L2Discipline 4.0: Planting Your New Talent Tree

I am pleased to introduce to you the Cataclysmic version of my L2Discipline series from the Wrath of the Lich King expansion: L2Discipline 4.0! With all the changes that have occurred over the past few months while WoW and blogging was taking a cozy backseat to my day job, I figured it was best to start this guide over from scratch! Which means going back to the basics with an extensive talent breakdown:

Step 1: Choose Discipline

The talent trees in Cataclysm now require you to choose your specialization off the bat and you must spend 31 talent points (enough to get to and take the last talent) in that tree before moving on to talents in other trees (such as Holy). By choosing Discipline you get access to Penance, Meditation, and our mastery: Shield Discipline.

Step 2: Choose Talents in Discipline

Tier 1

Improved Power Word: Shield (2/2): Definite must-have for Discipline Priesting, your overall goal in your WoW life will be to get your shields to absorb as much damage as possible.

Twin Disciplines (3/3): This talent now applies to all your healing spells (not just instant ones like it did in Wrath), so it’s another must-have. As an added bonus it also buffs your damage spells.

Mental Agility (#/3): This talent applies to a plethora of spells that are in your arsenal including Power Word: Shield, your bread and butter spell. I believe this type of talent is very important right now because of how stressed mana management is in this expansion. So, you have a bit of a choice here: You can either spend 2-3 points in this or you can put 2 points in a later talent called Train of Thought, which I will explain below in it’s appropriate tier, and 1 point in this or you can spend 3 points here and 2 in Train of Thought and skip the Surge of Light talent in the Holy Tree. For a fresh priest at 85, I would put 3 points in this talent since mana management is so important and skip over Surge of Light for now. Later on, when you have better gear and are less worried about your mana, I would respec and put those 2 points back in Surge of Light and use that 1 extra point in Empowered Healing or Desperate Prayer or you could keep it in this talent.

Tier 2

Evangelism (2/2): This talent, and the one it unlocks, is what’s going to be the key to your mana management in Cataclysm as a Discipline Priest. After casting Smite each time you add a stack of the Evangelism buff on yourself which will increase the damage done by Smite, Holy Fire, and Penance by 4% and reduce the mana cost of those spells by 6%. This buff stacks up to 5. The only downside to this buff is that, in my experience while testing it, it only stacks if the Smite is not resisted by the target—meaning it has to hit your target and do damage to count towards your stack.

Archangel (1/1): This talent requires both points in Evangelism to unlock. If you took those points in Evangelism, this next talent is a must-have. After your Evangelism buff has stacked to 5 (or as close to 5 as you can get it to stack in clinch situations), you can hit Archangel and gain back your mana. Archangel will give you back 1% of your total mana instantly and increases your healing done by 3% for each stack of Evangelism that you had. So at 5 stacks of Evangelism your healing is increased by 15%! The effect lasts for 18 seconds and has a 30 second cooldown. Plus, it gives your character pretty angel wings! …and who wouldn’t want that?

Inner Sanctum (0/3): This talent reads more useful in PVP than in PVE to me. Skip for now.

Soul Warding (2/2): Another must-have talent! It will make your Power Word: Shield spell spamable again.

Tier 3

Renewed Hope (2/2): This talent has changed a lot since Wrath! It no longer gives your raid a damage-reducing buff. Instead it increases the critical chance of Flash Heal, Greater Heal, Heal, and Penance spells by 10% on targets afflicted by Weakened Soul or blessed by your Grace effect. In other words, all your direct healing spells are buffed by 10% on anyone you’ve shielded!

Power Infusion (1/1): Whether you use it on yourself for a quick haste and mana-saving buff or on your fellow raid members (caster DPS will LOVE you), this spell is useful and well worth a single talent point.

Atonement (2/2): This is the third, and final, smite-related spell in your talent tree. While spamming Smite to gain Evangelism stacks you’re not doing very much healing, are you? Nope. And that’s kinda deviating from your job description isn’t it? Yep. Well, Atonement is here to solve that problem for you! Whenever your smite does damage to a target (and remember it must do so to gain a stack of Evangelism anyway) you can heal a party or raid member within 15 yards of that target equal to 100% of the damage dealt! With this talent, Smite seems to be the new go-to spammable spell between PW:S, Penance, PoM, and Renew. [Please note that this is not an excuse to forget the other spells, such as Heal, in your spellbook! Though Atonement is a smart heal (which means it'll heal who ever has the lowest percentage health in the range of the spell) and it can be unpredictable at times. If you need to heal a specific target (such as tank or off-tank), even if they are in the range of the target you're smiting, stop smiting and HEAL them!]

