Big Bear’s Choice in Addons

Bigbunz (lol, nice name, that rocks) asked if I could put up a list of what Addons I was using in the Nalorakk Zul’Aman video.

That is a very reasonable request. And I could do a simple list, sure. But if I’m going to tell you what I use, I’d like to also tell you why… and why I’m not using more than I do. So this is going to make for a long post. Please, bear with me. If you’re not really interested in the BBB Addon setup, just move on by, my friends.

Addons are a very touchy subject with me.

I, personally, feel that if you want to change the look of the game, move menus and such, that customizing your User Interface appearance is an excellent application for Addons.

But basic functionality should be built in. And if, after the course of time, you find out that everyone is downloading the same mods or addons just to play your game effectively, then you should move to build that functionality in.

Don’t get me wrong, please. I know Blizzard has actually added new functionality to the game based on the player’s uses of Addons. Scrolling Combat Text is just one small example of the hard work Blizzard has put into adding new functions to the User Interface that can be enabled, or not, for all players to use and enjoy.

In fact, I technically think Blizzard, and the coders in particular, are simply brilliant and should be applauded for what they HAVE added to the game over the last three years.

I am sitting here trying to pin down why my first, knee-jerk reaction is to be pissed at Blizzard about Addons. And I think I know why.

Blizzard, come on now. It’s been three years. By now, you must have heard of a few websites that players sometimes have been known to use when they get stuck playing your game.

If you haven’t heard of them, let me be the first to clue you in… go check out Wowhead, Thottbot, and Allakhazam. It may shock you to learn that the player community has shared their knowledge on completing your quests.

Yes, it’s true! The answers to your quests are all out there! Cortello’s Riddle? Not quite so tricksy with Wowhead by your side.

Omigod, I know! Total shock, right? Okay, enough, let’s move past that now.

For the love of Elune and the survival of our sanity, please just add in the option of displaying coordinates for our current cursor position on our large game map. Come on. Just add the damn coordinates in. Make it selectable, that’s fine, we don’t want to overwhelm someone starting out for the first time.

But just… grrr! Grrr! Add the damn coordinates, already! Shit!

Sorry. No need to curse, there. Damn it.


Where am I coming from with Addons?

I am, personally, a minimalist. In appearance, I try to work within the basic framework of the core Blizzard UI appearance.

The reason why is actually pretty outdated now.

When I first started playing WoW, I approached it like any other video game. It came out of the box, I installed it, I played it. And I was overwhelmed with all of the thousands of things going on on-screen. It took me a while to get the hang of things, especially coming from a FPS and RTS computer gaming background. The addition of interacting with other people, and all of the customization options, really was overwhelming.

For a long time, I kept a list of emotes and slash “/” commands printed out, like 5 pages long, sitting next to me at the desk. All the commands to type in for guild management, stuff like the basic commands for inviting players to a party, etc. I compiled these huge lists I’d refer to because I had no hope in hell of remembering all those commands I might need.

Over a week or two, of course, I learned most of the commands and stopped referring to my list.

Although, I’ll admit, I moved my Priest alt from my alt guild to the guild my main characters are in just two days ago, and as my Priest was the Guild Mistress of Sidhe Devils, I had to transfer leadership to someone else… and it took me a good solid 5 minutes to figure out how to promote someone else to guild leader position. Maybe I should have kept those lists from two years ago, somewhere, after all.

The point here is, after playing for a week or so, and struggling to get my Druid up to level 10, and the promise Blizzard made that I’d get to be a kitty someday, I encountered the Bear form quest chain… and took my first step in going to a search engine and typing in ‘Warcraft Druid Bear Form quest’.

I haven’t tried that right now… in fact, I find it funny to think that it’s possible I may enter that and come up with my own guide, these days. But back then, I got a few hits, and the one I remember reading, referred to coordinates. “Go to coordinate such-and-so, and you’ll find the great bear spirit.” Well, what the hell are coordinates?

And further internet searching opened my eyes to the holy of holies back then, Thottbot. Hey, hallelujah. Can I get an Amen? Oh yeah, baby.

