GladiatorlosSA – Providing Situational Awareness

GladiatorlosSA is powerful PvP addon. Used properly it will significantly increase situational awareness in both battlegrounds and arena. However, used incorrectly this addon will completely overwhelm the senses, making pvp an extremely unpleasant activity. You’ll need two things to continue: twenty minutes of free time, and an open-minded attitude. This may pinch a bit.

GladiatorlosSA is a Sound Alert addon that provides Situational Awareness. Most addons function on visual cues for conveying information, and a common mistake in PvE and PvP is to crowd too much information onto the screen, such that the important information fails to make it through. While a significant issue in PvE, this is compounded in PvP as opponents don’t move in predictable patterns.

My first introduction to sound alerts was the raiding addon GTFO (I highly recommend it for that setting) that plays a warning whenever you are standing in Bad, a warning that can be customized based on the severity of said Bad. Sound alerts are a very interesting method of conveying information, especially when most other inputs are visual. Sight and sound are processed in different parts of the brain, so moving a predetermined set of information to a second “channel” (sound); you can process more information in real time with less stress.

With GladiatorlosSA we’ve chosen to shift the “What spells are the enemy casting” channel from visual to auditory. The addon uses text-to-speech software to “say” when enemies are using certain spells. And right there is the rub. It comes out of the box with a HUGE number of spells set to announce. Take this thing unmodified into an Alterac Valley or Isle of Conquest and you’ll wish you hadn’t.

Fortunately, the author has a very well set-up menu for selecting what spells to hear when cast. I’m not going to go down the list. Instead I’ll go over general concepts.  The first thing to do set the trinket announce to “PvP Trinketed Class” on the Special Abilities tab. The stock setting is just to announce “trinket”, forcing you to go back to a visual indicator to see who used it. The “Class” setting will announce “Warrior” or “Druid” (for example) when one of those classes uses a trinket. In PvP trinket use is a very important indicator, as its often the best time for a target switch. If you play with a regular partner that also uses the addon you can almost stop announcing target switches, just look up when you hear a trinket call out to watch if your partner makes a move.

For the remaining settings you are going to have to get into the mindset of my wife on grocery day. You’re going down every isle whether you think you’ll need something there or not. Each tab lists, by class, the Hover over the tooltip provided for each and decide to keep it checked or not. You criteria here is: will this change my plan when I hear it? The answer will be different for every class and role. For example, Feral Druids have two damage reducing cooldowns, Barkskin and Survival instincts. The first reduces damage by 20%, the second 50%. As a Death Knight Barkskin doesn’t change my plans. But at 50% damage reduction, I’m probably going to switch off, leaving him rooted while I go mess with his healer. Tailor your setup to provide the information you desperately need to know, and leave nothing on that is merely interesting. You want every alert to provide actionable information.

After that, you’re now read for the test run. If you’re on a pvp server I recommend heading to Tol Barad or some other open world venue and ride around listening for an announce. Side note: for pvp servers this is THE world pvp addon. The range for this addon is roughly 60 yards, so when you hear a alert you know you have an enemy danger-close, and that she’s probably otherwise engaged;)

Alterac Valley is next in the plan. As the largest battleground in the game, it’s easy to go off to your own corner and get used to hearing random spell alerts. If the volume of information isn’t overwhelming you can skip directly to the stress test by moving towards a big enemy push. An AV turtle is where you will be most stressed with this addon, but after some practice you’ll grow accustomed to its craziness.

The final step should wait until you are very comfortable with the addon and plan to keep it, and even then it’s optional. Remove this type of information from your visual channel; enemy casting bars like Quartz and unit frames like Pitbull do not need to display this information if its covered with SA. Myself I haven’t fully completed this step, I still show my target’s casting bar on Tidyplates. One day I hope to get past this, but maybe not.

One final note, there is the option to turn this addon off for battlegrounds, something many people do to reduce the chaos. I’ve personally found that it pairs nicely with another addon, BattlegroundTargets, for processing SA in BGs. But that’s for another time.

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