Welcome to the WoW Discipline Priest PvP guide for 8.3 and beyond.
Discipline still isn’t as consistent a healer as druid or paladin but they fill a niche in the game and, when played properly, can be devastating. I was originally going to put this together in one afternoon but decided to increase its scope and make it more comprehensive with matchups, etc. I’ll start with the basics and move to more broad concepts as you move further through the guide.
Since it won’t be obvious to some people, this is all entirely my opinion. These are my current thoughts and ideas based on how I both play the game and see other people playing it. Some things won’t work for you, some priests will have differing opinions.
Haste >> Versatility >> Mastery >> Crit
- Buffs how often our dots tick, quickens our GCD and allows us to get our damage out faster.
- You can’t have too much haste, but try to keep some parity between it and versatility. I’m currently running 24% haste, 22% versatility outside of arena.
- Scales our trinkets, essences and overall damage.
- The bonus of getting damage reduction here makes it even more worthwhile than mastery (especially now that the Conflict and Strife essence exists).
- Is more efficient to stack for the raw healing compared to its counterpart, versatility.
- However, disc priests are looking to buff their damage, not healing. The damage and damage reduction of versatility greatly offsets the healing lost to a lack of mastery.
- Is only half as effective in PvP. If you’re not a spec that has another way of utilising crit, this essentially means you need twice the crit to increase your damage/healing the same amount as it does in PvE.
- Try to minimize the amount of crit on your gear.
Depth of the Shadows is the strongest trait disc has access to. You gain 30 stacks of this buff very quickly and when you have 2-3 of this trait it synergises with disc’s natural playstyle very well. You can use your 30 stacks of this buff to quickly top your partner before continuing to do more damage.
Undulating Tides, Death Throes and Contemptuous Homily all contribute to damage, which is ideal for discipline.
Moment of Repose acts as an extra defensive cooldown and life-saver and I value its effect highly despite it not increasing damage.
Try to find these traits in addition to Depths of the Shadows on your gear.
Beyond these traits discipline can work with almost anything. I would recommend going with the philosophy of ilvl > traits if you’re having trouble choosing. The extra intellect is a huge boon.
Highborne Compendium of Storms is the most aggressive trinket you can play. I rate it as such due to the fact that it gives a low amount of intellect (losing up to ~160 int) and provides no direct healing value. I like to play this trinket in 2v2 as maintaining high dps is more important than all else. It typically ends up totaling about 5-6% of my overall damage.
Pocket-Sized Computation Device can be socketed with ‘Cyclotronic Blast’ (bought from a vendor with Revered for Rustbolt Resistance). It can also be socketed with a haste+vers logic board. Cyclotronic Blast is buffed by Schism and DA and can deal upwards of 50% of a players health in damage. Difficult to farm, but I highly recommend this if you can get away with it in arena. Gives a nice amount of secondary stats too. Go-to 2v2 trinket.
Notorious Gladiator’s Maledict is still a powerful aggressive trinket you can opt to run. I would make sure other players on your team also have this trinket as it’s effect is dispellable and is therefore more useful to use when another players maledict is dispelled.
Notorious Gladiator’s Safeguard is an excellent defensive option, providing a large amount of intellect and some extra breathing room against melee teams that opt to train you. I would ideally run this and one of my aggressive trinkets if I know I will be targeted in 2v2. Very safe choice to run in 3v3 too.
Revitalizing Voodoo Totem acts as an extra cooldown providing a large heal over time. This is particularly useful as it can be used right as CC is landing on you. Due to the ramp-up effect on its heal, it’s more likely to get value in this scenario. I do not have a 430 version to test for myself. Lower ilvl versions seemed weak, however a lot of priests are opting to run this on ladder. Try it out for yourself if you get it.
Zoatroid Egg Sac is another trinket I’ve not had the fortune to drop for me. Seems like a powerful healing option but can’t be sure until I’m able to test it myself.
