Discipline Priest Healing Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1.5
On this page, you will learn how to optimize the rotation of your Discipline Priest, depending on the type of damage your group is receiving. We also have advanced sections about cooldowns, procs, etc. in order to minmax your healing output and your mana efficiency. All our content is updated for World of Warcraft — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1.5.
1. Rotation for Discipline Priests
The Discipline specialisation revolves heavily around healing through dealing damage, thanks to the 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 healing is as follows.
- Maintain Shadow Word: Pain (or Purge the Wicked, if you have taken this talent) on the target.
- Use Schism as needed to provide a damage increase, and thus healing increase for your Atonements (if you have taken this talent).
- Use Power Word: Solace on cooldown (if you have taken this talent).
- Use Penance on cooldown.
- Use 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.
1.2. Raid Healing
For healing damage on multiple raid members at once, your primary tool is Atonement. The general idea is very simple: proactively place Atonement on the required players through the use of such spells as Power Word: Radiance, Power Word: Shield, or Shadow Mend, 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 or if the damage taken is low, then you should use Power Word: Shield or Shadow Mend to apply and maintain Atonement on them. Throughout this time, you should continue to DPS. If your Atonement targets need healing (are all approximately less than 90% health), you should use Penance or Smite offensively to help top them off. Since you will be able to cast Power Word: Radiance in between Evangelism casts (assuming you are using this talent), you should use it as needed when the group takes damage. Be careful to not use Power Word: Radiance if you will be left without 1-2 charges for when Evangelism is off cooldown, or when the next major raid damage event is going to occur. A common mistake made is applying Atonement to targets that have only taken a small amount of damage and will not continue taking damage over the remaining duration of Atonement. The ideal targets for Atonement are players inflicted by things like damage over time effects, bleeds, or long lasting area of effect damage.
If the number of players you have to heal or the damage received are high, then you should use the following rotation.
- Apply around 4-8 Atonement buffs using Power Word: Shield or Shadow Mend.
- Use Power Word: Radiance once or twice about 4-5 seconds before the damage occurs (depends on the damage pattern of the encounter in question, in some cases it is best to hold a charge when there is more consistent damage).
- Use Evangelism.
- Use Shadowfiend(not always required but is advised if there is high sustained damage).
- Use Schism (if talented) so that it hits after damage is supposed to occur.
- Damage Occurs
- Use Power Word: Solace (if talented).
- Use Penance to deal damage.
- Keep using Smite until Penance or Power Word: Solace comes back off cooldown.
This provides you with approximately 2 additional ticks on your second Penance during both Power Word: Radiance Atonement durations. The higher your Haste, the more Smite casts you can fit inside this window and the more Penance ticks will occur within the Atonement window.
Depending on your talent choice, you will also supplement your AoE healing with Halo or 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).
1.3. Dungeon Healing
Dungeon healing relies on Atonement when the damage amounts are low to medium. For higher amounts of damage, you will need to make use of additional spells.
When the damage is low to medium, you should maintain Atonement on the target through using Power Word: Shield 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 is always up on the target.
When the damage is high, Atonement healing will no longer suffice on its own. In addition to casting Power Word: Shield, you may have to spam Shadow Mend. In case of group-wide damage, you should use Power Word: Radiance to quickly apply 5 Atonements at 60% duration and use Schism, Power Word: Solace and Penance offensively to heal up your group. Shadowfiend or Mindbender can supplement your healing quite well in a pinch, so it is recommended to save the cooldown as best you can for packs or bosses that require the extra healing.
1.4. Atonement Applicators
Power Word: Shield is best used in situations when you are on the move or the target is not currently damaged. On the other hand, Shadow Mend can be a great way to spot heal and apply Atonement in situations where you have the time to stop moving in order to cast it and when the direct heal of the spell will contribute. Power Word: Radiance provides a quick method of getting Atonement out in your group and remains the most global cooldown and Mana-efficient spell per seconds of Atonement applied.
2. Cooldown Usage for Discipline Priests
- 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 should be used to mitigate intense AoE damage; it requires the raid to be stacked in one place.
- Shadowfiend should be treated as a healing cooldown that provides healing throughput during high periods of consistent damage.
- Rapture should be used when you anticipate a large amount of AoE damage. This allows you to pre-shield approximately 9-10 players with a sizable absorb, which also serves to set up Atonement on them for subsequent healing. Be aware that after Rapture expires any new Power Word: Shield casts will replace the previous buff on the target.
- Desperate Prayer provides you with a cooldown that increases your health as well as providing you with a heal equal to the amount of health increased. This is used in a situation where you need a quick self-heal or need the additional health to survive an ability.
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.
- While we generate healing through dealing damage, the way it is calculated is not as simple. For instance, things that increase our damage and healing (for example, Versatility) will not double dip. This is because only the healing portion of such buffs will modify Atonement.
- Mechanics that reduce our damage dealt do not affect the healing done with Atonement. For example, some raid bosses have phases with 99% reduced damage taken; Disc damage done will still heal for full through Atonement. That being said, immunities will stop our damage completely, which also means our Atonement healing.
- External buffs that increase our damage dealt will also have no effect on Atonement healing (our own buffs do increase healing, for example, Schism). There is only one external buff that will affect Atonement healing — Chaos Brand, from Demon Hunters.
- Once Atonement is applied to a friendly target, the range at which the healing applies is extremely far. You will rarely find any encounter room where your Atonement will be out of range, unless the encounter phases you and your target apart.
- Damage trinkets, Racials and Azerite traits do not heal through Atonement (unless they increase our baseline spells damage).
- AoE damage effects, such as Halo/ Divine Star/ Holy Nova, will do healing through Atonement, but only on the first instance of damage.
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 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 causes a part of of the next damage that they deal to be absorbed. This works on castable abilities as well as boss auto-attacks.
Penance is best used offensively unless a target requires healing and you are unable to stop and cast Shadow Mend. Penance also will begin healing the target faster than alternatives, so if a quicker heal is needed, Penance can be used defensively. Keep in mind that without a Power of the Dark Side proc, Shadow Mend does more healing than a defensively used Penance.
- 12 May 2019: Updated page after peer review.
- 16 Apr. 2019: This page has been reviewed and no changes are necessary for the release of the Crucible of Storms raid.
- 04 Mar. 2019: Updated raid healing section and minor changes elsewhere.
- 10 Dec. 2018: Updated page for Patch 8.1.
- 11 Sep. 2018: Made several updates based on post-launch experience.
- 13 Aug. 2018: Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
- 28 Jul. 2018: Updated wording throughout page.
- 20 Jul. 2018: Updated raid healing section.
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