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Discipline Priest Healing Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (WoW 4.3.4)

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In this article, we list your Discipline Priest (WoW 4.3) core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation). We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that playing a Discipline Priest will face you with. The other articles of our Discipline Priest guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the left.

1. Basic Rotation↑top

Healing is in great part based on your ability to react to the damage that the raid takes, and as such there is no set rotation. Rather, you must understand what spells are best suited to the different situations that can occur during a raid encounter.

1.1. Tank or Single Target Healing

When healing the tank or a single target, you should use the two spells on cooldown, as they are excellent in terms of mana efficiency:

In addition to using these two spells on cooldown, you have several other options, depending on the damage:

1.2. Raid Healing

Raid healing as a Discipline Priest relies on 3 spells: Prayer of Mending Icon Prayer of Mending, Prayer of Healing Icon Prayer of Healing, and Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield.

2. Cooldown Usage↑top

3. Inner Fire and Inner Will↑top

As a Priest, you have access to two (mutually exclusive) self-buffs: Inner Fire Icon Inner Fire and Inner Will Icon Inner Will.

For the majority of the time, you will want to use Inner Fire Icon Inner Fire and take advantage of its spell power benefit. However, if you need to use a lot of instant-cast spells (multiple Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shields, Prayer of Mending Icon Prayer of Mending, Dispel Magic Icon Dispel Magic), you can switch to Inner Will Icon Inner Will.

4. Optional Read: Mastering Your Discipline Priest↑top

While the guidelines we have given so far will enable you to perform very decently as a Discipline Priest, there are many subtleties which you need to be aware of, if you want to play your character to its full potential.

4.1. Smiting and Atonement Healing

Discipline Priests have a unique type of ability. By spending a number of 5 talent points in a few non-essential talents in the Discipline tree, they can heal players, automatically, by dealing damage to enemies through Smite Icon Smite and Holy Fire Icon Holy Fire. This healing is a smart heal (it heals the lowest health target in range) and it is very mana efficient. In addition to these benefits, it allows the Priest to also contribute to the raid's DPS.

With the appropriate talents (Evangelism Icon Evangelism, Archangel Icon Archangel and Atonement Icon Atonement), each time you deal damage with Smite Icon Smite and Holy Fire Icon Holy Fire, the lowest health player within 15 yards of the target (the target you have dealt damage to) is healed for the amount of damage that you did.

Glyph of Divine Accuracy ensures that these spells will never miss, and Glyph of Smite increases the damage of Smite Icon Smite (and with this, the healing from Atonement) by 20% on targets affected by Holy Fire Icon Holy Fire. Holy Fire has a 10 second cooldown and its (very weak) DoT effect has a 7 second duration.

Atonement healing is very simple: use Holy Fire Icon Holy Fire on cooldown and spam Smite Icon Smite on the target. You will quickly get a feel of the amount of healing you can expect, and whether or not it is sufficient to heal the tank or the raid.

Note that, while spamming Smite Icon Smite, your mana will go down (very slowly).

If the period of low damage, during which you were Smiting, is followed by a period of high damage, which requires a lot of healing, you should use Archangel Icon Archangel to gain a 15% healing increase (keep in mind that Archangel will consume the stacks of Evangelism Icon Evangelism that you had been building and/or maintaining).

Atonement healing is especially useful during times when the boss or another mob takes increased damage. This will cause you to generate very high heals on the nearby players, while also contributing to the raid's DPS.

4.2. Important Mechanics

In order to use your spells appropriately for the situations you encounter, you must first understand several aspects of the Discipline specialisation.

4.2.1. Mastery and Absorption Effects

The Discipline Mastery is Shield Discipline Icon Shield Discipline. Essentially, your Mastery Rating increases the amount of damage absorbed by your absorption effects.

Discipline Priests have two absorption effects: Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield and Divine Aegis Icon Divine Aegis.

Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield is quite simple. You place a shield on a target, which absorbs a certain amount of damage (affected not only by your Mastery, but also by your spell power). Applying a shield to a target causes the Weakened Soul Icon Weakened Soul debuff, which prevents them from being shielded again (by you or any other priest) for 15 seconds.

The Divine Aegis Icon Divine Aegis talent provides you with a passive absorption mechanic. Each time you critically heal with a spell, a shield is placed on the target and will absorb damage equal to 30% of the amount healed. This does not mean that 70% of the heal is an actual heal, and that 30% is an absorb; the absorb is added to the heal amount. In addition to Divine Aegis from critical heals, all heals from Prayer of Healing Icon Prayer of Healing also add Divine Aegis.

Divine Aegis Icon Divine Aegis has a 15 second duration, and each new application of the buff (such as from a subsequent critical heal or Prayer of Healing) will stack on top of the previous Divine Aegis (merging the remaining amount of absorption with the amount of absorption created by the new shield) and refresh its duration. Note that the amount absorbed by Divine Aegis is limited to 40% of the casting Priest's maximum health. In practice, this means you cannot stack Divine Aegis higher than roughly 50,000 damage absorption.

Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield and Divine Aegis Icon Divine Aegis can co-exist on the same target at the same time, without any kind of interaction between them. Damage caused to the target will first consume the Divine Aegis (partially or entirely, depending on the damage) and then consume the Power Word: Shield.

Absorption is a key element of Discipline healing. Shielding people is a means of preventive healing, which reduces the spikes in damage taken and ensures that damage is more predictable.

4.2.2. Borrowed Time

After each cast of Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield you gain the Borrowed Time Icon Borrowed Time buff. This reduces the cast time of your next spell by 14%, provided that you cast a spell within 6 seconds (before the buff expires). Casting a spell consumes the buff. Note that spells with an instant cast time, as well as channeled spells, do not benefit from nor consume the buff.

Normally, Discipline Priests have long cast time heals, namely Heal Icon Heal, Greater Heal Icon Greater Heal and Prayer of Healing Icon Prayer of Healing. Therefore, these spells are the best candidates for consuming the Borrowed Time buff with. What this means is that, essentially, you will want to cast a Power Word: Shield, and gain the Borrowed Time buff, before any of these three heals.

When you know that you will have to cast an important heal (a Greater Heal on the tank, who will be taking high damage at that time, for example), it is good to think ahead and have your Borrowed Time buff active.

Penance Icon Penance does not consume the Borrowed Time buff, even though its cast time does benefit from the buff. An important note should be made here. For maximum efficiency, you should try to cast a Penance after your Power Word: Shield and before the heal which will consume Borrowed Time.

4.2.3. Mana Management

Discipline Priests have three means of regenerating mana during combat:

Hymn of Hope Icon Hymn of Hope is a channeled spell that restores mana in a "smart" way to several low-mana raid members and increases their maximum mana by 15% for 8 seconds. It has a 6 minute cooldown.

Hymn of Hope will, most likely, be only used once or possibly twice during the encounter. The best time to use this ability is hard to determine ahead of time, as it depends on a great number of factors. Follow these guidelines:

  • Try to use Hymn of Hope Icon Hymn of Hope as many times during an encounter as possible.
  • Only use Hymn of Hope when you are not at maximum mana.
  • Do not use Hymn of Hope Icon Hymn of Hope if you will need to interrupt the cast before it finishes (8 second cast), because of having to move or heal.
  • Do not use Hymn of Hope Icon Hymn of Hope when there is a lot of raid damage. Your inability to heal while channeling Hymn of Hope will force other healers to compensate by using mana inefficient spells.
  • Remember that Hymn of Hope Icon Hymn of Hope benefits not only you, but also other low-mana players (generally, these will be healers). This means that you should use it when more healers can get the benefit from it, i.e. when their mana is low and they can use class-specific mana regeneration cooldowns, such as Divine Plea Icon Divine Plea for Holy Paladins. This is because the mana-pool increasing effect of Hymn of Hope increases the potency of mana regeneration cooldowns which are based on maximum mana. In order to ensure that mana goes to healers and not to DPS players, you can do some of the following:
    • Have DPS players (only those who generally run low on mana) use their own mana cooldowns first, ensuring that the healers are the lowest on mana.
    • Have the healers stack up together in an area far away from the DPS players, since Hymn of Hope seems to prefer closer players, despite its 40 yard range.

Shadowfiend Icon Shadowfiend will summon a pet that attacks the target, restoring some of your maximum mana to you each time it makes an attack. Shadowfiend has a slightly lower cooldown than Hymn of Hope (5 minutes, or 4 minutes with 2/2 Veiled Shadows Icon Veiled Shadows). It should be used as many times during an encounter as possible. Ideally, it should be used while Hymn of Hope or procs from Enchant Weapon - Power Torrent or Lightweave Embroidery are active, as these temporarily increase your maximum mana, and Shadowfiend grants you a percentage of your maximum mana with each attack it makes.

Lastly, it is ideal to have your Shadowfiend active just before Heroism Icon Heroism/Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust/Time Warp Icon Time Warp is used. This is because pets benefit from the increased attack speed, if they are active when the cast is made, but not if they are released after it has been cast. The extra attack speed will translate into more attacks and thus more mana returned to you.

Rapture Icon Rapture is a much more dynamic and delicate mana regeneration method to master. Your goal is to have one of your Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shields break roughly every 13 seconds, for as much of the fight as possible.

This is not as easy as it seems, in practice. Often, the only person taking the sustained damage required to break a shield is the tank, and the Weakened Soul Icon Weakened Soul debuff lasts 15 seconds, meaning you can only shield the target once every 15 seconds. It could then take a few more seconds (depending on boss attack speed, dodges or parries) for the shield to break, pushing the interval between Rapture procs to close to 20 seconds.

When there is sustained raid damage, or when there are two tanks taking damage at the same time, maintaining a high Rapture uptime is easier.

This is something you will have to practice in order to master. We recommend using the Ingela's Rapture add-on to track the time remaining until the Rapture internal cooldown wears off.

4.2.4. Inner Fire and Inner Will

As a Priest, you have access to two (mutually exclusive) self-buffs:

  • Inner Fire Icon Inner Fire: increases your spell power by 532, and also increases your armor by 60%.
  • Inner Will Icon Inner Will: reduces the mana cost of instant cast spells by 15%, and also increases your movement speed by 10%.

You will want to have one of these two self-buffs active at all times (they cost no mana to apply and have an unlimited duration).

For the majority of the time, you will want to use Inner Fire and take advantage of the spell power benefit. However, if you need to use a lot of instant-cast spells (multiple Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shields, Prayer of Mending Icon Prayer of Mending, Dispel Magic Icon Dispel Magic), you can switch to Inner Will.

Keep in mind that Power Word: Shields used in Inner Will will absorb slightly less damage.

Finally, the movement speed increase from Inner Will can prove useful in some situations.

4.3. Important Abilities

As a Discipline Priest, you have a great number of healing spells in your arsenal. It is important to understand how each of them work. In addition to the healing spells, you also have a number of valuable cooldowns that you will need to make use of.

While we may, summarily, mention some of the interactions between various abilities, we will also detail all of these interactions in a subsequent section.

