Category: Disc 101

Guiding the up-and-coming discipline priest through the murky waters of leveling

Boost To 90: A Beginner’s Guide to Discipline Priest Healing in Warcraft


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The Discultimate Leveling Guide: Zero to Twenty in Five Seconds

Levels One Through Twenty: The Early Years

Of Certain Interest: The Discultimate Gear Guide, Levels 0-10 and Levels 10-20

IF ONLY IT did take five seconds, my little discipline priestlings. But hope springs eternal, and while it may take longer than five seconds, you can zwish through your first 20 levels with only minor inconvenience and light bruising without once being tempted to walk the sad path of Shadow Priest ( I see you there, with your finger on the button! Don’t do it, you fool!).

Grind your way up to level 10, enjoying the sights and sounds of your native land for a mere hour. Take a moment to savor the transitory ease of leveling, and then bounce into 11 with a good basic understanding of your introductory Discipline spells and talents.

It’s worth thinking at this point about whether you’ll be willing to respec often, perhaps as the healing alt of a moneyed character, or whether you’ll need this spec to go the distance (translation: you’re a cheap bastard), pulling into 80 without once changing your course.

In this guide, I’ll be outlining specifically how to stay disciplined the whole long road. Leveling as a Disc Priest is challenging, certainly compared to leveling as a Shadow Priest, but I think provides unparalleled opportunities to learn your Disc character inside and out.

I’m also assuming that your leveling will be a combination of Random Dungeon Findering and solo questing. I used to argue strenuously against using quests to level as a Disc Priest, but with the pacing of the new Cataclysm quests, I’ve done exactly that five or six times now (what can I say? I’m a fool for love!). With a little bit of know-how, solo questing as a Disc Priest is not only possible, but gleefully dangerous.

And we’ll not be taking on Discipline PvP- at least, not yet.

Patience, my pets.


Talents are the choices that you make on your character Talent Tree screen. You get to allot one point every two or so levels. Abilities are the spells that you learn from a trainer, which show up in your spellbook. You can drag abilities to your quickbar to cast them more rapidly.




  • None

The Big Idea: You can get into a Dungeon Finder group quickly and easily as a healer, but I’m assuming you’ll be splitting your time between instancing and questing. Power Word: Shield will be your go-to spell in both places; you’ll use it to protect the tank in instances, as well as using it on yourself while questing.

As you solo quest, you’ll need a bit of oomph behind your Shadow spells. As Disc, though, oomph is severely lacking. Because of that, I highly recommend picking up Twin Disciplines as soon as possible to increase the effectiveness of your damage spells while questing (and, incidentally, your healing spells while instancing).

After all, there’s only so much abuse you can take from low-level cloth-geared LFD warrior tanks, amirite?

Discipline Priest Build at Level 20



  • Buff all with Shadow Protection and Power Word: Fortitude, and yourself with Inner Will
  • Shield the tank and hit him with a Renew *just* as he starts to run forward, then sit and drink just before they draw aggro (you’ll spend a lot on drinks, but it’s worth it to top off at the beginning of every fight)
  • Flash Heal small damage
  • Greater Heal big damage
  • Shield specific DPS/yourself if they or you are consistently taking a lot of damage
  • Use Fade often. Tanks don’t have a lot of threat tools yet.
[Instance Toolbar Image Coming Soon!]


  • Buff yourself with Shadow Protection, Power Word: Fortitude, and Inner Fire
  • Cast Holy Fire (or Mind Blast, if you don’t have Holy Fire yet) at your target, then cast PW: Shield on yourself. Immediately cast Shadow Word: Pain and then SmiteSmiteSmiteSmite
  • If you’re running out of mana, use your wand (I know, I know)
  • When your bubble wears off, renew it unless your target is at less than 20% health
[Questing Toolbar Image Coming Soon!]


  • [Your Racial Starting Area] (0-10)

If you play a Horde character, I highly, highly recommend that as soon as you hit level 10 you get your butt over to Brill, outside of Undercity, and begin the beautifully epic/hilarious Forsaken quest chain, which will take you through to level 35 without pausing for breath.