And someone commenting in a Thottbot item asked the same question I had; how the hell do I find coordinates? And someone else responded in the comments by saying; “With an Addon to your map.”

An Addon? To my map? What the hell is an Addon?

Well, doing a search for Addons and Warcraft brought me to an Addon and Mod download source for World of Warcraft. I think it was And my game life was changed, forever.

I went Addon crazy.

I totally revamped my UI, added mods and addons out the wazoo. I changed the entire face of the game, and in fact, probably made it way, WAY too complicated, but I was wrapped in the throes of a new love affair with Addons.

And then the first big patch came since I started playing.

Oops! Shit done got broke.

And I learned the first lesson of the Addon user; when a patch comes, expect your shit to break.

And the hardest part, for me, was that most of my Addons didn’t get updated for over a week. And I was now so used to playing with the Addons… I’d forgotten how to play normally!

Well, I learned my lesson. Ever since then, I do not use Addons that change my User Interface so drastically that it would negatively impact my ability to play my class if I were suddenly without them, so long as I had a Threat Meter and my macros.

Why, look at that. I think I’ve identified something other than coordinates that I think should be considered core functionality that needs to be added to the game. A threatmeter for parties and raids. But I beat that poor dead horse already, let’s move on.

The meat of the post; My installed Addons.

For my threatmeter, I use Omen. I really like it’s features, and it fully interacts with the old KLHThreatmeter or whatever it was called. Omen just rocks, I love it. And bonus… it shows my pets’ threat when I’m soloing on my Hunter. Just me and my pet, no party, and I can see exactly how much threat my kitty is putting out. I swear, KLHThreatmeter didn’t do that for me. I LOVE it.

If you don’t know what a threat meter is for, it displays the threat list of whichever mob you have targeted. Whoever is on top, is the person the mob hates the most. If you are on the top, generally, the mob hates you most, and will come to kill you. If you are the tank, you always want to be on top. (Hey, I just got an idea for a new t-shirt. Nobody else steal that, now. But expect to see a shirt someday soon saying ‘Tanks like it on top’ with a picture of a Bear tanking a mob with the threatmeter displayed in the background. Yes, I’m sick. This is how my mind works. Sue me.)

For Raid bars to show me buffs, health and mana of all raid members, messages and target of target and all of the other essentials for raiding, I use X-Perl UnitFrames. I am not quite happy with it, I have the sneaking suspicion that there might be others that are better, or at least prettier… but I have this one installed and configured now, and I’m raiding too much to have the time to experiment. Out of the box, it’s default settings hated my widescreen monitor resolution, so every time I make a new character, it loads the defaults and I have to load up another characters’ profile and save it, and generally dink around with it. That has a lot to do with my annoyance. But it gets the raiding job done, so meh.

For creating equipment sets so that I can swap my entire equipped gear with the press of one button, I use ItemRack. Although you can, I never ever set any ‘automatic’ equipment changes with ItemRack. You can set it to, for example, change out your current trinket with a Carrot on a Stick or Riding Crop when you mount, but I just never do. In the basic sets, I have a cat gear DPS set and a bear gear tanking set programmed into ItemRack. But since you can also swap Idols and Weapons on the fly in combat, I have those items with their own sets so I can change those depending on the situation.

I’m serious here; end game Druid raiders especially know what I’m talking about. If you are in tank gear, but you are playing off-tank and doing kitty DPS in a raid most of the run, having your DPS weapon/Idol and Tank weapon/Idol on seperate hotkeys or ItemRack sets is very handy. It can make a surprising difference if you are in your tank gear, with your DPS weapon (Like Illhoofs’ staff) and Everbloom Idol equipped for laying down the damage, and then when someone yells “Trap broke, Wind go grab Square”, you can do a Feral Charge across the room, tap a button to change instantly to Earthwarden and Idol of Terror, and smack that Square idjits’ head in full-on tank mode. I’m just saying.

