As healers, there are several ways we can get our heals from our spell books to our targets. Many healers use a user interface to do so, in our guild we tend to use Vuhdo (which Brae will be posting about sometime this week!). But what do you do if you can’t use an add-on? What if you don’t like to use add-ons? For every healer that uses an add-on, there are is another who uses key-binds and macros instead. Used properly, these are just as effective as using a healing add-on, but take a little more effort to set up. It’s always good to familiarize yourself in how to heal both ways, because…well addons break.
You may be asking….what’s so bad about click casting….nothing is horribly wrong with click casting. Many people successfully click cast all day long. However, learning to use your key-bindings will only improve your healing output and response time. In the time that it takes you to click someone, then click the heal you want to use, you could have possibly cast two more heals. So, while click casting works, it isn’t as efficient for most people. Mouse-over macros, make it to where you do not need to target each person, just hover your mouse over them or their name on your raid/party frames. Key-bindings are also to help you be more efficient. Some healers have more spells than they do buttons on their main action bar, and lord knows I can’t reach past the 6 key easily, I have small hands!
This is an example of a very basic mouse over macro:
/cast [target=mouseover] Lifebloom
If you have this on your action bar, you put your mouse icon over a persons raid frame (any raid frame works, even blizzard’s standard one) or character, it and press the key it is bound to, you will cast lifebloom on them. No fuss no muss, very simple. However, this also limits that spell to ONLY being a mouse over spell. Another way of doing this, to make the spell be mouse over, target, or self depending on where your mouse icon is this:
/cast [target=mouseover,help] Lifebloom; [help] Lifebloom; Lifebloom
This will cast lifebloom on your mouse over target if you have one and it is friendly to you. It will cast lifebloom on a friendly target if you have them targeted and it will cast it on yourself if no one is targeted or your target is not friendly.
I prefer the latter type of macro, because it allows more power in one macro. For more helpful macro information, as well as for more in-dept information about what each part means, please visit http://www.worldofmatticus.com/a-guide-to-mouseover-macros/ which is where I learned to do the ones I listed
Now that we know how to make macros, we have to know where to put them! Key-binding can be kind of tricky if you use the standard wow action bars, but it is doable. It just requires some trial and error to figure out which menu item is which action bar. To get to the standard wow key-binding section, hit escape to bring up your menu, then click on key-binding. You will want to make sure you are changing the key-bindings only for your current character. You also may want to have a look at what is already bound, so that you dont’ accidentally unbind something you use often (hello M for Map!) to something else entirely.
This article from Wow Insider is a really good explanation on how to key-bind based on spell usage: http://wow.joystiq.com/2011/02/22/blood-sport-a-guide-to-pvp-keybinding/ This will open up a ton of usable key-binds to your hand. If, like me, you have small hands, it will still be somewhat limited. Make sure you can comfortably reach your key-binds. Also if you are new to key-binding it is perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed. Start with a couple new binds at a time and incorporate more once those become comfortable to you.
I tend to use bartender for my action bar re-placer of choice, and here’s a great guide on how to use bartender to do your key-bindings. http://www.mmo-champion.com/threads/854651-GUIDE-Bartender-4-Basic-Setup
If your mouse is one of the fancy schmancy ones with more than 5 buttons, you can use its software to effectively use those extra buttons in-game: http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/14400/use-those-extra-mouse-buttons-to-increase-efficiency/ my mouse has a little slider on bottom that allows me to turn the 1-6 buttons to num-1 through num-6 instead. The thing you MUST remember though, is for a macro or key-bind to be legal in-game, you must be able to do it without any software options outside of wow. Automation is a huge no-no and can and will get you banned. Make sure you are doing things correctly.
Each gamer has to set up their spells in the most efficient way for them to play. While I work to make sure I can functionally heal without my healing add-on, I do prefer to use Vuhdo to do this for me. Vuhdo is simply raid frames with mouse-over macros built into them, where I click a mouse button to heal instead of a key on my keyboard. Being able to function both ways is very valuable on patch days, beta, and even the first few weeks of an expansion when add-ons are being updated so often that yours may break several times in one day.