Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Neverending Key Binding Project part 1

Before I started to play World of Warcraft I hadn't played many computer games; Carmageddon, Duke Nukem Forever, Doom II, Keen Commander and some browser-games pretty much makes up the whole list. Instead I played console games (PlayStation). Because of this, key bindings didn't feel very intuitive to me when I started my hunter. I got off at a bad start, tried to improve, but still now I don't feel like it's where I want it to be. I've had posts on our guild forums, googled "pro key bindings" (hehe, not that exact phrase perhaps), and I even asked "what are your key bindings?" on a Hunting Party Podcast a long long time ago. It's a big deal to me, and I'm really hung up on it.

I'm gonna share some of my flaws in this post. Horror stories of back-peddling, keyboard-turning, tab-targeting and worse. I'm gonna trust you guys to not be mean or rude about it, but rather encourage my continued development into filling these big hunter boots.

At least my DPS has always been competitive (with those I've been in group/raid/battleground with) despite my arms being crossed two times over each other trying to reach buttons on the weirdest locations on the keyboard. (I don't know why I felt I had to say this. Oh yeah, to defend myself in advance.)

This has nothing to do with this post... But look what I got yesterday. :D
Draenei hunter Laeleiweyn and Time-Lost Protodrake

Setup 1 - The Beginning

It's August 2007, and Lae is born on a cheap laptop in a cute little town in Norway.

Action Bars

I set up my Action Bars and Key Bindings chronologically when I leveled. By chronologically I mean just that; in the order I got the abilities, not in the order I would use them. I would add melee abilities to 1234567890+\ and ranged abilities to Ctrl 1234567890+\ as I got them. This made perfect sense to me; melee in bottom Action Bar, and ranged in upper Action Bar. I didn't think about the melee attacks not being used much, and that that's where the modifier should have been. When the two first bars were full, I placed new abilities on the third bar; Shift 1234567890+\. But ofc, we're hunters, so there was more abilities to come. They went to the two bars on the right, for clicking. Far far to the right.


Having "Beginner Tooltips" enabled, I knew to use WASD for moving. I had used strafing in PS2-game Ratchet and Clank, and I was delighted when I found strafe to be Q and E. I also used the mouse for steering, especially out of combat, and especially when I was running along the long roads in Stranglethorn Vale. I bound autorun to the mouse wheel and used the mouse to move the camera around while I was running. Most settings I kept as default.

Hot keys

With this setup I would manage to hit all abilities I had bound to 12345 (+ modifier) with my left hand on the keyboard. When I wanted to use something that was bound to 67890+\ I would click it with the mouse instead.


I got increasingly stiff neck and shoulders, and daily reminders of tenotisis I had acquired in a data-punching job I had while I was studying. Eventually I bought a stationary computer, hoping it would help. (The almost negative frame rate in Shattrath also helped convince me.) I also set up the Action Bars more logically; most used abilities with the easiest to spam key binds and so. But it wasn't enough; I would have to change my Key Bindings from 1234567890+ to something else to really being able to stop clicking, at least the 67890+\-part.

Setup 2 - That's Better

It's August 2010, and Lae is trial in a good 25-man guild. "This should be the perfect time to change all the settings that are imprinted into my muscle memory over these three years" I thought to myself.

Although I like to "jump in and make the changes NOW" to learn quickly and painfully, I wouldn't recommend doing this in a new guild, with new people, on challenging new heroic content. My DPS and awareness must have suffered. But luckily I passed, and my muscle memory soon got a hang of the new things.

What I was looking for with this setup was to not use left pinky as much as I had until now, and also to stop clicking the abilities that were too far away on the keyboard, and rather move them closer, so that I could hot key them.

Hot keys

Ponder, which is left-handed, suggested I should use Num Pad like him. Which turned out to be great! It gave me 15 buttons within reach. The 5-key even had a ridge, so I didn't have to worry about having to look down or hit the wrong button. I also dropped Shift as modifier (to spare my poor pinky), and instead started to use Alt, which the mighty and powerful thumb had no problem battering all night long. I was happy.

Until... I realised I had no spare hands for the mouse. For 0,5 seconds I considered Lefthandism. Then I laughed and gave up that idea. There is no way I'm changing to Lefthandism just cause i luvs my NumPad! There must be a better solution!

