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WoW Priest Guide: Playing a Discipline Priest

Posted Wed, Apr 23, 2008 by Messiah

How to play a Discipline Priest


So you want to be the groups savior? You don't feel the need to do massive DPS or control the pace of the fight as a tank? Good for you! We need more healers out there! What spec to heal as though while playing a priest. The choices are holy or discipline.

In general if you are playing PvE content you will tend to be holy spec'ed. If you are playing a priest and are into PvP and / or Arena combat, there is an excellent chance you are a discipline spec'ed healer. End game raiders tend to have a good mix from both talent trees.

Playing any healer can be a lot of fun if you are into being a support player. Be prepared for the role though as many players just can not sit back and not be directly involved in combat or damage dealing. As with playing any other healing class, you need to understand that while you rarely do anything to the enemy, you allow or enable your group to survive to do damage. This is not something everyone can cope with, so be warned.

This guide will focus on the Arena type of discipline priest as they are the most common discipline build currently.

Gear

Gear for healing as a discipline spec'ed priest can be a little complicated as you need to balance healing power and survivability. The healing part is fairly easy to get and your main concerns should be +Healing, Intelligence, +Mana per 5 sec (+mp5) and Spirit. Luckily all of these come in at least pairs on most healing items you will find. The survivability part is easy as well with the arena or battleground gear available. For survivability you should focus on stamina and resilience.

Intelligence and +Healing are by far the most important stats as they will allow you to cast more effective heals over a longer time that the other stats. To be truly effective you should aim to have at least a mana pool of 7000 and +1000 healing by level 70. If you focus on these stats you will also gain +Mana per 5 sec, Stamina and Spirit as they are common on all the gear that has the other stats. While stamina is important so that you can take a hit, you will likely get enough while focusing on the other abilities that you will not have to hunt it out on your own. The same holds true for spirit and as long as you get some, you will be ok.

While having enough spirit to affect your mana regen rate is important for PvP healing you should focus a bit more on +Mp5 as you will rarely be out of combat. For some fights you can completely ignore both, as you will kill or be killed before mana is an issue. However once you reach higher arena rankings, where fights can last 10-15 minutes at times, mana regen becomes a serious issue.

Talents

As a Discipline priest most of your points will be in the discipline talent tree. Your aim is to increase your healing and lasting power through the use of talents. There are several excellent talents in the talent tree to do just that.

A staple ability for a PvP discipline Priest is the improved mana drain ability. In many arena fights the winner is decided by who has mana remaining, and this talent helps ensure that you are that player. It reduces the casting time of your mana drain ability by a 1/2 second which makes it much more useful.

Meditation and mental strength are great mana talents to take. The first one grants up to 15% of your mana regeneration to continue while in combat. The 15% boost is the reason discipline priests do not ignore spirit for PvP as much as a holy priest would. Mental strength allows you to start out with a bigger mana pool, which means you won't run out nearly as quickly.

Martyrdom and Pain suppression are other great PvP talents. Martyrdom allows you to cast without losing casting time from taking damage after being the victim of a critical strike. As a healer in arenas, you will be hit a lot, so this saves you a lot of lost casting time. Pain suppression is a great spell that reduces all damage a player takes by 40% for 8 seconds. This can pull you or another player though a mass attack every 2 minutes.

There are many other great talents in the discipline tree. You can find a full list of all the talents and make your own decision on which ones are for you in our Priest Talent guide.

If you are looking for a PvP build to start off with though, the build below is a very common PvP build.

Discipline Talents - 46 point(s)

  • Unbreakable Will - rank 5/5
  • Improved Power Word: Fortitude - rank 2/2
  • Improved Power Word: Shield - rank 3/3
  • Martyrdom - rank 2/2
  • Inner Focus - rank 1/1
  • Meditation - rank 3/3
  • Improved Inner Fire - rank 3/3
  • Improved Mana Burn - rank 2/2
  • Mental Strength - rank 5/5
  • Divine Spirit - rank 1/1
  • Improved Divine Spirit - rank 2/2
  • Focused Power - rank 2/2
  • Focused Will - rank 3/3
  • Power Infusion - rank 1/1
  • Reflective Shield - rank 5/5
  • Enlightenment - rank 5/5
  • Pain Suppression - rank 1/1

Holy Talents - 15 point(s)

  • Healing Focus - rank 2/2
  • Improved Renew - rank 1/3
  • Holy Specialization - rank 3/5
  • Divine Fury - rank 5/5
  • Holy Nova - rank 1/1
  • Blessed Recovery - rank 3/3

To find several other holy and discipline based priest builds or to submit your own, visit our wiki in the priest build section.

Healing Priority and Mana Management

Ok, you have the gear, you have spec'ed discipline, have an arena team, now what?  I suggest jumping into a few practice matches to see how things go first, this will allow you to see and learn some of the strategies used in the arena. Once you have you will see that you need to learn a little about healing priority and mana management. This is something that ALL healers regardless of class need to learn and what truly separates the good healers from the bad. The two things can sometimes be viewed individually, but are best thought of as a pair at all times. Ok, so what are they?

