Button, Button. Who’s got the Button?

Razer Nostromo Gaming Keyboard
Razer Nostromo Gaming Keyboard

The good part about taking a nice long break is that when I come back I can look at my UI/setup with fresh eyes. I don’t remember where the buttons are.. or what they do.. and frankly half the buttons either no longer exist or no longer do the same thing.. so it’s a good chance to change it all up and re-do things entirely from the ground up. I’m currently working through my Nostromo and how it’s setup and rethinking a few things.

As I’ve mentioned before (long long ago and I’m sure you’ve all forgotten) I play with a Nostromo N52TE (I started with the N52 but it broke.. then I got a Belkin N52TE.. but it had a sticky button.. so recently I got the Razer N52TE… it’s just like the Belkin N52TE only without the sticky button)(Incidentally, I found the Belkin N52TE mapping software to be a lot easier to use than the Razer N52TE software). It’s an external accessory, kind of like an extra mini ergonomic keyboard that sits to the left of my actual keyboard. I’m right-handed. I play with my right hand on my mouse, left hand on the Nostromo and, when needed, I move both hands to my keyboard (opening various panels (bags, pets, professions), chatting, making macros, etc). I suppose I -could- play without it.. I’m sure there are plenty of people who manage just fine without it.. but -I- like it. I especially like the fact that it’s ergonomic (ie not going to trigger my RSI) and that I can reach 17-ish buttons without moving my hands.. and that I can easily map these to 40+ different actions in the game. All that without moving my hands off of the home keys on the Nostromo.

The keypad has a removable joystick (which I’ve removed) and a movable palm rest with two positions. My palm rest is set in the far forward position and I can comfortably reach all of the buttons. My fiance’s is set in the far back position since he has larger hands than I do. The new one also has a switch on the bottom that you can use to turn off the led lighting.

The software supports color states (none, blue, red, yellow, blue+red, blue+yellow, etc) that you can toggle with an assigned button. I’ve never used the different color states. Frankly if you did I think you could get 40+ buttons from each color state. That’s just about enough buttons to make my head explode. Nope, I’m perfectly happy using just the blue state.

Through software you can map the keys on the Nostromo to keys on the keyboard. ie, when I push -this- button on the Nostromo it’s the same as if I’d pushed -this- button on the keyboard. My Nostromo buttons are mapped as follows:


  • Scroll wheel: scroll forward: [;] scroll backwards: [:] Pushing the scroll wheel: [unmapped] (those are mapped to buttons to trigger flying/ground mounts)
  • Round thumb button: [insert] (ventrilo key up)(though I’m thinking about moving this to my mouse and changing this to [alt])
  • Joystick/Dpad: There is a removable joystick (which I’ve removed) and the Dpad below that is mapped for movement.
    Forward on the Dpad is marked with a small arrow.
    I’ve mapped “w” and “s” to the forwards and backwards directions.
    I’ve mapped “q” (strafe left) and “e” (strafe right) to the left/right directions.
  • Square Thumb button: [ctrl]

Dpad for movement
Long ago I decided to use the Dpad for movement. I have never been an old school ‘wasd’ gamer.. so I have never missed having those buttons for movement. I know some people map the center keys on the Nostromo keypad to ‘wasd’.. and then use that for movement. Frankly I think that’s kind of silly and eliminates most of the usefulness of having a separate keypad. If I was going to do that then I’d have to wonder why I bothered to have a separate device at all.. I could simply remap the bindings for “qerfzxc” and just continue to use my normal keyboard instead of investing in a separate device.

In this iteration (as opposed to the iteration that happened during Cataclysm) I’ve decided that rather than mapping ‘a’ and ‘d’ (turn right and turn left) to the dpad I am now mapping ‘q’ and ‘e’ (strafe right and strafe left). I’m able to turn right/left with my mouse.. and once I had the buttons mapped on the dpad I’ve found strafing to be much easier (move sideways but continue to face the mob so you can continue firing at it). Strafing good.. keyboard turning bad. 🙂

In practice I’ve found up-right, up-left, down-right, down-left very hard to hit reliably on the dpad.. so at the moment those are unmapped.

40+ different actions
In fights I use the two rows of buttons (1-5 and 6-0) + modifiers (shift, ctrl, alt). This gives me easy access to 40 different actions. Heck, I could access more if I’m willing to chord my modifiers (CTRL+SHIFT+1) but that smacks of effort and frankly I’m not using all of the 40 that I currently have accessed.

I could map these to different bars on the screen.. but that seems needlessly cluttered so I use the addon Dominos to switch the visible button based on which modifier is depressed(I’ve included a link to an old video I made demonstrating this in action at the bottom of this post). This means, I have one button bar showing on the screen and when I push a modifier (eg. [ctrl]) the bar changes to show the actions that are accessible by using that modifier.

The setup is intentionally very generic. I use this same setup for all my toons. I just modify what button gets placed on the button bar. I -do- try to keep the effect of the buttons the same. Ie, Souls shatter on my warlock is Ice Block on my mage.

Button Plan
My button plan is as follows:

Button only (No modifier): Things that are cast while running/oh-shit buttons, filler
– Corruption, Agony, Fel Fire, Soul Shatter, Demonic Command, Life Tap, Maelific Grasp, Soulburn+Soul Swap

CTRL+Button: Things that are needed in a fight occasionally or have a cast time
– Curse of the Elements, Haunt, Unstable Affliction, Drain Soul, Drain Life

ALT+Button: Other things (frankly I don’t use ALT much)

Shift+Button: Normally instead of mapping this to a whole button bar I use it as a modifier to a spell ie to add Soulburn to a cast.