Shadowlands Discipline Priest Guide

Discipline Priest Rotation Guide

Executing your rotation properly in World of Warcraft can mean the difference between a kill or a wipe. In this guide, we will explain all Discipline Priest abilities and how they should be used optimally to maximize your performance, providing in-depth Discipline Priest rotations and priority lists.

We will teach you all the synergies and special interactions between your class abilities, so you can have peak performance in Shadowlands for your Discipline Priest in raids and dungeons. Besides the basics, we explain more nuances and advanced concepts in your Discipline Priest rotation, such as highlighting the best moments to use notable cooldowns.

Playstyle

Disc's playstyle in Shadowlands continues to focus on Atonement to carry the bulk of your healing. You will have a strong variety of supporting abilities to continue solid healing in between ramp-ups and Evangelism usage.

NOTE: These are guidelines for a general Disc Priest rotation priority under general circumstances, this is to give you an idea of what priority you put on casting which spells and why you cast them, situations and encounters can vary. Please read the Advanced Section for a more in-depth breakdown of Disc's playstyle.

Ramping with Evangelism or Spirit Shell:

  1. Reapply Shadow Word: Pain / Purge the Wicked
  2. Activate Power Infusion then cast ~6 Shadow Mend if target is injured or Power Word: Shield if full hp
  3. Cast Power Word: Radiance
  4. Cast Unholy Nova (if Necrolord)
  5. Refresh Shadow Word: Pain (only if not using Purge)
  6. 2nd Power Word: Radiance
  7. Cast Spirit Shell with Mindbender
  8. Extend your Atonement with Evangelism (if talented)
  9. Refresh Purge the Wicked on boss
  10. Cast Schism
  11. Cast Mindgames (if Venthyr)
  12. Cast Halo (if talented)
  13. Cast Penance
  14. Cast Power Word: Solace (if talented)
  15. Cast Mind Blast
  16. Cast Smite until your Atonement start falling off.
  17. Using Boon of the Ascended will require a more complex rotation. Check the Kyrian covenant page for details. (if Kyrian)
  18. Cast Fae Guardians during downtime when your Rapture is on cooldown. (if Night Fae)

Ramping with Rapture

This section will cover ramping and buiilding Atonement via the Rapture ability. For the sake of these examples, Rapture and Evangelism are being used separately.

  1. Reapply Shadow Word: Pain / Purge the Wicked
  2. Cast: Rapture, applying Power Word: Shield until the duration ends
  3. Cast Unholy Nova (if Necrolord)
  4. Cast Power Word: Radiance
  5. Refresh Shadow Word: Pain / Purge the Wicked on boss
  6. Cast Schism
  7. Cast Mindgames (if Venthyr)
  8. Cast Halo (if talented)
  9. Cast Penance
  10. Cast Power Word: Solace
  11. Cast Mind Blast
  12. Cast Smite until your Atonement start falling off.
  13. Using Boon of the Ascended will require a more complex rotation. Check the Kyrian covenant page for details. (if Kyrian)
  14. Cast Fae Guardians during downtime when your Rapture is on cooldown. (if Night Fae)

Advanced Playstyle

Introduction

With the changes to Disc in Shadowlands, the spec now has more shadow abilities than ever to augment and improve your damage and subsequent Atonement healing.

Preparation for large damage will still involve the strong use of Rapture to apply Atonement before damage hits and can even refresh early on priority targets like tanks as they will receive larger shields due to synergy with Mastery: Grace. Power Word: Shield use outside of Rapture will be infrequent due to multiple Power Word: Shield nerfs, you will look to prioritize Shadow Mend as long as targets will be healed.

Your Atonement count will be small on average (2-3), you do not want to maintain many Atonements at all times. Generally only maintaining them on tanks. When you're ramping however, use Power Word: Shield, if the target is full health, or Shadow Mend if they are injured, followed by Power Word: Radiance charges to increase the Atonement count to 16-20 members to rapidly top off the raid after they take damage.

Raid Healing will follow a similar style of ramping up to deal with heavy damage as we've seen in BfA (and listed below) but in between those ramp-up phases it remains important not to sit on two charges of Power Word: Radiance for too long. In between ramp-ups with Evangelism, you will be looking at the damage going out on the group and how best to deal with it to expend those extra Power Word: Radiance charges. This will be the standard flow that you'll be looking at going into most fights but you will also be able to mix in Shadow Mend as needed to both heal and apply Atonement to injured allies.

How does Atonement work?

There are many small intricacies to Atonement interactions that can be confusing. Here is a quick list of interactions that demonstrate how Atonement functions.

  • Your Covenant class abilities in Shadowlands are classified as "priest" abilities and as a result will convert into Atonement healing, UNLIKE the Essences of Battle for Azeroth which were shared abilities.
  • Damaging trinkets and "non-Priest" damage does not convert into Atonement healing.
  • AoE abilities like Mind Sear, Unholy Nova, Ascended Nova, Ascended Eruption, and others only convert into Atonement based off the damage they deal to the first enemy, not off the total damage dealt.
  • Reduced or increased damage taken modifiers from outside the Priest do not affect Atonement healing. If the boss has an aura that makes them take 100% more damage, this does not affect Atonement. If the boss takes 99% less damage, that also does not affect Atonement. Only your abilities like Schism will increase your damage AND your subsequent Atonement healing.

Ramp, "Mini" Ramp, and the In Between

In order to master the Disc spec it is imperative to be familiar with the crests and troughs of your healing output. The "General Ramp Up" outlined above is meant to serve as a guideline towards perfecting your burst output as a Disc Priest. With proper use, this will offer significant raid coverage and burst healing through damage dealing.

Spell priority for a general Ramp is listed above, but the next question after "what to cast" is "when to cast it". Knowing when to utilize your Evangelism is so immensely important to mastering the spec and will help to properly leverage your toolkit to maximizing your throughput. For many raid encounters in Castle Nathria you will look to WeakAuras or boss mods like DBM or BigWigs to watch for when best to begin ramping up. Most encounters will have the event dealing group-wide damage exactly as the timer expires and in other cases there can be some leeway in when exactly the boss will cast said ability. In these situations it is often best to be early rather than late with your timing though practice and experience will be the best basis towards hitting that perfect window.

When in between Evangelism cooldowns you will have access to Rapture and multiple Power Word: Radiance charges. The latter will often have three or four charges available before you have to hold them to use for your next Evangelism depending on the timing in the encounter. With these, and depending on the encounter, you can find times in between Evangelism windows to have a mini-ramp of sorts using Power Word: Radiance and/or Rapture. While Rapture and Evangelism share the same cooldown, it often will be better to use them at separate points during an encounter unless encounters are so bursty that they only are occurring every 1.5minutes. Utilizing the full value of Rapture with a single Power Word: Radiance can make for a potent burst of mini-ramp, especially on encounters with frequent, high damage.

When you are not working towards a ramp up, mini or otherwise, often Discipline will hold tight and focus on the most necessary healing to do while waiting for their next big window. The spec often operates best when you are utilizing your resources to deal with specific bursts, rather than trying to cover everything as you see it like our Holy counterpart might.

Leveraging Spirit Shell to the fullest

With the Shadowlands comes the return of Spirit Shell. A titan amongst Priest abilities, it is now repurposed to turn your Atonement, Power Word: Radiance and Penance healing into absorb effects. This is very valuable for bursts of damaging mechanics that could quickly kill off players and is excellent in specific encounters with large, predictable bursts with minimal follow up damage.

Utilizing Spirit Shell in a ramp-up scenario should look something close to the list below. Thanks to the Exaltation conduit your Atonements will create even more absorbs, meaning you can more easily hit your cap of 60% HP.

While the above covers the HOW, the WHEN is also very important too. Keep in mind that Spirit Shell has a 10 second application window, so any Atonement healing you generate in that period will add on to the shield and refresh its duration. That duration for the shield itself is 10 seconds, meaning that the absorbs you are developing must be consumed within 20 seconds of you casting Spirit Shell (10 second initial duration + 10 seconds shield duration). Clarity of Mind is extremely helpful for ensuring getting more Atonements out for greater group coverage.

