Discipline in 7.2.5

Class Development
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As with other specs, we'd like to get some discussion early in the PTR process about our goals for any significant changes, so that people giving feedback have context for what we're expecting.

First, some problems with live Discipline:
--The mana cost mechanic on Plea is clumsy and makes the spell require a complex evaluation to use at all.
--Relatedly, PW:Radiance is a no-cooldown Atonement applicator that is better than Plea in almost every way, and is basically limited only by total mana.
--So the spec is now balanced around very high Atonement count in raids (from using Radiance as much as possible) being the only time Discipline is strong. High-end players have gotten used to this as a playstyle as well.
--The spec is very dependent on mana, since more mana turning into more Radiances is virtually the only thing constraining your healing.

We understand that toppling any aspect of this situation gives alarm to high-end raiders, mainly related to power level of the spec. There was one way to make the spec "work" in raids, and the dedicated Discipline players have learned to optimize it to get good performance. And we can probably start assuaging some concerns by saying: without using all nearly your mana on concentrated Radiance usage, and without using focused Innervates to push that even further, we understand the power level of the spec would be clearly impacted absent other changes.

It is our intention to have fewer average Atonements out in raids after the patch, which will likely involve an increase to either Atonement transfer or simply to damage dealt. This, among other results, should result in an increase in power in all situations other than mass spread raid healing. And even in that situation, there's no overall reduction in power intended, other than perhaps in extreme cases of Innervate stacking. Ideally, Discipline will more regularly and stably be near that level of performance through a normal playstyle.

Because the spec is so complex, there will surely a lot of tuning of mana costs and damage amounts and the like throughout PTR, to get everything into the right place. But for some further goals on the changes that are in so far:
--The damage increase is on Smite (I believe this PTR build only has a small damage increase, but the internal build has a much larger one) moreso than Penance. So that your incentive is not to spam out as many Atonements as possible and then convert them to healing with Penance. A decision of more Atonements vs. more damage should be more relevant than it is now, when more Atonements are essentially always right.
--For similar reasons, reducing mana costs to free up overall mana on the spec was done to Smite rather than Plea. Smite should never feel wrong to cast, whereas shifting to cast a heal spell is an expenditure of mana to get an Atonement, very similar to any heal on a typical healer.
--PW:R going to more, shorter Atonements rather than fewer, longer Atonements is to allow a quick payoff on a lot of targets (5 or 10) through a Penance and some Smites. Cases such as group damage in dungeon healing should have a tool that's a smoother fit for them now.

These details are very much open to feedback like anything else, but the main point at the outset is: we're very aware we're poking at the one trick of a spec that is a bit of a one-trick pony in raids. And that requires making sure that all the other parts of the toolkit are up to snuff in the same process. Our hope is that it's not only a clear upgrade for everyone outside the high-end raid setting, but also that those players have a less degenerate and more varied rotation while still performing at the right level.
Thanks for the post. Any thoughts on making penance heal untalented again? IMO the spec is way hard to play in most situations for the average player. I found myself having a hard time keeping up tanks spike damage in 5 mans, even when out gearing the content.
Sigma, you should know better than anyone that the current healing Meta does not at all support this notion of a 'mini-beacon' spec that the devs envision for discipline. You can increase our atonement transfer by 250% and we still run into the issue of having quickly topped up the few targets we have atonement on, and then are only contributing to overhealing. The reason that the 'high atonement count' gameplay has evolved is because the entire end game revolves around large, raidwide bursts of AoE damage, and very little in between, and very little sustained damage on select players other than the tanks.
Unless the damage patterns of the raids you design also get a significant rework, the "fewer average Atonements" with a higher transfer on those targets, i.e. the "mini-beacon" style, cannot yield a viable raid spec.
For this 'mini beacon' style to be effective, the raids need to have a LOT more mechanics like the well of souls debuffs on Gul'dan
I really do hope you continue to work openly with the disc priest community, as these changes will require a very large amount of raid testing and feedback to get into a possibly workable spec.
Thanks for the post Sigma. I agree with the overall direction you guys are taking the spec and like seeing more damage factor into the dynamic of Discipline. I was a little wary of not seeing much compensation for the Radiance change, but if overall damage is going up by large gains, maybe that will work out (but, if we just end up Shadowmending more instead, then...)

There are few concerns I have but since I haven't tested anything yet, I can wait to state those. There's one I do have about Light's Wrath though. If overall Atonement numbers are going down, that would indicate that LW would lose some of its power. Are there any plans to change it somehow to be more beneficial with the upcoming changes?

Also, the problem of the time used to apply Radiances is an issue, because the casting time has to be considered into how long you actually get to make use of those Atonements.
I get where you're trying to go with all of this, but this really isn't the way.

--The damage increase is on Smite (I believe this PTR build only has a small damage increase, but the internal build has a much larger one) moreso than Penance. So that your incentive is not to spam out as many Atonements as possible and then convert them to healing with Penance. A decision of more Atonements vs. more damage should be more relevant than it is now, when more Atonements are essentially always right.


Yeah, sure, makes sense, except one crucial point... you removed the Smite absorb per-cast. That was the one feature about the spell that actually favored having fewer Atonements. A Smite that heals 5 people now does actually even less healing than before, and while it's nice and all that it costs almost no mana, it's the time constraint on Disc now to actually cast Smite that creates a problem.

--For similar reasons, reducing mana costs to free up overall mana on the spec was done to Smite rather than Plea. Smite should never feel wrong to cast, whereas shifting to cast a heal spell is an expenditure of mana to get an Atonement, very similar to any heal on a typical healer.


Lack of mana is not why Smite is not cast. Smite is not cast because by the time you're done doing everything else in the spec that costs a GCD, nobody with Atonement is still damaged unless you're on a fight that has literally constant damage every second from start to finish or your fellow healers are really, really bad at the game.

--PW:R going to more, shorter Atonements rather than fewer, longer Atonements is to allow a quick payoff on a lot of targets (5 or 10) through a Penance and some Smites. Cases such as group damage in dungeon healing should have a tool that's a smoother fit for them now.


2.5 second cast time... "quick payoff." How do you imagine casting 2 PWRs in a row in an actual raid to end? Do you Shadowfiend? I guess you have to Shadowfiend before even casting the first PWR or it won't do anything at all. Do you Light's Wrath? Well I hope you have Contrition or that spell isn't doing anything at all pretty much ever. Do you use Barrier? Again, better do that before you actually cast PWR because there isn't a GCD afterwards.

After all of this though, you seem to be totally ignoring the massive elephant in the room. How is doing any of these things (Smiting a lot, using Plea as the default Atonement applicator after PWS is on cooldown, and PWRing for "quick" payoffs) supposed to be better than just spamming Shadow Mend around a raid with Grace talented, using the newly massively buffed PWS from Aegis of Light to just do massive raid spot healing and spamming Smite/Penance between and ignoring PWR altogether? Right now it actually looks like that's a better option.

The problem with this entire gameplay change though is that the fantasy of having 6-8 different mini-Beacons of Light is absolutely terrible for Mythic raiding because other healers exist and they heal people up way faster than you can apply Atonement to them and then cast Smite 3 times. All you've really succeeded in doing is ripping apart Disc's ability to use its own cooldowns (which are all Atonement-based) and force it into a sustained healing mode that then has the opposite problem where it just cannot deal with any sort of burst damage because once you do the decent amount of healing from 2 PWRs and maybe a Shadowfiend and Penance, you have to go sit in the corner and think about your life until you do another 10+ casts to start actually healing again.

Does anyone actually want to play that kind of spec?
How are you meant to get any good use out of light's wrath, shadowfiend, barrier, etc with the half duration PWR? It's already weak enough in dungeons.

Will any retuning be done to Sins of the Many to compensate for the fact that you can half only half as many atonements out now?
On the topic of Plea - while I agree that the uncapped scaling of it's mana cost was problematic, I don't feel a static mana cost is a good idea either - it gives very little insentive for using it over Shadowmend, at this mana cost, but even when it's mana cost was lower.
An alternative solution I believe would be to have it scale per atonement, as before, but to cap that scaling at a value at a similar mana per atonement to PWR and SM, so that it's still worth using at low atonement count, but doesn't pose a restrictive cost that requires an evaluation at higher atonement count.
[ Bought a US account literally to make this post, send my refund in the mail ]

We understand that toppling any aspect of this situation gives alarm to high-end raiders, mainly related to power level of the spec.


I think you'd be hard pressed to find a Discipline priest that isn't playing entirely due to the non-reactionary manner of healing. That has been decimated with these changes, we want more play styles than reactionary healing. Every specialization that has had something different has been ruined over time by changes like these.

I probably don't need to make the comparison to Renewing Mist with Atonement, but this is a prime example of Blizzard not learning any lessons from past implementations. I'll do that for you, because within a few months of these changes inevitably going live with minimal reworking due to feedback, here's the feedback you can expect:

  • Penance isn't strong enough for ST healing
  • Atonement should have a button to shuffle itself around on players
  • Atonement is RNG and AOE healing should not be coupled to it
  • There should be a button to refresh Atonement duration


Using these points, probably in 8.0, there will be a 3 paragraph developer blog explanation citing each one as justification for removing Discipline's current implementation and bringing it even farther back to mindless shield spamming.

TL:DR;
These changes aren't good enough and past implementations of similar ideas should tell you better, try again.
Oh yeah, and if you could do something actually good for the spec, like changing the meme talents into things that are potentially usable, that would be pretty good.
You haven't just changed Disc's atonement mechanic - you have gutted our ability to effectively heal on progression.

Testing will need to be done but initial reactions are poor because these changes show that you haven't really put much effort into the thought of changing Disc healing. You've given us a charge based system that only allows us to heal a limited about of targets. You even nerfed the duration of this for some reason and then KEPT the cast time on it. If you wanted to give it such a short duration, then keep the PW:R cast time to lose 2s on it, are you expecting us to use PW:R charges one at a time in sections of 5? Why?? Isn't that counterintuitive to healing - not being able to play flexible and accommodate to abrupt changes or extra damage?

Plea's mana cost is too high to want to actively use it, even without scaling, the recharge timer is too long an interval. The current atonement system was absolutely fine in that flexibility sense because it didn't have a cooldown - you could get them up in a sticky situation if necessary. Now if we don't have charges... you expect us to start spamming Plea? To pray our healers have better vision than I do so they can make sure to keep up those other 10 people that don't have atonement on them for ~8s?

All in all: you have literally made this harder to play for newer players, and gutted this for the people that understood how to play your live iteration of Disc. It was a good one, a really damn good one. Our issues were never to do with output, but Atonement interaction, so to 'fix' it you try and overhaul it by shoving the healing into a closed off paddock with a fence and literally putting our basic healing on a CD. What healer has their basic healing spell on a CD? Disc will not be played in Mythic progression come Tomb if this is not altered, mostly because it is completely counterintuitive to progression healing and the output will be so much worse than what we have now (which was actually in line with other healers).

On top of that: why Penitent baseline? You are still never going to use Penance on a single target because even 2 targets and an offensive Penance reaps more healing. You should have made Castigation baseline.
Another thing to consider is that with these changes, disc doesn't even have the option of doing a full raid-wide AoE heal, which literally all 5 other healing specs have (Healing Tide Totem, Aura of Mercy, Tranquility, Revival, Divine Hymn). Disc previously was able to do a 20man Light's Wrath, however it was already constrained by setup time, travel time, and raid size. Now it's going to be extremely difficult to get a 20man Light's Wrath, and impossible to get a full raid AoE heal in any raid size bigger than a 20man.
You need to consider making Ne'ro a baseline effect, or giving disc some kind of Archangel spell or allowing Shadowfiend to heal everyone without having to apply atonements.
I would hope you already realise this, but the absence of a 1button wonder is probably one of the biggest factors in discs underwhelming performance in normal and heroic raids.
just chiming in to say that i am not a fan of this direction as well.

the atonement system, by design, incentivizes maximizing the effect of the damage spells we cast by having the most atonement buffs out as feasible with our mana.

the proposed changes effectively caps (with buff duration) the number of atonements we can get out and still use the buff. which effectively caps our throughput.

on top of this we now have to choose even more limited time frames to go all in. making mistakes even more punishing.

if the intent was to bring disc closer to a vision where we don't stack a short duration buff and dps for a couple of seconds, but rather continuously dps while maintaining varying numbers of the buff as needed then the atonement system itself has to be changed .

atonements have to last much longer, dynamically scale transfer rate, or dynamically scale mana costs. there are probably other options, but the point remains.

these changes don't change how the spec is played because it doesnt touch how we maximize our healing per mana. which is what raid healing is about.

the penitent effect will still be irrelevant outside of pvp because using the dmg portion with even a small number of atonements out results in more healing than casting it on a friendly.

without the ability to quickly change atonement targets (like beacons) having fewer atonements out but higher transfer just means incorrectly choosing said target results in even more lost/over healing.

so you want to cap our throughput and make the spec more punishing to mistakes? cause that is what i am seeing.
04/18/2017 09:52 PMPosted by Threefity
Thanks for the post. Any thoughts on making penance heal untalented again? IMO the spec is way hard to play in most situations for the average player. I found myself having a hard time keeping up tanks spike damage in 5 mans, even when out gearing the content.


This is in the current PTR build--Penance can be used in either mode baseline.

04/18/2017 10:02 PMPosted by Mhezzo
Also, the problem of the time used to apply Radiances is an issue, because the casting time has to be considered into how long you actually get to make use of those Atonements.


Yes, the current cast time and duration might be a little constrained--both are potential things to look at as we see how it plays out. The payoff from a PWR shouldn't feel like it's overly conditioned on getting an exact sequence of a few spells with no interruption.

04/18/2017 10:02 PMPosted by Totallite
Yeah, sure, makes sense, except one crucial point... you removed the Smite absorb per-cast. That was the one feature about the spell that actually favored having fewer Atonements. A Smite that heals 5 people now does actually even less healing than before, and while it's nice and all that it costs almost no mana, it's the time constraint on Disc now to actually cast Smite that creates a problem.


It's true that works against lower-Atonement healing somewhat. Overall this effect should work as a talent since it's somewhat situational in a way that contrasts nicely to Castigation, but there could be something different here if it becomes a problem. The Penitent is definitely better baseline since it's an option that is rarely a net power increase to use, but allows some important convenience/flexibility in some cases.

Lack of mana is not why Smite is not cast. Smite is not cast because by the time you're done doing everything else in the spec that costs a GCD, nobody with Atonement is still damaged unless you're on a fight that has literally constant damage every second from start to finish or your fellow healers are really, really bad at the game.


If nobody in the raid is damaged, then basically no healer has anything to do other than 1) set up something like a HoT (analogy: apply an Atonement), or 2) do some damage. So that's not unusual, and favors making sure that Smite is near-free or free and the mana decisions are on applying the heals (Atonements).
I like the changes.

I think it would have helped on M spellblade progress when extra people got mark of frost. Currently, disc has no way to stabilize the unexpected raid dmg and tunnel healing to the new targets. With this change, I could have pw:r, pleaing and penancing the extra targets with much more ease.

The shift from relying on innervates to fully unlock the specs potential is also welcome.

However, I am concerned that if pw:r isn't smart it'll land on full health targets and won't fulfill its reactive purpose. It's already frustrating right now in heroic pugs, when you pw:r in attempts to spot heal and it won't reach the cluster of targets you want to heal.
04/18/2017 10:37 PMPosted by Sigma
The Penitent is definitely better baseline since it's an option that is rarely a net power increase to use, but allows some important convenience/flexibility in some cases.


The specialization already had a powerful spot healing tool in Shadowmend, what other possible benefits do you imagine offering the Penitent baseline has?
04/18/2017 10:37 PMPosted by Sigma
If nobody in the raid is damaged, then basically no healer has anything to do other than 1) set up something like a HoT (analogy: apply an Atonement), or 2) do some damage. So that's not unusual, and favors making sure that Smite is near-free or free and the mana decisions are on applying the heals (Atonements).


No this isn't what we mean. Did you skip the part where he said "Nobody with atonement still needs healing" not "nobody still needs healing". We mean exactly what I explained in my first post here, which is that say an AoE happens, we have 1 charge of PWR, we use it and already had 3 Atonements out, so we heal 8 people with penance. They're probably above 85% at this point, 1 smite later and they're full hp. Now we sit here twiddling our thumbs as we watch the remaining 6 seconds of atonement do absolutely nothing. We're locked into healing those 8 people and if they're topped up, we waste a lot of time trying to apply more atonements, before we can heal new people. The charge system just further perpetuates this issue, because sometimes we won't even have another charge of PWR to use, and so have to individually apply atonements one at a time, taking 3-4 gcds before we begin any significant healing. By this time, the other healers in the raid have already topped those players up.
... or they're dead
04/18/2017 10:26 PMPosted by Åtonement
Another thing to consider is that with these changes, disc doesn't even have the option of doing a full raid-wide AoE heal

Disc on live can perform a Revival, countering most raid-wide high-damage mechanics, constrained only by mana and setup.
With these changes, Disc has completely lost the niche of having raid cds tied to mana. And what did we get in return? Non-smart, charge-based time-constrained raid healing with extra steps.

Not having the ability to achieve a high level of atonement spread isn't just a problem, it's the only way atonement can work.
Discipline Priest's main concern was our difficulty to be able to cope with unexpected damage often caused by mistakes, e.g. popping Brand of Argus on heroic Tichondrius too late or too early, this was a downside of the spec.

The upside is that we, as long as we prepared, and knew the fights well could forsee and full heal the entire raid if we commited preparation time towards doing so with 5-6 Power Word: Radiances to give all 20 people atonement, so Lenience's reward got benefit from the incoming damage and we could time Light's Wrath to full heal a raid or we could Penance -> Smite -> Smite to do huge healing.

We are still absolutely atrocious at coping with unexpected damage, you didn't remove a cast time on Power Word: Radiance, we can still not make up for lack of preparation in any form, and now we cannot do the same type of raid healing we could before that required in-depth fight based knowledge and communication with your other healers.

What do you believe you have IMPROVED with this supposed "Buff", There are a myriad of issues I see with this.

1) Plea is too mana expensive compared to shadow mend as mentioned before, and the fact that Global Cooldown restricts how fast we can use it to apply atonements means we physically cannot have a wide enough atonement window to make use of it as a back-up option when we run of out power word radiances.

2) By making the Penitent baseline and removing Smite (rank 2)'s absorb you have effectively nerfed us due to the fact that Castigation is still too strong to not take and as a result we have lost the absorb from smite entirely, in literally any content penance will be more viable.
The reason this specifically annoys however me is because we no longer have the quality of life of having our Smite prevent spell cast-time knockback due to our absorb, so it'll be annoying to do worldquests in the spec which previously was not an issue, but that's a minor issue, but none the less makes the spec seem less fun especially during questing etc.

3) You have indirectly nerfed a lot of our synergy, we (with this build) have nothing we can sink our mana into so our mana regeneration talents in Shield Discipline and Mind Bender (and solace too I guess) are not as useful, Lenience's Reward and Light's Wrath and Sins of the Many are all less useful now too due to the fact that we find it EXCESSIVELY difficult to reach 20 / 20 people with atonement.

4) You seem to be aiming to increase our responsiveness and flexibility, but instead you marry us to a 2 charge 15 sec recharge Power Word: Radiance, this seems heavily ironic as the current Power Word: Radiance on live never once felt restrictive to me as a player, because I could chose to keep one or two up against something like Skorpyron and keep healing half or so of the raid, or I could go all in and full heal a Liquid Helfire / Krosus Smash.

I am entirely aware that it will need testing first, obviously this is all theory crafting without proper testing, however I can fathom that 15 second recharge timer with 2 charges is way too restrictive.
More Charges, Shorter Recharge time, Or both are likely required to actually allow us even a shred of flexibility.
I also fail to understand why Power Word: Radiance must give us half the atonement duration, it seems excessive and extremely non-user friendly as we may waste our 2 power word: radiance to heal something and then be unable to capitalize on it if we are chosen for a mechanic in a raid, e.g. Empowered Bonds on Heroic Gul'dan or Orb of Destruction on Krosus, both of which do not allow us to stand and DPS to heal off of our ridiculously short atonement window.

Blizzard please pay attention to the showcases that talented disc players will demonstrate on PTR, if we can make this work then I'm willing to try it, but if we can't please realise this and do not ruin what a lot of people have come to love playing despite it's difficulty, having a difficulty spec can be rewarding and does not need to be something to avoid in your games.
I like the changes.

I think it would have helped when I was progressing on M spellblade and extra people got mark of frost. Currently, disc has no way to stabilize the unexpected raid dmg and tunnel healing the new targets. With this change, pleaing and penancing the extra targets would help.

However, I am concerned that if pw:r isn't smart it'll land on full health targets and won't fulfill its reactive purpose.


with plea at 2% mana you are better served just using shadow mend as an applicator. it does more healing (a lot more) per mana.

top this off with aegis of wrath and our ability to respond to spot healing situations has already improved dramatically on live.

also pwr would need to be so smart that it does the dmg prediction for you. a 2 step process to do something that other healers do in 1 means you have to start earlier (ie before the dmg happens).

for instance what happens if you identify some targets who have some dmg and might take some more, so you use a pwr charge. great. now you are set up to heal.

but wait.

you were wrong, and multiple other targets are taking even more damage than those first chosen.

you have absolutely no recourse with a charge system.
Why gut Disc now? We've all invested all of our time into learning the spec, getting legendaries, earning AP, etc... and now before a raid tier you want to completely destroy it and !@#$ us over? Disc is not even a high performing spec that needs these ridiculous nerfs. Why not do it after Legion so we have time to re-roll to a useful healer? The last thing I thought would happen is I'd have to re-roll from a DISC PRIEST in 7.2.5 (not that I can effectively re-roll because of the legendary/AP system :thinking:)

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