Disc has broken me

Priest
The proactive style of Disc really does take some getting used to. Instead of waiting for someone to take damage, you want to already be healing them when the damage starts to come in (or have them shielded, etc.). We're basically countering future damage, which can seem daunting. It makes you feel like you've either got to be psychic, or have already memorized every ability of every enemy in a dungeon before you even step a foot in.

Personally, I love this style, but it does require that you think about encounters a bit differently. What follows is not hard advice for performing at the highest eschelons, but rather some alternate ways of thinking about encounters that may help get you in the right mindset for working Disc's magic.

Firstly, we don't have the same relationship with health bars as most other healers. All healers have the same goal - preventing death. For a purely reactive healer, like say Holy Priest, the health bar is your buffer against someone dying (duh). Your goal is to keep this buffer as full as possible so that when they take a hit, the buffer (health) is high enough that they survive the hit. You then just "refill" the buffer to maintain it's effectiveness. What this means is that if a reactive healer lets someone sit at 5% health, that person going to die if they take a big hit, and the reactive healer has failed at their job because they didn't make sure that person's buffer was big enough to take the hit.

For Disc, the health bar isn't the only buffer against dying - you also are. Which means that keeping the bar full is less important than maintaining your flow of shields and Atonement. That same player at 5% health? You can use Rapture/Power Word: Shield, Pain Suppression, Power Word: Barrier, or a combination of them on the player, and now their current health bar level is more or less irrelevant, since your shields and damage reduction are now the "buffer". This also gives you a window to work on getting their health back up a bit higher now that you don't need to worry about incoming damage. You can think of Atonement's drip of constant healing in a similar way - as long as Attonement healing is happening, it's countering incoming damage. So you want to get Atonements out early and often. It's really useful to realize that you can maintain basically a 100% uptime of Atonement on a five-man team with PW: Radiance, especially if you take the Azerite trait that extends the duration to 70%.

The other thing unique about Disc is our damage output while healing. A lot of people talk about this in terms of helping a group speed through a dungeon, but your damage output is also effective healing entirely aside from Atonement. If you help kill an enemy 10% faster than another healer would have, you've basically prevented 10% of that mob's uptime on your party, and thus performed your job of acting as a damage buffer for your group. And you can do this at the same time as healing. Put another way, would you rather: Spam Shadow Mend so that your tank's health buffer is big enough to take the next hit (you're playing reactively now), or kill the boss before the next hit even happens, thereby preventing it entirely?

All that said, I find a lot of people still approach Disc and try to play it as a reactive healer, especially when things go bad. It's really easy to see your team's health start to plummet and feel like there's nothing you can do to top everyone back up again. This is usually when I personally panic, and start trying to force a more reactive playstyle (i.e. Shadow mend spam). Rather than thinking about how to reverse the damage, think about how your spec is uniquely equiped to prevent any MORE damage from hitting your team, which gives you a window to heal them back up through your normal Atonement cycle and some burst DPS. Don't be afraid to let your team end an encounter at low health. This is a great use for Shadow Covenant - use it AFTER an encounter as you're running to the next pack to top people off. It's instant, and the 6 second heal absorb shouldn't matter at this point.
Penance used defensively normally should be saved for the tank and also with a PotDS proc. You’ll normally get more healing out of a shadow mend for ST and putting penance on CD hurts your aoe healing. Certain tanks like warriors, paladins and demon hunters are going to need to be topped off frequently and you might benefit from taking twist of fate over schism.

Guardian Druids and blood DKs are currently very self sufficient with great self healing and damage mitigation, and schism will provide more group aoe healing with schism/solace combo. But yeah a good rule of thumb is use penance defensively only if it gets a PotDS proc, otherwise I’m pretty sure it’s a HPS loss to use it unbuffed.
09/13/2018 10:57 AMPosted by Distrot
The proactive style of Disc really does take some getting used to. Instead of waiting for someone to take damage, you want to already be healing them when the damage starts to come in (or have them shielded, etc.). We're basically countering future damage, which can seem daunting. It makes you feel like you've either got to be psychic, or have already memorized every ability of every enemy in a dungeon before you even step a foot in.

Personally, I love this style, but it does require that you think about encounters a bit differently. What follows is not hard advice for performing at the highest eschelons, but rather some alternate ways of thinking about encounters that may help get you in the right mindset for working Disc's magic.