I have sticked to the NumPad while looking for that solution, despite the obvious flaw with the mouse. It's not too bad when I'm questing alone or if there's a boss fight with only one target. But as my right hand is on Num Pad, that means I have to move it to the mouse if I want to use Trap Launcher, Flare, Eagle Eye, Move To, Binding Shot (in MOP) and so on. If I do have to change between Num Pad and mouse, I make sure to do it while either casting Cobra Shot, or between global cooldowns, so that I don't waste (that much) DPS. But as you can guess, this means a lot of the turns I take, I do on the keyboard... Actually, I have a Razer Naga, and I've set the thumb keys up to match Num Pad, but it's not working for me to have the entire load of my rotation on the mouse arm.


I use Tab for targeting. And the addon SmartTargeting; which automatically changes key bind from Target Nearest Enemy to Target Nearest Enemy Player in PVP. Which is win against mirror images and snake traps etc by the way, cause it ignores them completely. :) But tab-targeting is not always possible, and when it's not possible I have to move my arm to the mouse again. Especially Madness of Deathwing in this tier is annoying. The wings are targetable with "target nearest enemy" while the claws are not. Or opposite. Whichever is on red and blue platform is targetable, yellow and green not.


I use thumb for 0 and Alt, and the three next fingers are used on the rest. Pinky is left alone, as it requested. BUT I lined things up a bit bad; for example 5 is Arcane Shot while 8 is Cobra Shot. This means I'm using middle finger on the two most used spells. So after raid night middle finger is very tired, and not only from flipping to the screen! I sometimes wonder if I should send my poor gaming hands to a spa or a rehabilitation center.

This has nothing to do with this post... But look what I got yesterday. :D
Draenei hunter Laeleiweyn on Time-Lost Protodrake

Setup 3 - Heaven On Earth

It's April 2012, and the mist of Pandaria is starting to lift. It's the end of Cataclysm and Deathwing is defeated. Every week actually. Most things are on farm, and it seems to be the perfect time to experiment, once again, with key bindings and setup. "This time it will be perfect!"


Small hands, short fingers, short arms... I sound like a gnome... "But a great personality!"
Left and right arm should be no longer away from each other than the distance between F and Num Pad 5.
Pinkys are off-limit.
Thumbs are strong. So are the two next fingers.
Fourth finger a bit weaker.
Razer Naga thumb-buttons should be limited (no rotations).
Tendency to get tenotisis. Mouse should be used with caution.


I have a Razer Naga and a Logitech G19 already. I'm gonna shovel the keyboard to the back of my desk and buy myself a... Razer Nostromo! I'm hoping that moving the mouse to a more central position on the desk will be a good idea. I don't think I will be able to use all buttons on it, but most I hope.

I'm dreading learning everything over again though... But, I've done this before, and these things get very fast imprinted in muscle memory. I'll just level an alt hunter and spend some time at the training dummy, and eventually I will get there.

Hot key mapping

Right hand on Naga. Left hand on Nostromo. Turn with mouse. Strafe with Nostromo. All "targeting circle"-abilities bound to the Naga; Flare, Traps, Eagle Eye and Binding Shot. One modifier bound to Naga (Alt) and two to Nostromo (Ctrl/Shift). Often used abilities/buttons spread evenly among the strong fingers.

I have a spreadsheet. :) Well, actually I have many spreadsheets. I like spreadsheets! This one in particular is a good long list on about 140 hot keys that I'm gonna map out. I'll share it on Google Docs for those interested. The best (?) part is that I'm not done setting things up; I don't even have the Nostromo yet, so any good suggestions are still not too late!

Link to Spreadsheet in Google Docs

Here's a video that I think shows off the Nostromo well.

I will post The Neverending Key Binding Project part 2 when I'm all done with the spreadsheet and learned all the hot keys on the Naga and Nostromo. Wish me luck! :)

I was gonna end with a joke: "Here's a rotation-hot-key-guide for non-hunters: If you place your left cheekbone on "E" and roll your face slowly back and forth, you should be able to maximize your DPS." But I'm not gonna tell that joke after all; with this post I don't feel like I'm in a position where I can safely make arrogant and elitist jokes. Consider it non-told. :)



  1. Grats on the rare-spawn of rare-spawns.

    Across all my characters have instant casts in the 1-5 position and longer casts in the 6-0. I mouse move AND ASDWQE-move. I lazy-tab target or mouse-target with some nice target frames. I do have some mouse-over abilities on the hunter. On healers everything is a mouseover for raidframes.

