An Ex-Gnome Tank's World

Why I Hate Macros

July 15th, 2008 Posted in Uncategorized

For many players, macros form an important part of their playstyle. I am not, and I doubt I ever will be, one of those players. Let’s get a few things straight here. I do use macros for some things, but they are almost entirely cosmetic in function, and don’t directly affect my gameplay. A good example of this would be the macros I use to throw up raid warnings giving instructions in fights like Magtheridon or Netherspite. Macroing things I know I’ll want to say in a hurry to a specific chat channel – that’s fair game, though even then as often as not I’ll say what I want over TeamSpeak instead.

Other macros, specifically anything involving combat actions, I loathe. And the reason is this – It’s not necessarily that a macro removes skill (though that often seems to be their aim), it’s that the macro removes choice.

I’ve used a few macros in my time, and always given up and gone back to doing what I feel most comfortable with instead, and that’s pressing the buttons in sequence. A good example of this would be Nightbane or Archimonde’s fears. Both require a quick stance dance in order to avoid being feared, and all over the internet I read of people using macros for them. I’ve tried the macros, they felt clunky in comparison to pressing two buttons in quick sequence and moving my hands away from my usual tanking positions. Relying on macros is relying on a specific installation of WoW – if I move to my laptop, I’d have to re-input all my macros too. No thanks. I don’t want to be stranded unable to play to my usual standard just because I haven’t had a chance to re-input all my data. My UI is in a post below – but if I needed to, I could run a raid with no addons or macros. That is important, at least for me.

All a macro can do is to execute a number of moves for you in a fixed (or semi-random) order. And it’s this that leads to issues. I’ve seen tanks that had a single “Tanking” macro. Single-button tanking is all well and good, but they’re terminally inflexible. They can’t know that a thunderclap has been resisted, or that it’s pointless using taunt (in fact, in one instance it was downright dangerous because it made the threat meter the raid was using at the time downright misleading).

Give up your crutches and raid without macros. Watch your cooldowns, buffs and debuffs instead. It’ll make you a better player, and be less boring to play too.

  1. 11 Responses to “Why I Hate Macros”

  2. By Cynra on Jul 15, 2008

    You’ve clearly and concisely explained one of the reasons that I’ve never been very fond of macros. Using a macro doesn’t necessarily make you a bad player, but repeated overuse can hinder your ability to adapt to a scenario. Sometimes you’re successful; other times you’re not.

    One of the things that I’ve noticed with many of my fellow hunters is that they all use Msidrection macros. Usually they either manually enter the target’s name and use that for the entire duration of the raid or they use the Focus to repeatably Misdirect that individual. Changes in Misdirect assignments can result in a lengthy process during which hunters need to update their macros to make sure that they’re correct — and don’t expect them to immediately react to a request to cast Misdirection on someone other than their assigned targets!

    It’s a little overwhelming sometimes!

  3. By Josh on Jul 15, 2008

    Sorry for the double post Namthe, my comment got borked when I screwed up the authentication field. Here is the full text:

    On the contrary Namthe, not all macros inhibit flexibility and gameplay. You’re using a blanket definition for macro to mean the automation of several actions strung together. Sure, that covers some of them. However, there are a bunch of macros out there that are space-saving macros, for example my Consecration macro.

    When activated, it casts Consecration rank 4. When activated while holding “alt,” it casts Consecration rank 6. When activated holding “control,” it casts Consecration rank 1. Each rank is used in a different situation.

    In addition, you mention moving your hands away from your usual tanking positions. Efficient and accessible keybinding is essential to operating effectively, so I’d venture to say you stuck your macro in a bad spot, not that using the macro threw you off. Centering all your keybinds around your WASD movement keys and assigning abilities to mouse clicks helps in that regard. I myself unbound the “Q” and “E” keys from the strafe buttons and instead strafe using the mouse in combination with the WASD base movement keys, which makes for more precision movements anyway.