Healing Priority - The order in which you will heal people, or in extreme cases allow them to die.

Mana Management - Managing your mana so that you can heal for as long as possible. This can tie into healing in bursts and then resting, or just healing key people and forcing others to get distance, fear, CC, etc.


Now that you know what they are, how do you use that knowledge? The first part is establishing your healing priority and sticking to it. In arena combat, healing priority can pretty simple, heal the person getting hit. Ok, not very helpful, right? At a very basic level it is true though, especially at 2v2 and 3v3 where there will not be much damage splitting. In 5v5 though where damage splitting really comes into play, you need to go back to almost 5 man instance priorities. Instead of the tank being the highest (after you of course) on the list though it is the mortal strike warrior, hunter with aimed shot or anyone else that can reduce the healing done to an enemy. After that it is any other healer being hit, and then your DPS players in descending rank of damage that they can do.

It may sound harsh, but at some point you may need to let people die. At times there just isn't anything you can do about it, it is one player or another. As above, learn to make the correct choice. Unless it is down to just you can one team mate against a single weakened player, the choice is almost always: You, mortal strike equivalent, CC, DPS. This changes based on your team and how you play together, but is a good general baseline.

Mana management is managing the amount you heal in a fight. Unlike in PvE where you do not really need to keep everyone at or near full health, in PvP you will want to. In PvP the opponent will be constantly watching for one player that takes the odd hit and is weak. They will then do a target shift and try to burst them down before you can heal them back to full. For this reason you will need to keep everyone as healed as you can, without just wasting mana.

Part of mana management is also worrying about how big of a heal is needed and how much mana that heal will cost. Is it better to cast many small heals, or wait until the player is lower in life and cast one big heal? Since big heals are generally more mana efficient, it is generally better to wait and cast a bigger heal. This is not always practical though, so you need to learn to judge. If a player is only taking light damage throw little heals, if they are taking big spikes of damage throw a big heal or they will go down.

Mana Efficiency

Now that you know the order you should heal players, how to you make sure you have mana for everything? Which heals should you use when and why? The main heals that you will use are going to be flash heal, greater heal and renew. While you will use the others, these three form the core and will therefore be looked at as your primaries to discuss efficiency with.

Lets start with a definition of mana efficiency. It is how many health points the heal will restore per point of mana the heal costs. As an example, a heal that costs 250 mana and heals the target for 1000 health would be said to have a mana efficiency of 4hp/mana, since it restore 4 health per point of mana that you spent casting it. Obviously the bigger the number the better. Sometimes you need to make choices though as the most mana efficient spells generally come at the cost of casting time, which you will not always have.

Flash Heal - This is your fast casting heal. While it casts very quickly it comes at a cost. It restores 2.5hp/mana base and a slightly better 2.8hp/mana when you have a holy healing talent build.

Renew - This is your instant cast heal over time heal. While it provides a lowly 2.5hp/mana, but when you have the talents to back it up can provide up to 3.4hp/mana. If you have all the right talents it becomes a very mana efficient heal, assuming you have the time to wait for it to fully effect the target.

Greater Heal - This is your long casting time heal, that can heal for huge amounts. It is also your most mana efficient healing spell at a base of 3.1hp/mana and up to 4.1hp/mana with the proper talents.

The above is just a base look at healing efficiency though. There are many factors that change and enhance your healing, for example Flash Heal only benefits from 43% of your +healing, Greater Heal gets 86% of it, and Renew gets 100% of it. So while these base numbers provide some information, the situation you are healing in always needs to be thought about. Can you take the time it requires to get mana efficiency of a greater heal, or do you even need that much healing?

+Healing Coefficient

Just as important as the heal you choose, the stats or the ability bonuses that you have, is understanding the coefficient in which the +healing applied to your spells. As stated in the basics section of our priest guide the full value of your +healing or +damage is not added, each spell has a coefficient that gets multiplied by your total +healing to determine the amount added. To find out how much of your +healing will be added to each spell multiply the coefficient in the table below by your +healing bonus.

Priest + Healing Coefficients
Spell
Coefficient
Binding Heal
42.9%
Circle of Healing
24.1%
Flash Heal
42.9%
Greater Heal
85.7%
Holy Nova
16%
Prayer of Healing
42.9%
Prayer of Mending
42.9%
Power Word: Shield
30%
Renew
100%
Lightwell
100%

Things to Remember

  • When facing any caster, you should use your mana drain as often as you comfortably can.
  • You can not keep anyone one up if you are dead, ensure you watch your own health bar too.
  • Unlike in PvE combat where you almost never shield a warrior, don't be scared to here, there is no aggro in PvP.
  • When healing a large number of people either use your renew or a group heal.
  • It is critical to keep buffs up on everyone in the group.
  • Remember you can fear players off of you if you are really stuck, better yet unlike in PvE there are no additional mobs around to worry about, so do it often.
  • Remember all the heals you have and use them appropriately.

For general Priest information, check out our complete Priest Guide.

Comments or questions? Email me (Messiah@TenTonHammer.com) or post in our Priest forums!

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