There’s a lot more to being good in battle than just good gear and abilities – being able to switch between targets quickly can help you be better fighter during group flashpoints, operations and warzones.
When it comes to both PvE and PvP, being able lock down a target is invaluable. In PvE, there are often mechanics that will cause you to prolong or even lose the fight if you’re attacking the wrong target. In PvP, picking the right targets is how your team can take down the enemy quickly. Being able to mark a target, use your keyboard to rotate through targets, viewing your target of target and using focus target are all things that you can learn to become a better fighter.
“Marking” a target is placing a symbol over an ally or enemy’s head to make them more easily identifiable.
In Operations and Flashpoints, this can be used during fights against a lot of enemies to single out a target, so everyone in the group attacks it first instead of everyone attacking random targets. This is especially useful in boss fights with lots of enemies that you need to kill quickly.
In boss fights, bosses that look similar are often marked to tell them apart more easily. A lot of boss fights have mechanics that require you to switch between targets, and marking your targets can help distinguish between them in the heat of battle. For instance, there’s a fight in the Temple of Sacrifice operation that requires the group to switch between two giant walkers at certain times. The raid leader will often call out which walker the group is supposed to be on so everyone attacks the correct walker. Instead of calling out left or right which is easily confused if you’re facing the wrong direction, or the names of the walkers which are sometimes hard to remember while in the middle of a fight, the raid leader can simply call out “Fire” or “Lightning”. Then everyone on the team can easily confirm their target by either looking at the floating symbol above their target’s head, or at the big symbol on their target’s portrait.
Groups also sometimes use targets to mark what enemies you shouldn’t attack during operations or flashpoints. For example, a stealther might put an enemy to sleep, by placing a stun on them that breaks on damage. They then might mark their sleeping target so that no one accidently attacks them until your group has dealt with the rest of the enemies.
The “target” symbol almost always means “kill this first” or “attack this”… but the other symbols have no default meaning, so make sure to check with your group to know what someone is marking for.
If you need to keep track of your teammates during an operation or flashpoint, you can also place a marker over their head. This can be used to mark a tank so your group knows to follow them or stay away from them depending on the fights, or you can mark an experienced raid member so newer members know they can always stand beside them if they get lost or are unsure where to stand.
In PvP warzones, marking is equally important. In arenas, teams will often mark the enemies to make it clearer which specific enemy they should attack together as a team first. It’s a lot faster to recognize a giant floating target than trying to identify someone by their name or class.
In the non-arena warzones, markers are almost always used to mark healers. In almost every group battle it’s best for your team to find the enemy healers and kill them first… so if you happen to find a healer, do your team a favour and mark them. And of course, while fighting, keep your eyes open for the marked healers and attack them first. You can also easily remind your team to “attack target” or “attack purple cog” more easily than you can remind them to attack the name of the healer… if they have nameplates off, they might not even be able to identify them, but a giant floating purple cog is very easy to spot.
To mark a target, the easiest way to is to right-click their portrait and choose the marker you want to appear over their heads. You can also keybind the various symbols at the bottom of the Targetting tab in the Key Binding preferences.
Switching between targets is also a very important part of both PvE and PvP. In PvE operations, it’s often important to attack or interrupt specific enemies at specific times – sometimes because the enemy you are currently attacking has become shielded and attacking them is a waste of time, other times you just need to interrupt a nearby enemy that’s about to cast a powerful attack.
The most well-known way to switch between targets is to click on them and select them. The second most well know is to use the “tab” key on your keyboard to cycle through enemies. If there’s only a few enemies in the room, this is the fastest way to switch between them. Hitting tab if you don’t have an enemy selected will select the next one for you – handy if you want to jump right into a nearby fight.
Apart from just tabbing between enemy targets, you can also set a keybinding for “target nearest enemy” and “target previous enemy” in your keybindings.
There’s a setting that allows you to “auto target closest enemy”. This setting is great when you are ok attacking anything that moves, like during your class story or simple mobs of enemies. It will automatically target the next enemy nearby once you’ve killed the one you just targetted – so you can use your abilities without having to manually tab between targets as they die. If you’re working on certain operations or want to be very careful with stuns in pvp, you can turn this setting off. That way, you won’t accidentally attack an enemy you didn’t want too, just because your original target died unexpectedly and you then attacked the next one. This can be turned on or off by press ESC > Preferences > Controls, and it’s a checkbox at the top of the controsl settings. There’s also a nice setting in here that allows you to “deselect target upon clicking on terrain” that allows you to have no target selected by clicking on the ground.
