Discipline Priest Healing Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (MoP 5.4)

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General Information

On this page, we list your Discipline Priest core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft MoP 5.4. We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that you will need to know if you want to excel at playing a Discipline Priest.

The other pages of our Discipline Priest guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Reviewer

This guide has been reviewed and approved by Jhazrun, one of the best Discipline Priests in the world, who raids in Paragon.

1. 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 these 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 mainly 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. Additionally, your Tier 6 talent of choice will play a big part in your raid healing, as will frequent usage of Spirit Shell Icon Spirit Shell.

Spirit Shell is essentially a cooldown, and we treat it as such in our guide, but we wanted to make sure that you do not overlook its great usefulness.

Prayer of Healing Icon Prayer of Healing is ineffective if the raid is spread out too much, so as a replacement you can use Binding Heal Icon Binding Heal with Glyph of Binding Heal Icon Glyph of Binding Heal.

1.3. The Importance of Atonement Healing

Discipline Priests are able to do considerable amounts of healing (as well as some damage) thanks to Atonement Icon Atonement. This is a very useful technique to master, for which we recommend reading our dedicated section.

2. Cooldown Usage↑top

  • Spirit Shell Icon Spirit Shell should be used whenever there is high sustained damage to heal. You should aim to use it as many times as possible throughout the fight. It can also be used to pre-shield a target before they receive a lot of damage. Stacking Spirit Shell Icon Spirit Shell with Power Infusion Icon Power Infusion (a Tier 5 talent that you will usually take) is also extremely beneficial.
  • Inner Focus Icon Inner Focus should be used on cooldown.
  • Pain Suppression Icon Pain Suppression should be used on a tank, before a damage spike. Alternatively, it can be used on a raid member who is targeted by a very damaging ability.
  • Power Word: Barrier Icon Power Word: Barrier should be used to mitigate intense AoE damage; it requires the raid to be stacked in one place.
  • Void Shift Icon Void Shift should be used to save the life of a raid member by trading health percentages with them. When doing this, be prepared to immediately use Desperate Prayer Icon Desperate Prayer (if you have taken this talent) and/or a Healthstone to ensure you do not die. Alternatively, it can be used to save your own life. Always be wary who you cast Void Shift on, especially if your own health is low.

We expand more on the cooldowns that you gain from your talents in a subsequent section.

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. Thanks to Atonement Icon Atonement, a passive ability, you can heal players, automatically, by dealing damage to enemies through Smite Icon Smite, Holy Fire Icon Holy Fire, and Penance Icon Penance. This healing is a smart heal (it heals the lowest health target in range) and it is mana efficient. In addition to these benefits, it allows the Priest to also contribute to the raid's DPS.

Each time you deal damage with Smite Icon Smite, Holy Fire Icon Holy Fire, and Penance Icon Penance, the lowest health player within 40 yards of the target (the target you have dealt damage to) is healed for 90% of the amount of damage that you did. Each time this happens, thanks to Evangelism Icon Evangelism (another passive ability), you gain a stack of a buff that increases the damage and healing done by the above-mentioned 3 spells, while also reducing their mana cost. This buff stacks up to 5 times. Finally, you can consume these stacks of Evangelism through Archangel Icon Archangel, an active ability with a 30-second cooldown, which increases your healing by 5% per stack consumed, for 18 seconds.

Thanks to Divine Fury Icon Divine Fury, a passive ability, Smite, Holy Fire, and Penance will never miss their target.

As such, there are two distinct aspects to keep track of. One is the amount of healing you can do through Atonement, and the other is the rather potent 18-second healing increase you can gain through Evangelism and Archangel.

Atonement healing is not difficult in essence, but with its rise in popularity (due in great part to it having been made increasingly viable), we feel that certain aspects need to be covered in more depth.

4.1.1. When Should I Stack Evangelism and When Should I Use Archangel?

The short answer here is that you should try to always keep up stacks of Evangelism Icon Evangelism throughout the fight, so that you can use Archangel Icon Archangel whenever you think you need a boost to your healing (such as right before a period of heavy damage).

