Tag Archives: priest builds

The Discipline Priest Handbook

A Short and Complete Manual of Healing as a Discipline Priest

Permanent Link to the most up-to-date version of the Discipline Priest Handbook

Not everyone dedicates the entirety of their Warcraft life to the incomparable experience of being a Discipline Priest.

I can’t explain it, but there it is.

Recently the difficulties associated with playing an alt- long-forgotten, rolled to fill some raid niche that evaporated, miraculously reaching the level cap by picking flowers- were brought home to me when I picked up my dusty mining druid and determined to shape him into a lean mean healin’ machine.

Things went badly. Okay, more than badly. I didn’t know what to spec, I had no idea what a healing rotation even looked like as a druid, and I was- to my shame- booted out of my first pug after two rounds of trash.

To my delight and pathetic gratitude I stumbled upon Tree Bark Jacket’s wonderful Resto Druid Cheat Sheet. Specs immediately become clear, spells made sense, and I stopped wearing cloth.

I asked Keeva of Tree Bark Jacket if I could steal her layout to similarly assist those 85 Disc Priests who needed similar help -the short, sweet version of How To Disc- and she graciously allowed me to lift whatever I could carry.

May this be of some use to you in your new- or continuing- journeys as a priest.

Godspeed, noble Discos!

The Discipline Priest Handbook

Spec Smite Spec:
Sample Smite Spec, WowheadNon-Smite Spec:
Sample Non-Smite Spec, Wowhead
Talent Specs
Stat Priority Intellect >> Spirit >> Haste > Crit > Mastery Stats Guide
Stat Goals Stack Spirit and then Haste (to @12.5%) at lower gear levels.Stack Crit and then Mastery at higher gear levels.
Enchants
Rotation Smite Spec:

  • All of the Non-Smite Spec information, plus…
  • Smite a hostile target five times to proc Archangel
  • Use Archangel to return mana and buff healing

Non-Smite Spec:

  • Apply Power Word: Shield and Prayer of Mending to the tank just before she pulls. Keep Shield up on the tank.
  • Re-apply Prayer of Mending to the tank whenever it expires
  • Optional: Apply PW:Shield to a DPS who is taking a lot of damage, or to yourself
    *ProTip: When you get aggro, use your Fade ability.
  • Small Heal: Renew (HoT)
  • Medium, Fast Heal: Penance
  • Large, Slow Heal: Greater Heal
  • Group Heal: Prayer of Healing
    *ProTip: Use Inner Focus every time it’s off cooldown before a Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing.
  • Use Hymn of Hope and Shadowfiend to regen mana
Rotations
Glyphs Smite Spec:

  • Primary: Glyph of Penance, Glyph of Power Word: Shield, Glyph of Power Word: Barrier (or Glyph of Renew)
  • Major: Glyph of Mass Dispel, Glyph of Divine Accuracy, Glyph of Fade
  • Minor: Glyph of Shadowfiend, Glyph of Fortitude, Glyph of Fading

Non-Smite Spec:

  • Primary: Glyph of Penance, Glyph of Power Word: Shield, Glyph of Power Word: Barrier (or Renew)
  • Major: Glyph of Mass Dispel, Glyph of Dispel Magic, Glyph of Desperation
  • Minor: Glyph of Shadowfiend, Glyph of Fortitude, Glyph of Shackle Undead
Glyphs
Reforging Destroy:

  • Hit
  • Parry
  • Dodge
  • Expertise

Take:

  • Spirit
  • Haste
  • Crit
  • Mastery
Gems & Reforging
Gems When in doubt, gem for Intellect.Primary Gems:

  • Red = Intellect gems
  1. [Brilliant Inferno Ruby]
  • Yellow = Critical, Haste, and Mastery gems
  1. [Smooth Amberjewel] Critical Strike
  2. [Quick Amberjewel] Haste
  3. [Fractured Amberjewel] Mastery
  • Blue = Spirit gems
  1. [Sparkling Ocean Sapphire] Spirit

