Power Auras Classic: an introduction

This is one World of Warcraft addon that I AM IN LOVE WITH. As the name suggests, Power Auras Classic (POWA) is a powerful aura addon that allows you to program different visual cues depending on buffs, debuffs, and other things, and place them pretty much anywhere on the screen for immediate visual consumption.

(Honestly, how cool is an addon shortcut that cries, POWAH!! …? ;))

I don’t think nearly enough people are utilizing it though, so I thought I’d highlight it sometime with an introduction. I got so engrossed talking about it, that I’ve ended up making a mini-series of posts on it! The next two weeks will bring a series of actual usage settings for POWA.

As a quick teaser, here is my mage, Eilonwyn, with all auras enabled:

Power Auras Classic - All enabled

All systems go!

Let’s get on with the introduction!

Setting up for the first time

Once you have installed POWA and gone into the game, nothing will be different. There are no shiny bells and whistles, because the power of POWA (ahem) is in its uber-flexible configuration. Download POWA, unzip it, and put the PowerAuras directory in your World of Warcraft/Interfact/AddOns/ directory.

Once logged in, type in /powa and you should see a window similar to the one below, but with no settings/entries inside it:

Power Auras Classic - settings screenFrom here, you can see Character effects and Global effects. The former are auras which show up specific to a single character, while the latter will be available for all your WoW characters. In general, I keep raid boss debuffs that I want to keep track of in the Global effects tabs, as well as more generic auras like low health or mana. If you habitually play multiple similar-class toons, you may want to put your auras in Global effects. Even so, you can import and export each set/page of auras in order to reuse it on other characters, or share your auras with other people.

(I will be sharing my toons’ auras soon!)

In the screenshot, I am highlighting the first aura I have, which is for Icy Veins. Each aura you create in a set will show up here. Clicking on a selected aura will display that aura on the screen, as a preview; right-clicking on the aura will bring up its settings window.

Creating one is easy. The New button will also bring you to the settings window for a new aura, placed in the next available slot in the current page you are on.

Power Auras Classic - aura settingsClick on the image on the left to see the aura settings window in its entirety (it’s quite big!). This is a typical setting for an aura. On the top portion, you have a preview of your aura, and you can cycle through a series of available textures and change the texture color. All auras are centered in the screen (and around your character), but you can change its position relative to the center by moving the X/Y position slider accordingly. Texture sizes and opacity are also changeable, as well as X/Y distortion/skewing for almost unlimited aura visual style possibilities.

The tabs on the lower half of the window will be the meat of your auras. The most important tab is, understandably, the Activation tab. You can ignore all other tabs except this one.

Activation Tab

The Activation By dropdown contains a number of possible activation triggers, including:

  • Buff
  • Debuff
  • Action Usable
  • Aggro
  • Health, Mana, Combo Points, Rage/Energy/Power, Stance, etc.
  • Equipment Slots
  • My Spell Cooldown
  • Stealable Spell
  • Tracking

…and more besides. Just from that list, you can probably gauge just how flexible Power Auras is ;) The most basic, of course, would be tracking buffs and debuffs, which is the example at the top and below: that particular aura is activated by the presence of a buff named Icy Veins.

Power Auras Classic - activation tabThe Stacks field only comes into play if the buff/debuff stacks–otherwise you can keep it at zero. This is useful for limiting the visual indicator depending on how many stacks are available. (I use this for my Arcane Blast stacks.)

Use own Texture means that the aura will use the spell’s icon instead of the texture you set at the upper part of the screen. This may be useful in some cases, but not in others: you don’t really want a huge icon in the middle of your screen when you need to move out of the fire, but you’d want it shown right in your face if you’re in a raid or a party and you have Crusader Aura on.

The rest of the checkboxes are pretty self-explanatory: clicking on the boxes will toggle the selection between ignored, only when enabled, or only when disabled. In the above setting, a cross in the Resting, Mounted, and In Vehicle checkboxes means this aura won’t be enabled at any time while I am resting, on a mount, or in a vehicle. A check in the Alive checkbox means show this only when I’m alive. (Yes, yes, I know, “duh?!” but I’m sure there are things that some people will want to track when dead…)

On the lower left of the tab, a couple checkboxes say Enemy target, Focus, Partymember, and the like. This allows you to show auras depending on what readable auras are on your target, such as what debuffs are on him.

You will notice there are two text boxes in the middle of the window. These can largely be ignored unless you are tinkering quite heavily with POWA now, but for completeness’ sake: the first text box is for other aura IDs that need to be checked for this particular aura–a cascading aura rule, somewhat (I will be showing an example of this in use later on!). The second text box is for also checking the tooltip text of the buff/etc in question (obviously not available in all Activation By types).

Animation Tab

Power Auras Classic - animation tabIn truth, I’ve never used this tab, because anything else moving on my screen will just serve as distraction. There is a default animation: a sort of glowy end animation, which you can remove if you like (I tend to leave it as it is).

You can also select animations to play when the aura comes on, as well as an animation that loops throughout the duration of the aura, such as pulsing, flashing, orbit, spinning, etc.

Sound Tab

Yet another tab I don’t use so much. I tend to keep to whatever sounds have been pre-configured for me in WoW and with boss mods, as I usually turn the in-game sound down a bit to make sure I hear vent clearly (but still hear raid warning sounds). You can select starting sounds and ending sounds from a list of various sound files and in-game sounds using this tab.

Timer Tab

Power Auras Classic - timer tabFor everyone who likes countdowns and numbers, this is the tab for them. For me, I usually just go by the “width” of the numbers–the thinner, the closer to the end it is. ;)

By default, though, the timers aren’t shown on the screen.

The timer, in addition to allowing you to position the timer and set a couple visual effects as well as placement on your screen, also allows you to invert the aura depending on a set time.

Stacks Tab

The stacks tab is very similar to the timer tab, allowing you to display a number on the screen on how many stacks of the buff/debuff is up. As with the timer, you can set various effects as well as its position.

Importing POWA settings

Power Auras Classic - buttonsOne of the good things about POWA is the ability to import and export POWA strings/settings. A number of people have shared their strings online, and you may want to use their settings, or at least use it as a springboard for your own personalized settings.

At the bottom of the settings window, you’ll see a collection of buttons. There are Import and Export, as well as Import Set and Export Set.

As you can probably guess, plain importing and exporting will import or export a single aura. A set is a whole page of auras, which might be a little easier.

Power Auras Classic - importTo import, click on Import/Import Set, making sure that you are on the page you’d like to use for the new aura(s). A small window will come up, allowing you to copy+paste the aura string.

Exporting is pretty much the same way, only backwards ;)

A couple of gotchas

There are two things that come out to me whenever I’m working with POWA, and are likely to come up for you as well once you start.

The biggest one would probably be that the auras don’t show up when you expect them to. This may be due to any number of things, but for me the usual culprit is that I’m testing an aura while I’m in the cities, but the Resting checkbox is marked with an X. Or I have marked it with an In Combat marker, but I’m not in combat.

Also, if you’re using the spell’s own texture, initial creation won’t actually show the texture. Once you’re done with your activation settings, close the aura settings window, and then test the aura. Sometimes it will need an actual application of the buff/debuff before the aura shows up in tests.

Sometimes, though, the POWA settings do get choked up a bit, and when that happens the best thing to do is reload your UI (/reload ui). That usually fixes it for me (assuming all my settings are correct.

The second thing would be if you are working with the Action Usable activation type, the action/spell in question needs to be on an action bar somewhere. A macro with the spell won’t work; the spell or the item to use needs to be on an actual action bar. The way I do this is to dump whatever I need into an action bar, and then hide the offending action bar (I use Bartender).

This is so confusing!

Highly-customizable addons can tend to do that, sadly. However, in the next two weeks I will be going through my settings for my toons, which should hopefully help you visualize how to go about using POWA for your own toons.

Before you know it, you might have your very own smexy UI!

If you’re looking into some more examples, introductions, and tutorials on Power Auras, here are a couple articles you might want to check out:

But but but that’s a lot of work!

That’s true, setting up POWA can take some time, so if you’re of the “download a prepackaged UI” sort of person, there are only two things you can do:

  1. Look for a POWA setup you like and import it – there are quite a number of people sharing their POWA strings online for importing, so you just might find a setup you like.
  2. Don’t use POWA.


I do think that POWA is worth it. I love it for its flexibility: I like UIs that can grow with me, according to my gameplay needs. This one just fits the bill perfectly.

Stay tuned next week, when I’ll be sharing Talá’s Power Auras setup!