If you’re Alliance, move with speed to Darkshore (you can get to Darnassus by taking a boat from Stormwind Harbor, then take the boat to Lor’Danel) for the revamped Cataclysm quest chains there. It’s no Dark Lady, but hey.


  • Westfall (10-15)
  • Bloodmyst Isle (10-20)
  • Darkshore (10-20)
  • Loch Modan (10-20)
  • Azshara (10-20)
  • Ghostlands (10-20)
  • Northern Barrens (10-20)
  • Silverpine Forest (10-20)
  • Ruins of Gilneas (14-16)
  • Redridge Mountains (15-20)

Circle of Healers Questionnaire

There’s a revived meme going around, originating with Miss Medicina, that consists of a questionnaire about how and why you heal. I’m glad it’s making the rounds and have loved reading the responses to it, and was delighted when fellow guildmates (and classy guys) Rades and Snack tagged me to join in the fun.

DAS RULES: Post this questionnaire, with your answers, on your blog. Pick the healing class you know most about (or is the focus of your blog) for the questionnaire, and then send it over to another healing blogger you know and love who heals with a DIFFERENT class. Include a link to the blogger who sent you the questionnaire, as well as a link to the blogger to whom you are sending it.

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?

Liala, Disc Priest. Natch.

What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)

10-man raids.

What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why?

Penance. Penance is a huge Ohshit healing spell, but also turns you (and your camera) in the direction of your target. I know a lot of people hate that, but I frequently Penance people just to figure out where they’re standing.

What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?

Heal (the irony!). It now costs too much and heals for too little to be a part of our toolbox. Oh, and I use Flash Heal much, much less than other Disc priests, preferring to give Renew time to tick in most cases.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?

Instant response time. Disc healers can plug several health gaps at once- not just on the tank- while waiting for a big group heal to come in from a Shaman, Druid, or Holy Priest. Of course, all that requires you to be more communicative than any other healing class, which can be a good or bad thing depending on the company you keep.

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?

Instant response time. The other side of the hyperactive, short-term healing coin is that if you look away for more than two seconds- your mind wanders, say, or you sneeze more than once in a row- you’ll come back to find everyone is dead.

In a raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?

On the off-tank with an eye on the rest of the raid. If a large healing spell is incoming from a fellow healer, it’s easy to bubble several melee or more than one tank to bridge the gap between casting and healing. When a raid co-healer knows that, and lets me know they need a few seconds of preventing additional damage without necessarily healing everyone up (“Big heals inc, need ten more seconds!”), I get all misty-eyed.

What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?

Shamans. The offical reason is that Chain Healing works amazingly well with that whole You-Prevent-Damage-While-I-Poo-Out-A-Huge-Heal situation described above. The unofficial reason is their totems. I like to stand in the middle of ’em. Makes me feel safe.

What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?

Paladins. The standard answer to this is, I think, Disc priests, and that can truly be abysmal if you don’t like the other Disc priest you’re healing with, but you can actually work with another Disc priest to coordinate your bubbles. Paladins, though, rely on someone NOT preventing damage on their targets (and I frequently bubble their targets in a confused panic). It always ends in tears and recriminations.

What is your worst habit as a healer?


What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?

Unsolicited advice. This makes me want to punch a fool in the face. I don’t give anyone advice on how they play the game they’ve bought to pass the time in the manner of their choosing and certainly don’t want it. On the other hand, I adore it when people give me feedback when asked, and it’s nearly always spot-on (Corollary: I’ve found people who give unsolicited advice invariably aren’t worth listening to.)

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?

Not at all. We’re dominating, unadulterated, masterful MACHINES of PvP!! /flex

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?

I check my World of Logs records against the WoL records of the same fight for the top Disc priests (Ensidia, etc.) and the logs of friends whom I know to be solid Discos.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?

It’s hard to say. When I first started playing in Wrath, people kept expecting me to raid heal, which was completely impossible and very perplexing. Now, we’re just as firmly pigeonholed as tank healers, but I really think our best utility comes from tank healing while simultaneously bubbling the occasional raid member to give a raid heal time to finish casting.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?

