The Light and How to Swing It: Judgements 101

Elizabeth Harper
E. Harper|04.04.09

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The Light and How to Swing It: Judgements 101

"Judgements?" I hear you scoffing. "We've been using Judgements since we were level 4! We know everything there is to know about Judgements!"

I know, I know. We've all been using Judgements since we were wee little Paladins with only the strength to equip mail armor. Perhaps we all really do know everything there is to know about these Paladin perks. And yet... while they're pretty straightforward when you're soloing or in a small group, the more people you're playing with, the more important it is to know who should be using what when.

Let's start out with the basics. As it stands, we have three Judgements, which generate the following effect when used on an enemy target:
  • Light:You regain health every time you attack the target. (Though Light's healing used to cause threat -- making it the Judgement of choice for Protection Paladins -- it has been threat-free since patch 3.0.8, meaning anyone can use it without fear of pulling aggro.)
  • Wisdom: You regain mana every time you attack the target.
  • Justice: Prevents the target from fleeing and limits their movement speed.
And the nitty gritty details on the subject of Judgements, from the nitty gritty individuals at Elitist Jerks: "All Judgements should be considered as ranged physical attacks, which can miss or crit but cannot be resisted, parried, or dodged. Some game data mining reveals that Judgements are actually melee attacks that have been modified to be immune to parries and dodges, yet they have a 10 yard range and cannot be used while silenced." Are Judgements melee attacks? Are they spells? We may never know, but we do know they can't be parried, dodged, or resisted.

So, now, what are your Judgements good for?

Judgements 102: When to use your Judgements

From the effects, the use is fairly obvious:
  • Use Light when you (or your party) need health. Probably the best all-purpose Judgement -- you can never really have too much health! -- and it will benefit everyone in your party. Not sure what to Judge? Light is never a bad first choice.
  • Use Wisdom when you (or your party) need mana. Wisdom comes in a close second after Light. Non-Holy Paladins will often find themselves mana starved, and Wisdom can go a long way to keeping your mana pool happy and healthy. The rest of the mana users in the party (even the healers, who can now wand or melee to regenerate their mana pool) will thank you for it, too.
  • Use Justice when you don't want Murlocs to run away at low health and bring back a dozen of their closest friends. (Though, personally, I tend to find it helpful when Murlocs run off and fetch a dozen of their closest friends for me. It saves the trouble of doing it myself!) While Light and Wisdom will probably be all you'll touch if you're a PvEer at heart, Justice is more useful in the world of PvP. Judging it will limit anyone's movement speed to 100% -- or full running speed. Mounted targets, sprinting Rogues, and Travel Form Druids won't be able to move any faster than you do after laying down some Justice on them. (Note: You can't trinket out of this or escape it in a number of ways because it is not considered a "movement speed impairing effect," but instead a "movement speed limiting effect." It doesn't lower your base speed, but instead prevents buffs from speeding you up.)

Judgements 201: Using your Judgements in a raid

Still nothing you don't already know? Well, riddle me this, my plate armored friends -- which Judgement do you use if you're in a group (most likely a raid) with more than one Paladin? What if you have two Holydins and a Retadin? What if you have a Protadin, Holydin, and a Retadin? What if you have two Protadins and a Holydin? In each case, the ideal Judgements for each Paladin are going to be a little different, and here's why:
  • Light: Scales off attack power plus spell power. (Specifically, 10% AP + 10% spell power.) In a raid situation, you want Light to be up all the time for its all-over healing boost -- and you want it to be cast by the Paladin with the highest combined attack power and spell power. In almost all cases, this will be your Retribution Paladin, who will have a high attack power as well as a portion of their attack power turned into spell power. If you don't have a Retribution Paladin, a Protection Paladin is your next best option, and Holy is a distant third -- while both Retribution and Protection Paladins going through a standard spell rotation will keep a Judgement active 100% of the time. A Holy Paladin -- occasionally distracted by that annoying need to heal people -- probably won't.
  • Wisdom: This returns a flat 2% of base mana on proc and doesn't scale, so it doesn't matter who casts it. However, you'll also want 100% uptime on Wisdom if you can get it -- which makes Retribution and Protection spec Paladins your best bets.
  • Justice: Doesn't scale or really do anything to your typical raid mob. This is what players who aren't casting Light or Wisdom should judge -- so they don't overwrite an existing Light or Wisdom Judgement. Often the domain of Holy Paladins who will only use it every 60 seconds to keep their Judgements of the Pure ability up.
The Cliffs' Notes version for the TLDR crowd: Retribution should Judge Light, Protection should Judge Wisdom, and whoever's left can Judge Justice.

Judgements 202: What about Holy Paladins?

"But Elizabeth," you cry. "Why do you hate Holy Paladins? Why have you relegated them to the most useless Judgment in the group? They have plenty of spell power for Judgement of Light! Plus, they're healers, shouldn't they be in charge of the healing Judgment?"

All I can say is I play a Holy Paladin -- and I know from experience that if I have to make a choice between casting a heal that's going to save a party member and keeping a Judgement up, I'm going to cast the heal every time. A Holy Paladin can do a great job at keeping Judgements up (and they have talents that let them cast from a safe distance, which is a definite bonus) -- most of the time. But unless there's not a lot of healing to be done, you aren't likely to get 100% uptime on any Judgements a Holy Paladin is trying to keep up, while both Protection and Retribution Paladins will be laying down a Judgement every cooldown.
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