Spiritual Guidance: Discipline Priest questing in Legion

Last time we covered first impressions of Holy questing. This month brings us Discipline, which has long been able to DPS on its own, whether you were doing daily quests in Mists of Pandaria or leveling to 100 in Warlords of Draenor. Even though the function is not entirely new or as ground-breaking as Holy, we find more of a DPS focus in Legion. Discipline’s new role is a hybrid DPS who can heal and it takes a little getting used to.

penance-cast

Spells and Talents

If you were used to doing any DPSing as Discipline, it’s mostly the same, but now you have more options! Your baseline spells are the usual: Smite, Penance, Shadow Word: Pain. However, this is where your talents shine, adding DPS spells and also modifying existing ones. At level 15, your DPS choices are between Castigation and Schism. I took Schism because I figured the large burst of damage plus the damage increase would be more beneficial than an extra bolt of Penance. At level 30, you have two movement options and a healing talent, so pick your favorite. My favorite happens to be Angelic Feathers, since with the new cooldown on Power Word: Shield, I don’t fancy wasting a shield just for movement.

Level 45 gives you crowd control. We have a knock back with Shining Force, fear cooldown with Psychic Voice, and mind control with Dominant Mind; all useful in different scenarios. At level 60, we find our mana regeneration selection. All Discipline Priests are familiar with the DPS talents Power Word: Solace and Mindbender, both used throughout Warlords depending on haste and mana theorycrafting. The new talent here, Shield Discipline, has a negligible effect on questing and is probably better for dungeons or raids.

Level 75 also comes with two old friends and a new talent. Contrition extends your Atonement, providing leeway with buff management. Power Infusion gives you a haste boost and Twist of Fate increases your damage and healing when you heal someone under 35%. I took Contrition for the sake of trying the new option, but Power Infusion is also a good choice. Level 90 talents bring the same predicament as Holy: we have two AOE DPS spells, but the cooldowns can be prohibitive. And finally at level 100, you only really have one option for questing: Purge the Wicked, which replaces Shadow Word: Pain. The other two are strictly healing options: Grace for passive healing and Shadow Covenant for healing groups. Have fun with your new DoT.

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What worked

Schism was useful as a rotation opener and Penance-type main spell. The burst of damage plus the 6 second damage boost definitely helps and, as a healer, I will take all the DPS help I can get. Our first artifact talent, Light’s Wrath, was unexpectedly amusing. Questing solo obviously doesn’t take full advantage of the damage boost from the Atonements you have out, since you’re only going to have one on yourself. In a group or raid it’d be quite the damage cooldown, when you have a plethora of Atonements on everyone. So by yourself it initially appears lackluster, if just a higher DPS spell on a 1.5 minute cooldown. Until the surprise happened.

lights-wrath-overloaded-proc

I was using it off cooldown, since why bother letting it go to waste when I can always use more damage. After several cooldowns’ worth of casts, probably 15 minutes later, my screen suddenly turned yellow at the edges and I received a message that Light’s Wrath was getting very hot! Naturally, this intrigued me, so I wandered off to the nearest mob to see what the deal was. Let’s just say it was a little excessive.

lights-wrath-damage

The next time this happened, I was smarter, and I stayed near an elite until it procced…then Light’s Wrath’s burning fury took a nice chunk of health off. According to a Wowhead comment, it is a random proc with no duration. So as long as you don’t mind your screen all burny and yellow, you can save it for as long as you want. Perhaps challenge your friend to a duel and surprise them.

spirit-healer

Become a Watcher

What didn’t work

Purge the Wicked was a little annoying at times, sometimes it didn’t work at all (mob died before Penance could finish the cast) and sometimes I couldn’t get it to spread to everything. But when it did work, having DoTs everywhere was nice. Solace, unfortunately, was entirely lackluster. I took it thinking it would be nice having more DPS spells, but it just was awkward juggling a rotation around four different cooldowns. Perhaps I would have been better off taking Mindbender for a bit of extra burst DPS every minute.

