SmiteSpec v. ShieldSpec: Builds & Rotations at 85

I’ve put together this little down-and-dirty guide to discipline priest healing because being a Disc Priest these days is, truly, complicated.

The main source of this complexity lies in the fact that Disc Priests are now essentially two distinct specs: the SmiteSpec and the ShieldSpec.

The variance in style of the two versions of disc priesting is pretty pronounced, so disc priests tend to lean quite heavily toward their favorite version of discipline. It’s created something of a rift in the Disc community. Much shouting and pulling of beards.

ShieldSpec focuses on shielding, doling out standard priest healing spells, and managing a variety of cooldowns (Inner Focus, Power Infusion, Rapture) to return mana. It functions similarly to how Discipline worked throughout Wrath of the Lich King.

Pros: Similar to the Wrath disc healing style and thus familiar to Wrath Discos. Intuitive.

Cons: (Possible) lower mana return. Boring.

SmiteSpec is based on an entirely new healing mechanic for Warcraft. SmiteSpec disc priests use a combination of offensive, DPS (primarily Smite) spells for mana return and indirect healing spells, coupled with more classic Discipline direct healing spells (including Shield).

Pros: New and different way to heal, unique to Discos. (Possible) higher mana return. Wings (WANGS!).

Cons: Focus diverted between DPS targets and healing targets. Minimal DPS damage. Unfamiliar mechanism.

Personally, I’ve been running the two specs simultaneously to see which better fits my needs/playstyle, and I have to confess that I lean more towards the ShieldSpec. However, both are viable and fun Discipline Priest options.

Sample ShieldSpec Build
View Liala’s Current ShieldSpec Build

Click to Embiggen


Sample ShieldSpec Rotation

With this build, I like to Shadow Protection/Fortitude everyone pre-fight. The low-cost instants of Inner Will are worth more to me right now than Spellpower (plus I think the increased movement speed helps me stay out of AoE trouble).
For a rotation I generally bubble (Power Word: Shield) the tank, hit him with Prayer of Mending, then watch. If another DPS is taking a lot of damage, I’ll throw another bubble and a Renew on him or her, and then go back to refreshing Prayer of Mending and bubble on the tank. For a big, quick tank heal I use Penance; for a slow, big tank heal I use Greater Heal.

If damage is going all over the place, I use Inner Focus and then Prayer of Healing; if damage is focused on the tank, I use Inner Focus and then Greater Heal. I use Inner Focus on every cooldown religiously.

Sample SmiteSpec Build
View Liala’s Current SmiteSpec Build

Click to Embiggen

Sample SmiteSpec Rotation




  1. I suppose at the moment I’d fall into the ShieldSpec category of Disco’s. I halfway tried SmiteSpec (without Atonement and proper glyphs) but just could NOT get into the idea of having to DPS to heal. And they’re not direct, “Here, I push a button and you are healed!” heals…it’s via you smiting the mob-o-the-moment. Later on, I may give it a whirl, once the new shiny has worn off Cataclysm and there are more cold hard facts to compare the 2 different specs with.

    I guess for me though, one of the things I liked about Disco when I was first getting into it was the fact that my shields were so awesome and the damage mitigation factor. I prevented damage up front, lessened the impact of blows. That was coooooool. And different from my paladin, which was all I’d known for 5+ years. So that’s why I’m a fan of ShieldSpec, least for now.

    *pulls on DA’s beard* Take that!


    • I know just what you mean. SmiteSpec just doesn’t feel Discish to me, and I like feeling Discish. We’re the only real damage mitigators, which delights me no end. There aren’t any other deeps-to-get-mana healers, either, of course, but nothing is more boring to me than that rotation. I’m curious why this unique mechanism for healing ended up in a spec that already had a unique mechanism for healing. I would’ve thought it married far better with Holy than Disc.

      It’s cool- don’t get me wrong, and I love the idea of new mechanics- but it’s not my cup of tea. I’ll be interested to see which version of Disc Blizzard supports as the expansion continues (for surely they don’t want to add the burden of balancing two specs for the price of one!).

      Smart, handsome, and virile as my readers are when compared to the rest of the world, I had no idea you were also such a buncha beard-pullin’ ninjas! 😡


  2. Thanks for the Spec and glyphs. Any idea when you will post some thoughts on a rotation (or group of spells to use)? I’m going through mana at an insane rate and am trying to figure out what I am doing wrong. I pretty much have to drink after every pull in regular instances…

    Thanks again for the work you do to let us know about the state of the Disco priest…


  3. Thanks for the site. I really enjoy your take on disc.

    After smite healing was introduced in wrath I really enjoyed it. During wrath tho… Small health pools and small heals worked well. People didn’t take too much damage for the most part so it was fun being able to deeps and heal.

    I tried Smiteheals in cata but during my first dungeon it was clear, mana was an issue and so was how much damage everyone was taking compared to the small heal that is smiteheal.

    I loved my wings and am really sad to see them go. Maybe when things get more ez mode again I’ll try smiteheals again.


  4. I had always played holy spec but after returning from a long RL break and having to “relearn” the priest class, I decided to try something new. I did a little reading about the SmiteSpec and I haven’t look back since.

    The rotation isn’t much different than your ShieldSpec. PoM, Shield, Penance and Greater Heal on Tank as needed. The only real difference is that you insert Smite whenever you can. With mods like VuhDo, HealBot, or Clique it’s pretty easy to switch gears between healing and smiting (a tank Assist macro makes life easier too). There are some cool Power Aura sets out there that help you keep track of your Evangelism stacks easily too.

    Smiting also causes Penance to pop much faster. You never have to use Flash Heal again! You also tend use to less bubbles on DPS. Renews and Smite heals usually take care of them until the end of the fight.

    Mana isn’t much of an issue either if you have decent gear. On regular 85 dungeons I rarely even have to pop Shadowfiend/Hymn of Hope during boss fights.

    I find Inner Fire more beneficial in general for the extra spellpower (moar heals with Atonement) but with the increased mana cost of PW:S upcoming, we may have to switch it up depending on the boss fight.

    I also find you also need a good mix of haste, mastery, and crit too for the SmiteSpec. Each is beneficial with the others, so focusing on one in particular can actually hurt you. Haste = more healing with smite (shorter penance CD) and more ticks with renew for greater chance to crit, Crit = super juicy heals with AA and guaranteed DA bubble with mastery bonus, Mastery = beefy shield goodness that gives you more flexibility to smite/heal.

    These are my impressions of the SmiteSpec anyway. Great blog btw – very enjoyable!


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