Firstly, we don't have the same relationship with health bars as most other healers. All healers have the same goal - preventing death. For a purely reactive healer, like say Holy Priest, the health bar is your buffer against someone dying (duh). Your goal is to keep this buffer as full as possible so that when they take a hit, the buffer (health) is high enough that they survive the hit. You then just "refill" the buffer to maintain it's effectiveness. What this means is that if a reactive healer lets someone sit at 5% health, that person going to die if they take a big hit, and the reactive healer has failed at their job because they didn't make sure that person's buffer was big enough to take the hit.

For Disc, the health bar isn't the only buffer against dying - you also are. Which means that keeping the bar full is less important than maintaining your flow of shields and Atonement. That same player at 5% health? You can use Rapture/Power Word: Shield, Pain Suppression, Power Word: Barrier, or a combination of them on the player, and now their current health bar level is more or less irrelevant, since your shields and damage reduction are now the "buffer". This also gives you a window to work on getting their health back up a bit higher now that you don't need to worry about incoming damage. You can think of Atonement's drip of constant healing in a similar way - as long as Attonement healing is happening, it's countering incoming damage. So you want to get Atonements out early and often. It's really useful to realize that you can maintain basically a 100% uptime of Atonement on a five-man team with PW: Radiance, especially if you take the Azerite trait that extends the duration to 70%.

The other thing unique about Disc is our damage output while healing. A lot of people talk about this in terms of helping a group speed through a dungeon, but your damage output is also effective healing entirely aside from Atonement. If you help kill an enemy 10% faster than another healer would have, you've basically prevented 10% of that mob's uptime on your party, and thus performed your job of acting as a damage buffer for your group. And you can do this at the same time as healing. Put another way, would you rather: Spam Shadow Mend so that your tank's health buffer is big enough to take the next hit (you're playing reactively now), or kill the boss before the next hit even happens, thereby preventing it entirely?

All that said, I find a lot of people still approach Disc and try to play it as a reactive healer, especially when things go bad. It's really easy to see your team's health start to plummet and feel like there's nothing you can do to top everyone back up again. This is usually when I personally panic, and start trying to force a more reactive playstyle (i.e. Shadow mend spam). Rather than thinking about how to reverse the damage, think about how your spec is uniquely equiped to prevent any MORE damage from hitting your team, which gives you a window to heal them back up through your normal Atonement cycle and some burst DPS. Don't be afraid to let your team end an encounter at low health. This is a great use for Shadow Covenant - use it AFTER an encounter as you're running to the next pack to top people off. It's instant, and the 6 second heal absorb shouldn't matter at this point.


Okay I see what you're saying. I should be using my Atonements more proactively. So this begs the question of, do I keep using Sins of the many? Would Shadow covenant really be more beneficial for me? I find that when I do run Shadow Covenant I use it when I need aoe healing which might actually be hurting me since it puts a debuff on everyone.

Okay I see what you're saying. I should be using my Atonements more proactively. So this begs the question of, do I keep using Sins of the many? Would Shadow covenant really be more beneficial for me? I find that when I do run Shadow Covenant I use it when I need aoe healing which might actually be hurting me since it puts a debuff on everyone.


Scov in itself is never a "bad" spell to cast cause it heals even if the drawback fully manifests.

It may or may not be worth the lack of sins (thus less damage from atonement.) It's also instant and doesn't require atonement. Plus, the drawback can be bypassed with the aid of rapture.
09/13/2018 11:13 AMPosted by Sacredote
Okay I see what you're saying. I should be using my Atonements more proactively. So this begs the question of, do I keep using Sins of the many? Would Shadow covenant really be more beneficial for me? I find that when I do run Shadow Covenant I use it when I need aoe healing which might actually be hurting me since it puts a debuff on everyone.

I'm not actually suggesting any specific talents. I genuinely feel that all the talents on that row have a place, depending on your personal comfort level and play style.

Sins of the Many still provides a damage bonus even with a lot of atonements out - there's a minimum amount of increase you always get. This talent basically props up your atonement/dps healing, and is still extremely valuable even when spreading lots of atonements. I think numerically, this provides the most DPS/healing, and is also super easy to use (no change in rotation). But you also don't get any extra tools for when things go sideways.