The real hardcore set things up to swap in different Idols depending on what particular part of DPS they are on at the moment. Since each Idol enhances a different part of DPS, some folks switch them out in the course of one fight to maximize each type of blow. I am not raiding as a cat enough to have experimented much with that level of maximizing DPS, but hey. I need to mention it anyway; you’re probably raiding higher level stuff than I am, and that info may come in handy.

For dealing with raid encounters, I use Deadly Boss Mods. It provides warnings and timers in raids, and for the raider, some kind of raid encounter warning is mandatory. I hear that some folks use BigWigs, and that it does about the same. Is BigWigs better? I have absolutely no idea, I have never compared them. Deadly Boss Mods is what I use, it’s the Addon that warns me when Nalorakk is about to shift to bear form, and gives me a timer to his next shapeshift, etc.

As you could see in the video, I don’t use any button bar mods at all. I have every default button bar enabled and organized, and I reduced their size using the User Interface options. I think they’re set to something like 64% of normal size.

For all the cute bells and whistles, I use Fubar 2.0 as my base frame for installing extra plugins. I set it to have a single bar at the top of the screen, and in it I run GuildFu and FriendFu, I have LocationFu, DurabilityFu, ExperienceFu, AmmoFu (for my Hunter) and ClockFu. There might be a few more, but those pretty much give me the basics of quick access to managing my contacts with mouseover and quick leveling XP per hour and suggested zone breakdowns for my alts. And a clock displayed in the corner of the screen. There are tons of FuBar plugins, and I’ve used lots of them. You can go nuts on these, and frankly, I’m sure there are more I’d enjoy. But I pared down recently, so this is what I’m using now.

For my financing, I use the Auctioneer Classic suite. It’s just pretty much a given at this point. I can’t imagine playing without it. FYI, it updated about 2 days ago to a new version as of this posting.

I have made a big change recently, however. I no longer use Gatherer for tracking ore or herb nodes on the map.

Instead, I am using Cartographer for my map addon, with it’s waypoints and such. I am using several plugins for Cartographer, that install Gatherer-style functionality that works very well.

I use an addon called Ogri’lazy, simply because it automates tracking colors during the Ogri’la simon says daily quests. It takes minimal memory and kicks ass. I wrote a post about it a long time ago.

For tracking what is going on during raid fights, Damage Meter and Heal Meter and Overheals, etc from an analysis point of view, others in our Guild swear by SW Stats. I have not, as yet, installed it as I’ve been tanking and not worried about damage output. But with my Priest coming up the levels, and my role beginning to switch to tank/DPS, I’ll be installing it over the weekend.

The last Addon I use is Scrolling Combat Text. I know Blizzard implemented their own version, but I like the customization of SCR. I can display lots more options, and set thresholds a lot better with SCR than the default.

So, I’ve come to the end of a mammoth post. As you can see, I truly use about the minimum of what I think I can get away with, and still have some extra goodies to make my life easier. And it is still a long list of Addons.

I have another reason why I have chosen the ones I use, by the way. It’s not all randomness. Most of these are coded using the Ace2 foundation of data… and there is an automated update download and install tool called WoWAceUpdater that will check all of my Ace2 addons, and with one button will download and install all available updates instantly. It laso displays all available Ace2 Addons, and you can select one and download and install it right from the updater. No need to go to Cursegaming searching for it. So it makes finding new updates on patch day very painless. Only a few of my mods aren’t Ace2. See? I ain’t entirely stupid. Mostly, but not entirely, anyway.

If you have suggestions for replacing any of these, or if you use a ‘can’t live without it’ Addon, feel free to suggest it in the comments. I do try new things quite often, and I’m always open to change. See my use of Omen and dropping of Gatherer for examples.

And if I do decide to drop something in favor of something new, you can be sure I’ll post about it, and why I made the switch.

But I promise you; no switch commercials from me. That shit was funny for about 30 seconds.

An original Star Trek joke by Manny

By request, I am going to share with you a joke my friend Manny told me.

The setup here is, he used to live in the same area as I, and we got together and played tabletop roleplaying games, what folks seem to be calling pen-and-paper RPGs now. GURPS and AD&D 2nd Edition, homebrewed, by preference.

