It’s probably something everybody’s already on top of, but I thought it’d be fun to trade our methods for managing cooldowns and arranging our button bars.
Why? Because it’s something everybody has to do, and some folks might have ways they like that someone else will think is an interesting idea to try.
I was playing my Warrior the other night (Prot spec while leveling) and noticed I had a neat ability called Concussion Blow on my toolbar.
Okay, so I get a single target stun. That’s cool. My Rogue got a lot of use out of that little button while leveling.
But wait! When I got that ability and stuck it on my button bar, I put it where it’s a little away from my ‘use all the time rotation’ abilities. It’s over in the area of my button bar where special abilities with long cooldowns get placed and saved for rainy days.
See, when I lay out my button bars, I use the default layout… with all ‘extra’ button bars enabled. Left, Right, and both the ones on the side. I do that so on borked/broken addon patch days, I am mostly unaffected. Vanilla WoW cured me of UI changing addons forever.
I arrange the center of the bottom bar with the abilities I use most often, and then radiate outwards from there in both directions for the lesser used abilities. Typically, pulling/initial abilities radiate outwards to the left, while healing or taunting/aggro control abilities move out to the right. I’ll start the pull on the far left, gravitate to the center for the most ufrequently used abilities, and when I need to pop something special dart the mouse to the right. If it’s utility or situational, OR cross-form, then it goes right above. I’m looking at YOU Druid and Priest!
The abilities that complement them, or should be triggered first, or are situational/utility typically go on the bar right above, again starting in the middle for most used/fastest cooldown and working outwards to both sides.
This leaves me with a small area in the middle of the button bar where I’ll be spending most of my time, and a relatively short distance for mouse travel no matter what other ability I need at a moment’s notice.
I did that automatically, because first, I like clicking buttons, and the more alts I make, the more I click buttons. I just don’t use number keys for abilities on all these alts. On my Druid, sure, I use number key shortcuts. But not the alts, thank you very much.
Second, when I did a time analysis study on the ‘pick and place’ SMT equipment I used to program, it was very clear that this method was the second most time effective technique in picking and placing surface mount computer components from feed trays.
In building modern circuit boards, you use what are called surface mount components. Rugged components are still soldered ‘through hole’ style, connectors and toggle switches and big doodads, but the rest are small, flat bottomed components that are shipped in reels. You load these reels up by the hundreds into a pick and place machine, one reel per part. So, you’ve got a long bank of hundreds of reels of computer parts. In the center of the machine is a fixed pick and place head, basically a vacuum system attached to teeny nozzles that can move up and down and rotate, with camera inspection.
The entire rack of parts reels is on moving rails. The pick and place vacuum head is fixed in the center. So, when you program a machine to build a circuit board, you have a list of all the parts that will be populating the board. You have sizes, shapes, part #s, etc. You want to create a build program that will populate a single circuit board in the shortest time possible, because the board is going along on a conveyor one at a time, and the longer you take to place parts per board, the fewer possible boards you can build. It’s a natural choke point.
So, say you’ve got 1200 parts to place on a single circuit board. You’ve got maybe 230 different part numbers. You use 250 of one particular part, 80 of the next, 63 of the next, and so on.
In this second fastest technique, the first thing you do is analyze what the most frequently used parts are. You want to minimize travel time of that big honking rail full of reels of parts. A single parts reel can be from 1 inch to 5 inches across depending on the size of the part in it, and if you’ve got hundreds of reels on a machine, travel time sliding that rail back and forth to get from one reel to the next to present a part under the pick and place head is… slow.
So it’s all about minimizing rail/reel movement as much as possible. Orrr…. minimizing mouse movement as much as possible? Eh?
Now, you might think that the best way to do it is stick all of your most used reels on one end, and slowly work your way down the row.
The problem with that is, when you optimize your pick speed, you find that you have to take ergonomics of rail motion into account… and also the fact that frequently, in order to minimize PCB board travel (that thing you’re sticking the parts on, which itself has to move around for the fixed pick and place head to stick parts down), you’ll start populating one section of the board… then when it’s mostly full, move on to populating another PCB board section.
You end up wanting to come back to those most frequently used parts throughout the course of the board build, not just blow through them all up front. If you stick them all at one end of the reel rail, then after a while you go all the way down one end, get a part, and all the way back to the first, over and over again.
So, when in a situation where you have several parts (buttons), some used more frequently than others, some with longer delays before able to be used again, and some you need to come back to more often than others, it’s more time effective to put your heaviest hitters in the center of the rail (bar), with the lesser used parts (buttons) going further and further out in each direction based on frequency of use, linked part associations and length of cooldown. Err, pick speed.