Do not worry, though. To keep up Evangelism you do not need to perform all-out spamming of Smite Icon Smite. You can do it quite simply by casting Holy Fire Icon Holy Fire whenever you have a spare moment, since this spell is instant-cast. Given its 10-second cooldown, if you use it on cooldown, you will still not quite be able to have maximum theoretical uptime on Evangelism. So, provided that your tasks in the fight allow for it, you should try to get off a Smite Icon Smite here and there to make sure that your Evangelism is sitting at 5 stacks. Evangelism lasts 20 seconds, so, from then on, if you cast a Holy Fire before the buff expires, your stacks will stay up.

Using Archangel optimally requires a solid understanding of the fight mechanics. You need to know when you will need that extra bit of healing throughput, and activate Archangel in preparation for it.

All things considered, though, Archangel has a pretty low cooldown, so you can be quite liberal with its usage.

4.1.2. When Should I Use Atonement Healing

The short answer is to use it whenever you can. In other words, if the healing that the raid receives from Atonement is enough for that part of the fight, then you should be using Smite Icon Smite, Holy Fire Icon Holy Fire, and Penance Icon Penance as much as you can.

It is important to consider how your use of Atonement is affecting the other healers. For example, if the other healers have to use mana-inefficient spells to keep the raid alive in order to compensate for your lack of healing, then you shouldn't be using Smite, and you should instead be using proper healing spells.

It is also interesting to note that your DPS while using Smite, Holy Fire, and Penance is not negligible, and in some fights, it might provide the extra bit of damage that your raid needs to succeed. For example, if there are fights that are strict DPS checks, which require a lot of raid healing towards the end, but not much healing before that, then doing as much DPS as possible at the start of the fight, while still being able to be a perfectly competent healer by the end is a very powerful asset.

Another aspect to keep in mind is that the amount of healing done by Atonement depends on the amount of damage you do to the target. So, if the target is taking increased damage for whatever reason (generally fight mechanics), then your healing will also be greatly increased.

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

Keep in mind, that healing players through Atonement (with Penance) does not apply the Grace Icon Grace effect to the target.

Lastly, and quite importantly, remember that the healing done to you from your own Atonement is only worth 50% of the damage you deal. Therefore, you should make sure that your health is not low when you are trying to heal with Atonement. If your health is low, then you will naturally receive quite a few of the heals from your own Atonement (since it is a smart heal), which will turn it into an inefficient means of healing.

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 Mastery: Shield Discipline Icon Mastery: Shield Discipline. Essentially, your Mastery Rating increases the amount of healing your spells do, as well as increasing the damage absorbed by your absorption effects.

Discipline Priests have three absorption effects:

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. Power Word: Shields benefit from your critical strike chance, absorbing twice as much damage when this effect procs.

Your Divine Aegis Icon Divine Aegis passive ability provides you with a passive absorption mechanic. Each time you critically heal with a spell, a shield is placed on the target that absorbs damage equal to 100% of the amount healed. This absorb is added to the heal amount, but the heal is not a critical effect, rather just the default amount. In other words, instead of a critical heal being a 200% heal, thanks to Divine Aegis, it is a 100% heal and a 100% absorption effect.

Divine Aegis Icon Divine Aegis has a 15 second duration, and each new application of the buff 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 60% of the casting Priest's maximum health.

Spirit Shell Icon Spirit Shell turns all the healing from Heal Icon Heal, Flash Heal Icon Flash Heal, Greater Heal Icon Greater Heal, and Prayer of Healing Icon Prayer of Healing into a damage absorption effect that lasts 10 seconds. This effect is capped at 60% of the casting Priest's maximum health.

Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield and Divine Aegis Icon Divine Aegis, as well as Spirit Shell Icon Spirit Shell and Power Word: Shield can co-exist on the same target at the same time, without any kind of interaction between them. However, you cannot apply Divine Aegis through Heal Icon Heal, Flash Heal Icon Flash Heal, Greater Heal Icon Greater Heal, and Prayer of Healing Icon Prayer of Healing while Spirit Shell is active. This is because Divine Aegis only comes from heals, and Spirit Shell turns these spells' healing heals into absorption effects.

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 or channel time of your next spell (cast within 6 seconds) by 15%. Casting a spell consumes the buff. Note that spells with an instant cast time do not benefit from, nor do they 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.

4.2.3. Strength of Soul

Strength of Soul Icon Strength of Soul is a passive ability that causes your heals with Heal Icon Heal, Greater Heal Icon Greater Heal, or Flash Heal Icon Flash Heal to reduce the duration of the Weakened Soul Icon Weakened Soul debuff on the target by 2 seconds. This ability comes in handy especially when healing the tank, since it allows you to cast Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shields on them more often.

4.2.4. Train of Thought

Train of Thought Icon Train of Thought is a passive ability that causes two effects:

You will benefit from this passively, but it is worth knowing about it.

4.2.5. Void Shift

Whenever you are using Void Shift Icon Void Shift to swap health with a player whose health is very low, or when your own health is low, you have to be very careful. This is even more true if you are casting Void Shift when there is raid damage going on.

Since Void Shift is off the global cooldown, you can use a macro such as the following one to cast Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield on yourself at the same time as casting Void Shift, thus increasing your chances of survival:

  • /cast [@self]Power Word: Shield
  • /cast [@mouseover]Void Shift

4.2.6. 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. Hymn of Hope prefers to restore mana to healers over caster DPS players, and as long as there are healers who can benefit from it, they will do so ahead of casters (even if the casters are much lower on mana than the healers). 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 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.

Alternatively, if you are in a very healing-intensive moment in the fight and you are out of mana, you can channel Hymn of Hope for only one tick, and then cancel it. The mana pool-increasing effect will last for 8 seconds, during which time you can benefit from this extra mana to cast a few much-needed heals. This is not an efficient way to regenerate your mana, but it can allow you to cast a few more heals in an emergency when you are low on mana.

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 lower cooldown than Hymn of Hope (3 minutes). It should be used as many times during an encounter as possible. Ideally, it should be used while Hymn of Hope is active, as this temporarily increases your maximum mana, and Shadowfiend grants you a percentage of your maximum mana with each attack it makes.

Lastly, it does not matter when your Shadowfiend is cast relative to Heroism Icon Heroism/Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust/Time Warp Icon Time Warp, since its stats update dynamically, so it is perfectly fine to cast Shadowfiend after Heroism/Bloodlust/Time Warp is already up.

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.

4.3. More on Cooldowns

4.3.1. Tier 3 Talents

If you have chosen From Darkness, Comes Light Icon From Darkness, Comes Light, then simply be prepared to use your procs, so that they do not overwrite each other.

Mindbender Icon Mindbender should be used on cooldown, to make use of its much lower cooldown. Trying to stack it various cooldowns, as we mentioned regarding Shadowfiend Icon Shadowfiend, is still ideal.

Power Word: Solace Icon Power Word: Solace replaces Holy Fire Icon Holy Fire. It is essentially the same as Holy Fire, with a few key differences.

  • Power Word: Solace does not trigger Atonement, but the damage that it deals is also done as healing to a nearby ally.
  • Power Word: Solace does not cost any mana.
  • Power Word: Solace restores 1% of maximum mana when cast.

It should be used whenever you have spare time to use it (that is to say, when you do not have to heal more intensely), and when you can use the mana return it provides.

4.3.2. Tier 5 Talents

Power Infusion Icon Power Infusion should be used whenever a period of intense healing is coming up, or simply when you want to conserve your mana. Exceptionally, you can use it to deal more damage, if the encounter calls for it.

Since its cooldown matches nicely with that of Spirit Shell Icon Spirit Shell, you can use the two abilities together so that every other Spirit Shell is used during Power Infusion.

