How To Improve As Discipline Priest — Shadowlands 9.0.2

Last updated on Nov 23, 2020 at 22:39 by Clandon 6 comments
General Information

On this page, you will find out how you can improve at playing Discipline Priest in World of Warcraft — Shadowlands 9.0.2. We list the common mistakes that you should try to avoid and the small details that can greatly improve your performance.


Common Mistakes as a Discipline Priest

Discipline at its core has a relatively simple mechanic, Atonement Icon Atonement. However, players who are new to the spec can get tied up in some poor practices that eventually lead to the development of bad habits and poor performance. If you are looking to improve your gameplay, this section should be able to provide you with the most common mistakes and how to eliminate them.

Please note that Mana costs in dungeon content are less of a problem because of the ability to drink between pulls, so any mentions below regarding Mana issues are mostly focused on raids.


Mana: Casting Atonement Applicators Too Much

Casting Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield or Shadow Mend Icon Shadow Mend too frequently is likely the number one cause of Mana issues. The vast majority of the strength of these spell comes from the Atonement Icon Atonement application, and not the direct heal itself. Many new players fall into the trap of casting an applicator on players that take a small amount of damage and then get healed to full shortly after by other healers. This results in you spending a large amount of mana for a small heal and a bunch of overhealing via Atonement. Atonement is best applied to targets that will be taking damage over time or during your cooldowns.


Smite, Smite, and More Smite

Smite Icon Smite is an extremely powerful tool in our arsenal of spells. Many new players will drastically underestimate the spells strength and find themselves in situations where they are blowing large amounts of Mana trying to top players off, when sitting back and letting Smite do the work is far more efficient. The spell has a low Mana cost, provides solid healing via Atonement Icon Atonement, and provides a damage absorb on the boss as well, regardless of your current Atonement count. When in doubt, press Smite.


Performance: Not Timing Cooldowns Properly

This section probably could use its own page in order to go into enough detail, but we will attempt to keep it short and sweet. Discipline relies heavily on abilities that have cooldowns. Any ability with a cooldown needs to be strategically used during a raid encounter or in dungeons. The general rule of thumb is to use your cooldowns early and often, but go in having an idea of where you are going to use them. Some tips are listed below for our most frequently used cooldowns:

  • Power Word: Radiance Icon Power Word: Radiance charges need to be used as frequently as they are needed as a reactive Atonement Icon Atonement applicator, but you need to ensure you are "pooling" them to have two charges for high raid-wide AoE.
  • Rapture Icon Rapture needs to be used in advance of damage to ensure the absorbs provided are effective and do not expire instead of providing effective healing. A good way to use Rapture is prior to high raid-wide AoE and following it up with one Power Word: Radiance Icon Power Word: Radiance cast and your DPS rotation (mentioned previously in this guide). If you are using the Power Word: Solace Icon Power Word: Solace talent, be sure to use it before pressing Rapture to maximize both cooldowns.
  • Shadowfiend Icon Shadowfiend should be paired with Evangelism Icon Evangelism as much as possible. The extended duration on Atonement Icon Atonements provides an ideal situation for increasing the potential throughput of this 15-second duration. In any situation where a boss will be doing ticking raid damage over a long period of time (10-15 seconds), Shadowfiend can provide a large chunk of healing.
  • Schism Icon Schism is used in two different scenarios in raids. One use is in a non-burst situation, usually after casting Power Word: Radiance Icon Power Word: Radiance reactively. This would provide a nice boost to your subsequent healing in non-burst situations and allow you to top off your Atonement Icon Atonement targets. In the second scenario, Schism should be used during your burst rotation normally right after Evangelism Icon Evangelism or Shadowfiend Icon Shadowfiend to ensure it buffs the subsequent damage spells. Similar to Power Word: Radiance, use it as needed in non-burst situations but make sure it is up for burst healing rotations. In dungeons, Schism is more straightforward since you would use it reactively to help top off your group (usually after casting Power Word: Radiance).
  • Evangelism Icon Evangelism usage is rather straightforward and pretty simple to understand (extending Atonement Icon Atonements after casting Power Word: Radiance Icon Power Word: Radiance). There are two specific issues that plague those learning the specialization for the first time. Prior to casting Evangelism, many newer players do not begin their Atonement application soon enough. This leads to them delaying their damage rotation and potentially getting sniped by other healers. By paying attention to boss timers and knowing what abilities you need to be using your cooldowns for, you will be able to ensure you begin your Atonement application at the proper time. Another issue is, after casting Evangelism, players will begin to apply Atonements before their Atonement window is over. Make sure you continue to DPS throughout the duration of your Atonements.

Discipline Priest Log Analysis: The Next Crucial Step to Improvement

Logs can be used for many things, but I will be focusing on two primary functions: pre-planning cooldown usage and self-improvement.


How to Log

The primary tool the World of Warcraft community uses to log encounters is WarcraftLogs. They have put together a wonderful guide on how to get started with their tool found here: Getting Started with Warcraft Logs.


