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 How2Play | Episode 2: Macros

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Join date : 2007-12-09

PostSubject: How2Play | Episode 2: Macros   Mon Jul 21, 2008 1:44 pm

Welcome back to How2Play, my one-manned crusade to teach the denizens of Azeroth how to be better at playing WOW! This week we'll be looking at a topic both near and dear to my heart: Macros! I'll show you why and how you should use them and give you some great examples of how they are used today.

The intended audience is anybody that doesn't really use macros, people that have some familiarity but don't have a good resource for how to use them, and people who want to read something freakin' sweet.

What is a Macro?
A macro is a simple script that you can assign to your action bars (the buttons where you put your abilities like Frost Shock, Holy Light, Overpower, etc). Macros can perform a variety of actions like casting spells based upon (specific) conditions, (limited) targeting, or equipment swapping. A macro can cast more than one spell at the same time provided only one trips the global cooldown.

A macro cannot make any type of decision for you based upon combat values (health/mana/power), target symbols (skull, x, circle), and cannot have any type of delay (such as waiting 3 seconds between commands).

Make a Macro
To make a macro, you simply need to type /macro (or /m will work fine) and press enter. Your UI should present you with a window to add/remove/edit macros, and it will store both a set of macros that all of your characters share, and a set of macros specific to your character. You can have a maximum number of macros, so make sure you only make macros as necessary. Also, macros can only have 255 characters unless you get a mod to expand that (not covered here, because those macros are pretty complicated).

Let's start by making a very simple macro. Pick the tab for your specific character in the macros UI and then hit New. You'll be given another window that asks you to name the macro (type in a name like 'MyMacro' or something more informative like 'Kick'). Then you'll need to pick an icon for the macro. In many cases I recommend you pick the first icon, the question mark. This is not actually a real icon. Instead, it will display, as the macro's icon, the spell/ability/item that is going to be used (first) in the macro. Sometimes you may not want to display this, but it is often a good choice. Once you have picked a name and icon, hit the OK button to close the window. You will now be able to edit the text of the macro.

Okay, so our macro will do something simple. It will perform a simple action on a targeted unit and then announce that action. Copy the text below, making sure to copy it verbatim and to include line breaks as shown.

/cast [help][target=player] Heavy Netherweave Bandage
/say I'm bandaging!
The first line, #showtooltip is a little trick to get your macro to give you mouse-over feedback. Basically, if you put your mouse over the button on your actionbar where the macro will be, you will normally just get a tooltip with the macro's name. With this command, you tell it instead to give feedback on the first spell in the list (in this case, you'll see feedback on the Heavy Netherweave Bandage). The second line will cast the bandage on your target if friendly, which is what the help option indicates. If your target is not friendly, it will try the next condition, which is to just target the player (aka, you). Finally, it will put a message in /say that you are bandaging. So, it will bandage your target if it's a friendly target, but if you have no target or your target is neutral/hostile, it will bandage you instead. You cannot ask the macro to bandage the nearest person, or the person with the lowest health. (Note: /cast and /use are functionally the same command in a macro, but /use cannot always be used if its a spell, whereas /cast will always mean /use if you specify an item and not a spell).

Putting it to Use
Okay, so now that you've seen that, you may want to know where macros can be used.

Hunters use a pretty common macro to do maximum damage. It combines a Steady Shot / Autoshot Rotation, and adds the pet ability "Kill Command" to the mix (the last line just hides errors about abilities not being ready/available):
/cast !Auto Shot
/cast [target=pettarget, exists] Kill command
/cast Steady Shot
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear()
Priests commonly use the following macro to shackle targets. It will set focus (a special type of alternative target you can identify) to your target, assuming you have no focus. If you already have a focus, it does nothing unless your focus is dead or you're holding alt (in which case it will set focus to your new target). Finally, it casts shackle on that focus target.
/clearfocus [modifier:alt][target=focus,dead][target=focus,help][target=focus,noexists]
/focus [target=focus,noexists]
/cast [target=focus]Shackle Undead
Mages can use a similar macro for sheeping by replacing Shackle Undead with Polymorph.

Healers, I have recommended, should have macros that heal without targetting a player. There are a multitude of ways to accomplish this. The first will heal the healer's target (if friendly), or the healer's target's target, if that unit is friendly (replace Flash of Light with your heal spell). The last "empty" brackets just means a default case (for example, your target is not friendly, your target's target is not friendly, so it just queues up the spell):
/cast [help][target=targettarget,help][] Flash of Light
Another way is to use mouseover healing, where the unit frame your mouse is hovering over will get healed:
/cast [target=mouseover, help][] Flash of Light
You can combine these with:
/cast [target=mouseover, help][help][target=targettarget,help][] Flash of Light
which will check first for a friendly mouseover target. If none exists, it will heal your current target if friendly. If not, it will heal your target's target, if friendly. Otherwise, it just queues up the heal spell. The important thing this allows you to do is constantly target the enemy. If we're fighting One-Shot the Robot on the way to Council, you can just target the robot and heal via the above macro (using mouse-over or target-of-target healing as useful), while still seeing when it targets someone for Kaboom. Healers constantly miss boss abilities because they are targetting players for heals. Consider how much more useful it would be to heal while seeing what the boss is up to. Alternatively, the above could serve as a good Intervene or Taunt (for paladin tanks) macro.

Well that's all the time I have this week. Hopefully you learned a little something about macros. If you want to know more about what they can do, you can just ask me (personally or in this thread), or consult a litany of sources, but I find WOWWiki has a good collection at http://www.wowwiki.com/Category:Macros (click on the Useful Macros for your class).

Thanks and tune in next week when I discuss time-saving techniques every role from Healers to DPS to Tanks can use in the fine art of Pulling and Pacing!
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