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Build Shop: Priest 41/20/0


It's Tuesday again -- and you know what that means. It's time for your weekly dose of talent spec dissecetion with Build Shop! This week we're checking out another Priest build, this one focusing on the much maligned Discipline tree. Though the tree is still an odd assortment of talents (some mana management, some damage improvement, some buffs for our buffs...) with no easy path to the top, it's slated for major improvements in the next expansion and is getting a bit of love in the upcoming patch 2.3. With the 41-point talent, Pain Suppresion, being re-envisioned for patch 2.3, I'm thinking Discipline may be worth a whirl for a healing Priest. And, hey, even if things don't work out, it can't be as bad as Lightwell.

Will Discipline really be a viable alternative build in 2.3? Read on for my thoughts.

First off, some thoughts on what you lose by speccing this deep into Discipline:

  • Spiritual Guidance: increases your damage and healing by 25% of your spirit. But while I like loading my healers up on spirit and love this talent -- but in the end, with the amount of spirit you're likely to have (while also trying to pick up enough intellect, stamina, healing, mp5..) tends to make this talent a bit weak, in my opinion. My personal rule of thumb is that if you run around 300 spirit, it's a worthwhile DPS talent, and if you run around 400 spirit, it's a worthwhile healing talent. It's in my builds regardless, because a buff is a buff, but I don't think I would miss it much.
  • Spiritual Healing: increases the amount healed by your healing spells by 10%. There's no question about it -- losing this will hurt. However, I hope it can be made up with utility found in the Discipline tree.
  • Lightwell: Though there is some argument that Lightwell is much improved in recent patches (the healing has been much improved from its original version and players can no longer clickclickclick the lightwell to run it out of charges), I don't think I'd miss this talent.
  • Empowered Healing: Gives your Greater Heal an additional 20% of your bonus healing effects. The usefulness of this talent improves as your gear improves -- so if you're thinking about keeping or dropping this one, you just have to get out your calculator and do the math.
  • Circle of Healing: Yes, this AoE heal can be useful in a lot of situations. And then there's a lot of other situations where it will collect dust on your toolbar.
In the end, losing Spiritual Guidance, Spiritual Healing, and Empowered Healing will really drop your heal numbers. (How much they drop depends entirely on your gear, however.) But Discipline is starting to offer some interesting alternatives:
  • Mental Strength: increases your mana pool by 10%. The age-old argument of the Priest class has been whether a bigger mana pool is more important than bigger heals. I'll let you in on a little secret: they're both important, though in different amounts at different times.
  • Force of Will: This talent doesn't have anything that will help your healing -- but it does provide a nice boost to soloing by giving you +5% damage and crit on your offensive spells.
  • Power Infusion: The gem of the three, PI is a 15s buff on a 3m cooldown that increases spell damage and healing by 20%. It can be used to buff your abilities -- or someone else's. A very nice buff, all in all.
  • Enlightenment: +5% to your intellect, stamina, and spirit. 5% isn't a lot, really, but you're getting a little of your three most important stats. It's nice, but I still envy Druid's Heart of the Wild talent and its lower position in their tree.
  • Pain Suppression: Though on the live realms this is more of a PvP talent, I believe its changes make it PvE-viable and even desirable. At present, Pain Suppression is a self-buff that reduces damage taken by 65% for 8 seconds on a 3 minute cooldown. Really more of a PvP ability (and even then, it seems like it's only going to delay the inevitable). However, come patch 2.3, the skill is either being nerfed or buffed -- and your opinion in this matter seems to side squarely with whether you have the talent now or not. Come 2.3, Pain Suppression will be castable on others, but will only reduce damage taken by 40% for 8 seconds on a 2 minute cooldown. And, in addition, it will reduce your target's threat by 5%.
The build I'm discussing here is based around the idea of using Pain Suppression in a PvE healing environment -- with some allowances made for soloing (in the form of Force of Will and Searing Light). We start off in Holy with what I consider the essentials to any healing build:
  • Healing Focus: though you may argue its usefulness (since Priests can't take many hits, anyway), it's only 2 talent points to get what most other classes pay 5 for. Totally worth it.
  • Improved Renew: I use Renew a lot.
  • Holy Specialization: Since I'm not picking up Inspiration in this build (I've decided I simply don't crit enough to make it worthwhile), I could take this one or leave it. However, I need to put points somewhere to get up to tier 4...
  • Divine Fury: Reducing the cast time of your healing and damage spells is a no brainer. If you're putting any points in Holy, it should be for this.
  • Searing Light: Doesn't help my healing at all, but it's a nice buff to my damage, and with most of my favorite talents further up in the tree than I can go, I have points to spare.
  • Improved Healing: You could swap this out for Inspiration, too -- when 2.3 hits the live realms, I could go either way, myself. But while an Inspiration proc can be a lifesaver, this will provide a continuous benefit.
And in Discipline:
  • Unbreakable Will: Honestly, I don't entirely like either of the first tier talents here, but I usually go for this one because I hate getting silenced.
  • Silent Resolve: Less threat means I die less, and I'm all about that.
  • Improved Fortitude, Inner Focus, and Meditation: All of these talents provide excellent benefit for a tiny number of talent points. If you're this far into Discipline, there is no good reason to skip them. (Plus, Meditation in 2.3 will provide twice as much mana regeneration!)
  • Mental Agility: This only works on instant cast spells, but when it comes down to it, there are quite a few spells in our arsenal that are instant cast. (Renew, Power Word: Shield, all buffs, Prayer of Mending...) Also, there's not really another good place to dump the points. (Though I do kind of like Improved Inner Fire -- especially if I'm PvPing.)
  • Mental Strength: If you're this deep in the tree, I don't see why you'd skip out on +10% mana. Also it's a requirement for Power Infusion, which we want.
  • Divine Spirit: This isn't a spirit build, but Divine Spirit is still a nice buff. But dropping these points elsewhere certainly doesn't break the build.
  • Force of Will: A pure damage talent. I'd say you could skip it to focus more on healing... but there's not really a good place to put the points that will help your healing at this point in the tree -- so why not help the times you aren't healing?
  • Power Infusion: This buff is one of the reasons we're bothering to go this high in Discipline.
  • Enlightenment: It's not the best talent ever, but it's not a bad all-around buff, either.
  • Pain Suppression: This baby's the reason we're here!
The build, in the end, is one of trade-offs. Are you willing to sacrifice a good chunk of healing for improved utility? With the change this build is based on still only on the test realms, it's impossible to say for certain -- but I, for one, am keen to give it a try when 2.3 hits the live realms.

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