There are healers who will brag that they’re healing the raid utterly sans add-ons. I guess everyone is supposed to respond to this by thinking that’s amazing or skillful or something — like Obi Wan Kenobi blindfolding Luke Skywalker and training him to whack things with his lightsaber without looking. [Insert skeptical and sarcastic Han Solo response here]. But rather than thinking that this makes someone a more gifted Jedi healer, I tend to believe that unwillingness or inability to set up a healing add-on translates into a healer that is unaware of a lot of what’s happening during a raid.
But, hey, if you respond to raid members’ various health deficits efficiently, if you cure and decurse quickly, if you’re aware of who’s low on mana and/or low on rage, if you know who has your HoTs, if you know who has aggro and who’s MC’d and who’s dead and who’s out-of-range — if you do all these things without a healing add-on then, to quote Rudyard Kipling, “You are a better man than I am, Gunga Din.”
To heal with maximum efficacy, I need an add-on. And after trying both Healbot and Grid, it’s the latter that I prefer. And since the most common complaint about Grid is “It’s too complicated to set up,” I thought I’d write up some instructions (instructions I intend to CTRL+C CTRL+V to my guild website to help some of the people that seem absofuckinglutely unaware of their fellow raid members’ health and debuffs)
The main add-on is Grid, but a search for “Grid” on Curse.com returns two pages of additional and optional components. Depending on your class, these have varying usefulness (e.g. the Lifebloom tracker for resto druids). On the Discipline Priest, in addition to the main Grid add-on, I have these activated: Grid Status HoTs and Grid Mana Bars.
To Set Up:
In general, when setting up Grid for the first time, you will need to go through each of the options on the left-hand side of the screen to customize it as you deem fit. And that right there is the brilliance of Grid — as you deem fit. Can you cure poison? No? Then don’t have Grid show poison debuffs. Do you want your raid frames larger? Do you want the font for raid members’ names larger? Do you want the border opaque? All this and tons more can be adjusted in Grid. While, yes, setting up the add-on will take some time, the information you’ll be able to glean — all within a little box on your screen — will make it well worth it. In many ways, setting up Grid as a healer is an exercise in self- and class- and role-assessment: what information must you know about your raid members. What buffs and debuffs, for example, must you see? As with any adjustment to your UI and your add-ons, I recommend a test-drive in an Alterac Valley BG as you fiddle with the configuration. This will provide you with a lot of the information you’ll see during a raid (who’s taking damage, who needs cures) and will allow you to adjust Grid without having to worry about actually, ya know, healing those strangers from your battlegroup.
Look & Layout:
The first tab you’ll probably want to adjust is Layout. Here, you can establish how grid will appear depending on your group and raid makeup. Clicking on the “Horizontal groups” box will mean that groups are filled left to right; unchecked, groups are filled down (so depending on how you set this and depending on the size of your raid, your grid frames will be taller or wider). The latest version of Grid added a little tab with the addon name on it. Some folks find this annoying clutter, but as I often move Grid around on my screen, depending on the size of the raid, for example, I leave “Frame lock” unchecked. To adjust the size of the boxes, move the Scale slider. Under the Layout tab, you can also change the size of the font for raid members’ names. I currently show only the first four letters of raid members’ names. If you want more (in case you raid with three mages, all of whose names start with Spam, or something), go to the Frame tab, then to Center Text Length. I also have a second line of text activated (Go to Frame, then Center Text 2). This is where I display the value of players’ health deficit. I think the default for Grid is that the health deficit drains downwards, but I prefer it to match the standard UI by moving from right to left. Go to Frame, then Advanced, then Orientation of Frame to change this to horizontal if you agree.
Under this tab, you will indicate which buffs and debuffs you want Grid to monitor. Grid calls these “auras,” confusing if you are thinking about Paladin auras, crystal clear if you think of the way in which the animations associated with buffs and debuffs make toons glow. Standard with Grid are the common debuffs — poison, magic, disease, curses — and buffs — HoTs and Power Word: Shield, for example. Enable the ones you wish to track. To add additional auras, go to Status, then Aura, then type in the full name of the buff or debuff in the appropriate box. I have added Divine Aura and Bone Shield as buffs and Frost Blast as debuffs. (There is an add-on — Grid Status Raid Debuffs — that will auto-load common boss debuffs.) Under the Status tab, you can also enable Grid to track things like aggro. As you select each of these options, the right hand side of the screen will give you some option about appearance, including color and priority (more details on priority below).
With my leet photoshop skillz, I have tried to create an example of how Grid allows you to establish the location within each player’s frame for the various information you’re interested in. In addition to tracking the health (as mentioned above, with the health bar moving from right to left), there are seven different places for data to be displayed: border, indicators in the four corners, an icon in the center, and two lines of text. For each of these locations, you should first uncheck everything and then toggle the boxes you want to display there.
I have the first line of text set for players’ names and the second line for health deficit. Important buffs and debuffs are displayed in the center icon. including, in my case, Divine Aegis, Weakened Soul, Power Word: Shield, diseases, and magic debuffs. I also have it set up so some of these display on the border as well, along with an indication of who has aggro. In the upper left box, I track my Prayer of Mending bounces. In the lower right, I track my Renew.
As you set up each option under “Status,” you are given the option to establish its priority, on a scale from 0-99. The higher the number, obviously, the more priority its display is given. For example, as I mentioned above, I have Divine Aegis, Weakened Soul, Power Word: Shield, diseases, and magic debuffs all set to display on the center icon. Now, it makes a discipline priest really giddy to see a little Divine Aegis bubble proc on someone, but truth of the matter is, it’s more important to know if they’ve got a nasty disease ticking away on them. So debuffs have a higher priority than Divine Aegis. Similarly, I need to see who has PW:S, but it’s more important to know who has the Weakened Soul debuff and thus cannot be shielded; so Weakened Soul has a higher priority. This logic extends to the border display as well. I have aggro and debuffs ticked for the border, but here aggro has top priority.
Grid Status HoTs and Mana
These additional add-ons are very helpful for healers. It’s important to know who is running low on mana — for healers and for caster DPS (this influences my Power Infusion target). I also like to monitor tanks’ rage. The options provided with the HoTs add-on are similarly helpful. These give a countdown in color for your HoTs. A freshly cast Renew, for example, is green. As its duration comes to an end, this turns to yellow then red. PoM changes color as it bounces, revealing how many charges are left.
I use Grid in conjunction witih Clique and with mouseover macros. I was going to post something about setting up Clique, but you should really read Violaceous Mana’s article instead. Plus, K-‘s getting me a Belkin game-pad for Valentines Day, so bye-bye clicking.
For More Help
I’ve posted a ton of screenshots in my photo album of how I have the various tabs set up. I also recommend these articles: