Using ISBoxer to Dual/Multibox or: How I learned to stop worrying and love Warrior levelling
Using ISBoxer to Dual/Multibox or: How I learned to stop worrying and love Warrior levelling
Some quick notes before we start: dual- or multiboxing (hereafter I’ll use the term multiboxing exclusively, though in practise I multibox with only 2 accounts) is expensive. You’re looking at the cost of 2 monthly subscriptions minimum, more if you want more characters, and potentially the cost of software as well. Not all the options for software cost money, and it is possible to multibox without any additional software, but it makes the playstyle a whole lot easier.
I'll reference any number of characters as n characters, substitute this for whatever number of characters you're playing.
In some previous topics I alluded to my minimal play time due to modern adult commitments. One of the reasons I wanted to multibox is that, at heart, I am an altoholic, so the idea of being able to level a main and an alt in one go help scratch that itch somewhat. Essentially, I figured that with minimal playtime I wanted to get the most out of each session. Playing a couple of characters at once is an ends to this, but came with an unexpected benefit based on the classes I chose.
What is multiboxing?
Basically, using multiple game clients at the same time, playing multiple (n) characters at the same time. This can be from as few as 2 to as many as your system and wallet can handle, though typically more than 5 is very rare.
The main Classic WoW client from the Blizzard Launcher will allow you to launch one game client session for every WoW account linked to your Blizzard account. You can choose the account in the drop down next to the game itself:
Once you have multiple clients with multiple characters logged on at once, you simply have them act together as though you were playing a single character.
Some quick pros and cons, from my experience:
+ Durability and damage: you're going to be doing at least a small amount more damage with 2+ characters, depending on setup, all the way up to adding a 1x or more multiplier depending on class synergy (examples are shadow Priest and Warlock). Not only this, but you typically end up with twice or more the targets for mobs, and if you pick a healer then this increases even further.
+ Economy: you can have 2 professions per character on the go at once, so can be a skinner/miner/herbalist/tailor for example. This gives you an easy way to make money levelling without much additional effort, being able to essentially collect every material type to sell. You also get n times the number of quest rewards that can be sold or disenchanted, though the cost of n amounts of training offsets this a bit.
+ Potentially faster levelling: Imagine being able to get double the AoE damage for your Mage while levelling. Although the exp is split over party members, you're killing twice as fast and this really adds up. Kill quests will go that much faster if you're doing more damage than a single character, and you can potentially do elite quests or even dungeons by yourself with a good setup.
- The cost: you pay n times the subscription fee plus the cost of any software. Not so much of an issue these days, but you need a computer powerful enough to play with n clients at your desired graphical settings. The requirements for Classic WoW are very slight by modern standards, I can multibox on a Lenovo tablet PC with an Intel i3, 4GB of RAM and integrated graphics if I drop the in-game graphics to 'Classic' or below. On a standard modern PC with something like an Intel i5 or AMD Ryzen, 8GB of RAM and a dedicated graphics card you will be able to push the graphics up or play 4 or 5 accounts at once.
- Required focus: below I will outline 2 different styles of play for multiboxing, but when picking different classes you have to be aware of what each class is doing most of the time. It's no good having your healer casting damage spells while your DPS dies again and again.
- Collection quests: honestly, the worst part of multiboxing in my opinion, you have to collect everything n times. Yes, your grinding more mobs but ultimately the quest EXP is what you want from collection quests, and having to get everything multiple times just takes an age. Be prepared to spend 30 mins or more on a single collection quest. On the positive side, I did 2 collection quests in Loch Modan and got 1.5 levels total...
What is ISBoxer? Do I have to use it?
ISBoxer is software designed specifically for multiboxing. It's designed for you to specify 2 or more characters in many different games, and then launch into those characters at the same time, and finally share keyboard and mouse commands with all launched clients.
There are alternatives, 2 of note are KeyClone and AutoHotKey. KeyClone is software similar to IsBoxer, designed for multiboxing, but AutoHotKey is a script-based automation tool for Windows that can be used to broadcast keystrokes to multiple windows without needing focus.
ISBoxer seemed the most comprehensive solution to me, able to work in a few different ways and even broadcast specific sets of keys based on the character that is loaded (so not every press of "1" has to go to every character).
As mentioned above, you don't have to use any software, and can manually swap between client windows to use characters. It's certainly possible to play this way depending on the classes you've chosen, but software tends to make the whole process faster and more efficient.
How to set up ISBoxer
I'm only going to cover the most basic setup I use as part of this quick guide, the LavishSoft wiki has many more detailed guides.
The playstyle I use is to have one character following the other, so that's what will be covered here. By default, ISBoxer will broadcast everything, including creating a virtual mouse cursor.
If you're playing multiples of the same class, I would recommend broadcasting everything (perhaps apart from Enter, so you can at least chat).
If you're playing classes of the same gameplay type, such as an arms Warrior and a retribution Paladin, then you can probably broadcast everything as well.
If you're playing multiple different classes / playstyles then it may be more beneficial to limit what's broadcasted, and turning off the virtual mouse.
My reasoning here is that you don't want (for example) your Hunter to get into melee range with your Rogue, therefore being unable to use your ranged weapon.
