WoW UI Mod Review - Rankwatch

By Byron Mudry -

There are many things about World of Warcraft that too many of us have taken for granted over time, one of these things is the automatic upgrading of spell ranks on your toolbar. In the beginning spells didn't always update so we all got used to manually refreshing our toolbars. Over time it became automatic and we all started taking it for granted, in fact if you wanted a button to stay at a certain rank you had to go and manually drag it onto the toolbar. Then came dual-specs and issues started coming up.

That's where this handy little U.I. mod comes in, in an effort to ensure we all have the highest possible spell rank being used. The mod is called Rank Watch and essentially it tattles on anyone it sees using a lower level spell than they should be. The mod itself is amazingly simple and small, there are hardly any settings or configurations to do, and for the most part it is an install and forget mod. While the mod itself is simple, the ethics and perception of it's use may not be.

While I had seen the mod being used extensively recently in random heroic PUG groups, I always thought it was not for me. I had seen it setup to spam publically to the group so that everyone knew that player X was and idiot. Then one day on my brand new alt 80 hunter I got a tell from someone using it that I was not using my max level shots. Huh? I know I trained them. What's the scoop and what was going on here?

My first reaction was anger. Who's place was it that this guy was telling me I didn't know what I was doing? Then it became shame. Was I really using a low ranked spell? Was the mod right? Sure enough it was! I quickly fixed my spells, I had the higher level trained in my spellbook, and thanked the player sheepishly for pointing out my noobish ways.

Then came confusion. How did this happen to me? The first thing I did once out of the instance was some investigation to find out how this actually happened to me. What I found out is that apparently when you have two talent specs you have issues. What happens is when you train your new ranks of spells the game updates your current toolbars fairly well. However, it does not currently update your alternate spec's toolbars. This means that while I was leveling and questing as Beastmaster and training my spells while in that spec, my alternate instance and grouping spec of Marksman was not updating. Therefore at level 80 I got warnings from Rank Watch that I was using shots many levels out of date. How embarassing!

Oh no the shame... I was found using a lower level shot!

Finding this out, while embarrassing, was a blessing though. I had always thought that Rank Watch was just a way for players to insult other players and show them that they didn't know what they were doing. After all, who wouldn't train their own spells to the highest level? This taught me a valuable lesson though, that sometimes it is just that we take these things for granted.

So, knowing all of this I went out and downloaded Rank Watch to see what it was all about.


Type: Ability level checker
Author: Gronzig
Patch Reviewed At: 3.3.2
Version Reviewed At: 1.09

Rank Watch was super easy to install since you just do the typical install of dropping its folder into your add-ons folder. However, once it was there and I restarted WoW I went to the normal place to set it up (interface - addons), only to not find it listed. Ok, no big deal, I didn't drop it in the right place. Back to my OS to check. It was in the right place, but not showing up in WoW. The trick here is it does not show up, it is command line only. You get to the settings by typing /rankwatch.

Settings Screen, not very pretty but it works

Having figured that out, I looked at some of the basic settings to see what it could do. One thing you should figure out is the do not warn player setting. By doing this you can set it to stop warning a player about low rank spells in case they get mad at you. Another setting to get used to is the on / off command, for the same reason but on a larger scale.

There are a few other settings such as:

  • 80 - Only warns players that are level 80
  • explain - Gives more detail in the message to the other player
  • party - Announces the low level spell in party
  • whisper - Whispers the other player
  • report - Shows a listing of recently seen spell

One thing that I think is missing from this mod that is badly needed is a standard UI settings screen. It would make using and configuring it so much simpler for most players than using command line. I wonder how many players have installed this mod and never found the settings at all? Over all though you really do not need to make a whole lot of setting changes to this type of mod, so maybe it really isn't needed.

Overall Impressions

As I mentioned earlier on, my impression of this mod upon initially seeing it was as a way to insult the noobs. After all, who would really need to be told they hadn't learned their spells? Hmm, guess I'm a noob. In fact when run in a guild raid recently we found a few players running less than top level spells! All of us were amazed and embarrassed about this, but glad to find it and fix it. One player had hard coded the rank of a spell into a macro long ago and just taken it for granted. Several others must have been hit by the dual spec bug.

In actual fact the mod has turned out to be a very useful tool. The only caveat to this statement though is that it can be annoying, and can be taken the wrong way by many players. While nice to know that someone is using a lower rank spell, you may or may not want to have it spammed to the party or raid. Also be prepared to turn it off if you get messages about it being annoying in a PUG. While everyone should care that they maximize their effectiveness, there are those that are so put off by you pointing out their mistake that in some cases it's best to just turn it off.

Overall though, this is a valuable tool. I would like it to have a few more options, and a better interface, but that's just being picky. It does what it is meant to do perfectly well the way it is. I would recommend that all raid leaders run it all the time. I also recommend that players that are interested in ensuring everyone is doing their best run it, even if you just run it without announcing to other players.

Last Updated: