Discipline Priests may not be as dangerous as they once were but their survivability is still impressive. They are a versatile healing class with decent crowd control abilities and can be a hard, slow kill for a rogue.
Dominate Mind can be a real game winner for a priest. It doesn’t DR with anything and it’s great for setting up kills. On the plus side, your dots hit 65% harder against a priest casting this spell since resilience doesn’t reduce their damage, so don’t worry too much if they use this spell against you defensively. My priest partner sometimes uses dominate mind to bait interrupts – it’s a spell from the shadow school so kicking it won’t lock them out of their heals or shields. Your healer can dispel it if needed, but what’s more of a problem is when the priest uses it to control your healer. It’s not just an 8 second CC; it can be used to throw the target off a platform, behind a pillar or into fear range. It’s very easy for this spell to be used to start a chain which takes you out of the game for 20 seconds. Extra care needs to be taken at Lumber Mill in Arathi Basin, for obvious reasons…
Generates mana for the priest whenever it hits you. The Shadowfiend should be CC’d if possible to reduce the priest’s mana regeneration, though failing that it can be a good time to use evasion if you’re not facing melee enemies. When turned into a Mindbender via a talent, the cooldown is heavily reduced but it gives less mana per hit.
This pet lasts 10 seconds and can be killed if you have the energy though it can also be gouged/kicked (or CC’d by your partners) to prevent spellcasts. Sadly it is on a very short cooldown of 45seconds but it does share the same talent tier as Dominate Mind.
It’s common to see disc priests use this at the start of an arena – it lets them pre-heal a target which reduces the effectiveness of CC you use on the priest. If they have this shield don’t waste energy trying to damage through it, just wait for it to fall off as it can’t be dispelled.
Five seconds of silence immunity may stop your kicks and garrottes, but gouging will negate it perfectly.
An annoying ability – thanks to the loss of target it causes I’ve wasted so many mutilates this season by mashing my buttons too soon. Remember you only have to hit the guise target three times, not kill it. Three autoattacks will take it down in two seconds without wasting energy or combo points.
Seeing your target suddenly jump from 5% to 100% health can be demotivating, but unless you’re certain you can CC the healer and that the swap target has used all their defensive cooldowns you shouldn’t change target. You will have built up momentum on the priest if they’ve had to swap health and changing targets will mean you’ll have to burn through a fresh set of defensive cooldowns (plus the priest is now able to free cast). At the moment I’m playing with a disc priest and not once have I died after having my health taken off me. It’s a bit of a shock being hit for 75% of your health but it’s easy to survive. Smokebomb can be used to break LoS, stopping the priest from being able to switch life with a partner (as well as stopping peels and offheals).
Tactics for Killing Disc Priests
Half of a priest’s healing comes from shields and absorbs – when a discipline priest casts Power Word:Shield on themselves they cannot do so again for 15* seconds (due to the Weakened Soul debuff). During this time you can kick and gouge to interrupt non-instant cast heals, but don’t use stuns until the Weakened Soul debuff is just about to end. To wear a discipline priest down you need to slow down their shield applications – stunning after Weakened Soul turns their 15 second cooldown into an 21 second cooldown.
Mind numbing poison is extremely useful against priests – paralytic is an option but I find the 30% reduced chance for it to proc crippling poison a real problem when dealing with Body and Soul. If you can anticipate the incoming psychic scream (30 seconds cooldown) you should shiv mind-numbing just before they fear. While you’re running around screaming they get the perfect opportunity to heal or smite spam without interruption so giving them 100% increased cast time for their first spell slows their actions down a bit.
Situational awareness and successfully anticipating an enemy’s actions are an important part of arena PVP – with priests there are several signs to be alert for. If your target isn’t the priest, keep an eye out for the following;
Priest starts spirit shelling your target
This is a good indication they are either expecting to be CC’d or are preparing to break off from combat and drink. Make sure someone on your team can interrupt this (you may need to CC the priest’s partners to do so, especially warriors and DKs).
Priest uses Spectral Guise without being pressured
There are several reasons for this. They will most likely be either redirecting your team’s pets to their partner, dropping combat to try and drink or are planning to run over to you with a fear. If you have a partner that can aoe fear/stun, they can attempt to counter-CC the priest by randomly CC’ing when they predict the priest is in range but be careful of the other team catching on to this tactic and using it to bait your team’s CC.
Priest runs to you
Psychic scream doesn’t have a massive range so disc priests need to get close to you. If you see a priest run at you (especially if you’re close to your team partners) either LoS/cloak or gouge them before they can fear. It’s for situations like this you need a focus-gouge macro as having to manually target the priest wastes valuable time. I often manage to gouge whilst feared so it’s worth trying.
You open hard on the disc priest
Don’t expect this to work too many times against the same priest, but if you can successfully panic them with a good opener (behind a pillar with cooldowns) it’s worth offensively cloaking to dodge the predictable psychic scream. Timing is important here – don’t do it too soon, wait until the stun is milliseconds away from ending. I get cycloned/hexed/fairiefired every day through cloak (even with 40ms ping) but activating cloak at the same time the fear lands seems to clear it regardless. You’ve got to love Blizzard’s netcode…..
Let me know if you have other tactics for handling disc priests, I can update this article as needed. I’d be really happy to hear feedback from priests playing rogue alts and learn more about their secrets for beating rogues – that’s if you don’t mind betraying your class 😉