Three guesses who the GM was.

Anyway, so now that we live in different states of the US, when we chat we tend to talk about how gaming is going in our respective worlds.

In my world of Minnesota, it ain’t. If I had a campaign world to write for, I wouldn’t have a blog.

He has started a new gaming group out in Virginia, and the way he did it was to advertise in gaming and comic stores, at colleges and campuses, and on gaming BBS systems and ‘gamer connection’ type websites that he was ‘looking for more’.

That’s right, there are real life examples of basic WoW mechanics. LFG didn’t start with WoW.

So he’s got this gaming group, and they are a widely varied group of folks. And the stories of some of the folks that respond to those kind of cattle calls would make for funny posts in and of themselves, if you couldn’t see them for yourself just by attending a local Sci-Fi or gaming convention.

And I am flat out refusing to segue into a digression on some of the interesting folks that you’ll meet at a gaming or Sci-Fi convention. I love enthusiasm, I really do, but some folks just take things to the level beyond the next level.

I will say, this trend of ladies wearing costumes to conventions is one I heartily approve of. I don’t even care what the costume is, just seeing women get enthusiastic over gaming or anime or Sci-Fi gives me hope that my kind of folk might have a chance to survive into the next generation.

Damn it! I digressed anyway! Arrrggghhhh!!!!!

Manny, telling me about his Virginia gaming group. right. Okay. Continuing on.

Now, Manny is letting me know how his evil plans are progressing. And he shares a cute moment from the group in between games.

Now, I’ll let Manny tell you his story;

The group was sitting around before a session, and we’re trying to explain realistic space combat to a Star Trek junkie. You know the kind, the guy that thinks the physics displayed in Star Trek are somehow accurate.

And somehow we got on the subject of kinetic weapons. One of the players used an example of how kinetic weapons would work; “If we opened up the cargo door and threw out the sofa you’re sitting on, and it hit a ship, it would likely vaporize the ship.”

The Star Trek fan got a very disbelieving look on his face, and asked, “So what would you call that?”

That’s when I popped up and said, “A futon torpedo.”


I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did.

And okay, no more off topic jokes. :)

From the mailbag; How do I keep aggro in Kara?

I received a nice letter from Frogerician of the Steamwheedle Cartel (US) today.

In the email, Froggie writes;

Been reading your column ever since I decided to move my druid up through the ranks of obscurity to where he is now, in the beginning stages of Karazhan. I’ve got a pretty well geared bear tank, he’s fully outfitted in pre-kara gear, uncrittable, 23K armor, 12.8K health, 30-35% dodge. And yet Karazhan is just kicking my furry behind. These freaking undead bosses more often than not are immune to taunt, so as soon as some dipstick gnome mage (name withheld) who’s never even heard of threat meters until that very night decides to OFGWTFBBQ crit my boss (maiden). Down goes the raid. So what do I hear? “You need to hold aggro better.” :/

So the question behind my gripe is: Any special tricks or attack sequences I can use to help keep my aggro up? As far as I can tell I’m reduced to Mangle, Maul and Swipe.

First off, thanks for the email, Froggie!

I’m sure he’s gonna be super-pissed that I’m calling him that… but Frogerician seems so… formal, doesn’t it? Maybe I can call you Mr. Frog?

Now, normally I just answer quietly in the background, but I thought that, since I haven’t posted on this kind of stuff in a long time, it would be nice to give an answer… and while the answer may be light-hearted in tone, I’m serious about my advice.

And as a disclaimer… there are lots of different ways you can generate threat. In fact, I’m sure there are plenty of ways to generate threat differently that other tanks use and would recommend. And some might delight in correcting me on. The important thing here is, while Mr. Frog specifically mentioned Maiden of Virtue, an infinite Rage fight, he also emntioned the undead foes in general. Now, against a single target when you might be looking at conserving Rage for future battles, this is MY method, and my advice. Not the advice someone else is giving, but mine. If you disagree with me, please, I invite you to add your advice in the comments. From such things, we all learn. Most especially me.

