Back in May of 2009 I was inspired by Phaelia’s post in her (now retired) blog Resto4Life about the Belkin n52 to purchase my own gaming keypad. Now, over four years later I still use the Belkin n52te keypad and I love it to pieces. It revolutionized the way I played World of Warcraft, and was definitely one of the best decisions I have made in my gaming career.
When I first began using the Belkin n52te* Phaelia’s post really influences my choice of spell locations and macros. Overtime, I’ve moved a lot of things around. I’ve had to make room for our new spells and abilities, re-write macros to accommodate my shapeshifting preferences, and reorganize the movement keybinds.
Lately, I’ve thought it was about time that someone to put together an updated guide for (as it is now called) the Razer Nostromo Gaming Keypad*. So here is my attempt at it. Keep in mind the keybinds for the n52te/Nostromo* are highly customizable and I would recommend taking the time to see how a few different configurations work for you, especially regarding the movement keys and “alt” key locations.
*Note: For simplicities sake I’m just going to refer to the gaming pad as “n52te” from here on out. From all appearances, my three year old n52te and the new Razer Nostromo are the same device.
Contents: n52te/Nostromo Guide
The n52te has 14 regular buttons, a scroll wheel button, a round thumb button, a D-Pad, and a large thumb pad. This is how I have my n52te configured:
The very first button is the accent/tilde key, which is just to the left of the 1 on my keyboard. It was sort of arbitrary when I chose that to be the first key. Keep in mind that you can configure your keybinds however you like, I would just recommend avoiding keys that are bound to interface functions you use a lot (such as B for your backpack, P for spell book, or J for the guild roster).
I use the smaller round thumb button above the D-Pad as my L-ALT key (for use in macros). The larger pad below the D-Pad is bound to my R-CTRL key (Push-to-Talk button). Final item of note, I don’t use the scroll wheel on the n52te as a button, instead it controls my speaker volume.
Character Movement Keybinds
First, a confession: I don’t know how to use WASD. I never learned it. I tried it once or twice, but pretty much failed miserably. As a result, when I play using a standard keyboard, I cannot strafe or back up. I could move using only the mouse. Luckily, in the early days of WoW playing as a healer meant I was usually removed from the action and never needed to actually face my intended targets, so I never really found this to be a problem.
Once I had my n52te up and running, I began using the D-Pad to strafe and walk backwards. I thought that was pretty neat, and I liked the flexibility of being able to move with my right OR left hand, but it was only after I began learning how to tank that I truly realized just how critical strafing and moving backwards was to World of Warcraft.
I have my n52te D-Pad keybind like this:
- Analog Down: S (back up)
- Analog Up: W (move forward)
- Analog Left: Q (strafe left)
- Analog Right: E (strafe right)
Sometimes, I end up hitting a corner of the D-Pad, instead of exactly up, down, left, or right, so I keybound all the diagonals to the corresponding strafe key.
- Analog Down-Left: Q
- Analog Up-left: Q
- Analog Down-Right: E
- Analog Up-Right: E
My center mouse scroll wheel on the right hand serves as my jump button. I can also move forward by holding down both the right and left mouse button and directing movement with the mouse. In a raiding situation I can only actually turn my character to face one way or another using the mouse, though I can strafe easily with the n52te. Lastly, I left both the keyboard Left Arrow and Right Arrow keys bound to turning so that I can “keyboard turn” in non-critical situations (such as flying while eating a sandwich).
I’ve found that having movement options on both my right hand mouse and left hand keypad to be very useful in many raiding situations.
The last button on the bottom row, labeled “B5″ is button 5 on my mouse. You could instead use this as the scroll wheel button of your n52te, personally I just found that to odd to hit in the middle of combat to be useful for me.
I use Bartender to manage my action bars, but since it has a limit of 12 buttons per bar, I had to use two separate bars to create the 3×5 grid. The first bar has 10 buttons in two rows, and the second bar has 5 buttons in one row. Other action bar addons may not have similar limitations, but I would recommend ending up with a 3×5 grid of buttons.
