A Second Look At WoW’s Default Auras   23 comments

When Blizzard announced/introduced their very own version of Power Auras into the default UI I was very skeptical. Were they going to be customizable? Will they show what I want them to show? Will they be adjustable at all? The answer was largely “no”. When I got into the PTR with Beru, and then subsequently into 4.0.1 when that went live, the first thing I wanted to know was how to turn the god awful things off.

They interfered with my current UI, I couldn’t move them, and about the only thing they show for resto druids was Omen of Clarity. Where was my low mana warning, and Innervate Ready, or Swiftmend Reminder? The bottom line was that, for me, the default auras were useless and in the way. I was going to continue to utilize my beloved, and highly customizable, Power Auras Classic. And after disabling the default auras I didn’t really give them much more thought. 

Until I went back to my level 72 Death Knight that I hadn’t played in probably close to a year.

I honestly had no idea how to spec her, so I just went and copied an unholy spec from our DKs in the guild, and a Blood Spec (even though I hate tanking with her) from EJ. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and I vaguely remembered how to play a DK…something with diseases and then plague strike, I think. Regardless, I started about my way again – not really having thought about much in the UI other than making it functional for leveling. And as I was questing about all of the sudden something very strange popped up on my screen:

Wait, what is this? Why is this happening! It only took me a few seconds to realize that I hadn’t disabled the in game auras, but that was OK, because I didn’t have any power auras set up for this character they weren’t really interfering. But even more than that, clearly something important was happening and I had absolutely no clue what it was. In the time I was trying to process all of this, the aura faded, and so I continued on. The next time it popped up, I was ready. Ok…wtf is this telling me I am supposed to do? Oh – I see. The little box around deathcoil is all lit up in conjunction with the aura – and so I mashed the deathcoil button.

It didn’t take me long to say, “ok, why is this doing this”, and go into my spell book and track down what was happening. Hey! Look at that! I have an ability that will randomly proc and give me a free deathcoil! Doesn’t consume runic power, does extra damage, puts up unholy blight – seems full of win to me! And so I continued questing along my happy way, deathcoiling my way to victory and glory…or something like that!

At some point, I think in an instance, it happened to me again, only this time something different happened:

This time it wasn’t quite the shock it was the first time, and so I was more ready for it. I frantically began searching for what was all lit up – and saw that it was Dark Transformation. I was elated, because I had been wondering how in the hell I make my ghoul that squid thing. I immediately punched the button and had my squid. Of course, that then lead to the question “ok, how in the hell did that happen?”. And so I opened my spell book once again and went to track it down. Oh, hey, apparently when I use deathcoil (of which I get free ones) I “empower” my ghoul. If I manage to empower him 5 times, he can transform.

Got it. Deathcoil for Unholy DPS is very important. Not only that, but I get squid beats by utilizing deathcoil. MUST DEATHCOIL MORE.

But at some point in all of this thought process, it truly dawned on me:

The Default Auras Aren’t Necessarily Meant For Seasoned Players

As a player that has been intimate with my class since Vanilla WoW, I was already comfortable with what abilities my druid already had, and what abilities I wanted to keep track of.  I was already utilizing a third party add on to do this for me, and had been doing so for some time.  For me, someone who has been druiding for 6 years now, the default auras seemed basic and lacking in so many ways.  I didn’t need them, because they weren’t telling me something that I didn’t already know, or wasn’t already tracking on my own.

However – when I switched to a character that I was very unfamiliar with and had no clue what I was doing, they were somewhat of a god send.  They clued me in to things that would have most likely passed me by for quite some time.  They caused me to investigate why things were happening with my character, and as a result made me better understand the basic mechanics and game play of my character.  In short, they made me a better death knight…simply by acting as a teaching tool as I was learning to play my class.  And then continuing to assist me as I level.

