It’s finally happened. You upgraded to Warlords of Draenor or purchased a level 90 character upgrade and have made the best choice of your life: you’ve boosted a priest. Congratulations on your decision-making skills!
But now that you’ve transmogged your gear and picked out that perfect matching mount and pet twinset, you are, as the British say, for it. You’ll have to learn how to play your new priest. Not to worry! Your favorite* disc priest is here to take your grimy little paw and lead you to the promised land. You’ll be smiting like a pro** in no time at all.
* I assume.
** This guide is a basic introduction to the rotation of a Discipline Priest. It is in no way, shape, or form intended to include all of the nuances of the class or spec. My aim is to give you the basic tools you’ll need to become a solid, middle-of-the-pack healer †. With any luck, you’ll enjoy the basics so much that you’ll seek out advanced enlightenment in the ways of the Discipline Priest.
† If I see any theorycrafting/not-the-way-I-do-it-as-a-Heroic-raider/wiener-waggling nonsense in the comments, I will reach through the internet and slap the glasses right off your face.
Basic Information for Healing as a Discipline Priest
Discipline Priests heal using a combination of direct healing on a friendly target- i.e. Shield, Prayer of Mending, Prayer of Healing- and indirect healing generated by damaging an unfriendly target- i.e. Penance, Holy Fire, and Smite.
Your first challenge will be becoming comfortable switching targets between a tank and an unfriendly target. If you are not using addons- I’ve used none for the purposes of this tutorial- you may find it is helpful to right-click on the main tank and choose ‘Set Focus’. You can then easily find your tank in the hurly-burly of a raid setting and switch quickly between her and her target (her target will appear directly under her portrait).
Setting Up Your Quick Bar
As Marlo Thomas reminds us, we are free to be you and me- so don’t hesitate to experiment with your own setup once you feel comfortable with the basic Disc Priest healing rotation.
Here is my quickbar, without any addons or fancy keybinds:
Buff yourself using Inner Will (it is not timed but will fall off if you die or change specs).
Buff your party using Power Word: Fortitude.
Most of the time, your spell rotation will be fired off at a hostile unit. Weird, right?
- Target an unfriendly unit
- Cast Penance > Holy Fire > Smite
- Use Penance and Holy Fire when they come off of cooldown; use Smite as filler
- Whenever Archangel procs, use it
Your secondary rotation requires targeting a friendly unit. I generally wait until Penance is off cooldown and if I’m lucky, when Power Word: Shield or Flash Heal- or both- have procced.
- Target a friendly unit
- Cast Penance, a raid-wide heal
- Cast Power Word: Shield and Prayer of Mending
- Cast Flash Heal only if it has procced (can proc twice in a row)
- Target an unfriendly unit and go back to your Penance> Holy Fire> Smite rotation
You can run a decent healing game by just using the rotation above. You can. I often do, too, when I’m healing a raid but also simultaneously watching Downton Abbey, getting coffee, or doodling.
After you feel somewhat comfortable with your primary rotation, you’ll most likely be going out of mana regularly and will need to learn your Mana Control spells. Your options are:
- Inner Focus: Reduces the cost of your next Flash Heal, Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing to 0 mana. I personally like to use Inner Focus in conjunction with Prayer of Healing, a spell that heals and creates little bubbles for five people in a party. Useful if you’ve remembered to target the tank, and even more useful if both of the tanks are in the same party. Don’t bother using it with Flash Heal, since Flash Heal will proc one or two free casts regularly.
- Shadow Fiend: Spawns a fiend that attacks your current target and returns mana to you. Use this during your attacking phase, since if you don’t have a target he’ll just stand there and look at you.
- Hymn of Hope: You stand in one place and channel mana back to yourself. Any movement or damage interrupts it, so wait until you can find a safe-ish spot before casting.
- Mana Potions: Use them.
An advanced Disc Priest rotation takes into account your three major cooldown abilities: Pain Suppression, Spirit Shell, and Power Word: Barrier.
- Pain Suppression is a pain in the ass. You cast it on a friendly target to dramatically reduce the damage they’re taking, BUT it also reduces their threat level dramatically. Since tanks who are taking a ton of damage are almost always trying to maintain threat, you can really screw up two tanks’ taunt/stack situation if you’re not paying very close attention. Use with extreme caution.
- Spirit Shell creates absorption bubbles instead of direct healing when you cast Heal, Flash Heal, Greater Heal, or Prayer of Healing. Your main problem here will be that you’ll forget to use it, though if you think of it try to cast Inner Focus > Spirit Shell > Prayer of Healing for a nice, big, free bubble fest.
- Power Word: Barrier is your only positional spell. It increases the healing that you do for everyone standing in your little bubble, which is useful when the raid stacks in one place, like on the Calamity phase of the Fallen Protectors fight.
- Desperate Prayer: A free 30% self heal. No more, no less.
Dispel is your… um, dispelling spell, which you’ll need in fights such as the Sha of Pride. You also have Mass Dispel, but it has limited uses as many debuffs are currently immune to it. I accidentally dragged it off my quick bar a few months ago and haven’t even bothered to put it back.
Leap of Faith drags any friendly player from where they are standing to where you are standing, which is excellent for expressing your well-founded irritation in LFR.
Levitate is a slow fall spell.
Fade drops your threat temporarily. It won’t save you from certain death like the night elf racial Shadowmeld, but if your tank is alive and you need to get an add or two off of you, casting Fade can give your tank a moment to pick them back up again.
I have Renew on my bars almost as a utility spell; I only use it when people are running back from a wipe and I want to top them or myself off.
Take these talents:
Take these glyphs:
Major Glyphs: Glyph of Power Word: Shield, Glyph of Holy Fire, Glyph of Smite Minor Glyphs: Whatever the hell you want. Glyph of Confession is pretty funny.
As you get more familiar with your priest and- with any luck- want to pursue your disciplinary adventures, check out these resources for a more nuanced look at the Discipline Priest rotation: