Multiboxing 101: Macros, part 1

Multiboxing 101 is a column for newcomers to multiboxing in World of Warcraft. Each week, I try to illustrate a particular aspect of this play-style in an easy-to-follow guide.

After covering the Bare Necessities in last week’s guide, I thought I would dive right in this week and talk about macros, and how to use these for a  more efficient way to control your team. Throughout the guide, I will be posting my team’s macros, so that you’l be able to have a working example of how to put these to work. But first, let’s start with some definitions:

  • Macro: A macro is a group of one or more slash commands that execute (top to bottom)  when a button is pressed. In World of Warcraft, macros are limited to 255 characters, although there are a few macro-lengthening addons that would extend that limit
  • Click sequence: A click sequence is a macro that includes one or more  /click slash commands; when executed, a click sequence calls a button click that is different than the button to which the click sequence macro is assigned to

*****Disclaimer: The following is my own perspective on multiboxing. It’s what I have adopted and found to work well for me. If you would like to contribute constructively, please post a comment. It will be reviewed, and if deemed appropriate incorporated into the discussion with credit given to its writer.*****

Macros can be overwhelming. Multiboxing macros can be very overwhelming, and can easily spiral out of control. If you wanted to take one thing from this guide, let it be “keep it simple”. You do not need elaborate macros to be able to multibox effectively. As you will see, my macros are nothing special, but they do the job, and that’s the most important thing. If you are looking for FTL hints (focusless, targetless, leaderless) than I am sorry to disappoint too, as FTL is beyond the scope of this guide. What this guid will cover though is all you need to be able to manage your team through every content, including heroics. For illustration purposes, I will use my own team to illustrate some of the basic concepts of macro writing, and gameplay. The team composition is as follows:

  • Tank: Janus (protection paladin)
  • Healer: Cymara (holy priest)
  • DPS: Adonis (elemental shaman); Bellenus (balance druid); Aurora (frost mage)

Basic Concepts:

Below are the 2 basic concepts that you should keep in mind at all times as you set out to multibox with macros:

  • You need a follow macro for your slaves (all toons but the one you’re driving with) bound to a conveniently located keyboard button
  • All your slaves’ attack macros should open with an assist command

Syntax for the follow macro is as such:

/follow Janus

Syntax for the assist command is as follows:

/assist Janus

Another good habit that you should adapt is assign the same button for the same purpose. For example, every slave should have its own follow macro bound to the same key in the game client. For my team, I have that key assigned to ~ (the tilda, just to the left of the 1 button on the keyboard). Same logic applies to your attack keys. Every slave should have 1 or 2 attack keys that will call  that slave’s DPS rotation. This is of course with the exception of the healer in your group, who (duh!) will be healing. For my setup, I have 2 attack keys. 1 is my light DPS button, I use this for aggro-sensitive fights, quest mobs, or dungeon trash mobs. 2 is the high DPS button, which is used for boss fights. And, that’s it ! See? I told you it was simple!

The catch is how to use these 2 buttons efficiently and effectively…

Enter the click sequence…

Building on the Basics:

Note: There has been reports from the latest PTR builds, that some of the concepts discussed here might not apply once patch 4.0 goes live. Until the patch goes live, we can’t say for sure. If these macros stop working because of functionalities that will be removed, this guide will be updated appropriately

As the definition above implies, a click sequence calls a button click that is different from the button to which the click sequence macro is assigned to. What this means is you can have different buttons (with different macros assigned to them) that you call as you are executing your click sequence macro.


My elemental shaman has the following DPS rotation: Flame Shock, Lava Burst, Chain Lightning, and Lightning Bolt

The above rotation needs 4 different button presses to execute. A clicksequence macro will call all 4 buttons in a sequence, eliminating the need to push each individual button to which the particular spell is assigned

Let’s dissect this further.