    Not all macros are simple automations of skill rotations like a hunter shot macro (which, when used correctly, cuts out human error in clipping auto-shots and improves efficiency with shots). Over-automation is a bad thing, but the use of macros is not inherently a crutch. Lastly, the use of a macro does not remove all choice – many players still have the skills involved in an automation macro accessible in some way on their skill bars or in their key binds. For example, I have a macro to active my Avenging Wrath, Berserker’s Call trinket, and a Haste Potion all simultaneously to save me time. However, the cooldown of AW does not line up with the potion/trinket cooldown – I have all three elements bound to separate keys as well so that I may activate them separately if I so choose to.

    The error is not in the macro, it’s in the implementation and the usage.

  4. By Namthe on Jul 15, 2008

    Your points are noted, and accepted to some extent. I also use modifiers, except I program my action bars (bongos3) to handle the modifier and bind the action to that rather than using a macro.

    I already use almost entirely keybindings around WASD for actions – the mouse ise reserved for targeting and turning only. I guess what I meant was that pressing a macro button (which, if I’m being sensible is going to be different in each fight) interrupts my normal flow of actions. Typically I have “special actions” bound to F1-F5, and this includes macros, so it isn’t as if they’re far away. F2 and F3 are usually bound to health stones and potions (and now I think about it, that is the one macro I use on a regular basis – it uses whichever biggest health stone is available), so it’s not as if it’s far away from a button I’m not already pressing.

    As far as shot rotation macros go, Blizzard are keen that you shouldn’t have to macro to do the best dps – and in fact this week’s patch has this little gem: “Hunters: Using an instant ability after Steady Shot will no longer lock out auto shot.”

    I’ll admit that there are lots of ways that macros can be used to good effect. But there are also, in my own experience, lots of people who are using them in ways that either make them inflexible or haven’t thought out their full implication.

    In case anyone is interested, the event that got me thinking about this was a player of my acquaintance who had his trinkets macroed by slot number and had forgotten this. Once he actually needed to use a trinket (on Archimonde), he couldn’t, because he’d bound it to one of his abilities and already used it withing the first few seconds of the fight.

    Examples like the above (and the warrior who had the one-button tanking macro) are why I’m wary of macros. They can be a useful tool, but far too often they can cause more problems than they solve.

  5. By Drotara on Jul 15, 2008

    The recent patch notes regarding Hunters isn’t anything about realizing Shot Rotation macros should be needed. In fact, that is fixing a bug caused by shot rotation macros. While they are trying to fix the need for macros for Hunter DPS in the expansion, that is not what this change is about.

    But as it stands, a macro’d BM Hunter *WILL* out-DPS a hand-woven one due to the way latency works. That’s all there is to it.

    Macros are a tool, not a crutch. They don’t make some player magically better and they don’t make a player worse in my opinion. If someone is already bad, a macro isn’t going to alleviate the situation. The tanks you described using one button tank macros would be bad if they didn’t have a macro.

    Applying your logic here can be said about mods. Throw away your crutches and raid without mods! And see how long before your DPS throws a fit because you don’t have Omen. Or your decurses have to do their job on Archimonde without a tool to assist in doing so.

    I have a Misdirection macro that will misdirect my target if it is friendly, my focus if it is friendly (if my target was not), and finally my pet if neither one of those conditions are met. Does that make me bad or less of a Hunter? Hardly. It makes my job more streamlined and more efficient.

    And in the expansion, Blizzard plans on saving all macro data server-side so you can switch computers at will.

  6. By Namthe on Jul 15, 2008

    > Applying your logic here can be said about mods.

    It can, and I’ll happily raid without mods. At one point I was a member of a guild that prohibited threat meters for the simple reason that they felt too much like cheating, a sentiment I still somewhat agree with. Unfortunately nowadays encounters are designed with the expectation you will have a threat meter, so the argument falls apart.

