Edit: My initial hypothesis is under review. In the meantime, please feel free to discuss how your guild handles judgements in the comments and why you value JoW or JoL uptime in your raids. –Kurn (June 13)
All right. I’m taking deep breaths. Honest, I am. However, I have recently had occasion to go through various parses belonging to other guilds and I have noticed something that drives me a wee bit nuts:
Given two paladins (1 ret or prot and 1 holy), the holy paladin is judging light.
Don’t see why this is wrong? Think “oh, holy paladins heal, let’s have them judge light!”? Okay, then. Let’s examine what, exactly, the judgements do, shall we?
Paladins can put up three different debuffs on any hostile target:
Judgement of Light: “attacks made against the judged enemy a chance of healing the attacker for 2% of their maximum health”
Judgement of Wisdom: “giving each attack a chance to restore 2% of the attacker’s base mana.”
Judgement of Justice: “preventing them from fleeing and limiting their movement speed.”
We can basically throw out Judgement of Justice. It’s almost exclusively used in the domain of PVP. Since I’m addressing PVE encounters here, particularly 25-man raids, we will pretend Judgement of Justice doesn’t exist. (And druids and shammies who arena rejoice at the concept of a world without JoJ.)
Obviously, JoL and JoW are both important debuffs to place on the boss and even the adds at times. I think everyone can agree that 2% of your maximum health or 2% of your base mana is pretty sweet to proc, right? That’s a lot of healing and a lot of mana regen.
Now, let’s bear in mind that Divinity does not work the way you think it might when it comes to judging. That means that anyone’s JoL is basically equal to anyone else’s, at least when considering the raid group as a whole.
Let’s now look at a typical 25-man raid group.
3 tanks (say 1 warrior, 1 DK, 1 paladin)
6 healers (say 1 paladin, 2 priests, 2 druids, 1 shammy)
6 melee DPS (say 1 warrior, 1 DK, 2 rogues, 1 enhance shammy, 1 kitty)
10 ranged DPS (say 2 hunters, 2 shadow priests, 2 mages, 2 warlocks, 1 ele shammy, 1 moonkin)
That’s 25 people. All 25 of them have health bars. 7 of them do not have mana bars and 6 of them (the healers) are not going to be attacking the boss with any kind of regularity. That means that even though 6 of them aren’t really going to attack the boss, there’s still 19 people who are going to benefit from Judgement of Light versus 12 people who will benefit from Judgement of Wisdom.
Even if that wasn’t as large a difference in terms of pure numbers, let’s look at this logically:
If you run out of mana, you’re probably not going to die, you’re just going to have to stop casting spells or special attacks until you get mana back.
If you run out of health, you’re dead.
Hm. Now, which Judgement should have priority on a mob?
The answer is, of course, Judgement of Light.
Now, let’s examine why paladins judge at all. Surely there’s a reason, right? Apart from debuffing the mob in a helpful manner?
Yes, all three specs of paladin have a reason to judge the mob.
1) Retribution Paladins: Judgements of the Wise. So not only are they proccing the Replenishment effect whenever they judge, which Blizzard themselves have admitted they expect all raid groups to have, but judging is a damaging ability. ICC-geared ret pallies in my guild are judging for 7k, critting for 14k. It is an integral part of the ret pally DPS rotation. They are specced for Improved Judgements so they are judging on cooldown, every 8 seconds. That leads to really, really, really high uptime on whatever debuff they’re judging.
2) Protection Paladins: Judgements of the Just. Hey, look! It’s the prot pally version of Improved Thunder Clap! That’s to say, both those abilities reduce the mobs’ attack speed by 20%. Which is, you know, awesome. Plus, because tanks do have damage-dealing abilities to help cause threat, judging is also an integral part of the prot pally 96969 rotation. So they’re also judging on cooldown, every 8-10 seconds, depending on talents, even if the judgement debuff (and attack speed debuff) lasts 20 seconds. This also leads to a really, really, really high uptime on whatever debuff they’re judging.
