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[H2P] Into the Mists: Discipline Priest Edition 5.4

PvE discussion for raiding & dungeon tactics, tips, and gear.

by derevka » 01 Sep 2012, 13:02

Table of Contents

I. Introduction
II. Discipline Only Specialization Benefits and New Non-Spec Spells
III. MoP Talent Tree Choices
IV. Glyphs
    A) Major
    B) Minor
V. Secondary Stats and Reforging
    A) Spirit
    B) Haste
    C) Mastery
    D) Crit
VI. Enchants
VII. Gemming
    A) Basic Gems
    B) Meta Gems
VIII. Consumables
    A) Food
    B) Flasks
    C) Potions
IX. Rapture - What it really means
X. Spirit Shell
XI. Atonement and Archangel
XII. Inner Fire and Inner Will
XIII. Mana Management
XIV. Rotation
    A) Single Target Healing
    B) AOE or Raid Healing
XV. Racial Bonuses
XVI. Additional Reading
XVII. Changelog


I. Introduction
This guide is meant to be a loose guideline on what you might want to consider when speccing, gearing, and playing your Discipline Priest in Patch 5.4 Mists of Pandaria. You will find a good deal of education in this guide, as the intention of this guide is to help Disc Priests make informed decisions-- not just blindly spec or gem specific ways "because this guide said so". You will need to make choices based on your unique situation. Healing is very much an art: playstyle, preference, raid composition, and raid encounter mechanics can have a meaningful impact on the decisions discussed in this guide.

It is strongly suggested to ask questions in this thread as to facilitate discussion on what we can do as Disc Priests to improve our gameplay.

Acronyms used in this guide:
AA- Archangel
AOE - Area of Effect
BT - Borrowed Time
CD - Cooldown
DA- Divine Aegis
DPS - Damage per second (used in evaluating throughput)
FDCL - From Darkness; Comes Light
HF - Holy Fire
HoH - Hymn of Hope
HoT - Heal over time
HP - Hit or Health Points
HPCT - Healing Per Cast Time (used in evaluating cast time opportunity cost)
HPM - Healing per mana (used in evaluating efficiency)
HPS - Healing per second (used in evaluating throughput)
HW - Holy Word
IF - Inner Focus
POM - Prayer of Mending
PPM - Proc per minute (used in evaluating buff uptime)
PW - Power Word
SShell- Spirit Shell
SoS - Strength of Soul
ToF - Twist of Fate
ToT - Train of Thought
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II. Discipline Only Specialization Benefits and New Non-Spec Spells

Archangel- consumes your Evangelism stacks for an on demand throughput increase.

Atonement- "Smite to Heal" ability, allows for the priest, when stacking Evangelism, to smartly heal nearby low health players

Divine Focus - 70% pushback immunity.

Divine Fury - allows us to be automatically hit capped to be able to use our offensive spells. Critical to work with Atonement.

Evangelism - this is what really makes Smite healing mana efficient, as it both reduces cost and increases output of the affected spells. As of 5.2 it also increases the healing done by Penance.

Grace- up to a 30% healing increase on your targets that you have been focusing on. Dramatically impacts single target healing on the target.

Shield Discipline - Disc's Mastery. Increases the absorbs that all of your absorb mechanics can provide, as well as increases your base healing amount.

Borrowed Time - Decreases the cast time of the next spell cast after casting PW: Shield.

Rapture - Removes PW: Shield's cooldown, and restores the mana cost of the PW: Shield. See the Rapture of this guide for more information.

Pain Suppression- Single Target damage mitigation cooldown that reduces damage taken by 40%. As of 5.2 this spell can be cast while stunned.

Power Word: Barrier - Raid cooldown that mitigates damage to all those under the barrier. Requires targeting reticle to be used.

Penance - Efficient single target channeled heal, and can also be used for Atonement. Can be cast while moving with the Glyph of Penance.

Inner Focus - No longer provides 100% mana cost reduction, now only reduces mana cost by 25%, but guarantees a crit. Strong throughput when paired with Divine Aegis. As of 5.2, casting this spell also provides 5 seconds of Silence, Interrupt, and Dispel immunity.

Divine Aegis - absorb buff that is applied when you critically heal on a target.

Train of Thought - works to reduce the cooldowns of key spells, when you cast corresponding spells.

Strength of Soul - helps remove Weakened Soul from targets by casting single target heals on them.

Meditation - allows for 50% of your spirit based regen to occur during combat.

Void Shift - This is a new spell introduced in Mists of Pandaria. It should be considered an emergency heal, as it will swap health percentages between yourself and your target, as well as healing the lower health target. It has a substantial cooldown, so it likely will only be able to be used once per encounter-- so use it wisely. This spell does operate via "missile" so there is some lag time between health swaps.
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III. Talent Tree Choices
The first thing we need to understand about the talent trees is that they are completely different from the talent trees of the past. Instead of having many points to put into a series of talents that may provide X% more healing, we are given 3 abilities to choose from every 15 levels. Each tier is themed around a specific ability or benefit. Additionally, respeccing is easier and the reagent Tome of the Clear Mind allows you to change in and out of those abilities when out of combat.

What this means is that it will be much easier to change talent choices and we will be able to change as the encounter changes. If there is a fight that favors one talent over another, you can easily swap to that talent for that fight, and then swap to a different talent if the next fight favors another. That will be the biggest test for these tiers of content, figuring which will be best for which encounter.

Which talent is "best" in a given tier... frankly, it really depends on the encounter at hand. I think discussion on an encounter by encounter basis will be exceptionally beneficial to really analyze these spells.

