Discipline Priest Healing Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1.5

Last updated on Mar 04, 2019 at 00:39 by Clandon 48 comments

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 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 as needed to provide a damage increase, and thus healing increase for your Atonement Icon Atonements (if you have taken this talent).
  3. Use Power Word: Solace Icon Power Word: Solace on cooldown (if you have taken this talent).
  4. Use Penance Icon Penance on cooldown.
  5. Use Smite Icon Smite as a filler.

From now on in this guide, whenever we mention dealing damage for Atonement Icon 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 Icon Atonement. The general idea is very simple: proactively place Atonement on the required players through the use of such spells as Power Word: Radiance Icon Power Word: Radiance, Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield, or Shadow Mend Icon 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 Icon Power Word: Shield or Shadow Mend Icon 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 Icon Penance or Smite Icon Smite offensively to help top them off. Since you will be able to cast Power Word: Radiance Icon Power Word: Radiance in between Evangelism Icon 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.

  1. Apply around 4-8 Atonement Icon Atonement buffs using Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield or Shadow Mend Icon Shadow Mend.
  2. Use Power Word: Radiance Icon 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).
  3. Use Evangelism Icon Evangelism.
  4. Use Shadowfiend Icon Shadowfiend(not always required but is advised if there is high sustained damage).
  5. Use Schism Icon Schism (if talented) so that it hits after damage is supposed to occur.
  6. Damage Occurs
  7. Use Power Word: Solace Icon Power Word: Solace (if talented).
  8. Use Penance Icon Penance to deal damage.
  9. Keep using Smite Icon Smite until Penance Icon Penance or Power Word: Solace Icon Power Word: Solace comes back off cooldown.

This provides you with approximately 2 additional ticks on your second Penance Icon Penance during both Power Word: Radiance Icon Power Word: Radiance Atonement Icon 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 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).

1.3. Dungeon Healing

Dungeon healing 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 the damage is low to medium, you should maintain Atonement on the target through using Power Word: Shield Icon 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 Icon Atonement is always up on the target.

When the damage is high, Atonement Icon Atonement healing will no longer suffice on its own. In addition to casting Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield, you may have to spam Shadow Mend Icon Shadow Mend. In case of group-wide damage, you should use Power Word: Radiance Icon Power Word: Radiance to quickly apply 5 Atonements at 60% duration and use Schism Icon Schism, Power Word: Solace Icon Power Word: Solace and Penance Icon Penance offensively to heal up your group. Shadowfiend Icon Shadowfiend or Mindbender Icon 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 Icon Power Word: Shield is best used in situations when you are on the move or there is low or the target is not currently damaged. On the other hand, Shadow Mend Icon Shadow Mend can be a great way to spot heal and apply Atonement Icon 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 Icon 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.

You should aim to maintain around 2-4 Atonement Icon 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 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 treated as a healing cooldown that provides healing throughput during high periods of consistent damage.
  • Rapture Icon 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 Icon 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 Icon 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.

3.1. Atonement

Atonement Icon Atonement is a passive ability that causes a number of your spells (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 (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 Icon Shadowfiend/Mindbender Icon Mindbender) except from auto attacks results in transferred healing. Effects from Trinkets, Azerite pieces and Racials do not transfer to healing via Atonement.

The exact amount of healing that is transferred to your Atonement Icon Atonement targets is determined by how much Mastery you have, as Mastery: Grace Icon Mastery: Grace increases the amount of healing on Atonement targets (including Atonement healing).

It is also important to note that Atonement Icon 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 on castable abilities as well as boss auto-attacks.

Luminous Barrier Icon Luminous Barrier is a talent choice in the level 100 tier that provides an absorb to anyone within 40 yards when you cast it but will replace Power Word: Barrier Icon Power Word: Barrier.

3.3. Penance

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 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.

Schism Icon Schism needs to be used in the same manner that Penance Icon Penance and Smite Icon Smite are used; when healing on Atonement Icon 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 Icon 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 Icon Shield Discipline, then you will want to apply Power Word: Shield Icon 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 Icon 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 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 (typically right after casting it).

Mindbender Icon Mindbender should be used in conjunction with Evangelism Icon Evangelism in raids (since the damage done by the Mindbender transfers as Atonement Icon 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 Icon 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 Icon 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 Icon Shadow Covenant should be used as close to on cooldown as possible, whenever healing is needed.

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.

3.4.5. Tier 7 Talents

Luminous Barrier Icon Luminous Barrier can be used in situations where your raid or group will be spread out during periods of high damage and Power Word: Barrier Icon Power Word: Barrier cannot be effective combined with encounters that do not favor Evangelism Icon Evangelism or Lenience Icon Lenience.

Evangelism Icon Evangelism should be used in raids to extend your Atonement Icon Atonement duration during high raid damage.

4. Changelog

  • 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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