It’s only my opinion, but an Affliction Warlock’s UI is more important to how well a Warlock performs than most any other spec other there. Fundamentally, because of the design of the spec as a buff/debuff management spec, and because the strength of the spec lies in multi-target, non-AoE situations, having a functional UI helps immensely in tracking the volume of information (multiple buffs + [multiple debuffs * multiple targets]). I’m going to breakdown my own UI to try to explain and rationalize my thought process to that end.
Here’s an in-combat screenshot of my UI:
What is important when I’m raiding?
There are things that are important for every raider – a boss mod, like DBM, is almost mandatory (there’s actually no ‘almost’ about it – Blizzard says that they design encounters with boss mods in mind). Being able to see what the boss is casting, or if you’re under the effects of a particularly nasty debuff, are things that you might only need for some encounters, but are generally useful to have on your screen all the time (so you don’t have to customize your UI for every fight). If you’re a healer, having your raid frames be informative and accessible is key. And finally, depending on your class or spec, it may be very important to you to keep track of certain cooldowns, buffs and enemy debuffs.
When we think about Affliction’s base ‘rotation’, what is important? Certainly, we don’t want any of our DoTs to fall of the enemy – or any enemy for that matter. We want to know when our Dark Soul is available, and how long it’s up for. We also want to track other Buffs that don’t originate from us – Bloodlust is one such example. We have two resources that we want to track – Mana, and Soul Shards.
As we dig deeper into it, and progress to a more advanced level, we find that we also want to track all our other buffs just like Dark Soul – our Jade Spirit proc, our Darkmoon trinket ICD, the time left on our potion, Lightweave, etc. We also want to track our Malefic Grasp – it ticks 4 times a channel, but if we want to interrupt it we want to do it right after it has just ticked, not right before it ticks again. I track these things in my interface – here’s how it breaks down:
Buffs and Debuffs
Arguably the most important information to keep track of when you’re playing an Affliction Warlock, are the buffs on you, and the debuffs (DoTs, Haunt) on your targets. There is a good deal of information duplication in my UI – some of it partly from not having redone it in a while. I use 4 addons to handle the majority of my buff/debuff information:
For the most part, Raven is what I use to track raid events – to make sure I have the full assortment of raid buffs, to see any debuffs I have on myself (which, in raid, are usually mechanic-based) and a frame that doesn’t appear in the screenshot above to note any important boss mechanic buff/debuffs (Jasper Chains and Pheromones are two current tier examples).
The goal of Raven for me is to organize information: I want to keep track of every single buff and debuff, but I want to pre-sort them so that I can identify what something is based on where it shows up, not by any particular icon or name.
The main difference in how I use Raven, compared to other people, is I use it to track things that people would normally use NeedToKnow or TellMeWhen to track: Short-term procs and ICDs.
The general theme of my UI is that the more important information is, the closer to the center of the screen it is for me. To do this, I manually filter out a lot of things that I may want to see (all buffs on me) into locations that are not intrusive (to the top right of my screen, or to the bottom left). The most important things, tracking short-term procs that I can use to buff my DoTs, are practically next to my primary DoT timers.
Speaking of my primary DoT timers, I use WeakAuras for this purpose:
Using WeakAuras lets me track a few more things and put a few more items into a small space, yet still give it the visual pop. I track DoTs using the icons because I’ve always done it that way – I actually learned to play Warlock using the ‘red border’ that Raven puts on your buffs and debuffs, and to this day I still find that style of DoT tracking most comforting.
The thing I’ve added to my Auras are these little numbers everywhere – 1.35 above Haunt, 12 above Agony, etc. These represent a half-duration reminder (or a rough cast time, in the case of Haunt), to help me with Pandemic. In addition, when the duration goes below half, my icons will also glow. The ‘2’ in the screenshot is a Soul Shard count, as are the little purple bars underneath the DoT icons.
Is there a lot of duplicate information here? Yes. I am tracking Soul Shards in *four* different places – above my unit frames in a class bar, above my unit frames in a class timer, in my Haunt WeakAura, and underneath my DoT auras. Is it overkill? Most likely. But do I need to remove any piece of that information? I’m not convinced – none of it is particularly intrusive, and the ubiquity of the information means that I should never lose track of how many Shards I have.
Alas, in practice, I still often lose track of my Shards. Haunting with my last shard and then pulling DoTs off with Soul Swap? Yeah, I’m that guy.
This is the part of my UI that is my ‘safety blanket’ – as I mentioned earlier, I learned Warlock by using Raven’s red borders:
This Bartender bar is certainly duplicate information in terms of buff uptimes. I will argue that it provides information that I don’t get elsewhere that helps me:
- When I Soul Burn, the Demonic Circle icon will glow, and the Soul Burn icon will too. This means I don’t have to look at my class timers for the Soul Burn buff.
- When I’m out of Shards, the Soul Burn icon will be greyed out.
- Cooldowns are displayed for the bottom row of skills via OmniCC.
- The question mark gives me a Healthstone status.