In an ideal scenario you will want to have your shields absorb almost immediately after that 10 second duration as you'll likely have some lingering Atonement out that you will want to have produce what healing they can after the damage hits. So, when planning your ramps, look to ramp around 5-8 seconds earlier than you would if you were utilizing Evangelism so that you can best soak up that incoming hit but also still produce some measure of Atonement healing once Spirit Shell duration runs off.

Baseline Disc Priest Spells

First, let's take a look at what spells Disc has at its disposal in Shadowlands, and what the primary purpose of these spells is in a raid or dungeon environment. We will get to how these spells function from a priority perspective in the Disc Priest rotation later on.

Healing Spells

  • Power Word: Radiance - An expensive, fast way to apply Atonement to 5 targets at a time. Often utilized to prepare for large burst damage on the group.
  • Power Word: Shield - A slight absorb with no cooldown, the efficient way to apply Atonement.
  • Shadow Mend - A quick, moderate healing spell that will leave a DoT on the target for half of the amount healed until the target takes that damage from any source. If you heal a tank in a raid or dungeon with Shadow Mend it is quite likely Shadow Mend will not damage the target at all because they are taking damage from other sources fulfilling the requirement.
  • Rapture - While this spell on its own does not specifically heal any target, it does significantly increase the strength of Power Word: Shield for the next 8 seconds allowing you to apply Atonement while also putting up significant absorbs before damage hits.

Damage Dealing Spells

  • Penance - Damage or healing channeled damage spell that fires 3 bolts of Light at the enemy or ally respectively
  • Shadow Word: Pain - A Shadow spell that deals Damage over Time to a target for 18 seconds.
  • Smite - An efficient, moderate damage spell that has its effect split between damaging the target, and absorbing part of the damage that comes from the target. It nets out to be a very small relative amount, but it is interesting to note that it is the most efficient absorb currently in the game.
  • Mind Blast- Strong damage with a relatively high mana cost.
  • Shadow Word: Death - Excellent execute damage, with a price. Requires a Legendary in Shadowlands to result in Atonement healing.

Utility

  • Fade - Drops current threat from all enemies, can be useful for when additional enemies spawn during encounters and you want to ensure none of them are drawn to you.
  • Leap of Faith - Pulls the target to you, can be very useful for moving tanks across the room with ease on high movement encounters, or gripping little Jimmy out of the fire… again.
  • Mind Control - Self-explanatory, gain control of your enemies and jump them off cliffs!
  • Mass Dispel - Removes debuffs from up to 5 players within the radius, excellent for clearing large amounts of debuffs on the raid. Extremely expensive to cast.
  • Dispel Magic - Allows you to purge (remove) certain buffs from your enemies.
  • Pain Suppression - Reduces damage taken by the target by 40% for 8 seconds, strong external tank cooldown.
  • Power Word: Barrier - Reduces damage taken by all allies inside the bubble by 25% for 10 seconds, great for stacked encounters.
  • Purify - Simple dispel of harmful effects on a target.
  • Shackle Undead - Locks up an undead enemy.
  • Mind Soothe - Reduces the threat range of an enemy. Must be humanoid or dragonkin.
  • Power Infusion- Provides a lengthy haste buff to yourself or an ally.
  • Psychic Scream - Causes up to 5 enemies within 8 yards of you to flee for 8 seconds.

Discipline Priest Covenant Abilities

As part of Shadowlands, all Priests get to choose between four rival factions, and are granted two abilities related to their choice. We have covered them extensively on the respective covenant pages, along with how soulbinds and conduits modify these abilities further:

Kyrian: Boon of the Ascended / Summon Steward

Boon of the Ascended is the Kyrian Covenant Priest class ability. It features three parts. Your Boon of the Ascended ability after casting immediately turns into the spammable Ascended Nova, your Smite converts into Ascended Blast and each ability generates stacks, the former generates one stack per enemy hit and the latter generates 5 per cast. These stacks then explode at the end of their duration for Ascended Eruption.

