Monday, December 27, 2010

Discipline Priest Cataclysm Talent Build

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TL;DR - suggestion for a disc spec at the bottom.

Back in Wrath healing differed alot from what it is today, as you've probably noticed by now. When I tried healing in 4.0, mana still wasn't an issue and we could go on healing pretty much as we always had been. When Cataclysm finally hit us, everything changed and initially I was completely set back by how much disc healing sucked when compared to holy healing. Fortunately enough this was due to a little bug, which made atonement completely useless, and because priests had huge issues with mana. These problems combined made priest healing overall a pain in the ass, but holy seemed like the least horrible of the two. People even specifically asked not to get a priest, when lfging for healers in trade. That is how bad the situation was when I made my first assessment of disc healing. Blizzard have now finally made something about it, buffed regen for both specs and made Atonement work properly. So I gave disc healing another try, and I want to give it thumbs up again. It's definitely working for heroic healing! So let's take a look at the disc tree, what talents should we pick?

Here are some worth discussing;

The main tree (disc) - the talents not mentioned here are then ones you probably should talent.
  • Mental Agility vs Veiled Shadows – As I wrote in an earlier post, the mana efficiency of MA is alot bigger than the one of VE. Combined with the new regen buff and some stacking of spirit, and mana isn't that big of a problem as it was initially in the beginning of Cata. You should definitely go for MA, but I think there are better things to take instead of VE. I'll use Twin Disciplines, but if you still feel like mana is your biggest problem, you could spec 2 tp into VE instead of TD.
  • Inner Sanctum – Not a bad talent, but considering the alternatives we must see this as mainly a pvp-talent and not worth 3 tp.
  • Inner Focus – Back in Wrath this was one of those talent which some priests liked and some didn't. Now, combined with train of thought, this will be one of your best talents for mana efficiency and healing throughput. This should definitely be used.
  • Rapture – A no brainer really, still as awesome as it always been, and for basically the same reasons. This will be your main source of mana.
  • Soul Warding – Spamming shields isn't very mana effective, and in most heroics you won't be doing this either. We simply don't want to use a spell unless we know it will be fully needed. This is how healing works today. If you know you won't be doing raids for a while, I wouldn't tell you that this is a must have. Still, shielding is alot what being a disc is all about (but way less than back in Wrath I can tell ya), so this is still a really good talent, just in case.
  • Reflective Shield – Good for leveling and grinding (if you'd ever be silly enough to grind as a disc), but won't do much difference in heroics or raids, and are 2 tp spent better elsewhere when in endgame.
  • Strength of Soul – Heal is a great skill for holy, but not as useful for disc. We've got Penance, shielding, smiting and Greater Heal already, and using Heal for this talent would only over-complicate things without much gain. I don't see much use for this talent right now.
  • Grace – Has been significantly buffed and since disc healing is alot more aimed towards single target healing than it was in Wrath, this is now an awesome talent.
    The offspec trees - remember we can only place 10 tp into holy and shadow
    • Divine Fury - Scorned by healing priests alike since Wrath came out, it seems to make a grand re-entrance as a really great healing talent. Not only will this buff your Smite healing, but even more importantly, it'll buff your Greater Heal healing, which will be one of your most important spells.
    • Empowered Healing - Increasing the healing done on several of your main heals seems like a good thing to do, plain and simple.
    • Improved Renew - Seeing as disc priests probably will have their hands full anyway, smiting, healing and shielding, renew isn't any more part of our healing arsenal now than it was back in Wrath.
    • Desperate Prayer – It's a handy talent, but we want to go elsewhere for even more handy talents. I wouldn't go this far into holy, and especially not for this talent that isn't ”all that”.
    • Surge of Light – If SoL was good, I'd tell you to get this talent right away. Unfortunately, even when spamming your pants off with smite, and you won't, this just procs way too seldom to be of much use. Even when holy, and really using Heal alot, I feel like this talent is lacking alot at the moment. These Tp are alot better spent elsewhere until Blizzard finally get around to buffing this talent.
    • Inspiration – We could either grab this, or Darkness. Personally I went for the extra haste, because with all the Penance and Greater Heal we're going to throw we'll want as much haste as possible. Reducing physical damage taken on the tank is great, but it's not that necessary in a heroic and we can hope someone else can do this instead in a raid. I definitely think you'll get more healing throughput from 3% haste.
    • Darkness – Haste is as great as it has always been. Just because spirit and mastery are stats we also want alot of, doesn't mean haste has become less important. Even with borrowed time, you'll notice that getting your heals off fast enough is a serious issue. This talent is one of your best ways to deal with that problem.
    • Veiled Shadows - Already mentioned above.
    This is what I would spec.

