Since patch 3.0.2 went live, the Discipline tree has been getting more attention. Some have embraced its new PVE potential, while others dismiss it as once and forever the realm of the PVP Priest.
Deny it if you will, but Disc is back for PVE in a big way. Re-tuned with a focus on damage prevention, the Discipline Priest now shines not only as a tank healer but as what I like to call the ‘oh shit healer.’ I’ve been raiding as Disc since 3.0.2, and while I would like to try out the new Holy tree some day I have to admit I’m kind of liking it where I am.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and tweaking of my recommended spec since the patch went live, based on my own experience and community discussion. I could write a whole other post about the Disc talents and why they are nifty (heck, maybe I will) but for now I’m going to limit myself to suggesting another spec: 56/5/0
The biggest changes here are dropping Reflective Shield (self-only as of 3.0.2) and dropping Divine Fury in favor of Enlightenment. (Thanks to Sinuviel over at PlusHeal for pointing that out to me.)
So! Let’s talk turkey, and I don’t mean the Thanksgiving kind. As a Disc priest you are most likely to be tasked with tank healing. For most healers, this means replenishing the water in the bucket before it all leaks out. For the Disc priest, it also means slowing the rate of leakage!
This is not a one-button healing spec; a good Disc priest will use all the tools at their disposal for maximum effect. What spells will you be using the most? Prayer of Mending, Renew and the four “P’s” of Discipline: Power Word: Shield, Pain Suppression, Power Infusion and Penance.
Shield your tank whenever possible. Not only will it mitigate some damage, it increases your effectiveness as a healer. With proper talent selection, you’ll have an increased chance to crit when healing someone with the Weakened Soul Debuff (Renewed Hope), you’ll get mana back from damage absorbed by the shield (Rapture) and gain up to 25% spell haste (Borrowed Time) on your next spell after casting PW:S.
Don’t be afraid of Pain Suppression. Tank threat is through the roof right now, so you’re not going to create a dangerous situation unless you’re throwing it on them during the initial pull. If your tank is in trouble, use Pain Suppression. Otherwise, just toss it on your local aggromonkey as needed.
Power Infusion; It’s not just for DPS! Infusing yourself is a great way to make those emergency heals land faster and cost less. It doesn’t invoke the global cooldown, so use it whenever you like. Add it to your Greater Heal macro or something.
Use Penance. It is an awesome spell for fast responses to damage spikes, but you’ll want it in your normal healing rotation too. A lot of the time, you can keep a tank up with nothing but PW:S, Renew, Prayer of Mending and Penance with the occasional Flash or Greater Heal thrown in. Eventually you’ll get a bit of a rotation down.
Speaking of rotations, for most situations I usually start with Penance once my tank starts taking damage, following up with Renew and PW:S. If needed, I’ll toss in a hasted FH or GH (courtesy of Borrowed Time) and/or a PoM, then should be about ready to Penance again. After that, I just watch my tank while my spell cooldowns are ticking and toss Flashes and Greaters in where needed.
Depending on the amount of incoming damage you’re dealing with, you may need to adjust your strategy. When you’re casting multiple instant cast spells in a row, the time you spend waiting on the global cooldown is time that your tank isn’t getting incoming heals. If incoming damage is high, you may need to limit yourself to one instant at a time between Greater Heals/Penance, or even chain cast Greater Heal/Penance until the spike is over. (Power Infusion can be very helpful in these situations!) Above all, be flexible and adapt to the healing needs of your tank.
If you find yourself assigned to raid healing, you should talk with your raid leader or healing lead. As a Discipline priest, tank healing is where you’ll shine so if your raid team doesn’t need you to tank heal they should perhaps re-evaluate whether or not Divine Spirit is reason enough to gimp a raid healer.
Personally, if I’m tasked with raid healing I consider it license to Smite. *wink*