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Discipline Priest Healing Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (Legion 7.1)

Last updated on Nov 10, 2016 at 17:56 by Vlad 140 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, we list your Discipline Priest core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft Legion 7.1. 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 Zolvolt, officer and long-time healing Priest of Exiled Legion, whom you can follow on Twitter.

1. Rotation

The Discipline specialisation revolves heavily around healing through dealing damage, thanks to the Atonement Icon Atonement passive ability. We detail this below, but for now all you need to keep in mind is that dealing damage is an integral part of healing as Discipline.

In the sections that follow we will look at which abilities you should use to deal damage (in order to generate Atonement healing), as well as how to handle single target and AoE healing.

1.1. DPS Rotation / Atonement

The ideal rotation for dealing damage in order to generate Atonement Icon Atonement healing is as follows.

  1. Maintain Shadow Word: Pain Icon Shadow Word: Pain (or Purge the Wicked Icon Purge the Wicked, if you have taken this talent) on the target.
  2. Use Schism Icon Schism on cooldown (if you have taken this talent).
  3. Use Penance Icon Penance on cooldown.
  4. Use Power Word: Solace Icon Power Word: Solace on cooldown (if you have taken this talent).
  5. Use Smite Icon Smite as a filler.

From now on in this guide, whenever we mention dealing damage for Atonement purposes, we mean that you should use this above rotation.

Note that there is an important alternative playstyle that you should consider, especially for Mythic-level, AoE damage.

1.2. Single Target Healing

Single target healing (during dungeons, or when healing the tank in a raid) relies on Atonement Icon Atonement when the damage amounts are low to medium. For higher amounts of damage, you will need to make use of additional spells.

When single target damage is low to medium, you should maintain Atonement on the target through using Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield on cooldown and simply perform your DPS rotation. This should provide enough healing to keep the target alive. Using Power Word: Shield this way should ensure that Atonement Icon Atonement is always up on the target, but if it somehow expires, use Plea Icon Plea or Shadow Mend Icon Shadow Mend to re-apply it.

When single target damage is high, Atonement Icon Atonement healing will no longer suffice. In addition to casting Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield on cooldown, you should spam Shadow Mend Icon Shadow Mend.

Please keep in mind that if you are expecting to have to heal high amounts of single target damage, you really should choose Grace Icon Grace as a Tier 7 talent.

1.3. AoE / Raid Healing

For healing damage on multiple raid members at once, your primary tool is once again Atonement Icon Atonement. The general idea is very simple: proactively place Atonement on the required players, so that when the damage starts coming in, you can already begin healing them through dealing damage. You want to avoid being caught without having Atonement up on players when damage starts coming in, since this will leave you unprepared.

If you must heal a rather low number of players, then you should use Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield and Plea Icon Plea to apply and maintain Atonement on them, while you continue to DPS.

If the number of players you have to heal is high, then you will have to also use Power Word: Radiance Icon Power Word: Radiance to apply Atonement. The healing of Power Word: Radiance is low, but its strength lies in the Atonement Icon Atonement buffs that it applies. This will quickly boost the amount of Atonement healing that your DPS rotation produces.

In cases where there is a very high amount of damage going out on very many players at once, you will have to use Rapture Icon Rapture to be able to use Power Word: Shield freely. Ideally, you should pre-apply the shields (and Atonement Icon Atonement buffs) before the damage starts going out, so that by the time the damage is incoming you can revert to your DPS rotation in order to produce Atonement healing. You may also want to have a Balance Druid use Innervate Icon Innervate on you to allow you to spam Power Word: Radiance.

Depending on your talent choice, you will also supplement your AoE healing with Halo Icon Halo or Divine Star Icon Divine Star, but keep in mind that only the first target that these abilities damage generates Atonement healing (so you should view them as direct healing spells rather than means of doing damage).

1.4. Plea Versus Shadow Mend

Plea Icon Plea's Mana cost increases for each Atonement Icon Atonement buff you have active. There is a significant breakpoint at 6 Atonements, at which point Shadow Mend Icon Shadow Mend and Plea end up costing the same amount of Mana, with Shadow Mend healing for significantly more (although Plea is instant cast).

The result is that it is always important to keep in mind how many Atonement buffs you have active, so that you can decide if it is better to cast Shadow Mend or Plea. Generally, if you have 6 or more, Shadow Mend is preferable, unless you really need the instant cast element of Plea.