Shadow Covenant is very effective at group healing, but you have to game around the healing debuff to use it in combat. One effective way to use this is to use Covenant with Rapture/Shield on people while the debuff is up (it's only 6 seconds). This way you're still performing your job of keeping people alive (preventing damage). I find it tricky to play with personally, but as I said, you can always just use it to top people up after every mob pack.

Contrition can be useful for people who want to play more reactively, and is also super useful for some specific situations. I find it makes the last boss in Temple of Sethralis much easier, for example.


Contrition can be useful for people who want to play more reactively, and is also super useful for some specific situations. I find it makes the last boss in Temple of Sethralis much easier, for example.


Pretty sure in nearly all situations, in 5 mans, Contrition is a noob trap. SCov fulfills a similar role with far less requirements.
If your intent as a healer is to mainly pug things, generally speaking you should play a healing spec that is well tailored to that. For example, Disc does badly in M+ if your group is bad and does not properly interrupt, do mechanics, have bad dps/tank. That makes every healers job harder, but if you were, say, a MW, RDruid or probably a HPally, they can carry a group through mistakes.

That is, however, not to say that it is not YOUR fault, since if there are no logs, we can't look at what you are or are not doing wrong, obviously. You need to pay attention to times, be aware of when damage is going to come out, and prepare for it, or you will fall behind, since a major part of your spec is, of course, preventing damage.
09/13/2018 09:54 PMPosted by Carmille
If your intent as a healer is to mainly pug things, generally speaking you should play a healing spec that is well tailored to that. For example, Disc does badly in M+ if your group is bad and does not properly interrupt, do mechanics, have bad dps/tank. That makes every healers job harder, but if you were, say, a MW, RDruid or probably a HPally, they can carry a group through mistakes.


I’m sorry, but just no. A MW, RDruid, HPally and Disc of the same skill level will manage a ‘fail pug’ scenario with the same success. This myth is perpetuated due to Disc being a more complex healer. With its recent FotM status, it saw an influx of new players who tried it, didn’t take the time to learn its intricacies, were inevitably bad at it, and eventually gave it up as a bad job, leaving this fallacy that ‘Disc isn’t good enough for bad pugs’ in their wake. Read, they couldn’t play Disc well enough for pugs.

~Lil
Some tips:

Shadow Covenant is a great spell to quickly recover from a disaster. It's an instant cast with a great heal.

You are a healer first and damage second. Stop worrying about your DPS and start healing.

Shadowfiend/Mindbender is there to do atonement heals. If you need to dish out some major group heals in combat, toss out shadowfiend.

Don't forget that PW:Barrier exist. Use it.

Don't forget that Rapture exist. Use it.

If you need to spam shadowmend, spam shadowmend.
Keep tomes on you, educate yourself and your group, and be patient with yourself.

I'm just getting back into the swing of Disc after taking a break from the spec in Legion. One thing I am doing is always proactively adjusting my talents depending on my group comp or overall mid-dungeon experience. Having difficulties keeping the tank up? I will switch to Twist of Fate to help offset the mass amounts of healing I have to put out. For large amounts of AoE or lower level Mythics and dungeons I take Schism. There are a lot of resources out there, HowToPriest and the H2P Discord. Icy-Veins. ETC. But in the end, do what makes you feel comfortable in accordance to your gear and skill level. A lot of these guides are generally tailored to give you advice if you're fully optimized. I wouldn't consider these to be the "DIEHARD, YOU MUST HAVE" talents or items to be proficient at playing Disc. I know there are major debates out there, but in the end, you're responsible for the team-- not the opinions of someone else!

Use your cool downs! If you're coming from a reactive healer class or spec, the tendency to hoard the CDs for the 'oh !@#$' moment is pretty much ingrained in us at that point, but is VERY damaging to the mindset needed to play Disc. With Disc, be liberal with your Rapture! I see so many other Discs not utilize this spell till later in the fight. They instead waste mana trying to play catch up and usually fall short.

If you use addons, I recommend something used to track Power of the Dark Side and Atonement. This has helped me so much in my switch to Disc! I use TellMeWhen to track PotDS and my healing addon, VuhDo, to track my PW:S and Atonement. This usually helps me keep my mind focused on when I have to stack buffs/debuffs for group healing. (Schism+PotDS (if up)+Shadowfiend/Mindbender for those crazy pulls. Talking to you, MOTHERLODE!!! ;-;)

Competence from your group, regardless of PuG or friends/guildies, is going to be very important in the initial push of Mythic+ content for ANY healer. I generally run with friends, all of them skilled, and we coordinate crowd control to mitigate the damage to the team. When you add the random variable into the mix, anything can happen, even to the most skilled healers and players. Don't be afraid to ask for CC or ask for interrupts. Don't be afraid to give helpful advice on how to approach the fight. If people get offended, they're probably the reason why you feel it is falling apart. (Or why you're all dying...)

Lastly, patience is going to be key. Things are going to happen that are out of your control. This doesn't make you a bad player or a bad healer in any regard. I have absolute faith that you can be a great Disc priest! :)
Some of the Disc struggle comes from not being aware of all the mechanics and being miserly with pre-emptive cooldowns or late cooldown usage as a result.

Some of the Disc struggle comes from Disc simply being trash at dealing with certain mechanics. High bursting stacks, grievous and ticking/AoE damage, 2/3 target cleave healing, single target healing while moving etc; it doesn't matter how well you play in these situations you're going to suck compared to other healers.

Disc certainly excels in some areas more than other healers though too. Just got to play to the specs strengths and build groups around shoring up its weaknesses. In fairness this isn't a consideration other healers need but making sure your DPS/Tank can dispel poison and kite when the tank is getting slapped isn't a huge deal atm.
I don't believe that disc should be used as universally as it is. I've played every heal spec in the game for the past decade and could always get comfortable with any of them Perhaps I haven't given Post-WoD Disc a fair shot since it's always switched to holy when the going got rough, but I've never been comfortable with the play style. The setup required to keep atonement rolling causes an uncomfortable delay in response to damage, compared to other specs. Keeping atonement recipients rolling requires a rotational feeling maintenance as well, and rotations don't flex well to the fluid nature of damage income.

I feel that this setup delay and rotational feel makes disc healing somewhat unstable. The discs I've grouped with just don't ever seem to have great control over group health, and don't throttle well. I pop CDs a lot more on trash with disc priests.

And ohmygod, pugs. The first 2 weeks of this expansion were alright, sure ilvl was generally lower but the players participating in endgame content were by far more competent. Week 3 is when the !@#$ players started capping and pugs became the giant %^-*ty mass of mechanic failing turds you get now. And that's what LFG has ALWAYS been since it opened in WoTLK. An ecosystem for bad players to reach, and permeate heroics and raids. !@#$ty players don't make it to these things in a world where LFG doesn't exist.

I guess the answer is, don't pug /shrug . Take advantage of communities if your guild doesn't suit your need and you don't want to leave, surely you can meet some reliable players there and build a relationship with the decent ones.
09/14/2018 07:38 AMPosted by Razgrad
I don't believe that disc should be used as universally as it is. I've played every heal spec in the game for the past decade and could always get comfortable with any of them Perhaps I haven't given Post-WoD Disc a fair shot since it's always switched to holy when the going got rough, but I've never been comfortable with the play style. The setup required to keep atonement rolling causes an uncomfortable delay in response to damage, compared to other specs.


Well, yes, of course. Because Disc isn't designed to respond to damage (although it absolutely can). It's designed to prepare for damage.

I feel that this setup delay makes disc healing somewhat unstable. The discs I've grouped with just don't ever seem to have great control over group health, and don't throttle well. I pop CDs a lot more on trash with disc priests.


You're supposed to be popping CDs on trash. FFS, what is with these tanks that haven't grasped that the trash in Mythic + is far more dangerous than any of the bosses? o_O

I mean, the Disc Priests you've played with may also just not be very strong at that spec, poorly itemized, or just bad. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
09/13/2018 05:14 AMPosted by Sacredote
09/12/2018 03:42 PMPosted by Grumpsey
OP if you want some help with disc I am more than happy to spend some time in discord with you, if you really want to improve that is, otherwise all I can say is that disc is in a great spot at the moment, but has a very high skill floor. Once you master this though not only does it become on of the more engaging and fun specs, but also one of the most rewarding in content.


I'll take you up on that offer for sure! I could use a little grounding right now. My head is so wrapped up on what talents to use and how my rotation should go that I'm just confusing myself more and more.


Great! I will find you in game later this week and reach out. Away with my partner for the next two days but be back on monday.

- Grumpsey.

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