Level 15: Tier 1 - Crowd Control
Void Tendrils - This ability can be handy when you need to root a group of mobs that you raid is kiting. Rooted mobs will still melee player targets in melee range.

Psyfiend - A periodic single target fear in addition to your Psychic Scream. The Psyfiend will favor mobs that have you as their primary aggro target.

Dominate Mind - Good old Mind Control, but effective on non-humanoids. Channel must be maintained to keep control of the target.

Level 30: Tier 2 - Movement
Body and Soul - Now available to both holy and discipline! There have always been a number of fights where a periodic sprint on a specified target has been helpful; the only downside is that PW: Shield can be an expensive method of delivering this sprint. Refer to the Rapture section of this guide for more information on how to use Rapture effectively. Additionally, if your raid has another Discipline Priest, you could be fighting Weakened Soul.

Angelic Feather - Much less mana exhaustive than using PW: Shield to deliver this sprint; however, requires the use of a targeting reticle and can be used by the unintended target if another player gets too close. As of 5.4, in efforts to make this a more attractive talent, it now provides a greater sprint percentage and lasts longer than Body and Soul.

Phantasm - Unlike the other two talents in this tier, it does not grant increased speed but instead drops and grants immunity to movement impairing effects. (note this is less exciting for Trolls/Gnomes due to their racial abilities)

Level 45: Tier 3 -Mana Restoration/Efficiency
From Darkness, Comes Light - FDCL is arguably the hardest talent to quantify the amount of mana we ‘regen’, since it mostly is a mana savings ability. That said is is the least predictable source of mana regeneration since it purely revolves around RNG. In 5.4 FDCL has been buffed to include nearly all of our healing spells that can proc the free FH. There is some synergy with FDCL and tank healing (via SoS) However FDCL has more synergy on the Holy Side through 2pc T16 Bonuses, and Serendipity's mana cost reduction. If you are doing a lot of Single Target Direct Heals, and have good RNG on the proc, it could work out greatly to your advantage.

Mindbender - The first thing to keep in mind is that this replaces Shadowfiend. If you do not spec into this, you will still have access to baseline Shadowfiend. The latest incarnation has it have a 60 second cooldown, and restore 1.75% (up from 1.46% in 5.4) mana per swing. The biggest boon with this change is that we can cast it more often (well, duh)… It gives you greater uptime of the spell, despite per CAST Shadowfiend restores more mana. The fact that you get more off in a given encounter is the critical point as it provides greater granularity. This spell provides the most RAW mana restore of the 3, while the other 2 choices have to include a "free heal" to be fairly compare the two.

Power Word: Solace - This replaces Holy Fire (dealing the same amount of damage) and removes its 1.8% mana cost. It restores 1% of your total mana, applies/refreshes your evangelism stacks and heals for 100% of the damage it deals. If you were casting Holy Fire in regular rotation, this spell provides incredible synergy to your playstyle as well as providing up to 1500/mp5. (6 casts per minute). The Granularity of Solace's regen is also something of importance to maximizing the number of casts when compared to Mindbender. Simply put, its a mana positive, smart 100k+ heal.

Level 60: Tier 4 - Survival
Desperate Prayer- Our old tried and true friend. An on use 30% HP heal. A Healthstone on steroids! Often used in combination with Void Shift.

Spectral Guise - On use "stealth" capable of being broken if our guise is hit three times, or if we are taken out of steath via an AOE. You cannot use this ability to "duck" boss damage.

Angelic Bulwark - Automatic 20% HP shield if you are brought below 30% HP; no need to push a button. The exchange for the automatic trigger is a 10% loss when compared to Desperate Prayer. Good option if you are bad about using Heathstones and want/need an automatic survival talent. (Note: if a single blow takes you from 31% HP to 0, Bulwark is not triggered). Does not benefit from Disc's mastery.

Level 75: Tier 5 - Throughput
Twist of Fate - Increases your output after you heal low health players (or damage low health mobs, ie. Atonement). Likely not helpful unless you are in an encounter where people or damaged mobs are consistently below 35%. IF a fight does allow for the ToF buff to be active for a substantial duration of the fight, it may be an excellent choice. (ie. If the fight has a lot of adds that you'll be assisting on via Atonement healing, you could see greater uptime of the buff). An important detail to keep in mind is that ToF does not provide any added benefit to PW: Sheild or Spirit Shell, which are two important spells in our arsenal.

Power Infusion - On demand 2 minute cooldown that is self-cast only. Strong option for both added output and mana savings and doesn't require specific spell casting synergies like the other two options in this tier.

Divine Insight - As Discipline we have a 100% chance (changed in 5.4) after casting Penance, to allow us to cast PW: Shield without regard or creation of Weakened Soul. This can be helpful in fights when we are doing a good deal of Single Target Tank Healing, and can warrant chaining PW: Shields on a target. Additionally, this has become a potent choice if you have multiple Disc priests in a raid, or if getting multiple PWS out in specified windows of time is useful. This can throw off Rapture timing, so be wary of mana if you go into a PWS/Penance/PWS rotation.

Level 90: Tier 6 - AOE Healing
Cascade - Heals 31 targets favoring targets further away. (1-2-4-8-16) No diminishing returns since the target number is finite. Strong choice on fights where the raid is scattered throughout the environment. Important to note that a bounce cannot hit the same player twice, and that there is a delay in the healing due to travel time (biggest effect is typically 2-3 seconds after cast). Solid option provided your raid is slightly spread out, and periodic/moderate burst is needed.

