Discipline Priest Healing Guide — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1

Last updated on Dec 10, 2018 at 16:13 by Mend 44 comments

Welcome to our Discipline Priest guide for World of Warcraft — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1. Here, you will learn how to heal as a Discipline Priest in both raids and Mythic+ dungeons. We cover everything from the basics all the way to min-maxing techniques to optimize your output.

1. Discipline Priest Overview

The Discipline specialisation relies on healing players through dealing damage (thanks to the Atonement Icon Atonement passive), but also has traditional heals and absorption spells. Healing through dealing damage allows Discipline Priests to contribute to the raid's DPS while still performing well as a healer. Discipline Priests provide the greatest burst healing in the game, and they are also able to contribute DPS to the raid.

Balancing healing and dealing damage can be difficult to master at first but through research and practice can be one of the more rewarding specialisations to play in the game.

In order to properly play a healing role, you will need more than just class-specific information. To better understand healing in general, we recommend that you read our healing guide.

2. Patch 8.1 Changes for Discipline Priests

3. Discipline Priest's Strengths and Weaknesses

3.1. Discipline Priest Strengths

  • High burst healing in raids
  • Strong cooldowns that increase the effective Health of your group (absorbs or damage reduction)
  • Provides damage while also healing whereas other healers need to stop healing to contribute to damage
  • Moderate mobility, being able to cast most of our spells on the move

3.2. Discipline Priest Weaknesses

  • Requires some time to learn to play properly
  • Rather high skill cap and floor, meaning it may not be for everyone
  • Weaker tank healing in a raid setting
  • Limited tools to work with one or two Mythic+ affixes

4. Discipline Priest's Viability in the Current Patch

Discipline was hit fairly hard with some much needed nerfs going into Patch 8.1. The general feeling right now with the changes for Patch 8.1 is apathy by most. This is not unwarranted concern when you see sweeping throughput changes, nerfs to all sorts of spells, damage nerfs etc. What we need to keep in mind is at the highest levels of play, Discipline was out performing other healers by a wide margin in Uldir. Looking at varying levels of Healer performance in Mythic Uldir:

What this data shows is that Discipline was on average 9.13% better than the average HPS of all healers, at all percentiles. Around 70th percentile, Discipline begins to separate from its competition and, as seen above, really runs away at the max percentile. Initial calculations of the impact of the nerf, assuming no gameplay changes, is around an 8% nerf to our throughput. Based on this data and the nerfs that took place, we can assume they were absolutely necessary. Just plugging in an 8% nerf to throughput at all percentages (not taking into account any changes to other specs, new encounter design, or any gameplay changes to Disc) the nerfs that occurred will have brought us almost in line with other specs, on average. Discipline still scales better at higher levels of play (70% and higher) but far less above where it currently is on live.

When taking into account gameplay changes, we would likely see some adjustments that will not only negate some of the throughput nerfs (we will rely a bit less on Atonement Icon Atonement healing) and will also improve our gameplay moving forward (adding in new spells that we currently do not use). The gameplay changes, in my opinion, are the most important improvements to the spec in some time and will provide us with decisions to be made that will only serve to improve our gameplay. Some of these changes will also help the disparity for Disc in lower difficulty raids as well.

Shadow Mend Icon Shadow Mend and Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield are now closer to each other in terms of Mana cost, and as a result, in a raid setting, we will now use Shadow Mend to apply individual Atonements when the target requires direct healing. Power Word: Shield will now be used in situations where Shadow Mend would overheal. This change shifts our focus from ignoring spot healing for the most part between burst heals towards being a better spot healer.

Shadow Mend already provided you an extra second of Atonement in comparison to Power Word: Shield (Atonement applied after cast rather than instant and having to wait for your GCD). The design change to Depth of the Shadows Icon Depth of the Shadows provides another 2 seconds on top of that from Shadow Mend and a substantial buff to the initial heal. Add in the new Sudden Revelation Icon Sudden Revelation trait and we are looking at two new spells with unique effects that now can be included in our toolkit, and as a result, make the experience a bit better for everyone.