Procs from Divine Insight Icon Divine Insight should be used as best as can be expected. This is very simple. You can essentially just cast Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shields benefiting from this proc on whoever you believe will take damage in the near future, or is already taking damage.

As mentioned in the talents page, Twist of Fate Icon Twist of Fate interacts favourably with Atonement Icon Atonement healing. The buff is gained whenever you damage a target that is below 35% health, or when you heal a player (indirect Atonement heals count) that is below 35% health.

4.3.3. Tier 6 Talents

Which ever of these talents you chose (Cascade Icon Cascade, Divine Star Icon Divine Star, or Halo Icon Halo), you should use it whenever it will not overheal. These talents are all suited for AoE healing, but their usefulness differs based on the positioning of your raid.

For the majority of situations, you will prefer Cascade. This spell is easy to use, so there is nothing much to say here.

Halo is only suited for the rare situations where the raid is neither stacked nor spread out. For it to be effective, you need to be 25 yards away from the targets you wish to heal. Note also that the mana cost of Halo is very high.

5. Changelog↑top

  • 04 Feb. 2014: Added a macro to help you cast Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield on yourself when you cast Void Shift Icon Void Shift.
  • 12 Nov. 2013: Added emphasis to the importance of Atonement healing. Also fixed two minor out-of-date mentions regarding Twist of Fate Icon Twist of Fate and Divine Aegis Icon Divine Aegis, respectively.
  • 10 Sep. 2013: Patch 5.4 update.
    • Updated the description of Hymn of Hope Icon Hymn of Hope to specify that this spell now prefers restoring mana to healers over casters.
    • Updated the Shadowfiend Icon Shadowfiend section to accurately mention that it does not matter when Shadowfiend is cast relative to Heroism Icon Heroism/Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust/Time Warp Icon Time Warp, since its stats update dynamically.
    • Updated the duration of the Spirit Shell Icon Spirit Shell buff to 10 seconds, down from 15.
  • 20 May 2013: Patch 5.3 update.
    • Updated the description of Atonement healing to specify that 90% of the damage dealt is done as healing, down from 100%.
    • Updated the Borrowed Time Icon Borrowed Time section to account for the fact that Borrowed Time now reduces the next spell cast or channel time by 15%, instead of increasing spell haste by 15%.
  • 18 Apr. 2013: Made several updates.
    • Added mentions of using Binding Heal Icon Binding Heal with Glyph of Binding Heal Icon Glyph of Binding Heal (as an alternative to Prayer of Healing Icon Prayer of Healing when the raid is spread out) and Penance Icon Penance (for Atonement Icon Atonement healing) in raid-healing situations.
    • Added mention of being quick to top yourself off after using Void Shift Icon Void Shift to save a raid member. Added mention that keeping your health high when using Atonement Icon Atonement healing is important.
    • Added mention that Cascade Icon Cascade is the best choice for Tier 6 talents in most situations.
    • Added a tip for the usage of Hymn of Hope Icon Hymn of Hope (at the very end of the respective section).
  • 27 Mar. 2013: Tweaked the initial spell usage recommendations to include more frequent usage of Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield, accounting for its reduced mana cost. Greatly expanded and improved the Atonement Icon Atonement healing section of the guide. Fixed the maximum amount that Divine Aegis Icon Divine Aegis can stack up to from 40% to 60%.
  • 13 Mar. 2013: Corrected the guide to no longer state that Prayer of Healing Icon Prayer of Healing non-critical heals apply Divine Aegis Icon Divine Aegis.
  • 04 Mar. 2013: Patch 5.2 update.
    • Added mention of secondary effects of Mastery (increasing the healing of all spells).
    • Updated explanation of the way in which Power Word: Solace Icon Power Word: Solace works.
    • Updated explanation of the way in which Divine Aegis Icon Divine Aegis works in regards to critical effects of heals that trigger it; also added mention of the fact that Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield benefits from your critical strike chance.