Help: ToT10 Disc tips & tricks

I am a former holy-turned-disc priest. I’ve been playing holy since vanilla, but I really liked the changes in MoP, so I decided to switch to disc and I haven’t looked back! I have a lot of fun with disc, and it has replaced my love for holy. I recently started raiding 10-man ToT, and it’s been...challenging, but fun. I heal with a Paladin ( and Monk ( I am always behind them by a significant amount. I don’t have logs at the moment, but I will post them as soon as I can, if necessary.

At first I thought it was a matter of gear (I was 495 when I first joined them), but my gear is getting better (503 now). Unfortunately my healing is not. Something I know I’m (probably) not doing: making use of Borrowed Time and Grace. I am wondering if anyone has suggestions on how to improve though. 4 questions:

1) SS Timing: I have a hard time correctly timing SS to make it useful. I know when AoE damage is going to happen, but I seem to cast SS too late or too early to make it truly effective. When I’ve casted it at the right time though, it’s beautiful and people don’t take nearly as much damage. I see the benefits of using SS, I just wish I could always time it right. There’s just so much going on in the fights (especialy during Tortos - all that movement doesn't give me much time to stand still and cast PoH). I feel like I can’t keep track of what to do and when. I have DBM, and I have the timers go off right in the middle of my screen so I don’t miss them. Is there an addon that might make tracking big damage from bosses easier? Maybe I should have the cast time for my spells as a power aura so I can time things better? (Without logging in and looking at my cast times, I couldn’t tell you how long it takes me. Maybe 2 seconds for PoH? I dunno, but not knowing is probably a bad sign :p)

2) AoE Heals: I admit that a lot of my healing is done via Atonement. I know that I can get good heals via HF + Smite + AA + [whatever heal(s) is appropriate], but that is apparently getting nerfed in 5.3? When the time comes for AoE heals, I can’t put out the numbers like the Paladin and Monk do (even with AA up), which is fair because disc is more preventive then reactive. But does that mean I can’t bring strong AoE heals then? I thought disc was good at doing both? It seems like ToT has more AoE damage than single-target (especially Megaera, which has been a huge struggle), and yet disc priests are in a really good spot right now? I also feel like I don't have enough time to build stacks of Evangelism because people are taking too much damage and I am compelled to heal them. Maybe that's a sense left over from my Holy days?

3) Shield Strength: I feel like my bubbles aren't strong enough to prevent damage (especially PW:S, which I feel is pretty weak imo). My stat priorities are: Int, Spirit, Crit, Haste, Mastery. Should I have Mastery before Haste? Doesn’t haste reduce cast time?

4) Grace: How do I best use this? Penance? Keep stacks up on the tank all the time? What about others that are taking damage? Do I have to build 3 stacks in order for it to be effective? Penance is like an insta-3-stacker, and Heal/GH/FH are mana and time eaters.

I’ve read How to Priest, I follow both Derevka and Ashleycakez’s guides and info they post on the boards, and Ashleycakez has helped me a lot in the past when I was having problems with holy during Cata (which I later rocked when I got it right, thanks Ashley!). I just can’t seem to get it together in MoP yet :s

TL;DR: Excluding DBM, how else can I better time SS use? How can I boost AoE heals? Should I stack mastery before haste to make my bubbles stronger?

Thanks for reading this mess - hopefully the responses will help others too :)
1.) Its just a matter of getting comfortable with the fight and the boss timers. On Ji-Kun, for example, there is a timer for Quills, but it won't actually occur until after the boss finishes casting Feed Young. So rather than pop SS with ~5 seconds on the Quills timer, you should start applying SS during Feed Young. You can use LFR to familiarize yourself with damage patterns and not feel like you are going to wipe the raid if you mess up. I highly recommend doing this.

2.) For Megaera, you should be Atonement healing until the Rampage or until damage picks up due to more Green things falling on the raid. Apply Spirit Shell before the head dies, and then continue to Prayer of Healing, weaving in PW:Solace/Holy Fire and Penance on CD as Atonement heals. Do not neglect Prayer of Mending either.

3.) If you did read Derevka's guide (h2p is down atm), you would have seen that Crit and Mastery are Discipline's best stats in 5.2. Have a read over this until h2p comes back up:

4.) If there is heavy tank damage, I would suggest maintaining Grace, especially on something like Durumu where you may find yourself struggling to top off the tank once he gets Arterial Cut. Similarly, on Ji-Kun you may also benefit from a friend Penance to maintain Grace on your tank if the hits are a bit too much.

Do you have any logs? Perhaps we can peek into them and see if there is anything you can better address in addition these concerns.

TL;DR: Excluding DBM, how else can I better time SS use?

DBM is the only reliable way. Many boss abilities are on a CD timer, and thus, don't happen exactly when the CD is up. To get the most out of SS, you have to start building your stack just before the CD is up. You'll want to have 1 PoH on each group when the aoe damage starts. And you can then further stack the SS.

TL;DR: How can I boost AoE heals?

Use Cascade. A lot. Once your gear is a little better, you can roll PW:S on more people when SS is down. Tortos is a great example. You can typically SS one stomp, then PWS 5+ people for the next. Alternating the entire fight.

TL;DR: Should I stack mastery before haste to make my bubbles stronger?

It's really personal preference. Haste is theoretically the best throughput stat. Mastery & Crit are great throughput AND mana efficiency stats. PWS can now crit. When I was disc I really enjoyed Crit
Thanks for the replies!

Ashleycakez: I did read Derevka's guide, but I must have read over the importance of mastery, and went with haste over mastery for some reason - oops. Total derp on my end. I am working on getting some logs soon though. Good call on what to do for the Megaera fight - I'll try that next time!

Darthsiddeus: Thanks for the advice on AoE heals. I was concerned about using Cascade too much because of mana issues, but like you said, better gear should help with that. I find mana somewhat manageable at the moment, but it gets very tough during Megaera. I will try your suggestion on the Tortos fight.
You can also check out this thread for more tips:

And additionally, the T15 boss guide discussion over on h2p:
hey, this isn't answering all of your questions, but if you're log-savvy or just want to know some of how I did ToT, I wrote up my findings here:

The secondary stat debate is an interesting one this time around, especially in 10 mans. I'm personally running heavier haste, then mastery, and trying to ignore crit. Others have had success with heavy crit. My reasoning for my current secondary setup is that:
- atonement is mostly my go to, and the atonement priority is Int>Haste>Crit>Spirit>Mastery.
- also, I use pw:s more than most, even before the mana buffs. So mastery for me is better than crit.
- I have more spirit this tier, so I can afford more haste without going oom.
- Most of the trinkets and procs this tier are procs per minute, which are increased by haste.

For your aoe, get good with prayer of mending, and get good at Prayer of Healing. For timing, the only encounters that I can think of off the top of my head for spirit shell burst are council sand traps springing to life, tortos stomps, and lei shen intermissions. Otherwise, I layer spirit shell in during pulsing aoe damage to give my other healers more time. Hope that helps.

Here's some math/interesting reading regarding my secondary stats:
Here's some math/interesting reading regarding my mana talents choices:
Hi Soldaera

I'm probably reading too much into point 2 in your OP, but on a quick read it doesn't sound like you've "unlocked" atonement for a 3 heal 10 man, so here's some notes specifically on that aspect of your play that may or may not help you.

Notes: (i) the following applies only to 3 heal 10s
(ii) It assumes that your healing partners are very good/classic healers who have triage covered
(iii) this is 5.2 (old) advice

Your job: in a nutshell - convert as much team overheal into dps as possible, while ensuring you fully cover burst damage periods (with the TON of mana you have to spare).

In this case you'll be oscillating between atonement tunnelling and heavy SS/PoHing/Pw:Sing. In some fights wings and T6 talents also come into play, but you can read more about "healing the fights" above.

With respect to atonement tunnelling:

If you've ever played a hunter than atonement tunnelling should come naturally to you.

Hunters aim to use their specials STRICTLY on CD and fill with shots like steady shot in between.

You do not want awkward pauses while waiting for a shot to cool. Nor do you want one to be off CD while you're mid cast on a lesser dps ability.

Kind of similar for us on our atonement burst periods.

Penance is our special. We want to be offensive casting penance on CD (given our partners have triage fully covered).

In between penance casts we want to fit a HF/Sol + (in my case) 2x smites + have 2ish spare global CDs for T6 and PW:S (and sometimes PoM etc depending on the fight.)

Without the T14 set bonus the penance CD is 9 sec, the 2 smites bring it down to 8sec.

If you go with 2 smites then that's your 10man 3 heal goal for your dps period.

Offensive penance on a strictly 8sec CD.

As a guideline, if you're getting that right you should be getting around 45-50k dps over the course of the fight for your gear level (on a fight without dmg modifiers). Given you will do intensive burst healing (on timers) you should be surpassing your dps in hps too.

Check your team's overheal before and after adjusting your atonement rotation (if I'm not reading your post wrong) and you should find it dropping substantially.

If you haven't already, make sure you have 3 assist macros for your penance, HF/Sol and smite hotkeyed. Noting you need two hotkeys, or at least a modifier, for assist penance and normal healing penance. (It's worth spending time on target dummies to get your rotation and addon support for your "dps" rotation right).

Sorry for the wall of text. It just looked like you were describing 25man atonement. And that's probably not working for you on 10s.
Lots of good info here, and lots of things to think about before I raid again! Thank you all very much for your advice :)

Aerry, I'm curious as to why you went with SoL. I don't see too many priests taking that talent, but it looks like it would be a good choice since flash heal heals for a lot and is a relatively fast cast.
HF/Sol and smite hotkeyed

I believe Sol is referencing PW:Solace, mostly because Surge of Light is not something you keybind.
Oh right, oops! :x
borrowed time and grace actually are basically useless tools in our arsenal (except for executing the 5.2 version of spirit shell: bubble spams).

i'd bet dollars to donuts that you aren't using enough atonement since you're used to playing holy. especially in 10 man, you basically keep PoM on cooldown, PWS for rapture mana, and other than that you're either PoH/spiritshell or atonement healing. atonement automatically picks the lowest health target to heal (very low overheal) and can proc our divine aegis bubble. it's extremely mana efficient, and makes it very easy to use the new solace ability.

for atonement, penance>holyfire/solace>smite. glyphs for penance, smite, and the +10 yard range one (the old holy fire glyph) work wonders.
Snaxattax, you called it, and you are absolutely right on track: I'm still playing like I'm holy. It's a different playstyle than what I'm used to, but I will be sure to keep in mind everyone's advice for when I play next.

Great advice, Flasher! I will definitely be trying that tonight. I like having a rough estimate of when I should start preparing. For example, I know that it takes me 7 seconds to HF + Smite x4 + AA. Knowing that, I can keep an eye on the DBM timers and plan accordingly.

Snaxattax and Aerry both suggested using Penance offensively. I have been a little, but not as much as I should. I'm glad I've got a different "rotation" of sorts down now. Just gotta wait for the realms to come back up so I can put this all into practice :D
I'll add this basic macro format as an alternative to Loratabb's approach:

#showtooltip Penance
/cast [harm,nodead][target=targettarget,harm,nodead]Penance

I have similar macros for HF, smite s'fiend (as an alternative to FoV mouseover macros).

I prefer the assist approach because I can either assist my hard targeted tank or fast switch and assist our hunter or mage, if we have a burn target (such as a loa spirit or venom priest), or simply to cheat and use my penance's target track to precisely aim my subsequent Div Star, so I can use it to greatest effect for damage as well as healing.

Not saying my approach is superior at all, it's just the alternative that I prefer.
penance offensive is amazing. it does more healing (assuming you have your evangelism stacked up) and basically never overheals since each pulse picks its target independently.
That's a really good idea, Aerry, thanks!

One last thing that I have noticed though: when I use SS during boss fights in ToT, the buff icon appears on all those that I have targeted. However, it only lasts a few seconds before it disappears right away. I don't know why it does this... It does the same in LFR as well. I use both VuhDo and the default UI so I don't think it's a UI issue on my end. When we are doing trash though, SS stays up. Anyone know what the deal is with that?

I've also noticed that my PW:F always drops off just before a boss fight. I'm sure there's a reason for this, I'm not sure what :/
After they nerfed SS in 5.2, plus the damage increase in the new raid, SS shields tend to be used easily before a big aoe hit, if there are also incidental damages going on. Turtle bounce and rockfall splash can use up the SS absorb before the quake hits. That's one of the reason I like to go Holy rather than Disc on Tortos.
After they nerfed SS in 5.2, plus the damage increase in the new raid, SS shields tend to be used easily before a big aoe hit, if there are also incidental damages going on. Turtle bounce and rockfall splash can use up the SS absorb before the quake hits. That's one of the reason I like to go Holy rather than Disc on Tortos.

Wow. And certainly explains a lot.

I was going to post this in the Atonement nerf thread, but I thought it would be more appropriate here:

I don't know how I feel about the Atonement nerf just yet. Maybe it's because I'm still learning how to effectively play disc, or maybe I misinterpreted the changes being made.

I thought the nerf was to the damage done by Smite, HF and Penance, but the healing they will do is buffed by 10%. If that is the case, I'm fine with that because I find the actual heals put out are weak. I've noticed that sometimes my Smite/HF/Penance do more damage than heal. For example, I'll do a regular (non-crit) hit with 70k, but have only 30k in corresponding healing. I think that should be reversed, and if I understand correctly, 5.3 will do that.

I find my direct healing to not be as strong as holy's. When I'm benched as disc, and made to go holy just because my "hps and direct healing is too low", there's either something wrong with me, the spec, or the people I'm raiding with. I don't like how I had to go holy for Durumu a few nights ago, when there are plenty of other disc priests who have been very successful on that encounter. Disc is an absorb spec though, so wouldn't it make sense that my hps and direct healing would be lower? The person that spoke to me about my ToT healing did not factor in my absorbs; he was referencing my hps and direct healing only, to which I must eloquently reply with, "duh!" - of course direct healing and hps will be lower by comparison! What's ironic is that I had to go holy, but a second priest was brought in who was disc. That healer healed exactly like how I was healing as disc, and she was putting out the exact same numbers I was as disc! I just barely topped her in the meters for that fight, so I don't understand what necessitated the change, but I digress.

The point is that, with the Atonement nerf (which now makes up the bulk of my healing), how will I be able to compensate? If my direct healing spells are weak and cannot alone put out the numbers requested of me, what should I be doing differently? I'm following all the advice here and on How to Priest, but I have a feeling I'll have to (yet again) re-learn how to play disc. That's fine, but it's frustrating to just becoming familiar with something, only to have it change again (Divine Aegis last patch is a good example). Maybe it's just the QQers that are influencing my opinion here, and its not as bad as I think?

By the way, I will have Logs by Monday which I will post here for further analysis. They won't be available for the Durumu encounter though.

Again, I thank everyone for weighing in on my posts. I appreciate the time taken to read my rather verbose comments and reply to them :)

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