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This will be a general guide on how to be a little bit more successful in PvP, although I will focus mainly on arenas. If you have any questions I’d like you to read through the guide before asking it, as it may already have been covered. I am also assuming that you already have some knowledge of the priest class well reading this guide.
KeybindingsInterfaceGearingSpeccingMacrosPositioningJuking/InterruptingCoordination and TeamworkTricksConclusion
1. Keybindings and Interface
There are multiple styles of play, none really wrong but some are more effective then others. There are people who click all their abilities and make it to 2.6k+ ratings in arena, however there are much more who use 50+ bindings at those ratings. Some of you will argue and say that you click perfectly fine, and if you truly believe that then skip most of this section.
Anyway, lets talk about keybinds. The way I play is using qwes as movement keys, having bound a and d to abilities. I also use `-6, rfxcvtgyh (shift and control + all the previous) aswell as f1-f6, scroll wheel up/scroll wheel down and caps lock.
HAVING SAID THAT, I play on a laptop that has a very small keyboard where it is easy for me to reach my hand across to hit shift h effectively. When you read this don’t think oh shift + h is so easy to hit i’ll go and bind that to something I need to hit often/quickly in order to react to the situation. Shift + H is my mount, which is bound there just as a convenience.
R is the fastest button on the keyboard to hit, assuming you play with wasd keys as movement. Use this knowledge to bind it to something you have to react fast to hit, such as shadow word: death in order to sw:d polymorph, seduce, blinds, scatter shot, etc. Scroll Wheel Up (Mouse Scroll Wheel) is also incredibly fast. I bind scroll wheel up and scroll wheel down to dispel people I play with in 3s (scroll wheel up is my rogue, down is my mage). When I see that something is going to hit them I just start scrolling up or down and it comes off them very quickly.
It will take you a while to bind your keys to something that is both comfortable and functional, however it is definitely worth the trouble. Keep practicing with your new binds until you get it right, and even then look for opportunities to make your binds better.
These are currently my binds on my priest.
1 – Prayer of Mending – Easy to hit for frequent use.
2 – Greater Heal – Same as above.
3 – Renew – Same as above.
4 – Power Word: Shield – Same as above.
5 – Flash Heal – Same as above.
6 – Power Infusion – Somewhat out of reach, still easy to hit (though not spam due to CD).
F – Fear – Easy to hit, use often, need to use quick sometimes.
V – Dispel Magic – Easy to spam.
R – Focus Shadow Word: Death (Macro) – Easy to reach, fastest reaction time on this key.
X – Penance – Easy to spam.
G – Pain Suppression – Easy to hit fast.
` – Mana Burn – Easy to spam.
F1 – Target Rogue (Macro) – Easy to reach as I use VERY often.
F2 – Target Mage (Macro) – Same as above.
F3 – Inner Will – Easy to switch between F3 and F4 frequently.
F4 – Inner Fire – Easy to switch between F3 and F4 frequently.
F5 – Divine Hymn – Easy to hit but not spam due to use of once per game generally.
F6 – Hymn of Hope – Same as above.
Shift C – Power Word: Barrier (Macro) – Easy to hit fast, all my target spells (Mass Dispel, PW: B, etc.) are C, Shift C, etc.
Shift V – Leap of Faith – Easy to hit fast.
Shift R – Mind Spike – Can spam very easily then follow up with Shift + 3 (Mind Blast)
Shift X – Holy Fire
Shift G – PvP Trinket – Easy to hit bind, can do very fast but not on accident.
Shift T – Desperate Prayer – Easy to hit in emergencys.
Shift Y – Fear Ward Self (Macro)
Shift H – Mount – Simple convenience, hard to hit but don’t need to hit fast.
Y – Shadowfiend (Macro)
C – Mass Dispel (Macro)
Control C – Shadow Word: Pain
Control V – Devouring Plague
Control R – Cure Disease
Control T – Mind Control – Easy to hit, can spam frequently.
Control G – Wand
Control Y – Shackle Undead
Scroll Wheel Up – Dispel Rogue (Macro) – Very easy to spam, very fast reaction time.
Scroll Wheel Down – Dispel Mage (Macro) – Same as above.
A – Inner Focus – Easy to hit quickly, use often.
D – Dispel Self (Macro) – Very easy to hit quickly, use often.
Shift 1 – Drink
Shift 2 – Fear Ward
Shift 3 – Mind Blast – Easy to hit after Shift + R (Mind Spike) for frequent combo use.
