Monday, May 10, 2010

Using Keybinds

On keyboard turners:

First of all, if you turn using the keyboard ('A' and 'D' by default) you are doing it wrong. If you want to improve your game, the first thing you should do is unbind your turning keys.

Personally, I use W to move forward alongside A and D to strafe left and right. It doesn't matter if you use W, Q, E instead, as long as you're not using the keyboard to turn. Turn your character using the right mouse button and the mouse exclusively.

I'll save my rant on backpedalling for another day.

Which keys are available?

Now, my system for determining keybinds is pretty simple:
  • W, A, S, D reserved for movement
  • ~, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 used for often-used abilities
  • Q, E, R, F, C used for clutch instant-cast utility (interrupts, etc.)
  • Z, X, T, G, V used for utility
  • Mouse 3 and Shift Mouse 3 are "target focus" and "focus target" respectively
  • Numpad buttons are reserved for raid-icons
  • Alt and Shift are my preferred modifiers
  • Control used sparingly, usually for low-maintenance actions (pets, shouts, etc)
Note: When I say something like mod+F I'm referring to holding either Shift, Alt or Control and hitting the F key.

Tip #1: Unusual, but awesome combinations.

One really clever tip I came across when figuring out binds for my warlock; you can bind channelled/cast-time spells to mod+W,A,S,D. This is due to the fact that you don't want to move while casting these anyway!

For example, my Health Funnel (channelled spell that heals your pet) is bound to alt+S. Haunt is bound to alt+W. It feels very awkward at first, but after a few minutes it's easy as pie, and it frees up other buttons (like 1-5) for instant-cast/mashable buttons.

Tip #2: Have clutch abilities usable while strafing.

The next tip I have for you is put important/clutch abilities close-by, so you can mash them on the move. For example, interrupts are generally instant-cast and are often off the GCD. Hence, I usually put my interrupts, dispels and stuns on Q, E, R, F and C.

Now, if you're a keyboard-turning noob, you might wonder; "How can I strafe right (D key) and press F to interrupt at the same time?". The answer is simple; jump.

Practise this move: Strafe right (D) and jump (spacebar) as you're strafing. Immediately release the strafe key (D). You will continue to move right at run speed! This is the perfect time to let fly a Wind Shock or Strangulate.

Tip #3: Have one modifier key as your "focus" key.

Let's say you choose alt as your "focus" key. If you're a Mage with Counterspell bound to R, you could replace the Counterspell button with this macro:

#showtooltip Counterspell
/cast [mod:alt, @focus] Counterspell
/cast Counterspell

  1. This will cause Counterspell's cooldown, icon and mouse-over to be displayed for the macro
  2. This will interrupt whatever you're casting to perform the counterspell. Very important!
  3. If alt is held down when this macro is run, cast it at (@) your focus target
  4. Cast Counterspell normally (that is, at your current target)
Note: You can replace Counterspell in the above macro with any spell (e.g. Wind Shock, Mind Freeze, Shield Bash, Hammer of Justice).

So, in a single button, you now have the ability to Counterspell either your current target or your focus target (by holding alt).

If you're not familiar with the focus frame and focus targeting you're missing out. The Blizzard UI allows you to have one target and one focus target. This means you can "target" two opponents at once! Better still, with macros you can set up spells to automatically hit your focus, rather than your target.

In PVP (especially Arena) this is, of course, mandatory. As a Mage, for example, you can have the "kill target" in your sights, while keeping the healer "focused". Because he's focused, you'll see a cast bar as he pumps up that Holy Light; a quick Focus Counterspell and you've interrupted his healing without stopping your DPS on the main target.

In PVE, focus can also be useful in less active ways. For example, keeping Deathwhisper as your focus allows you to watch her mana bar during Phase 1. A healer can focus Saurfang to keep an eye on his Runic Power. This is a great way to start using and learning about focus.

And a question for the Warriors:

How have you keybound your stances? I'm having a lot of trouble figuring this out! I'm planning to have some macros for PVP at 80 but I'd like to know how PVE warriors handle stance dancing.

Any help or advice?


  1. I have all of my stance specific abilities macroed like so:

    #showtooltip disarm
    /cast [stance:2] disarm; defensive Stance
    /equipslot 16 Venerable Dal'Rend's Sacred Charge
    /equipslot 17 Saronite Bulwark

    This uses disarm if I'm in defensive stance, and if not, switches me to defensive so that I can.

    Here's what the stance macro I used to use:

    /cast [stance:1]Berserker Stance;[stance:3]Defensive Stance;[stance:2]Battle Stance
    /equip Reforged Truesilver Champion
    /stopmacro [stance:1]
    /equipslot 16 Venerable Dal'Rend's Sacred Charge
    /equipslot 17 Saronite Defender

    Switch berserker and defensive on the first line to make the second macro, and you'll only need to buttons to switch to every stance and switch weapons depending.

    Replace the equipment with whatever your using to enable you to switch stances and gear at the same time like the first macro.

    I actually don't have anything bound to just change stances, since I realized that after I started using these, I never touched them.

  2. Cheers Matt.

    For PVE, I'm not seeing a huge need for stance-dancing and macros. However an exceptional warrior could do great things (disarm as DPS, charge/Tclap as fury, etc.) and I'd like to be exceptional :)

    For PVP my brain tells me that I should have disarm/shield wall/spell reflect macros an a "reset" button that takes me to Arms w/ a 2H weapon. I'm definitely going to try your dance macros though!

    I've also found articles about macroing /startattack to every button (similar to Rune strike for DKs). I'll add /startattack to my prot and fury buttons tonight.

    Thanks again Matt!

  3. "First of all, if you turn using the keyboard ('A' and 'D' by default) you are doing it wrong. ... Turn your character using the right mouse button and the mouse exclusively."

    I disagree that it's "wrong." Different, yes, but not wrong.

    If I had a fancy keyboard and matching mouse, I'd probably agree with you. However, I'm on a laptop and a simple two-button & a scroll wheel USB mouse. I don't even have a numpad, since it's hidden in a Fn+[key] functionality on my laptop.

    I use my mouse for other things, like turning my camera, which I actually do a lot. I didn't realize how much I actually use my mouse for other things until I tried mouse-turning. Mouse-turning means I can run with my mouse, and I can turn. And that's it. Versus I used to move my camera, select targets while fighting another target (I play with nameplates up and often use them to select targets), move things in my bag, whatever. I felt very restricted when I was mouse-turning because I couldn't be doing anything else. The autorun toggle key was doing a better job beforehand.

    In rare cases, when I need a quick 180 turn, I'll mouse-turn, but I keyboard-turn for the most part. As a result, a lot of my keybinds are centered around my fingers being on the WASD keys. So most of my keybinds are alt+ or shift+Z/X/C/F/D/S/A/Q/E/R/1-5. Some are ctrl+, but because of the reach of the ctrl key requiring a somewhat awkward hand position, those are typically out-of-combat abilities. I still only have two and a half action bars visible (as a warlock), and they're mostly for my main bar (in case of vehicle possession & such) and watching CDs anyway, or using the dumb Jetpack. Macros and binding addons like BindPad help muchly, and I tend to have keybinding themes -- alt+ generally is a oh-shit moment, where as shift+ generally brings out OPie's extra bars (pets, stones, fel armor, hellfire, macro'd abilities, etc.).

    Granted, I do not PvP, but as a raider, I find keyboard-turning just fine. I do stay out of fires and things, mainly because I was watching ahead of time, which requires only my attention, not a certain doctrine of navigation.

  4. Holy heck, Poneria posted a comment on my little blog! I love your blog by the way! OK, fanboy moment out of the way...

    Maybe we're not talking about the same thing regarding mouse-turning.

    If you hold the right mouse button, you'll phyiscally turn your character. If you hold the left mouse button, you'll only turn your camera.

    Managing all of the things you've talked about is possible (and, imo, easier) using the mouse for turning. I use the mouse for scanning for threats (camera), selecting targets (via nameplates) and for mouseover macros (such as taunt, cleanse).

    In a raid situation, where the AI is pretty simple, keyboard turning is not a massive disadvantage (it's still wrong :P). It sounds as though you don't even have strafe bound... in PVP you will be slaughtered!

    If you want to take your game to the next level, unbind your turning keys (and bind them to strafe). Even on a laptop, your general game will improve!

    Thanks for posting a comment Poneria!

  5. (I miss quote boxes)
    "Maybe we're not talking about the same thing regarding mouse-turning.

    If you hold the right mouse button, you'll physically turn your character. If you hold the left mouse button, you'll only turn your camera."

    *holds down only right and turns*

    Huh. I thought it was always both. Dang. Of course, now I'm on my alt hunter going "OMG THIS IS AWESOME" since hunters have to face things in order to shoot (SOOOOOO LAAAAAAME).

    Well sweet. Learned something today. Thanks!

    But I still don't like how my mouse hand pointer thing disappears while turning. And the camera is like WHOA when you do a quick 180+. Meh, I'll figure it out.

    "Holy heck, Poneria posted a comment on my little blog! I love your blog by the way! OK, fanboy moment out of the way..."

    o.O O.O I thought I was still a dinky little blog, too. /blush