Notorious Gladiator’s Insignia is a fantastic all-around trinket. It provides a large amount of passive vers and a consistent proc of primary stat. I often struggle to choose between this trinket and Highborne for my 2nd slot in a typical 3v3 game. I think Insignia is probably going to be the more consistent trinket in 3v3 where your damage is not relied upon as heavily as it is in 2v2. Will update if I change my mind about this.
Crucible of Flame, particularly at rank 3, is incredibly powerful as a disc priest. This ability contributes significantly to your overall damage and provides great burst when coupled with Schism and Dark Arch. I’d recommend running this in your major slot as default and almost never changing it.
Conflict and Strife is my go-to minor essence. It provides a flat 400 versatility, giving you extra damage, damage reduction and healing. If your versatility is high enough you could consider running this as a major essence in 3v3 when you know you are going to be the kill target. In 2s, I find crucible too invaluable as a major to give up, except in very specific matchups.
The Ever-Rising Tide is my alternative minor trait. I find it to be more effective than Lucid Dreams and has the benefit of granting intellect when you need it. I still do not consider it as effective as Conflict. Could be underrating this minor.
Vision of Perfection. Another potential alternative to use as a minor when you need to play long games while keeping your mana high. Use mindbender here. Lucid Dreams major + Vision minor is touted to be a very strong pairing for this purpose.
This is my default talent setup. I’ll go through the rows one by one.
- Castigation had its uses when combined with Contrition, especially when disc priests had lower healing throughput. This is not the case now, and so I don’t believe castigation is as useful.
- Twist of Fate is a talent that will always be useful in arena. Highly recommend this talent in 3v3 if you’re having trouble doing enough healing (or if you’re being trained).
- Schism is what gives disc priest the ability to pump damage as hard as any other dps spec. It synergises with Cyclotronic Blast, Crucible of Flame and Compendium of Storms too. In 2v2 you should try to keep Schism every game and make defensive concessions elsewhere.
- Body and Soul is my go-to. With weakened soul on a 5 second cooldown you’re still able to get your speed boost when you need it to land fears. The buff also acts as dispel fodder (since you get shield and B&S in 1 GCD). On-par with feather.
- Masochism is almost mandatory against teams that want to train you. Body and Soul and Feather don’t do enough for us to escape melee most of the time, so the 10% DR and the extra healing from masochism is the only option. I like to run maso against DKs, rogues, warriors, etc that I know want to be attacking me.
- Angelic Feather is another solid choice for mobility. You lose the dispel fodder and speed boost for teammates but gain the utility of applying it whenever you need it.
- Shield Discipline provides less mana than the other options and results in less damage. Not worth considering for arena.
- Mindbender is played where it’s difficult to find time to press Solace. You’ll have to play a lot of games to recognise matchups where you can’t get any use out of Solace.
- Power Word: Solace provides burst damage and 1% mana every ~10 seconds. Great option, as long as you remember to use it on cooldown.
- Psychic Voice is default. It cuts your biggest CC’s cooldown in half.
- Dominant Mind does not work in PvP.
- Shining Force is a niche talent that can be used against melee cleaves where fear isn’t as useful as just getting the enemy off you. I run Psychic Voice in 99.9% of my games.
- Sins of the Many is free damage. It’s hard to pass this up when the niche for disc is damage right now.
- Contrition can be powerful when combined with Castigation. Worth testing for yourself, though Sins will provide more overall utility in the long run.
- Shadow Covenant isn’t powerful enough for 2-3 man content.
- Purge the Wicked is the only real choice here. Both Divine Star and Halo don’t do enough to even be looked at.
- Lenience is the only beneficial talent here. You take the free damage reduction. Both Evangelism and Luminous are only useful in larger groups.
These are the talents I like to run by default.
I’ve listed some common setups on the following page too.
Provides 15% damage to your entire team for 8 seconds. This is still one of the most powerful cooldowns in the game when used effectively.
Buffed recently; Trinity provides more atonement healing at the cost of only being able to apply it through PW:S. I used to only use this against teams that put out high AoE pressure, now I like to play it against almost everything.
