The Temptation of Discipline
I’ve played with some discipline specs. They work, and work well, though you have to accept that you’re never going to have the huge splash of the Holy priest — or the sheer damage output of a shadow priest, for that matter. But you are the energizer bunny of priests, with some enhancement for both sides, and still keep going and going and going… It’s an interesting spec and I recommend priests who are still trying to decide WHAT they are going to be give it a try. BUT… accept two facts. Most groups will have difficulty accepting you as primary healer (and won’t, period, as DPs). And… because so few tread the path, there’s a lot less advice on doing it WELL. Still, there are temptations. And my intent is to show you a few of those temptations. Specifically, the three talents you almost never see, because they’re at the top of the tree. It callssss……
Let me start with Tier 7, Power Infusion. In my opinion it’s the best of the three (yes, like Holy and to some extent Shadow the top isn’t necessarily the best – go figure). Tooltip: “Infuses the target with power, increasing their spell damage and healing by 20%. Lasts 15 sec.” 20% – gee, that’s not so much. I mean Shadowform does 15 and lasts FOR EV ER. And that’s fair. But some points need realized. First – you can target pets with this. Your shadowfiend, for one. Or your hunter’s pet. Or your warlock’s pet. (hmmmm). Second – and this one’s rather obscure – some members of the theorycrafting community think they’ve detected a “flaw” in this one — and my limited experience concurs. See, according to “the book”, the interaction of bonuses from gear and bonuses from talents is that for healing, you apply talents and then gear, while for damage it’s the other way around. But the oddity here is that this talent’s effect seems outside the “book”. It appears it takes the final number from EVERYTHING else, and THEN applies the 20%. In other words, it’s not “another” 20% added to the 15% of shadowform. It’s the 115% shadowform gives, increased by another 20% for 138% (instead of 135%). Again, that’s not been tested enough to be definitive, but it’s ooooh, so tasty….
The second temptation is the tier 8 talent. There’s really no reason to explain it – the benefits are straightforward. +1%/point (max 5) to Int AND Spirit AND Stamina.
And the final temptation – Pain Suppression. A bad name, really, though it’s somewhat understandable. For eight seconds you have an armor mitigation level tanks drool over, AND it becomes very difficult to dispell any of your spells.
Looking at just these three top talents brings the entire tree into focus. A discipline priest has two significant aspects. First, their effective mana pool is huge relative to their peers – increases in both mana size (direct, and from int increases) AND in how efficiently it’s used AND the fact it regenerates even when combat is ongoing, all combine into this aspect. Second — you have a priest who doesn’t care about damage. Or more appropriately, who is far less affected by damage than the peers. They take less, and what they do take has less chance of interruption.
It is, I regret, not the priest style at which I play my best. I learned a lot in the spec, but know it isn’t mine. But it is a viable tree for those with the odd bent of mind to make it work, and for them… some of the most reliable priests with whom I’ve worked have been discipline priests. They endured, regardless, and while they endured the heals continued. In fact, proportionally speaking — if given two unknown priests of whom one is disc and one is holy, I will choose the disc for my pug’s healer. The odds are better that I will have a good priest.