The class tree for Discipline Priest is a mixed bag in terms of that there are some must have talents, and some situational talents that can be swapped depending on different situations. A lot of the time you’ll be picking talents based on which way will be the path of least resistance in terms of how many points you’ll have to spend to move further in the tree, rather than the talents' own merit. The class trees are split into three tiers where you need to fill out a certain amount of talents in each tier to move onto the next. Let’s talk about them and when you’ll want to pick them up, tier by tier.
Tier 1 Talents
First let’s talk a bit about talents that you’ll most likely always be taking as Discipline. Shadow Word: Death and its following node Death and Madness will always be taken. Now that Shadow Word: Death is able to heal through Atonement it is an incredible tool in both dungeons and raid, as it is able to put out incredible damage and healing in execute ranges, as well as be an activator for Twilight Equilibrium outside of it.
Improved Flash Heal is just a baseline healing buff and the only option that allows you to go further towards Protective Light.
Protective Light will always be taken due to its synergy with a talent later in the tree, Binding Heals, allowing you to heal others and having the 10% DR (Damage Reduction) still apply to yourself when casting Flash Heal on other targets. Having an on demand 10% damage reduction is incredibly helpful, as Discipline is spread thin in terms of strong defensive options so any DR helps.
Angelic Feather has been a must pick for Discipline through the entirety of Shadowlands and this is not changing since it is still our strongest option for on demand movement speed. Even though we got the addition of Body of Soul these two do not stack, and Angelic Feather is simply better as it allows you to boost your movement speed more often and for no added mana cost.
Lastly we have Leap of Faith. In the right hands this spell, often referred to as grip, can be a lifesaver or save a lot of time in many situations. This spell is one of the spells that is synonymous with the priest class and for good reason, as it has infinite applications so be sure to look out for moments where you can help out your team by gripping them to safety or saving time by taking them to your location to name two examples.
In the first tier we also want to pick up either the choice node between Void Tendrils / Sheer Terror or Dominate Mind / Mind Control. The reason for this is that we want to pick up Vampiric Embrace or Sanguine Teachings no matter what content you are doing. Which one of these you pick depends entirely on the type of content you are doing, but for general use purposes Dominate Mind is the best option as it can have situational usage on certain mobs like the Spiteful affix in Mythic+ dungeons. Dominate Mind is generally preferred over Mind Control as it leaves you able to still control your character while controlling an enemy mob.
This leaves us with one extra talent point in the first tier. For raid you will most likely path down to the left through Holy Nova to pick up Spell Warding and Rhapsody later as for priests a 3% magic damage damage reduction is nothing to scoff at; and after the recent buffs to Rhapsody, its now a must pick talent point as its now a core part of your ramp. There will be times where you need to shift some talent points into utility nodes so let’s talk about those.
Many bosses and mobs have the ability to apply magic buffs to their minions or themselves making Dispel Magic an excellent pick if you are facing mobs that apply these types of buffs since you’ll be able to remove them at the press of a button. Some mobs and bosses will also apply dangerous disease type debuffs to your teammates so picking Improved Purify is very nice to have to be able to remove them and make your job easier.
Shackle Undead, Sheer Terror, Void Tendrils and Psychic Voice are all talents allowing you to expand or improve upon your ability to CC (Crowd Control) enemies. Depending on the exact type of content you are doing these talents can be situationally useful.
Phantasm in the right situation can save your life, as being able to remove all snares and slows instantly has many applications in different types of content.
Prayer of Mending is simply not worth a point in raids or dungeons, so picking it up is a waste as you do not have the mana pool to be casting this enough to warrant its talent point. Sadly this talent has no interactions with the Discipline kit like applying Atonement, so it is purely used for its raw healing. That also means we will not be picking up Focused Mending since we won’t be taking Prayer of Mending.
Tier 2 Talents
In the second tier your goal in a lot of builds will be to move through this section and be able to pick up at least two of the three “end-nodes” of this tier Unwavering Will and Twist of Fate as they will allow you access to a majority of the bottom of the class tree. Most of the time you will want to do this with no more than 20 points if possible, as you would like to enter the final tier with as many talent points as possible to pick up some much needed defensives and other great talents.
On the right side if we have picked Death and Madness we can find the talent Tithe Evasion. This talent is incredibly useful, as it will remove the risk of dropping dangerously low whenever you are using Shadow Word: Death. Due to this you will want to pick this talent almost always unless you are really stretched thin for talent points and require them somewhere else.
Power Infusion + Twins of the Suns Priestess are always taken, as they represent a massive increase in throughput and helps out your desired Power Infusion target a ton. It also allows you to get to Twist of Fate, which makes these choices a no-brainer. From here you’ll always pick up Twist of Fate, no matter which build you are playing.
