Disclaimer: At present, this FAQ only addresses RAIDING discipline priests, with some information applying to heroics.
I am very interested in the subject of PVE discipline healing, and I’m personally involved with it as a discipline priest. I’ve noticed that there are tons of posts every day with basic questions about discipline and that the EJ thread on the subject, while very well maintained and written, is not really directed at discipline priests.
I have also noticed that there is a lot of confusion among the general public about the usefulness of discipline, what discipline priests strengths and weaknesses are, and how to properly utilize a discipline priest in raids.
So I’m writing this FAQ to try and address these sorts of issues, and I’m hoping that everyone will bear with me because this is my first attempt to write a public post like this. If there is anything I am missing, anything you feel should be included or added, or any thoughts or comments you have to feel free to reply, and I may alter portions of the post to reflect peoples thoughts.
General FAQ for Raid Leaders/Curious People
Q. What does discipline bring to the table?
A. Discipline priests have highly efficient, but the powerful single target (tank) healing with supplementary mitigation buffs on a tank. They also have some useful buffs for the raid, high mana regen, and excellent single target healing and mobility due to increased haste, and instant ‘oh crap’ abilities on a low cooldown.
Many people believe that holy is a superior single target spec because of spiritual healing, spiritual guidance, enlightenment, guardian spirit, and to a lesser extent, serendipity, which provide more sustained HPS. Holy is viable for single target direct healing, and is certainly more versatile – however, in the realm of single target healing, discipline is undoubtedly also a powerful option.
Things that your discipline priest can provide:
* -3% damage taken on players that the discipline priest is healing. The damage mitigation portion of this buff currently does not stack with Blessing of Sanctuary.
* Inspiration will have excellent up time from a properly geared disc priest, which is + 25% armor on the tank. A properly geared priest will gain approximately +1%~ increased critical strike rating from Mental Strength – more as gear level increases – and +4% increased critical strike rating from Renewed Hope. Thus a discipline priest has about a 5% better chance to apply inspiration, a portion of that scaling with gear and buffs.
* Fast Mass Dispels for group cleansing.
* Discipline priests have a higher intellect than holy priests, which at level 80 translates DIRECTLY into higher mana regeneration. They also have a regeneration mechanic based off of max mana pool and effective healing. The replenishment buff from Shadow priests, ret paladins, and enhancement shaman is also based off of max mana pool, meaning that a discipline priest gains more benefits from it than a holy priest. The main reason discipline has ‘better’ mana regeneration, is that in addition to having obviously better character sheet mana regen from the constant int boost through mental strength, their mechanics are based on effective healing and maximum mana pool. Rather than the holy style of getting a chance to proc holy concentration or surge of light to escape the FSR, and returns based on overhealing a target via serendipity.
* + 80 Spirit to members of the raid. If you do not have a shaman in the group providing flame tongue totem, then a discipline priest can also provide + 80 additional spell power to members of the raid.
Increased DPS for your highest DPS casters via power infusion ( -20% mana cost to spells, + 20% haste). This can also be used on a healer, or on the priest himself. With aspiration, this has a 1-minute uptime on a 5-minute fight, assuming you cast it immediately.
Pain Suppression, aka the second shield wall – useable three times in a 5-minute fight assuming you cast it immediately. The 5% threat drop applies to threat generated only during the actual buff duration. The ‘missing’ threat does not return.
Things that your discipline priest will not be so great at:
* Group healing/Cross-group healing. If you want a discipline priest to do group healing, it is best to put them in a group that they will be within 30 yards range of to cast prayer of healing, which is still inefficient at best for group healing.
General FAQ for Discipline Priests
Q. So I want to spec discipline. What talent points make or break the spec?
A. Talents that stand alone:
Divine Spirit (Not Improved Divine Spirit)
Improved Inner Fire
Talents that support Core Discipline abilities:
Supplementary Utility options include Pain Suppression and Power Infusion.
Talents that you shouldn’t take:
Improved Mana Burn
Talents that are currently under heavy debate:
Q. Healing Focus – Is it useless?
A. This talent is currently under heavy scrutiny – It’s fine to heal without it in PVE as a discipline ( I do so ). Some people somehow end up losing ticks of Penance, a phenomenon I have yet to encounter, but if you ARE experiencing this, then it may be in your best interest to pick it up. See above for example builds that do, and do not include healing focus.
Q. Improved DS – What’s the deal?
A. Improved DS does not stack with the shaman Flametongue totem buff, which provides more spell power than Improved DS does. It is not worth taking in a raid setting where shamans are present. The standard DS talent is still worthwhile as many classes utilize the extra spirit now for damage conversions.