After downloading the software, you're presented with 2 programs that form the ISBoxer suite for multiboxing in WoW;
Inner Space, which is the platform that maintains the launch setup for any game that you want to multibox,
ISBoxer Suite, the program where your characters and character sets are defined and configured.
1. Launch ISBoxer Suite
4. Enter your key combinations in the field provided, one at a time. Personally, I only use 1 through to = and shift+1 through to shift+=. I would also recommend changing the 'Activate when the Hotkey is' to 'Pressed':
8. Repeat steps 5-7 for each required character.
10. Quick fire instructions for the wizard:
- Select 'World of Warcraft' as the game, hit 'Next'
- Select characters for the set by double-clicking them in the 'From ISBoxer' section. Make sure the 'Inner Space Game launch information' section is correct. Hit 'Next' when all characters have been selected:
- Pick a name for the Character Set, hit 'Next'
- Personally I didn't bother win a window layout as I chose to play in windowed mode and arrange them manually, so just hit 'Next'
- I left the CPU strategy as the default, and hit 'Next'
- Few options to change here, before hitting 'Finish':
I choose to enable broadcasting from the get-go, so I don't have to do anything special for my characters to work together.
I disable the broadcasting options as we've chosen this via the key maps already
I set the Follow/Assist mode to 'None' as I want to use macros here.
12: One final step is to export your ISBoxer config for use in Inner Space, by going to File -> Export All To Inner Space. There may be a dialog here that asks to modify some basic config in the game, I chose to say 'no' to this as I was setting the display mode to 'Windowed' manually, but it shouldn't be an issue to say 'yes'.
How to run ISBoxer
A shorter guide here, really only a few steps:
1. Launch Inner Space
2. Right-click on the system tray icon, and choose 'ISBoxer Character Sets' followed by your configured Character Set.
3. The Blizzard Launcher will start, select 'WoW Classic' and the account for your first character from step 10 above. Note that the program expects your characters to be logged into in the order chosen in step 10.
4. Select the character and log in. In the background, the Blizzard launcher will restart.
5. Repeat steps 4-5 for all characters.
Setting up characters and macros
In the steps above, I only set up keys on the number row and the shift modifiers for these keys to be broadcast. This means I'm 'limited' to 24 broadcastable keys, though in reality you don't need that many to effectively play multiple characters. Spells such as buffs and professions can be put onto action bars with no key mapping to be used individually.
I tend to remap the bottom right action bar to shift + number row for all characters, so it's very quick to assign spells and abilities for all characters. This gives me 3 more actionbars for character specific spells/abilities.
Playing 2 characters is the most simple, and I don't have experience with more than 3 honestly, so your mileage may vary for the number of acceptable keys, or you may just choose 5 Mages and broadcast everything, including enter so all 5 can yell LET IT GO!!! when casting Blizzard.
I tend to set both characters up with simple follow and assist macros:
This gives you a quick way to get your characters in a train and to get them all attacking the same thing. As you're always going to be directly controlling one character, all the others will always be attacking the same target as your main. For many setups this is all that's required, all ranged/ranged/.. combos will be shooting ro casting at the same target, all melee/melee/.. will be hitting the same target.
All that has to be done from here is to add abilities to the relevant slots, eg Heroic Strike for a Warrior on '2', and Sinister Strike for a Rogue also on '2'. You can then just mash 2 to always be using both abilities at the same time.
For individual spells an abilities i use the number row for my main and the shift modified row for my alt.
For healers, I'm using a targeted macro for healing spells, so I'm always sure to cast them on my main character (who should have aggro):
/Cast Healing Touch
Couple of things here:
- #showtooltip simply allows the full tooptip of the spell in the macro to be shown when mousing over the button, rather than just the name of the macro.
- cancelform is a post-vanilla macro update that allows a Druid to come out of Bear/Cat form to cast the spell, a requirement in Classic
- The macro will then default back to the main characters target to assist with DPS.
There's not much more to macros than this. I have my follow set up on '=' for both characters at the same time, meaning I only have to remember 1 key to make both characters follow each other; as I'm always directly controlling one character the follow is immediately cancelled, but I can use either as the 'main' with only a single keybind.
Final thoughts and the crux of why I multibox
I've been using an arms Warrior and restoration Druid combo in Classic so far. Basically I noly DPS with the warrior and the druid supports and heals. This gives me pretty much 0 downtime for 1v2 combat, and I can take on up to 4 same-level mobs without any real difficulty, tanking with Thunderclap and Demoralizing Shout.
This isn't as fast as running 2 DPS builds, but means that I keep going with my Warrior all the time, never really having to stop. This is ideal for my limited time commitment to the game, and is undoubtedly faster overall than solo warrior grinding.
In the future, I plan to do a Mage/Warlock combo as well.
I would recommend any complimentary classes for this method, ranged/ranged/.. and melee/melee/.. work very well, as does tank/healer.
With a bit of practice you can likely solo tank/heal dungeons for your group, with a bit of careful macro setup for healing!
Thanks for getting this far, happy to answer any questions. Hopefully the guide is correct but if anyone spots an error let me know and I'll update.
Dude... this is an actual legit guide!