What is it with all the discipline?

I don't know if I ever mentioned this before, but I'm priest class leader in my guild and thus have to take a look at all the applications from priests that we get. And one thing that's been bugging me as of late is that nearly every single priest that's applied to us has been discipline. We don't need any more discipline priests because they don't stack all that well, but we could use another holy priest or two. So I always end up going "well, we could use you if you were holy" and I hate having to say that. I don't like telling people how to play.

The thing I don't get is why all these people are discipline in the first place. Yes, it's a viable PvE spec these days and that's great, but according to armoury data, holy is still more popular, so where are all those holy priests?

Seems to me that discipline has somehow become the "serious business" spec of raiding priests. Not long ago Tamarind also observed that he seemed to get more respect after respeccing to discipline. Holy seems to be for people who don't have a clue how to play a priest but want to try out this "healing" lark. Or at least that seems to be the common perception, but you know there's some truth in it. So what better way to set yourself apart from those "noobs" than to be a healer without being holy?

I'm not implying that people spec discipline just to show off by the way. I reckon for many priests who played holy for a long time it's simply been a nice change of pace and they like it enough to not want to change back.

Still, it's weird. It's running rampant in the blogosphere too. How many great holy priest blogs can you name off the top of your head? In the post linked above, Tamarind (who used to be holy all the time) also brings up how much he loves discipline now. Miss Medicina used to be all about the holyness as well, but has since changed to preaching about the pros of penance like so many others. Matticus has also been discipline for a long time now. Where are you, dedicated holy priests?

I guess my aggravation is increased by the fact that I really don't get what all the fuss is about, and why so many priests talk about disc as if it's the best thing since sliced bread. I have it as my dual spec for PvP and like it well enough for that purpose, but whenever I used it in PvE I found it dreadfully boring. I like yelling "Bubbles!" as much as the next person when I get a divine aegis proc from someone else, but being the one to cast them strikes me as quite unexciting. I mean, I sift through the data from our raids at World of Logs, and for our discipline priest it often shows about half of her effective "healing done" as coming from bubble absorptions.

As holy I hardly ever use a single spell that much, regardless of encounter and assignment, simply due to the nature of my main spells. Prayer of mending has a cooldown, circle of healing has a cooldown, and while renew doesn't have one it's generally not advisable to keep spamming it. And in-between timing those spells just right I can still throw in other abilites. As disc? Bubble, flash heal, penance if there's a bunch of burst damage and it's off cooldown. Yawn. It just doesn't compare to the symphony of dings and plings I get to create as holy.

Believe me, you can be a really good and serious raiding priest as holy too. Join the revolution today! (Or something.)


  1. Those Disc priests also bugger up one of the coolest things Holy priests have: Body and Soul!

    I love the hell out of that talent but if you've got a Disc priest and a Holy priest in your raid then good luck getting that burst of speed ever.

  2. I've noticed that too - that there are a whole lot of disc priests out there. When compiling guides for my guild, I found a whole lot on disc, but very few on Holy.

    I played as holy for a while, and dual specced disc to try out the spec - eventually dropping the holy spec for shadow.

    What struck me about disc was that it felt more "responsive" than holy. I could immediately stick a band-aid on the problem instead of pre-casting, which I loathe. I had always been a bit of a bubble fiend, and I reveled in casting bubbles that were actually useful and never on cooldown.

    What also bugged me about Holy is that the tree seems to be bloated with boring and useless crap in the bottom tiers. Spending so many points on junk made me cry. Also, I hate serendipity. HATE. I suck at stacking it up for the haste buff. See above about wanting responsive heals and hating pre-casting.

    Hats off to the holy priests... I just can't do it.

    But as for boring rotation for disc... not really. I use almost every spell pretty often. I use POM every cooldown, gheal after a bubble, as well as penance.. and shock of shocks, also prayer of healing (+ inner focus = multiple divine aegis!). Even renew with a bubble. Crazy, right?

    Holy isn't a "bad" spec... but it's a matter of playstyle. For those who have been frustrated with Holy for a while, disc IS the best thing since sliced bread.

  3. @Cranky: Funny that you feel disc is more responsive, to me it feels the opposite. When there's AoE damage I always have to wind up a big ProH as disc, as opposed to the instant heal from CoH. Same with flash heal vs. empowered renew. Bubbling is an instant band-aid I guess, but I think I grew to loathe it back in BC, where bubbles were a complete waste of a glowbal cooldown for a long time because they didn't scale at all. And if someone is low on health I still have to heal them up after bubbling, and personally I'd rather do that right away instead of bubbling first. I'm also very fond of serendipty, even if I don't always use it to maximum effect.