Inner Focus (0/1): This talent has also changed quite a bit since Wrath. I used to use it in paring with Divine Hymn to make the expensive spell free and increase the crit chance of it’s healing ticks. However, this talent now only works with a few spells—Flash Heal, Binding Heal, Greater Heal, or Prayer of Healing. While you can macro this talent to one of those spells to get the most use out of it or save it for an “OH SHI—I’m out of mana!” moment, I don’t think it’s worth worrying about right now.

Tier 4

Rapture (3/3): This is your main method of getting back mana throughout an encounter. At 80 in T10 gear my Rapture awards me back more mana than my Power Word: Shield costs to cast, and I assume this will only improve at 85 with stat increases on gear.

Borrowed Time (2/2): 14% spell haste for my next spell after casting Power Word: Shield? Yes, please! Never anything wrong with some extra, free haste. Remember that this buff is not eaten up by instant-cast or channeled spells, like Renew and Penance. My usual rotation to get the most out of Borrowed Time is Shield, Penance, Renew, then any other healing spell.

Reflective Shield (0/2): Useful while leveling/soloing and in PVP, but I would skip this talent for any raid- or party-healing spec.

Tier 5

Strengthened Soul (2/2): A handy talent, especially for tank healing, you can reduce the cooldown of Weakened Soul on any target by 4 seconds with each cast of your heal spell. This will help you get your shields up again faster.

Divine Aegis (3/3): The awesome shiny, golden bubbles that this site is named after! Definitely an essential talent to max out, Divine Aegis procs shields on critical heals which absorb 30% of the amount healed. The talent was also recently changed to proc on all heals from Prayer of Healing, giving Discipline a group-wide shield and replacing the old use/purpose of Power Word: Barrier.

Pain Suppression (1/1): Essential tank-saving cooldown! You should take this in all specs.

Train of Thought (2/2): This talent, despite being half focused on Inner Focus which we skipped, is actually really useful for our Smite mechanics. It gives you 100% chance to reduce the cooldown of Penance when casting Smite.

Tier 6

Focused Will (0/2): PVP talent, skip for PVE.

Grace (2/2): While this can only be on one target at a time, it’s handy for tank-healing, or in situations where someone has taken a ton of damage and is near death, as it will increase your healing on a specific target. It will stack to 3 with each tick of Penance, so one cast of Penance will give you a full stack of Grace. The blessing lasts for 15 seconds, which is plenty of time to get your chosen target to full health again. To get the most out of this talent, cast PW:S and Penance on your chosen target first, and continue healing with other spells afterward.

Tier 7

Power Word: Barrier (1/1): Originally this talent was meant to be our group-sheild, but because of scaling problems Blizzard has changed it to a group-wide damage-reducing buff. Any party or raid member who stands in the bubble while it’s up (10 seconds) will have their incoming damage reduced by 30%. Pretty considerable when you think about fights with a lot of AoE damage at a certain time in the encounter, like the XT boss in Ulduar had during Tantrums.

Step 3: Choose Talents in Holy

With your remaining 10 points at level 85, you can choose some talents in Holy or you can select some talents in Discipline that we skipped over earlier.

Tier 1

Improved Renew (0/2): While I use Renew as a buffer spell on tanks, it’s not something I spam on the whole raid since it’s mana inefficient. Therefore I’ve chosen to skip over this talent. If you use Renew more, you can feel free to take this as it may be more useful to you.

Empowered Healing (2/3): Increase the healing done by all your single-target direct-healing spells (not including Penance)? Not a bad talent, but not essential to max out since it doesn’t effect Penance or Power Word: Shield. You can also choose to put these two points in Renew if you really want to, but I don’t use Renew enough to justify it.

Divine Fury (3/3): In the last expansion, I skipped over this talent because it didn’t effect the spells that I used most often. With the Smite mechanics added into Discipline and the changes to our healing spells this talent is now much, much more viable. Take it!

Tier 2

Desperate Prayer (0/1): I’ve had this spell save my ass loads of times in Wrath, but I’m not taking it in Cataclysm in favor of maxing out Mental Agility.

Surge of Light ([0 or 2]/2): More Smite mechanics! This will give you a 6% chance when you cast Smite (and also Heal) to make your next Flash Heal an instant cast and cost no mana! However, as a fresh priest at 85 I would suggest skipping this talent for now and respeccing into it at a later date when you have better gear and less issue with mana management.

Inspiration (2/2): Must-have ability for all priest healers. No excuses!

Wrapping Up

The talent tree I walked you through in this post is 34/7/0 with the Smite mechanics available to Discipline for a priest just hitting level 85. After ample ample gearing, I would suggest respeccing to 32/9/0 or 31/10/0.

If you prefer to skip the Smite mechanics available to you, I would suggest an alternate tree of 31/10/0 or 31/7/3 without Smite mechanic talents. However I still advise that you at least try out the Smite mechanics before you snub them.

I regret that I can’t guide you on a tree for PVP because that is not my area of expertise, so if you have suggestions please feel free to leave them in the comments!

