So I have been playing around a bit on the PTR, and was asked to come try healing some 10 man ICC PTR bosses, and as I was going through the dreaded initial UI set up for my Shaman, I thought I'd itemize what I consider to be the barebones essential healing mods for me, and considered what the alternatives are if you want to just use the stock UI.
- SmartBuff SmartBuff provides a little icon and a text warning if you are missing any buffs, or if people in your party are missing buffs that you can provide. This is highly configurable, and has different configurations based on your talent spec, and whether or not you are soloing, instancing, pvping, or raiding. When you are out of combat, you can automatically apply these buffs by clicking a button, or even have it set to when you scroll in and out.
Use: This was much more of a necessity when I played a level 70 disc/holy priest and was responsible for applying different buffs to 5 different parties every time we wiped. Now as a shaman, I just use it to make sure my Water Shield is up and my weapon imbue is applied before going into any fight.
Necessity Level: Low
Other Mods: I don't really know of other mods that duplicate this functionality.
Stock UI Alternative: This one isn't so bad for a shaman to do without addons. I can easily monitor my own buffs via the default buff tracking UI. It's much more of a headache for priests, though.
Grid is a compact raid unit frames mod that optimizes space by filtering down to only buffs and status indicators that you care about.
Use: On my shaman, I have it optimized for notifying me about health and debuffs that I can dispel.
Necessity Level: High. The default raid frames are not as I claimed "impossible" to fit onto your screen, but in a 25-man raid, it's pretty much going to be a mess.
Other Mods: Vuhdo, Healbot.
Stock UI Alternative: Pull your raid frames out from your raid tab onto your screen. In order to fit a lot of these in a 25 man situation, you should scale them down a lot. As for the debuff filtering... it's not pretty.
Clique allows you to bind spell casts to chorded mouse-clicks on a unit frame, rather than pressing a keystroke.
Use: This allows me to fit a number of healing and dispelling spells into mouse click combos. For example, I can bind Cure Toxins to shift-left click.
Necessity Level: Medium/High.
Other Mods: Vuhdo, Healbot mentioned earlier have the same functionality, bundled in.
Stock UI Alternative: Kae from Dreambound swears by "mouseover macros" as an alternative to Clique, which provide the same level of reactiveness, without needing to diverge from the stock UI. So as an alternative to the clique binding I mentioned above, you could make a macro:
/cast [target=mouseover] Cure ToxinsAnd bind that to a key, like "2". Then instead of shift clicking a unit frame, you can mouseover the unit frame and hit your "2" key to have the same effect. I think this is a very reasonable alternative, but it does take up macro and keybinding space.
ForteXorcist a buff/debuff/cooldown timer mod. This was actually originally a warlock mod (as they have all these DoTs to track), but they've expanded it to be customizable and to work for all buffs and debuffs; I find it to be perfect for my shaman.
Use: I use this for tracking the duration of my Riptide HoT on multiple targets, as well as my Earth Shield buff's charges on a tank.
Necessity Level: Medium. Without this mod I would probably be wasting a lot of mana refreshing Riptide unnecessarily, or letting it fall off.
Other Mods: SpellReminder is what I used for a long time on my priest, and I liked that as well.
Stock UI Alternative: The default UI is really bad for tracking buff times on multiple targets.
- Power Auras
Power Auras provides a visual indicator based on highly configurable conditions, such as gaining a certain number of stacks of a debuff, or losing an important buff.
Use: For my shaman, I use this to ensure I have 100% uptime on my Water Shield. In a heated battle where I'm taking damage, it's very easy to let that fall off, and if I don't pay attention, I'll suddenly be out of mana. I have Power Auras to have a giant red bubble pop up when my Water Shield is down to 1 charge or fewer. You can set up even more Power Auras based on other conditions, like missing your weapon imbue, or having full stacks of Tidal Waves. On my priest, I have this pop up when I get to max stacks of Serendipity, for example.
Necessity Level: Low
Other Mods: The shaman Mod Shields Up does exactly the case I mention in the Use Case, but it is not as configurable as Power Auras.
Stock UI Alternative: Uhh, you gotta just watch the buff/debuff indicators in your upper right hand corner like a hawk, I guess.