Dome of Light:
Dome used to provide significantly more damage reduction before it was nerfed. It’s still a powerful cooldown on a 1m30s CD but is not nearly as mandatory as it might have seemed before. I like to make sure I have this against rogue teams to put on top of their smoke bomb or to counter their vendetta.
Still a powerful PvP talent but less so since Depth of the Shadows was introduced as a trait. I’ve found it’s best not to rely on this talent if you can help it. I like to play it against rogue/mage in 2s and rogue/mage/healer in 3s. It can save a life when you need a quick burst of healing after coming out of CC.
I use this talent when facing rogues, mages, hunters and warlocks. You want to set your UI up in a way that allows you to see when Polymorph, Fear, etc are being cast on you. Pressing Premonition just before these CCs land will break the CC.
I like to play Searing Light instead of Dome in 2v2 in circumstances where I won’t be trained by a melee and when I don’t need premonition for CC.
Playstyle & Matchups
Discipline’s niche in the meta right now is their damage. By optimizing gear for damage, and putting more of a focus on doing damage you accomplish a few things:
- Atonement healing is at its highest. This is the most mana efficient healing you have, so maximising it is key.
- You force your opponent into using their globals more defensively. Globals spent on staying alive are globals not spent doing damage. This is another way that you are ‘healing’.
- All of this creates pressure, which disc priests thrive on. The more damage you do, the more damage you get to keep doing. It often snowballs into a win when the enemy can’t recover.
While it sounds great to be putting out all this damage, it comes with a downside; disc priests struggle to recover when they fall behind on healing. What this means is that you and your team need to coordinate and use your defensive cooldowns efficiently. Pain Suppression and Power Word: Barrier should be used to counteract opponent cooldowns before they’ve had the chance to do most of their damage.
Writing about something as vague as ‘playstyle’ is difficult, so what I’ll do beyond this is provide some insight into some key spells:
Try not to chase targets down to get fears. Wait until your partner stuns/polys the target and move in before that CC ends with Body and Soul or Feather. If the healer is playing close enough to you, go for it but otherwise don’t sacrifice a good position or a lot of time to land fears; do damage and put pressure on instead. Wait for a good opportunity as soon as you see your teammate get CC. Also, don’t be afraid to fear a DPS instead of a healer if
- You’ve seen the healer use their dispel in the last couple of seconds.
- The healer is already CC’d and you can lock the DPS out of the game.
- Mind Control
MC can be used in a variety of ways. Here are my favourites:
- Casting MC on the healer before fear ends to give your team a little bit more CC while they finish off their target.
- Nullifying healing cooldowns when MC target is on low HP. Shamans spirit link, monk bubble, etc, all have the potential to fail if MC is timed correctly.
- Running DPS off ledges in z-axis maps like Blade’s Edge Arena.
- Leap of Faith
Another versatile cooldown. I primarily like to use this ability to save my teammate from large burst damage. If they are in kidney shot or stormbolt with no trinket, I’ll often use this to avoid spending extra mana on the healing. Note that it can also be used aggressively. If you happen to be closer to your enemy than your teammate is, gripping your teammate can be the key to finishing the enemy off.
- Purge the Wicked
This will almost always be your highest damage done at the end of a game. It is mandatory as a disc priest that you learn to apply this and continue reapplying. It silently contributes to a vast amount of your atonement healing.
- Mass Dispel
This is traditionally used for removing invulnerabilities (divine shield, ice block, blessing of protection). Some priests may not know that it also removes cyclone from a friendly target. While you will most often use it for these purposes, it also acts as a second Purify. If your team desperately needs to get out of a CC to land a kill, MD can be a very effective use of a global.
- Dark Archangel
This only gets applied to teammates who have Atonement up, so keep that in mind before using it. I like to use this in my team’s opener to potentially force more cooldowns out of the enemy team. Don’t be afraid to use this ability if you think it will help, it’s only a 1-minute cooldown.
Positioning has always been a concept that’s difficult to teach. It takes time to recognise where your best position is on a map at a given time, and even when you think you’re good at it you’ll make mistakes constantly. I’ll try to give some general guidelines:
- Play with some distance from your team
- If you’re facing a warlock or mage, try to stay close to a pillar while keeping this distance to avoid poly and fear.