Shift 4 – Power Word: Fortitude/Prayer of Shadow Protection (Macro)
Shift 5 – Mind Sear
T – Binding Heal
Caps Lock – Shadow Word: Death – Easy to hit for when you need to react fast to get a kill.
Shift F – Escape Artist (Racial)
Control F – Holy Nova – Easy to hit if you see a rogue/druid stealth.
I wouldn’t recommend copying my binds exactly, this is just to give you a general idea of what I bind where and why.
Again, there are many different ways to set this up. I personally use the default blizzard interface with a few minor changes. I do this because I find that the default interface is pretty minimalistic, so it doesn’t clutter up my screen much and allows me to see what is going on much easier. It’s also straightforward and easy to read.
This is my interface, playing on my druid. My priests interface is nearly the exact same. I use moveanything to move my frame and my targets frame closer to the middle so they are easier to see when I’m not looking at them. I have OmniCC on to show my CD timers left on abilities at a glance. My party bars are on the bottom right, modified through blizzards default interface to show important debuffs to dispel as well as clearly showing my parties health and their pets. I have a focus frame above that with the cast bar just below it. My cast bar and my targets cast bar are in the middle between my chat log and my party frames.
Essentially everything I need to see is laid out in an easy to glance at location with clear writing. When things are getting crazy and I need to take in a bunch of information quickly I just glance around my screen to see what’s up.
As discipline for gearing I’d say go for at least 3000 resilience in current gear, with more when later seasons come out. Most priests play with between 3500-4000, although it depends on what setup you’re playing. Some teams you won’t need heavy survivability due to REALLY good peels or extra healing from another healer (such as Rogue/Mage/Priest or Holy Pally/Disc/Warrior). With that much resilience you will be using almost all PvP gear, with perhaps a PvE piece here or there (such as trinkets; DMC: Tsunami and the Archaeology trinket are EXTREMELY good for mana efficiency).
A good starting set to enter into arenas with is 5/5 Mooncloth Bloodthirsty, a Bloodthirsty PvP trinket (resilience one), most bloodthirsty spirit offsets (except for cloak, this should be the bloodthirsty spell penetration cloak). This should be fully enchanted and gemmed with Cataclysm enchants/rare gems.
Stats to Aim For:
Spell Hit Rating – 4%.
Spell Penetration – 200+
Spell Power – 7000+
Health/Mana – 110k/90k+
Resilence – 3k+
In-Combat Regen – 2k+
This is a common discipline arena spec.
Inspiration – These 2 points can be moved to either reflective shield, improved renew, or twin disciplines. However I feel that Inspiration really helps when being trained by melee.
Empowered Healing – These 2 can be moved to improved renew if you prefer that.
Penance – Obvious choice, 2 second less CD on our best heal.
Power Word: Barrier – 10% more healing in those desperate situations can change the game from a loss to a win.
Shadow Word: Death – An extra 8k can mean the difference between a win or a loss, really helpful for getting kills.
Desperation – VERY key, using pain suppression in a stun can be hugely game breaking versus a rogue, warrior, mage, etc.
Mass Dispel – Allows you to get off bubble/ice block a second faster, which can sway the game.
Fear Ward – This glyph is optional and can be switched with Inner Fire or Prayer of Mending. I choose fear ward because I use fear ward every game to stop a fear. This is extremely helpful against priests, affliction locks and warriors to stop their instant fears. A minute off this can sometimes change the loss into a win.
Levitate – Optional, Frees bag space.
Shadowfiend – More mana is always good.
Shackle Undead – 5 More yards to shackle gargoyles and DKs in Lichborne.
I will list you all the macros I use, not all of these are mandatory but most are pretty useful.
/castsequence Power Word: Fortitude, Shadow Protection
Both buffs in one button, frees up an extra bind.
#showtooltip Dispel Magic
/cast [target=TargetsNameHere] Dispel Magic
This macro is for fast defensive dispels, instead of having to target who you want to dispel and then dispel them it simply does it in one button. Can save you a second or more.
Fear Ward Self
#showtooltip Fear Ward
/cast [target=YourName] Fear Ward
This macro is pretty useful to have when playing against classes with instant fears.
Just fear wards yourself so you don’t have to do it manually. This macros really useful when you see a priest or a warlock running at you to fear. It’s pretty obvious when those classes will do it because they have to be within 8 yards of you. Just hit this button and you avoid one of their fears.
