In preparation for the updates to our guides for Mists of Pandaria Patch 5.0.4, we are releasing articles such as this one, explaining what has changed for a particular class and spec, and what the new rotation is likely to be.
Keep in mind that this is still a work in progress (both from Blizzard's side and from our own) and that this article assumes you are at least somewhat familiar with the Cataclysm version of the Discipline Priest rotation and playstyle (such as from reading our guide).
We will first list the most important changes to the Discipline Priest Cataclysm abilities, and then we will proceed to explaining the (likely to be) optimal rotation. Keep in mind that we do not document every single change or new ability, only those that impact the rotation.
Finally, we will give you some information about the most useful talents and glyphs you should choose.
- Spirit Shell is an interesting and powerful healing cooldown. For 15 seconds, it causes your heals from Heal, Flash Heal, Greater Heal, and Prayer of Healing to place an absorption shield on the target instead of healing them. The shield's capacity is capped at 60% of the casting Priest's maximum health. Any heals that exceed the shield's cap will instead heal the target (as though Spirit Shell were not active).
- Void Shift is a spell that swaps your health percentage with the health percentage of the targeted raid member. If one of you has a health percentage of less than 25%, then it is increased to 25%. This is a cooldown that enables you to save raid members who reach very low health (and are still taking damage).
- Tier 3 talents offer a choice between Mindbender and Power Word: Solace (and From Darkness, Comes Light, but this is a passive ability). We discuss these talents in greater depth in the Talents section.
- Tier 5 talents offer a choice between Power Infusion and two passive abilities, Twist of Fate and Divine Insight. We discuss these talents in greater depth in the Talents section.
- Tier 6 talents offer a choice between Cascade, Divine Star, and Halo. We discuss these talents in greater depth in the Talents section.
Changes to Existing Mechanics
- Inner Fire now increases your spell power by 10%, instead of by a fixed value.
- Power Word: Fortitude now increases Stamina by 10%, instead of by a fixed value.
- Archangel and the associated "Atonement" healing-style abilities are now granted to all Discipline Priests by default, without the need to choose them as talents. Their mechanics have remained largely the same, with one notable difference: Archangel now increases healing by 5% per stack of Evangelism (up from 3%), but no longer grants mana to the Priest.
- Strength of Soul, previously an optional talent, is now provided by default. It causes Weakened Soul's duration to be reduced by 2 seconds each time the target is healed by Heal, Flash Heal, or Greater Heal.
- Train of Thought, previously an optional talent, is now provided by default. It causes the remaining cooldown of Inner Focus to be reduced by 5 seconds each time you cast Greater Heal, and the remaining cooldown of Penance to be reduced by 0.5 seconds each time you cast Smite.
Removed AbilitiesDivine Hymn has been removed (it is now only available to Holy Priests).
Rotation and Spell UsageSince healers do not have a rotation per se, it is hard to briefly list the rotation of Discipline Priests. The detailed explanations that we provide in our Cataclysm guide are beyond the scope of this article. Instead, we will just mention a few things that are interesting or relevant.
- Atonement healing is now fully supported. Since you have the talents and abilities for Atonement healing given to you be default, you should be making use of this playstyle as much as possible. Nothing has changed in the way that Atonement healing works.
- The overall playstyle has remained virtually unchanged. Unless specified otherwise above, all spell mechanics and interactions function exactly as they did during Cataclysm. Many of these mechanics were granted by talents, but they are now provided automatically as passive abilities.
- Power Word: Shield's mana cost is very accessible, which means its usage is likely to increase greatly during Mists of Pandaria.
- The only novelty comes from incorporating your new abilities into the playstyle. This should not be very difficult. Here are our suggested uses:
- Spirit Shell should be used as many times as possible throughout the fight, but you should make sure to use it when it is most needed. It is especially useful for "preparing" a tank for taking a big hit (by stacking up a shield on him through single target heals) or preparing the raid for a high damage spike, by applying raid-heals to them.
- Void Shift should be used to save raid members (though it will probably be used on tanks mostly). It has a very high cooldown, so it will need to be time carefully.
- Your choice of Tier 6 talent will be used during times of AoE raid damage.
TalentsTier 1 talents offer a choice between 3 crowd control abilities:
Tier 2 talents offer a choice between 3 movement-enhancing spells: Body and Soul grants a movement speed boost to players affected by your Power Word: Shield and Leap of Faith. Even though you are going to cast Power Word: Shield often, this movement speed boost is not reliable as you may need to save Power Word: Shield for another moment, or you may be unable to cast it due to the Weakened Soul debuff.
Angelic Feather allows you place feathers on the ground, at targeted locations. Yourself and other raid members gain a movement speed boost when running over a feather. We believe that this talent has the most viability and flexibility, and that it will prove to be the talent of choice in most raid encounters.
