Discipline issues >.<


(Relevant updates from Released 3.1 Patch Notes will be in this color.)

Kk, I know it’s an overdue post since patch 3.1 details have long been out. But oh wells, let’s talk about the more-than-just-exciting change coming to us very very soon (hopefully); which is DUAL SPEC! Finally, finally I can dabble in my much-loved, much-missed spec that is Discipline again. ^^ On a side note, I leveled my toon and healed my first BC heroics in that spec.

I love the notion of returning to my roots as a Discipline priest. I remember the old BC times when the talent tree was seriously crap comparative to now and only outgearing raid content made healing variable. In those days, I doubt anyone knew Discipline existed as a 3rd spec for priests. It was always, “you holy or shadow?!”. . to which I always just said, “I heal.” Wrath’s given us Disc priests a lot of love I’m thankful for. Hopefully these changes will make GMs more approachable when we holy priests broach the re-spec issue sooner or later. Hah! I know my GM for one will be frowning a little over the idea of me rolling for crit gear with the dps lol.

Discipline was originally known as the PVP spec for priests, but rarely did they come up in raids until Wrath. The mysteries and lack of understanding on how the spec works persists on.. Many I know, are highly dubious of what Disc can do compared to the tested and proven Holy spec. However, I’d say the reason why Disc priests are rare and good ones are 1 in 1000 is that Disc is a highly technical play style that demands a certain level of skill from the player. With numerous procs happening and stacking, several CDs available to pop.. A boss fight as a Disc Priest becomes a constant effort to monitor every proc and decide when to do what. It is very much more stressful than Holy! I myself have to use Pitbull for extra action bars in Disc spec and extra large Scrolling Combat Text to announce procs.

After talking to some guild healers and colleagues in the field, listening to tanks’ feedback and sympathizing with GMs’ headaches. I reckon these are the top issues in relation to Holy priests turning Disc overnight. To follow the discussion below, this talent calculator link is recommended as an example of a typical (57/14/00) Disc build.


  • Q: In general terms, how would you explain how Disc healing works to people who know nothing about priests?

The central theory behind Disc healing is that of Damage Mitigation. Looking at the talent tree, you’ll see on Tier 9, Divine Aegis, Grace and Pain Suppression. This is the bread and butter to what is Disc healing. By mitigating damage taken by the target we are healing, we make up for what we do not have in terms of raw spell-power. Less damage offset by smaller heals compared to Holy priests is what Disc is all about. On the plus side, Disc priests have in their arsenal,  Borrowed Time for 25% haste procs, Grace to stack % +heals and Renewed Hope for crit procs that in turn proc Divine Aegis.  And Crit/Haste makes all the difference in desperate times. How many times on Patchwerk did we as Holy Priests have that last GH 0.1 sec too late or 1k +heal too little?

(Disc priests now also have Enlightenment buffed to a 6% haste and spirit. Divine Aegis now stacks and is capped at about a 10k shield, making damage mitigation even more substantial than before.)

  • Q: What is the difference in gear for Holy and Disc Specs?

While Holy priests should be looking for Spell-Power and Spirit due to the talent Spiritual Guidance, Disc priests are looking at boosting Intellect for bigger returns from Rapture, Shadowfiend, Hymn, and Critical Rating first and foremost to proc Divine Aegis. Spirit is still good to have, but marginally so with the talents Rapture and Divine Spirit. (Note that DS will be available as a trainable skill come 3.1) Haste is also a Holy commodity rather than Disc due to the talents deep in the Disc tree such as Borrowed Time and Enlightenment that provides it already.

(Crit is now the most valuable thing to have since Divine Aegis now stacks up to 10k shielding. In that 12sec window from the first DA proc, land another crit and have it stack. Rapture now only returns mana from Shield, no longer from healing spells, making it yield less mana back than before. In another light, it means Shields are of utmost importance to the Disc priest now and should be cast often. This is esp true also with the new talent Soul Warding that removes the CD on Shield and reduces its mana cost.)

  • Q: How value-added is having a Disc priest in the raid?

Very. 1st point relevant before 3.1, Divine Spirit.  80 more spirit is about +32 MP5 raid-wide and +20 spell power to your holy priests. Next, Pain Supression. That is on par with the Holy talent of Guardian Spirit. In desperate times such as your tank getting breathed by Sartharion when he is not topped up.. It’s a raid saver. Also, Disc priests are excellent healers for those fights when your tanks are taking massive damage and have to be spam healed, etc. Patchwerk.  With their damage mitigation going on, there is substantially less chance of having a tank die on you than with a Holy Priest doing the job. The chances are, unless your Holy priests stack haste to some leet numbers, spamming GH will see some very close shaves with death. Disc priests are also likely to outlast every other class except perhaps paladins at extended periods of spam healing due to Rapture and a default huge mana pool from Mental Strength. You’d die from losing the enrage timer before your Disc healers go oophm.

(Though Rapture no longer returns mana from healing spells, the other option is to shield and have people remove the shield manually for mana back. Soul Warding no doubt will make this viable with reduced mana cost of Shield. Depending on your mana pool, a 2.5% return can be substantial.)

  • Q: If it’s as awesome as it sounds, shouldn’t all the priests in the guild respec?

No, it makes no sense to bring more than 2 or 3 Disc Healers into a raid. Even then, they should not be cross-healing each other’s assignments. Discipline healers specialise in single-target healing. Divine Aegis does not stack on top of each other, nor does Grace. (stack here meaning having 2 seperate Disc healers proc Divine Aegis won’t see the target taking 60% less damage) Hence you still need Holy CoH priests as they are awesome AoE healing powerhouses especially with the upcoming 3.1 buff up to CoH. Disc Healers have to concentrate on a single target; a severely hammered tank will most benefit, to work to their full potential. Grace has to be stacked to 3, shields to be popped for crit and haste procs, crits to be proc-ed to proc Divine Aegis.. It has to flow seamlessly in a cycle. We do not have time to do a PoH while watching our procs expire.