I prefer to put my main abilities in the center row, where my fingers rest. Lesser used but important abilities find their home in the top bar. I found the bottom four buttons to be the most difficult to hit, so I use that bar for abilities that should be key bound to the n52te but that are used much less often in a raid.
Key Binding with Bartender4
You may have noticed in the above screenshot that the top left button is NOT keybound to 1. Instead I use `, which on my keyboard is the key just to the left of the 1. It’s the accent key, or tilde key. If I start there and then go across the keyboard, I have 13 buttons (“accent key” through “equal sign”) and then I have my fourteenth key bound to the forward slash. This configuration made sense to me at the time, but keep in mind that you can bind the n52te to ANY set of keys that you want, and in any order. It doesn’t really matter, you just want to make sure your keyboard layout matches your n52te profile set up.
A Note on Vehicle Fights
Vehicle fights may cause slight confusion if you use my current configuration. For example, for me the first ability in a vehicle fight takes the place of the first button on my action bar, the ` accent key, the second ability is the 1 key, the third ability is the 2 key, and so on. In fights such as Malygos, where I may normally be told to “spam my 1 key” I have to mentally translate that to spamming the top left button, or ` key, because of my unique keybinds set up.
If I had to do it all over again, I would probably start with the 1 key and put the ` key on the bottom row with the \ key, just to alleviate this slight incongruity. By now, though, I’ve gotten so used to it, that it doesn’t really bother me. But it’s something I would keep in mind when setting up your own keybindings.
Macro Planning and Considerations
As mentioned above, I use the smaller round thumb button above the D-Pad as my L-ALT key. This enables me to set up an alternative action for each button on the n52te through the use of macros. These macros let me use one ability when I hit a key, sch as 5 , and another ability when I hold down the round thumb button (or the alt key) and hit that same 5 key. In their most basic form, the standard format of my macros look like this:
/cast [mod:alt] AltAbility; RegularAbility
Since I use my thumb for both the alt key AND D-Pad movement, I prefer to put instant cast abilities in the “RegularAbility” slot and casted abilities in the “AltAbility” slot. This assumes that my thumb wont be needed to move my character while I’m forced to stand still casting a spell, and that I can use my thumb to move around the room while hitting the instant cast buttons.
With the addition of Symbiosis (with which I usually grab Spiritwalker’s Grace from a Shaman) and some niche encounters (such as Earthrager Ptah in the Cataclysm dungeon Halls of Origination) the inability to use my thumb for both moving and casting has become a little inconvenient. However, I’ve found that keeping Regrowth (the go to casted heal for Resto Druids) on the 7 key has helped keep my thumb free for quick strafing while still being able to cast strong heals.
In general, I tend to group my healing abilities on each button.
|Key||Regular Ability||Alt Ability|
|`||Tree of Life||(location relevant shape shift)|
|1||Nature’s Cure||Stampeding Roar|
|2||Nature Swiftness + Healing Touch||(nothing)|
|4||Innervate (myself)||Innervate (target)|
|8||Wild Growth||Entangling Roots|
|9||Swiftmend||Wild Mushroom: Bloom|
Some additional notes regarding the above listing…
Since B5 is one of the side buttons on my mouse, I tend to like using it for abilities that require placement via the targeting circle, such as Hurricane and (glyphed) Wild Mushroom. Moving the mouse towards the target location immediatly while tapping a button on it to activate an ability targeting circle feels like a smoother action then using a key on my n52te.
I’ve found the 0 key, located on the bottom left corner of my n52te to be very inconvenient to hit with my pinky. Perhaps this is just a case of having small hands.
As for the 2 key and the \ key, I’ve always been hesitant to bundle Tranquility and NS+HT together with other abilities in a macro. I have this nagging fear that I would hit them accidentally and waste powerful healing cooldowns.
However, as the number of abilities in the Resto Druid toolkit has expanded, and the cooldowns for both Nature’s Swiftness and Traquility have been majorly reduced, I’ve begun to feel the need to explore better uses for these four essentially empty button slots.