    Anyway, this was not meant to be a holy vs. disc, which is better kind of debate, just a bit of a personal rant. At the start of WOTLK I actually had the opposite problem to what I mentioned here; I really wanted us to get a disc priest for the buffs but everyone who applied was holy. It's a weird turnaround.

  4. At the end of TBC I healed some heroics with my priest. I didn't like holy spec as it was way to easy. You would just spam CoH no matter which instance it was. (That was before CoH got a cooldown.)

    I then specced disc and had fun healing heroics.

    That was on level 70. I haven't played my priest at level 80 and I have never ever raided with him. But my impression from healing a few heroics in TBC was that the disc playstyle was much more aggressive (see your blog about aggressive healer types). Holy has this "everything is under control" feeling while casting boring slow heals and hots. Playing disc felt like a "fight" with spamming shields and flash heals right and left.

    I prefer aggressive healers. That's why I abandoned my druid and priest as healer and heal on my shaman (when I have to heal). Disc plays a lot like a shaman.

  5. On my server nearly every priest is holy. The best raid on our server doesn't have a regular disc-priest, they force one of their holys to go disc on bosses where it is a really big advantage.

    I personally am disc ever since the spec became viable. At first my reason was that I was regulary healing together with a tree and I figured out that since trees are kickass group healers I could specialise more into the tank healing department. Today holy seems simply inferior to me. I mostly do 5-mans now and as a disc-priest I'm a awesome tankhealer and a somewhat okay grouphealer. As a holy I would be a awesome grouphealer and a simply terrible tankhealer. And when was the last time you wiped at some 5-man-boss because you couldn't get enough grouphealing out? The rare times I wipe there are always because I don't get enough healing on the tank.

    For me to go holy again Blizzard would have to buff greater heal up to the point where it becomes a viable spell for tank healing again. They also would have to slow down the healing game enough that the cast time wouldn't hurt you too much. I would love to do precasting-tankhealing as a holy again, but as it is now going holy would be like going to a gunfight with a knife. Those few holys I know are pure raidhealers who do nothing but Circle of Healing, PoM and Flash Heal.

  6. > And when was the last time you wiped at some
    > 5-man-boss because you couldn't get enough
    > grouphealing out?

    Magisters' Terrace, Vexallus.


  7. >Magisters' Terrace, Vexallus.

    One addon ago and that kind of "I know it will happen"-AOE-Damage can be somewhat bypassed by preshielding.

  8. I think is a combination of "at last some good class design" with people tired of doing always the same for healing. Suddenly they discovered disc was no longer the "pvp tree for priests" and was also a viable healing spec. Add also the raid bosses where having a disc priest is a big advantage (like Saurfang, to reduce the amount of blood power he gets) and then you have a lot of people shifting to disc. Nothing new, we've always had trends in classes, like when every dps DK was unholy and blood was considered the pvp spec.
    I've never played holy. My priest had always been shadow until 76 or so. back then (and it was long ago) a colleague fromw ork told me disc priest was so fun to play even in pve, since you were so hard to kill, so I decided to try it before dual spec came out. It did crappy dps but I could cope with more mobs at the same time or with higher level mobs without any risk.
    I haven't healed much as disc priest, since I'm not used to preventive healing (the closer one is the druid, the pally and shammy are reactive healers), but I'm willing to give it a go in guild runs (I don't want headaches if I do something wrong in a pug).
    So people has "discovered" now how useful disc priests are, specially in raids. Ok, trend will fade with the time, don't worry, specially when another spec from another class gets the spotlight.

  9. I do it both ways, baby.

    These days I stick with disc for pottering around the world and for 5-mans (because of the weird respect issue) but I raid as holy and, to be honest, I self-define as holy. I have occasionally run painfully against the limitations of disc a few too many times to be entirely comfortable in it in a raiding environment. The thing is, I'm holy and the tank healer goes down I can plug that gap (not well but I can plug it). If I'm disc and the raid healer goes down we're screwed.


    I go on a long-winded philosophical treatise.

  11. I quit being holy because I was sick of /stopcasting GH and juggling the I5SR, so I tried a run as Disc in (the just nerfed) Zul'Aman, and had more fun than I'd had in ages.

    I'm sure holy must be pretty different these days, but I still can't get over thinking of it the way it used to be, and shuddering a bit at the memory.

    I don't get why priests are changing over now though. It's been well over a year since it was any kind of "new" thing.