Nymbia, the creator of the popular X-Perl unitframes addon, brings another great addon to the table in Quartz. At first glance, Quartz may appear to be just another casting bar replacement addon, alike to eCastingbar. However, Nymbia’s addon is unique among its competitors with two new features that can be useful when leveraged by druids: a latency indicator and a swing timer.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of “latency,” it is defined as “the time it takes for a package or packet of data to move across a network connection.” In simpler terms, latency is a measure of the time it takes for the Blizzard world server to recognize that you have executed a command on your machine — or in this case, for your desktop machine to recognize that Blizzard’s world server considers one of your actions (spellcasting) to be complete. For those of you who still remember the default UI, you may remember the colored bar that represents your current latency, shown at right. A “good” latency number would be around 30 ms while a bad latency number might be 700 ms. Because latency is a factor inherent to the MMO model, spellcasters can lose precious fractions of a second — sometimes several seconds over the course of a fight — on non-instant abilities. This loss is unfortunate and unnecessary.
The Quartz casting bar includes a fluctuating, red portion that indicates the estimated time that would be lost due to latency for the spell being cast. The wider the band of red, the more time that would be wasted were you to allow the spell to complete. Once the casting bar spark (the cursor which indicates your progress through the cast time) reaches this red area, it’s safe to switch to another spell, assuming the spell to which you are switching is a macro which includes the /stopcasting command. Such a spell macro might look like this:
The /stopcasting command shown above is a client-side command that, when triggered, tells your client to stop doing whatever its doing in preparation for performing another action, in this case, casting Regrowth. The downside of this method is that it may take some getting used to if you are accustomed to frantically spamming heal buttons when things get rough. Doing so with /stopcasting will repeatedly reset your casting, so you will have to learn to better intuit the global cooldown or be selective with which spells you wish to set up this way, especially while you are adapting to the change. Note that using /stopcasting and Quartz in this way is more helpful when casting Regrowth than the lengthier Healing Touch as the potential gain from optimizing for latency increases as the casting time of a spell decreases (with the exception of instants).
Omen of Clarity users, rejoice! (You’re still out there somewhere, right?) Unlike the other casting classes, the druid clearcasting state is reliant upon melee procs. Unfortunately, spellcasting resets the swing timer, resulting in decreased melee DPS if you cast in the middle of your swing (resetting the time it takes for your swing to complete). You can avoid losing melee DPS by casting as close to the beginning of your swing timer as possible. I understand this technique is also particularly useful to enhancement shamans whose melee DPS is supplemented by Stormstrike and insta-cast shocks. Quartz includes a handy, silver swing timer that demonstrates where you are in the course of your swing, helping you pinpoint the most efficient time to begin casting your mana-free spell.