Planning Your Cooldowns In Advance

When approaching a new boss as a Discipline Priest, one of the most important things you can do is research the damage patterns of the boss to determine where your cooldowns will be most effective. Having knowledge of when the damage is going to happen is crucial to playing Discipline well. Start by opening the log of an encounter.

WarcraftLogs Encounter Header

Once you see this screen, select the "Damage Taken" tab and change the "Taken By Friendly" selection to "Taken From Ability".

WarcraftLogs Select Damage Taken

Once you have these selected, you should see a graph showing the damage the raid in the log took from the encounter and what abilities caused them. On the graph itself, de-select "Total" and instead select the top 1-3 abilities shown on the list below the graph. You should end up with a graph similar to the following.

WarcraftLogs Damage Pattern

Now that you have a decent idea of what the fights damage pattern looks like, you can extract timings out of the log. To find the times in which an ability happens within a log, you can follow the following procedure.

  1. Pick whichever ability you are looking for the timings for. In this example Mythic Grong Log, I will look for the timings in which the ability "Tantrum", the largest source of damage in the encounter, occurred.
  2. Select a single player in the encounter, as shown below. Ensure the selected player was alive for the entire fight or your timings may be inaccurate.
    WarcraftLogs Player Selection
  3. Select the ability you chose in step one, as shown below.
    WarcraftLogs Ability Selection
  4. Change the view from a Table to an Events list.
    WarcraftLogs Event List Selection

By following this process, you should end up with a chart similar to the following, which shows the exact times that the ability in question occurred:

WarcraftLogs Timing Results

By doing this process for the most relevant damage events in a single encounter, you can build out a damage pattern timeline of sorts, which you can use to plan your cooldowns in advance.


Analyzing Your Own Performance

The first step to analyzing your own performance within a single encounter is to understand an extremely basic Query in Warcraft Logs. Start by clicking on the "Queries" button on the far right of the header. You should see this screen below.

WarcraftLogs Queries

If you would like more information than what I am about to walk you through, Warcraft Logs offers plenty of information about how to get much, much more out of this feature. For now, we will stick to the basics. The first thing I want to see is when the "Tantrum" ability happened, as that is the ability I had previously decided I wanted to cover with my cooldowns. I can check off the "Damage" check box and type in "Tantrum" into the "Abilities" box and click "Create Pin".

WarcraftLogs Tantrum Damage Query

The results of this query should look like the following.

WarcraftLogs Tantrum Damage Query Result

Next, we will look at when I used my major cooldown, Evangelism Icon Evangelism in relation to Tantrum. Start by clicking on the Queries button again within the same window. This time, we are going to check off the "Casts" check box instead of the "Damage" one and we will type "Evangelism" into the "Abilities" box instead of "Tantrum".

WarcraftLogs Evangelism Casts Query

The results of this query should look like the following.

WarcraftLogs Evangelism Casts Query Result

With these two graphs lined up, I can get a good idea of when I used my major cooldown, Evangelism Icon Evangelism, during this encounter. Now, we will repeat the process I completed for Evangelism for Rapture Icon Rapture and Power Word: Radiance Icon Power Word: Radiance. You should get a graph that looks like the following.

WarcraftLogs Tantrum + Cooldowns

The last thing I want to add to this chart to give me a good picture of how well I did is my Atonement Icon Atonement count in relation to the rest of the information displayed. Click "Buffs" towards the top and select "Atonement" on the drop down shown below. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and click "Stacked".

WarcraftLogs Select Atonement Buffs
WarcraftLogs Atonement Stacked

The results should look like the following:

WarcraftLogs Final Result

Using this result, I can examine if I used my cooldowns and abilities at the proper time and did not miss any uses that I should have gotten off. For example, in the example log I have been using here, I missed Power Word: Radiance Icon Power Word: Radiance casts in the following locations.

WarcraftLogs Missed Radiances

This is just a small example of how you can analyze your own performance within WarcraftLogs. Give these steps a try and poke around within the software to familiarize yourself with the tool. It will continue to be a valuable resource for the near future, so it is worth investing time into learning.


Analysing Logs With WoWAnalyzer

Another useful tool which can help provide insight into your logs is WoWAnalyzer, which allows you to paste in the link to a Warcraft Logs report and it will analyse your playstyle, giving you some pointers on where you can improve. Of particular value is the Checklist tab found at the top. By expanding out each of those sections, you can ensure you are focusing on the core abilities to succeed as a Discipline Priest.


Log Analysis From Others

The final option for log analysis is approaching knowledgeable Discipline Priests who are happy to look over your logs for you. While this can be daunting to do at first, the rewards are more than worth putting yourself out there for and absorbing the constructive criticism that comes your way. For having others review your logs, we suggest visiting the #discipline channel on the Warcraft Priests Discord.



  • 23 Nov. 2020: Updated for Shadowlands.
  • 12 Oct. 2020: Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
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