This guide is written by Crazy, a current priest main in Method. He started mythic raiding in Shadowlands Season 1 after swapping from Rogue to Priest. Before joining Method he mainly played as a Discipline Priest for Pieces in Sepulcher of the First Ones.
In essence Discipline Priest is all about keeping your team alive through applying Atonement with spells like Power Word: Shield, Renew and Power Word: Radiance. After applying the buff you will want to follow up with strong damage spells to take advantage of the damage through healing. How this process is done works differently depending on if you are doing raids or dungeons.
In raid you will be trying to cover as much of your raid as possible with the Atonement buff. This is done through so-called “ramps”, where you apply as many Atonements as possible before they start running out, which usually comes out to around 18-20 targets. After this is done you will take advantage of the small window where all your targets have the buff applied and deal as much damage as you possibly can to fully utilize the raw potential of Discipline Priest.
In dungeons however you have a much smaller target count to worry about, which means you can focus more on individual targets and you are able to cover your whole team with Atonement with just one cast of Power Word: Radiance. This means that in dungeons your playstyle works much differently, as you are no longer focusing on building up large ramps but rather being able to take care of those 5 targets. Sometimes dealing damage and healing through Atonement is not always enough in dungeons, and that is where tools like Power Word: Shield, Rapture, Power Word: Life and Penance come in. These spells help you out in situations where members of your party are taking heavy single target damage, rather than the whole group taking a sustained amount of damage spread evenly where Atonement usually shines.
- Can put out exceptional AoE burst healing to counter heavy damage intake.
- Has access to some incredibly potent damage reduction talents in Power Word: Barrier and Pain Suppression which can greatly aid your group/raid.
- Brings a lot of passive damage due to the spec being designed to heal through dealing damage, as well as being able to damage during downtime periods of low damage intake.
- Weak burst mobility.
- Arguably the squishiest spec in the game. Requires you to be alert of what is happening so you can prepare with defensives.
- Sparse emergency healing, requiring you to always prepare ahead of time if you want to put out a meaningful amount of healing. This makes discipline extremely punishing, but also rewarding as you learn to anticipate upcoming mechanics that put your group/raid in danger.
- Due to a large amount of the rotation requiring you to stand in place to put out significant healing you are susceptible to being caught out during moments where you need to be on the move.
- In raid discipline is incredibly mana hungry, requiring careful thought to which spells you are casting, and a lot of the time being dependent on external mana from spells like Innervate and Source of Magic.
- Struggles to keep up in raid content where your raid goes over 20 players, such as heroic, normal and LFR raiding. Due to the nature of the spec you are hard capped to being able to heal a certain amount of targets at a time, while some other healers like Holy Priest get stronger and stronger the more targets that are present.
Going into Dragonflight Blizzard reworked the talent system which naturally means that Discipline Priest has received a lot of changes. The complete list of new and added talents as well as reworks would be quite long and we will go more in-depth with the talents later. Here is a summary of the most important overall changes to pay attention to going into Dragonflight:
- Sins of the Many has been reworked and is now a baseline passive for Discipline Priests instead of a talent. It now grants a 40% damage buff (before 12%) and now diminishes after 5 Atonement applications (was 1).
- Shadow Word: Death is now able to heal through Atonement, making it an extremely efficient and powerful spell to use for healing during execute phases. Even outside of execute range it should be utilized when using Twilight Equilibrium, Shadow Covenant or Inescapable Torment.
- Light’s Wrath from Legion is back! This spell is an incredibly potent damage spell in raid where you can fully utilize the Atonement scaling from the spell to put out a massive burst of damage which can heal through Atonement.
- Shadow Covenant has been reworked once again. It no longer locks you out of holy spells or weakens holy spells for its duration and now also transforms Penance, Divine Star and Halo into Shadow spells. The spell also has a connecting choice-node where you can pick between Embrace Shadow or Twilight Corruption.
- With some new talents like Bright Pupil, Void Summoner and Power Word: Life Discipline Priests are now able to be more proactive outside of main ramps from Evangelism and Rapture. Bright Pupil also allows you to be much more flexible in terms of which timings you’ll be ramping on.
- Our new ramping tool, Renew, received a mana cost nerf going from 1.8% -> 2.7% mana. Shadowfiend also received nerfs to its mana gain going from 1% -> 0.5% mana per swing, and Mindbender similarly went from 0.5% -> 0.2% mana per hit. These nerfs along with the fact that Shield Discipline is not as strong as in 9.2 due to Power Word: Shield being on a cooldown heavily restricts how much you are able to ramp in raid.
- Defensively priests have also gotten some help from the talent tree rework. Returning from Shadowlands is the conduit Translucent Image, which can be a lifesaver if used at the right moment. The same can be said for Protective Light, which is a rework of the old spell Masochism and is now much more accessible as it doesn’t directly compete with Angelic Feather. On top of that we have some new talents in Angel’s Mercy, Binding Heals, Light’s Inspiration, Angelic Bulwark and specific to Discipline Priests Make Amends which all help make us a bit tankier.
Thoughts on the changes
Overall going into Dragonflight Discipline Priests core playstyle and identity is staying the same. However the spec has gained a lot of new tools to play with that really increase the power and fun factor of discipline going into the new expansion. The new talents grant us much more flexibility in terms of ramp timings, which is incredibly nice as previously in Shadowlands the spec was quite rigid in terms of how often you could realistically put out your powerful burst healing. In raid especially one thing to take note of now more than ever is how much mana you are spending. Being able to think critically about how often you are ramping, and which spells you are casting during and outside of those ramps to deal damage will now be vital to keeping your mana stable and to not run out of mana.
Healer priests and especially Discipline Priest still suffers from weak mobility and is still arguably the squishiest spec in the game. The new talents do help to some extent, but most of the new talents need to be used ahead of time. This means that you’ll have to plan ahead in a lot of situations where dangerous mechanics are incoming to make sure you survive.
For 10.0.5, Discipline Priest received some major changes which have changed the recommended builds. The new talent builds now have a stronger focus on using talents such as Expiation and Shadow Covenant due to the “shadow side” of the spec tree as well as Mind Blast being significantly buffed. Power Word: Solace also received integration into many of our core talents, meaning that it will also be included in some of the updated builds where it fits.
What has changed
Patch 10.0.5 Notable Changes
- Protector of the Frail has been buffed granting it a second charge which makes it a much more attractive pick.
- Power Word: Solace has become integrated into many talents such as Weal and Woe, Blaze of Light and Harsh Discipline as well as received a small nerf to compensate. With these changes it is now more valuable than Shield Discipline so expect to see it in recommended builds.
- Mind Blast mana cost has gone down from 2.5% to 1.6% base mana, and has also received a new talent making it even stronger called Dark Indulgence. This makes the spell much better than before and is now a part of the core rotation instead of needing to be used scarcely. It has also been integrated into Harsh Discipline making it much easier to activate it.
- Shadow Covenant now baseline converts Penance into a shadow spell and the previous talent that had the same effect now instead buffs Shadow Covenant effectiveness by 10%.
- The old talent Stolen Psyche that used to buff Mind Blast Atonement transfer has now been redesigned into Abyssal Reverie. This new talent buffs all shadow spell damage Atonement transfer.