Ugh, I hate smiting. But ATT is leveling his priest as disc and is just yapping all the time about how awesome it is.

Fine. I’ll try your dumb smite spec.

The Spec

Here it is:

This spec allows me, I feel, to do smite-healing if I so desire (it includes Evangelism, Archangel, and Atonement) but it still doesn’t gimp my healing in times when I can’t work smite into the rotation. It still has all the basic elements of a strong bubble spec.

I gotta say, I tried a few versions of this and spent way too much money adjusting.

This is NOT a srs bzns dps spec. This is a spec that is for healing, with smiting augmenting my healing output.

Why I didn’t take what I didn’t take…

Now, these talents might work for you, but hopefully I’ve explained why they didn’t work for me (and trust me, I’ve tried em.)

Inner Sanctum – With any luck, I won’t be getting hit. If Inner Will proves to be awesome, I’ll have to reevaluate.

Reflective Shield – That’s pvp, yo

Strength of Soul – At first this looked awesome. If you’re main tank healing, you can use Heal to shave time off Weakened Soul, so you can re-bubble sooner. However, this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and doesn’t work in practice. If I’m sweating bullets that Weakened Soul is on the tank, and watching the cooldown with anticipation so I can re-bubble the tank, chances are in that horrid situation, I’m not using Heal. I’m using Penance, Gheal, and anything else I can toss at the tank. So in practice, I’m not seeing the use for this, and I decided after trying it out to spec out of it. I’m Ok with Heal, and I use Heal, but it just doesn’t work in this situation. If this talent worked off FHeal, Gheal and/or Penance, I’d be all over it.

Train of Thought – It looked awesome to reduce the penance cooldown. However, I was casting maybe 2 Smites while Penance was on cooldown. There was just too much healing to do in-between. So I dropped this talent.

Focused Will – That’s PvP Right?

Again, I made these choices based on creating a healing spec, not a smite-dps spec and not a leveling spec.

What I currently have but could live without

Inner Focus – Right now, I live by this one because I’m a sole priest in a heal team made up of me and 2 pallies. Even when I’m in disc spec, I need to use Prayer of Healing. So I keep Inner Focus to help pump it up and lessen the mana cost.

Power Infusion – What’s not to like about moar HPS, less mana? Of course I cast it on myself!

Mental Agility – I’ll have to see how the mana stuff plays out as I level up, but I can see myself dropping one or more points out of this if something else is totally necessary.

Darkness – Maybe haste will be awesome. Maybe EJ will advise to skip that talent and get haste on gear instead. I’m keeping an open mind.

The Plan for 85

Something like this:

Again with the caveats mentioned above, depending on whether certain abilities prove to be more or less useful.

In my opinion, Inspiration is a must for single-target healing, and quite useful even for AOE healing. Unless you’re a smite-monkey thinking only of smite, I’d take it.

Surge of Light is failsauce and procs almost never.

Desperate Prayer is OK, but if you’re disc, you’ll be reaching for the bubble, not the desp prayer. If you need both, you are in serious deep doodoo.

The Glyph

You need the Glyph of Divine Accuracy (improves your hit rating for smite only), otherwise you’ll be missing a lot. Like an embarrassing amount. The dummy and I weren’t friends.

The rest of my glyphs are focused on healing. Sure, there are glyphs to pump your dps, but as mentioned above, I’m using smite primarily to boost healing, not to do srs bzns dps.

The Tracking

I just cheated and used Tales of A Priest’s POWA page. It’s far easier to import a set and fiddle with it to your liking than to create from scratch.

The Keybindings

I am using mostly Clique for smite. See, my target and focus boxes are right next to my healing boxes because I used to center wild growth around the mob, so I needed them all close together.  That way I am just click-healing, interspersing smites in there, and I don’t really have to change gears.

The Dumb Advice

Evangelism stacks: Use it or lose it. Repeat after me: use it or lose it.

Anytime the stacks are about to expire and you can’t get them back up in time, hit your fairy wings (Archangel)!  Even if it’s the end of a freakin pull and you won’t pull the next group in time. Why?  It’s free mana.  Don’t let those stacks expire. It’s a complete waste to let them expire.

Sure, Archangel has a cooldown. But it’s such a short cooldown (especially compared to its duration), and you have to build up your stack again… you will never have “this ability is not ready yet.”

Abandon the idea that you need 5 stacks of Evangelism before popping Archangel. You don’t. If you can, fabulous. But if you’re 3 stacks in and starting to have to heal more than smite, pop your fairy wings and get your partial benefits NOW. You can start building your stacks again before the wings even expire. There’s no point in getting to 5 stacks and the fight is over. Pop those fairy wings.

That's totally a pink-pigtailed gnome priest!

Side Effects (Leveling to 85)

Though, as mentioned a million times, this spec is geared toward healing and not dpsing or leveling, this spec does fairly well in the 80-85 grind. Keep in mind that I have ATT as a leveling buddy, so my role is that of mediocre dps and healer-backup. This spec is excellent for survivability (of self and leveling buddy) and sustained chain pulling (mana regen is good) and still provides reasonable DPS, though if you are leveling without a buddy, the kills might take longer than you’d like. If I were leveling as Holy, I might shoot myself.


Smite-heal spec is still lame as a healing spec. My dps is fail while doing intermittent smites between heals (because evangelism doesn’t gain that many stacks) and people need a lot of healing – direct healing.

Smite-heal spec is decent for leveling, but not the most awesome unless you spec more for DPS than I did. With dual spec available and cheap, I’m sure you can find a way that works for you.

