Priest Guide: Part 3 – How to Build Discipline


Okay, you waited patiently for this, and a few of you kept poking me to make sure it got done. I hope I made you proud!

Part 1 gave a brief overview of each talent.

Part 2 went through my Holy spec, and how you can customize it for your needs.

This installment will review my Discipline spec, which is NOT a cookie-cutter build.

Step 1:14-mandatory-points

To start, plug in those mandatory 14 points:

  • Twin Disciplines – 5
  • Improved Inner Fire – 3
  • Improved Power Word: Fortitude – 2* **
  • Meditation – 3
  • Inner Focus – 1

*PvEers: If you are 100% certain that another Priest in your raid will have Imp:Fort, and not mind buffing, and you REALLY feel the need for threat reduction, you can move these two points into Silent Resolve. I don’t think it’s worth it, but it is an option.

**PvPers: Choose Martyrdom rather than Imp:Fort.

Step 2:

Decide whether this is a Holy build, or a Discipline build. For this example, I’ll walk you through my Disc spec and my reasons for each point. This will be a bit different: because I usually raid Holy, my Holy build is very utilitarian. My Disc build, on the other hand, is specifically for General Vezax Hardmode – the only 25-man fight where I use it. (I do use it in 10 man content for things like Iron Council hardmode, but due to gearing levels, the spec doesn’t need to be perfect to handle the fight.)

Step 3:

Inspiration-done Because this is a Disc build, and Disc builds focus on single target or tank healing, after plugging in the mandatory points in the Disc tree, we should flip over to Holy, since we KNOW that we will want Inspiration, and get those points out of the way. This will give a better idea of how many points we have to work with when we are making either-or decisions deep in the Disc tree itself.

The first step is to max out Holy Specialization – I do this in Holy to allow more Haste on my gear, but in Discipline because of how Crit is heavily favored by deeper Discipline talents. Next, because I personally use Renew rather heavily to even out spiking tank damage, I max out Improved Renew.

I do not use Greater Heal often, so I only put 2 points in Divine Fury for now – I prefer that my Greater Heals be slightly faster when I DO need them (and, remember, I’m very used to a LOT of haste – I generally have over 15%). I have considered removing these points from Divine Fury altogether and moving them into Healing Focus – But, again, because this build is specifically for General Vezax, none of the damage causes spell pushback. You could make a case for putting these points into Spell Warding, but because of how Saronite Vapors works, as you decrease your taken damage, you will also decrease your mana received. (Note: Saronite Vapors are only available on regular mode) If you have trouble getting out of the vapors before the 8th tick, or want some cushion for the 7th, 2 points in Spell Warding might be a great idea. Whether you decide to put these points into Healing Focus, Divine Fury, or Spell Warding, leave it at two – that’s all you need to get to the next tier. If you find yourself with extra points after we’re done on the Disc side, you can always come back and plug them in.

Getting to the next tier is critical, since that’s where Inspiration is. Max it out, and go back to the Disc tree.

Step 4:

Tier-5-DiscSo far, with the exception of limiting the points in Divine Fury to two, this looks exactly like a Holy build. Which makes it time to plug points in down the Disc tree. We already took the Mandatory 14 points in  Step 1, so we’ll move forward from the 3rd tier. We already maxed out Meditation and Inner Focus, so just pick up all 3 points in Improved Power Word: Shield the bread & butter spell of a Disc Priest – now even better!

In the 4th tier, 3 points in Mental Agility is all you need to move on to the 5th tier. Many, many Priests who take Disc as a career option will also want to pick up Absolution invaluable on fights that involve crazy amounts of dispelling like Hodir Hardmode, Thorim Hardmode, and Yogg Saron. Because my disc build is for General Vezax specifically, and Vezax involves zero dispelling, I skip it.  You do not, for any reason, need Improved Mana Burn in a PvE build.

Tier 5 gives us Mental Strength, a must not only for better mana pool and increased regen from replenishment, but you have to max this out in order to access Power Infusion. To the right is Soul Warding, your reward for maxing out Improved Power Word: Shield. Since Reflective Shield, on the left, only causes damage to those attacking you, the Priest, it’s pretty much useless for PvE. (It reminds me a bit of the old Human Priest racial Feedback – I never used that, either, but at least this doesn’t cost extra mana and only last for 10 seconds.)

