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Discipline Priest PVE Healing F.A.Q.

Disclaimer: This FAQ is directed at the specific subject of raiding, HOWEVER you may find information that is valuable for other aspects of gameplay. =)

discpriest.com is a great forum for people to discuss discipline related subjects.

I am very interested in the subject of PVE discipline healing, and I’m personally involved with it as a discipline priest – but 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 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?

Discipline priests have highly efficient, but 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 ‘ohcrap’ 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 generally 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 disicpline 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 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 survival hunters 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 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 flametongue totem, then a discipline priest can also provide + 80 additional spellpower 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 second shieldwall – useable 3 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.

Group Placement

Typically, the ranged DPS and healers have some distance between themselves and the tanks. For Prayer of Mending this means that when it bounces, the targets it will choose will be limited(mostly) to those closest to the person it is leaving.
Make maximum use of it by limiting its choices. You can do this by keeping a fair distance between ranged and melee, about 20yds since that is the range of the spell.

Raid DPS Potential

As a Disc priest you should always be grouped with the tanks. This allows you to run in with the tanks on AoE pulls and cause MASSIVE damage and provide TONS of heals. The glorious part is that you are still doing your main job of healing.

  • Holy Nova does an INSANE amount of aoe dmg when you have all spellpower and crit gear.
  • It’s cost is low enough to spam repeatedly, especially if you put a Power Infusion on yourself.
  • It also makes a VERY effective heal, ~1500-2000 each hit and also procs DA.
  • No Threat AoE heals and damage.

You would think that Glyph of Holy Nova would be a requirement, but I believe the damage trade off for the healing isn’t worth it. Just toss a shield/renew on the tanks taking a lot of damage and Holy Nova will be able to catch up.

Often a disc priest can secure 2nd place in DPS during AoE pulls (in 25man….2nd only to a boomkin), but Disc/Holy priest lack +hit to be anywhere NEAR effective on boss fights. However, trash mobs are either at level or 1 below reducing the need for hit rating.

In conclusion, (unless there is an express reason why you SHOULDN’T) Assuming you are grouped with the tanks, always run in and spam holy nova during aoe pulls. If it looks like your mana is draining much faster than the enemy is dying, keep a bit of mana in reserve, stop aoeing, and revert back to pure healing.

As for non-aoe pulls, depending on how much SLACK there is in the healing you may be open to DPSing single targets. Face it, sometimes a 2nd/3rd healer in a 10 man isn’t needed, especially on some trash pulls and yet an extra healer would be extremely useful for bosses. A Disc priest fills this gap perfectly by being able to switch seamlessly from DPS to heals.

Also, with spells that work over time like PW:Shield, Renew, and Prayer of Mending, they are able to cast these on the tank/raid then help in dpsing, effectively doing 2 jobs. Especially since Disc priests are decked out in DPS capable equips, I figure…if the main healer(s) can handle healing, a Disc priest is open to aid in DPS.

The main thing to keep in mind is that +hit isn’t needed for trash. However, it IS needed for bosses. For this reason a Disc priest should ONLY heal for bosses. For a 25 mans…stick to healing, your additional damage on single targets won’t make a difference and best used for healing. Unless as stated above, Holy Nova spamming to AoE dmg mobs AS WELL as heal the tanks.

NOTICE: A disc priest is NOT a dps spec, but they are capable of it. DPS should be done ONLY when it does not put the health of the raid/party in jeopardy. This is left up to the ability of the other healers and the discretion of the Disc priest to know when to do what job.

General FAQ for Discipline Priests

Q. So i want to spec discipline. What talent points make or break the spec?

Talents that stand alone :

  • Twin Disciplines
  • Meditation
  • Mental Agility
  • Divine Spirit (Not Improved Divine Spirit)
  • Mental Strength
  • Enlightenment
  • Rapture
  • Divine Aegis
  • Grace
  • Pennance
  • Holy Specialization
  • Inspiration
  • Focused Power
  • Improved PWF
  • Improved Inner Fire

Talents that support Core Discipline abilities :

  • Improved PWS
  • Aspiration
  • Borrowed Time
  • Renewed Hope

< Supplementary Utility options include Pain Suppression and Power Infusion. >

Talents that you shouldn’t take :

  • Silent Resolve
  • Martyrdom
  • Improved Mana Burn
  • Focused Will
  • Reflective Shield

Talents that are expendable :

  • Holy Focus
  • Improved Healing
  • Improved Renew

Example Specs:

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 really don’t think you will ever use greater heal.