Q. What Glyphs Should I use?
A. Glyph of PWS – This is essentially the best glyph in a discipline priests lineup. It adds 20% of your absorption effect on PWS as a heal, which is instant. Thus it essentially adds that amount of healing to your already powerful shields and additionally makes your shields just that much more efficient.
Glyph of Flash Heal – This glyph is essential if you intend to use Flash Heal at all. It brings the mana efficiency of Flash Heal ALMOST to the level of Greater Heal and is one of the better glyphs available to us as priests.
Glyph of Shadowfiend – This minor glyph that I would consider fairly major (pun intended). We all know that shadow fiend may sometimes die when we would prefer it not to. This glyph will return 5% of your maximum mana when your Shadow Fiend dies from damage. This is obviously good for us since our maximum mana pools are typically large, due to our focus on intellect. This can be beneficial in another way, as you can wait until your shadow fiend duration is almost over ANYWAYS, and then attempt to position it where it will die from something. This tactic can be extremely rewarding if you can manage to pull it off correctly.
Q. What should I be casting?
A. The bread and butter spells of a discipline priest are PWS & Penance. Prayer of mending is an excellent option because it can now crit, which will proc Divine Aegis and it bounces between group members which again will supplement your poor group healing abilities in situations where it’s necessary.
You have to cast something when your cooldowns are down usually, and there are two schools of thought on this. Many people believe that when you’ve glyph Flash Heal, you can cast Flash Heal when your bread and butter abilities are on cooldown and that it’s superior to casting greater heal. Still, other people believe that you should be casting Greater Heal.
The debate on the matter is centralized on the following:
Pro Flash Heal
1. While greater heal is slightly more mana efficient than a glyph flash heal, Flash Heal has a smaller chance to heal over, maximizing returns from rapture.
2. In a similar window of time to casting one greater heal, you can cast two Flash Heals and have more of a chance to critically strike, proccing Divine Aegis.
Pro Greater Heal
1. Greater heal is more efficient assuming you time it well and it does not overheal. Some players find this to be a fairly easy task.
2. It takes slightly longer to achieve the same amount of healing with Flash Heal, and since Divine Aegis currently overwrites itself, a second critical strike with Flash Heal may be wasted anyways. Additionally, any Divine Aegis proc from Flash Heal will yield a smaller shield than a Divine Aegis proc from a Greater Heal.
You do not HAVE to spec divine fury to be discipline, as Flash Heal can be a fine stand-in. However, you really should get inspiration as a discipline priest, so you will have to choose between a few questionable early holy talents.
You could also only put 3 points in Divine Fury, or take improved renew/healing focus, or questionably spell warding instead if you don’t think you will ever use greater heal.
Q. Why don’t discipline priests place a lot of value in renew?
A. You *can* cast renew. It is not BAD to cast renew; it’s more a question of ‘when.’ As far as spell priority, many things fall ahead of renew simply because they benefit from our talents, where renew does not.
* Cannot crit. Will not proc DA, nor will it proc inspiration
* Will not add a stack of Grace
* Does not return mana from Rapture
Essentially, casting renew is not wrong, but it’s better for our spec to cast PWS, Penance, Prayer of Mending, or in some situations, even Flash Heal FIRST, except in situations where you are adding a hot simply to pad the tank.
It isn’t worth blowing 3 points in improved renew UNLESS you prefer flash heal to greater heal, and you choose to take improved renew. See above for benefits/comparison of the two casting styles.
It certainly isn’t worth glyphs for renewing over PWS or Flash Heal glyph, PARTICULARLY if you’re a person who chose flash heal spam as a casting style.
It is a tossup between glyphs for Renew Vs. Another glyph such as holy nova or prayer of healing to supplement your group healing. You can choose whatever you’d like in this department.
Concerns about Shielding the Tanks
In most cases, PWS no longer significantly affects rage generation. However, if you are having problems with people pulling aggro off the tank, it will usually be at the start of a fight, and avoiding pre-shielding the tank may be a helpful fix. During raid bosses, this really shouldn’t be an issue, as no one should be DPSing a boss until it is in position and held by the tank. During heroics, normal instances, and specifically pugs, though, you may see issues with this, so make sure to avoid pre-shielding.
Group Healing as a Disc Priest
* Usually, I find that people taking extra damage are from them ‘zerging’ the encounter instead of executing the fight properly. This kind of damage can usually be cured by telling people not to stand in shiny stuff, run out during whirlwinds, etc. This isn’t reasonable damage to even have to be healing.
* Keep a prayer of mending bouncing if you do encounter group damage.
* If you do need to use a ‘big’ group heal, try speccing borrowed time. Cast a PWS on the tank, get 25% haste, cast Prayer of Healing, profit. If you need to group heal again, cast PWS on someone else (maybe yourself), cast Prayer of Healing, profit again. If this isn’t enough to heal heroic damage, then someone is doing something VERY wrong.