Divine Star - Least expensive, lowest cooldown of the 3 choices. More mana efficient than a Prayer of Healing. Star heals for the least per cast of the three talents in this tier. Strong option provided your raid is grouped up, and constant healing is needed. Requires good positioning to maximize the spell's output. This spells does not suffer from diminishing returns based on the number of targets hit.

Halo - Most expensive, but potentially highest amount healed per cast and has the greatest burst capability. Potentially restrictive due to its high cooldown and mana cost. Requires 25 yard distance for the best output. Good selection if your raid is spread out and if large burst healing is needed or if raid damage times well with the 45 second cooldown. This spells does not suffer from diminishing returns based on the number of targets hit.
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IV. Glyphs
The Glyph system has changed and we no longer have Prime, Major, and Minor glyphs. We have Major and Minor only. Major glyphs are ones that actively change/affect spells or their output, while Minor glyphs are quality of life/cosmetic changes.

A) Major
As Disc we do not have many choices and the glyphs we select may depend on our role in a raid, and whether or not we are healing 10 or 25-man. Haste levels also can affect which glyphs we choose (See the Secondary Stat section of this guide for more details). Here are the options that a Disc Priest can choose from:

Binding Heal
Holy Nova
Inner Sanctum
Mass Dispel
Power Word: Shield
Prayer of Mending
Weakened Soul

Choices for these Glyphs can swing dramatically depending on your role and if you are in 25 man as well as certain fight mechanics.

- Fights that have a high amount of movement, might demand for the Glyph of Penance. Regardless of the increased mana cost, being able to heal a tank for the substantial amount of healing that Penance provides (while moving) is key. The mana cost increase does little to hurt the incredible efficiency of the spell.
- Raid Healing Focused 25 man healers, may pass on the Glyph of Prayer of Mending, as the bonus is arguably superior for Tank healing and they may want to leverage the fact that it will heal for (net) more over 5 targets not 4.
- Glyph of Weakened Soul can provide good benefit if your raid has multiple Discipline Priests and you both are using PW:S heavily.
- Smite's glyph as of 5.3 now only increases damage done by smite, and that increased damage is not passed on in the Atonement conversion.

Note: Glyph of PW: Shield converts 20% of the absorb into healing.

B) Minor
These glyphs are are purely cosmetic. Take a look at them and figure which you want to use.
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V. Secondary Stats and Reforging
First it is very important to keep in mind that the budget for secondary stats is DOUBLE that of primary stats. This means an item that has a budget for 1 point of Intellect would have an equivalent budget of 2 Spirit, Mastery, or Haste. This is clearly illustrated by looking at hybrid gems. (For purposes of this guide, we will assume 2:1 however it is important to acknowledge that we do gain scaling from Cloth Specialization and the 5% Stats Raid Buff to intellect, which make it closer to a 1.1:2 ratio).

You will notice, that in some cases and varying gear levels, increasing secondary stats (at the 2:1 ratio) may be superior to that of Primary Stats. (ie. Increasing 200 Crit being superior to 100 Intellect). Evaluating your stats with Adinne's HealCalcis one way of determining those for you.

Not all items (Elixirs, Potions, Foods) show this, so favoring secondary stats that are not double of primary could be placing yourself under budget.

A) Spirit - this is our primary regen stat, even for Discipline. Intellect no longer increases our regen, and only affects our spellpower and critical strike chance, with this in mind spirit will be critical to our regen. Each point of spirit is worth roughly 0.56/mp5. Fresh 90’s will want to stack as much spirit as possible until they reach a level of regen that is comfortable for their gameplay, and then pare back introducing throughput stats in its place.

B) Haste - haste reduces our cast time, and increases the speed at which Heal over Time spells tick and how fast your channeled spells are completed. With enough haste, you can add additional ticks. A breakdown of haste ratings for each spell affected is available here. For every 425 haste rating you have, you gain 1% haste.

C) Mastery - Mastery changed in 5.2 and now no longer exclusively increases shields absorbs but also increases healing done. For every 600 Mastery Rating, our healing increases by 0.80% and Absorbs increase by 1.60%. Gone are the days when mastery has zero affect on non-absorbs!

D) Crit - Critical Heals for Disc changed in 5.2. Heals when they crit, heal for the same amount of the non-crit heal, however, create a Divine Aegis for 100% of the heal. Divine Aegis is affected by Mastery, so Crit's scaling is also indirectly affected by Mastery's scaling. Fundamentally, Discipline's critical heals are some of the best scaled critical heals in the game. As of 5.2 PW: Shield is also affected by Crit.

What should you stack and reforge? A lot of this really depends on your spell breakdown: what you are casting, how frequently, and how effective it is.

Stat priority is very difficult to pin down for Priests as we have such a wide arsenal of spells to choose from, and even running Simcraft or other simulations our stat weights can swing and vary wildly. The most important thing to keep in mind when running simulations is: your spell breakdown on a sim should mirror your spell breakdown on your logs. If it doesn't, you run the risk of tilting stats that favor abilities you are never using!