Q. Healing Focus – Is it useless?

This talent is currently under heavy scrutiny – It’s definitely fine to heal without it in PVE as 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?

Improved DS does not stack with the shaman Flametongue totem buff, which provides more spellpower 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?

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 shadowfiend may sometimes die when we would prefer it not to. This glyph will return 5% of your maximum mana when your shadowfiend 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 actually be beneficial in another way, as you can wait until your shadowfiend 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?

Single Target Healing

The bread and butter spells of a discipline priest are PWS & Pennance. Prayer of mending is an excellent option due to the fact that it can now crit, which will proc Divine Aegis, and that 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 glyphed 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 glyphed flash heal, Flash Heal has a smaller chance to over heal, maximizing returns from rapture.
    2. In a similar window of time to casting one greater heal, you can cast 2 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 only refreshes the duration on 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

Discipline Priests have nothing to gain from it. Holy has Improved Healing, Empowered Healing, Divine Fury, and (Improved) Holy Concentration, all of which directly benefit Greater Heal, to make its throughput worth its cost and time (which are both lowered in Holy cookie-cutters).

The only benefit Greater Heal receives from the Disc tree is from Rapture. However, after you’ve reached the main Disc goal of having >20k base mana, Penance actually gives back more mana than it uses, and only heals slightly lower than Greater Heal (assuming it is casted by the same Disc priest, therefore not being compared to the one receiving Holy bonuses). Since Disc is based around mana efficiency, it isn’t efficient to spend 1236 mana to heal for around the same amount you could heal for while only using 618.

Shielding & Rage based 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

  • Usually, i find that people taking extra damage is 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, proft. 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. Why don’t discipline priests place alot of value in renew?

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.

Renew

  1. Cannot crit. Will not proc DA, nor will it proc inspiration
  2. Will not add a stack of Grace
  3. Does not return mana from Rapture

Essentially, casting renew is not wrong, but it’s better for our spec to cast PWS, Pennance, 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 really 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 glyphing for renew 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 glyphing for Renew Vs. another glyph such as holy nova or prayer of heailng to supplement your group healing. You can choose whatever you’d like in this department.

Q. What stats should i be trying to get?

Short Answer
Intellect, Spellpower, Critical Strike, Haste, MP5/Spirit, Stamina.

Long Answer

  • Intellect
    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 spellpower 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.
  • Haste
    Haste lowers the cast time of your heals. It is a pure throughput stat.
  • MP5
    Generally MP5 is going to be more valuable for your mana regen then spirit will be. It is on many peices of gear in bulk, and particularly with rings/neck/trinket/weapon type slots you will find it accompanying critical strike, spellpower, 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. 5 spirit = 2mp5 is the standard ‘accepted’ conversion ratio for a Discipline Priest, but currently at 1094 unbuffed intellect and 350 unbuffed spirit, i gain 1mp5 per approximately ~4 spirit.
  • Stamina
    I think it is probably in a priests 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 for entering Naxxramas?

I was aiming for 1,400 spellpower, 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 less stats than that.

Q. What should i be gemming?

  • Yellow Slots
    1. Brilliant Autumn’s Glow (+ 16 int)
    2. Luminous Monarch Topaz (+8 int, + 9 spellpower)
  • Blue Slots
    1. Dazzling Forest Emerald (+ 8 int, 3MP5)
  • Red Slots
    1. Luminous Monarch Topaz (+ 8 int, +9 spellpower)
  • Meta
    1. Insightful Earthsiege Diamond ( + 21 int, chance to restore 600 mana on spellcast)

Divine Aegis and Rapture Q & A

Q. Does Divine Aegis stack with itself?

No. If you get two critical strikes in a row, the second critical strike will refresh the duration of the first Divine Aegis, but will not add to the absorption amount.

Q. Does Divine Aegis stack with PWS?

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 actually better than simultaneous absorption – which would probably cause waste of potential absorption.

Q. Does Divine Aegis work with overhealing?

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 actually 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 actually a point gearwise right now where casting Penance for example will actually 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)

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