Could I condense this information? Absolutely. I’ve been meaning to, but ultimately I don’t save that much room in my interface, so I’ve put it off…
AffDots is a new addition to my UI. It’s something that Shadow Priests have always used (BuffScore or some such) in order to track the power of their DoTs. Warlocks have had to deal with the same mechanic, but without an addon, so doing so was really up to the individual Warlock. I know I wish I had something like it while I was extending the power of Immolates while playing 4.3 Destruction, and now we finally have it.
I use mine purely as a reference – that’s why it’s off to the side. Sometimes I’ll Soul Swap just as my buffs are expiring, so AffDots will let me know if I did indeed get it off in time. In addition, outside of Dark Soul, buffs are usually a mish-mash, and it’s hard to tell without a reference if your current set of Inner Brilliance + Lightweave is better than refreshing with Jade Spirit + Blessing of the Celestials.
The colors on it haven’t been changed – but only because there’s an interesting bit of math behind setting the colors I want to explore before doing so.
Perhaps the most important part of my interface – having single-target DoT timers configured to deal maximum damage is nice, but single-target fights are decidedly in the minority for Tier 14. Some people like using multi-target DoT timers, such as DoTimer, or ForteXorcist, or Ellipses, but I’ve never found any of them all that useful. For one, there’s a real disconnect between a multi-DoT timer such as those and what is going on in raid, on-screen. Even if I’ve identified that a certain set of DoTs is running low, I still need to then look for the mob with that set of DoTs – an extra step that sometimes does take a long time.
Instead, TidyPlates is the only way I monitor DoTs. I do need to constantly be mousing over them to get DoTs to update, but that’s fine, as I’d need to mouse over the plates to click on the unit anyways.
The only qualm I have is with nameplates in general – you cannot move the ‘clickable’ area of the nameplate down to account for really tall units (Stone Guard comes to mind). This leaves the camera in really odd and uncomfortable positions and makes it especially hard to target.
I have 6 castbars up on my screen (self, target, boss, focus, targettarget, channel) – and that’s not including those that show up on boss frames or nameplates. Is there duplicate information – for sure. But none of it is purely overlapping – while in single target fights my boss frame castbar will be the same as my target castbar which is the same as my nameplate castbar, there are add fights where only having all of those castbars will give full coverage. Whether they’re needed, at that point, I don’t know. I do prefer having the information at my disposal, and dealing with a small amount of information overload.
The boss castbar was changed to be extra big this tier because for some fights you really want to pay attention to the particulars of when things are finished casting – Feng’s Epicenter and his Arcane Velocity come to mind.
The only other castbar that I want to bring attention to that’s ‘extra’ is my channel castbar:
This bar didn’t exist for me during Cataclysm – but with the channeled filler (both Malefic Grasp and Drain Soul), knowing exactly where you are in your channel is invaluable, so that you can interrupt it without incurring a huge penalty. It’s an extra castbar right in the middle because I don’t usually care about my other cast times, and so looking at them is pointless, but any channeling I do I want to keep track of. It’s important to find a castbar addon that not only shows you your ticks, but has those ticks represented correctly when Haste is factored in. I use Gnosis for mine, and I checked the ticks by enabling a sound for every tick and watching the combat log while I channeled under Dark Soul.
This is actually one of the UI elements that I’m least happy with. I can’t say I’ve spent a lot of time looking, but I can’t seem to find the option that lets me order my bars by remaining cooldown, or lets me group them by personal CDs and raid event CDs. As a result, often times I have to hunt for the cooldown I’m looking for (Amber Explosion on Amber-Shaper Un’sok comes to mind). On other fights, too many things happen at once and I get a bit of clutter in the middle of the screen.
Despite all this, boss mods are all but mandatory, and having the information in the middle of the screen makes it so I can tunnel harder. There’s nothing worse than missing a raid event, and since it’s in my face (along with the /say warnings that DBM provides), it’s almost impossible to fail.
Frames, frames, frames
Boss, focus, target, target target, pet and main tank, raid frames. Most of these are self-explanatory – I can just list a fight and it becomes fairly obvious how they’d be used. Boss frames see a lot of use in Stone Guard and Garalon, my focus frame is set every time for Garalon, everyone has a target frame (although I use my nameplates way more), and target of target frames are always useful for quickly establishing who has threat.
My pet, main tank and raid frames are holdovers from my healing days. I notice that a lot of other DPS like to have their raidframes off to the side and not in the way, but I’ve grown very accustomed to having them front and center. At the very least, it makes me much more aware of who is alive and who is dead.
So What Do I Need to Fix?
During the course of writing this up, I’ve identified a few things I could do without, a few things that are in multiple places, and a few things that don’t make sense as is. I have duplicate Soul Shard tracking, primary target DoT tracking, I could do to shrink my damage meter and could track my class cooldowns without repurposing Bartender. I’ve heard from people that my interface looks cluttered, but is very clean when I stream (where I cut off everything from the chat and below). Maybe that will be the next step – moving to an interface where chat and action bars are hidden, and moving Omen to the space I save from shrinking Skada.