Your Basic Secondary Stat Priority Should Be:

    1. Spirit up to the point you are comfortable with regen, particularly take consideration if you have the Legendary Meta Gem.
    2. Crit to provide more consistent DA creation, increased output on Atonement Healing, and proper interaction with Spirit Shell.(See the Spirit Shell section of this guide for more information). Additionally, PW:S also can benefit from Crit now. (Though scales notably better with Mastery)
    3. Mastery given its direct impact to PW: Shield, DA, as well as providing baseline healing throughput. PW:S will likely have a higher spell usage in 5.4 given increased mana regen, and the synergy that exists with Divine Insight (if spec'd)
    4. Haste, while it does provide increased output as you can cast your spells faster, it is outscaled by Crit and Mastery at most gear levels. Particularly if you have the Haste raid buff, Haste will be our least sought after stat. That said there will be a value to certain breakpoints of haste with regards to how it assists with SS. (H2P Blog Post here)

Discipline Secondary Stats in 5.4 are actually quite well balanced. Generally, the stat priority list above is what we'd want to follow however we'd not want one stat so greatly over-shining the others. Much like 5.3, we'll want Crit to be your favored stat, but keeping Mastery's heal bonus within 10% of Crit, as they do play off one another well. (Also remember you effectively get the equivalent of 20% mastery baseline, so you're likely going to want to offset that with crit heavy gear/gems.) Basic Simcraft results have not a huge swing between these two stats.

H2P strongly reccommends Adinne's HealCalc to evaluate the impact of stats on your spells, rotation, HPS, HPM, and other results.

Disc does not have nearly as many discrete haste breakpoints that Holy does. The only breakpoint healing spell Disc has is Renew. Renew, while still a powerful spell is not as much of a staple in the Discipline arsenal. It is powerful for Holy due to the fact that Holy has access toRapid Renewal. Unfortunately, as Discipline, we do not have access to Rapid Renewal.

That said, Haste is still a valid stat for disc as it will shorten cast time of our healing spells and has interesting breakpoints on POH casting in regards to Spirit Shell and the T16 set bonus. (H2P Blog Post here) The "priority" listed above should be considered a loose system, as a good deal of it will vary dramatically based on your spell usage. I urge all priests to look at their healing logs, and determine what spells are representing the largest portions of their output and then consider which stats benefit most from them.

I do also urge you to review this post regarding managing mana regen and throughput I wrote on TOAP.
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VI. Enchants
We do have some choice in our enchants, generally speaking we should be using our gems as our primary source of regen (since they benefit from the 2:1 Secondary to Primary stat itemization) not our enchants. [*] denote the BIS option. (Profession only enchants are listed here provided they are mutually exclusive to the basic enchant).

Greater Crane Wing Inscription [*]
Crane Wing Inscription
Secret Crane Wing Inscription (Scribe Only) [*]

Superior Intellect [*]
Superior Critical Strike
Darkglow Embroidery (Tailor Only) [*] - Mana Regen
Lightweave Embroidery (Tailor Only) [*] - Throughput

Glorious Stats [*]
Mighty Spirit

Super Intellect [*]
Fur Lining - Intellect (Leatherworking Only) [*]

Greater Intellect (Enchanter Only) [*]

Superior Mastery [*]
Greater Haste

Living Steel Belt Buckle [*]

Greater Pearlescent Spellthread
Greater Cerulean Spellthread [*]

Pandaren's Step [*]
Greater Haste

Windsong (main hand)
Jade Spirit (main hand) [*]
Major Intellect (offhand)

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VII. Gemming
A) Basic Gems: when you first hit 90, mana will be a big concern for you and you will want to likely focus on regen being more important than throughput. This means, you’ll want everything to have some form of spirit on it! (yes, even Disc Priests-- our regen is Spirit based in MoP). As mana becomes less scarce, gemming for more throughput stats will become more and more viable.

Brilliant Primordial Ruby

Purified Imperial Amethist

Potent Vermilion Onyx
Reckless Vermilion Onyx
Artful Vermilion Onyx

Smooth Sun's Radiance
Quick Sun's Radiance
Fractured Sun's Radiance

Sparkling River’s Heart

Energized Wild Jade
Misty Wild Jade
Zen Wild Jade

Which gems you will want to use will vary based on your personal stat priority. However you will likely want to prioritize spirit until you reach a comfortable level of regen, then follow the rules outlined in the Stats section of this guide.

Again this is where I would suggest being sure you are prioritizing your correct stats, and Adinne's HealCalc is a great tool to do that. For much of 5.4, we likely will be prioritizing Potent, Smooth, and Misty gems, particularly given the scarcity of Crit gear in Siege of Orgrimmar.

B) Meta Gems: First and formost, you should be using your Courageous Primal Diamond from the legendary questline. With this legendary you should be maximizing your free output during the Lucidity proc, by either casting PWS's --- provided you should not be already casting something else. If you were mid cast or in the middle of AOE healing the raid, don't break cast to sneak out one extra PWS... always cast the spell that is best for the situation at hand.

If you do not have your Legendary Meta, try to get it ASAP. As healers we have 3 options from a PVE perspective for NON Legendary Meta Gems. You will also notice that Metas no longer have an equipped gem requirement to activate its bonus.

Revitalizing Primal Diamond
Ember Primal Diamond
Burning Primal Diamond

Generally speaking, if you are seeking regen support, you will want to use the Revitalizing Primal Diamond for the added Critical Effect boost. If you are comfortable with your regen, the Burning Primal Diamond is your best bet behind the Legendary Meta.
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VIII. Consumables
A) Food - cooking and food has changed notably in Mists of Pandaria. WoWHead has a comprehensive guide on the cooking specialties. As well as some of the "added benefits" when eating foods of that specialty.

You will notice that food is not affected by the item budget changes that gems were. You are granted at most, 300 of a stat regardless if it is primary or secondary. With this in mind, generally speaking Intellect food will be your food of choice.