Granted, if I ever seriously play my Death Knight at level 80, I will convert over to Power Auras.  Set up DoT Timers, create my own auras for things I’d like to know.  But for learning, and for leveling, the default auras are magnificent.  Where I once scoffed at them and thought they were a waste of resources, I can now absolutely see their value.  And as I thought about this, I realized that the default auras aren’t only helpful for those leveling or learning their class, but they are also potentially an asset to a player who is familiar with their class but hadn’t previously been utilizing a notification add on.  I imagine there is potential benefit to those players as well.

Sometimes It’s Hard To Remember It’s Not Always About You

In the end, I came to the realization that I was perhaps a bit snobby about the default Aura system that Blizzard implemented.  I stuck my nose up to it, and like many others thought “dear god, these are terrible”.  But in looking at it from a different angle – no, they aren’t terrible.  I’m just more advanced than they are, and past the point that I would find them useful on some of my characters.  I’m a grizzled veteran of the game, and I’ve seen a lot, and at this point it’s more likely than not that many of the things that Blizzard develops as far as UI improvements, anyhow, will not be useful for me.  However, that absolutely doesn’t mean that a new development isn’t going to be useful to someone else.

At the end of the day, I’m very happy that Blizzard spent the development hours on creating the default aura system – even if it is fairly basic.  I think that ultimately it will help to craft better, and more informed players.  Players that have a more thorough understanding of their class, and a stronger grasp on the abilities available to them.  And sometimes it takes teaching an old dog new tricks to realize the value of new things.

What do you think about the Default Aura System? Have your experiences with it been similar to mine?  If you never used Power Auras – but have been playing/raiding on your character for some time now, do you find the default auras an asset?  Have you leveling a new character since the new aura system was implemented?

Posted November 11, 2010 by Beruthiel in Add Ons, Alt-aholic!, Deep Thoughts, Power Auras

23 responses to “A Second Look At WoW’s Default Auras

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  1. I haven’t decided whether I like them or not. In similar fashion to you, I do like that they helped me learn new procs or figure out things in new specs and so on, but they also tend to bug me.

    The big thing for me is that with PA I can set what it looks like or how it acts. I don’t know by default what two black/purple/green bars on the sides of my character means, but I do know that when a green skull pops up it’s time to cast Death Coil, and when black text saying “ZOMBIE” pops up it’s time for that Dark Transformation. So the default, like you said, lets you know that something’s up but it doesn’t tell you what it is unless you’ve gotten familiar with it already.

    So basically, I like that they exist from a learning standpoint, or for getting to know new things, but ultimately I need far more customization and control over how and where I receive my alerts for my personal taste.

    • I absolutely agree that once you are past the learning phases, and you perhaps are going to put some time into mastering that toon, you should upgrade to a more advanced notification system – such as power auras.

      But for new players, I think that they do serve a good purpose!

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  3. I quite like the new in-game power auras. As you say, they aren’t particularly sophisticated, but that’s definitely a great point you make on how they may end up being immensely helpful for new players or for seasoned players trying out a new class. I hadn’t thought of it that way before, but that’s a great little push to get new players investigating their abilities more.

    At the moment, I’m finding myself using a mix of the two. I really like power auras for monitoring ability cooldowns (Nature’s Swiftness, Berserk, Pain Suppression, etc), but I found I liked the graphic for OoC, so I deleted part of my old OoC power aura notifier and just let the Blizz one pop up now. Some of the graphics look quite nice (I actually really like two of the Pally ones) and it saves me time setting up different power auras for each alt, so ultimately a nice addition imo!

    I have similar feelings about the new blizzard standard raid frames – I likely will never use them, as I have more advanced addons by this point for that, but they are a great improvement on the old ones and should definitely be a ton of help for new players (or old ones on patch days when every addon is broken 😛 ).

    • They are certainly very simple – and I do think that if you intend to play the character seriously you would probably be better served by something more sophisticated. But for just learning or beginning, I think they are great 🙂

      As for mix and matching them – the biggest problem I have with the in game one is that you can’t move it. It ends up popping up and overlapping onto Grid, which was very bothersome!

