Patch 5.0.4: Discipline Priest Changes

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Change is in the air again and it’s time to take a good look at the new talents and abilities Discipline has in store! Overall, I like that the core mechanics of Discipline healing are going to remain fairly familiar – Rapture, Divine Aegis, Grace and all the others are still going to be around, granted in a new reincarnated sort of way. Hey, a pre-expansion patch wouldn’t be a pre-expansion patch without kicking up some dust! This is less of a blow-by-blow account of every single change and more of a highlight on the big healing changes. Here we go!

Healing Mechanics

Rapture

Rapture is still a big part of our mana regen but with the introduction of normalised mana pools of 100k, Rapture is now dependent on Spirit instead of the size of our mana pool. Apart from that, we will still want to keep track of our Rapture returns much in the same way Cataclysm healing has warranted.

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Atonement and Archangel

Gone are the days when Discipline had to choose between atonement and non-atonement style healing. Atonement and Archangel are now passively learned when you choose the Discipline specialisation. If you haven’t had a chance to try out Atonement healing in Cataclysm, now is a good time to give it a go!

 Atonement is pretty much the same with one difference – Penance counts towards it. This means two things for us: building up Evangelism stacks is far easier; we can use our damaging side of Penance to trigger Atonement and possibly heal three different members through Penance.

The new Archangel has lost its mana return but gained an increase to the healing buff it provides. At 5 stacks, Archangel would offer a 25% increase to your healing – a sizeable cooldown.

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Spirit Shell

This is a brand new ability we get and I think it’s super cool. My resto druid has always been jealous of my discipline priest’s ability to mitigate damage – therefore not depending on the tank or anyone else having to survive the damage first in order to heal it.

Spirit Shell really embodies the…well, spirit of damage mitigation. It looks to be an amazing cooldown to pop right before anticipating high incoming damage for the raid, or even better….if you’re not sure your tank will survive the next hit in time to be healed up.

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Inner Focus

Inner Focus has seen a bit of a role reversal here. Throughout Cataclysm Inner Focus was a good way for us Discipline priests to save on mana by using it with our most expensive heals like Greater Heal and Prayer of Healing. In its new incarnation, Inner Focus doesn’t do much for the mana, but gives our heals a lot of oomph.

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Dispels

Dispels see a bit of an overhaul this patch. The first big difference is that friendly dispels and offensive dispels are being separated out into two different spells. Dispel Magic is now solely used for offensive dispels.

The second big difference is that cure disease and dispel magic for friendly have been merged together into one happy convenient spell: Purify.

I never saw the point of having two spells for friendly dispels while most other classes only had one – so I’m glad to see this change.

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Void Shift

Alright, I know we won’t be seeing this right away but it is so cool that I just had to include it. Void Shift is our brand new level 87 ability and I think it rocks in more ways than one.

It looks to be great for those “oh poop” moments when you’re at full health but the tank is not, and you want that situation reversed. Ofcourse, it’s also awesome for when you just want to scare the crap out of your tank and swap health percentages when you’re low rather than healing it up. 🙂 What.

It is important to note though the swap is not the actual health points but health percentages.

Talents

The philosophy behind these new revamped talents is that no one talent choice should come up as a requirement for classes to be “viable”. I think it’s an admirable goal and I’m going to take the designers up on it. While these talents may not all be balanced right off the bat, I’m going to hold off on making any judgements about it. This section is thus more exploratory with my own personal comments and recommendations based on personal playstyle.

The CC Tier

These are all fairly fun looking talents. Void Tendrils are ebil little tendrils that root enemies while Psyfiend is very own little pet for psychic screaming doom. Dominate Mind is pretty much a more awesome version of our current Mind Control. I might end up taking Dominate Mind to start off just because a priest without a form of Mind Control feels like….like…. a summer without icecream.

The Movement Tier

Body and Soul is the usual bubbletastic speed increase but I personally never used it much.  Angelic Feather is similar to what we saw in the Alysrazor fight in Firelands – we can drop little feathers of awesomeness and those who run through it get a fantastic 60% increase in movement speed. This is my first choice in this tier and even though I’m looking at this from a PvE perspective, I think it can be used fairly well in the PvP environment. Phantasm on the other hand, while cool, seems to be something I’d only pick up for battlegrounds. I can already see myself using it to get away from annoying and terrifying melees who eat healers for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The Mana Tier

This Tier has seen a lot of discussion and debate in the beta feedback forums, and Ghostcrawler pretty much came out and said the intent wasn’t to have one talent explicitly better than the others. These talents all approach saving mana in different ways. From Darkness Comes Light seems like the priest version of Omen of Clarity where it makes Flash Heal free to cast. Mindbender is pretty much Shadowfiend’s big brother – the kind of cooldown where you hit it and forget about it. If you’re a fan of active mana regeneration mechanics, Power Word: Solace is for you – the priest version of telluric currents.

Thoughts. From Darkness Comes Light is a good way to just save mana throughout the fight instead of having to keep track of specific cooldowns. I’m not feeling it for this one yet although I can see how it could be useful. Mindbender is what I’m leaning towards because I like to just hit it and continue on my healing way. Power Word: Solace is interesting but I can only see myself taking on fights where I know there will be predictable phases of downtime. The thought of weaving in Solace in addition to Smite, Holy and all the rest of it makes me hyperventilate.

The Save Meh! Tier

Spectral Guise is the weird one for me here. It’s great for PvP but I really don’t know what I’d do with it in PvE. Desperate Prayer has been a long time favourite of mine – the instant self-heal has saved me countless times, especially on the move. Angelic Bulwark is an interesting contender in this regard since it automatically pops an absorption shield when you drop below 30% – but, I’m not entirely convinced yet. As a discipline priest, having an instant heal on-the-go seems more valuable than having an automatic absorb simply because I already have an insta-cast-fairly-powerful-absorb.

The Output Tier

Divine Insight is the weird one for me here. For Discipline, Divine Insight gives Penance a chance to have your next bubble ignore and not cause the weakened soul affect. I can see the advantages to this if I am a dedicated tank healer for example and the extra absorbs will be used. In other situations, there’s a good chance that the extra absorbs could just be wasted which makes this talent less appealing. Twist of Fate and Power Infusion offer increased healing in different ways.

The nice part about Twist of Fate is that it is automatic and you don’t have to think about activating a cooldown for it. It’s appealing when a lot of your healing is done on targets below the 20% health threshold, and it’s also fantastic to trigger when an enemy is at 20%. Power Infusion is now priest-only and offers the spell-casting and mana reduction bonuses. Given that atonement is now a standard part of our healing, the choice between these two is fairly difficult.

I’m to going to hold off talking about the last tier of talents because I’ve never had a chance to try them out. Pre-made 90s would’ve been awesome!

That about wraps it up for the big changes in Discipline. A couple other minor changes include a small boost in healing received to Grace, and no more Divine Hymn for Discipline. I can’t say I will miss Divine Hymn – never healed for that much anyways. We still have Pain Suppression, Barrier, Divine Aegis and all that good stuff that makes Discipline awesome to play! I was planning on talking about glyphs but considering that this post is long enough as it is, that will just have to be another post for another day. Happy healing and happy patch day! 🙂

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