Phantasm has mostly PvP applicability and we do not expect to see it being useful in raid content often, if at all.
Tier 3 talents offer a choice between 3 spells that enhance your performance: From Darkness, Comes Light works much like the old Surge of Light talent (except this is much improved). Whenever you cast Heal, Flash Heal, Greater Heal, Binding Heal, and Smite you have a 15% chance for your next Flash Heal to be instant cast and cost no mana. The effect has 2 charges.
Mindbender is an improved Shadowfiend, which has a much lower cooldown and will ultimately grant you higher mana regeneration (and damage).
Power Word: Solace is a damaging spell that grants you 2% maximum mana each time you cast it.
Out of these 3 talents, we believe that Power Word: Solace is by far the weakest. From Darkness, Comes Light is very strong and we believe it will translate not only to efficient mana conservation, but also to a solid throughput increase. Mindbender may end up being a good choice when mana regeneration is the most important issue.
Tier 4 talents offer a choice between 3 survival and self-healing talents: Desperate Prayer is a very powerful self-heal with no mana cost or cast time.
Spectral Guise is very much a PvP-oriented ability, and we do not believe it will often, if ever, be useful in PvE.
Angelic Bulwark automatically grants you a damage absorption shield each time you are brought below 30% health (with a 90 second internal cooldown).
We believe that Desperate Prayer will be the best choice for most situations, since it gives you the most control over when and how to use your self-healing.
Tier 5 talents offer a choice between 3 talents that improve your performance: Twist of Fate grants you a 15% increase to your healing each time you heal a target that is below 20% health, lasting for 10 seconds. This talent will probably shine on cutting-edge progression, when you are often healing low-health raid members.
Power Infusion (which is unchanged from its Cataclysm version) grants 20% increased casting speed and 20% reduced mana cost to a targeted raid member, for 20 seconds. This spell can be cast on yourself, allowing you to do great burst healing, or on a fellow caster DPS raid member, if the defeating the encounter requires a particularly high amount of DPS. Power Infusion is always a great choice because, being active, it can be used exactly when needed.
Divine Insight grants your Penance a 40% chance to make your next Power Word: Shield ignore Weakened Soul (if it exists on the target) and not cause it. This is a very interesting talent, which looks appealing at first. However, we observe the apparent contradiction that this talent benefits you in situations of urgency (when you need to cast Power Word: Shield on someone who has recently been shielded or may need to be shielded again very soon), but its very occurrence relies on a 40% chance to proc.
Despite our concern about Divine Insight's viability, we find that all 3 talents will probably be useful in certain encounters, and it remains to be seen how they will best be used.
Tier 6 talents offer a choice between 3 multiple target healing talents: Cascade is a sort of chain heal. It will first heal the player you targeted, after which it will split in two bolts, each jumping to another player, healing them, splitting, and jumping again. Each jump will prefer players who are farther away from the target player. Therefore, this heal is beneficial in situations where the raid is spread out.
Divine Star fires a healing ball in a straight line in front of you. It travels for 24 yards, healing all allies within 6 yards of its path. After it reaches the end of its path, it returns to you, still healing allies along the way. It is suited for situations where the raid is stacking in a particular fashion. It also deals damage to enemies it comes in contact with.
Halo causes a ring of energy to form around you, expanding to up to a 30 yard range. It heals all allies in its area of effect, with greater potency for those located farther away from you (at 25 yards). It is best suited for situations where the raid is loosely stacked, and you are in the center. It also deals damage in its area of effect.
We believe that the choice between these 3 talents will be determined by the way in which your raid is positioned during the encounter.
GlyphsMinor Glyphs are purely cosmetic and have no effect on your gameplay. There are, however, several Major Glyphs worth considering:
- Glyph of Fade causes you to take 10% reduced damage for the duration of Fade, turning the spell into a very minor survival cooldown.
- Glyph of Holy Fire makes Holy Fire instant cast. This is useful since Holy Fire is part of your Atonement healing playstyle.
- Glyph of Smite increases the damage done by Smite on targets affected by Holy Fire by 20%. Thanks to Atonement, this damage increase also means a 20% healing increase from Smite.
- Glyph of Purify causes Purify to also heal the target for 3% of their maximum health, when it successfully dispels a magical effect or a disease.
- Glyph of Prayer of Mending increases the first heal of Prayer of Mending by 60%, but causes it to have 1 fewer charge.
- Glyph of Power Word: Shield turns 20% of the amount that Power Word: Shield absorbs into healing on the target.
- Glyph of Penance increases the mana cost of Penance by 20%, but allows it to be cast while moving. This glyph will become especially powerful in later raiding tiers, when mana management is less of a problem.
- Glyph of Levitate increases your movement speed while Levitate is active and for 10 seconds afterwards, by 15%. This could prove to be a very useful means of increasing your movement speed during PvE encounters, especially given Levitate's low mana cost.