3) Holy Paladins: Judgements of the Pure. 15% spell haste. Gorgeous. This talent is what allows us to reach a 1s GCD with 676 haste and is just generally awesome for getting more casts in during the same time frame. (The result being that your cast times drop pretty drastically.) However, unlike our melee-friendly brethren, our Judgements of the Pure buff lasts a full minute. We do NOT have a built-in reason to judge any more than once a minute, if we are playing as selfishly as possible and we have no mana problems. The prots and rets, however, even in the most selfish scenario, are judging on cooldown. In that scenario, we are judging once a minute.
– Protection and Retribution paladins judge on cooldown, Holy paladins judge at least once a minute but do not necessarily need to judge more than that for optimum self-performance. (Exception: Judging can proc Seal of Wisdom, which most holy paladins should be using if their style is Holy Light. Still, meleeing or judging strictly for mana return is not always possible, so I won’t really address that, preferring to stick solely to judgements and their uptimes.)
– Judgement of Light should be the priority debuff placed on any mob, followed by Judgement of Wisdom and Judgement of Justice should be ignored entirely.
Everyone following me? Good.
Now, then, it is a logical continuation of these thoughts that leads to ret and prot pallies judging light and leaving wisdom to the holy pallies, isn’t it?
You know that if the prot or ret pally is alive, they will be judging. This leads to near 100% uptime on their chosen debuff.
But what of the holy paladins, who are busy healing like crazy, dealing with insane tank damage, making sure to refresh Beacon of Light and Sacred Shield and trying to judge when there’s a bit of a healing slump? Sure, you can usually find an extra GCD to throw a judgement at the boss to maintain a better uptime than 20 seconds on every minute. But not always. Judge the boss more than once a minute on, say, Heroic Deathbringer Saurfang when you’re solo-healing two Marks of the Fallen Champion? Not going to happen or you’re probably going to lose your marks, unless you time it exceedingly carefully.
Not only that, but even with Enlightened Judgements, which every single holy paladin should have, you can still actually miss your Judgement. You need 8% hit to hit a raid boss with a Judgement without missing. Since Judgements are considered ranged physical attacks (like a hunter’s auto shots), they are not affected by a moonkin’s Improved Faerie Fire or a shadow priest’s Misery. Even with a Draenei in your party, for Heroic Presence, that’s still only 5% chance to hit. So you can miss, which means both your debuff of choice and your Judgements of the Pure will not be applied or refreshed. And if you then are swamped by healing, it might be a while yet before you can try to judge again.
What does that all mean?
It means that the uptime on a Judgement debuff by a holy paladin will almost always suck compared to the uptime on one by a ret or a prot paladin.
It means that the following setup is probably the best way to maintain high uptimes on the debuffs most important to the group.
1 paladin (any spec): Judgement of Light, preferably judged at least every 20 seconds.
2 paladins (ret/ret or ret/prot or prot/prot or holy/holy): Split them up, one judgement each, judge at least every 20 seconds if possible.
2 paladins (holy/ret or holy/prot): The ret or the prot gets Light, the holy gets Wisdom.
3 paladins (holy/ret/prot or holy/ret/ret or holy/prot/prot): The melee paladins split the judgements and the holy picks one and only judges more than once a minute if they feel they can — or for Seal of Wisdom procs, as mentioned above.
3 paladins (holy/holy/holy): Put two holies on Light and one on Wisdom to achieve a higher uptime on Light. The logic here is that all the holy paladins will judge at least once a minute, probably at different times, so while there will be some overlap, it leads to more uptime than just one of them judging it.
3 paladins (holy/holy/ret or holy/holy prot): The ret or the prot takes Light and the holy paladins both take Wisdom. The logic here is the same as above for Light, only applied to Wisdom.
4 paladins (holy/holy/ret/ret or holy/holy/ret/prot or holy/holy/prot/prot): Melee paladins split judgements between them, holy paladins split judgements between them, so you have the melee pallies really responsible for the uptimes and the holies are free to judge whenever, but are still judging something valuable in case one of the melee pallies dies.
Any other situation I didn’t cover: You can figure this out yourself, just make sure any melee paladins are judging Light first, then Wisdom and assign holies to be backups, basically.
Questions? Comments? Got a better method for splitting up the Judgement of Light/Wisdom debuffs? Do tell! :)