Secondary Gems:

  • Green
  1. [Zen Dream Emerald] Mastery + Spirit
  • Orange
  1. [Potent Ember Topaz] Int + Crit
  2. [Reckless Ember Topaz] Int + Haste
  3. [Artful Ember Topaz] Int + Mastery
  • Purple
  1. [Purified Demonseye] Int + Spirit
Consumables
  • Elixirs
  1. [Flask of the Draconic Mind] +Int
  2. [Flask of Flowing Water] +Spirit
  • Food
  1. [Fortune Cookie] or [Seafood Magnifique Feast] +Top Stat
  2. [Severed Sagefish Head] +Int
  3. [Delicious Sagefish Tail] +Spirit
  4. [Basilisk Liverdog] +Haste
  5. [Baked Rockfish] +Crit
  6. [Lavascale Minestrone] +Mastery

And don’t forget [Superior Mana Oil] for that little extra edge.

Professions
  • Tailoring: +580 Intellect chance or +580 Spirit chance (cloak embroider)
  • Jewelcrafting: +81 Intellect (3 red gems)
  • Alchemy: +80 Intellect (mixology)
  • Engineering: +80 Intellect (bracer enchants & tinkers)
  • Enchanting: +80 Intellect (2 ring enchants)
  • Blacksmithing: +80 Intellect (bracer & glove sockets)
  • Inscription: +80 Intellect (shoulder inscription)
  • Leatherworking: +30 Intellect (bracer enchants)

For theorycrafting, more in-depth discussion, and alternative ideas, visit the PlusHeal.com Priest Forum or the Elitist Jerks Discipline Priest Forum.

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Discipline Priest Builds for 4.0

Check out our guide to Disc Priest Gear in Cataclysm

These builds are now active in patch 4.0.3. You can add onto them- without respeccing- in Cataclysm, when the level cap increases to 85 and you can pick up the last four talent points. Consider them a starting point for experimenting with all the fun new elements of the disc priest!

Check out DA’s main priest: Liala’s Current Build and Stats at WoW Armory

SAMPLE BUILD #1: The Standard Shielding Disc Priest (aka SHIELDSPEC)

Interactive Talent Calculator for Build #1

This build includes many talents familiar to WotLK disc priests, including Improved PW:Shield, Grace, Rapture, and Divine Aegis, among others. I’ve also picked up a few new talents:

  • Darkness: Improves spell Haste by 3% (Shadow)
  • Power Word: Barrier: Summons a barrier in a certain location that shields any friendly target within it.
  • Soul Warding: Reduces cooldown on PW:Shield by 2 seconds.

This build should feel very familiar to current Disc Priests. For variation, I’d recommend dropping 2 points of Veiled Shadows (Shadow; reduces cooldown on Fade and Shadowfiend) for two ranks of Inspiration (Holy; increases healing of Holy heal spells).

Recommended Glyphs
Prime: Glyph of Penance, Glyph of Power Word: Shield, Glyph of Power Word: Barrier
Major: Glyph of Mass Dispel … and the rest currently suck for us; try Dispel Magic and Holy Nova, just for giggles
Minor: Glyph of Shadowfiend, Glyph of Fortitude, Glyph of Shackle Undead (I’d switch this one out with Glyph of Levitate, but it’s a personal preference)

SAMPLE BUILD #2: The Smite/Shield Hybrid Disc Priest (aka SMITESPEC)

Interactive Talent Calculator for Build #2

This build is highly experimental; Blizzard clearly wanted PvPing Disc priests to do more damage through the use of Smite, as you can see from the inclusion of a number of new talents (Evangelism, Archangel, and Atonement). This might also be a nice leveling build, enabling a dedicated Disc priest to heal through 5-man instances and solo quest without changing specs. New talents include:

  • Evangelism: Increases the damage and decreases mana cost of Smite, Holy Fire, and Penance each time you cast Smite (or Mind Flay).
  • Archangel: Consumes your Evangelism effect so that, rather than increasing the damage, etc., of your next Smite (see above), restores a percentage of mana and boosts your healing effects.
  • Atonement: Heal a nearby target (or yourself) for 80% (40% for yourself) each time you Smite.