    The crutch comment was perhaps a touch inflammatory, but bear in mind I’m writing from the point of view of a tank, and as such my experience is tainted in that direction. If macros are essential for certain classes to maximise their contribution, then it’s my argument that it is that that is broken.

    I have no argument with the fact that macros can help good players better. Unfortunately far too often, they make bad players worse.

  7. By gnomeaggedon on Jul 16, 2008

    I use a lot of macros, my friends use somewhere between a lot and none. Same with Mods… fully modded, to stock Blizzard frames.

    I don’t mind either way.. but I do get shirty when players try and enforce macros/mods on others. Just cause the guy doesn’t want to use macros doesn’t make them a bad player… some would suggest the opposite.

  8. By Josh on Jul 16, 2008

    Sure, they can cause problems if they interrupt your normal skill rotation. HOWEVER, repetition ingrains the action into muscle memory. If you put, say, a stance-dance macro on your bar and bind it to a keybind you are not currently used to pressing, but still can reach, you won’t feel right pushing it the first few times. After a while though, it’ll become second nature.

    It takes a little bit of getting used to, and can be an incredible tool for quick action and response to situations. I’m not familiar with the actual nitty-gritty of stance-dancing, but I’m operating under the impression that using a macro to do it minimizes the amount of time the warrior is out of defensive stance, and therefore limits the chance of getting smacked in the mouth while in berserker.

    Just gotta use the macro a few times and get used to it, then it’ll all flow correctly. I know that I instinctively reach for a certain key on my keyboard whenever I get in trouble to hit Divine Shield. It used to be my button to taunt when I was tanking. Now, when I spec prot to tank, I need to put the taunt button into Divine Shield’s place or else I will shield instead of taunt. Muscle memory is powerful.

  9. By Tankette on Jul 18, 2008

    I use macros. All I can say is that they work for me and have helped me play better. When tanking bosses or hard hitting trash, i use macros for my devastate, revenge and shield slam that all activate shield block. Thus I never have to hit an additional button for shield block and know it is always up as much as it can be. As for Nightbane, I wiped over and over until I made a macro for the fear. I just couldn\’t hit all the buttons I needed fast enough without the macro. Ya, maybe it is a crutch. It works for me though.

  10. By Namthe on Jul 18, 2008

    Never having to hit an additional button for shield block sounds good, but I prefer to just get into the rhythm of hitting Shield Block every five seconds (a metronome helps if you’re not used to it).

    If you’re happy with tying abilities together like that, then do so; however I dislike doing things like that for the simple reason that if I get a dodge streak and find myself rage starved, macroing abilities together like that is going to cause threat issues.

    Rather than have two copies of every ability on my bars to work around this I’d rather just learn to hit the buttons seperately.

  11. By Tankette on Jul 19, 2008

    Keyboard mechanics have always been my biggest struggle with WoW. I’d really like to sit behind a good tank watch how he or she operates between the mouse and keyboard. Macro’s are certainly a crutch but a well needed crutch for me.

  12. By Pike on Jul 20, 2008

    I had a nice reply written up here but it seems to have been eaten, so!

    The three main things I wanted to say were:

    -”As far as shot rotation macros go, Blizzard are keen that you shouldn’t have to macro to do the best dps – and in fact this week’s patch has this little gem: “Hunters: Using an instant ability after Steady Shot will no longer lock out auto shot.””

    That happened to me all the time and my shots are 100% hand-weaved so I wouldn’t call it an anti-macro thing.

    -Regardless, I do not use the infamous Shot Rotation Macro because I do find it to be boring and somewhat limiting (although I acknowledge that it does lotsa DPS), so I definitely see where you are coming from there

    -There are indeed some macros that I could not live without, but they do not hinder me in anyway but because they simply take up space on my action bar that would otherwise have been unused– I still have access to the original spells if needed (but I NEVER use them… only the helpful macros I made!)

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