The variety of spells. Blizzard’s spoken intent for Cataclysm was to improve the ‘granularity’ of healing for Disc priests, and I think they succeeded well in so doing. However, increased granularity does mean increased choice, which in turn makes life more difficult for beginners. That, along with the fact that Disc priests really have two specs within one tree- the SmiteSpec (using Atonement) and the ShieldSpec (no Atonement), as I think of them- and there is really a lot of choice and experimentation required that may not be to everyone’s liking.

If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)?

Like most Disc priests, my overhealing is pretty low, and total healing looks abysmal (until you add in prevented damage through shields). My use of Renew is higher than most, just because I like it, and I don’t cast Power Word: Barrier nearly as often as I ought to. In general, though, I blow all my cooldowns- needed or not!- because I’d rather use them too early than wait until I really need them and potentially not use them at all.

Haste or Crit and why?

Crit. Balance in all things, sure, but you can manage your casting choices and time to minimize the effect of Haste; you can’t manage anything to get a big heal.

What healing class do you feel you understand least?


What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing?

I don’t use many add-ons at all. The only raiding add-ons I use are Skada to check trends in damage taken and DBM to get the warnings. I do write a huge number of my own macros, though, and think that the most useful macros for Disc priests are (a) smart Shadowfiend to lock in a target for him to attack, (b) a Warning Yell before casting Hymn of Hope and (c) a raid announcement for casting and on whom you have cast Pain Suppression. Other than that, I use the default raid frames and no key modifiers! SACRILEGE!

Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?

I tend to overstack Crit Intellect and understack Spirit and Haste. By not prioritizing Haste, my mana situation rarely gets out of control since I’m not casting as quickly. Conscious casting can, I think, minimize the need for more mana, reduce overheals, and forces you to play a very rapid-fire class with more deliberation- which, in turn, I think makes you a better Disc priest.

The tendency for Discos is to shoot out a huge number of spells incredibly quickly, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. It’s what makes us so different and fun! However, playing to deliberately minimize that aspect of Disc priesting, once you have mastered doing it that way (that bit’s important), creates a zen state quite unlike any other class I’ve ever played.

But, of course, I’m biased.


Many thanks to my prompters, Rades and Snack, for their kind prompting to participate in this questionnaire; it was very fun to do and absolutely fascinating to read the responses of the many people who have participated thus far! I’m now supposed to tag someone not of my class to do their own version of this, so I’m passing the baton to Vixsin at Life In Group Five, a Resto Shaman.

Warcraft Basics: Organizing & Planning for Classes and Professions

Download Character Spreadsheet Template  (Excel)

There’s nothing I love more than a plan.

When you have a plan in Warcraft, you can organize your limited resources to the very best of your ability. When you’re playing, that resource is almost always time; whether you want to pick flowers or move to the top of your raid rotation, you’ll maximize the bang for your minutes with just a little bit of groundwork.

As you continue to play you’ll begin to accumulate a number of characters. They may be spread out over a number of servers, or they may be grouped on one or two. Personally, I’ve found that I maximize the support my characters can give one another if they are grouped by faction: One server holds only Alliance characters, another has only Horde.

When I level a new class or grind professions, I want to ensure I have as little overlap as possible on the same server. If I already have a high-level Herbalist and Alchemist, for example, I can use her to provide all of the herbs for a new Inscription alt. Instead of picking up herbalism, the new alt now can take an additional profession that I don’t already have- say, Enchanting- and provide all of my characters with more money in the long run.

I created a simple Excel file to track my alts, their levels, and their professions:

Character & Profession Tracking: Some information has been changed to protect the guilty

I separate each set of characters out by realm, and add a note in front of the realm name to denote if the characters there are all either (A)lliance or (H)orde:

The overall organization of the spreadsheet is by realm

Next, I fill in the character information. The current level of the character, an abbreviation for their class, and name are all filled in, and sorted by level. I try to ensure I have only one character of each class type per realm (my personal exception to that is disc priests, who are distributed at fixed levels through multiple realms for testing):