- If not, it’s okay to play more in the open. Be aware of potential swaps on you and ensure the other team must expose themselves in order to attack you.
- Playing with distance means you aren’t at risk of being focus kicked by melee, will not have to eat AoE stuns with your teammates and it forces mobility cooldowns out of the enemy team if they wish to swap to you. FORCE the other team use charge/death grip/sprint/blink/etc if they wish to reach you.
- Try to have some awareness of your positioning as it relates to your teammates. For instance: let’s say you’re playing rogue/mage/priest and you’re facing warrior/DK/healer and they’ve immediately connected to you. It can be much better to stand in the open or in the corner of a map to allow your mage to easily land sheeps on the DPS to peel for you. By running around a pillar in this circumstance you force your mage to chase you and make his job significantly harder. A good mage will likely tell you when you’re making this mistake.
- Play more aggressive or defensive as a team. If your team thinks they have an opportunity to set up a kill, make sure that is communicated and move in more aggressively together! It’s no good for your team to walk around the enemy’s pillar while you refuse to give up a defensive position at your own pillar.
- However, also learn to adapt to your team at lower ratings or without voice. Most DPS are going to give you a hard time with their positioning. You will often have to stand where you don’t want to. Use this as an opportunity to learn how to play more aggressive while still attempting to dodge CC, etc.
- Try not to blame your teammates or leave groups based on how hard they make it on you; you’re going to struggle to find teammates who have the awareness to both play their class correctly mechanically while positioning well for you.
Know Your Enemy
In this section I’m hoping to write some brief points that would be ideal to know going into each matchup.
- Other disc priests are wanting to do the same as you; pump out more damage for higher pressure and more efficient healing.
- The priest who does more damage is more likely to win, particularly in 2s. This often makes it more worthwhile to be doing damage than healing, even when your teammate is slightly low on HP.
- Watch for MC. You can purge it off by targeting the teammate that is being MCd.
- Don’t stick around for too long after you fear. Get the fear and get out to avoid a WoTF > fear on yourself. This applies to any class that can trinket and CC you back.
- We only have one dispel baseline. If a priest is running at you to get a fear, call it out and have your partner slow them. Don’t make it too easy for them; force them to waste their dispel on removing their own slow.
- Shadow priests have some burst potential but are overall manageable. Keep PtW up on as many targets as possible to allow atonement to heal through their spread pressure.
- Consider running Relentless if the shadow priest is not paired with a class that has a long cc.
- Holy paladins will always be looking to stun you to start their team’s cc chain.
- It’s very difficult to avoid the stun due to steed, so instead force the paladin into a poor position if he wants to land it.
- This will give your team the option to either swap to the paladin or cc him when he’s out of position.
- Most paladins will not be running Repentance but if you play against one that does, take Premonition.
- Look for Divine Favor. This is an ability that buffs their next heal and makes them immune to kick. Purge it if you see it.
- Try to purge hand of protection and hand of freedom from themselves and teammates when it’s feasible. It should be high priority, but not worth anyone potentially dying.
- Mass Dispel will remove paladins bubble. If the paladin is low enough, consider casting MD in advance of the bubble. In many cases this will guarantee a kill.
- Be wary of wind shear and hex. Both are on short cooldowns so try to stick to a pillar to avoid being cc’d for free.
- Shamans can tremor totem prior to your fear, breaking the fear instantly. Try to either
- fear out of your teammates cc
- fear when the shaman is on GCD (they just used another ability) or
- run to the shaman, wait for tremor, kill it with PtW and then fear them.
- Use PW: Solace to kill earthbind, capacitor totem, etc.
- Purge is very effective against shamans. Try to purge Ghost Wolf and Earth Shield when you have extra globals to spare.
- Shamans will often run in and use their totems to get you in combat the start of a match. Try to find ways to distance yourself from them if, for instance, you are playing with a rogue who wants to get a sap.
- Watch for cyclone. It has a short range so do your best to move away or line of sight it if it’s avoidable.
