Disco without the Disco
Disco priesting has always carried with it two trademarks.
First, that we shielded, well, everything. Even bosses.
Second, that we flung a Frisbee around like it was going out of style. It put the “Disc” in “Disco.”
So sit down, mah healaz, ‘cause they’ve shaken that up a bit.
You see, Legion healing for Disco priests is nothing like any of that. It’s a whole new ball game.
And I kinda like it.
First, let’s get the fundamentals down.
- Keep Atonement up on all friendlies
- Damage hostiles
- Toss a shield on something important when required.
- Burn cooldowns.
That simple formula is the heart of the new Disco spec. While we have a couple of shielding spells, the heart and soul of the new Disco is all about Atonement healing, which means keeping the Atonement buff up on your party / raid members, and then beating the snot out of anything that cons red and has aggro on the tank.
I kid you not, it’s that simple.
As an experienced Disco healer, you no doubt have a few addons and macros constructed to help you do your job. Just delete them. Or reset them. You need to rebuild from the ground up. Renew is gone, two expansions back. Shields are gone, other than PW: Shield and PW: Barrier. All the direct heals are now the purview of the Holy priest. AOE heals, other than the lame-o Halo, as well.
I guarantee, no matter what healer addon you are using, you’re gonna need to reconfigure it so massively that you might as well scratch the config now. Same for Weak Auras, other than some cooldowns. Those you can keep, or adjust, whatevs. Just configure WA to let you know when key cooldowns are available, such as Mindbender and Pain Suppression.
Weapon of Choice
I have to admit to a certain Grid2 bias. I have tried, and used, Vuhdo. It works great as a healing addon in Legion, and it is largely unchanged from its past incarnations. In a way, it’s the same as it was in WotLK, with the only substantial changes being in the addition of support for new spells, buffs, and debuffs as they occurred in the game. But it’s a bit more than I want from a healer addon.
Grid2 does require the addition of Clique to match the functionality of Vuhdo that we’re using, but I’m content with it since it’s a lot more focused on the job at hand.
Anyway, it is with great relief that I see that Grid2 is getting updated. Though – as of now – it still lacks direct support for Legion (1). Still, it is possible to configure Grid2 to work in the four areas of vital interest to a Disco priest.
- PW: Shield – this is already supported directly. Create an icon that shows if the target is shielded. Showing the cooldown is extremely helpful as well.
- Atonement – this is the Big Kahuna. You want an icon that shows if the unit has Atonement up, and a countdown is also useful. You will need to add tracking for Atonement yourself, Grid2 does not have it built in yet, but does support user-added spells and abilities. See below for details on that. This will assist you in supporting your goal: always having an Atonement icon visible on all of the team members you are supposed to keep alive.
- Debuffs – These are already supported in Grid2 as well. Purify only works for Magic and Disease types of spells, so configure an icon in one corner to show if those are active on the character. If you’re assigned decurse duty among the priests, or if it’s your group, you’ll be expected to do something about it if that little ol’ icon lights up.
- I also add an around-the-frame outline to indicate who has Aggro. Grid offers a few ways to track aggro, including ‘banzai’ and regular flavors. You can read a bit more about it here (miss you, Zel!). It’s especially important to know if someone suddenly inherits the aggro since you may need to react to that with a shield or something.
- And finally, I usually have an indicator to show who I currently have targeted. Always helpful.
A lot of people go the route of also having a Weakened Soul indicator, so they don’t waste time trying to shield a target that still has the debuff. Myself, I just use WeakAuras to show an indicator when PW: Shield is available and castable on the target, since I’m watching for other auras anyway.
Time to Atone
With that in mind, the main thing during non-critical phases is to keep Atonement up to keep a steady stream of healing coming in on each of your party.
- PW: Shield is the most benign method of applying Atonement, but it has the same cooldown as Atonement, so you will have to find another way for the other team members.
- Rapture lets you lay down shields without cooldown for a limited amount of time, and it has a long cooldown, so once you burn that (and do so wisely), you’ll need other ways.
- Plea is your next go-to for Atonement up to five or so applications, at which point it is a real mana hog.
- Subsequently, Shadow Mend takes a bit longer and applies a bigger heal, but at less cost than Plea with five or more Atonements up. Shadow Mend brings its own issues since it also does damage to the recipient. Therefore, it is imperative that if you use Shadow Mend to apply Atonement, you then have to make Atonement work hard for you by laying down some damage.
Beat ’em Up
Always remember: in all ways, Atonement without DPS is USELESS. DPS without Atonement is futile.
Shadow Word: Pain (or its talented counterpart, Schism), will let you dot up a bunch of mobs if you’re fighting a group, all which applies healing to Atonement-buffed targets. You want to use it on the main boss, at least, because it will enhance both Atonement healing and damage.
An addon that might help with dotting up groups is Enemy Grid, which will give you a Grid(2)-like presentation of mobs to dot up. Note, I have not yet determined whether this is more hazardous than tab-targeting, so proceed with caution. But the theory is that when the tank pulls a group, this will let you quickly get some dots rolling. Mouseover Schism FTW.
Atonement healing crits come from critical damage, so every time you do a DPS crit, you will do a heal crit as well on any party member with Atonement applied. Make a note of that.
About that Grid2 Atonement thing
Here’s how to add an Atonement indicator to Grid2.
First, create a new “AOE Heals” status of “Atonement” …
Then, create a new Buff “status” called “Atonement” … (this step may not be necessary so feel free to skip it and/or play with it.)
Then, create a new indicator called “Atonement” and tie it to that status.
And then tie it to some sort of indicator. I tied mine to the top left position, as an icon, but feel free to try variations that make you hum show tunes in a happy manner.
I know a lot of people have said that Disco healing Ain’t All Dat. I am not yet advanced enough to say for sure in that area, but I am observant enough to know that the new Disco is a different beast. What was once an option (smiteyHealz) is now mandatory if you want to tread the Disco path. It is complex, it is not easy, but once we hit raiding, it might just prove to be a real useful addition to the healing team’s toolbox.
The important thing is to remember that Atonement is the center of the Disco healing universe now, and that means you have to maximize DPS as well. You’re not playing by Holy’s rules any more. Your focus isn’t mainly the health of your charges, it’s the health of your charges five seconds from now. Think ahead, keep your buffs up, and remain calm. You got this.
I do admit at this moment that I am having a hard time getting comfortable with it. It feels clumsy, inelegant, frantic, right on the edge of failing at any given time. It’s hard to say whether that is the spec or my incompetence. It will take many dungeon runs – and many deaths of my charges – for me to be able to say for sure.
May the Light watch over us all.
(1) – I note that Grid (the original) is also still being updated, so if Grid2 ever gets abandoned, I’ll check that out. A bit more work, but much more in my wheelhouse.