Character Levels, Class and Names: Needs moar paladin

The next section to tackle is the Professions. Here, professions are distributed into primary and secondary chunks to keep the information clear. Not every character will keep the same profession over time; frequently, I’ll level a character as a dual-gatherer to maximize XP, then switch over to their permanent profession at a higher level. I use ‘x’ to denote professions a character needs to drop and ‘!’ to indicate which ones they need to pick up. Using this method lets me quickly see if I’ve accidentally doubled up on a profession in a certain realm, or if there are any gaps. The professions I already have are bolded, and the ones I still need are un-bolded:

Matching Characters to their Professions

In the last section I leave space to add any notes to myself about plans I have for this character- Does he need to do a certain daily? Did I tell myself that Warlock needed a certain rep?- which I often find I think about when looking at the spreadsheet, but can’t remember when I’m actually in the game. This is also a good place to note the appropriate zone for each character’s level (Zones by Level):

Note to Self: Plan World Domination

Finally, I make a note to myself which heirlooms are on this realm. The character currently wearing the heirloom is marked with a matching, bold ‘H’ to remind me where I’ve left it- I’ve had to email Blizzard customer to track down lost heirlooms too many times to want to do it again. It’s sometimes useful to know who will be the fastest leveler when looking at your spreadsheet:

Did I transfer those heirlooms to another realm, or are they at the bottom of a bank alt's bags?

You can download the Excel file template to create your own Character Spreadsheet here. With any luck you’ll be maximizing your professions- and profits- in no time at all!

Good luck!

Patch 4.1: New Gear for Discipline Priests

With the arrival of patch 4.2, Discipline Priests came into a few new items that rival tier gear and- perhaps more importantly- can be achieved with 5-man heroic Zul’Aman or Zul’Gurub runs.

Non-tier gear can assist greatly in gearing up to raid progressively if you’re low on Valor points, or have bad luck with the drops, or for non-raiders to keep up with raiders if you want to stay in shape to jump in later.

All of these drops have some combination of Intellect, Spirit, Spellpower, Critical Strike, Mastery and Haste. None has Hit.

Good luck!

Spiritcaller Cloak 353
Zone: Zul’Gurub | Boss: Zone Drop

Hexing Robes 353
Zone: (H) Zul’Aman | Boss: Daakara

Robes of Dissention 353
Zone: Zul’Aman | Boss: Quest Reward for Warlord of the Amani

Boots of the Ursine 353
Zone: (H) Zul’Aman | Boss: Nalorakk

Charmbinder Grips 353
Zone: Zul’Aman | Boss: Zone Drop

The Hexxer’s Mask 353
Zone: (H) Zul’ Gurub | Boss: Jin’Do

Leggings of Ancient Magics 353
Zone: (H) Zul’Aman | Boss: Akilzon

Lost Bag of Whammies 353
Zone: Zul’Gurub | Boss: Zone Drop

Signet of Venoxis 353
Zone: (H) Zul’Gurub | Boss: High Priest Venoxis

Soul Drain Signet 353
Zone: (H) Zul’Aman | Boss: Hex Lord Malacrass

Claw-Fringe Mantle 353
Zone: (H) Zul’Gurub | Boss: High Priestess Kilnara

Sash of Anguish 353
Zone: (H) Zul’Gurub | Boss: High Priestess Kilnara

Touch of Discord 353
Zone: (H) Zul’Gurub | Boss: Blood Lord Mandokir

Amani Scepter of Rites 353 (1H mace)
Zone: (H) Zul’Aman | Boss: Daakara

Voodoo Hexblade 353 (1H dagger)
Zone (H) Zul’Aman | Boss: Zone Drop

Legacy of Arlokk 353 (2H staff)
Zone: (H) Zul’ Gurub | Boss: Jin’Do

The Discipline Priest Rotation in 4.06 & 4.1: Raids and Instances

Some very major changes came down the pipe for Discipline priests in WoW’s 4.1 update. Our bubbles got stronger, but  don’t last as long. Prayer of Healing got a nerf; Renew got a buff. Prayer of Healing gives a better Divine Aegis bonus. It’s time to re-examine the rotations we use in instances and raids.

I’m not usually one for a ‘rotation’ guide, but as I’ve been leveling a mystifying druid lately- and desperately looking for such a thing as I do (a bear can be a warrior tank OR a rogue?!)- I’ve come to look more kindly on the idea of looking at someone’s rotation with associated explanation. As such, these are not hard rules about what you must be casting, but rather a starting point to get you comfortable enough with your arsenal of spells to build upon.

For reference, my spec and current gear is here on the Armory.


1. When you zone in, cast Inner Will on yourself, and Power Word: Fortitude and Prayer of Shadow Protection on your group.

2. Before the tank begins to run (or as he’s running, if he won’t give you a ready check), cast Power Word: Shield and Prayer of Mending on the tank.

3. When the tank begins to take 15%+ damage, hit Inner Focus and then Greater Heal. Keep Power Word: Shield up on the tank at all times. Try to keep Prayer of Mending up on the tank; it’s useful to have your sound on for this, as you can hear the jingly-shoosh noise it makes as it jumps from target to target. When the noise stops, I reapply the Prayer of Mending.

For big heals, use Penance. For small heals, use Flash Heal or Renew. Personally, I never, ever use Flash Heal and would be hard-pressed to find it on my quickbar, but we’re all supposed to shun Renew (I LOVE IT!).

Every time Inner Focus comes back up, hit it and use Greater Heal on the tank.
Every time Pain Suppression comes up, use it on the tank.
Every time Power Infusion comes up, use it on yourself.

Don’t be afraid to apply a Renew to the tank if the group as a whole is taking heavy damage and your attention is split; it will give you a small buffer of heals if you look away from the tank’s health for longer than you should.

4. As you’re keeping your bubble and PoM up on the tank, watch to see who else in the group is taking damage. In a good group that’s the tank and possibly yourself; in a great group, it’s just the tank! Back in reality, though, it’s probably going to be you, the tank, and another melee DPS.

Put a bubble on the melee DPS who is taking the damage, and possibly a Renew for insurance. Use Penance on the melee if they’re taking a lot of damage, but hopefully you won’t have to do that too often.

If you’re taking a lot of party-wide damage, don’t be afraid to put out a few more bubbles. We’re not back to the Wrath days of being able to spam Power Word: Shield on every group member all the time, but it’s still our best tool. Trust your Prayer of Mending to hit lots of targets, healing as it goes, if you’re taking a lot of group damage, and keep it up at all times.

If you can spare it, use Inner Focus and then Prayer of Healing as your big group heal, but don’t expect miracles. It’s slow and it does not do a whole lot of healing. At best it’ll keep everyone alive long enough for Penance and Renew and PoM to make the rounds to pick everyone back up.

5. Keep the tank alive, and then yourself alive. If the tank goes down and you have a tough melee DPS like a DK, they are now the tank. Treat them thusly.


1. During the buffing/eating/waiting for people to pee phase, buff the group with Power Word: Fortitude and Prayer of Shadow Protection. Use Inner Will on yourself.

2. Ask for healing assignments. Druids and shaman should be on the raid; discipline priests and paladins should be on the tanks. Holy priests can go either way*.

If you’re running 10 mans, you’re going to be running with two or three healers.

If you have two healers, one of you should be assigned to the tanks and one to the raid. Ask to be assigned to the tanks (unless your other healer is a paladin, which is going to suck for everyone).

If you have three healers, a healer each should be assigned to the tank and off-tank, and the third should be on the raid.

If you’re assigned to the raid despite the maximum amount of QQ you can generate, don’t panic and see below.

*Disclaimer: I’m going to get a lot of crap for this in the comments, and I’d like to  deflect some of that by recognizing that (a) Paladins are not crap raid healers, as much as I dislike them as people, (b) discipline priests used to be perfectly fine raid healers, but now we simply are not, and (c) if you have no druid or shaman you are not completely screwed, just mostly screwed.

3. Don’t forget to flask and eat.

4. TANK HEALING: On the plus side, tank healing in raids is much easier in lots of ways than healing an instance because in theory you’re going to be focusing on one person; at the same time, it can be more challenging because you don’t have complete control over the healing of the raid that you have in an instance.