    I'll talk more specifically about disc healing in heroics in a separate post, but in short; combine Inner Focus heals with Greater Heals, Shields and Smite-heals.
    This means we'll Smite for Evangelism, use up our Archangel, start shielding and healing, and then go back to smiting (ideally, fights are always dynamic of course and will require adaptation to the moment).


    1. I saw that you took train of thought and was just curious about that. Is it worth it? I opted to skip it and ended up with a spec like this:

      Both darkness and inspiration. But I'm not sold on it if it turns out that train of thought (or, for that matter, strength of soul) is awesome. That's why I'm curious how you find train of thought.

    2. @Zelmaru
      Yeah, when I tested disc in the beginning of Cata I has second thoughts about ToT too, seeing as I didn't think I'd have mana for Greater Heals, and well... smite healing didn't work.
      But after my respec and trying it fresh, ToT is the backbone of my healing. With Inner Focus, Greater Heal becomes pretty mana efficient. Remember that GH already has nearly the same hpm as Heal, Inner Focus pushes it over the edge making it just as effective, or more(haven't crunched numbers, but I don't have mana issues). Not to mention how awesome IF is with a PoH!

      I definitely recommend you try it out, for me it is working splendid and I'll talk more about it in an upcoming post :) Right now I use it way more than I use smite healing.

      Yes, getting Inspiration would be nice... but I can't see anything worth sacrificing!

    3. Thanks for the post, appreciate you sharing your experiences.

      Just curious - to my way of looking at it, it appears that you've given up a 2% healing buff (2/3 Twin Disciplines) to gain a 1% haste buff (3/3 Darkness). This contradicts my understanding of their relative values, so I thought I'd ask for your thoughts on this?


    4. @Jahbootie
      Yes a very good question indeed! One thing you will notice when healing and reading about healing is that there is "theoretically best" and "practically best". With healing the saying "what works, works" is true more than for most other classes. It could be true that 2% healing is worth more than 1% haste when put against eachother out of context. But all the healing in the world won't do you any good if you don't have the haste to get the spells off when you need them (or the mana to use them and etc). This means as a healer you always have to evaluate your situation. What seems to be my weak spot? Are my heals too small? Am I ooming too fast? Are my heals too slow? In my case, and I dare say for the vast majority of healers out there right now, haste is extremely valuable because we're supposed to use our slowest heals as a base. Having alot of haste allows us to use these spells more efficiently which also eases up on mana consumption (just as bigger heals eases up on mana consumption when used right). So alot of things factor together.

      You CAN mixmax healing, but in the end we only have one goal - to keep people alive. As long as we attain that goal we've succeeded, whether or not we're using best stats or best spec or not. Using best stats and best specs usually makes that goal alot easier to reach, but not in such an easy manner as for example best spec = max dps for a dpser. The way you heal, what kind of other healers you've got to heal with (if you're raiding) and what other stats you've got alot of at the moment are also things that need to be taken into consideration. So for me and like I said for most disc healers out there I think that 1% haste will be alot more valuable than 2% healing at the moment. And this can change! This is what makes healing so much fun :)