Smite Healing with the Atonement Spec

Atonement’s one of those really curious talents in the discipline tree. We’ve never really experienced anything like it before and I can understand the reluctance behind taking it.

But it’s got some potential. And I found it fun the few times I pulled it off.

How it works

The basic premise is that you’re unloading Smites on a hostile target. As you’re hitting them with Smite, Atonement activates and heals any player within 8 yards of the target for 100% of the damage that Smite does.

For priests at level 80
For priests at level 85

Here are the key talents:

Atonement: You absolutely need this. Its kind of the central focus. In an earlier build, Smite would heal 60/120% according to the damage dealt. In the current beta build, it dropped down to 40/80%. As of the current PTR for the 4.0.1 patch, it was raised to 50/100%.

Archangel & Evangelism: Both of these talents help with buffing the damage you’re dishing out or allowing you to get some precious mana back.

Divine Aegis: Yup, DA bubbles will appear off of heals from Atonement.

Feel free to pick and choose the rest of them according to your own play style.


You’ll want to get some of these glyphs to help vault your utility.


Glyph of Divine Accuracy: I know I have close to zero hit gear. For this spec to work, you need to be able to hit the boss. If you can’t hit the boss, you can’t heal.

Glyph of Smite: The Holy Fire DoT doesn’t last that long, but the does help.

Those are the two main ones and everything else is up to you. However, I would recommend:

You’re in the discipline tree anyway. May as well get some glyphs that augment that tree further.

Spell usage

Open up with a Holy Fire right away, then begin blasting away with a Smite. If you’re lucky, you’ll get in about 4 powered up Smites before th e DoT wears off. You’ll need to eyeball your mana here. Get a full stack of Evangelism going. Between Evangelism and the Glyph of Smite, it should elevate you to some reasonably comfortable numbers.

Once I notice a mana deficit of about 15 – 20%, I’ll pop Archangel and instantly get my mana back and resume Smiting.

You still have access to your healing priest spells. Don’t be tunnel visioned into believing that Smiting is the only way to heal because it isn’t. It is the main focus, but don’t forget about your other heals. Use them in a pinch if you need to. Instead of sitting back and waiting for people to take damage, you’re actively doing something which has a positive side effect.

If you’re in a smaller group environment like a 10-man or a 5-man, you’ll need to keep a closer watch on yourself and any other ranged players that aren’t standing with the melee.

In a raid environment, you can use this to your advantage. If you’re like me and contemplating the usage of a full time Smite priest, that’s one dedicated healer on the melee. That means you can focus the efforts of the other healers on the ranged players and maybe an additional one managing the tanks.


I expect there to be some sort of diminishing return. I just don’t have the faintest clue what it would be (as in how many players before the effectiveness reduces). Unless you really want to stack your entire raid on top of the boss, the usability of this spec is going to be limited to melee friendly bosses. You don’t want to tango with Deathwhisper or Saurfang for instance. Either the ghosts or bloodbeasts will tear you and your raid up alive. You’d probably want to revert back to the traditional style of being a disc priest and resort to actual healing if those types of bosses are waiting for you.

No word yet on whether this will  be final in either the PTR or the beta. We’ll know within the next week or so.

What I need to now do is find a volunteer priest willing to go Smite heal in our raids. Anyone else planning on giving this a try when the patch kicks in?

37 thoughts on “Smite Healing with the Atonement Spec”

  1. Tooltip says this heals “a low-health” party member (the in-game tooltip currently says something that indicates it doesn’t heal just one person). In my experience in Cata dungeons, it heals one person plus (when a pet is nearby) one pet.

    I’m not sure how much this smite healing is actually going to be doing; landing a 7k heal every smite feels like it’s not going to be keeping up with the needs of healing. I think that it’s going to be a viable playstyle for the ‘easy’ parts, where the boss is just swinging and you would otherwise just be chain-casting heal, but I don’t think it’s going to be (for any priest) their core heal for anything else. Basically, Smite spam replaces Heal Spam for disc priests with atonement and archangel.

    Is that your experience so far? Is there something I’m missing?

    • Christopher Schmidt: Essentially yes. You’re not using Heal as much (if at all). Think of it as a form of cleave healing. You’re splashing heals around with Smite. Granted, the players benefit MUCH more from you using traditional healing spells. But as you’re Smiting, they’re receiving heal. So the health of the melee group is eventually going to get down, but they won’t go down as fast. When they reach the yellow or red zone, drop a few shields and a few heals to get them back into the green and resume.

      I have tried it a few times in a few 5 mans. I don’t have the gear to completely pull it off in heroic (and I haven’t tried it there admittedly).

  2. Most bloggers seem positive about this spec. I also think I’ll be using it someday.

    But I hardly see it being useful… or even decent… in a rough raid environment. I cant even picture myself right now throwing Smites in on Heroic Halion. That encounter literally screams “all of your healing GCDs are important”.

    I believe for level 80, I will stick to a more conventional build. As for Cata, I’ll cross my fingers and pray that the hard mode encounters will allow for some “pauses” in order to stack up with Smites. Because, let’s face it… If an encounter has zero downtime, and that you purposely start Smiting to stack up your buff, thus increasing the healing job of the remaining healers, you make a very poor healer. Attonement or not.

    I’ll be picking my final spec when I first step in the new raid dungeons on heroic difficulty. Not before.

    But I hope it’ll be a Smiting spec, because it seems fun (:

    • Anna: Yeah, I think the effectiveness of the spec is largely going to depend on raid makeup as well. If you have more melee players, then it’ll be better too. I don’t think any raid healing corps. is going to be last with 6 Atonement priests. But having 1 might be interesting. At the very least, it will stabilize players at melee range and buy extra time for other healers to catch up.

    • Kind of like Disc started out as in Wrath when not so many Priests were specced into it…You only really need one or two max (especially if you have healy Pallies) for some single-target healing and shield spam.

    • Actually, for Halion hc its an excellent spec to help out in p1. We are currently running with 7 healers and p1 is often a yawnfest unless things go wrong somehow with the adds or people taking meteor fire damage (which they shouldn’t). If no unneccessary damage is being taken, some healers aren’t doing all that much, so switching to dragon dps to get a smooth transition isn’t a bad thing. This could even open up the option of running 8 healers more comfortably (8 makes the transition timing go wrong for us sometimes, but makes p2 & 3 more bareable.)

  3. I’ve been following this discussion intently, both on the forums and testing the various iterations on the beta server. So far, I remain cautiously optimistic about this spec.

    My one comment on this writeup Matticus, is the feasibility of using Holy Fire and Glyph of Smite. In my tests in beta, unless I used +hit gear or threw points into Twisted Faith, my Holy Fire missed constantly on higher level mobs. When it does land, it does seem like a nice boost, but it’s harder to pull that off without the +hit.

    Ideally, the Divine Accuracy Glyph would have to apply to Holy Fire also to really make it work, and I would love it if Smite extended the duration of the Holy Fire DoT, but that’s wishful thinking.

    I can’t wait to start really testing these out come patch day (next week, perhaps?) on live.

    • Lamnidae: Agree with you on the hit aspect. I don’t know how screwed up our numbers are going to be. At the same time, we’re still healers and I didn’t want to compromise our gear by throwing in hit gear in the event we still needed to normally heal stuff. On most 5 mans, it isn’t a problem (occassional miss on the boss). Might have to throw in a piece of hit gear or two (or even reforge some) for raids at the current level. Its all up in the air right now.

  4. This playstyle seems incredibly fun! Being someone who does mostly PvP as a disc priest I can easily see myself jumping into PvE in cata just because of our revitalized talent trees.

    I’m very much looking forward to playing around with this in 4.0.1 on live. 🙂

  5. I think the problem is that they are advertising that healers have this time to decide what to cast because hit pools are bigger but in reality it still bases everything on attempting to keep that tank and the rest of your group up utilizing every global cooldown…NOW WITH MORE MANA PROBLEMS!

    Trying to manage your mana is yet another reason why I don’t see this working with the current beta build. In a lot of heroic encounters I just don’t have what it takes to keep up Smite and Holy Fire (especially with spells costing me so much of my mana even with 65k). Perhaps this has a lot to do with gear…But if it is super easy once you have epics I am not gonna be happy with that either.

    Honestly I think they added too many changes at once…Instead they should have brought in the healing changes and tweaked them based on what they knew about normal 5-mans and then when they had it where they thought was good they should have introduced heroics…Or introduce heroics with Live healing stuff and then gone from there. As it stands I don’t know if it is the healing mechanics that make heroics hard or the heroic mechanics that do (well and some of the heroics are terribly easy…But I am talking about like Stonecore lol)?