This leads to a healer-centric phenomenon that I think of as the Savior Complex. You’ve slogged through 85 levels of misery, the lone healer of your group, and you’ve become conditioned to save EVERYBODY ALL THE TIME! The fate of the world rests on your shoulders!

The problem with trying to save everyone in a raid is that you simply can’t, of course. You have to actually trust other healers, those useless bastards, to do their job. It’s incredibly difficult to let go of the fear that everyone will die if you don’t heal them, but let go of it you must.

If you are healing both tanks, three people exist in the raid: the main tank, the off-tank, and you.

You cannot spare the mana to assist anyone else in the raid, with the possible exception of a bubble every now and then on the raid healer. If the boss gets loose and starts savaging a DPS or two with no regard to the tank waving his hands up and down, sure: you can jump in and start healing that DPS. The raid has just gone all weird, and no one’s going to blame you for wiping it.

However, there’s a big difference from the boss actually getting well and truly loose and really focusing on a DPS, and occasionally turning around to playful maul a DPS with his amusing razor-sharp claws just for the fun of it. The only way to know the difference is to run the fight a few times, or watch a few different versions of it on YouTube. (“Is he hunting down that deeps or just playing? Oh, just playing- Magmaw, you fool for comedy!”).

Until you get a feel for that part of the fight, just focus on your assigned tank(s) and self. No one else.

When the tank begins to take 15%+ damage, hit Inner Focus and then Greater Heal. Keep Power Word: Shield up on the tank at all times. Keep Prayer of Mending up on the tank at all times.

For big heals, use Penance. For medium heals, use Heal. For small heals, use Renew.

Every time Inner Focus comes back up, hit it and use Greater Heal on the tank.
Every time Pain Suppression comes up, use it on the tank.
Every time Power Infusion comes up, use it on yourself.

Keep a bubble up on yourself and possibly on the other healers if they need it.

5. RAID HEALING: You’re not completely screwed, believe it or not, if you’re assigned to heal the raid. Take a deep breath and remember that these guys aren’t going to be taking nearly the damage that the tanks will.

Before you start, look at your raid composition and mentally or physically separate out all the melee DPS. Melee DPS are warriors, DKs, rogues, druids dressed up like cats, and paladins.

I physically move them in my raid frame box to one side (the right, if you must know), leaving myself and the other ranged casters on the left.

The melee DPS will be taking the most damage in most fights, generally because they draw aggro away from the tanks more easily than ranged DPS.

Once you drag all the melee to one side, you’ll see when the fight starts that they’re taking most of the damage among the DPS, and that one or two of them is taking most of that damage. Occasionally a big damage-taker turns out to be something weird like a warlock; in that case, I drag the warlock over to the right with the melee and mentally treat him as a melee for the rest of the raid.

You will not have the attention or mana to heal the other healers in this raid. You also do not have big, raid-wide heals that will incidentally keep them going.

You must warn the other healer(s) that you will not be able to heal them. This is more important than you might think, as some people (paladins) will not be paying attention, not to mention it’s just plain polite.

Now that you’ve effectively erased both tanks and any other healers from your mind, you’re facing a situation that’s actually not unlike healing an instance. You’ll get one (or two) DPS who routinely draw aggro; treat them as your new tank. Bubble the most aggro’d DPS and apply Prayer of Mending religiously (ho ho ho).

For big heals, use Penance. For medium heals, use Heal. For small heals, use Renew.

Every time Inner Focus comes back up, hit it and use Prayer of Healing on the group.
Every time Pain Suppression comes up, use it on your most aggro-ing DPS.
Every time Power Infusion comes up, use it on yourself.



4.a brought the strength back to our bubbles, and I love it for that, but, like you, I hate it for the nerf to the length of bubbles. Disc is a tough spec to master, but so worth it as it just gets stronger and stronger with gear.

If you find yourself really struggling in instances or raids, do ask yourself: is my gear really good enough for this? What can I improve? Is my build all that it can be? Disc priests are extraordinarily gear-dependent- perhaps more than any other class- and it’s impossible to hide behind bad gear in our spec.

Soldier on, noble discos, and keep those bubbles popping!