Next, max out both Focused Power (to increase your healing done), and Enlightenment. For Vezax, you could actually skip Elnlightenment – the Spirit isn’t going to give you any regen, and without Spiritual Guidance from the Holy tree, you won’t see a bonus to your spell power, either. But, personally, I appreciate the increase to haste, so I take it. (You have to have these points somewhere, anyway, to be able to unlock the next tiers.)

Tier-8-DiscTier 7 allows you to skip Focused will – the increased crit chance notwithstanding, this is primarily a PvP talent, and the bulk of it is useless for PvE. Power Infusion, on the other hand, is a brilliant talent. I don’t use it on myself on Vezax HM, since the mana cost isn’t offset by my own casts (I’m not chain casting.), but I’ll toss it on a Mage or Ele Shaman if I have spare mana. Having this talent allows my very specialized spec to do double duty in 10 mans. I do max out Improved Flash Heal – especially now that they cooldown on Penance is longer, I find I sometimes need Flash Heals to top off the tank.

Tier 8 gives us one of the greatest talents in the Disc Priest arsenal – Renewed Hope. I had a Disc Priest try to tell me that PW:S wasn’t worth the mana on Vezax – that it didn’t absorb enough. (I know, right?) Even if it didn’t, the increased crit to Penance, Flash, and Greater Heal, and the chance to reduce damage on this tank by 3% is unbelievable.  Rapture is where my spec gets a little strange. I only take 2 points here. 1 of them is to open the next tier, and the other could be moved somewhere else. The thing is that Rapture, while amazing on fights that actually allow regen, doesn’t work on Vezax. I’ve heard conflicting reports that it DOES work on your target, but not you, the caster. Either way, my tank is far, far, far from rage /runic power starved, and if I can’t get any mana back, who cares. I’ll show you what I do with the extra point later.  Aspiration is useful for lowering the cooldown not only of Penance, but of Inner Focus. Max max max.

Tier-9-10-11-DiscMax out the whole of Tiers 9, 10, and 11. Not that you need specific reasons, but on tank-damage-heavy fights like Vezax, an additional shield, external, tank-saving  cooldown, and additional healing received are HUGE. Ditto for a 40%-of-your-spellpower-bigger PW:S, spellhaste, and the grandaddy Disc Healing spell of them all, Penance. Nom, Nom, Nom.

Okay, so you can see that we now have 53 points in Disc, and if you’ve been following along in the holy tree, you’ll have 13 spent there. This leaves 5 points. Go over to the Holy Tree. In the middle of tier 4 is Improved Healing, which reduces the mana cost of Greater Heal, Divine Hymn, Penance, and some junk we don’t care about. For a fight like Vezax, this is huge. To get there, I take Desperate Prayer, mostly because I’m so used to having it (and bad things seem to happen to me when I don’t.) and I add one more point into Divine Fury. Again, these are purely based on my personal playstyle, and you could pack those two points into Healing Focus or Spell Warding – I just haven’t found either of those talents as useful as extra haste for my biggest heal, and an “Oh Sh**!!” button for myself.

Once those points are assigned, traipse down to Improved Healing and max it out – this reduces the mana cost of your Penance by 15% – roughly 93 mana saved, per cast. THIS is why I shaved the point out of Rapture, and why my Disc spec is considered pretty unorthodox. I wouldn’t spec this way if Disc were my primary spec, but for Vezax, Vezax HM, and any 10 man content (where my gear can compensate for a non-ideal spec), it’s brilliant.

This is my completed spec:


Which, again, is very, very specialized, and not at all what I would call a “typical” Disc spec. Part of my hesitation in writing this post is that I know most of our commenters and community are very vigilant about watching for things to be “best” and also about making a very strong case for their own quirks – but that’s the thing about WoW as it stands currently – “best” is dependent upon playstyle, which is itself dependent upon available content/equipment. That said, sometimes there really IS a “better” if not a “best” way to do something, and the fastest way to figure out what that is is to throw yourself into the lovely group of people that make the healer community.

I hope this look at a non-standard build helps you feel more comfortable stepping outside the box and tailoring your own spec to your specific needs – feel free to discuss what you’ve found helpful in the comments.

Next Post: Helpful Macros (keep me honest on this one – I’m terrible about posting most of the time, but I always read your emails, and your encouragement makes a huge difference!)


14 thoughts on “Priest Guide: Part 3 – How to Build Discipline”

  1. Good article. =)

    Disc is really great for Vezax, with good synergy between crit, Inspiration, Divine Aegis, and shields. Moving points to pick up Improved Healing helped me a lot in dealing with this most mana-sensitive encounter. I do find the choice of Improved Renew odd, since it has no synergy with the rest of the build, and on Vezax your HoT ticks will likely be lost to overhealing thanks to shields and other HoTs. But to each their own: some Priests do great things with Renew.