For a possible variation, I’d consider dropping 2 points in Darkness (haste increase) for two points in Veiled Shadows (Shadowfiend and Fade cooldown reduction).

Recommended Glyphs
Prime: Glyph of Penance, Glyph of Power Word: Shield, Glyph of Renew
Major: Glyph of Mass Dispel, Glyph of Divine Accuracy, Glyph of Smite
Minor:  Glyph of Shadowfiend, Glyph of Fortitude, Glyph of Fading (all that Smite-ing’s going to be generating threat that you’ll have to control much more than the Shield build)

Don’t be afraid to play around with the new talents; good luck and have fun!

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Disciplinary Action on the WoWphiles Podcast

WoWphiles made the tactical error of inviting Liala from Disciplinary Action on to their show to discuss the changes to the Discipline Priest class in 4.0. We had a great time talking about disc healing and you can check out the podcast in its entirety at the WoWphiles site (and once and for all answer the burning question: is Liala really a burly northern Canadian woodsman or a Japanese schoolgirl?).

WoWphiles is inviting three spec experts per episode until they get through them all. This, the first of their podcast series, explores Disc Priests (with yours truly), Survival Hunters with Bliky from One Man Raid, and Protection Warriors with my personal Prot guru, Linedan from Achtung Panzercow.

If you’ve already listened to the show and would like more information on the topics I discussed, please check out:

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Guest Post: Off-Spec Madness

In the interests of science and complete impartiality (Disc roolz!), I imposed on a fellow guild healer, Anna, to convince those spastic disc priests among us to give an off-spec Holy build a try. Her reasons are awfully compelling, and if there’s no Anna in your own guild– well, an offspec Holy might be just what the doct- … er, healer ordered. Thanks, Anna!

Liala posed me the question, rather, suggested to narrow this post down, “Why would I off-spec into Holy if I have a Discipline spec already?”  Rather than focus on talent differences, which WoWWiki, Tankspot, and other places have flow-charted for your use, I’m going to give you a more practical reason.

The obvious reason is to inflate your epeen.  Holy priests will always have bigger numbers than a Discipline priest.  Greater Heal crits for 20k  or more aren’t uncommon in ICC, even without using all the buffing talents (if you max Empowered Healing, 25k is much more likely).  While there are fights where shielding is better than healing (such as shielding before decimate, or Anub-Arak in ToC), there are a few fights where it’s alllllll about the green numbers (Dreamwalker).  But if your epeen IS squirting out green maybe you should get it checked out.
Wait I think I had a point here…
Shortcomings of being Holy:
  • Expect to lose your big single-target power.  Holy can single target pretty well, but will play it much tighter with much less wiggle room than Disc. can.  Tanks don’t appreciate hovering at 40-60% for long periods of time, even if you have it under control.
  • Expect your mana pool to shrink.  Holy priests rely on their rapid mana regeneration rather than replenishment to keep casting heals.  The pure intellect, low spirit gearing of Disc. priests will result in a quick OOM if you are in a healing intensive fight.
  • Expect it to be harder to get into groups if you decide to main this.  Unless you are guilded and can have that committed spot open, most PUG groups and PVPers will mock you for being Holy.  Be prepared to deal with it.
Advantages to Holy in PvE:
  • Enjoy the ability to make it look like a lot of work without actually doing anything.  In five mans, with a sufficient amount of spellpower, prayer of mending and the occasional Renew will be enough to carry you through most of the launch-Heroic dungeons, so if you like taking 30-40second breaks at times, be merry!
  • Access to a wide range of smart heals.  Prayer of Mending and Circle of Healing, along with intelligently timed Renew and Surge of Light procs, allow you to keep your overhealing at a minimum (and anger your fellow healers, always a plus.  In fact I’ve managed to keep Liala’s overhealing in Disc over mine in Holy on quite a few fights, at which point she asked me to write this column and politely thanked me for settling the abortion issue for her.  THAT’S why we have Desperate Prayer *taps her own forehead* See? Always thinking ahead)
  • Most importantly, a Disc Priest is pretty locked into their “style” of healing.  It’s mostly about spamming PWS, and Renew when called for, and usingPenance, PoM, and Flash of Light to pick up the difference.  Holy Priests, on the other hand, depending on how they choose to gear and cycle spells, can alternate between being weaker versions of a Disc. Priest, Druid raid healing, Shaman tank healing, or Paladin healing, or being a mix of all four, as they generally are.  If a situation calls for it, rotations can be 1) Keep Renew on, Flash Heal x3, Greater Heal for tank healing, 2) Apply PWS and Renew to all raid members before a major burst of incoming damage, 3) Use PoM at the right time to blink it between two tanks taking shared damage, mimicking two earth shields, 4) With a highly stacked crit rating, use Empowered Renew, Circle of Healing, and Prayer of Mending on a target taking massive damage, possibly proccing a Surge of Light on each cast for bursty, paladin style heals, or 5) Use a combination of Holy Nova, Circle of Healing, Prayer of Mending, and Prayer of Healing to burst heal a raid group spread over a wide area that almost no other class can match, with perhaps the exception of Tranquility.
Obviously a Holy Priest will usually fall between these extreme healing styles for the greater part of any fight.  Part of the mastery of Holy is learning which spells to use, in which sequence, will net the greatest benefit.  Holy is more forgiving than Discipline for not anticipating damage early, this is true, but true experts in its use are thinking ten, twenty, thirty seconds ahead so they can line up the appropriate self-buffs in time so that Surge of Light is up, Prayer of Mending is off cooldown, and Serendipity is stacked to the max when they really need it.  Holy does not possess as many cooldowns as Discipline, so the lack of OSHIT buttons must be compensated for.
But if you’re willing to practice, all in all Holy healing is just more versatile.  Disc focuses on amping up three or four key spells to extremes, while Holy buffs about seven or eight major spells to lesser degrees, with the expectation that you’ll use them all, even on trash fights, in rapid succession.
In PvP:
PvP Holy is full of the same pros and cons that PvE comparisons have, with a few additions.
  • You will take more damage, and therefore much easier to die.  Rather, you’re given more chances to die than Disc. priests are, since Disc has that nice cushion PWS gives for a brief moment.
  • Holy has slower heals-per-second/absorption-per-second than Disc does, at least in small scale fights.  You probably shouldn’t trade in your shield for dueling, 2s, 3s, or maybe even 5s.  Holy PvP is mostly suited to large scale, 5s and Battlegrounds and Wintergrasp.
  • On the plus side, 3seconds off PoM’s cooldown is invaluable, Empowered Renew, Circle of Healing, and Holy Nova can be spammed to proc Surge of Light for more instant healing.  It’s, again, not as strong as a Disc. shield, but it can be kept up consistently, without that nasty 15second cooldown.
  • Holy is not as susceptible to dispel mechanics as Disc. (but it still hurts!)
  • Holy has some neat utility for allies in Body and Soul.  Giving your allies a mini-sprint can give them a chance to get away from the fire long enough to get that extra heal off, or catch up to that BLOODY COWARD WARLOCK who keeps running in circles around your paladin friend. The ability to cleanse poisons off yourself doesn’t hurt either against Hunters and Rogues.
  • Finally, to dispel the myth of being squishy, Blessed Resilience is not credited enough where it’s due. Against classes that hit small and often (Rogues, S-Priests, DW-DKs, Affliction Locks) gaining immunity from Crits can destroy their entire strategy, making that ticking, little white damage almost a non-issue.
Again, your biggest heals are slow and easily interruptable, so in small groups this won’t excel, but if you plan to random BG a lot, or just camp Wintergrasp for a weekend, you might consider going Holy for grins.
In summary, it’s really all about taste. Discipline is definitely more user-friendly, but Holy has a subtlety to it that not every priest is man enough to tame.  It’s like the difference between the corner hooker and the geisha.  One is more talented and varied in personality and looks, while the other has a more direct, effective path to what you want.  It’s personal taste and should be selected partly on the company you’re keeping.
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Discipline Priest Stats for 4.0

As you work on creating your character, you’ll find yourself faced with a dizzying array of numbers and acronyms. Buzzwords fly around like mosquitos in August: Stam, Haste, spell Crit and holy Crit, Spirit and nerfed Spirit.