Most Discipline Priests will want to focus on the Way of the Steamer and the Way of the Pot.

- The Way of the Steamer gives us access to strong spirit food, which is a direct increase to our regen. Steamed Crab Surprise provides us with 300 Spirit or ~169mp5.

- The Way of the Pot gives us acess to strong intellect based foods. Mogu Fish Stew provides us with 300 intellect.

Generally speaking, if you want 300 stats of the buff of your choice without having to worry about what type of Banquet is being dropped-- bring your own food.

In 5.4 we will also see the introduction of 300 stat food "feasts" the Grand Pandaren Noodle Cart.

B) Flasks
Currently in MoP there are no Guild Cauldrons, which means we will be responsible for our own consumables. In the flask front we can choose between Flask of Falling Leaves for 1,000 spirit worth ~565mp5 or Flask of the Warm Sun for 1,000 intellect. Of course, if you are struggling with mana, the spirit flask will be a good option for you. Note again, similar to food buffs, the item budget is considered equal for primary and secondary stats.

Alternatively you can use elixirs (which do not persist through death) on Battle and one Guardian. However, there are no Guardian elixirs that provide stats valid for a PVE healing priest. So unfortunately, double elixirs simply won’t provide the same amount of stats a single Flask could.

Exilir of Peace
Elixir of the Rapids
Monk's Exlir
Mad hozen Elixir

C) Potions
Master Mana Potion: You will notice that the MoP mana potion no longer grants a ‘range’ of mana, and is fixed at 30,000 mana. Gone are the days of RNG restoration.

Potion of Focus: provides the most mana back possible, however requires you to stop actively casting when using the potion. (MoP version of the Potion of Concentration).

Potion of the Jade Serpent: instant surge in your Intellect. Helpful if mana is not a concern, but if increased output will be.
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IX. Rapture - What it really means
Rapture has changed yet again, for 5.4 .It is no longer a source of positive mana regen, and will always regen the cost of ONE PWS.

What Rapture provides Discipline isn’t necessarily “regen”. When Power Word: Shield is used on Rapture’s cooldown, it provides, effectively, a free PWS.

One of the first things you should do as a Disc Priest regarding Rapture, is have some method of tracking Rapture-- be it from a Weak Aura, Power Aura, or other external tracking mod. Knowing when that regen CD is being reset is important information to us.

Casting PW: Shield, at least once during a Rapture CD(provided it is fully absorbed), is one of our most mana efficient methods of providing HPS. Casting PW: Shield multiple times within a Rapture CD simply reduces the efficiency.

Rapture is there to throttle our PWS casting, and the "regen" aspect is a byproduct... its not intended to be a net gain ability. Rapture needs to exist to refund the cost of PW:S. PWS, has to have a substantial, but not completely prohibitively, (so it still can be cast when its the right spell to cast) mana cost to prevent WOTLK-Era spamming of the spell. I always liken it to a reverse Arcane Blast. Additionally, it also penalizes haphazard shielding if the shield isn't absorbed.

You should always use PW: Shield provided it is the correct spell to use in that situation-- regardless of mana cost. If the target needs immediate mitigation: cast it! All Disc priests should be utilizing PW:S for much more than just a Rapture tool.
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X. Spirit Shell
Spirit Shell is a new tool available to Discipline in MOP. Essentially it allows us, on a short 1 minute cooldown, to convert all of our spells into absorbs that last for 15 seconds. Finally, we have a spell that lets us do what we've always wanted to do... mass absorbs!

As of 5.4, Spirit Shell's bufftime on the casting priest is now 10 seconds. (down from 15).

This isn't mechanically different than the Cata-days of using POH to prepare a raid with Divine Aegis prior to damage. Spirit Shell now simply allows us to do this much more effectively, and with much greater ease. Note: Spirit Shell caps at 60% of the Casting Priest's HP.

As of 5.2, Spirit Shell no longer scales directly from Mastery and now scales correctly from Divine Aegis. This was changed to keep Spirit Shell in line with our base healing. Blizzard did not want Spirit Shell to always provide greater numbers than the base heal. As of 5.2 Spirit Shell's absorbs created should be equal to the same output of the non-SS version of the spell. (Both of which scale from crit identically).

Using Spirit Shell effectively will be a hallmark of a good Discipline Priest. You could simply use Spirit Shell on cooldown and either pad a tank, or POH pad a raid and see fairly positive results--- however the real marker of a good Disc Priest will be using SShell when its needed the most. Despite it having a fairly short cooldown, we might want to pause a second or two to line up Spirit Shell's absorbs to large raid/boss damage. Simply using the ability on cooldown will be effective, but ultimately not as effective of using it when the fight benefits from it. The tricky part is not delaying it so much, that the short cooldown is wasted.

Haste does not have a direct throughput increase to an individual cast of Spirit Shell, however it does allow you to cast faster while the Spirit Shell proc is active, and theoretically, create more Shells during a single Spirit Shell cooldown. Generally speaking, you should be able to fit in 4 GHeal/POH casts during Spirit Shell's uptime. (some haste and spell conditions might allow for upwards of 7). Haste scales Spirit Shell in a tiered fashion, given the fact that you must complete the cast when Spirit Shell's buff is active. If you cannot complete the cast when the buff is active, it is considered a regular heal. Once you get enough haste to complete that cast in the time allotted, then you can count it towards SShell scaling.

Please review the H2P-Blog post regarding Haste and Spirit Shell in T16.