If you’re a healer and want to easily target your friends, there are a few ways to do so. The most obvious is to find them and click on their character. The next easiest way is to click on their character name in the raid frame, where you can also see their health bar and any debuffs they might have. Because of the fast-thinking nature of healing, Healers should take full advantage of keybinding their allied targets. In the targetting keybinds, healers can keybind “Target Nearest Friend”, “Target Next Friend”, “Target Self”, and there are keybinds for targetting your four group members in arenas or flashpoints. There are even keybindings for targetting your friend’s companions!
A quicker way than targetting yourself is to use the “self target modifier” keybind. Modifiers work a bit differently than normal keybind – you must press them at the same time as your other keybind or ability to make them work. They “modify” your original keybind rather than being a whole new keybind of their own. The “self target modifier” keybind lets you quickly throw a heal or cleanse to yourself, without having to deselect your current target. Healers can use this to quickly heal themselves while still having the tank they’re healing more often selected.
All roles, tanks, healers and DPS, have access to a special interface panel that isn’t on by default. It’s called the “Target of Target” panel, and it helps you see who your target is attacking. So if you’re attacking a boss, the target-of-target will likely show the tank that has the boss’s attention. If you’re by yourself, it might show you or your tanking companion. During a fight, this panel can be extremely useful.
As a tank, you’ll be able to see who the boss is currently attacking, and it can help you tell when you’ve accidentally lost aggro on the boss. If you’re a DPS, it can help you identify when you’ve accidentally attracted the boss’s attention… and it might give you enough time to use some of your defensive cooldowns before it’s too late.
You can also use it when you’re lost – try targetting a friend who you know is attacking the right enemy, and then you can select that target-of-target panel and you’ll have the correct enemy selected that you can now attack. This is also useful in pvp when you’re following around a more experienced friend – that way you can both attack the same targets together and kill them faster.
There’s even a keybind to acquire your target’s target.
If there are multiple enemies in the fight, a great tool to use is called “Focus Target”. Focus target allows you to have an enemy’s health and portrait on your screen, even if you have a different enemy selected. Focus target is especially great in operations that have two enemy bosses you need to switch between, or just to keep tabs on. Healers can use the Focus Target to keep track of the boss as they switch between group members they’re healing. In PvP, Focus Target can be used to more easily watch a teammate who’s watching a node.
You’ll first need to enable focus target in your preferences, at the top of the controls settings. Once enabled, the default focus target keybind is alt+4. If you select an enemy or ally and press alt+4, their portrait and healthbar will popup on your interface. This popup will still show if you deselect your focused target.
There’s also a keybind modifier to quickly target your focus target. This works great if you have two enemies you need to switch between and both are in your reach – you can have one focus targetted, and the other simply be your current target. Then, anytime you need to attack the focused one instead, hold down the modifier key and any abilities you cast will go on your focused target instead.
Healers in pvp can make great use of this too. A healer can place their tank buddy as their focus target, and easily switch to them anytime they need some healing love.
If you really want to make things complicated, there’s even a keybind to “acquire focus target’s target”.
Apart form all they keybinds available to help you switch between targets, there’s also a trick to help you aim when you already have a target selected.
When you’re trying to place down an area-of-effect attack or trying to keep your group alive with an area-of-effect heal, the most well known way to put it down is to activate your ability, then use your mouse to click on the ground where you want to place it.
But there’s also an easier way of placing it if you want it to be centered directly on top of an enemy or friend. If it’s an attack, try targetting an enemy, then double-clicking or double-tapping your ability. This will put it down automatically on top of your targetted enemy, without you having to spend time aiming it with your mouse! You can also do this with healing abilities when you target friends.
If you managed to set up your focus target, keybound your various targetting keybinds, enabled your target and target interface, and learned how to double-tap, it’s time for you to get out there! The only thing you have left to do before you conquer the galaxy is to practice, practice, practice, and you’ll be looking sharper in both operations and warzones in no time.