On the left side of this tier, how you move through it depends on whether you need Mass dispel and Improved Mass Dispel. If the content you’re doing does not require you to have Mass dispel talented, you can save a point by pathing through either Body and Soul or Inspiration, this leftover point can either be put into Words of the Pious or Angelic bulwark for a more defensive option or a different piece of required utility.
To finish off the tier you’ll want to pick up Vampiric Embrace or Sanguine Teachings and San’layn to path downwards. To path to these talents you will need to pick up either choice-node above, even if you have no use for their utility. With Vampiric Embrace being taken off the global cooldown it is now a good choice. However, currently Sanguine Teachings will be the default recommendation. Throes of Pain will always be picked in both areas of PvE, as we’ll want to grab Mindgames in the final tier. The mana returns from this talent can be really great if utilized correctly in dungeons or in raid encounters where additional mobs spawn frequently.
The rest of the talents in this tier are rather situational or just straight up not worth the points. Move with Grace and Body and Soul can be situationally useful if your team needs some help moving around, but mostly these talents can be ignored. Apathy will never be picked in a PvE setting, as it is just too niche and isn’t even guaranteed to work on a Mind Blast cast as it requires you to get a critical strike. Void Shield is outperformed by Vampiric Embrace / Sanguine Teachings + San’layn so for that reason it will not be chosen.
Tier 3 Talents
In the final tier are a mix of throughput and defensive options. For this tier a lot of the time you will only have 10 points available, as pathing through the Discipline Priest class tree is quite rigid and some points need to be taken.
On the far left of this tier we find the most powerful of these with the first being Binding Heals. This talent has incredible synergy with the Discipline Priest kit through applying two Atonements from one cast, as well as being able to activate Protective Light while casting on others. This makes it a must have, as having an almost permanent Atonement on yourself is fantastic.
These two talents are quite good on their own, but their true power comes from letting you access the end-row talents Power Word: Life and Benevolence. In both dungeons and raids these talents are a must pick. Both are powerful in their own ways, with Power Word: Life granting you the ability to have access to some much needed spot healing, while Benevolence straight up boosts your throughput by a flat amount.
The Divine Star / Halo choice node will always be picked, as it gives you a choice of two great tools to put out healing and damage. In raids the default choice will be Halo, as it interacts with your mastery, Mastery: Grace, giving you some good damage for ramps as well as great healing. However if your raid is almost always stacked and heavy damage is coming in more often than every 40 seconds there is an argument for picking Divine Star as it can pull ahead of Halo in some situations. In dungeons you can either go with Divine Star or Halo, your choice. Halo is less of a hassle to manage and generally preferred for healing throughput as you can safely be able to hit all your teammates with its long range.
Essence Devourer is a talent that is not quite good enough for one point as a baseline. However, if you are someone that enjoys the Mindbender, Void Summoner and Inescapable Torment playstyle, then this suddenly becomes a much more attractive choice and definitely something you would want to pick up.
Even with us playing Shadow Covenant in both M+ and Raids, Mindgames is not currently worth talenting into, mainly because pathing to it is too expensive, as it will effectively cost you 3 points to get to.
Crystalline Reflection is a returning Shadowlands legendary and is an incredible source of passive damage whenever you are casting Power Word: Shield, as well as giving you a small heal whenever you shield on top of the damage. That makes this talent another lock-in talent for raid, as its value is just too good to pass up. You can expect it to make up around 5-8% of your DPS. In dungeons you can decide to pass it up to pick up the defensive options which we will talk about next.
Lastly we have the defensive options available in the final tier. Translucent Image is a returning conduit from Shadowlands and is now even stronger, as it lasts the full 10 second duration of Fade instead of only 5 seconds. This makes it a must take since Discipline needs all the help it can get when it comes to defensives.
Introduced in Patch 10.1 the new embellishment Undulating Sporecloak is a much better version of Angelic Bulwark. This makes it harder to justify taking this talent as much, however you can still pick it up if you feel you will get more use out of it compared to the other choices that are available.
If at this point you have one additional talent point left that is not needed elsewhere it is now time to decide between Light’s Inspiration and Improved Fade. Which one of these you pick often depends on how often you need access to your Fade. If you are taking heavy damage more often than every 30 seconds you’ll want to pick up one point in Improved Fade, but if you are more in need of a big defensive every 1 min 30 seconds you can shift that point into Light’s Inspiration.
If at this point you have additional talent points left that are not needed elsewhere it is now time to decide between Light’s Inspiration and Improved Fade. The go-to talent of the two will be Light’s Inspiration as the survivability gain from this talent is baseline much higher than that of Improved Fade. However, if boss timers or dungeon timers heavily favor Improved Fade you can shift your points into it.