2. Cooldown Usage

  • Rapture Icon Rapture should be used when you anticipate a large amount of AoE damage. This allows you to pre-shield a large number of targets, which also serves to set up Atonement Icon Atonement on them for subsequent healing.
  • 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.
  • Shadowfiend Icon Shadowfiend should be used for additional DPS (and therefore Atonement healing) when this is needed.
  • Light's Wrath Icon Light's Wrath (your artifact ability) should be used when there is high raid damage you need to heal (provided that you have Atonement Icon Atonement buffs active). Alternatively, in case your raid is in dire need of extra damage, you could use it offensively.

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

3. Optional Read: Mastering Your Discipline Priest

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

3.1. Atonement

Atonement Icon Atonement is a passive ability that causes a number of your spells (Plea Icon Plea, Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield, Shadow Mend Icon Shadow Mend, and Power Word: Radiance Icon Power Word: Radiance) to apply a 15-second buff (also called Atonement) on the target. While active, part of all spell damage that you deal is transfered as healing to the target(s) affected by Atonement. There is no limit to the number of targets you can have Atonement active on at any one time, and essentially all of your damage done (including from your Shadowfiend Icon Shadowfiend/Mindbender Icon Mindbender) except from auto attacks results in transferred healing.

The exact amount of healing that is transfered to your Atonement targets is determined by how much Mastery you have, as Mastery: Absolution Icon Mastery: Absolution increases the amount of Atonement healing.

It is also important to note that Atonement heals cannot be critical hits themselves. They always mimic the behaviour of the damage that is being transferred. If the damage is a critical strike, then this is the amount on which the amount of healing will be based on. The UI will display the healing as a critical hit, but again, it is simply based on the damage amount. The implication here is that your Critical Strike chance does not double dip by increasing your chance for both critical strikes with damages and critical hits with the subsequent heals.

3.2. Absorption Effects

Discipline Priests have two absorption effects by default, and a third one that can be gained from talents.

Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield is quite simple. You place a shield on a target, which absorbs a certain amount of damage, depending on Shields benefit from your critical strike chance, absorbing twice as much damage when this effect procs.

Damaging an enemy with Smite Icon Smite causes a part of of the next damage that they deal to be absorbed. This works particularly well against caster bosses, where you can time your Smite to land during the boss' cast, ensuring that they spell they use will have part of its damage absorbed.

The absorption effect gained from talents is Clarity of Will Icon Clarity of Will, a tier 7 talent, which effectively places a large shield on a player that lasts for up to 20 seconds.

3.3. Alternative Playstyle

An alternative Discipline playstyle has emerged among a select minority of Mythic raiders. This style of healing is recommended for advanced players and has been extremely effective in Mythic raiding. The main idea is to do very little (and spend very little Mana) while there is no AoE damage going around, and save this Mana for bursts of healing when there is AoE damage.

While there is little AoE damage going out (and it is only few targets, or just the tank in need of healing), you should do the following.

  1. Keep Purge the Wicked Icon Purge the Wicked applied.
  2. Use Penance Icon Penance on cooldown (unless you want to line it up with burst AoE damage requirements).
  3. Use Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield on cooldown to apply Atonement Icon Atonement to many targets and negate damage.
  4. Use Halo Icon Halo on cooldown, as needed for raid damage.
  5. Do nothing.

Naturally, if the tank is dying, you should use Shadow Mend Icon Shadow Mend to save them, and you may also use Plea Icon Plea very infrequently, but in general Purge the Wicked Icon Purge the Wicked and Penance Icon Penance will be your main sources of healing, while Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield will be how you sustain the Atonement Icon Atonement buffs. This will allow you to save your Mana for periods of high AoE damage.

Shortly before large amounts of AoE healing are needed, you will use lots of Power Word: Radiance Icon Power Word: Radiance to apply Atonement Icon Atonement, and you will save your Penance Icon Penance and  Icon Light's Wrath cooldown. During the AoE damage, you should use Light's Wrath and Penance, and then make ample use of Smite Icon Smite. Having 10+ Atonement buffs active during AoE damage is sustainable Mana-wise (and even 18-20, if you receive Innervate Icon Innervate), thanks to the Mana-conservation playstyle outside of AoE damage.