How do you make the most out of Spirit Shell? Know the fight. That is the biggest boon to a Discipline Priest. The more you know and understand the fight, the better you can be at predicting periods of large amounts of damage and preemptively preparing the raid (or Tank) with Absorbs.

As mentioned elsewhere in this guide, Spirit Shell has finite breakpoints that will allow you to gain additional casts while under its effect. Entering Spirit Shell with Borrowed Time active, is going to be a marker of a good Disc Priest.

Spirit Shell does scale with Archangel. Remember to use, and time these abilities appropriately before or after a Spirit Shell period. Archangel's CD is half of that of Spirit Shell, so you are able to get twice as many Archangels as Spirit Shells in a given fight.

Generally, absorb mechanics are fundamentally superior to raw healing. This is because it actually prevents the damage from happening to a player. If a killing blow is prevented via mitigation, regardless how much a player can raw heal, that mitigated damage is tops.
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XI. Inner Fire and Inner Will
Either Inner Fire and Inner Will should ALWAYS be active.

Inner Fire has changed, and no longer provides a flat Spellpower increase, but instead scales your spellpower by 10%. This is substantial as it increases its worth as your gear improves. When glyphed with Inner Sanctum, Inner Fire also mitigate 6% of all incoming magic damage.

Inner Will decreases your mana cost of all instant cast spells, and increases your movement speed. When glyphed with Inner Sanctum, that movement speed is further enhanced. Remember, the speedboost from Inner Will does not stack with the Pandaren's Step enchant.

Which should you use? It depends. Generally speaking, if you are struggling with mana, and are casting a lot of instant cast spells, Inner Will can assist you. Otherwise, you should likely be using Inner fire for the scaled added throughput. It may be important to understand that the HPM difference from IF/IW is fairly marginal at current gear levels, making Inner Fire the much more likely choice.
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XII. Atonement and Archangel
Atonement or "Smite healing" has come a long way since its introduction in Cataclysm. Perhaps most importantly, the "fix" in 4.3 that addressed the range issue on bosses with large hitboxes.

Casting Smite, Holy Fire/PW:Solace, or Penance (offensively) will provide one stack of Evangelism. If you consume these stacks with Archangel, you gain 5% added throughput for each stack. Additionally, these stacks increase the output and reduce the mana cost of subsequent casts of these spells. This becomes very handy and can dramatically make the HPM, HPCT, and HPS of these spells very powerful (Penance with a full stack of Evangelism is one of our best nukes). Note: in times of low raid/single target damage, Smite healing can be a very mana efficient method of healing. (Remember, Atonement heals are smart-heals!)

The trick is to leverage Archangel to your advantage and not just use it haphazardly. Fully stacked, Archangel provides you with an additional 25% throughput for 18 seconds with a mere 30 second cooldown.(Also affecting PW:S) Despite it having a short cooldown, making it readily available throughout most of the fight, the best way for a Disc Priest to use Archangel is to know when the raid/tank damage is going to increase and demand for more throughput. Further, you need to be mindful of WHEN you can cast your Smites and Holy Fires/Solaces-- don't just stand there mashing one button when your raid needs you casting other spells. Be dynamic.

Penance defensive healing output has been buffed so that there is a slight advantage to healing a single target with Penance vs just using it offensively and allowing Atonement to do the heavy lifting. There was a slight 'nerf' to Atonement back in 4.0.3 that we are running into more often now given the size of some of our damaging spells: Atonement is capped at 30% of the casting priest's health before any modifiers such as healing percentage bonus effects/talents.

One of the big debates in the Discipline community is that AA provides too substantial of a buff to be considered "optional". I would argue that a Discipline priest would want to do anything they can to increase their output and should learn how to leverage Atonement/Archangel to their advantage. Does this mean you have to spam Smite at every opportunity? No,it does not. You can simply stack Evangelism with Holy Fire/Solace on CD, and have 5 stacks in 50 seconds. Enabling you to use AA once every 50 seconds. More aggressive priests, using Smite at every opportunity will, at best, be able to cast AA every 30 seconds.

Does this automatically mean that the more smite-aggressive priest is going to have higher output than the Holy Fire stacking priest? No, it does not. As previously stated, the critical point with AA (much like every other aspect of Discipline) is to know when you need to use your cooldowns. Time your cooldown usage to when your raid will need and demand increased output from you. Archangel does interact with Spirit Shell, this means you can use Archangel with SS, and again w/o SS before SS comes off cooldown-- provided you are stacking your Evangelism stacks fast enough.
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XIII. Mana Management
Mana will be key in Mists of Pandaria. Figuring out which mana restoration talent you select (FDCL, Mindbender, or PW: Solace), as well as learning how to heal properly. Knowing which spells are suited best for the task at hand. Minimizing our Overhealing also should be a goal of every priest as to be certain we are not wasting our precious mana resources.

At level 90, all priests will be fixed at a flat 300,000 mana. The only way to increase this mana pool is via Meta Gems and the Gnome Racial, Expansive Mind. All spells will cost a fixed percentage of mana. This means if Greater Heal costs you 5.9% mana (or 17,700 mana at level 90), it will always cost the same amount regardless of gear level. This addresses an interesting issue that Blizzard has always struggled with: mana cost scaling as people gear up through tiers.

What does this mean for us as Disc Priests? Well it means we will need to always be aware of our mana regen, and that Intellect is no longer a mana and throughput stat, it is just a throughput stat. Additionally, Spirit increases in value despite it providing no direct throughput. We will need to be sure we are using our regen tier correctly (Mindbender, FDCL, or PW:Solace) as well as leveraging our Hymn of Hope.

