Raid frames are a visual and interactive element of your User Interface (UI) that allow you to view a representation of party and raid members on your screen through a portrait, bar or icon. They can provide you with a wide array of information such as raid member status (alive, dead, ghost), raid member current health & mana pools, current buffs & debuffs etc. The standard UI provided to players includes raid frames. Through the use of addons they can be replaced with different ones or modified in various ways.
You might be thinking this is interesting and all, but how does it apply to Feral Druids? Druids in general are a class that have a lot of utility – helpful functions to raid that are outside the 3 main roles of tanking, damage dealing and healing. Common utility that is “expected” of Druids includes, but is not limited to; combat resurrection and off healing, crowd control and kiting, providing interrupts, dispelling and other specific spells e.g. providing Innervates. Raid frames can greatly assist you when using your utility.
I am going to go into some brief details of Druid utility covering some of the categories I mentioned above, then list the four types of information that raid frames should display for Feral Druids, provide some addon suggestions including my personal preferences and end with emphasizing how using raid frames will make you a better player.
Utility in Detail
Combat Resurrection and Off Healing
Until the Cataclysm expansion, Druids were the only class with a spell that was able to resurrect players during combat a.k.a battle rez. It was considered “mandatory” for raid teams to have at least a Druid for this spell. This was great because it had the advantage of almost always guaranteeing any Druid a raid spot. Cataclysm brought spells for Death Knights and Warlocks to also be able to battle rez. Druids also have access to one of the most powerful raid healing spells through Tranquility. The healing from this spell can be buffed through talents and has saved raids from a wipe on many occasions.
Crowd Control and Kiting
Druids have access three main forms of crowd control (Entangling Roots, Hibernate & Cyclone) that allow them to deal with all the kinds of creatures found in World of Warcraft – humanoids, dragonkin, elementals, beasts, mechanical, undead, demon, giant, critter. In addition, there are more crowd control options available through the third and fifth talent tiers. A variety of kiting options in the form of stuns, slows and knock backs are available to Druids. When these spells are combined with the great mobility of Feral Druids through movement speed increases and the revamped Wild Charge, a skilled Feral Druid can kite from dawn til dusk.
Druids bring two types of dispels, Remove Corruption and Soothe. Remove Corruption dispels Curse & Poison effects and Soothe dispels enrage effects. The ability to dispel three types of debuffs increases the utility that Druids have to offer, especially for Feral Druids because these two dispels spells are not bound by specializations. However the draw back is that using these abilities un-shifts you from your current form.
How does all of this utility relate to raid frames? What good is having dispels available to you if you don’t know who to dispel or can’t see the player in need of dispelling? The same goes for crowd control and most importantly battle rezzing. For Druids, more so than other classes, raid frames are vital.
What information does a Feral Druid need from raid frames?
At a basic level there are four types of information that your raid frames should display as a Feral Druid.
- Raid frames should show your entire party or raid, you need to know who is in your raid and be able to see them / target them in order to use your abilities.
- Distance indicators are a must as well. You can manually set the distance, however I recommend going off the limit of your spells e.g. Rebirth (battle rez) has a range of 40 yards. Whether you are in range of another player is usually shown through the changing opaqueness of the raid frame; when a player is not within range, the frame goes dull and brightens when you are in range.
- Status indicators (alive, dead, ghost) are necessary for battle rezzing, and low mana & HP indicators are required for Innervates and Tranquility usage. An important note when using Tranquility; in organised raids the use of Tranquility may be at the decision of the raid leader rather than your own judgement. This is because Tranquility is great at helping get through specific mechanics in boss encounters with high damage.
- Raid frames should also show dispellable debuffs as you may be required to dispel depending on raid comp.
Raid Frame Addons
The standard UI raid frames have come a long way from when WOW was first released, having changed in appearance, size and level of customization. The current raid frames can be customized so show a variety of things including incoming heals, class colours, debuffs, dispellable debuffs, aggro highlights and others. Depending on your role, this may or may not be enough information. If you are new to raid frames or like to run with minimal addons, there are several addons that simply modify the standard raid frames for more customization such as Blizzard Raid Frame Indicators. These can be found on Curse and are a great starting point. Other common raid frame addons include Xpearl UnitFrames, Grid and VuhDo. Some complete UI packages come with their own unit frames like ElvUI and SpartanUI.
Personally I use Xperl UnitFrames for my player portrait, target, target of target and showing buffs & debuffs on the target. I use Grid for my actual raid frames. Some of my alts are healers and Grid allows me to add buffs /debuffs, icons and warnings that help me when playing those characters. I have found both of these addons fairly easy to set up, Grid was slightly more difficult than Xperl. I have been using both of these addons since the Burning Crusade. They are well maintained and updated quickly after patches.
Utility & Raid Frames as a way of bettering you skill as a player
Utility is often over looked in today’s raiding environment which is very “numbers” driven. Few classes have as much utility, and critical utility it is, as Druids do. Crowd control & kiting, dispelling & off healing, providing combat resurrections, interrupts, mana regeneration and with the Heart of the Wild talent, a complete change of roll from heal to tank or melee to ranged dps.
I would like to emphasize that good players do more than just top dps charts. Using raid frames is one way to improve your overall performance as a raider allowing development of skills such as situational awareness, on the fly decision making and the ability to look at the large picture of an encounter rather than just your specific roll. Learning to utilize all of your abilities will make you a better player.
What raid frames to you use? Do you have any addon recommendations? Is there something that you feel I have not addressed with raid frame usage? I would like to hear your thoughts. You can leave a comment on the post, send me an email at email@example.com, send me a tweet @Elamari_ or leave a comment on the File Under Feral Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/FileUnderFeral.
<Naenae> Proudmoore, US