo, Dreambound or Tree Bark Jacket for some other ideas. Edit: Check out One More Alt for a very comprehensive guide on how to set up Grid. Zahia isn’t a druid (nobody’s perfect), but this is an excellent guide that should clear up any confusion you have about what all the different configuration options do.

Public Service Announcement

Now, I have something very important to tell everyone. Grid (or raid frames in general) is not just for healers. That’s right, repeat after me: Grid is not just for healers. Do you have a spell you need to cast on others during combat (Innervate, Battle Rez, Misdirect, Tricks of the Trade, Hysteria, Hand of Salvation)? Use Grid. Are you a class that is capable of getting rid of poisons, diseases, curses or magic effects? Use Grid. Do you participate in raid fights like Blood Queen Lana’thel where you need to be able to see who in the raid still needs to be bitten? Use Grid. Are we noticing a trend here? Grid is an excellent tool that will give any raider a better understanding of what is going on with the rest of their raid. This makes you play better and look good to your raid leaders.


User Interface posts:

Part 1 – General UI Info

Part 2 – Action Bars
Part 3 – Unit Frames
Part 4 – Key Bindings
Part 5 – Combat Text and Notifications