We will need to be certain we are using our Regen abilities and potions to their maximum, as well as being certain our gear is balanced between raw throughput, and mana restoration and longevity. As you find yourself gearing up, and needing less spirit (since you have more on your gear) you can start pulling back from spirit from your food/flasks (first) then your gems. The reason I suggest this, as Food/Flask stats are at a 1:1 ratio Int:Secondary Stats, while gems are 2:1 Int:Secondary Stats.

As mentioned in the Secondary Stats section of this guide, I urge you to also read the post on TOAP regarding Mana Regen vs Throughput.
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XIV. Rotation
Basic rotation hasn't changed very much for us in MOP, however we do have some mechanic changes that we need to understand how to use correctly.

There is no magic rotation for healing, and it really depends on how the damage is being received by your raid. Here are a series of basic rules and guidelines for a series of damage patterns (Low, Moderate, High, Overwhelming damage for both Single Target and Raid Healing). It should be underscored that these are just sample damage patterns and spell selection options and should not be taken as the only options to heal. It also should be noted that Renew will also be used more regularly in the Disc arsenal despite the lack of Rapid Renewal (Holy Only).

With Spirit Shell now a part of the Disc Priest's arsenal, our healing rotation will assume appropriate usage of Spirit Shell both in Single Target and Raid Healing situations. Please review our Spirit Shell section of this guide for further details.

Inner Focus should be used regularly to provide a mana reduced, on demand, critical heal.

A) Single Target Healing
Discipline Priests can be amazing tank healers given their cooldowns, absorbs, and single target throughput.

Low Single Target Damage
    ► Heal/Greater Heal or Penance for triage, using Heal or Penance defensively only to ensure that Grace stacks stay active on your Main Tank Target.
    ► Build and maintain Evangelism via Holy Fire/Solace/Smite and smart Atonement triage. (Atonement healing will likely replace Heal/GHeal entirely in this damage pattern, provided Grace is active)
    ► PW: Shield at least once during every Rapture CD provided a target will sustain damage enough to fully use up the shield

Moderate Single Target Damage
    ► Greater Heal or Penance for triage, using Heal or Penance defensively only to ensure that Grace stacks stay active on your Main Tank Target.
    ► Build and maintain Evangelism and smart Atonement triage
    ► PW: Shield at least once during every Rapture CD provided a target will sustain damage enough to fully use up the shield; as well as on additional targets if mitigation is needed.
    ► POM on targets who will be taking continual damage and will proc the first charge of POM

High Single Target Damage
    ► Archangel provided cooldown is ready
    ► Greater Heal or Penance and to ensure that Grace stacks stay active on your Main Tank Target
    ► Build and maintain Evangelism via Holy Fire/Offensive Penance as needed (only if AA is not currently active, and the HF target is within range of your desired healing target as to benefit from Atonement- otherwise focus on your desired target with a directed GHeal, Penance or Flash Heal)
    ► PW: Shield at least once during every Rapture CD provided a target will sustain damage enough to fully use up the shield; as well as on additional targets if mitigation is immediately needed
    ► Greater Heal provided minimal overhealing
    ► Prayer of Mending on CD, particularly if movement is needed.
    ► Flash Heal or PW:Shield for Emergency Single Target Heals
    ► Pain Suppression or Void Shift if needed

Overwhelming Single Target Damage
    ► Archangel provided cooldown is ready
    ► Penance on CD, ensuring Grace stacks stay active on your Main Tank Target
    ► Greater Heal on target, provided minimal overhealing
    ► PW: Shield on your target as soon as Weakened Soul drops, regardless of mana cost.
    ► Prayer of Mending on CD
    ► Flash Heal or PW: Shield for Emergency Single Target Heals. Do not forget you can utilize FH to use Strength of Soul to be able to Shield more often.
    ► Pain Suppression or Void Shift if needed

B) AOE or Raid Healing
Raid Healing traditionally has been tough for the Disc Priest until the introduction of Guaranteed POH Divine Aegis creation. Additionally, now with Spirit Shell at our disposal we can be the masters of Raid AOE preparation and mitigation.

Low Raid Wide Damage
    ► Build and maintain Evangelism via Holy Fire/Smite/Penance and to smartly triage the raid
    ► Prayer of Mending on CD, provided it will be able to bounce to multiple targets
    ► Prayer of Healing on groups, if necessary, and provided Prayer of Healing will heal 3+ targets with minimal overheal, otherwise continue to triage with Single Target Heals or Atonement.
    ► PWS or Renew if WS is present on targets who may need additional healing, if the raid is moving.
    ► Divine Star on CD, if specced. With appropriate levels of crit/2pc T16, utilizing L90 abilities to mass-creae Divine Aegis on raidwide targets can often be a strong use of this ability.

Moderate Raid Wide Damage
    ► Build and maintain Evangelism via Atonement (Penance/HF/Smite) and to smartly triage the raid
    ► Prayer of Mending on CD, provided it will be able to bounce to multiple targets
    ► Prayer of Healing on groups provided Prayer of Healing will heal 3+ targets with minimal overheal, otherwise continue to triage with Single Target Heals or Atonement.
    ► PW: Shield as needed on targets in immediate danger
    ► If moving: Renew on targets who may need additional healing that already have Weakened Soul or PWS, otherwise PWS.
    ► Divine Star/Halo/Cascade on CD. With appropriate levels of crit/2pc T16, utilizing L90 abilities to mass-creae Divine Aegis on raidwide targets can often be a strong use of this ability.

