How to Discipline Heal

How to Discipline Heal

This post is intended for post 4.0.6 and is meant as a bunch of guidelines to help keep players alive as discipline.

Several notable changes are arriving with the patch which will slightly alter the play of Discipline Priests. The two biggest changes revolve around the boost to the strength of Power Word: Shield and the ability for Grace to affect multiple targets. In my playing Holy at 85 post, I mentioned about how to handle something I called “the hit”.

As a refresher, “the hit” is an ability or spell by a boss which deals enough damage which might kill players if they’re not healed up in the next few seconds. For example, Dragon Breaths are “the hit”. Any really massive explosion can be considered “the hit”. Fusion Punch is an example of a tank about to be the victim of “the hit”. It must be a severe enough blow to almost cause you to crap your pants.

Before you do anything else, I strongly advise downloading an addon called Ingela’s Rapture. It allows you to time your shields to get the best possible mana return from Rapture. In a game where mana management is important, this addon will help you.

*Sorry Ingela, meant to write about this sooner

For an alternative style of Disc healing revolving around Atonement, see this page instead.

On the tank

Stick to Power Word: Shield, Penance and the usual spells of Heal, Flash Heal or Greater Heal. Prayer of Mending is another spell you’ll want to keep activating on cooldown on the tank. Keep in mind that a Discipline Priest has two cooldowns for saving tanks: Power Word: Barrier and Pain Suppression. Unless the encounter has specific tank one-shotting mechanics that it needs to be saved for, you’ll be using those two spells on demand. With Power Word: Shield though, use Ingela’s Rapture to properly time it on the tank.

The basic play you want to make here at a raid level environment is to keep using Inner Focus on cooldown and continue dropping Greater Heals while using Power Word: Shield every time Rapture is available. Weave in Penance as necessary. The buffs to Power Word: Shield (208% effect increase) and Penance (20% increase to healing) has strengthened the position of Discipline.

2-3 players

Theoretically, the 2-3 players you’re healing would be a tanks. Since Grace can affect multiple targets, those would be the two players you want to maintain Grace stacks on. As an aside, if you were healing the 2-3 players that were in the raid itself, Grace wouldn’t mean much at all because you’d be hard pressed to heal them after the initial heal (usually the initial heal is all that’s need to keep them up). Don’t stress too much about Rapture procs here because you’re going to be balancing heals and shields on all of your tanks anyway (That does take a little more focus). Refresh the shields as necessary.

What works for me in a party environment is casting a shield on each target. Cycle through them with fast heals to keep them alive and out of imminent danger.

  1. Target A: Shielded –> Penance
  2. Target B: Shielded –> Flash Heal
  3. Target C: Shielded –> Flash Heal

Then follow it up with a quick blast of Prayer of Healing in the event another player in the group has taken damage.

4-5 players

You’ll wish to rely on Prayer of Healing for your group healing needs. Doesn’t get any easier than that and since Divine Aegis automatically activates when Prayer of Healing lands, there’s nothing else to add. You can try to get fancy and load up a few grace ticks on a few players in that group, but it might be unnecessary.

For 5+ players

I don’t foresee much of this happening, but in the event a raid healer or two goes down, you’ll need to stand on your head and try to hold it together. If health pools are dropping, get a Barrier up immediately. You know that Prayer of Healing heals a player and their group. Naturally there will be a few players left out. Let’s say there’s 3 players who are at 35% health in group 4 and all of group 5 is around the same range. Assuming everyone is in the same general location, drop 2-3 shields on players outside of group 5 and then hit a hasted Prayer of Healing on group 5 to try to account for everyone.

One last thing I want to add here is glyph selection. With Power Word Shield being buffed, the value of the glyph will rise. With shields absorbing amounts of about 35000, it might be a worthwhile glyph to consider if you’re not using it already.

Priest Changes – Build 9626

Pulled from the fine folks at MMO Champion.


  • Grace doesn’t reduce damage dealt to the target anymore but now increases the healing received from the Priest by 3% (Up from 2%)
  • Renewed Hope now also give you a 100% chance to reduce all damage taken by 3% for 20 sec to all friendly party and raid targets when you Power Word: Shield a friendly target.

I remember that Grace conflicted with a Paladin ability before (Improved Devotion Aura). Perhaps now this won’t be a problem. Don’t forget that Grace can only affect one target now.

Renewed Hope just got buffed in a big way. With Soul Warding (Reduced cost and cooldown of Power Word: Shield), Shields just improved even more. A damage reduction on a target? Even when the Shield is removed or falls off? Good stuff! My gut reaction is that we’ll be casting Shields a lot more often on more players.

Thoughts and initial impressions?

Healing Rotation: Good Idea or Bad Idea?