Oh yeah, the answer to the email. Right, lol.

The attack sequence I use is Enrage to build up Rage, 8 seconds or so to let the Enrage armor nerf cooldown tick, then Feral Faerie Fire to pull, Mangle for bleed debuff and threat spike – Lacerate x3 immediately, then Mangle should be off cooldown again, then Lacerate x3 again. If I have enough excess rage, then I throw in some Mauls. Otherwise, keep up the Mangle -> Lacerate x3 rotation, throw in Feral Faerie Fire for the armor debuff and Demoralyzing Roar for some damage reduction once in a while, and you should be fine.

If you are still having problems holding aggro after doing what YOU can do, you may want to switch to using Moonfire to do your initial pull. Also, get your Priest to cast Prayer of Mending on you prior to the pull (you get the threat from it healing you, not the Priest), and have the Hunter cast Misdirection on you and your target before the pull.

If, after all that, your gnome mage still pulls threat, tell him to lrn2play. And you can quote me.

Okay, so that was a bit cranky. Sorry about that, I do know that some classes can crit massively on their spells. I myself have a Warlock in our guild that is an awesome player, and sometimes his crits just roll one after another, 8 in a row, and poof! He’s dead.

Sometimes, there’s nothing you CAN do, except try your best.

Again, thanks for the email, Mr. Frog!

Thinking about Hit Rating Expertise and Defense makes my head hurt

Sorry about the lack of posting so far, I’ve been working on my article for WoW Insider the last two days.

If you’d like to see what I wrote about Hit Rating, Expertise, Defense skill and Defense Rating and Resilience, then by all means go and check it out.

I’m sorry, but my head hurts now. And I have to go to a meeting about metrics and Six Sigma analysis.

At least I have internet. Cassie has been at home all day with zero Comcast. The bastards.

Conspiracy Theorist!

As many of you know… yesterday, the Blizzard giveth, and then the Blizzard tooketh away.

For a brief time, getting your own Mojo was as easy as a death run through Eastern Plaguelands and on into the lowbie area of Ghostlands.

But then, the news broke out into the world. First MMO Champion, and then WoW Insider, and I’m sure a slew of others got the word out. “Go, ye mighty craving frog pets, and get yours now while supplies last!”

And then, at about 3:00 PM Central time, the supplies ran out.

Yep, someone at Blizzard saw the news coverage, saw that folks were getting frogs and having fun in IF and Orgrimmar kissing like crazy, and they freaked.

Watch with us, as the scene unfolds….

“Holy Crackers!”, they cried, “We didn’t intend for that many folks to have fun all at once! Something must be done! Fast! You! Boy! Get me that guy we keep chained in the basement for fixing bugs!”

“But sir”, comes the reply, “He’s almost finished writing the code to fix a host of game-balancing issues and Paladin core gameplay issues that the Forums brought up a year ago. Can’t we let this go for a day or two? We can catch it on Tuesday for scheduled maintenance.”

“HELL NO!!! Are you insane?!? By Tuesday, everybody on every server will have a Mojo! They won’t be rare items to show off, to prove how leet the players are! How are raiders supposed to show they’re better than everyone else, without items like this in the game? Shut it the hell down, now!”

“All right sir, if you say so. But aren’t you afraid that rushing a fix through so fast might have unforeseen consequences?”

Unforeseen consequences? You know what I got to say to your unforeseen consequences? 10 MILLION SUBSCRIBERS, baby! That’s what I got to say to that! Now shut the hell up and shut that Mojo down!”

A poor coder scribbles frantically as a huge, sweaty, bald man stands over him fondling a whip. “Code faster!” “Sorry sir. Speeding up sir.”

“All right sir, the patch has gone out as an unnannounced hotfix. The next person to try kissing Prigmon will get nothing, with no explanation why. It should cause quite a bit of confusion, and lots of wasted time traveling across a dangerous zone for the next hour or so until the word gets out.”

“Good, good. That’ll teach the little buggers!”

An hour passes.

“Sir, bad news.”

“Didn’t you hear me earlier, boy? 10 million subscribers. There ain’t no such thing as bad news. Now tell me what you’re whining about this time.”

“No sir, this looks serious. Ever since the hotfix nerfed Mojo, lag has been increasing across the board on all servers. It almost looks like a memory drain on the servers. And it’s increasing. Reports are coming in from every server that some instances are crashing, and are no longer letting people back in.”

“Who cares about the noobs running instances? As long as the Battlegrounds and the Raids are fine, let ’em QQ. Now, I’m trying to watch a tape of the new Terminator show here. Don’t come bothering me again unless something brings down the BGs or the Raids.”

“Yes, sir.”

Another hour passes.


“Dammit, what freaking now?!?!

“Sir, I’m sorry, I know you like Summer Glau, but you said you wanted to know… all Battlegrounds, instances and Raids are down. Dead. Kaput.”

“Well, okay, that could be bad. But I just got the chips out of the microwave. Hmmm…. Hell with it, screw ’em. Just ignore it for now; if they don’t like it, they can log off for a change and go see what color the damn Sun is. Do ’em some good. Hell, they should thank me for giving them a break. Now buzz off.”

“Yes, sir. [sigh]

Another hour passes….. [you having fun yet?]

“Sir? I thought you’d like to know, we don’t need to worry about the instances and BGs and Raids being down anymore.”

“Oh yeah?”, the drunken voice slurs from the depths of the recliner, as waves of cheese-covered nachos tumble from the slumped figures’ belly. On the massive TV in front of him, in the Blizzard ‘War Room’, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is coming on the air. “Problem fixed itself, did it? I told ya we knew what we were doing. Built them servers darn tough! No hotfix can take ’em down! Now get me another beer.”

“Oh, no sir, the instances and stuff are all still bollixed up. No, it’s just that no one seems to care! The players seem to have taken the opportunity to talk to each other, organize, and find new things to do on their own. They’ve gotten raiding leagues formed, and massive server-wide raids on capital cities are underway even as we speak. The players have never been happier. It’s amazing, the level of fun they can get up to when they don’t have the same old thing to run.”

“WHAT!?!?! The HELL you say! How DARE they have fun in ways I did not personally authorize? That’s it, take those servers down, NOW! I’ll put a stop to that shit!”

“But sir! Well, okay sir, if you say so… I’ll get the notice posted up on the login screen right away.”

“Like hell you will! You must be new here, boy… we don’t warn ’em, we just put up a rolling timer in general chat… and it shouldn’t say ‘Server Restart’, neither… they can understand a restart. Say ‘Server Shutdown’ instead. That’s nice and vague, it could mean minutes, hours or even days. That’ll panic the little bastards. Now, I said get me another beer.”

“Right away, sir.

This little behind-the-scenes view at Blizzard Weekend Tech Support has been brought to you by Guinness… enjoy a Guinness today!

Free Mojo Pet! For reals!

According to a forum post in MMO Champion, the previously rare Mojo pet frog, the one that you had to run Zul’Aman and get from Amani Hex Sticks, is now free outside the instance.

Well, seeing as I have the flight path, I hustled my butt over there to find out if that’s true.

It is! I can tell you first hand that you can get your own Mojo for free.

What you do is go to the Zul’Aman instance entrance area, in the Ghostlands. It is just north of Eastern Plaguelands, kind of north of Lights Hope Chapel end of the zone.

Outside the ZA instance, over near the tents past the Flight Path, is a troll named Prigmon. If you walk up to him and blow him a /kiss (select him and type /kiss, that is) you will get your very own Mojo added to your bag!

As special bonus fun, if you blow your pet frog a /kiss, YOU turn into a frog too! Check out Cassieann having some fun frog-on-frog action!

And one last thing… if you are mounted when you blow a kiss to your frog, you become a mounted frog! Wahoo!

Go forth, ye multitudes, and frogify.

EDIT ALERT!!! Blizzard hotfixed this one almost instantly, as of 3:00 PM today, Sunday, it is no longer available from Prigmon. I’m sorry I found this out and posted it too slow for more of you to get your Mojo.