- Force the druid to come to you if he wants to land a cyclone. Standing on the same pillar as them will result in an easy bash > cyclone on yourself.
- Druids can leap > bash you in cat form. Call out to your teammate to cc or kick the druid before he can finish casting cyclone.
- Purging druid hots can be very effective. Try to do it when your team is setting up for a kill or has a lot of pressure already.
- If you have time, purge Thorns asap. Thorns will deal high damage to your melee teammate and kill your team’s pressure if it stays up for too long.
- Moonkins can use instant root > solar beam on you at any time. You can try to outrange and line of sight this, though it will mostly be up to your team to survive and kick the follow up cyclone when it inevitably happens.
- If you time it perfectly, it is possible to dispel the root before solar beam lands.
- Try to force the DK to use his death grip if he wants to reach you. Don’t let him get to you for free.
- Abuse line of sight; ensure you’re standing in the DKs line of sight for as little time as possible if it’s clear he wants to swap to you.
- Their highest burst will come when you see them summon an Abomination. Save your cooldowns for when you’re stunned while this pet is out.
- You can use shackle undead on the Abom to cc it for 8 seconds. This is also useable on the DK if they use Lichborne.
- Masochism is very useful against DKs in order to heal through Abom and Necrotic Strike damage/absorbs. Try to get kicked on penance so you can spam shadow mend.
- Purge Enveloping Mists when going for the kill or trying to maintain pressure against Mistweavers.
- Premonition will break a monk’s incap, though I’d argue it’s unreliable. If there are no other abilities to death on their team, take a different PvP talent.
- Try to line up a defensive cooldown with touch of death.
- Touch of Karma applies a dispellable dot based on damage dealt. Try to dispel this when the dot is at its highest.
- A very difficult matchup for disc. Warriors apply pressure to disc priests in a way that DK and DH doesn’t.
- If the warrior uses berserker rage, you can use fear after it ends. The warrior has no way out of this fear outside of trinket or a dispel.
- Try to bait spell reflect out of the warrior by fake casting Schism.
- You can use Premonition to break the warriors fear, though it’s inconsistent and probably not worthwhile.
- Masochism will again be almost mandatory to survive a warrior in 2s.
- Save defensive cooldowns for Avatar & Sharpen Blade.
- Demon hunters deal high damage and have multiple ways to interrupt you via kick, incap and stun. Don’t let yourself fall too low or a combination of these will finish you off.
- Mana burn is unavoidable, even with Relentless. Try to play aggressive against these teams and force an early win or loss. You will otherwise likely lose the mana battle and the match.
- You can MC a DH during darkness. This darkness now becomes ‘yours’ and it will not affect the enemy team so long as you hold MC.
- Warlock pets can kick you even while the warlock is out of line of sight. It is mostly a bad idea for the warlock to do this, but many do it anyway so be aware
- Premonition can be used against fear in the same way as poly.
- Use leap of faith to save your partner from a chaos bolt while they are stuck inside a stun or fear.
- A good hunter will try to trap you on cooldown and kill your partner. You can Premonition the trap, but it very often happens out of a stun and is thus unavoidable. Call it out to your partner so they can prepare to kite or use a defensive cooldown to survive the incoming damage.
- If your teammates are close enough, they can stand on top of you to eat the trap in your place. This is an unreliable way to avoid trap in BfA.
- Premonition can also be used to break the undispellable hunter root.
- Try to prepare a defensive cooldown each time the hunter is about to land a trap. E.g.
- PS your teammate during the stun, as you will not be able to use it when trap lands.
- Barrier your teammate if the hunter grapples towards you and you do not have premonition.
- Most obvious tip is to run Premonition every game against a mage.
- Be aware of which polymorphs can target you and which cannot. You can only be polyd by a cast that was targeting you while you were in line of sight when it started.
- At higher ratings this becomes a mind game between the priest and mage. A good priest will premonition a poly. A good mage will know this and cancel (fake cast) their poly to avoid premo. A better priest will deliberately avoid using premo on that poly cast, and cast it on the next one, etc. High skill-cap matchup.