    Across all characters I keep similar abilities in the similar position.

    I have a few characters like 'r' mapped to additional instant-casts that don't fit in 1-5. On my hunter, I have Arcane Shot as 'r'. Warrior it's shattering throw, etc.

    I need a good twitchy place for interrupts. SV didn't have that problem.

    1. Thanks. :) I was waiting for Vyragosa, I only have her and Aotona left for Frostbitten. But I won't complain ofc. ;)

      I used to have a mouse-over Tranq back in ICC. On Lich King I think there was some add that needed some tranqing. I can see benefits to both Scatter Shot, Master's Call and more for the mouse-overs. Hmmm.

      Thanks a lot for sharing Kheldul. :)

  2. Anonymous20/4/12 02:40

    Wow, Lae that's quite the set up you have! I'm simple with a plain ol mouse and regular non-gaming keyboard. I'm technologically challenged so maybe one day I'll venture more into other things. :)

    1. Hehe, well "the problem" is that I have the equipment, but I don't use the extra features that come with them. So far, let's hope this project can start me off on better tracks.

  3. A thought just fell into my head. With my keyboard I can have three different configurations (M1, M2 or M3). So I can make one for in-combat and one for out-of-combat. :D If that works with in-game keybinding menu though. Hm...

  4. I also rock the normal keyboard, yet I have a cheapy mouse that just has 2 extra buttons (one of either side), have a fair amount of shift modifiers that I find handy... keybinding my mouse in particular is one of my favourites..
    scroll up - scatter
    scroll down - disengage
    scroll click - silencing/wyvern/intimidation
    right side extra button - Hunters mark
    left side extra button - aspect switching macro
    shift scroll up - pet ability (pvp purposes mainly, yet useful with tanking pets)
    shift scroll down - masters call
    shift scroll click - tranq shot (lol pally, nice wings you don't have)
    shift right side extra button - flare
    shift left side extra button - readiness

    I don't feel that you should go overkill when you start setting up your Naga, I knew a hunter that had bound every single ability to her naga.. wasn't a pretty site on the meters..

    1. I'm scared to death of binding something to my mousewheel! When I'm bored I jump, open/close bags and zoom in/out constantly. If I were to bind something to the mousewheel it would have to be non-attacks at least, like disengage or something.

      Thank you for input, it's really good to get these ideas! And no, I won't bind everything to the Naga, I promise. :)

  5. Anonymous13/2/13 05:36

    Hi Lae,

    I have only just come across your post while looking for monk transmogging ideas while the servers are down ^^

    I don't know how you are getting on with your keybinding project now but I though I would share how I have bound my hunter and see if it may help.

    I alternate my moving to be honest between both the mouse and qweasd. I use a regular keyboard and the Steelseries Cataclysm mouse. I use 1-5 for most abilities, with 6 & 7 just in reach for Dire Beast and Crows.

    1 - Arcane Shot
    2 - Serpent Sting
    3 - Concussive Shot (used in PvP only)
    4 - Kill Command
    5 - Kill Shot

    The rest is pretty much all mouse work.

    I have 2 mouse buttons on the left side of the mouse at the top which are perfect for my thumb to hit. The closest I have bound to Cobra Shot, the furthest to Multi Shot. Shift and closest for Deterrance

    Mouse wheel down - Disengage
    Mouse wheel up - Misdirect
    Mouse button click - Trap Launcher

    I have a mouse button bound for F1 - which I use this, ctrl and shift F1 for traps. Which settles on my 4th finger

    I have a mouse button for Shift-M - this is my right pinkie which I have my interupt bound.

    Tb is set to the top left of the mouse, so with a rolling motion I can set off Stampede.

    T - is a low thumb button on the left of the mouse which I use for tab-targetting

    I have 2 small buttons either side of my mousewheel, bound to F & B.
    F - Rabid
    B - Bestial Wrath
    Shift F - Rapid Fire
    Shift B - Open All Bags

    It really comes down to what works for you. I with all my classes tend to play with many abilities bound to my mouse. It is just what I am used to and it works for me.

    I hope that you come to find something that works for you and I enjoyed reading your blog ^^

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words and thorough reply. :)
      From start of MOP I have been using a new keybinding system that works really well, and I should absolutely write part 2 soon.