It can all get a little confusing.

QUICK STATS CHEAT SHEET

  • Intellect: Size of your mana pool & strength of spells
  • Haste: Spell casting speed.
  • Crit: Chance to cast a more powerful than normal (critical) spell.
  • Spirit: Mana and health regeneration rate

For a standard, endgame level 85 discipline priest build:
Intellect > Spirit > Haste (to 22%) > Crit

If you’re having trouble running out of mana:
Spirit > Intellect > Haste (to 22%) > Crit

FINDING YOUR STATS

The Blizzard-run WoW Armory will be a powerful ally in figuring out the whys and wherefores of your character statistics, otherwise known as your stats. When you log into or just visit the armory, you’ll search for your own character name and choose the correct realm for your personal ‘Ihealunoobz’.

You’ll find your base stats section here:

Base Stats

Also known simply as your ‘stats’, your base stats include the six main combat components of your character: strength, agility, stamina, intellect, spirit and armor.

Strength

  • Strength (STR): Increases your melee power, block power, and parry rating.

    What Strength Means for Disc Priests
    : Nothing.

Agility

  • Agility (AGI): Increases your ranged attack power, armor, weapon critical hit rating, dodge, and armor rating.

    What Agility Means For Disc Priests
    : Nothing.

Stamina

  • Stamina (STA): Stamina determines your available pool of health.

    What Stamina Means For Disc Priests
    : In the theoretical world of PvE raiding or instancing, your health pool won’t be an issue. You’re a clothie, at the back and squishy as hell, protected by a die-hard phalanx of plate-wearing warriors whom you trust to throw their dying corpses in front of enemies to protect you.In reality, however…When one is running PUGs for leveling or profit, frequently the discipline priest finds that he or she is at the mercy of a tank with very low aggro-holding abilities. And almost all raids these days have at least two bosses with guaranteed, uninterruptible area of effect damage spells (bone spikes, anyone?). In either case, it’s very nice to stand up to slightly more abuse than an average cloth wearer.

    Staying alive means more time healing, less time running, and less money spent on repairs.Because of all that, I tend to stack Stamina to an unseemly degree. And if you’re running PvP battlegrounds or arenas, it is, of course, a no-brainer.

Intellect

  • Intellect (INT): Intellect determines your available pool of mana, your chance to score a spell critical strike, and mana regeneration.

    What Intellect Means For Disc Priests
    : Intellect’s powerful effect on your mana pool is, to me, deeply reassuring. Perhaps it’s the placebo effect, but just a small increase in my mana pool really calms me down in large fights. In case you were curious, Intellect also determines the rate at which your weapon proficiencies increase, so feel free to order a Knuckle Sandwich.

Spirit

  • Spirit (SPI): Health and mana regeneration.

    What Spirit Means For Disc Priests
    : Spirit is a tricky stat for discipline priests. Holy priests are far more dependent on spirit, as their more-powerful spells take longer to cast and require more mana. Disc priests, on the other hand, have an arsenal of lightweight and fast-casting spells, mainly of a preventative nature, with far lower casting costs.We’re less likely to have mana issues, and as a result I tend to give up increases in Spirit for increases in Intellect. When I do find myself running out of mana more often than I’d like, I prefer to increase Intellect- and grow my available mana pool- over Spirit.

Armor

  • Armor (ARM): Physical damage mitigation.

    What Armor Means For Disc Priests
    : While I always enjoy the opportunity to be slightly less squishy (see Stamina), I tend to let Inner Fire and party buffs fill my armor needs.