#showtooltip Mass Dispel
/cast !Mass Dispel
Power Word: Barrier
#showtooltip Power Word: Barrier
/cast !Power Word: Barrier
These two macros just make it so that when spamming Mass Dispel and Power Word: Barrier you won’t lose the highlighted circle if you hit it twice.
/cast [target=Shadowfiend] Dispel Magic; Dispel Magic
My shadowfiend macro will first summon your shadowfiend if you don’t already have a pet, tell it to attack your target if it’s hostile, if not it will go to your target’s target. Hitting the macro again will tell your shadowfiend to use its shadowcrawl, for when it gets too far away from the target. Hitting the macro a third time will dispel your shadowfiend, useful for when the other team is trying to kite it or cc it.
Shadow Word: Death Focus
#showtooltip Shadow Word: Death
/cancelaura Power Word: Shield
/cancelaura Illuminated Healing
/cancelaura Divine Aegis
/cast [@target,harm] Shadow Word: Death;
/cast Shadow Word: Death
This macro will simply cancel all your absorb effects (including paladin mastery effect and all your shields) then cast Shadow Word: Death at your target if it’s hostile, or the closest enemy if your target is friendly, then switch back to your last target. This macros very useful for avoiding things like Polymorph, Scatter Shot, Blind, Hunter Traps, Gouge, and basically anything that will break on damage. DO NOT spam this macro, only use it when you KNOW that one of the spells I listed or another one of the same type will affect you as it cancels your shields, which is a large defense loss.
This is one of many scenarios of good positioning for a discipline priest. I am assuming in this scenario that you are playing on Nagrand Arena against a melee/healer team. In this arena there are four pillars spread around a circle.
You are standing next to one of the pillars, your partner is between your pillar and one of the pillars adjacent to it. The melee from the opposing team is attacking your partner, and his healer is standing in the middle of the arena.
In this situation you are in line of sight of to heal your partner, as well as being within line of sight to dispel the opposing teams melee. You can also take a step out from behind the pillar to dispel the opposing teams healer well still being close enough that should they attempt to switch to you, you can go back behind the pillar to draw the melee out of line of sight of his healer. If your partner is attacking the melee this either forces the healer to run back behind the pillar you’re at, allowing you to fear them both. Or forces the melee to come back out from behind the pillar in order to recieve heals from his healer.
There are infinite different scenarios so I won’t draw diagrams for all of them. Use your imagination, but a general rule of thumb is to always stay near a pillar so that you have somewhere to take refuge behind should things get dicey. In the a scenario where you don’t have a pillar to line of sight behind, use range to your advantage. Most heals have a 40 yard range, whereas most damage/crowd control abilities have between a 30-36 yard range. You can always cast something at max range then run back a few yards to be out of range of a crowd control effect.
ALWAYS be coordinating where you are in relation to your partner. If you can’t get into good positioning tell your partner, and it’s up to him to move somewhere better.
Positioning is something you can be practicing constantly. It’s one of the basics to arenas and PvP, but it can make one of the largest impacts on the game. Most arenas are won and lost based on who has the best positioning.
Juking is the ability to fake a cast so that the opposing player uses his interrupt, allowing you to follow up with a real cast and not be interrupted. This takes lots of practice, but once you get the hang of it this can be employed very effectively.
MANY players interrupt the first thing you cast, so always juke the first cast when their interrupt is up. Begin a cast such as flash heal or greater heal, then move your character or hit escape .2-1 second in. This will make them think you are going to cast something, but when they go to interrupt you’ve stopped casting and they’ve hit their interrupt. They missed the cast which will allow you to cast your next ability without interruption. An addon that I HUGELY recommend you getting to help with this is InterruptBar (InterruptBar with Rebuke and Skull Bash : Combat Mods : WoWInterface AddOns). IB tells you when an interrupt is used and the cooldown left on it.
Juking is something you can practice in battlegrounds, duels, arenas, everywhere. Different players interrupt at different speeds, so try to notice patterns in peoples interrupts. Latency is also something that you should take into effect when juking. Sometimes you juke but still get interrupted, just remember this for next time.
Personally to practice this I would go duel a rogue, enhancement shaman, warrior or some other class with a fast interrupt just to get the hang of juking. Trying to stay alive well making them miss most of their interrupts is very good practice for real scenarios.