    As for general Disc builds, I would probably recommend against Improved Healing and Absolution. In my experience, Disc rarely has mana problems, thanks to Rapture and other talents. Instead, I recommend Focused Will. It may look like a PvP talent, but it is strictly better than Holy Specialization point-for-point. Disc loves all the crit it can get; every bit you crit is more pro-active shielding on your target.
    .-= Wikwocket´s last blog ..Talent Review: Body and Soul =-.

  2. My general tank healing-oriented spec I use as disc is quite similar to yours, just in disc I move a point from grace to rapture and remove all points from imp. FH. In holy I have 2/2 healing focus (somewhat debatable), nothing in renew, 5/5 divine fury, 3/3 inspiration and 3/3 imp healing.

    And yea, rapture does work on Vezax for the priest that casts it, just it returns significantly less mana than normally. Fight log that probably will get deleted in a few days/weeks, that priest is not me. Just take a look who casted shields on who and who got mana from it:

  3. Yeah, I would consider Focused Will a must have for a standard disc build – but to do this one, and to make sure i got to Improved Healing… it had to get the axe.

    For a standard Disc build, I wouldn’t worry about the 93 mana, since replenishment etc. keep me from going oom… pretty much ever.

    When we do Vezax, I swap a few pieces of gear to get the crit back – and i have a pretty serious crit staff, so I let myself take the luxury. It’s all a balancing act.

  4. As was mentioned, Rapture does work on Vezax. The caveat is that is doesn’t return mana to the person it’s cast on (they are immune to that), however it will return rage (and from there I’m guessing energy and runic power). To the casting discipline priest it returns far less mana than normal (about 200 for me as opposed to 700), however, with the int levels you should be seeing at that point, you will still get mana back if you cast the shield while in a shadow crash.

    Parse snippet:
    .-= ummeiko´s last blog ..Rundown: Healing Crusader’s Coliseum – Northrend Beasts =-.

  5. Pingback:
  6. Very nice post. I switched to disc from holy about a month ago, and I’ve been waiting for you to talk about the disc spec ever since you covered holy in part two. I feel that this post is especially useful for people like me, who already have a feel for the talents and abilities the cookie cutter spec gives you, and are now ready to branch out and build our own spec.


  7. For Vezax: if you can stand in the black stuff while casting PWS.

    If you want to completely min/max you should also not have the glyph of PWS for that fight. Because the healing component of your glyphed PWS will be lessened by the black, but the shield will not.
    .-= Shy´s last blog ..Casualties of Cataclysm =-.

  8. The way my guild does it, I don’t have an opportunity to stand in black stuff. I, and another Disc Priest, stand on the melee. We don’t run, we don’t move. I keep shield up, and we trade Penance, so that there’s the damage mitigating crit benefits up as much as possible.

  9. “Disc builds focus on single target or tank healing”

    Stuff like this continues to make me bang my head against the wall as a disc priest and an RL. Disc’s are only ‘single-target’ healers if you’re comparing them to holy priests or resto shams. They’re arguably as good or better raid healers than everyone else with PoMs and Bubble-PoH rotations. Which puts them squarely in the middle of the healing classes. They’re probably the most balanced, versatile healer in the game at the moment.

  10. But I AM comparing Disc to Holy.

    I’ll say it though, for anyone who thinks my opinion matters: Disc can be a fabulous raid-healing spec, and I wouldn’t want to do Freya HM without a solid Disc Priest backing me up on the raid heals.

  11. Hi there. I just started playing WoW last June and your guides have been really helpful. I’m hitting 80 tomorrow and have been using your holy build (but allocated 1 point to lightwell) since I hit 75 with shadow offspec. I was just wondering should I spec to discipline instead of a shadowpriest? Would I still be able to do dalies efficiently?

  12. I have never had any trouble doing my dailies in my Holy main spec, but if you’re used to grinding/questing as shadow, you may notice that a healing-intensive build is slower. Very few daily quests involve killing an inordinate number of mobs (there used to be this one at 70 that involved killing demons when you had them within a certain distance of a portal that had a time limit – that one was a pain for me to solo)

    It’s entirely up to you, but if you’re looking to be a full-time healer, feel free to go holy/disc; it won’t give you any trouble.


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