The code for the Flame Shock macro is:

#showtooltip Flame Shock
/castsequence reset=combat Flame Shock,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

What the above will do is as long as the mob is engaged (reset=combat), the command /castsequence will execute Flame Shock for that particular button. But what’s up with all those commas trailing at the end? Because Flame Shock is a damage over time spell, and because I need to apply this everytime I engage a mob (DPS boost), and (most importantly!) since a macro always executes from top to bottom, I need to tell the game to skip this after I apply it, for the duration of the spell. Those commas are the rate at which I push my DPS button per second. Those commas will be different for each spell. but before we go into that, you need to know how many times a second you spam a button, so that you determine your own rate. An easy way to do this is :

  • Open Notepad
  • Spam any button consistently and at a rate with which you are comfortable (you might need to repeat this several times to determine what is your comfortable spamming rate) over a minute
  • Count how many times you pressed the button
  • Divide by 60 to get your spamming rate per second

After you determine your own spam rate, multiply that number (average spam rate is 2-5/sec) by the duration of the spell, its casting time, or its cooldown, whichever is longer. A quick way to determine that is to hover over it in your spellbook. Be sure to do this when you are ready to use that spell, meaning after you have assigned your talent point, because spell durations and/or cooldowns may be affected by how you spend your talents. Also, keep in mind that some item set bonuses may change those variables as well, and you may need to adjust as you gear up.

Going back to the Flame Shock example:

  • It’s an instant cast
  • Its cooldown is 6 seconds
  • Its duration is 18 seconds
  • Since there is no point reapplying it before its duration is over, you want your clicksequence to skip this spell for 18 seconds or “X key presses”, X being the product of 18 multiplied by your spam rate. This gives you how many commas you need to add

Now, that we understand how to write a /castsequence macro, the rest becomes easy

Code for Lava Burst:

#showtooltip Lava Burst
/castsequence reset=combat Lava Burst,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Code for Chain Lightning:

#showtooltip Chain Lightning
/castsequence reset=combat Chain Lightning,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Code for Lightning Bolt:

#showtooltip Lightning Bolt
/cast Lightning Bolt

Note that the above has NO commas. That’s because it is the shortest spell, meaning it takes the least time to execute. Hence, it is used as a filler.

Putting it together:

So we know our DPS rotation, and we have the macros to execute it. All we’re missing is to actually put it on our action bars in the game! Keep in mind, that each of the above castsequence macro should be on an action bar button by itself. BUT, we don’t want to be spamming 4 different buttons (for the shaman example) every time we engage a mob. We want to keep it simple, right ? We want a macro that we assign to our attack button that will call and execute the rotation buttons. To achieve that, we make use of the /click command, which does exactly that: click the button. So we drag the different macros (for the different spells in our rotation) onto our action bar, and we call them all with the /click macro.

The syntax for the /click macro is:

/assist Janus (don’t fortget your assist command!)
/click button1
/click button2
/click button3
/click button4

 The next step is to know what buttons we’re calling. In other words, yes we dropped the macro on the action bar but we need to know how the game recognizes them so that we call them correctly. To do that, make a macro and enter the following:

/run print(GetMouseFocus():GetName())

Then, drag this to the action button that you’re interested in. Click it and you will see the action button name in the chat. Replace the name in the /click sequence and you’re done. If you have button addons, don’t worry. The above works for the most common button addons, if not all of them

Wrapping it up:

This concludes this first part of the guide. I hope you find it helpful and easy to follow. Over the next few days, I will be adding my team’s DPS rotation to a separate page on this site, so you have easy access to my team’s macros. the next part of this guide will cover tanking and healing macros. So stay tuned !

3 Responses to “Multiboxing 101: Macros, part 1”

  • aDz:

    nice work janus, i look forward to reading some more!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  • zappatized:

    excellent! simple and concise. thank you, this greatly helps me to understand how to use macros.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Kudos for creating content is on this particular subject. There is not a great deal of information published about it (not particularly helpful anyway). It is nice to see it receiving some more coverage. Cheers!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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