Sunday, September 26, 2010

Discipline Priest 4.0 Talent Build

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4.0 is "soon" upon us, and with it the possibility to spec into our new and fancy talent trees with all the goodness of new skills and changes to our class that will mean. I have given the different talent trees some thought and realized that the big questionmarks doesn't seem to lie in where you'll want to put your talents in your main tree, but where you'll want to put your remaining talents in the off trees.

TL;DR - suggestion for a disc spec at the bottom.

My first thoughts on the new talent trees were based on two misconceptions. First of all I thought we'd keep the system with getting one tp per level. That would mean a whole lot of tp's for what has become rather small talent trees. Our talent trees haven't been this short since Vanilla, and I was wondering if Blizzard had meant us to be two specs at once? Of course not, Blizzard have fixed this by giving us one tp every second level instead, which mean at level 85 we'll have 41 talent points to spend (compare that to the 71 we have today).

I also thought you'd be free to spend your points anywhere you like, just as today. But to prevent people from doing what I thought people would do, namely spec into several trees at once becoming some sort of freak hybrids, Blizzard have made it so that you have to spec all the way down into one tree before you can spec into another tree (unless the talent calculator on mmochamp simply is bugged somehow and I am completely wrong about this). That means you have to spend 31 tp in one tree before you can start speccing in another, and that also means we only have 10 tp to play around with. On the bright side, it really seems like Blizzard have manage to make these last tps "play around with"-able. They've always said they wanted to move away from cookie cutter specs (aka one best spec) and give us some tp to work with for more individual solutions.

It probably varies between trees, but every tree consists of more tps than 41, which means you could place all your talent points into one tree. Unlike now, that probably wouldn't even be a totally bad idea, but there are undoubtebly good talents in the off trees of every class to look at as well. I have looked at priest talents, and here are my thoughts on what you might want to talent as a disc priest.

In fact, because you have to spend so many talents in your "main tree", it's easier to discuss which talents that shouldn't be picked and which talents in the off trees that might be the most interesting. Note that I haven't had access to the beta servers, but I have been reading up some on the current status of healing overall and what it might turn out to be in Cataclysm.

Here are the talents I am thoughtful about;

The main tree (disc) - the talents not mentioned here are then ones you probably should talent.

  • Mental Agility vs Veiled Shadows - Even though many reports go on about mana being a big issue for healers on the betas, I'm still not sure Mental Agility will be important enough to spend 3 tps on. 3 tps is alot in the betas (and in Cataclysm), and I feel these could be better spend on a talent like Veiled Shadows (in the shadow tree) which reduces the cooldown on Shadowfiend. If the Shadowfiend is as good as it is today, it's difficult to say which of them would be more mana returning. But I think we'll cast way less instant heals as disc than we do today (see Strength of Soul too), and this talent is probably much better for renew spamming holy priests. (EDIT: Since the tp cost of Atonement and Borrowed Time has been reduced, it is now possible to fully spec into both Rapture, Veiled Shadows and Mental Agility)
  • Inner Sanctum - Yet again a full 3 tps for improving two skills I'm not entirely sure will benefit enough from it. I am sure Inner Fire/Will be much used, as I see we'll switch between them constantly when fighting for optimal healing (I think they removed the mana cost from these two spells for this sake as well). Nevertheless, will 6% reduced spell damage and 6% increased movement speed be enough of a difference to warrant 3 tp? I'm not entirely sure.
  • Inner Focus - My argument for ever taking this talent has always been "well it's just one talent point". But tp's have never been as valuable as they are now and eventhough they've reduced the cooldown on Inner Focus significantly, and it can be reduced further with the Talent Train of Thought, I'm just not sure it will be worth it. It's still just one free heal. On the other hand if you macrod it into being used together with the mentioned heals, you could see it as working as a "passive" mana cost reducing talent (together with Train of Thought that is).
  • Rapture - One of the best talents in Wrath, and yet again since mana seems to be a big issue in Cataclysm this could turn out to be completely crucial. But as I've already mentioned (and will get to again), since we'll be throwing less shields and Rapture only procs every 12 seconds, I think our main mana gain will come from either Inner Focus + Train of Thought combo, or Evangelism + Archangel combo, or maybe using both. I'm choosing between Mental Strength and Rapture here, because it feels like at least one of them might be good, they're basically buffing the same skill, but taking both seems overkill. With enough intellect and in fights where you can expect your shields to be constantly absorbed, Rapture might be the better choice. Otherwise it feels like Mental strength is slightly better since it also works for heals like PoM. This seems like something I have to test properly before deciding. (EDIT: Since the tp cost of Atonement and Borrowed Time has been reduced, it is now possible to fully spec into both Rapture and Mental Agility).
  • Soul Warding - If we'll be shielding less, maybe we won't even need this talent! That seems a little to big a step for me to take right away though, so that's something I'll have to find out before I go that far as to remove it ^^
  • Reflective Shield - I can't see how this talent will become more important for healing disc priests in Cataclysm than it is today. A good leveling talent nonetheless.
  • Strength of Soul - Reducing the cooldown on Weakened Soul sounds like a good thing, but I don't even today feel like the 15 seconds duration on Weakened Soul is a huge problem, so unless they've extended it in Beta I don't really feel like this kind of talent is necessary. Especially not since it's actually kinda counteracting the prerequisite talent Renewed Hope. We don't use Heal much when healing and I don't think this talent will be very useful in the end. I'm not going to use this.
  • Grace - Seems about as useless for the raid healing disc priest as it is today. In 10man, disc priests are often used as tank healers, in 25man seldom so. It might be that paladins, even shamans, will be less good tank healers in Cata and that way we disc priests are supposed to step into the role even more. I've only glanced on holy paladin/resto shaman changes, and eventhough resto shamans actually seem to have been changed quite alot from the chain heal spamming ways, holydins still seem to be the tankhealers of choice. In the end it depends on your raid setup probably - if you're the tank healer this is a great talent. If you're not, this is a bad way to spend 2 tp's. UPDATE 25/11: The most recent changes made to Grace is making it too powerful to ignore. Blizzard has finally realized that for us to want to take it, it must really make a difference. Fully stacked Grace will increase healing on one target by 24%. This is no small sum and I'd now recommend any disc priest - tank or raid healer alike, to take this.