4.3.1. Healing spells

  • Penance Icon Penance: this is the spell you gain for choosing the Discipline specialisation. It is a very mana efficient spell. It is a channel spell. This spell will heal the target three times, over a period of 2 seconds. The first heal happens as soon as the cast begins (so, essentially, it is an instant cast heal), the second happens one second in, and the third happens on the 2 second mark. These numbers are a bit different in reality, as this spell is affected by your spell haste. A final note of importance, regarding Penance, is that your character will automatically turn to face the target you are trying to heal.
  • Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield: this is the most iconic Discipline spell. It places a shield on the target, which absorbs a (rather large) amount of damage. The amount of damage absorbed is affected by your spell power and by your Mastery. The spell is instant cast and has no cooldown, but it does apply the Weakened Soul Icon Weakened Soul debuff on the target (preventing them from receiving another Power Word: Shield for 15 seconds). This means that you can shield multiple people (such as in preparation for a damage spike) but not repeatedly shield the same person in quick succession. The duration of the Weakened Soul debuff is reduced by some direct heals on that target, if you have talented Strength of Soul Icon Strength of Soul. Thanks to Rapture Icon Rapture, each time one of your shields is fully consumed, you regain 7% of your maximum mana (although not more often than once every 12 seconds). Finally, for the 6 seconds following a Power Word: Shield cast, your next spell cast benefits from 14% increased spell haste.
  • Heal Icon Heal: this is your most mana efficient spell. It heals for a very low amount, has a high cast time and a low mana cost. At a reasonable gear level, you can spam this ability and not run out of mana. When used on a player with the Weakened Soul Icon Weakened Soul debuff, if you have Strength of Soul Icon Strength of Soul talented, it will reduce the duration of Weakened Soul by 4 seconds.
  • Greater Heal Icon Greater Heal: this spell is your "big" healing spell. It heals for a very large amount, but also costs a lot of mana to use. It has a high cast time. When used on a player with the Weakened Soul Icon Weakened Soul debuff, if you have Strength of Soul Icon Strength of Soul talented, it will reduce the duration of Weakened Soul by 4 seconds. If Train of Thought Icon Train of Thought is talented, then the cooldown of your Inner Focus Icon Inner Focus is reduced by 5 seconds each time you cast Greater Heal.
  • Flash Heal Icon Flash Heal: this is an emergency healing spell. It heals for a reasonable amount, but is very mana inefficient. It does, however, have a very short cast time. When used on a player with the Weakened Soul Icon Weakened Soul debuff, if you have Strength of Soul Icon Strength of Soul talented, it will reduce the duration of Weakened Soul by 4 seconds.
  • Binding Heal Icon Binding Heal: this spell is very similar to Flash Heal in terms of casting time and mana cost. It heals its target for slightly less than Flash Heal, but at the same time, it heals you for the same amount.
  • Prayer of Healing Icon Prayer of Healing: this is your main AoE heal. It heals the entire group of the targeted raid member (so a maximum of 5 players), provided that they are within 30 yards of the targeted raid member. It is extremely mana efficient, provided that at least 3 players will benefit from the heal (i.e., it will not overheal them). This spell also places a protective barrier, Divine Aegis Icon Divine Aegis (very similar to Power Word: Shield) for 30% of the amount healed on all the targets that it heals. Furthermore, with the appropriate glyph, this spell also heals the affected players for an additional 20% over 6 seconds.
  • Prayer of Mending Icon Prayer of Mending: this is rather unique type of spell. It is a single target heal, which acts as a buff that you place on a target. The buff lasts for 30 seconds and has 5 charges. When that target takes damage, the buff heals them and jumps from them to another raid member. It appears to prefer jumping to lower health members, although this behaviour is not consistent, nor does there seem to be a noticeable pattern when all the players are at full health. When jumping, the buff loses a charge and resets its duration to 30 seconds. When all the charges have run out, the buff disappears. The cooldown of the spell is only 10 seconds, meaning that you can keep it active at all times. Note that you cannot have the buff active on multiple targets at once.
  • Divine Hymn Icon Divine Hymn: this is a channeled spell, which heals the 5 lowest health targets in your party or raid (within 40 yards), every 2 seconds, for 8 seconds. Targets healed by this spell also gain 10% increased healing for 8 seconds. Despite the tooltip listing a hard limitation of the maximum number of potential heals (12), this is not true in reality. In fact, the more spell haste you have, the more heals you gain from this spell. It has an 8 minute cooldown and it is extremely mana efficient.
  • Desperate Prayer Icon Desperate Prayer: this ability is only available if you have taken the Desperate Prayer Icon Desperate Prayer talent. It is an instant cast, off the global cooldown, mana free self-heal, which heals for 30% of your maximum health.
  • Renew Icon Renew: this is an instant cast, healing over time spell. It is not an efficient spell for Discipline Priests. You should only ever use this spell when there are literally no other alternatives.