Discipline priests are one of the few classes that rely heavily on their partners in order to do well. They are a VERY good support class, with good heals, good CC, strong offensive and defensive dispels well still managing good survivability, very good assisting burst when going for a kill, and extremely good multi-functionality on most of their spells.
Having said all of this, priests rely heavily on their partners to “peel” (stop using slows, stuns, crowd control, snares, etc) enemies off them. This is due to their relatively low mobility in terms of other healers. Well druids can kite melee very easily due to their travel forms, shamans can ghost wolf and paladins have freedom and plate armor.
Being vocal with your teammates is a key to victory. In arenas I call out everything using skype, which I find is much better then ventrilo. I tell my partners when I am being crowd controlled, when I’m drinking, out of Line of Sight, low on mana, helping burst, who I’ve dispelled for a switch, and when I need help to not die. The more you call out the more your teammates are aware of your situation and can react accordingly. Disc priests are a class that is supposed to take charge, tell your partners who is open to switch too and what they need to be doing. Let them do their own thing, but don’t be a voice in the background.
Shadow Word Deathing CC – This has been unique to disc priests for a very long time. Allowing yourself to get out of polymorph and other crowd control effects that break on damage is huge and extremely useful in a variety of situations. The backlash damage on SW: D is enough to break polymorph, scatter shop, frost trap, gouge, sap, blind and repentance. It takes practice and quick reaction time but usually you can tell when you’re about to be hit by one of those effects just from the other players positioning. For example, if a mage is in LoS of you and casting polymorph, Shadow Word: Death him just in case. If a rogues running at you well your partner is at low health, Shadow Word: Death him at about 15 yards away in order to break the blind if its hits you. Shadow Word: Death effects will no longer go through absorb effects, i.e. shields so use the macro I provided in the macros section.
Inner Focus + Mind Control – This is a little known trick that is useful against melee when they’re attacking you. Inner focus makes it so that you can’t be interrupted through interrupt effects, silenced, or dispelled. Any melee class thats in range has an interrupt to stop mind control, which is a 2.5 second cast. When using MC in combination with Inner Focus, you won’t get interrupted. Using this combination after a cooldown such as kidney shot, hammer of justice, or throwdown is used can be a guaranteed 8 seconds of not dieing. Don’t use this when you’re too low however and need to heal, as the person you’re mcing will probably want to kill you harder as soon as they get out of it.
Life Grip (Leap of Faith) – Most people will realize that life grip can easily be used in a defensive way: pulling one of your partners to you will prevent most of the damage being put on them. Say you’re playing with a warlock and you have everyone hitting you within melee range, trying to kill you. Your fear is down from having used it a few seconds ago to stay alive, but you’re still losing health fast. You life grip your warlock on top of you who then fears everyone buying you a few seconds to top yourself back up. Less will realize that you can easily use this ability in an offensive fashion as well. If you’re playing with a melee class who is trying to stay on top of their target, who gets away through something like blink, disengage, of heroic leap you can run over to the target and life grip your melee to you, bringing them much closer to the person they’re trying to sit on. You can also use life grip really well to switch to a healer. Run to the healer, life grip one of your melee (preferably) to you so they can hit the opposing healer quickly. You’re other partner (if you’re playing 3s) can use another abilitiy (i.e. blink, etc.) to get over quickly and put out lots of pressure before the other team realizes whats happening.
Hymn of Hope + Shadowfiend – Shadowfiends mana regen is based on 3% of your maximum mana per hit. Hymn of hope increases your maximum mana by 15% for 8 seconds. Use your shadowfiend first, then channel hymn of hope in order for your shadowfiend to regen you more mana per hit.
Mind Sear Stealth – Mind sear does aoe damage and so can be used to get people out of stealth easily. Casting mind sear on a friendly target and having them run up blade’s edge bridge is a good idea to force the rogue to either wait at the other end or run all the way around. You can also mind sear when a rogue vanishes to hopefully get them out.
Mass Dispel around Pillars – Mass Dispel will cause whoever it hits to get in combat. If somebody is drinking around a pillar, using innervate around a pillar, divine plea, etc. Mass Dispel with them in the radius to dispel the effect or stop them from drinking.
Some of these tricks may seem obvious or basic, but I’m guessing a few of you might have learned a thing or two from them.
I hope after reading this you’ve learned a thing or two. Take everything with a grain of salt, as there are many different ways to play and this is just one of them. I hope that I’ve explained everything clearly and as in depth as I could have. I will continue to update this as comments come in.