The offspec trees - remember we can only place 10 tp into holy and shadow

  • Divine Fury - Scorned by healing priests alike since Wrath came out, it seems to make a grand re-entrance as a really great healing-talent. For disc this will be a great talent if you intend to be one of those smite-healing priests (as I do) and have specced into Atonement.
  • Empowered Healing - increasing the healing done on several of your main heals seems like a good thing to do, plain and simple.
  • Improved Renew - Seeing as disc priests probably will have their hands full anyway, smiting, healing and shielding, I don't think renew will be anymore part of our standard healing arsenal in Cataclysm than it is today.
  • Desperate Prayer - It took me a while to notice, but Desperate Prayer now apparently requires shadowform. So nothing for us then. UPDATE 12/10: Seems like that typo finally is gone, and now Desperate Prayer is free for us to talent, if we want to. This is the big issue here. It is a great talent, but only if you use it. It has saved me alot of times, but I could also just practice more on Binding Heal (as disc you have a nice "instant"-heal with shields too already), especially since there are so many other nice talents that we'd want as well.
  • Surge of Light - Might not be a bad idea for a disc priest since we'll probably smite a whole lot. Or so I think anyway, I might be completely wrong! Hope not, I really want to be a pewpew priest.
  • Inspiration - This has always been one of priests (and shamans that have an equivalent talent) strongest talents. I'd like to think it still will be in Cataclysm and therefore good for a disc priest to have as well as a holy priest. Good enough to pick over other talents though? Not so sure.
  • Darkness - 3% haste could be awesome, or not so awesome. Borrowed Time gives 15% haste for one spell already, which means (just as today) that it won't give 15% spell haste straight off, but disc priests will be fairly satisfied with their amount of haste. On the other hand we've lost Enlightenment (6% haste), but it's also difficult to say if haste will be as an important stat in Cataclysm as it is today. I think not. UPDATE 11/10: Disc priests will want 25% haste (all in all). That probably means we won't need much more than what we get from gear and Borrowed Time.
  • Veiled Shadows - Already mentioned above.
This build is somewhat outdated, look further down for an up to date suggestion on build.

With all this in mind, my first talent spec try out for 4.0 disc healing would probably look something like the above;
Note that this is for a level 85 char however, and that 5 tp would have to be subtracted for patch 4.0. This is from the 13066 build and can (and probably will) change before patch release. UPDATE 1/10: Most recent change has significantly nerfed Atonement (healing 80% of Smite damage instead of 120%) possibly making this talent not worth taking anymore. UPDATE 3/10: Yet another change to Atonement, now heals 100% of Smite damage. I'll just say we don't know how good this talent will be, and alot is still changing as we can see.
UPDATE 25/11: With the buff to Grace, I'd go with this spec for level 80.

Healing would then be combining Inner Focus heals with Greater Heals, Shields, Smite-heals and SoL procs.
This means we'll Smite for Evangelism and SoL, use up our Archangel, start shielding and healing, and then go back to smiting. Something like that.


  1. Just a couple of thoughts on Grace, because I feel I want to come to its defence a bit! It does depend on what you're doing as a healer though.

    Even as a raid healer I use Penance quite a bit for spot-healing or tank support, and with 2/2 Grace even if you have to build your Grace stack every time you cast it you're getting a 4% boost to your Penance, or 6% if you get a 4th tick out of it.

    And if you can keep Grace on a tank, 12% healing when you need to throw a support heal in there feels valuable to me.

    Plus, the alternative seems to me to be Inner Sanctum. Both are situational, so I'll plump for Grace first and foremost, I think.

  2. Yes, in a 10man raid I completely agree. In a 25man raid you just switch target too often for it to be worth 2 points! I'd take Grace over Inner Sanctum as well, but in this build I think (can't remember exactly) I chose Inner Focus (and something else) instead.