Look at this blue post below. It appears that Priests are about to get additional sweeping changes to the class.

We have some exciting changes planned for priests. Many of them will make it in 3.1 (Ulduar). We hope to have them finalized enough to be able to announce some in the next couple of weeks, but that date might not work out for a number of reasons. The community has a way of overlooking all those caveats such as “at this time” or “assuming nothing changes” and suddenly we are “breaking promises.”

Source: Two Non-QQ QUestions for the Devs

I don’t plan on being a cynic. I am not particularly good at being a cynic. I’m far too hopeful and optimistic for my own good. Other bloggers are way better at that than I am. All I can say is that I’m really looking forward to see what these changes are.

Despite all the improvements and changes made to the Discipline tree, I can tell from the amount of emails I read, tweets I get, and forum posts I peruse that there is a significant number of players who remain skeptical about the healing capability of Discipline.

A change like that doesn’t occur overnight. A change happens like that from player to player. All it takes is for one Discipline Priest to heal a Heroic expertly. Then those 4 players that partner with them will spread the word allowing that Priest to heal for other players. Then he gets invited to raids and so forth. Being accepted as Discipline takes time.

Even I was skeptical until I tried it out myself.

I asked everyone around the table if they would feel comfortable having a Disc priest on main tank duty even with no paladin. Every one of them said yes.

Source: 8 Reasons

Healer Rotations

Here’s another forum post located in the same thread as the last one.

When I say we want healers to have rotations, that doesn’t necessarily mean you always press 112311231123 forever and install cooldown timers so that you don’t go insane. Some dps classes are closer to that, but dps classes in general don’t have to be as reactive to situations as do healers, so they can handle it.

What I am really getting at are things like Swiftmend and Riptide. Swiftmend is a very fun spell — IMO one of the best ones in the game. But you can’t spam Swiftmend. In fact, you have to be pretty smart about when you set it up and when you use it. And yes it has a cooldown. Riptide has a similar mechanic where you want to X when Y happens and you can come up with a lot of other examples. Riptide is fun. Swiftmend is fun. Greater Heal… eh, it does the job. But it’s not a particularly fun button to use.

Disc gets this vibe with some of their shield mechanics, Grace and Penance. I do think that Holy could use a lot more of it though. The main "interesting thing" that happens with Holy is Holy Concentration and its Improved version. That’s not bad, but we’re not sure it’s enough. I don’t think we would actually use this specific example, but imagine a talent that sped up Greater Heal’s cast time when you cast enough Flash Heals. Now you have a reason to "weave." You have a mechanic that rewards you (but doesn’t require you) to switch from one thing to another. Another idea (off the top of my head) is that CoH healed more on targets with Renew on them (this steals too much from the Resto playbooks IMO). These don’t necessarily have to be random procs or cooldowns, though sometimes these systems end up using those specific mechanics.

This is the kind of thing we’d like to do to Holy.

This is an approach that has merit. I admit I have not played my Shaman as Resto yet. Therefore, I don’t know what it’s like to use Riptide with its bonus effect.

I know for me when it comes to healing, I will make whatever move necessary to keep my players from dying. I’d call it the Dominik Hasek approach since he was known for doing whatever was necessary in keeping pucks out of the net.

And the same thing applies here. As a healer, it’s your role to do everything in your power to save. Calling it a healing rotation though implies that there should be a specific sequence of spells you should cast to best “optimize” healing done. By doing that, you’d gain additional bonus effects of some sort if you can combo 3 Flash Heals and a Greater (as an example).

Unlike DPS players, it is not always possible for healers to to stick to a specific sequence. On my Elemental Shaman, it’s Flame Shock, Lava Burst, and about 5 Lightning Bolts before I start it all over again (Single mob, will throw in Chain Lightning for multiple ones).

We’re not going to constantly use up our Global Cooldown because we might need it (although to be fair that is encounter specific).

On the other hand, I have a feeling that by implementing a change like this into the game, it may slow down some healers. I’m referring to the decision making aspect.

“I could use this Instant heal now, or I could cast my big heal which activates my other healing increase bonus to my lesser heal but if I do that he might di- Oh crap he’s dead.”

The point

I am totally in favor of more changes to the Priest class to add in bonuses for using specific spells after certain conditions. But I won’t always exercise the option to use them because of how the nature of healing is.

When I was Holy, I’d often get Surge of Light procs. I’d wait and watch for players to heal before I converted it to a free Smite instead. Sometimes we just don’t have an occasion to use spells.

This is especially true when tanks have a hard time taking damage.

The Question

Do you think added bonuses from using spells at specific times is going to help you or hinder you? (Don’t worry about the class you play. It’s directed to all healers).