4.3.2. Cooldowns

  • Power Infusion Icon Power Infusion: this spell can be cast on either yourself or another mana using raid member. It reduces the mana cost of all spells by 20% and increases casting speed by 20% for its 15 second duration.
  • Inner Focus Icon Inner Focus: this ability, which is off the global cooldown, makes your next Greater Heal Icon Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing Icon Prayer of Healing cost no mana and have a 25% increased critical strike chance. Using this spell places a buff on you, which has an unlimited duration, and lasts until one of the two aforementioned spells is cast.
  • Pain Suppression Icon Pain Suppression: a single target damage reduction cooldown. Reduces all damage taken by the target by 40% for 8 seconds.
  • Power Word: Barrier Icon Power Word: Barrier: places a protective bubble at a target location, reducing the damage taken by all targets within it by 25%.
  • Hymn of Hope Icon Hymn of Hope: this is a channeled spell that, over the course of 8 seconds, restores 2% of maximum mana to the 3 lowest mana raid members. In addition to this, it also increases their maximum mana by 15% for 8 seconds. Spell haste will increase the number of mana restores that this spell provides, despite the tooltip listing a hard limitation of 12 restores.
  • Shadowfiend Icon Shadowfiend: summons a pet that attacks your target. Each one of its attacks grants you 3% of your maximum mana. After 15 seconds, the Shadowfiend disappears.

4.4. Tank and Single Target Healing

When healing the tank (we associate single target healing to tank healing), you have two spells which are excellent in terms of mana efficiency:

  • Penance Icon Penance: you should use this on cooldown, unless the tank is taking very heavy damage and requires the bigger healing from Greater Heal Icon Greater Heal. Try to always cast this spell while Borrowed Time Icon Borrowed Time is active.
  • Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield: casting Power Word: Shield on the tank is excellent. Power Word: Shield is rather expensive, but the amount of absorption is also quite large. Additionally, it provides you with Rapture, regenerating some of your mana and it grants you Borrowed Time, speeding up your next cast of (most likely) Heal Icon Heal or Greater Heal Icon Greater Heal. Moreover, thanks to the Renewed Hope Icon Renewed Hope talent, your spells on the tank, who is now affected by Weakened Soul Icon Weakened Soul, have an increased chance to critically hit.

In addition to using these two spells on the tank on cooldown, you have several other options:

  • Heal Icon Heal: for times when the tank is taking a low amount of damage. Casting Heal will ensure that your mana level does not decrease at all.
  • Greater Heal Icon Greater Heal: for times of heavy tank damage. Greater Heal heals for a very large amount, and, with the Strength of Soul Icon Strength of Soul talent, also lowers the duration of Weakened Soul on the tank, allowing you to shield more often and benefit from Borrowed Time more often.
  • Flash Heal Icon Flash Heal: this is an emergency heal which should not be used unless the tank has Weakened Soul and will die before you finish casting Greater Heal Icon Greater Heal. If Penance is available, and you believe that the first heal from Penance will be sufficient to allow the tank to survive the damage they take (or if the damage they are likely to receive will occur after the second heal from Penance), then you should use Penance on the tank instead, as it is more mana efficient.
  • Binding Heal Icon Binding Heal: this should be used in the same scenario as Flash Heal, with the added mention that you yourself should also be in great need of healing. If you are not in need of healing, Flash Heal is more efficient.