* You can also use PI with borrowed time and inner focus to get a free, probably-going-to-crit and proc aegis, quick as all heck Prayer of Healing.
Q. What stats should I be trying to get?
A. Short Answer: Int, Spellpower, Critical Strike, MP5, Haste, Spirit, Stamina.
Int – Intellect raises your critical strike rating to proc Divine Aegis & Inspiration. It also increases the mana regeneration you will receive from Rapture (Also Replenishment in a raid setting). Additionally, it increases your mana regen by augmenting any spirit you currently have.
Spellpower – Your spell power basically dictates how much you heal for. In the case of a discipline priest, the amount of an effective heal (Not overheal) will also dictate how large of a shield Divine Aegis procs. If you have borrowed time, then we will also gain more benefit to our PWS spell from Spellpower then a priest without the borrowed time talent.
Critical Strike – Critical strike rating is valuable because of the Divine Aegis talent. It translates directly into increased damage mitigation. Damage absorbed by Divine Aegis will also proc Rapture.
MP5 – Generally MP5 is going to be more valuable for your mana regen then the spirit will be. It is on many pieces of gear in bulk, and particularly with rings/neck/trinket/weapon type slots, you will find it accompanying critical strike, spell power, and intellect.
Spirit – Spirit can still be a valuable stat for a discipline priest. It is a form of regen; you just have to compare it to MP5 to decide which item is better. Five spirits = 2mp5 is the standard ‘accepted’ conversion ratio for a Discipline Priest, but currently, at 1094 unbuffed intellect and 350 unbuffed spirits, I gain 1mp5 per approximately ~4 spirits. There is an excellent tool available to you, authored by Planeshaper. I hope he will not mind me linking it here, but I think it will help people gain clarity on this whole issue.
Stamina – I think it is probably in a priest’s best interest to keep their unbuffed HP around 13k or better minimum right now. Discipline priests will gain more out of stamina due to Enlightenment, so this will be an easier task for us.
Q. What stats should I aim for entering Naxxramas?
A. I was aiming for 1,400 spell power, 15% holy critical strike rating, and 300 mp5 not casting before I raided, and I was able to hit that fairly easily by getting new gear from about a week of farming heroics. You will very likely to be able to do Naxxramas with a good group with far fewer stats than that.
Q. What should I be gemming?
Brilliant Autumn’s Glow (+ 16 int), Luminous Monarch Topaz (+8 int, + 9 spell power)
Blue Slots: Dazzling Forest Emerald (+ 8 int, 3MP5)
Red Slots: Luminous Monarch Topaz (+ 8 int, +9 spell power)
Meta: Insightful Earthsiege Diamond ( + 21 int, chance to restore 600 mana on spell cast)
General notes about discipline priest mechanics and bugs:
Prayer of Mending is supposed to attribute threat from the healing done by the priest. Currently, PoM procs seem to attribute threat to no one.
Pain suppression currently reduces threat generated WHILE it is active (Not total threat) by 5%. This threat does not return after the buff fades, so it does not work like Fade.
Divine Aegis and Rapture Q & A
Q. Does Divine Aegis stack with itself?
A. No. If you get two critical strikes in a row, the second critical strike will overwrite the first Divine Aegis, regardless of size.
Q. Does Divine Aegis stack with PWS?
A. Yes. If Divine Aegis and PWS are on a target, Divine Aegis is absorbed first, and then PWS absorption will begin. There is no gap between the time the first absorption ability is removed, and the second one starts. This means that YES, they do stack, contrary to popular belief – just in a linear fashion, which is better than simultaneous absorption – which would probably cause waste of potential absorption.
Q. Does Divine Aegis work with overhealing?
A. Yes, it does. Another common myth is that you critically strike and it is overheal; it does not apply to Divine Aegis absorption. This is untrue. Divine Aegis absorbs damage based on the ENTIRETY of a critical strike, regardless of whether or not none, any, or all of it is overhealing.
Q. Can you clarify what is going on with Rapture?
Rapture does NOT count overhealing. If you completely overheal with greater heal, for example, you will get no mana refund from rapture. Only effective healing will return mana from Rapture.
If you’re curious as to why you’re not getting 2.5% of your mana pool back when you cast a spell, it is because it is UP TO 2.5% of your maximum mana, based on the amount of healing you have done. It’s essentially a sliding scale, UP TO that 2.5% value. The more you effectively heal, the more mana returns you will see up to that point. There is a point gear right now where casting Penance, for example, will return more mana than it consumes.
The formula for Rapture is as follows:
Max(0.01035*max mana/base mana*amount healed, 0.025 * Max Mana)