Discipline Priest Healing Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1
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.
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 to apply and maintain Atonement on them, and, if needed, use Shadow Mend to prevent someone from dying. Throughout this time, you should continue to DPS. You should try to maintain around 3-5 Atonement buffs up, but do not get focused on maintaining a specific number. 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.
If the number of players you have to heal or the damage received are high, then you should use the following rotation.
- Apply around 2-4 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/ Mindbender (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. Even if you take the Contrition talent, offensive Penance is superior with higher Atonement count.
- Keep using Smite until Penance comes back off cooldown.
- Use Penance to deal damage.
- Use Power Word: Solace (if talented).
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. If you have selected Shadow Covenant, you would want to follow up a Power Word: Radiance cast
1.4. Atonement Applicators
Power Word: Shield is best used in situations when you are on the move or there is low or moderate damage going out. 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 death of the target is imminent. Power Word: Radiance provides a quick method of getting Atonement out in your group and can help in a pinch.
You should aim to maintain around 2-4 Atonement buffs active at any given time, as regularly applying and maintaining more will strain your Mana consumption and use global cooldowns that could be used for DPSing and providing more effective healing to your group.
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.
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.
Atonement is a passive ability that causes a number of your spells ( Power Word: Shield, Shadow Mend, and Power Word: Radiance) to apply a 15-second buff (Atonement) on the target. Note that Power Word: Radiance only provides Atonement at a reduced 60% duration. While active, part of all spell damage that you deal is transferred 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/ Mindbender) except from auto attacks results in transferred healing. Effects from Trinkets and Azerite pieces do not transfer to healing via Atonement.
The exact amount of healing that is transferred to your Atonement targets is determined by how much Mastery you have, as Mastery: Grace increases the amount of healing on Atonement targets (including 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 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.
3.4. More on Cooldowns
3.4.1. Tier 1 Talents
You will obtain the benefits of 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.
Schism needs to be used in the same manner that Penance and Smite are used; when healing on Atonement targets is needed. Given it is on a moderately long cooldown, situations in which Schism is used would be to amplify your damage for burst healing. Ensure you cast all damage abilities with cooldowns (Penance, Smite and Power Word: Solace) after you cast Schism. When raiding, make sure Schism is available for your post-Evangelism DPS rotation.
3.4.2. Tier 4 Talents
If you are using Shield Discipline, then you will want to apply Power Word: Shield optimally. This means you want to ensure the shield itself will break from damage taken and not expire thus leaving you without receiving the mana return from the talent. Casting Power Word: Shield too much can happen, so be weary to not get too focused on applying Atonement with it, especially when current Atonement targets need healing.
Power Word: Solace should be used on cooldown to benefit from the Mana return. This talent is most likely to be used on encounters where there is continuous damage on your raid or party. If you have also taken the Schism talent, then make sure to time it so that you use Power Word: Solace on the target when they are debuffed by Schism (typically right after casting it).
Mindbender should be used in conjunction with Evangelism in raids (since the damage done by the Mindbender transfers as Atonement healing). In dungeons you can delay it for a short while to line it up with heavy group damage, but most likely you would want to cast this as close to on cooldown as possible.
3.4.3. Tier 5 Talents
Contrition is normally picked when spot healing requirements might require single target / spot healing during raid damage. Ideally, you would want to target someone such as the tank since they have higher health and less of your Penance is likely to go towards overhealing. Alternatively, you would use Penance on a target who is lower in health to bring them up quickly while also healing your party or raid. This being said, it is worth noting that Contrition is very poorly balanced in its current state and not worth using.
Shadow Covenant should be used as close to on cooldown as possible, whenever healing is needed.
3.4.4. Tier 6 Talents
3.4.5. Tier 7 Talents
- 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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