    Anyways I just hope that they tweak some stuff…Cause right now I am not having as much fun healing or leveling (no Spirit Tap with the new mechanics means I have to rest every three fights, Dispersion is alright but even still, and fights don’t last long enough for Shadow Fiend to help at all). Anyways I do have faith in Blizzard. They haven’t really let me down yet so I am keeping a good thought.

    • Angry_Panda: Hope you’re remembering to tap the Archangel and Evangelism combo, right? Its one of the additional methods we’ll be using to regain mana.

    • Using Archangel on cooldown the Smite build has a *lot* more mana to play with than you will get using Heal. You could, of course, maximize mana by using only 5 smites every 30 seconds and Heal otherwise.

  6. This issue I have with the spec is that the play will become incredibly boring once the novelty wears off. You are a 1 button healer and a 1 button dps. I’d imagine it would get old quickly. Also, if you do turn to the other heals and don’t smite heal you’d feel guilty about the innefficiency of your spec.

    It would be the sort of thing for gimmick fights i think, like xt hardmode 😛

  7. I think this has the potential to work nicely in 10 man raids. 2 “normal” healers plus a smite priest has the potential to work really well. A lot of times while we were working through ICC we were at the point where we didn’t need 3 healers but it was rough only having 2. Situations like that is where I see this really shining. It’s essentially 2.5 healers as long as you have some melee that are taking damage and need healing.

  8. I am definitely dying to try a smite spec out as Ive been thinking about it since the news came out and secretly been making my own builds. I am definitely going to try this out come patch time but my priest is my alt and definitely not as good as my resto Druid main.

    The only thing that I predict is that smite builds will NOT work well with resto Druids, mainly due to efflorescence. Both the smite spec and efflorescence are great for healing the melée group. This would leave a decent shortage of healing on the ranged. Efflorescence is the main strength of the resto druid at this point, it seems.

    • Bith: Floweressence is based off of the target healed by the druid right? You could park the druid healers on ranged players or other healers instead ^^.

  9. @Matticus

    The problem with that is that the distance of the effect does not seem to be wide enough to cover as many ranged as it would melée.

    In fights that do not require a number of people to be in ranged, such as Sindragosa on regular or LK on certain phases, the stacking of ranged on melée with Flower Puddle and Smite cleaves would just be amazing, I think.

    I really can’t wait to try these new mechanics and liven up what is a quite boring instance by this point. I might even have to shelve my Druid for a bit while I test out these new priest mechanics (they certainly seem much more interesting, in my opinion).

    • Bith: Very true. Theres always going to be specific fights where it’ll benefit everyone stacking up ^^.

      I jus thope melee players don’t use it as an excuse to get cleaved :\.

  10. You’ll want to take train of thought with it so you can weave in penance more often 🙂

    On Holy Fire I have to agree with Anna, smite should prolong the dot and the hit glyph should also count for holy fire.

    And manawise, yes, this is a very good mana spec, since you’ll be able to use your archangel about every time it’s up. Not to forget it’s one of the more exciting specs.

  11. I’m definitely giving it a try when it hits the live although I dont like the idea of being a dps and healer at the same time(lots of things can go wrong on while doing this)since I’ve played healer for most of my time in WoW I can play without looking at how much damage I hit to the boss(even in shadow spec) cause I know that chasing my procs and avoiding things are more important than seeing the spell I casted hit the boss(Its already cast, who cares how much it hits as long as the boss dies?) but this talent will be a big burden to play with in new content, considering that HC’s are giving the Heroic feeling again(in beta at least – please don’t nerf)

  12. I think this spec looks pretty good for leveling, or when you’re overgeared for dungeons. However, it just doesn’t sound like fun at all for serious progression healing. Just too cumbersome to cast all those smites when I could just cast Heal or Penance and be done with it.