  4. I am actually a fan of the new UI, with the exception of when I am using the druid as a healer, but as you said, that may be because of my familiarity with that class mechanic. When the druid is feral, I find the UI auras very useful, as we as when I am using just about any other toon. I find them very helpful when I am tanking or healing with the pally, but that is probably because it is my newest 80, so any help I can get learning to maximize my effectiveness with his abilities is very useful.

    • Eh – I think that the new UI is a definite improvement over what we had previously, but I still find it lacking for anything past the basics 🙂

      I do find the auras great for learning through!

  5. Actually I liked the default auras so much that they, (plus the loss of my previous warning system for various reasons), made me install power auras and use it properly.
    The default WoW ones gave me a good idea of what to start with, as I’m still very much at the beginner stages 🙂

    • I agree that the default auras are a good jumping off point for setting up your own! Good luck – and feel free to ask me if you have any questions setting up power auras 🙂

  6. I haven’t turned off the default auras but I’m still using power auras as well. It’s great that Blizzard tells me that my fire mage has an instant pyroblast (huge fireball, long cast time) but I also need to know how long I have to cast it.

    I get that they didn’t want to make it too complex, but it feels to me like they implemented half of what they needed to in order for it to really work.

    • I do think that the default auras are lacking quite a bit – but they do let you know the basics, which I think is very helpful.

      Once you get to a point that you’d like to be competitive, I do think you need to upgrade to something a bit more customizable 🙂

  7. I’d only started using PowerAuras within the last six months, after I saw you and other druid bloggers talking about it. I’d set up auras for my two 80s (Druid & Shaman), my DK who was rapidly approaching 80, and my highest level Mage, who’d just gotten to the tier of her talent tree where she got a proc-based free cast I wanted to be more aware of.

    After the patch, I missed my customized PowerAuras for my high level characters. Like your experience, though, I’m finding the Blizzard auras to be very useful for my lower level characters, particularly with the rearrangements of the talent trees and of when you learn which spells. I’m sure that as my characters age up I’ll eventually disable the default auras and create my own PowerAuras — but for now, they’re great.

    • Yea, I agree! They are great for a new toon, and offer a great starting off point for most anyone. They certainly won’t replace Power Auras, but I’m not sure that they are entirely meant to do so 🙂

      I’m glad that you enjoyed your power aura experiment!

  8. To be completely honest, PowerAuras and I never quite got along. (I think I missed the tutorial somewhere.) I had disabled them long ago and just gone my merry way.

    So for me, having Clearcasting flash around my character is quite handy.

    Maybe one of these days I’ll sit down and try to become reaquainted with PowerAuras, just for Innervate and Swiftmend. But for now, since my raid frames are positioned down by my bars, where I can see everything, it’s not that big of a deal.

    • I’m not entirely sure that Power Auras and I would have gotten a long very well if I hadn’t of had someone walk me through setting them up when I first installed them. From that tutorial I expanded and tweaked to get them where I liked them.

      The in game ones are nice – but you really can do so much more with the mod. I encourage you to give it another try! You can probably find a good number of resources where you can just import someone else’s strings, and then adjust them as you’d like.

      If you do decide to give it another go, and end up with questions, I’d be happy to help!

  9. For the most part, I used PA to notify me of things MISSING, not things that had procced, so I’ve found the two to be rather complementary.

    The longer I play on newer characters, and on my older characters, however, I find that like you, they’re not providing exactly what I need, or providing me extraneous information. I plan on leaving them on for awhile longer though to see how they help with learning those new 80-85 abilities 🙂

    • I use power auras for both – letting me know when something is missing (Lifebloom). when certain abilities are available for use (WG/SM/NS), or when something has procc’d (OoC).

