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.
Discipline's playstyle in Shadowlands continues to focus on Atonement to carry the bulk of your healing, this time with Atonement converting into Spirit Shell shields. You will often not produce much healing outside of Spirit Shell as you'll have one spare Power Word: Radiance charge in between each Spirit Shell ramp to produce additional throughput.
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 will vary. Please read the Advanced Section for a more in-depth breakdown of Disc's playstyle.
Ramping with Spirit Shell:
- Reapply Purge the Wicked
- Activate Power Infusion then cast ~6 Shadow Mend if target is injured or Power Word: Shield if full hp
- If Power Infusion is on cooldown cast one Shadow Mend into 6 or 7 Power Word: Shield.
- Cast Power Word: Radiance
- Cast Unholy Nova (if Necrolord)
- Refresh Purge the Wicked on boss
- 2nd Power Word: Radiance
- Cast Spirit Shell with Mindbender
- Cast Schism
- Cast Mindgames (if Venthyr)
- Cast Penance
- Cast Mind Blast
- Cast Smite until your Atonement start falling off.
- Using Boon of the Ascended will require a more complex rotation. Check the Kyrian covenant page for details. (if Kyrian)
- Cast Fae Guardians during downtime when your Rapture is on cooldown. (if Night Fae)
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.
Shadowlands is now all about Spirit Shell gameplay and utilizing the mass absorb effects to mitigate incoming bursts of 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 you'll have one extra charge of Power Word: Radiance that you should use as long as your mana can sustain it for additional throughput. In between ramp-ups with Spirit Shell, you will be looking at the damage going out on the group and how best to deal with it to expend the extra Power Word: Radiance charge. The standard flow of the encounter will be targetting specific mechanics to Spirit Shell, preparing for those, then using your spare Power Word: Radiance charge for a mini-ramp and being conservative with your mana in between ramps.
Power Infusion is an excellent resource available to Priest in Shadowlands. Using Power Infusion with Spirit Shell can frequently cover the entire 20-person raid with Atonement, making for a fantastic ramp. However, on cutting-edge progress, giving Power Infusion to DPS instead is preferable to kill bosses more quickly. Throughout my 10/10M progress I gave Power Infusion to Warlocks, Mages, DKs when their Army is up, or Hunters when their cooldowns were up. Talk to your team about where the damage boost is best served depending on the demands of the encounter.
How does Atonement work?
- 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 cast your Spirit Shell is 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 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 that 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. Check the Castle Nathria Boss Tips section for specifics on when to ramp!
In between Spirit Shell cooldowns, you will have access to one extra Power Word: Radiance charge. This charge will be your "mini" ramp where you can apply a couple Atonement as mana allows to pump some extra healing in between Spirit Shell cooldowns. But beware: Discipline has VERY little mana available outside of its Spirit Shell ramps; if you are running light on mana, you want to minimize extra Atonement applications, just use the Power Word: Radiance charge without extra Shadow Mend/Power Word: Shield casts. Outside of that, Power Word: Radiance charge and outside of Spirit Shell keep Atonement on the active tank and use Smite. Mind Blast is very costly and should only be used during your Spirit Shell damage window.
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 SP*11.
- Reapply Shadow Word: Pain or Purge the Wicked
- Cast: ~6 Shadow Mend if injured or Power Word: Shield if full hp
- 2x Power Word: Radiance
- Followed by Mindbender (if talented) and Spirit Shell
- Begin Damage Priority.
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. 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.
- 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.
- Mind Blast- Solid 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.
- 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.
- Each ability generates stacks. Smite generates one stack per enemy hit and Ascended Blast generates 5 per cast. These stacks then explode at the end of their duration for Ascended Eruption.
This ability is excellent in dungeons, 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's ability.
The steward spawned by Summon Steward is largely unimportant 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.
- 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. For example, if a tank is kiting an enemy, you won't receive any sort of mana regen or damage reversal because the enemy is not engaging actively.
- 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 has had some recent buffs in 9.0.5, hit it, get a shield that goes up to 40% of your max HP and have 20% damage reduction while channeling. While Discipline is generally not a very defensive healer, this shield and damage reduction can have some good value for improving survivability.
Night Fae: Fae Guardians / Soulshape
Night Fae is generally chaotic with Fae Guardians as the Night Fae Priest Covenant ability. It produces three faeries 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. Targeting an enemy? The offensive faerie will apply to it and the defensive and cooldown reducing faeries will apply to you. Targeting an ally and the offensive faerie will not apply while the other two will be applied on your ally.
Shadow Mend moves the faerie that reduces a major cooldown on the target, Power Word: Shield applies 20% damage reduction and Shadow Word: Pain applies the final faerie that will regen mana. The cooldown reduction that Discipline receives is toward Rapture or Spirit Shell which is often not very valuable as you won't have the Power Word: Radiance charges to efficiently produce extra ramps. 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.