Spell Stats

SPELL STATS

Your spell stats include the six main casting components of your character: bonus damage, bonus healing, hit rating, spell critical chance, haste rating, and mana regeneration.

If a different set of stats than the one pictured here is displayed on your WoW Armory page, click the left or right arrows (next to the word ‘Spell’ in the picture).

Hit Rating

Hit Rating: Spell Hit Rating is the chance your spells have to land on your target. It is countered by the opponent’s resistance rating.

What Hit Rating Means For Disc Priests
: Healing spells always hit friendly targets, so nothing.

Crit Chance

Crit Chance (aka Crit, Criticals, Crit Rating, Spell Critical Strike): Increases the chance a spell you cast will produce an extra-large ‘critical’ strike.

What Crit Means For Disc Priests
: Spells cast on friendly targets will always hit their mark, so as a dedicated healer you don’t ever have to worry about Spell Hit rating. Spell Crit, on the other hand, is of great importance to us as- since we’re guaranteed to always hit our target- any increase in Spell Crit translates directly into higher healing power. In addition, Divine Aegis and Inspiration talents proc only on spell criticals.If you hover your mouse over the words ‘Crit Chance’ on your WoW Armory page, you’ll see that your criticals are broken up into Holy, Fire, Nature, Frost, Shadow, and Arcane. Your Holy will (probably- well, hopefully!) be higher than the other forms, and will be higher, too, than your listed Crit Chance.Your Holy Crit Chance can be increased by 5% by taking all five levels of the Holy talent ‘Holy Specialization’.

Haste Rating

Haste Rating: Haste can be incredibly difficult to understand, and may be the most hotly contested stat for priests. In its simplest form, increased Haste reduces the time it takes for your Global Cooldown (spell countdown timer) to reset.

A cap is the maximum haste rating, usually given in percentages, from which a priest can benefit. The absolute fastest you can cast Flash Heal (the spell we generally use to measure the Global Cooldown speed) is one second. A cast time of greater than one second means you could be casting Flash Heal faster. If you’re already casting a one-second Flash Heal, any additional Haste will be wasted.

A hard cap on haste is your maximum beneficial haste rating with spells, buffs, and talent effects. The maximum haste you can have is 50%.

A soft cap on haste is your maximum beneficial haste rating without any spells, buffs, or talent effects. This is the number you will see on your WoW armory page. The best soft haste cap number is the source of much debate.

Spells, Buffs, and Talents That Increase Haste:

- Power Infusion: Disc talent. Increases spell casting speed by 20%. Lasts 15 sec.
– Borrowed Time: Disc talent. Grants (5 to 25)% spell haste for your next spell after casting Power Word: Shield. Lasts 6 sec.
– Heroism: Shaman party buff. Increases melee, ranged, and spell casting speed by 30% for all party and raid members. Lasts 40 sec.

Here’s the take-home point: If a Shaman has cast Heroism on you, do not blow your Power Infusion or Borrowed Time. Doing so will likely put you over the Haste hard cap and the extra haste they provide will be wasted.

What Haste Means For Disc Priests: We always want to cast Flash Heal in one second, but we don’t want to have Haste in excess of that one second Flash Heal. Personally, I’d rather err on the side of having too little Haste. I don’t mind if my Flash Heal takes 1.2 seconds. Many Theorycrafters, though, get very into walking that line precisely.

I like to have a Haste rating of about 22%. Any more and I feel like I’m sinking too many resources into Haste; any less and I find my Flash Heal is casting too slowly to be responsive.

Additionally- as a very reactive and stressed-out player with a strong tendency to overheal- I look at my Haste rating as a way to stop myself from casting a Flash Heal (or two or three) on a tank at full health. I’d rather move my resources into powering up my heals and deepening my mana pool (Intellect).

If you’re just itching for more mathematical information about Priest class Theorycrafting, after all this, I recommend BobTurkey’s WoW Blog. And a visit to your friendly local psychiatrist.

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