      Like you – as my characters mature, I tend to set up Power Auras for them and disable the default 🙂

  10. Your comments helped me realize why I was getting so irritated with the Blizz auras sometimes – on my druid I already know what information I want to see, so having random leaves pop up with no explanation or timer was endlessly frustrating. However, on my paladin (which I didn`t know all that well BEFORE the patch), the auras are reminding me to check my spells and see what sorts of freebies I can get. (FYI there are a shitload.) The one thing that shocks me with paladin auras is that…they don`t have one for 3 points of Holy Power. You know, that major new mechanic? Kind of surprising that it got left out. ><

    Although I think it`s great that the auras prompted you to go hunting for reasons why they appeared, I think they should be more clear about the details of the procs. For instance, I am constantly getting some sort of aura on my bear. I have no idea what it is, and usually when it pops up I am busy killing something and don`t have time to mouse over my very long list of buffs to find out what`s new and then read the tooltip. Somewhere in the default UI of each class should be a comprehensive list of Blizz`s auras for that class (perhaps broken into specs) that explains what each aura looks like and what triggers it/what it means.

  11. I have to admit, I play with as few addons as possible .. and outside grid and DBM don’t use anything for raiding (though the way cata is shaping up I may need to reinstall Omen) barring the occasional bad run where I pop recount on to see what people are doing.

    As such I’ve learnt to play without auras of any kind and even now don’t really notice them too much .. at least on my healer. On toons I’m unfamiliar with I have found them really helpfull such as my hunter and warrior.

    I think in the end for new players the UI will be good, but for those who are raiding or playing longer there will be a number of things they either like or don’t like from the UI and move to use specialised versions that suit their own playstyles.

  12. For my druid the new aura (seriously, just one?!) has been pretty much useless until now, considering the mana situation. I don’t have a power aura set up for Clearcasting (I was using EventAlert which seems to have died), but then again… I was only using it for free mana (OoC, LB, mana!).

    I haven’t played my other characters a lot, but I think the default ones will be very useful for when I start leveling my lowbies. I am absolutely clueless about hunters so bring on the flashing lights!

  13. This is a fantastic post! Despite feeling that Blizz should have introduced an AVR style learning mode to help players understand range and AoE spells early on, it never occured to me that the new spell auras have this impact.

    It’s a great bit of design by Blizz, and will make the concept of the advanced Power Auras addon more accessible to new players (or players new to the addon) as well. And it will make playing my alt easier, hurrah!

  14. I find them variably useful, moreso on characters where I haven’t already set up Power Auras, basically. I’ve also been complementing Blizzard Auras with Power Auras in cases where they’ve already covered something for me. For instance-

    * On my death knight, I have zero use for the buggers. In fact, personal gripe, there ISN’T a Blizzard Aura for the most obvious case in blood spec – triggering Blood Swarm. I already had them set up for Frost and for Blood, and I turned off Blizzard Auras on this character.

    * On my shaman, I actually had set up Power Auras, because there were no Blizzard Auras for elemental at 4.0.1 launch. There are several I needed – when Lava Burst was available (because it can be reset now), when I had 9 stacks of Lightning Shield for Fulmination, and so on. They patched them into the game the following week, which surprised the crap out of me when GIANT LAVA WINGS appeared under my HUD. I actually like the Blizzard Aura for Lava Flows better than my own – but I keep my own around, because I need to know when Lava Burst’s off cooldown naturally, not as a result of Lava Flows.

    * On my paladin… I am kind of a complete noob to paladins. So I’ve kept the default Blizzard Aura for what seems to be my only proc so far, The Art of War. It’s actually a pretty sweet pattern that doesn’t seem to interfere with anything – for now. However, I set up a small pair of Power Auras to bug me if my Seal or Blessing falls off. Previously I was really bad at not discovering that Seal of Righteousness had fallen off until I tried to cast Judgement and couldn’t… whoops. Told you. Total noob.

    • Oh, and I forgot the fourth case.

      * On my warlock, I’ve never seen a Blizzard Aura that I’m aware of outside of the “free shadow bolt!” one. She has a complex system of interlocking Power Auras so I know when things need to be refreshed.

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