One of the biggest things about healing is addon usage. More than any other role, healers rely on addons to be able to do what they do best. But, addons can be overwhelming to the average user. Unfortunately, this isn’t really the post for new users – I may write one of those later on, however. In this post, I’d like to discuss different addons and what capability they have, and why I use them (plus some alternatives and other popular addons). This also is not a tutorial, but that will come soon enough – it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, actually.

Addons

First and foremost, though, the big two things any healer should have are some good raid frames, and a cast bar replacement. I figure that for any raiding healer, boss mods are pretty much a no-brainer and will be installed under most circumstances. But defintely more than anything, I would advise a raid frame replacement, and a cast bar replacement. I will admit, however, the default raid frames for Blizzard’s standard UI have come a long way, and are an excellent improvement over what they used to be prior to Cataclysm, and they’re definitely usable for people that like them. Personally, I do not. In the same regard, however, there are also some other addons that you might consider if you’re raid leading (or even leading your healers, tanks or whatever else) because they make your job that much easier.

I will not lie, I love updating my UI and customizing it. It’s one horrible mess, if you’ve ever watched any of my videos, but the important thing is that it works for me. I have all the information I could possibly need and then some.

Raid Frames

To my original point, though, definitely key for any healer is a raid frame replacement if you’re dissatisfied with the default raid frames (not customizable enough, doesn’t show you information you’re looking for, etc.). The big three are Grid, VuhDo and Healbot, though there are several others available via standard unit frame replacements (SUF, Stuf, Pitbull, Xperl, Perl, oUF, etc.). All in all, setting up custom raid frames can be very intimidating and, admittedly, a daunting task. But in the end, it’s definitely worth it. One of the big things about using VuhDo or Healbot over Grid is that both of them work pretty much out of the box, and don’t require additional plugins like Grid to work. However, that also works in Grid’s favor, not having to have additional stuff that you don’t want or need, too. The three raid frames, however, are far and away easier to set up than any of the unit frame addons’ raid frames, from my experience, by virtue of innately being raid frames.

Personally, I use Grid and mouseover macros for my healing needs – more on the mouseover macros bit in another post. Despite the numerous plugins for Grid, I actually only use four or five of them because I don’t feel I need all that information, and prefer to customize certain things myself. I’m a creature of habit, so Grid has definitely been in use for me for a long time, since I was playing a warlock in BC when I started raiding. Over time, I’ve probably changed my exact Grid setup numerous times, but that comes more from necessity due to screen real estate and my own vision capabilities, not to mention avoiding tunnel vision while healing. I still use Grid on my non-healer alts for various reasons – especially when I’m playing a class that has defensive dispels, but isn’t healing (my mage, elemental shaman, moonkin druid and protection paladin most notably, though also on my warlock when I am specced Destruction, or when I’m playing Shadow on my priest).

To that end, though, there is also one additional addon that goes along with raid frames that I don’t personally use, but a lot of others do: Decursive. I don’t find this necessary because I have indicators set on Grid for poison, curse, magic and disease debuffs for relevant characters, but some healers use it for the extra benefit of the sound notification. Addmitedly, this is a good benefit to have, but not one I’ve found necessary, because I need to know about those debuffs as a healer anyway (and moreover, when I’m assigned to dispels).

On that note, raid frames are amazing for healers, but also great for tanks and DPS, especially raid leaders.

Cast Bars

Quartz is the premier cast bar replacement, and is actually a really huge deal for anyone, regardless of your role, but especially for casters, healers and hunters. Quartz is a fairly lightweight addon that replaces the default cast bars (and actually adds some for your target, pet, pet target, focus and focus target, and other things, too, I believe), and for melee classes, adds a swing timer. There’s an option to have a spark indicate the five-second rule, but this is an archaic mechanic since the five-second rule no longer applies. The kicker for Quartz (aside from making it however big or small you want it) is that it has a latency indicator, which is actually a huge deal. For casters, healers and hunters, this is good, because it allows you to approximate when you can start hitting your next cast (it’s good for hunters because of Aimed/Cobra/Steady Shots having cast times) with as little delay as possible, and keeping you from completely spamming your spells regardless of where you’re at in your cast bar. This is a quality of life thing, and definitely helps with keeping out of hurting your hands with spamming your keys too much.

For melee classes (and elemental shaman, mages and shadow priests), it’s also really good because you can make your target or focus target cast bar frames as big or small as you like, and move it around, and gives you a good idea of when you need to interrupt. Moreover, there is an option to add a shield icon over the cast bar for spells that are not able to be interrupted so you don’t waste mana/rage/energy/runic power trying to interrupt something that isn’t able to be interrupted – which means you can instead use a crowd control to stop the cast (of course, this applies to mobs that aren’t immune – so it’ll generally apply in this latter circumstance to most non-boss mobs).

If Quartz isn’t your thing, though, many unit frame addons (like XPerl, Stuf, Pitbull, etc.) also have cast bar replacements built into the unit frame addons themselves. For a while I had to stick with Stuf’s because I was having some trouble with Quartz, so it’s a good standby to have in case your unit frame addon doesn’t break, but Quartz does. There’s a lot more that Quartz can do, but that I will cover in another post.

Cooldown Timers

Cooldown Timers are probably next on the list of “must-have” addons for anyone, again disregarding role. These can be implemented in a number of ways, but some of the best options are ForteXorcist and OmniCC. ForteXorcist is a little bar that shows your cooldowns on a bar, and the icons for the spells (or items) with cooldowns (and buffs/debuffs if you choose) move along the bar until the cooldown/buff/debuff expires. OmniCC is just a visual countdown indicator on your action bars to let you know how long until an ability comes off of cooldown. You can also use Power Auras Classic to track your cooldowns, as well.

It’s definitely important to keep track of your cooldowns, especially as, say, a priest or druid healer, a tank, or anyone with an interrupt, or if you have a rotation set around your cooldowns as a DPS class. Most notably, as a holy priest, I need to keep track of my Guardian Spirit, Power Word: Shield, Circle of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Lightwell, Shadowfiend and Hymn of Hope cooldowns. I do this with both ForteXorcist and Power Auras Classic because it gives me multiple ways of tracking my cooldowns in a highly visible fashion.

Another side benefit of ForteXorcist is you can keep track of things like Reincarnation, Rebirth and Soulstones from your shaman, druids and warlocks through the Soulstone tracker (though it works better if they’re all running ForteXorcist). I’m sure there are other very good cooldown timers that I am not aware of that work equally as well, but these are the ones that I am familiar with.

I will cover more of the addons I use in another post, but for now, here’s some food for thought on some of the addons that are available and ones that I use, since this post is plenty long enough as it is.