In short, the changes were necessary and there are some promising changes being made to our playstyle that will make Discipline Priests quite enjoyable to play going into the future.

5. Changelog

  • 10 Dec. 2018 (FAQ page): Updated page for Patch 8.1.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (gear page): Updated page for Patch 8.1.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (enchants page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (stats page): Updated page for Patch 8.1.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (mythic+ page): Updated page for Patch 8.1.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (this page): Updated page for Patch 8.1.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated page for Patch 8.1.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (talents page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (easy mode page): Updated page for Patch 8.1.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (rotation page): Updated page for Patch 8.1.
  • 29 Oct. 2018 (FAQ page): Removed talent suggestion FAQ - see talent page.
  • 29 Oct. 2018 (gear page): Updated trinket rankings.
  • 29 Oct. 2018 (easy mode page): Updated Azerite trait suggestions.
  • 29 Oct. 2018 (talents page): Modified some talent recommendations.
  • 29 Oct. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated page to reflect latest hotfixes and analysis.
  • 25 Sep. 2018 (talents page): Added additional information on Sins of the Many and the "cheat sheet" section.
  • 12 Sep. 2018 (gear page): Updated trinket rankings.
  • 11 Sep. 2018 (this page): Updated page with two added sections: Strengths and Weaknesses and Current Patch discussion.
  • 11 Sep. 2018 (stats page): Updated with proper stat recommendations.
  • 11 Sep. 2018 (bosses page): Updated formatting for talent selection.
  • 11 Sep. 2018 (mythic+ page): Made several updates based on post-launch experience as well as updated Azerite trait recommendations.
  • 11 Sep. 2018 (easy mode page): Made several updates based on post-launch experience.
  • 11 Sep. 2018 (rotation page): Made several updates based on post-launch experience.
  • 11 Sep. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated page to reflect calculated rankings for each Azerite trait.
  • 11 Sep. 2018 (talents page): Made several updates based on post-launch experience.
  • 10 Sep. 2018 (enchants page): Updated weapon talent recommendation.
  • 17 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Added a mention to Halo description regarding use with the line of sight mechanic.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (stats page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (enchants page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (easy mode page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 11 Aug. 2018 (easy mode page): Added the Azerite section.
  • 11 Aug. 2018 (bosses page): Added page with raid advice for Uldir.
  • 11 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Additions made to recommended traits for Dungeons and Mythic+.
  • 11 Aug. 2018 (mythic+ page): Added page.
  • 10 Aug. 2018 (enchants page): Updated for the Battle for Azeroth expansion.
  • 10 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated entire page to reflect all Azerite trait rankings and updated spec specific priority.
  • 10 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Updated for the Battle for Azeroth expansion.
  • 08 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Replaced Kil'jaeden's Burning Wish with Muze's Unwavering Will for preferred leveling Legendary.
  • 04 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Updated description on Shield Discipline and Divine Star.
  • 28 Jul. 2018 (rotation page): Updated wording throughout page.
  • 28 Jul. 2018 (FAQ page): Page added.
  • 28 Jul. 2018 (how to improve page): Page added.
  • 28 Jul. 2018 (gear page): Added prepatch and leveling legendary recommendations.
  • 28 Jul. 2018 (easy mode page): Updated wording throughout page.
  • 28 Jul. 2018 (talents page): Updated wording throughout page.
  • 28 Jul. 2018 (spells page): Changed cooldown description for Shadowfiend.
  • 20 Jul. 2018 (talents page): Updated level 90 talent recommendation and updated wording for proper Contrition use.
  • 20 Jul. 2018 (rotation page): Updated raid healing section.
  • 20 Jul. 2018 (easy mode page): Updated level 90 talent recommendation.
  • 16 Jul. 2018 (spells page): Updated for the Battle for Azeroth pre-patch.
  • 16 Jul. 2018 (this page): Updated for the Battle for Azeroth pre-patch.
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