Void Shift is the last option we have to talk about, but there is really not much to say. With its 5 minute cooldown as well as having overlapping usage areas with Power Word: Life you pretty much never take this. The only situation I can imagine this being useful would be a niche boss fight dealing with heavy healing absorbs. Outside of that Power Word: Life just does what this spell is supposed to do but better, and with a lower cooldown.
By design the new class talent trees are made to change depending on what you are doing and how you want to do it. Experiment with different talents to see what works best for you. For those wanting a template you can build from, I have made a class tree suitable for each of the different builds that will be available in the next section of the guide. Don’t use these builds as a cheat sheet, but rather build upon and change them depending on what you need for your current situation.
Going into Dragonflight raiding in 10.1.7, there is mainly one competitive build for raid progression content, which will be the Default build. There is also an alternate build included that is meant more for someone just stepping in to play the discipline priest while not necessarily being the best build. The second build offers a much simpler playstyle as it does not include talents like Twilight Equilibrium, Shadow Covenant, and Expiation, which all complicate the playstyle in their own way.
Which build you play will also change your ramping rotation quite a bit, so make sure to take a look at the Rotation & Playstyle sections to see how each of the talent builds play out to get the most performance out of each of these builds.
There is a second alternative build which sacrifices some healing throughput to gain some more AoE damage overall. However I would only recommend using this build if you are very familiar with disc priest as it is much more complex to play, as it requires you to manage another external element in your Mindbender and Inescapable Torment on top of everything else. With this build you will pick up Mindbender, Inescapable Torment and Void Summoner as your core last row talents.
In dungeons you will more frequently encounter situations where enemies drop below the execute threshold, allowing you to get massive value through Death and Madness combined with Expiation and Inescapable Torment.
For either of the builds you can decide to pick up Power Word: Solace for more mana sustain if it is something you are struggling with. To do this you would drop the two points in Pain and Suffering and rather pick up either Exaltation or Indemnity depending on what you want so you can still get Castigation.
In dungeons you will more often encounter certain mechanics that will require you to swap around talent points to pick up utility that is required, such as Mass Dispel, Dispel Magic, Improved Purify and Phantasm. To pick up an extra one of these options you would drop Mindgames.
Discipline Priest Default Spec Tree
For Discipline Priests in raids, I recommend a talent tree that will provide the best overall raid performance. It is the first one we will discuss.
Protector of the Frail is one notable talent you can pick up if you need it. Getting two charges of Pain Suppression and lowering its cooldown can be invaluable on specific encounters; however, you will have to make a sacrifice somewhere to get it. My recommendation on what to drop is Borrowed Time as it doesn’t severely impact you in any way.
On some encounters in the raid, Mass Dispel and Improved Mass Dispel are not needed talent points, this gives you the option to path through either Body and Soul or Inspiration and have one point left over that you can spend either offensively on Words of the Pious or defensively on Angelic Bulwark or Improved Fade.
From Patch 10.1 and onwards some of the new changes in the spec tree to take note of is that we now take Borrowed Time and Divine Aegis. This pushes us to press Power Word: Shield much more, as previously you would only want to press it with the 4-Piece set bonus from Vault of the Incarnates. So make sure that you are maximizing your Power Word: Shield casts during downtime and when you are ramping up to get the most out of these talents. The much needed changes to our mana through the buffs in the patch as well as our new 4-Piece set bonus no longer require us to take Power Word: Solace or Shield Discipline.
Discipline Priest Wrath Unleashed Beginner Spec Tree
The main reason to use this build is that it is much simpler than the default option to pull off in terms of playstyle. However, it is numerically weaker compared to the recommended build.
Default Aegis of Wrath Build (Dungeon)
The Aegis of Wrath build is your go-to default build for dungeons as Discipline since it gives you the best overall coverage of damage as well as healing. As a bonus, it is also easier to play with as you don't need to worry about the cooldown reduction of Void Summoner and playing around your Inescapable Torment windows. With the build, your Power Word: Shield casts will be much more powerful.
Inescapable Torment AoE Damage (Dungeon)
With this build, it places an emphasized focus on your Mindbender. You'll want to play around it to squeeze as much damage and healing as you can through its use and the cooldown reduction from Void Summoner. As much as possible, you'll want to synchronize your Shadow Covenant and Mindbender casts, since the spells you will want to cast while your Mindbender is up are Mind Blast and Shadow Word: Death, which are shadow spells. Casting them together gives you a huge burst window, which is sure to do a lot of damage and, in turn, keep your group healthy.
This adds some complexity as you won't always be able to push the cooldown of Mindbender down to match Shadow Covenant due to mechanics requiring you to move or other factors. If that happens, don't be afraid to cast them separately if you need to for healing throughput since you don't need to cast them together 100% of the time. Sometimes it might even be more optimal to separate them if you know ahead of time that mechanics will be happening every 15 seconds or so and you need something for each one.