My experience with Discipline in Ulduar


This post has been rolling around in the back of my head for a while and has really crystallised the recently with regular raiding in Ulduar.

As long time readers know i’m a big fan of Discipline spec priests and I have been blogging about them a lot in the last six months.  Conversely I have only recently started raiding as Holy spec. I had put off writing this post for a while as I was hoping it was a case of ‘oh shiny’ rather than a longer term trend, but here goes.

Holy priests are more effective than Discipline priests in Ulduar.

I have to clarify this a bit.  I mean in Ulduar 25 I find myself to be far more effective in Holy spec than in Discipline spec.  In most fights having another Holy spec priest is more useful than having even one Discipline priest.

This is nothing to do with, “L2P Disc you noob” or similar as I am quite experienced with Discipline.  I’ve been raiding regular as Disc since just after the start of Wrath. If anything I am inexperienced with Holy priest.

There are a number of key ability match-ups that really make a difference between Discipline and Holy in 25 man raids:

Circle of Healing > Prayer of Healing

In most of the Ulduar fights, both bosses and trash, there is a lot of AoE damage. Sure you can group melee together and other tactics to help reduce the difference, but it still doesn’t close the gap.  Discipline can cast a fast PoH on a group and they do reduce raid damage by 3%, but its just not in the same league as a quick CoH + Serendipitous PoH.

Glyphed Guardian Spirit > Pain Suppression

This was a surprising match-up for me coming from Discipline.  Glyphed Guardian Spirit is significantly more useful than Pain Suppression.  Cast pretty much on cool down it helps Holy keep up with Discipline single target healing.  It is excellent insurance during any situation where one of the tanks is getting hammered, and because its available every 60 seconds it moves from being purely a ‘save’ to a spell cast as a normal part of the healing ‘rotation’.

Penance and Power Word: Shield are awesome spells, but they only effect a single target per cast. You can argue (and I have previously) that Discipline are better single target healers, but they are not special enough in this field to out weight their disadvantages in dealing with heavy AoE damage.

Rarely is a Disc+Holy priest significantly more effective at keeping the tank alive than a dual Holy priest combination.

I find myself specing like this:

  • Razorscale – Disc
  • XT-002 – Disc
  • Ignis – Disc
  • IC – either
  • Kologarn – Holy
  • umm, the rest – Holy.  All the keeprrs have significant AoE damage in their fights as does Auriaya.

Ulduar 10 does not display the same split in effectiveness in my experience and I find both specs about as effective.  Partially this is because the heavy AoE is concentrated in only two groups, instead of five, and the quantity of it is slightly less.

This is my opinion and arguable, but it was something unexpected to me coming from a heavy Discipline bias.

What do you think?


8 Responses to My experience with Discipline in Ulduar

  1. ankiofdraka says:

    It may be more effective but I have a hard time enjoying holy, it seems too much like playing wack a mole, mashing cd’s when they come up.

    But I may be playing holy wrong. 🙂

    Discipline just seems more … surgical.

  2. discpriest123 says:

    Hmm, I don’t really agree with this sentiment about Disc vs. Holy. Based on my experience, Disc is very powerful in ulduar, and I would like to counter-argue the idea that 2-3 Holy are better then 1-2 Holy and 1 Disc.

    “Circle of Healing > Prayer of Healing”: No one will argue that Disc AOE healing is better than Holy, and there will always be a place for Holy priests healing the raid (with resto druids and shamans). I will say, though, that preemptive shields and hasted PoH’s can cover a lot of Disc’s AOE limitations. Personally I find Borrowed Time to be more reliable than Serendipity as well. It can be achieved in 1 cooldown, at instant speed, instead of in 3 with some normal casting involved.

    “Glyphed Guardian Spirit > Pain Suppression”: This one can go both ways IMHO. For frequent heal boosting and as an insurance policy, GS is indeed better. However when GS triggers, it’s immediately used up and unusable for 3 minutes. This means that it can’t be used as a tank-saving cooldown for +damage durations. For example GS is less reliable on a tank through Mimiron’s Plasma Blast and Vezax’s surge, since you want a spell that will reduce damage for a full duration, not one that will save the tank once then fall off.

    “Penance/PW:Shield are great but only single target”: Regarding Shield, actually I believe the whole Disc tree begs you to cast it on everything that moves. It is indeed a great spell, effectively a 8k heal (with the glyph) that casts at instant speed, can’t overheal, gives you a haste buff, and is cheap on mana. For this reason it is very effective to cast it on multiple tanks, on people taking raid damage, on healers who need pushback-immunity, etc. In Ulduar’s raid-damage environment, shields will almost always be used, and with Borrowed Time you can toss out several of them every 15 second cycle, even while fully healing an MT.

