Judgements: they’re not just for Retribution paladins any more.
There’s a fair amount of misinformation and misunderstanding floating around when it comes to paladin Judgements, and the issue of “who should Judge? when? why?” is something I’ve seen come up in discussion in a number of places recently, so: here’s a guide. First up is the primer; if you know the basics, skip to the end for the last three sections.
Three Key Facts
- You have to have a Seal spell currently active before you can cast a Judgement.
- There are three Judgement spell options, which share the same cooldown: Judgement of Light, Judgement of Wisdom and Judgement of Justice.
- Using a Judgement spell has three effects: damage, a debuff on the target, and a buff to you (and possibly others).
Casting a Judgement on a mob causes some amount of direct damage to it. This varies depending on which Seal you have active:
- Seal of Righteousness,
- Seal of Light,
- Seal of Wisdom,
- Seal of Justice,
- Seal of Blood/Seal of the Martyr,
- Seal of Corruption/Seal of Vengeance, or
- Seal of Command
The damage from Judging each seal scales differently with talents and stats; going into detail is outside the scope of this guide.
Debuffing the Target
The Judgement spells all apply a different debuff to the target. You generally can’t stack more than one debuff of each type on a single target, regardless of how many paladins are judging – this has not always been the case, but that’s usually due to bugs. Each debuff lasts 20 seconds, so a paladin will need to keep re-judging to keep the debuff up.
Judgement of Light applies a debuff to the target which has a chance to restore health to anyone who hits the target. This healing is attributed to the paladin who applied the judgement, and confers zero threat.
The amount of healing it gives scales with the gear of the judging paladin; the amount is calculated by (0.18 * AP) + (0.18 * SP). Therefore, if you’re fighting with multiple paladins, this should be applied by the people with the highest combined attack power and spellpower.
Judgement of Wisdom applies a debuff to the target which has a chance to restore mana to anyone who hits the target. This is a flat amount; 2% of the attacker’s base mana, so it doesn’t scale with the paladin’s gear, the attacker’s gear, or anyone else’s.
Judgement of Justice applies a debuff that stops the target from fleeing, and restricts their movement speed.
Used against mobs, this spell will stop them from running away at low health if they would normally do that. Used against players, this spell restricts people to 100% speed – ie, standard running speed. It nullifies speed increases from mounts, gear (ie enchants and gems), skills (like Dash/Sprint) or talents (like Pursuit of Justice or Unholy Aura). PvP trinkets will remove this effect, but druid shapeshifting won’t – for obvious reasons, this is a popular judgement in PvP, especially in arenas.
Each paladin talent tree has a talent that synergises with the use of your Judgement spells; the effects of these are very different, depending on your spec, but all are useful.
Holy paladins have the Judgements of the Pure talent, which increases their Haste by 15% for one minute after using a Judgement. This is very useful for healing; you only need to judge once a minute to keep this buff up, and the Haste can make a big difference in your healing output.
Protection paladins have the Judgements of the Just talent, which is technically a further debuff to the Judgement target: it reduces the target’s melee attack speed by 20%. This is a huge bonus when fighting opponents that do a lot of physical damage (like, say, most raid bosses); it’s a lot of incoming damage that the tank no longer has to soak or avoid, a lot of damage that the healers no longer have to heal.
Retribution paladins have the Judgements of the Wise talent, which restores 15% of their base mana immediately, and grants the Replenishment mana restoration buff to the raid. This talent makes Retribution paladins very useful to most raid groups.
(In addition, Retribution paladins and many Holy paladins also have the Heart of the Crusader talent, which applies an extra debuff to the target giving all attacks against it an extra 3% critical strike chance.)
So Who Judges What?
Paladins are pretty popular these days, which means many (I dare say most) raid groups will have more than one – which means you should be sharing the Judgement duties around, or else people are going to overwrite each other and waste useful abilities.
Judgement of Light is currently more useful than Judgement of Wisdom, because mana isn’t a problem for most people in current content. That may change – is likely to, in fact – in Ulduar, so raid groups in the future will need to revisit this issue. But for now, if you’ve only got one paladin, Judgement of Light is more useful than Judgement of Wisdom. And Judgement of Justice is useful only for the sake of triggering your talents; the debuff it confers doesn’t do anything useful.
So, in current content: Light > Wisdom > Justice.
Who judges which?
- Judgement of Light scales equally with Spellpower and Attack Power. Ret paladins should be applying this if they’re present, as a Retribution Paladin’s AP + SP total will be higher than that of other specs. Protection paladins are next on the list; Holy paladins should only be applying this if there are no other paladin specs in the raid.
- If there is a Protection paladin in the raid, they should not have their judgements overwritten, except by another Prot paladin – this is important, in order to keep Judgements of the Just active.
- Holy paladins can apply whatever Judgement isn’t already claimed by another spec, as they only need to judge once a minute for Judgements of the Pure; their judgement doesn’t have to stay up.
This all leads to:
The Bottom Line
If your raid has:
- Ret, Prot and Holy: Ret on Judgement of Light, Prot on Judgement of Wisdom, Holy on Judgement of Justice.
- Ret and Prot: Ret on Judgement of Light, Prot on Judgement of Wisdom.
- Ret and Holy: Ret on Judgement of Light, Holy on Judgement of Wisdom.
- Prot and Holy: Prot on Judgement of Light, Holy on Judgement of Wisdom.
- If all your group’s paladins are of the same spec, it doesn’t really matter who judges what. The best-geared paladin should judge Light, as it scales with gear, but it doesn’t really matter.
… But What About The Meters?!
There are holy paladins out there who will claim they should be judging Light so they get credit for all that healing done on the meters. There are raid leaders out there who look at healing meters and get angry if the Retribution paladin is nearly outhealing the Holy paladin.
To both of you, I say: fie on you! Healing is not a competition; the raid group is a team. Do you really want to give bad assignments that waste peoples’ potential, just so the meters look “right”?
If you’re that concerned about the meters, log the raid with WoW Webstats (aka WWS), look at the report afterwards, and ignore the amounts for Judgement of Light. Don’t let Meter Worry (or Meter Pride) goad you into encouraging the use of inappropriate Judgements, when in the right hands Judgements are powerful tools for your raid.