- You can use leap of faith to save your teammate from a greater pyroblast while they are stuck in a stun or bad position.
- Premonition can also be used to break Dragon’s Breath (before it lands) and Frost Nova (if you have no dispel and desperately need it to break).
- You can use Premonition to nullify blind (and sap). The idea of this play is that we try to play outside of blind’s range for as long as possible. Reducing the time spent in range of blind means increasing the likelihood that you will premonition when they do it. It takes time and a good feel for the matchup to know when a rogue wants to blind. At lower ratings rogues will signal their blind by running straight towards you; these ones are a lot easier to premo. A good rogue will either wait for premonition to be used or will use it unexpectedly.
- If you suspect a rogue will smoke-bomb, you can use life grip right before it goes off. This can save you and your partner having to use extra cooldowns. Rogues will generally smoke-bomb when their target has no trinket and when they’re in a kidney. Be aware that the rogue is looking for this throughout the game.
- Power Word: Barrier can be placed on top of smoke bomb. This is an effective way to deal with this if your teammate does not have their trinket available.
/cast [harm] [@targettarget,harm] Smite
I use targetoftarget macros for all my offensive abilities (smite, solace, PtW, schism, etc). I find I use them less than I’d like, but they’re there to reduce the number of target changes when I want to do damage.
/cast [@player] Angelic Feather
When I run feather I use two binds; one is this macro and the other is a regular feather. This macro will self-cast feather without the need to click. The other is used to feather teammates.
/cast [help] !Purify; [harm] !Dispel magic
Probably the most useful macro you can have as a disc priest. This will combine Purify and Dispel Magic into one button (while still showing you the cooldown on Purify). Friendly targets get purified, enemy targets get dispelled.
/cast [@arena1] Purge the Wicked
/cast [@arena1] Mind Control
This will cast the wanted spell at the enemy in the first arena frame. I find it much more efficient to apply PtW and mind control by looking at the arena frames and pressing the appropriate bind (rather than manually targeting the person). If you use this, repeat each spell for arena2 and arena3. I bind Mind Controls to Ctrl-1, Ctrl-2, Ctrl-3 and PtW to Shift-1, Shift-2, Shift-3.
I use these macros to target myself and my teammates. This targeting system is an absolute minimum if you want to play healer effectively. I bind mouse scroll up to target myself, down to target my first teammate, middle click to target my second teammate. I use this in combination with this macro, which ensures MY raid frame is always at the top:
/run LoadAddOn(“Blizzard_CompactRaidFrames”) CRFSort_Group=function(t1, t2) if UnitIsUnit(t1,”player”) then return true elseif UnitIsUnit(t2,”player”) then return false else return t1 < t2 end end CompactRaidFrameContainer.flowSortFunc=CRFSort_Group
** After pressing this macro, go into Raid Profiles, set Keep Groups Together to OFF and Sort By: Group. If you’re already sorting by group, click Group again for your raid frames to update.
Basic addon, places class icons inside your player, target, focus, arena frames.
Very old addon. This flashes abilities that have just come off cooldown for you. Useful to see when fear, PS, shadowfiend, DA, etc come off cooldown.
Neat Plates: Blizzard Plates:
Replaces the new nameplates with the better looking, old ones.
I use this to show a small PtW icon above each enemy arena frame to let me know how long the dot has left and when to reapply/apply.
Global / GCD: Global cooldown. The time between each ability you can use
Dot: Damage over time ability
Crit: Critical Strike Rating
PtW: Purge the Wicked
Dispel: Typically I’m referring to Purify when I say dispel.
Maso: Masochism, our 2nd row talent
CC: Crowd Control (e.g. sheep, fear, blind)
MC: Mind Control
DA: Dark Archangel
Dome: Power Word: Barrier
Grip / Life grip: Leap of Faith
Trained: Being attacked relentlessly, particularly by melee
Purge: Dispel Magic, aka removing enemy buffs
PS: Pain Suppression
Disc Priest PvP guide for BFA
Hopefully this guide was useful to aspiring PvP disc priests. If you have any questions, feel free to let us know in the comments below.