High Raid Wide Damage
    ► Archangel provided cooldown is ready
    ► Build and maintain Evangelism via Atonement (Penance/HF/Smite) (only if AA is not currently active, and weaving a HFire is safe)
    ► Prayer of Mending on CD, provided it will be able to bounce to multiple targets
    ► Prayer of Healing on groups, if necessary, and provided Prayer of Healing will heal 3+ targets with minimal overheal
    ► PW: Shield as needed on targets in immediate danger
    ► If moving: Renew on targets who may need additional healing that already have Weakened Soul or PWS, otherwise PWS.
    ► Divine Star/Halo/Cascade on CD. With appropriate levels of crit/2pc T16, utilizing L90 abilities to mass-creae Divine Aegis on raidwide targets can often be a strong use of this ability.
    ► PW: Barrier if needed

Overwhelming Raid Wide Damage
    ► Archangel provided cooldown is ready
    ► Prayer of Mending on CD
    ► Prayer of Healing on groups, alternating groups to ensure full absorption of Divine Aegis
    ► Divine Star/Halo/Cascade on CD. With appropriate levels of crit/2pc T16, utilizing L90 abilities to mass-creae Divine Aegis on raidwide targets can often be a strong use of this ability.
    ► PW: Barrier on your raid

As mentioned previously, raidwide damage, as a Disc Priest, should be pre-emptively prepared for via Spirit Shell or selective PWS blanketing. Watch your boss mod timers, and prepare your raid 12-15 seconds before the damage is due.
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XV. Racial Bonuses
Racial Bonuses can have a substantial impact on your play, providing substantial CDs as well as regenerative abilities. Each race does bring some flavor and benefit to your play, and if you are trying to min/max your priest these racial perks should be considered.

For a full breakdown and analysis, please read the Tales of a Priest posting available here.
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XVI. Additional Reading
H2P Holy Priest Guide

H2P Addon Guide - Healing

H2P 5-Man Healing Cheat Sheet

H2P Best Professions By PP - Shadow focused, but still relevant and important. The statweights used in this thread are for shadow but still provide solid insight to the profession's benefits.
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XVII. Changelog
09.08.13 - Updated for 5.4
9.12.13 - Updated Cascade's bounce number, and Divine Star/Halo DR
9.27.13 - Updated to include DA creation on Raidwide Damage when leveraging L90 abilities/2pc T16
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by derevka » 08 Sep 2013, 02:12

Updated for 5.4 - any feedback or missed updates, feel free to mention those here or via PM.
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by Liirin » 09 Sep 2013, 05:44

I saw you briefly mention the set bonus (namely the 4 pc) in the Haste section of the guide. Do you feel that adding some info about the 2pc for the 10% crit with Archangel is worth mentioning at all, or will it be more of just an added bonus during that time?
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by derevka » 09 Sep 2013, 06:16

Good question.

The 2pc bonus is nice, but its nothing we're going to gear around. (eg. Youre not going to gear less crit b/c you get a 10% bonus from AA/2pc) Its really more of a nice throughput bonus on top of AA. More reliable DAs and when paired with SS (which you should be doing) is providing a great additional multiplier to the SS calc.

Additionally, the guide isn't exclusive to having T16 gear.
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by Shakko » 10 Sep 2013, 04:20

derevka wrote:Good question.

The 2pc bonus is nice, but its nothing we're going to gear around. (eg. Youre not going to gear less crit b/c you get a 10% bonus from AA/2pc) Its really more of a nice throughput bonus on top of AA. More reliable DAs and when paired with SS (which you should be doing) is providing a great additional multiplier to the SS calc.

Additionally, the guide isn't exclusive to having T16 gear.

I will gear less crit cause the 2pc bonus :P

I've calculated that its value can be around 5% extra crit. Theoretically, the max uptime can reach 60% but let's asume 50% cause you dont always use archangel every time you have it up.

So 10% extra crit with 50% uptime is 5% pasive to crit or 3000 extra crit rating. You put the extra 3000 crit points into the adinne's calculator and you'll have a very good estimation of how its gonna be.
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by derevka » 12 Sep 2013, 07:42

Updated to include DS/Cascade/Halo changes.
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by blackjackz » 18 Sep 2013, 08:30

Do you think its worth going for are 4 set since Spirit Shell does not benefit from mastery? I know it sounds nice but since the mastery buff goes away after Spirit Shell is over, would it be more hps if we went for offf pieces instead?
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by Adinne » 18 Sep 2013, 09:02

blackjackz wrote:Do you think its worth going for are 4 set since Spirit Shell does not benefit from mastery? I know it sounds nice but since the mastery buff goes away after Spirit Shell is over, would it be more hps if we went for offf pieces instead?

What do you mean spirit shell does not benefit from mastery? It benefits from mastery just the same way every other spell does (well with the exception of PW:S which benefits more than other spells).

SS amount is the average amount of the corresponding shield, taking into account the chance to crit and the amount of the resulting shield on a crit. Mastery buffs both the base heal amount and that shield amount.
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by blackjackz » 18 Sep 2013, 09:14

I thought SS its self does not benefit from mastery since 5.2.
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by Ashleycakez » 18 Sep 2013, 09:48

Mastery will increase the amount that PoH heals from. Since SS is based on the amount that PoH heals from, then modified by Crit, yes SS benefits from Mastery but not in the manner it did before.
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