(Divine Aegis now stacks, so it might be nice to have 2 Disc priests on a severely punished tank to have DA stacked to max as much as possible. However, Grace is now limited to 1 target. Hence to have 2 Disc priests on a target is to forgo Grace. A solution is to have just 1 of the 2 priests spec for it if they’ll always be teaming up.)

  • Q: Does mitigating damage affect threat/rage?

That is one big myth. In no way does Divine Aegis or a Priest bubbling you reduce threat generation or rage. Since patch 1.5,  rage generation has been calculated before the shield absorbs damage. So, the only way Disc priests could cut the threat off you is by dropping a Pain Suppression. In the face of Sartharion, tell me a 5% threat reduction would kill compared to a 20k breath. The only problem is with Prot Pallies who need to be hit to get healed to get mana back through Spiritual Attunement. However, I do not think a Disc Priest could be as leet as to mitigate that much damage from raid bosses to make it an issue. In heroics however, perhaps it could simply mean an ocassional drinking break? Otherwise just judge wisdom.

(Probably due to all the raised eyebrows and lingering doubts despite us Disc priests proving with the math that this is a myth, Blizz introduces Rapture! Now not only do Disc healers not compromise your threat, we GRANT you extra threat with this talent. So now, no more QQ-ing about having a bubble around you.)

  • Q: Will a hybrid 40/31/00 spec work? I want the best of both specs.

I have heard some priests ‘swearing by’ such a hybrid and indeed I do have priests in guild who do this. Well, I was intrigued at first because 31 in Holy would allow speccing for the all-time Surge of Light favourite together with Rapture in Discipline. However, after taking some time to study the Discipline tree properly, I’d say please NEVER take such a hybrid. It doesn’t give you the best of both worlds, rather it leaves you hanging in the middle, good at neither. In my point of view, without hitting Tier 9, you are not a Disc healer. Remember, Disc healing is about damage mitigation. Without Divine Aegis and Pain Suppression, I just don’t see where we’re headed. 31 in Holy also leaves out the all important Holy Concentration and CoH leaving you just about as handicapped at both tank healing and raid healing. Plus without Spirit of Redemption nor Guardian Spirit nor Pain Suppression, you essentially have no panic buttons to hit in a squeeze.

Discipline is not about spec-ing Divine Spirit and Mental Strength for the nice stats increment. Compromising on Empowered Healing in the Holy tree for 20k mana unbuffed is simply a lack of foresight. Without damage mitigation and smaller heals now, 20k mana will not last a long time having to spam heal even with Rapture. Personally, I’d say go full 57 Holy and Holy Concentration will probably yield you better returns mana:HPS ratio. 14 in Disc as a Holy priest is more than enough to complement and ensure a longer healing spree before that oomph occurs.

(With Rapture now not returning mana from healing spells, hybrid priests will observe their mana drying up quicker than before. I suspect Improved Flash Heal will be deep in the Disc tree and it is a must take to off-set the change in Rapture. This will force healers to choose either deep Holy or deep Disc to remain viable at all.)

  • Q: What is the biggest adjustment to make switching from Holy to Discipline?

Vigilance. Discipline is all about making best use of procs for the biggest yields. In a sense, it is a more demanding play style because you have to plan your CDs properly. For instance, you might want to really look at your CD on Power Word: Shield since it procs  both Renewed Hope and Borrowed Time.  These talents also give the Discipline healer an amount of control as to when a 25% haste cast, or +4% crit is most needed; such as in times of enrage/flurry. Another adjustment will be in the mindset. Perhaps as Holy, you might be topping the heals chart. This is most definitely going to change with the big drop in spell-power as a Disc healer. Overheals as well, is a Disc priest’s mark. If you have always seen overheals in a negative light, perhaps Disc will not be your cup of tea after all..

(With Soul Warding now, Shield no longer has a CD but the Weakened Soul debuff remains and keeps Renewed Hope working unchanged. However, Borrowed Time can now essentially be procced 100% of the time if you do choose to bubble, heal, bubble, heal…. It makes me wonder, if not for that Shield has a Global CD, I would really do that for the 25% haste which is just so awesome.)


~ by sparklefreeze on February 23, 2009.

4 Responses to “Discipline issues >.<”

  1. […] https://sparklefreeze.wordpress.com/2009/02/23/discipline-issues/ […]

  2. Nice post. There is still plenty of argument about haste vs crit for Disc priests. I prefer crit myself.

    Biggest issue for Disc priests, both generally and for players swapping from Holy, is healing meters. Some guilds are still using them to compare different types of healers and with the current meters Disc will always be out-healed by Holy.

    Hybrids don’t work as you said. Disc without Divine Aegis and Penance are pointless.

  3. Well hopefully one day Recount will calculate mitigated damage into the heals meter. Numbers somehow just beats me trying to champion the value of Discipline healing. At least it would silence the critics once and for all. ^^

    About crit vs. haste.. The way I look at it is that if it’s done right, damage should be mitigated enough such that there should not be huge huge damage spikes that would need a hasted heal. Mitigation essentially buys us time, and my priority is to keep DA up to buy even more time. 2 normal Flash Heals = 1 crit Flash Heal? Yeah, it’s been so for me up to now.

    3.1 gives Disc so much talented haste direct or from procs, I bet Blizz can’t really decide on crit vs haste either and gave us both lol. Holy however.. is looking way bad.

  4. итак: бесподобно!

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