[Rip’s editor’s note: Jurgwena is back today to talk about Arena UIs. We’re going to keep the ratio of PvE to PvP high, but this is exciting stuff for me! Anyways, left to my own devices today, you’d all have been stuck reading the type of nonsense I write when I can’t think of any topics for a guide.]
Hey everyone. As promised, this article will explain how to craft the perfect arena UI. To get ready for this article, I downloaded some new mods and totally redid my own UI. For starters, I want to discuss what mods you should be using, and then what your UI should do for you. After that I’ll address more specific tips that will help you get the most out of a UI, and then at the end hopefully we’ll have time for a quick discussion on keybinds.
I find Gladius to be the only really indispensable mod for arenas. With it you can see if your opponents have their trinkets up or not, when they are under the effects of crowd control, silences, or Aura Mastery, and what their health and mana totals are. You can also set anyone as your focus with one right-click. The most important thing of all that Gladius (or proximo– they’re interchangeable in my experience) lets you do is target an opponent with a keybind. But more on that later.
There are other mods you can use, like quartz, which give you a customizable cast bar for yourself, your target, and your focus frame. I arena with a priest who sets his cast bar to stretch right across the middle of his screen, from the left side of his monitor to the right. Afflicted is another mod that many people use which will show you all kinds of things; including which enemy is casting what spell on who, and the cooldowns of the other team’s abilities (especially interrupts). NECB will show you DRs (diminishing returns) and is very useful for a class with multiple crowd control abilities that all share DRs, such as hunters. There are others, but I want you all to know that out of these, I get by with just Gladius and ForteXorcist, which tells me when my trap is about to fade, among other things.
What should a UI do for you?
If you recall my first article, I said that you should only use the macros that you find useful, and that’s true with UI mods as well. Some people need a UI to be aesthetically pleasing. For others, looks are not important at all. I think human beings are hard-wired to prefer beauty over ugliness, and playing with an ugly UI like the default UI probably takes a hidden toll on your psyche if you use it for very long… [ed note: that explains a few things- ow, my soul]
I don’t care about aesthetics that much, but I certainly don’t use default frames, and I like clean lines and smooth textures.
A UI designed for arenas does need a few specific things. You need to be able to see:
- Your target
- Your target’s target
- Your focus
- Your focus’s target
- Your party
All the frame addons I’m familiar with (ag_uf, Pitbull, Shadowed Unit Frames) will support all of these. So will the default UI, but these let you put these frames wherever you want, color the bars according to class, modify the size and location of cast bars, and so on. I installed Shadowed Unit Frames recently as it’s billed as the frames addon for pvp, but before that I used pitbull and only had a couple complaints with it (waaaaay too many options, and way too hard to use). I think SUF strikes the right balance between accessibility and flexibility. You can customize most things a reasonable person would want to customize, but you aren’t swamped by choices, and it’s simple to configure.
The most important thing an arena UI does for a player is let them filter through a lot of data to quickly learn when they need. I like any UI that enlarges the icons of my debuffs on a target, and lets me increase the size of castbars. I especially like Shadowed Unit Frames (other mods may do this too) because it will hide the castbar when your target or focus or party member isn’t casting. That means that there is a much larger contrast between those frames when that player is casting and when they’re not, so it’s easier for me to notice. Another good feature is that it lets me put buffs and debuffs on any side of a frame. This is great because I don’t care about my party’s buffs so can put them off to the side, but their crucial debuffs, I put on the bottom or the right where they’re more obvious. The key for you, reader, is to figure out where your eyes are inclined to seek out buffs. Are you used to seeing your target’s buffs on top of the frame with debuffs on the bottom? Then set it that way. In an arena, you have very little time to react, and you don’t want to waste any time looking for things.
This is a slightly dated screenshot of my UI. In it, I’m still using pitbull, but even with Shadowed Unit Frames, all my frames are in roughly the same position.
All the arena mods, focus frames, and cast bars are for naught if they aren’t positioned somewhere that is easy for you to see. I place Gladius between my pet frame and my target frame. This gives my eyes easy access, as I’m mostly looking at my target in an arena anyway. My focus frame is off to the right, but I have trained myself to pay attention to that part of my screen too, because you can’t have every frame smack dab in the center.
My UI does have a lot of clutter, but it works for me because hunters are a ranged class, and we don’t need half a monitor’s worth of space to be free and clear for us to watch an entire fight. As long as you aren’t wasting space with mods like Omen and Recount that have absolutely no place in an arena UI, you should be fine. And don’t be afraid to expand or shrink (but especially expand) the size of any bar, frame, or buff/debuff list. If it works for you then do it.
Now, a word about keybinds. Hunters have a lot of binds to begin with, but our life has been made easier by the dual spec changes, so don’t complain. Keybinds are very personal, just like your macros and your UI. Furthermore, I expect you to be as creative in finding keybinds for focus Wyvern Sting and focus Viper Sting as you are in Ulduar when it’s time to kite Mimiron’s fire.
I once fought an arcane mage who had keybinds that allowed him to cast all his dps abilities like Arcane Blast, Arcane Barrage, and Arcane Missiles on his focus target. He would have me targeted, but he’d be dpsing my healer. (Disclosure: We lost. A lot). That’s the kind of simple tactic that will get you wins (and is an article for another day). My point is that if you use an ability in arenas, you should have at least one keybind for it, and sometimes two. You would do well to keybind macros that let you hit your focus target with stuff like Scatter Shot, Silencing Shot, Wyvern Sting, etc.
The other thing you want to do is keybind /target arena1, /target arena2, /target arena3, /target arena4, and /target arena5. With a mod like Gladius, this will let you target the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth player (from the top) on the other team in an arena. You can also go into your keybindings menu and do the same thing under “Gladius”.
You should have your strafe buttons keybound (mine are “Q” for strafe left and “E” for strafe right, but you can use “A” and “D” or whatever), and you should use them almost exclusively to move around (which can be done by holding down your right mouse button). The only exception to this is when you have activated Deterrence, at which point you may need to use “S” to back up. We are probably the only class where “s-keying” is acceptable, but if Deterrence isn’t up, you better not be doing it!
Ok, that’s it for now guys. Next time we’ll take a break from the arena scene and take a look at tips and tricks that we can use to counter each class in a pvp setting. If you have any requests, leave a comment. Bye for now!