I would say to do a smite spec as your disc healing spec ONLY if you can do so without missing out on core discipline talents that would allow you to chain bubble and single-target heal. Because there will be fights where you are NOT smiting, and you need to be awesome in those fights too. Right now I have a smite-heal spec that allows me to bubble-heal like normal… but if that were to change and I had to choose between pure-heal spec and a smite-heal spec, I would not choose a smite-heal spec. It’s just not powerful enough.


Testing a Discipline Smite Build in the Name of Science — 6 Comments

  1. Lilitharian makes a decent case for Strength of Soul over at Divine Aegis ( – I had initially written it off myself but she speaketh good sense so I’m probably going to actually give a good test run before I dismiss it.  Currently train of thought / inner focus (since I don’t think it’s worth taking inner focus WITHOUT also taking train of thought – but that’s just my take on it) isn’t exactly earning its keep either.  Also I was doing some 5-man content the other night and there are some real heavy hitters in there.  Basically some of the mobs would just rip through my shield and leave the tank on about half health – of course you’ve things for dealing with it, but I actually found at the point of stabilisation that throwing a heal on the tank helped get me into a more comfortable position for the next hard hit and the next bubble.
    I also don’t think I believe that a smite-build is a fail-spec, although I guess I’ll have to see how it works in a raid context in Cata.  I usually throw out about 1.3k DPS which isn’t awesome, agreed, but it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick (i.e. 1.3k DPS is better than 0 DPS).  I do believe you can only really maximise your smite spam when you know a fight well but that’s fair enough, to be honest.  I mean the first time we did the LK I did practically no smite because I didn’t know the damage patterns well enough to feel confident that I wasn’t smiting when I should have been healing, and I remember thinking (and even blogging) that I couldn’t image ever being able to cast smite ever.  But on our later kills I was usually steady at my usual damage output.
    The thing is, I don’t really see it as DPS, I see it as Bonus DPS, which gives you a slightly different perspective on it.  Also I like the flexibility it gives you – I mean it’s not so much that you’re being a psuedo-damage dealer, it’s that you can provide an extra kick occasionally.   Like I’ve sometimes smited an annoying add to death on Lady DW if we had bad raid comp and not enough magical damage, or kited a zombie or two on Valithria, and I’ve done my bit on bonespikes on Marrowgar.  I mean why stick rigidly to one mindset when you have the tools to be adaptive.
    Also I don’t think the current talent trees are bloated enough to allow you to easily miss out on core disc talents – even if you are going for a smite spec.
    As a final point, if you really are in the position whereby you do literally nothing except heal on every GCD I would, um, look to your team.  Either the rest of the healers are cruising, or they’re not cruising and you’re healing over each other, or your DPS are taking too much avoidable damage.  That sounds rude, it wasn’t meant to be.  But when I’ve looked back on raids in which I’ve flogged myself to death to heal and I haven’t dared stop for a second it’s usually because something was wrong somewhere.

    • I was a big proponent of Strength of Soul, and it seemed like a neat idea, but when I had specced into it, I didn’t use it enough to get the benefit. Either my shield would stay up (no problem) or the mob would eat through it (FAST) and I’d be tossing penance and gheal, not a wussy “heal”. However, as mentioned above, there are some talents I can live without… and if strength of soul proves to be must-have, it’s an easy fix to get rid of inner focus and power infusion.

  2. Pingback: on cata, on healing, on smite « Righteous Orbs

  3. It’s been almost a week since Cata came out now (In Europe at least, yay for us) and I levelled with the intention of healing with an evangelism/archangel/atonement discipline build. I healed at 80 fine in that spec, I even managed to throw out plenty of smites in ICC runs and had no complaints. Healing while levelling up from 80 to 85 was mostly fine, I had the same new mana issues everyone had, I effectively removed flash heal from my action bars and swapped to heal. I just didn’t have time to smite, and found that when I tried, my atonement heals would land on “that paladin who takes all that stupid damage and I’d rather let him die”, or “that mostly irrelevant hunter pet”, occasionally on the tank or someone who actually needed healing. Along with this fairly ineffective healing, I didn’t notice any benefit in terms of mana in casting 5 smites and using archangel – sure the 15% healing bonus is great, but it took me nearly 15 seconds (minus talent and haste effects) to cast those 5 smites and in that time I could have been healing much more than 15% more effectively. The mana return from Archangel has made the smite casting mostly mana neutral, but with my mana pool as it is it’s not a noticable mana gain – maybe when we’re a couple of tiers of gear up that’ll change.

    Ultimately, I respeccted out of evangelism, archangel and atonement. I put my now spare talent points into things like mental agility, strength of soul (now I’m using heal and not trying to smite, the weakened soul duration reduction is really noticable and feels effective) and can happily take both inspiration and 2/3 darkness. My healing has become more reliable, it feels like I have more throughput, and I’m happier as a result.

    I’m very glad that the smite build is a choice for us disc priests, not a requirement!

    • I’d also like to add that since settling on the smite-less spec I’ve been happily healing every heroic going with no real issues (other than the occasional luck of dungeon finder roulette). I’ll try to remember to get in touch once I’ve tried healing in a raid environment, which should be later this week!

    • I found that casting 5 smites was an urban legend! I would try in an instance to cast 1-2 smites and then hit evangelism quickly so I could get at least some benefit to healing from it. Going from mob pack to mob pack just doesn’t get your stacks up. I’m not sure how it would play out in a long boss fight – you might get more out of it. I have to believe that a smite spec might occupy that strange niche in a 10 where 2 healers have a hard time but 3 healers is overkill.

      I might have to give strength of soul a second look if you think it’s awesomesauce.