Discipline Priest PvE Guide
(Last updated 2/17/11.)
EDIT (2/9): A new video will be posted soon, please check back over the next week.
Hey folks, Zevia here.
As of the time of this post, there is no thorough discipline guide on the forums. This is a comprehensive and in-depth discussion of the discipline priest abilities, talents, and playstyle, with a video supplement to give you an idea of how it looks in practice.
If you find this information useful, do feel free to go ahead and let others know that you liked it by rating it up so that others may also reference it at a future point in time.
Table of Contents
IV. Spells and cooldowns (includes a list of spells by efficiency)
IVa. Should I use smite?
VI. How to tell if it's you making mistakes or your group
I'll be moving through the talent tree on a point-by-point basis, as if you were putting them in while leveling, so that you can see at which point each decision becomes available to you.
Points 1-5: Mana is the new challenge for healing in Cataclysm so far, so typically any time you can find something that will make your spells more efficient, you should go after it. With that in mind, 3/3 mental agility is a good route to go. It will reduce the mana cost on prayer of mending, renew, power word: shield, pain suppression, power infusion - anything that's instant cast. Channeled spells are not considered instant for the purposes of this talent.
Next is 2/2 in improved power word: shield. Power word: shield used to be a very weak spell for discipline, but is now significantly more efficient in terms of mana spent to amount healed.
Points 6-10: Probably the most controversial and often-talked about part of the new style to heal as discipline is the various talents that make it so you can use smite as part of your healing rotation. I will include a short discussion about it later on in this guide, so for these talent points, the important question is simply to ask yourself if you want to use smite or not.
If you do, then points 6-8 will go into evangelism and archangel. Evangelism is a stacking buff that makes your smite hit harder and cost less, as well as making penance cheaper to cast. Archangel is a cooldown you can use to consume evangelism and get a nice healing buff.
Prayer of healing is a better group heal when all 5 targets will be hit, but with the recent buff to power word: shield, semi-bubble-spam is actually viable again. As a result, soul warding is an attractive talent to pick up instead of twin disciplines. Therefore, points 9 and 10 will go here.
If you decide not to use smite, then points 6-8 would instead go into twin disciplines for the increased healing on your spells. Points 9 and 10 will go into soul warding.
Points 11-15: Because power word: shield is a primary spell in our rotation, we want to buff it up as much as possible. Renewed hope will cause your weakened soul debuff to provide extra crit chance on your target, so 2/2 is very useful. Power infusion is also one of the spec-defining cooldowns, so that should be picked up.
If you are going to use smite as part of your spec, then 2/2 atonement is where points 14 and 15 will go. Atonement will make it so that any time you smite a target, the lowest-health Ally within 15 yards of the center of the target's hitbox will receive a heal for 100% of the damage done. As of Dec. 21, atonement now properly receives healing modifiers, such as grace and archangel, as well as things like mortal strike.
If you are not going to use smite, then 1 point will go into inner focus, and one point will have to go into inner sanctum.
Points 16-20: Rapture and borrowed time are both talents that buff up power word: shield, and are, really, mandatory for the tree. Mana is going to be a serious issue if you don't pick it up. Borrowed time gives you a massive haste buff following every power word: shield that is a key component of our main rotation.
Points 21-25: Divine aegis is another key component of our healing rotation. It causes all your critical heals to provide another bubble on the target for 30% of the amount healed, and it continues to stack each time you crit if the target still has divine aegis up. Therefore, 3 points should go into divine aegis.
Point 24 should go in pain suppression, as it is one of our primary healing cooldowns. It will reduce the incoming damage on the target by 40%.
Point 25 should go into train of thought, as when combined with inner focus, it will actually cause greater heal to become a more efficient spell to cast than heal, since you will get a free greater heal roughly every 7 or 8 casts with increased crit chance (which subsequently increases divine aegis procs).
Points 26-30: Grace provides a 24% healing bonus on any target you are continually healing, and as such is essentially the talent that makes discipline priests an effective tank healer. As a result, 2 points will need to go here.
Point 28 should go back to train of thought to finish it out. If you are using the smite talents, then point 29 should go into inner focus. Inner focus is primarily used for greater heal or prayer of healing - it makes the next cast of either completely free with an increased 25% chance to crit. It's also on a 45 second cooldown, so it should basically be used whenever up and one of those two spells is being used.
If you are not using the smite talents, then points 28 and 29 will go into train of thought so that subsequent greater heals following the first one can reduce the cooldown on inner focus, and strength of soul.
Point 30 for both specs will go into filling out strength of soul - 1/2 for smite specs, 2/2 for non.
Point 31 will of course go into power word: barrier, which is a targetable dome that reduces damage by 30% to all targets standing in it.
Points 32-34: Whether or not you're using smite, the talent divine fury in the holy tree will reduce the cast time on your heal and greater heal spells by 0.5 seconds, and is basically mandatory.
Points 35-36: These should both go into empowered healing to give some extra oomph to your heal and greater heal spells. Renew simply doesn't do enough healing for discipline to be a main part of the rotation, and you'll get more mileage out of empowered healing as a result.
Points 37-38: 2/2 inspiration is the way to go. Discipline priests will be critting often, and each time you do, the target receives a buff that reduces incoming physical damage.
Points 39-41: These 3 points have a lot of different places they could go, and at this point, it's really up to the player. For smite specs, point 39 is highly recommended to go into strength of soul to finish it out. The last 2 points could then either go into veiled shadows for reduced cooldown on shadowfiend, empowered healing to buff heal and greater heal further, or twin disciplines to give a general buff to your heals and smite.
For the non-smite specs, point 39 is very highly recommended to go into empowered healing. Otherwise, darkness or veiled shadows are attractive for reduced shadowfiend cooldown or some extra haste.
I wouldn't really recommend surge of light for either specs, but that's honestly a personal choice. Over the course of a very long fight, it will increase your mana efficiency by giving you the occasional free flash heal. However, with a proc chance of only 6%, I find that getting the free flash heal when I actually need it seems to be very rare indeed.
For those who like talent calculators, here is a smite spec with 39 points and a non-smite spec with 39 points.
Discipline Priest PvE Guide (Updated 12/19/10)
Just a note: Atonement does in fact gain benefit from healing buffs. If it didn't before it does as of the recent hot-fixes. When I heal a tank with +healing talents Atonement heals for more than smite hit for. When archangel is active, atonement heals for 20% more than before.
As an aside, this makes smite spam + the glyph of smite better throughput than heal spam when you have evangelism fully stacked.
Edit: From the recent hot fix notes...
- The healing effect from Atonement is now being effected by healing modifiers correctly.