Now, I’ve seen recently that the Discipline Priest is considered the “scrub spec” for healers because even a slack- ass Priest can pull some pretty good numbers on fights. I hate that. I hate that people think this. And I hate even more that people are OK with being a mediocre Disco Priest. I hate saying that. I do, because I don’t want to be that person. But here’s the thing- I am invested in this class. I love this spec. And I want to see as many people as I can doing it well, because a decent Discipline Priest can pull amazing heals, and a good one can change a fight. So here’s what I’m going to do. This post is going to be super cereal- no, I’m still not going to theorycraft or number crunch. I suck at it, so I’m not going to do it. Instead, I’m going to tell you what I do and why I do it. I’m going to impart upon you all of my experience- as well as the research I’ve done- that should be helpful. Consider this something of an updated guide to Disco Priesting. So let’s get into it.
What I Do and Why: Discipline Priest Edition
Anyone can play a Disco Priest and be OK. But a great Disco Priest plays with finesse and knows how to work their spells, abilities, and talents.
1. It is important to understand that you are not a healer in the standard sense. I like to tell my raid that I am a bubble mage, because you will rarely catch me dropping actual heals (I do use Penance defensively and I make use of Enhanced Archangel, but there are specifics that I need to cover with these which I will go over in a bit.) Your go to spell is Power Word: Shield. Bubble and bubble often. To facilitate the “bubble often” portion of that last statement, you NEED the Glyph of Weakened Soul (which reduces the Weakened Soul debuff to 10 seconds from 12, since you have Empowered PW:S.) Plainly put, you don’t actually heal- you prevent damage. To full understand why this is important, you need to look at what you can do. PW:S lasts 15 seconds (or X amount of damage). That is a long time to have a shield up. This allows you a bit of time to prepare and forces you to think ahead and look at those ability timers on DBM. When is the next big wave of damage coming in? Who is soaking the Inferno Slice on Gruul? How long do you have until the next Stone Breath on Kromag? Look at the timer. This gives you time to mitigate that damage. Remember- your shields last 15 seconds. This gives you a very unique perspective and allows you to be prepared. A normal healer typically recognizes when damage is incoming about 3-4 seconds before it actually hits (this is just an average, obviously it depends on the person.) However, you saw that damage coming 15 seconds ago- and you have bubbled the raid to mitigate that damage. This is imperative as it significantly affects your other healers- they don’t have as much damage to heal up, so they aren’t blowing as much mana. Thinking that far ahead can change an encounter drastically and make it easier on pretty much everyone. Remember that your job isn’t to heal people up- that’s what they other healers are for. Your job is to mitigate as much damage as you can to make the other healers’ lives easier. Discipline priests exist symbiotically with the other healers in a raid team- you focus on preventing damage. Let the other healers worry about filling the health bars. We’re, henceforth, going to refer to the ability to look 15 seconds ahead as future sight.
2. Know how to build stacks of Evangelism quickly (AKA get your 2- piece Tier Set bonus ASAP!!) One of the best tools in your kit is Archangel, but to get it, you need to cast offensively. Every time you cast Holy Fire (or Power Word; Solace), Penance (offensively), and Smite (don’t unless you REALLY need to), you gain a stack of Evangelism. Evangelism stacks to 5 and is spent on Archangel, which increases your healing (and absorbs) by 5% per stack consumed and lasts for 20 seconds, but has a 30 seconds CD. This is tremendous. Yes, it forces you to put some damage on the boss, but it is well worth it.
Now, you’ve seen above that in order to use Penance to gain stacks of Evangelism, you need to cast it offensively. Don’t be afraid to use Penance OFFENSIVELY! You should be using Penance on CD- either offensively or defensively- so make sure you’ve got it where you can actually cast it on the boss. Now here is where we talk about the Tier 17 set bonuses- your 2 piece bonus allows you to channel Penance for 1 extra second, and allows defensively cast Penances to grant you a stack of Evangelism. Guys, this is massive. This set bonus is GAME CHANGING. Using Penance (which deals a significantly higher amount of damage and healing) as a heal and as damage, and both give you Evangelism? You are going to have stacks of Evangelism waiting after your first use of Archangel. Which means you can plan when you want to use it.
3. Know when to use Archangel. There is nothing wrong with using Archangel on CD. You’ll still pull decent numbers if you do that. But use your future sight- Archangel lasts for 20 seconds. PW:S lasts for 15. You know when the boss’s next major damaging ability is coming in. Plan it out! Save that Archangel for the 25% increase absorbs on the group eating Inferno Slice! Managing this CD is critical to being a great Discipline Priest.
4. Use Empowered Archangel. So, you’ll notice when you pop Archangel that you get another mini buff on top of that- Empowered Archangel. EAA gives your next Flash Heal a 100% chance to crit. This is one of the times where you should not be afraid to heal a bit- Flash Heal is a fast cast (and mana heavy, but you shouldn’t be having problems with mana) and a guaranteed critical strike. This is good for saving a life (I usually use it on a tank.)
Ok, I’m gonna cut this off before it becomes TL:DR (which it may already be.) Remember, Disco Priests- your job is not to HEAL damage, its to MITIGATE it. Tune in later on this week, I’ll be talking about Talent Choices and Glyphs (more than the one I talked about above.) Until then, keep cool, and stay angry, healers!