Psychic Voice: I honestly didn’t use this, nor Psychic Scream, once. I’ve been conditioned over the years that things fleeing haphazardly away from you is bound to bring unpleasant things your way … namely in the form of many angry friends. Dominant Mind would have been useful when I overpulled and needed to take one mob out of the equation. I avoided Shining Force because it launched my character away in previous builds, but now it appears to just knock back and slow the mobs, which could also be a good option when you’re getting wailed on.

I took Contrition to give me that extra 2 seconds of Atonement leeway but, even then, I found myself forgetting to reapply it. This might just be due to two expansions’ worth of automatic Atonement heals. I had the icon on my raid frames, but when DPSing I would often tunnel and lose sight of my own bar. I think making a Weak Aura, at least to track it on yourself, would be beneficial.

disc-sparkly

Since I didn’t have much luck with Divine Star as Holy, I switched to Halo for Discipline. Unfortunately neither panned out. The DPS was negligible in Divine Star’s case and the cooldown time was prohibitive for Halo, neither lending its support to solo leveling. We can’t win them all. Clarity of Will is also not ideal, given that you aren’t going to want to spend the time to build a large bubble on yourself when you could be DPSing your merry little heart out. The level 90 talents seem to be a wash as far as leveling goes, so pick your favorite and perhaps you’ll find opportunities for them.

My individual heals didn’t get too much work, since the shield was usually enough to keep Atonement up, with a Plea or Shadow Mend here and there if my health dropped. Accidentally overpulling was fatal at first, but I found it started to get more manageable as I leveled higher. However when you fall behind, you’re out of luck. We unfortunately lack a big healing cooldown like Holy, so when things go south you just have to hope your heals cast fast enough or you have enough Atonements out. Or you can take the Penance healing talent, but at the loss of Schism.

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Solo vs. group

Like Holy, questing is straightforward. You have a basic DPS rotation, you heal yourself when needed, you kill things and get loot. Your single target DPS rotation revolves around using Schism and/or Penance, then Smite filler until they are ready again. For AOE, cast Purge the Wicked and then Penance to spread the DoT, using single target as filler. Light’s Wrath is there every minute and a half for bigger things and if you’re lucky you’ll proc Overloaded with Light.

The group scenario was different and did not feel as fun as Holy. Perhaps it was just the novelty of new things for Holy and the still awkward feelings of change for Discipline, but I found it was harder to juggle the healing for my group members. Power Word: Shield was great when my group members were taking minimal damage, but the 6 second cooldown meant it had to be doled out carefully rather than blanketed. However, this time my group members were quite ambitious, so the damage was a bit more … prolific. I didn’t have the benefit of Renew, which I could set and forget, nor did I have a ground AOE heal.

Shadow Mend was dangerous because I couldn’t trust the group not to run off and do something reckless before I had time to heal them. Plea was so small; it was great for applying Atonement but not so great when I needed to heal a lot. Power Word: Radiance was useful if they were in range, which they were often not. Despite only having 3 people in the group rather than a full 5, it was still helpful for applying Atonement to everyone when I could, and the Atonement healing through all sources seemed to do a satisfactory job.

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Thoughts

The lack of useful/repeatable AOE damage still bothers me. Divine Star/Halo have long cooldowns and Purge the Wicked only spreads its DoT. At least Holy has Holy Nova, whereas Purge the Wicked, our closest thing to a consistent AOE, is unreliable. It’s only on the last tick of Penance and it’s really annoying when you’re trying to set up a DoT spread and the mob dies before Penance ends. I also found it annoying trying to get it to spread properly to multiple mobs or trying to kill small imps efficiently.

Juggling the DoTs and heals felt awkward. It’s not that different from Holy: you deal damage with your DPS spells, then you place spells that do healing. My brain knows how this works, logically it’s all the same. But it still feels weird just because I’ve been through two expansions where I didn’t have to do anything extra to heal myself. For the longtime Discipline Priests, it will definitely take a mindset change.

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