I’ve done a lot of time studies on programs like that, and it just works real well. So, if you’re, basically, a clicker, it’s a great default system for button placement. :)
Now… when you really crunch the numbers, this is, as I said, the second fastest button clicker technique I know.
You want fast? You take rotation sequence into account, and you streamline those sequences to make the mouse flow smooth across the board, then mirror it for secondary button placement about the bar. I actually did that with my 969 rotation for my Paladin tank button arrangement. Since you’ve got a fixed cooldown sequence for the rotation, it only makes sense to optimize placement based on mouse movement and associate buttons with similar cooldowns.
Anyway, for me, a button clicker with lots of alts, that’s what I do. And a lot more information than you care to know, I’m sure.
Where I am going with this behind the scenes look at the way I setup my button bars/UI, is that I had initially placed Concussion Blow with the ’long cooldown, to be used in tight spots only’ abilities on my bar, up on the top bar and far to the right of bottom center.
Re-familiarizing myself with the abilities caused me to take another look at Concussion Blow.
The cooldown is only 30 seconds.
Well, dip me in mustard and call me a weiner if that wasn’t a bad mistake, pardner.
I typically break cooldown abilities into sub categories.
There is the “this is my oh shit button, to be saved for when it’s REALLY an oh shit situation”, and then there are the “this is pretty good, but the cooldown is long enough to only break it out on boss fights, and trash fights when I can expect the cooldown to be up when the next boss fight done cometh”.
And then there are the cooldowns that go into the sub category of “short enough to pop every bloody fight at least once in the beginning.”
A few examples?
Enhancement Shamans have one of the medium cooldowns, boss fight plus early trash – Shamanistic Rage. Geez, a 1 minute cooldown sounds bad, but it’s up for 15 seconds and gives you just tons of mana on top of the damage reduction. I pop that sucker all the time.
Feral Druids have Survival Instincts, which is great but on a 3 minute cooldown. That’s definitely long enough to make it an “oh shit,” held in reserve button. But, it’s also complementary to another long cooldown, Frenzied Regeneration, which is, hey, on a 3 minute cooldown.
Now, one common method of getting the most out of that 3 minute long cooldown is to only use those two together. You pop Survival Instincts, which raises your maximum health, and then you pop Frenzied Regeneration, which bases healing per point of Rage off of max health AT THE TIME IT’S ACTIVATED. So, SI boosts Healing Per Second/Healing Per Rage of FR when triggered first, for the entire duration of FR.
A few folks I know, during boss fights, actually don’t do this. What they do is stagger the cooldowns. Instead of one really big huge whomping heal with a 3 minute dead time, they space it out, taking the reduced survivability benefits of only having one effect up at a time, in exchange for having them up twice as often. 1.5 minutes and pop, 1.5 minutes and pop… If all you need is a little ‘oomph’ to help your healers out, why drop the big bomb when a well placed single shot will do?
But what about Barkskin? Barkskin is right on the edge, isn’t it? It’s a 1 minute cooldown, so if you’re doing fairly middle of the road content, heroics and easy raids, it’s no problem to incorporate it into a macro that pops it whenever it’s off cooldown. It’s not on the global cooldown, so no worries on working it in. 100% uptime. Doing this means it’s uptime is maximized, so you’re getting it’s benefits and saving your healers’ mana as much as possible for the long term fight over the course of a run.
BUT… 1 minute is long enough, and Barkskin’s 20% damage reduction is powerful enough, that if you’re raiding something serious you most likely want it OFF a macro so you can pop it in sync with a boss attack, perfectly timing that 20% damage reduction for when it’ll do you the most good. Like, say, when the entire raid is taking massive damage, and you want to give the healer on YOU the chance to ignore you for a few seconds to help keep the squishies alive.
The trade off, of course, is then you’ve got another button to remember to pop during the trash fights, and that might lead to suboptimal usage and reduced overall uptime.
Anyway, I wanted to bring it up all up to see if I could inspire you to share your own thoughts on how you like to arrange your abilities, what your philosophy behind it may be, maybe even what UI addons you just couldn’t live without, and how you like to control your cooldowns.
And to leave you with this one, key point…
The only truly bad use of a long cooldown ability is when you save it for a rainy day… and then never use it all when it might have saved your butt.
Practise using them! Much better to use them all the time and sometimes have them on cooldown when you’d like them than to never use them at all!
If you use them all the time, and get used to using them, then after a while you can back off and use them more strategically.
But use them!