Playstyle & Rotation
Healers don’t have a normal rotation to follow like a DPS would, but instead have general priorities and a few sequences to make use of.
There's a few priority things outside non-tank Atonements that needs to be taken care of first.
- Keep Atonement up on the active tank
- Keep either Shadow Word: Pain or Purge the Wicked rolling
- Use Power Word: Solace off CD to regain mana
- Don't let Power Word: Radiance stay off cooldown for too long
- Don't let Schism stay off cooldown for too long
Penance is in a bit of a unique spot. It's not very strong, especially considering the mana cost in comparison to just a Smite, therefore simply using it on cooldown outside of trying to push heavily for damage is not recommended. It is however a slight dps/hps increase to use it over a Smite, so use it as your mana allows it. Note that during your Schism window you should always use Penance.
Power Word: Radiance:
First off it’s important to note that you won't be doing much healing unless you use your Power Word: Radiance stacks correctly. Radiance is your primary tool for applying a lot of Atonements quickly, and they are critical in how you deal with damage. Power Word: Radiance can be used both proactively and reactively, depending on what is needed. Just 2-3 Atonements and a Power Word: Radiance charge can do a good amount of healing when the group takes damage and you're not preparing for a major ramp. Making optimal use of your Radiance charges and not letting them sit unused is vital for your throughput, but saving them for when big damage is incoming is just as important. Having 2 available when doing your big ramp up with Evangelism is crucial, since it’s 5 Atonements applied in one global compared to just 1 from Shadow Mend and Power Word: Shield.
To optimize your Disc priest play, you need to make optimal use of Schism. Schism is a dual use spell, providing both powerful damage and healing. You should primarily be using it for very powerful burst healing, and you should prioritize having it ready for when damage is incoming. However, if damage is quite far off you should also be using it purely for damage purposes, as contributing with damage is very important for raid progression. If you find yourself sitting on Schism for prolonged periods of time, try using it to squeeze in extra damage. If you find yourself not having it available when serious damage is incoming, try sitting on it a bit longer.
Standard Evangelism Ramp:
As semi described when talking about Power Word: Radiance, a standard ramp would look something like this:
The following rotation for the damage follow up would look like this:
Non Shadowfiend Variant:
First you should use the spells that aren't good to use during your Schism window, which is your dot and your Shadowfiend. You first refresh your dot so it doesn't run out in the middle of your burst, then Shadowfiend, then Schism, then use Solace and Penance and transition into Smiting.
Its often gonna happen that big damage will occur in between Evangelisms, and its important to also respond to these. Using a few Atonements, ranging anywhere from 3 to 5 preferably, 1 or 2 Power Word: Radiances depending on availability, with damage patterns and time left for Evangelism, and follow up into Schism → Power Word: Solace → Penance → Smite spam.
Most of the time you will be doing simple maintenance healing when you're not using your Power Word: Radiance charges. Simply keeping an Atonement on the active tanks while keeping a dot rolling and spamming Power Word: Solace and Smite. Apply a few extra Atonements as necessary for dots and players taking extra damage.
Disc has a variety of powerful cooldowns available that can be used in various scenarios.
Pain Suppression: a powerful damage reduction spell that reduces the damage the target takes by 40% for 8 seconds. This is the strongest external damage reduction spell in the game, and are well used on tanks or targets taking high damage from a fight mechanic.
Power Word: Barrier: an AOE damage reduction spell with a multitude of uses. It puts down a dome of light, reducing the damage that anyone within takes by 25%. This is very flexible and can be used as a raid wide damage reduction, a tank cooldown or to help individual players survive. Being creative with this spell is great.
Rapture: a throughput cooldown that triples the absorption of Power Word: Shield you apply within its 10 second duration. For its duration, your Power Word: Shield's also ignore the debuff Weakened Soul, that otherwise stops the shield from being cast on the same target again. This can be used to blanket the raid in strong absorbs for its duration, or used as a strong single target throughput cooldown on tanks or certain players taking a very high amount of damage. Use it often, especially in dungeons, and be creative with its uses.
Leap of Faith: A displacement cooldown that grips a friendly target to your location. Can be used to save a teammate from certain death like standing in a mechanic or being knocked up into the air.
Evangelism: a powerful cooldown that increases the duration of all your Atonements by 6 seconds. This should be used as an extension of your big Atonement ramps, with preferably 5 or more normal Atonements and 10 from double Power Word: Radiance usage. This is where Disc priest gets its powerful burst throughput from, and the extended duration makes your Atonements last through most of your Schism window.
Shadowfiend: a temporary pet that deals a large amount of damage to your current target. This is a very strong throughput cooldown since all the damage it does translates into Atonement healing. It should therefore always be saved for an Evangelism setup, as it has a 15 second duration and you want to squeeze as much healing out of it as possible. A big Evangelism setup + Shadowfiend is among the highest hps throughput in the game and is incredibly adept at dealing with even the hardest hitting raid mechanics on its own.
Mass Dispel: a very costly AoE offensive and defensive dispel. It has a 45 second cooldown and can be used to cleanse several debuffs at once, even if your vision of the target is obscured like on Jadefire Masters and Jaina. Its mana cost is very high, so use it wisely.
Desperate Prayer: even though this is among the weakest personal defensives in the game, providing no real damage reduction and only an increase in health, it should still be used as it gives you an additional 25% health to work with. Use it whenever you're in danger of dying.