  13. “If you’re like me and contemplating the usage of a full time Smite priest, that’s one dedicated healer on the melee”

    I have been looking forward to Atonement since it first appeared but wow, that’s a depressing idea. I see Smite as a Heal replacement when useful (it helps that that’s what GC said about it), something to make Discipline even more fun and interactive not to turn a priest into a healing totem. 🙁

  14. I very recently wrote a blog post about how the Smite spec compares to the “Heal” spec. The actual amount of healing the spec outputs exceeds spamming heal, and scales much better with gear. This spec is probably going to need some sizable revisions as the expansion goes on to keep it from getting out of hand. At any rate, I am definitely going to ride the Smite priest train as long as I can.

    On Holy Fire: If your goal is to heal rather than to dps, skip holy fire. If all you were doing was casting Smite then you would be spending 75% of the time it takes to cast a Smite to increase your next 4 smites by 20% (you’d need 43% haste to get a 5th in), netting 5% of a smite. That’s a benefit if you don’t cast Penance or Shield in the mean time. But that would mean not casting Penance for more than 8 seconds (since Holy Fire has a cast time) and Penance is a much stronger and more efficient heal than even a full Evangelism Smite with +20%. Since you’ll want to Penance, the Holy Fire will only net you 60% of a smite extra damage, which is a loss of healing.

    • The build you used was almost identical to the one I have been using on the beta server also, with the only main difference being some points shifted around from build to build elsewhere. I’m not a fan of Soul Warding yet also, and I’m not sure what it’d take exactly for me to come around to it.

      I experimented quite a bit with trying to find the “sweet spot,” the combination of Heal and DPS gear to maximize this build. It’s tough – we don’t need quite the same amount of Spirit because of the gains from Archangel (the 2 points you have in Veiled Shadows to reduce the Shadowfiend cooldown will help too). I didn’t worry about +Hit because of the Divine Accuracy Glyph, and instead worked mainly toward +Crit and +Haste. I think I’ll try and keep a bit of a mix, as much as possible, because there are times I foresee needing to cast our actual heals. This is one reason why Reforging will be pretty beneficial for us.

  15. Posting again with a theoretical solution to the lack of healing on ranged problem.

    Prayer of Mending. Yep. Instead of tossing that on the tank like I am prone to doing, I’m gonna throw this on some ranged and let that and supplement with minor heals while smiting it up.

    Definitely looking forward to trying this out.

  16. I am a new reader to your blog, and love it by the way! Right now I am a disc/shadow dwarf priest. Dwarf powa!

    I rolled a premade on the PTR last night, and I have to say. I think I enjoy Holy healing a little more. It might have been the gear, but I can definitely say it was more engaging and fun to me.

    I am still on the fence when it comes to Evangelism/Archangel and Atonement. It just seemed rather convoluted compared to Holy.

    Have you rolled a Holy spec for healing?

    • Grangor: Indeed I have! I’ve tried Holy many times as well. Its going to be a tough call for me to decide which spec to use when it comes to healing in Cataclysm. Love Chakra though.

  17. I think the most fun I had was popping Chakra, casting Prayer of Healing, then Sanct’ing all the PCs and NPCs during the elemental attacks in IF.

    I think Holy Word:Aspire is a little overpowered in terms of group healing, but I have yet to try it in a raid setting.

  18. I was thinking about a DPS healer long ago. In many cases when my disc is getting overgeared)I was dpsing for fun and let the other healers do the job. Currently in 5 man heroics almost no heal is needed. I’m very pleased with this new lolsmite build, it made the heroics fun again. 🙂 As for raid healing I can’t tell much, today will be our first raid day since the patch. But I will stay with my smite build and will try to utilise it with archangel as much as possible. I’m pretty excited how it will work.

    In the other hand, I remember how disc healers were underrated by raid leaders when noone understood the absorb mechanisms. This mistrust can pop up again, as the RL will need to account our damage done as well as the healing PLUS the absorbs done. This can make way to hard to evaluate a disc priests performance.

    Anyway, I loved the spec from the beginning and I hope it will be such fun to play again like it was in ulduar.

  19. i been testing out smite spec on following content:

    Heroics up to HoR

    TOC 10

    Few bosses in icc10 as 1 of the 2 healers (the other is resto druid)

    I can see that it’s definitely viable in next expansion content when health doesnt go down as fast in comparison to the health pool.

    p/s: you will still need to throw in some shield and penance to heal up members below 50%. doing 2.5k hps and dps is nice actually, with around 10-11% overhealing (mainly due to shield’s glyph and penance)

    hope this helps.

    – Elsanto, Blackrock.


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