Prayer of Mending Icon Prayer of Mending is an extremely efficient spell, and one of its great advantages is that it performs its effect (jumping from player to player, healing them as they take damage) independently of any action from your part. The efficiency of this spell depends greatly on the type of damage in the encounter. If there is no damage on anyone except for the tank, then it is likely that the spell will jump once, and then its 30 second duration will simply run out.

As a single target heal, (the tank, in this case), Prayer of Mending's worth should be judged based on whether or not it is likely to jump to other targets and whether or not the tank may die because of the time you spent not casting a big heal.

Therefore, if the tank is taking low or moderate damage, and Prayer of Mending is likely to jump multiple times, you should cast it on the tank. If the tank is taking brutal damage, or if no one else is likely to take damage for some time, then Prayer of Mending is not worth casting on the tank.

Finally, you can cast Renew Icon Renew, as a tank or single target healing spell. Keep in mind that this is, by far, your least efficient healing spell (it is instant cast, but because it heals over time, its effect will not be immediately felt. Renew should only be cast if all three following conditions are met:

  1. You are moving (so you cannot cast any spells with a cast time).
  2. The target has Weakened Soul Icon Weakened Soul.
  3. Prayer of Mending Icon Prayer of Mending is on cooldown.

4.5. Raid Healing

When having to heal multiple raid members at once, your most efficient choice is Prayer of Healing Icon Prayer of Healing. This spell is extremely mana efficient, especially if all 5 group members are damaged and require healing.

Prayer of Healing is even more beneficial if the raid damage is followed by even more raid damage within 15 seconds of your heals (the duration of Divine Aegis Icon Divine Aegis), as this means that the absorbs generated by Prayer of Healing will be put to good use.

In preparation for a very big AoE damaging attack, you can stack Divine Aegis Icon Divine Aegis on several groups (by casting repeated Prayers of Healing on them, refreshing/stacking the Divine Aegis buff).

When using Prayer of Healing, keep in mind that the target of your spell is the one which group members must be within 30 yards of, so try to heal the player with the most central location (respective to their group).

Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield can and should be used when dealing with raid damage (provided that the raid damage is not so intensive that if you stop chain-casting Prayer of Healing, players will die). This will provide you with mana from Rapture, as well as with many procs of Borrowed Time Icon Borrowed Time, greatly speeding up your Prayers of Healing.

Power Word: Shield is a quite costly spell, however, so trying to shield everyone in preparation for an AoE damage spike is not extremely feasible (though it can be done, if needed, several times per fight, with correct mana management).

Prayer of Mending Icon Prayer of Mending is a spell which you should try to have up all the time during AoE damage. If the damage ticks every second, or (as is more likely the case) every 2 seconds, you will have to cast it on cooldown to maximise its uptime.

4.6. More on Cooldown Usage

Inner Focus Icon Inner Focus should be used on cooldown, so that it is used as many times as possible during an encounter. It is mostly used for the mana-free aspect, rather than the increased critical strike chance that it provides.

Pain Suppression Icon Pain Suppression should generally be used on a tank, at a time when they are going to receive a lot of damage. Be sure to communicate with the tank, so that they do not also use a defensive cooldown at the same time. It can also be used on random raid members who are targeted by specific boss abilities.

Power Word: Barrier Icon Power Word: Barrier is an excellent ability for AoE damage reduction. Its greatest benefits are when the entire raid is stacked up in the same place, and it should be used as part of a cooldown rotation with other healers. Do not hesitate, however, to use it on a single target (such as the tank) when Pain Suppression is not available (provided, of course, that you are not assigned to save Power Word: Barrier for a specific moment).

Power Infusion Icon Power Infusion can be used to increase your healing throughput and reduce the mana cost of your spells. It is especially useful during times of heavy AoE damage, where you wish to cast many Prayer of Healing Icon Prayer of Healing spells in quick succession.

Power Infusion can be used, equally well, on a caster DPS player (Arcane Mage, Balance Druid) to boost their DPS greatly.




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