Paladin Basics: Judgements and Targeting

[PLEASE NOTE: This article has not been updated to reflect the 4.3 changes to Judgement and Seal of Insight. I will be updating it soon! ]

Welcome to Holy Paladin University with Professor Fannon.  This recurring series of articles is going to focus on the How-To's and How-Not-To's of healing Paladin-style, from the basics to the advanced.  In this introductory article I'm talkin' Judgments and how to hit the right internet dragon every time.

As a Holy Paladin one of the things you are going to be doing frequently is Judging.  Judgement is an offensive spell that is extremely important to a healing Paladin as it gives us a lot of benefits over the incredibly meager damage that it does, and you should be casting whenever it is available as much as you possibly can.  Reaching for the Judgement button is completely instinctual for me now.  It's to the point where I need to ensure that on my other characters I put something in that keybind that needs to be cast a lot, because it's an entirely automatic reflex.

A Holy Paladin using Seal of Insight casting Judgement on a target provides a lot of different benefits:

  • Causes a small amount of damage to the target
  • Automatically returns 15% of base mana (For me it's about 3400 at the moment)
  • Counts as a melee attack, sometimes returning 4% base mana via Seal of Insight
  • Gives Judgements of the Pure, providing a 9% Haste buff for 1 minute

At a minimum, a Holy Paladin should be casting this spell once per minute, simply for the extra haste from Judgements of the Pure.  However, in the Cataclysm healing environment, the mana return mechanisms are far more important and makes casting Judgement as often as possible critical.  Frequent Judging will help you have enough mana to heal longer fights and be more effective.


But in an era of Crowd Control, how do you make sure that you're hitting the right target?  How do you ensure that you're not going to get that nasty internet dragon munching on your face?

The trick to healing and Judging seamlessly is target selection, or rather, the lack thereof.  Normally, a healer is going to be rapidly targeting friendly players while casting heals.  If you then press Judgement (or any other attack) without first selecting a hostile target, the game will automatically target whichever mob is closest to you.  There is nothing worse that hitting the Judgement button and having the game select the wrong target, breaking Crowd Control or causing you to get aggro.  It's vitally important to make sure that you're Judging the right target.  Luckily, there is a very simple way to do this that doesn't require any add-ons or effort.


The default Focus Frame.  Hi Mack.
The easiest way to solve this problem is to use the Focus feature of the default user interface.  Focus allows you to 'tag' a mob or party member that you want to keep an eye on.  In the default UI, focusing on a target will give you another, movable unit frame with your Focus Target in it.  You can use this to keep an eye on your Focus Target's health, use it to quickly switch targets and many other things, but the real power of this feature comes from how it can be used in macros.

For Judgement, this is the macro that I use:

/cast [exists,harm][@focustarget,exists,help][] Judgement

This macro will cast Judgement on your Focus Target's target if you have a focus, and on your current target if you don't.  This allows you to use it in groups or soloing without changing anything.

For both raiding and dungeons, the best thing to focus on is the Tank.  By always targeting the Tank's target while grouped, it is almost guaranteed that you will always be Judging the target that the Tank has the best threat on, and you will almost never break a Crowd Controlled mob early.  The best habit to get into is at the beginning of any dungeon or raid to set your Focus Target on the Tank and be content that each Judgement that you cast will hit the proper target.

This system can be used for all of your offensive spells by altering the macro for each spell.

To set a Focus Target, select what you want to focus and type /focus or right click on the unit frame and select Set Focus.  For more information on Focus and some of it's uses, check out Wowpedia's article: http://www.wowpedia.org/Focus_target

I have found that using Focus in this way is the simplest method of making sure that your Judgements hit the appropriate target.  What method, if any, do you use to make sure that you're not Judging the wrong target?  Do you use add-ons?  Or is it something that you haven't worried about?


  1. Judging is something I always find myself doing less and less as encounters wear on. I get so caught up in the heat of the moment that, when I'm mana-starved and I wonder why I never think to look at the dust around my 2 key (keybound to Judgement).

    Also, with your example of the mana-return, 3.4k is *nothing* to scoff at, especially when all it costs you is a global cooldown. It's something everyone needs to remember.

    Speaking of remember, I'm tempted to make my self a Power Aura like I had when hunters had mana. Basically, what it did was notice when I was in Viper and had over 80% mana and screamed "HEY DUMMY, WHY SO VIPER" in big bold letters. What I'm thinking my Judgement PA would be is: 1) Less than 75% mana? 2) Judgement off CD? If the answer is yes: "WHY DO YOU HATE FREE MANA, STUPID? SMASH JUDGEMENT NAO"


  2. Power Auras is definitely the way to go for this one. i could never use shadowfiend effectively as a shadowpriest the second time it was up, and PA made it a no-brainer. if you're judging every time the ability is up, then it's really easy to create. just create a new aura and set it to display an icon *in plain view, so you won't miss it* (tip, this icon should look very similar to the judgement icon. very self-similar in fact). every time you see it, you hit the button (you're not clicking. i Know you're not clicking) and the icon disappears.

  3. I have always been ret, but when I dual specced Holy, I found myself Judging more that needed XD, and its weird how some Pallys sometimes just forget to judge.

  4. I've started playing a Holy Paladin recently and am learning how to.. well.. play it!

    Stole your Judgement macro immediately because in Wrath I used Clique and like two healing spells (cause it was all that was needed) which let me keep the mobs targeted rather than the players. Now I find that we actually have to use more spells (which I like!) but it also means I don't want to use Clique (it's a good addon but I'm bad at using it) so a macro to just judge the tank's target is just what I need.

    I did my first level 85 normal dungeon the other day and was going oom a LOT. I'm now thinking it was a combination of being new to healing in Cataclysm, not judging enough and not yet having the right glyphs. It's now all sorted, and with this macro I hope to do a lot better!

  5. Also, focus macros are cool, but they mean you have to be looking at one more frame all the time. In most situations you can replace your focus macro with

    /assist (name of tank)
    /cast (name of spell)

    i'll cut a fraction of a second off your cast each time.

  6. If you often raid/ run heroics with death knight tanks, this macro provides less security to unwanted cc breaks. Pay attention if they cast death & decay, they don't have any target at this moment. So judging in this moments can cause tricky situations :)