You should look for trinkets and abilities that restore a large amount of Mana, in order to make this playstyle more powerful. The Mindbender Icon Mindbender talent and the Cocoon of Enforced Solitude Icon Cocoon of Enforced Solitude trinket are your best picks for this. The Darkmoon Deck: Hellfire Icon Darkmoon Deck: Hellfire trinket is also very strong, but not required, as there are many decent throughput trinkets that will add to your Atonement Icon Atonement healing, such as Swarming Plaguehive Icon Swarming Plaguehive. Cocoon of Enforced Solitude is particularly favorable because you will save a lot of Mana during non-AoE phases by using the trinket (and being incapacitated) at these times.

Overall, this is a very powerful playstyle that results in extremely high amounts of healing. Its only limit is Mana. The playstyle requires proper use of Rapture Icon Rapture and  Icon Light's Wrath, and it is all about lining up your Atonement Icon Atonement and cooldowns in order to counter any large amount of raid-wide damage. It is stressed that you use Purge the Wicked Icon Purge the Wicked, Mindbender Icon Mindbender and Power Infusion Icon Power Infusion with this playstyle, in addition to Castigation Icon Castigation. Power Infusion when spreading Atonement through multiple Power Word: Radiance Icon Power Word: Radiance casts is key and using this playstyle correctly, Discipline should be prioritised for Innervate Icon Innervates.

Finally, depending on Innervate Icon Innervates and Symbol of Hope Icon Symbol of Hope in your raid, you may be able to sustain more frequent Smite Icon Smite use over a player without those benefits. Everything depends on your Mana level and the important thing is being able to sustain large amounts of Atonement Icon Atonement healing when it matters.

3.4. More on Cooldowns

3.4.1. Light's Wrath

Light's Wrath Icon Light's Wrath, your artifact ability, deals damage to the target, which is increased by 10% for each Atonement Icon Atonement buff you have active. Since this damage also heals the Atonement targets, the result is that you can produce a large amount of both damage and healing when you use this ability and have Atonement buffs up on many raid members.

Indeed, given its high cooldown of 90 seconds, you will want to use this ability wisely. Generally, we advise you to use it defensively, to heal up the raid during heavy damage. That said, if there is a high priority target that needs to die quickly, or if the fight has a tight enrage timer, or if there is no need for you to heal anyone, then you can also use it offensively.

3.4.2. Tier 4 Talents

If you are using Shield Discipline Icon Shield Discipline, then you will want to maximise your usage of Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield, especially during periods of heavy healing. Notably, if you are employing the alternative playstyle, you should weave Power Word: Shields in between your Power Word: Radiance Icon Power Word: Radiance casts as much as you can.

Power Word: Solace Icon Power Word: Solace should be used on cooldown. If you have also taken the Schism Icon Schism talent, then make sure to time it so that you use Power Word: Solace on the target when they are debuffed by Schism.

Mindbender Icon Mindbender should be used on cooldown, but you can also delay it for a short while to line it up with heavy raid damage (since the damage done by the Mindbender transfers as Atonement Icon Atonement healing).

3.4.3. Tier 5 Talents

Power Infusion Icon Power Infusion should be used to allow you to apply Atonement Icon Atonement on multiple targets at a reduced Mana cost (by casting several Power Word: Radiance Icon Power Word: Radiance), and then to increase the damage you can do (thanks to the haste buff it offers). You should use your Shadowfiend Icon Shadowfiend (or Mindbender Icon Mindbender, if you have taken this talent) while Power Infusion is active, so that they can benefit from the increased haste.

You will obtain the benefits of Twist of Fate Icon Twist of Fate passively, provided that you hit a low-health target one with one of your spells. Aside from this, there is nothing for you to do about this talent except enjoy the increased healing.

3.4.4. Tier 6 Talents

Halo Icon Halo and Divine Star Icon Divine Star should be used as often as possible, whenever there is a need for AoE healing.

If you pick Clarity of Will Icon Clarity of Will, it is assumed that you have done so with a specific goal in mind (such as bypassing an encounter ability by getting a very large shield on a player), so you should stick to your plan.

4. ChangeLog

  • 10 Nov. 2016: Added a mention of how the Shield Discipline talent affects the playstyle.
  • 15 Oct. 2016: Added an alternative playstyle for Mythic content.
  • 29 Aug. 2016: Updated for Legion's launch.
  • 07 Aug. 2016: Made several improvements to the page following Zolvolt's review.
  • 18 Jul. 2016: Updated for the Legion pre-patch.
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