Hunter 101: Keybinds

There are some people who can play this game using their keyboard to turn and click the abilities on their action bar. I am not one of those people, and I’d be willing to bet that very few people in the top raiding guilds/arena teams don’t use keybinds.

Keybinds are essential to being a successful player and you don’t need a fancy gaming keyboard and mouse to utilize them. I’ve been playing with a simple two-button mouse that I bought for $20 at Walmart for years. My keyboard is the basic keyboard that came with my computer six years ago. I got a brand new desktop computer about 7 months ago and I’m still using that six year old keyboard. Sure, I’d like to get one of those fancy gaming mice with the buttons on the side, I’m sure that would improve my game considerably. But you don’t NEED one. And frankly, I just can’t bring myself to spend almost $100 on a mouse.

I have two sets of bars on my UI. The main bars that sit at the bottom of the screen and are always visible, as seen above, and then the “secondary” set of bars that sit on the right side of the screen and are normally only visible upon mouseover:

I personally use the Bartender addon for my action bars, but it’s not necessary to have an addon to utilize keybindings. Here’s an example of my Death Knight friend’s keybinds on the default UI:

The main goal of keybinding is to put your most used abilities closest to where your hand sits on the keyboard. Most people use WASD to move, I use QWES. This habit comes from back before I knew I could remap my keyboard and used Q and E to move around because those are the default strafe keys. When I discovered keybinding, I tried to switch to A and D for strafing, but couldn’t make it work. You might want to use WERD or ESDF. Whatever feels most comfortable for you. Bottom line: unbind those turn keys RIGHT NOW!

Rest your hand on your “home keys”, as in, the place your hands sit most often when playing the game. For me, those keys are QWE. Look to see how far over you can comfortably reach your fingers. For some that might be 5, T, G, V. For me, I can reach 6, Y, H, B pretty comfortably. Any keys comfortably in your reach are fair game for your most used abilities. Don’t forget about your F-keys. I use F1-F5 for swapping aspects on my hunter and shifting forms on my druid. You can also keybind abilities to your mouse wheel. I have Stealth on my rogue and Polymorph on my mage bound to shift+mouse up/down. Using modifiers keys [shift, alt, ctrl] triples the number of bindings you can have.

Something else that’s important with your keybinds is to put similar abilities next to each other on the keyboard so even if you fatfinger something, you at least get something close to what you were trying for. My main survivability keybinds are G, V and B. If I mean to Feign Death (V) but accidentally Deterrence (B), it’s not the end of the world. You also want to put keybinds close to each other for moves you tend to use together. In PvP, I usually drop an Ice Trap and immediately Disengage to get distance on melee, so I have those two abilities bound to F and G.

When I first remapped my keys a little over a year ago, I set up my bars to resemble my keyboard to learn the new bindings. (It’s almost embarrassing how bad some of these bindings are, really. I didn’t even have Disengage or Deterrence on my main keys. I was using the number pad to survive in PvP!)

Then after a couple weeks, I set all of the bars to fade out and forced myself to stop looking at my bars by making it almost impossible to see them. Once I had my bindings memorized, I was able to organize my bars into a nice, normal looking setup like I use today. You may not need to go through all of this, but I was essentially re-learning how to play the game because I was SO used to only having 1234567890-= for my binds and clicking everything else. Better to go overboard than to fail miserably and go back to my old, bad habits.

There’s almost no “wrong” way to bind your keys, whatever works best for you is the best way for you to do it. You don’t need to find out how some other player binds their keys and then copy their bindings in order to succeed. The way I used to have my keys bound was terrible and inefficient, but it worked for me at the time.

4 thoughts on “Hunter 101: Keybinds

  1. In the long run it is worth mapping strafe left/right to ‘a’ and ‘d’, forward to ‘s’ and backwards to ‘x’ while delegating turning to low priority keybinds: Ctrl-‘a’ and Ctrl-‘d’ to turn left/right (for safety also map forward to Ctrl-‘s’ in addition to just ‘s’).

    The main advantage is that you now have 9 “power” keys: 1…5 and ‘q’…’r’, which is really more than enough. I reserve my non-attack shots for Ctrl-1..5 and Ctrl-‘q’..’r’ such as Feign Death, Deterrence, Tranquilizing Shot, Healthstone, Master’s Call, Distracting Shot, Camouflage, Scatter Shot, etc. The only exceptions I have are Disengage which I use so much I’ve put onto ‘r’ and my trap launching macro (I wish Blizzard would improve its clunky implementation) onto ‘t’.

    1. It seems like your keybind philosophy is similar to mine, except instead of expanding to the right, you expand upwards.

      My current setup [Q/E strafe, W forward] gives me 12 “power” keys: 1-5, R, T, D, F, G, C, V. A and X are my most used non-attack shots. I don’t have very long fingers, so I find that reaching up or over past a couple rows of keys is fairly uncomfortable. I use very few modifiers, mostly just a handful of shift modifiers here and there for shots I don’t use a whole heck of a lot. I really am trying to get in the habit of using more modifiers since the whole not-having-long-fingers thing really limits my available “power keys”.

      I kept Q and E as my strafe keys because I had become used to using the default strafe keybinds and I tried for almost a month to get used to A/D strafe and couldn’t manage it. I feel like as long as your bindings work for you, they’re good… there’s not necessarily a “right” way to do your bindings, though I suppose some setups are much more efficient and logical than others.

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