This ability is excellent in a dungeon environment as it is extremely flexible whether you need to deal more damage on large trash pulls or if you need assistance fighting the seasonal affix Prideful enemies. In raids, it is not as easy to incorporate into your ramps as the Venthyr covenant.

The steward spawned by Summon Steward is largely unimpactful to your gameplay: summon it out of combat, pick up a potion from it, and use it to cleanse any dispellable effect/bleed from yourself.

Venthyr: Mindgames / Door of Shadows

The Venthyr Class Ability for Priests of all specializations is Mindgames: a 45 second cooldown that damages an enemy, converts into Atonement healing, reverses enemy damage to the group into healing on them, and returns mana to the caster. Since covenant abilities are classified as "class" ability, this damage is also increased by Schism resulting in more powerful burst in our standard ramp setups than ever before

Key notes for this ability:
  • There are limitations to how much damage or healing will be reversed. For boss encounters dealing large aoe to the group, it will convert a small portion of that damage, not the entirety of it.
  • In order to receive mana regen, you must reverse some damage or healing that the target produces. Make sure whenever you're casting that you're selecting a target that is actively producing one of those things. If a tank is kiting an enemy for example, you won't receive any sort of mana regen or damage reversal because the enemy is not actively engaging.
  • Most of the power in this ability is in the Atonement conversions that it provides. The focus of this ability for Disc will be aligning it with your ramps first and foremost. Casting it before damage occurs to get more reversal value is generally worse than using it just after the primary damage hits to heal through Atonement.

Door of Shadows is an excellent movement cooldown for Discipline that can be used in a variety of situations. Often one of Discipline's biggest weaknesses is moving a vast distance rapidly, without losing substantial uptime on damaging or healing.

Necrolord: Unholy Nova / Fleshcraft

The Necrolord Class Ability for Priests of all specializations is Unholy Nova: a 1 minute cooldown that can be fired at an enemy, ally, or yourself. On impact it heals nearby allies split based off the number of allies and does the same for enemies, applying at 15 second Damage over Time effect. If allies damage enemies affected by this DoT, they are healed for a small amount.

Key notes for this ability:
  • When fired at an enemy or ally it lands where the target was at the time of casting, it does NOT follow the target
  • This damage DOES convert into Atonement healing, but ONLY off one enemy, hitting more enemies does not mean more healing.
  • Due to the abilities' dropoff effect, the more enemies you strike with this ability, the lower the damage the DoT deals, effectively DECREASING your Atonement contributions.

Fleshcraft looks appealing at first: hit it, get a shield that goes up to 50% of your max HP. Sadly, there is more to it that becomes more frustrating to operate it. While Discipline is generally not a very defensive healer, this shield takes a very long time to cast and build up, while also requiring you to stand over corpses to maximize the value. In a 5 man environment there's corpses abound, but then Priest's lack of mobility comes into play. While you are channeling for those 4 seconds, your group likely will be running ahead of you to engage with the next trash pack, pushing you to either cut your channel short or forego it entirely so that you do not fall behind on healing the group.

Night Fae: Fae Guardians / Soulshape

Night Fae is generally chaotic with Fae Guardians as the Night Fae Priest covenant ability. It produces three fairies at once that can move to a new target depending on the spell cast. Initially they will instantly apply to an ally or enemy that you have selected. Targetting an enemy? The offensive fairy will apply to it and the defensive and cooldown reducing fairies will apply to you. Targetting an ally and the offensive fairy will not apply while the other two will be applied on your ally.

Shadow Mend moves the Fairy that reduces a major cooldown on the target, Power Word: Shield applies 10% damage reduction and Shadow Word: Pain applies the final fairy that will regen mana if you are actively attacking the enemy. The cooldown reduction that Discipline receives is toward Rapture which can have some value but can also have large downsides. If you are holding Rapture for specific events then this cooldown reduction could be irrelevant. In that case you could reduce the cooldown of a DPS.

The Night Fae provide the Soulshape ability. Providing a blink and movement speed increase that is fairly universal and easy to utilize. Casting while shapeshifted will end the form so you generally only get the one blink in value before you break form and get to casting again.