    Regarding Penance, I agree that it is best used on a single target (if only to keep Grace on the tank), but I believe it is perhaps the best tank healing spell in the game. It starts healing immediately, heals for as much as Greater Heal in < 2 seconds, procs Divine Aegis bubbles all the time, and again is super cheap on mana. There's a reason it's being nerfed in 3.2. IMHO only paladins can lavish this kind of dedicated healing on a tank.

    "In most fights having another Holy spec priest is more useful than having even one Discipline priest.": This seems to be your main point, but it is a sentiment that I hope you reconsider. Holy is very powerful, but I believe Disc has other strengths that are very useful to have. Holy just doesn't have the tank-healing oomph it had in TBC: it can top off the raid extremely well, but all it brings to tank healing is an occasionally hasted (but still expensive) Greater Heal or instant Flash. Whereas Disc brings tons of mitigation, proactive healing, and a main tank-healing spell that ticks faster than the global cooldown. And when it does come to raid healing/cross healing, Disc's shields can absorb a lot of raid damage, and can save a player when no other spell can.

    This comment has grown to be about as long as the post that sparked it, but I hope it comes off not as a rebuttal, but as a simple counter-point. I am very happy that priests have two viable healing specs now, and I think both definitely have a place in any raid, and I encourage our healer brethren to explore the strengths of all healing specs.

  3. nthunn says:

    My opinion on this matter is 100% biased because I’ve never played as Disc and I’m a very well geared holy priest, but I agree.

    My guild fails when I am replaced by a disc priest, I single handedly move raids through bosses in holy spec, and (I understand there is some controversy in saying this but nonetheless) I top pretty much all healing charts.

  4. bruennor says:

    I raid mostly Holy in Ulduar. There are some fights that Discipline could be useful. I also think it depends on your group makeup. In my raids I can afford to go Discipline because we have other healers that are capable of healing the aoe damage.

    But in general I have to agree Discipline is really good in 5 and 10 man encounters but when it comes to 25 man it seems like the class is missing a few tools to make it compete with its counterpart holy spec.

  5. BobTurkey says:

    I agree with you all so far.

    Discipline is more surgical ankiofdraka, but as bruennor says it just doesn’t seem to have the right tools for 25 man Ulduar.

    Perhaps some of this perception is the low/non-visibility of damage prevention and skills like Renewed Hope (3% raid-wide damage reduction).

  6. BobTurkey says:

    @discpriest123 – Thanks for the comment.

    “Circle of Healing > Prayer of Healing”: There are too many potential targets to pre-shield very effectively in 25 man. Sure you can shield some targets who are more likely to be damaged but the global cool down is crippling for Disc being effective in 25 mans (outside their tank healing assignment at which they do very well).

    The problem I find with PoH, especially as Disc is the single group thing. PoH works well for both specs when there is general raid wide damage, but when there is AoE damage effecting a particular group, for example melee, the group limitation on PoH makes it far less effective. Sure you can religiously group your melee together, but who does? And this doesn’t just apply to melee.

    I prefer Borrowed Time to Serendipitiy also, although neither is as significantly different as PoH to CoH.

    “Glyphed Guardian Spirit > Pain Suppression”: I can’t comment on the Generals surge, but I know for Plasma Blast i’d prefer Guardian Spirit every time. GS rarely triggers on Plasma Blast, because we out heal it. The +40% healing on GS makes this even easier. In my expereince GS rarely triggers because the +40% healing combined with decent healers is enough of a save.

    re:PW:S – Yes this is a great spell. Yes you can cast it on everything but you are still limited by a 1s global cool down. Yes it gets consumed a lot by the raid damage. In fact a lot of the damage in Ulduar 25 also chews up and spits out PW:S, with its 15s recast limitation, with barely a pause.

    re:Penance – Yes this is an awesome single target heal. Personally I ignore Grace and just cast it as needed. However its is still a single target healing spell on a 6s (and a bit) cool down.

    “In most fights having another Holy spec priest is more useful than having even one Discipline priest.”: Yes this was the main point of the post. I have no expereince with Holy in TBC, but in Ulduar as Holy I can tank heal almost as well as Disc. Between FH, PoM and Renew there is plenty of throughput. Sure Holy doesn’t have the surgical strike or finesse of Disc, but when it comes to getting thr job done tank healing they compete fine.

    I don’t have GHeal on my bars anymore.

    It t’was a long comment, but a good one. I too am happy that there are two very viable healing specs for priests.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Discipline and I spec it as much as I can. This post is just saying that I find those opportunities very limited in Ulduar 25.

  7. stuntyone says:

    In our raid’s when we can we use a Holy Paladin in conjunction with a Discipline Priest for main tank healing. This has basically become a given on our progression nights. Also we have had our holy priests dual spec Disc for the General Vasex fight because of it’s huge mana pool and mana efficiency.

  8. […] so I was wrong.  I’m referring to this post a couple of weeks […]

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