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for upcoming L2Disc 4.0 posts. In the next post I plan to discuss glyph choices.

This post is up-to-date as of patch 4.0.1 Last edited Dec 12, 2010.


Tagged as , , , , , , , + Categorized as Discipline Priest, Discipline Priest, L2Discipline

36 Comments

  1. Thanks for this tree. I am going to try the smite mechanics on my Disc priest as I enter Cata leveling.
    Deana´s last blog ..No one’s in the kitchen with DinahMy ComLuv Profile

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  2. “Soul Warding (2/2): Another must-have talent! It will make your Power Word: Shield spell spamable again.”

    But only if you have low latency. If you are in a high latency area (aka outside the US), expect frustrations with “That ability is not ready yet”. The reason for this is the 1 second cooldown that this spell gets reduced to is separate to the GCD. You can see the GCD trigger after casting a shield, then depending on your latency, you will see a 2nd 1sec cooldown occur for this. Very frustrating when you have a roughly 0.5-1 second variation on a core ability for your class.

    [Reply]

    Lilitharien Reply:

    @Chris, I’ve honestly never heard of this issue before. I play in the US and that is probably why it hasn’t crossed my path. Would you only take 1 point in that particular talent instead?

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    Chris Reply:

    @Lilitharien, no, 2/2 is still a must have for disc priests, it’s just a really annoying change that blizzard has introduced, which unfortunately penalises players with higher latency /lame
    Chris´s last blog ..atomicbomb- @Derevka and that is the 1 reason I have never spent the gold on learning Lightwell ppl are too dumb to use itMy ComLuv Profile

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  3. Also, Archangel only gives 1% mana back per stack, this was reduced from 3% in a recent patch, so not quite as mana friendly as it was. though Smite was buffed (so better healing from smiting), to keep evangelism viable.
    Chris´s last blog ..atomicbomb- Onboard with driver wow ce waitingonthepostieMy ComLuv Profile

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    Lilitharien Reply:

    @Chris, thanks for the correction!

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  4. Atonement actually is a smart heal. It heals the person with the lowest health (percent). Out of those who are in range, of course.

    [Reply]

    Lilitharien Reply:

    @scr00chy, thanks for the correction, I wasn’t sure about it so I assumed it wasn’t. I’ve updated the post. :)

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  5. Awesome post! Thanks! Will definitely be a help while levelling my disc priest.
    Fobok´s last blog ..My Plans for Cataclysm!My ComLuv Profile

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  6. Hmmmm…I suppose I should be adapting to Cata-encounters. I confess I have Train of Thought / Inner Focus in preference to Strengthened Soul at the moment, but that’s because there’s been no reason to use heal in WotLK encounters. But I think you’re dead right that Strengthened Soul is probably a better better bet for Cata. I also have 2 points in Darkness because I was lagging behind the haste cap but, again, surge of light sounds pretty much unmissable when you have the talent points for it. A healing spell for no mana. Yum. I’m slightly peeved they nerfed the mana return from Archangel as well.

    But, yes, thanks for this … I shall probably steal your spec as usual :)

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  7. Joshua Tompkins says:

    Did you miss the second benefit of the Train of Thought talent? It is worthwhile just for the CD reduction to Penance when you Smite. It seems strange to include SoS in an Atonement build (when it is rare to cast Heal) but not include ToT.

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    Joshua Tompkins Reply:

    @Joshua Tompkins, Also, for the non-Atonement build, why include 1 point in Improved Renew instead of maxing out Divine Fury?

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    Lilitharien Reply:

    @Joshua Tompkins, You can do either or with the last point, my trees are not meant to be set in stone! There’s always flexibility.

    [Reply]

    Lilitharien Reply:

    @Joshua Tompkins, You know what, you’re right! I didn’t notice the second benefit of that talent. I’ll go back and update this post later tonight considering that.

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  8. As a bb!Disc priest who has dreams of being a raiding alt one day, I can promise you this post and all future L2Disc posts will be bookmarked for future reference. I’d ask Oestrus, but she’s holy, the scrub. ;)
    Apple´s last blog ..“It is done”My ComLuv Profile

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    Lilitharien Reply:

    @Apple, thank you! I’m glad people are finding them informative. :D

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  9. I have to highly disagree with your talent build.

    At least from an effectiveness point of view, something along the line of 31/5/5 for 3% haste and 1 min reduce on shadow fiend from the shadow tree would be better.
    also, anything with atonement and archangel is more for a fun build for overgeared content. atonement is far too unreliable, you won’t hit anything with it on large bosses (and a lot of bosses are fairly large, especially dragons.
    Xerian´s last blog ..Lich King heroicMy ComLuv Profile

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    Lilitharien Reply:

    @Xerian, I hope you realize that the physical size of the boss has nothing to do with how well you can hit it with spells. What a Discipline Priest specced into Evangelism & Atonement would need to do is use the Divine Accuracy glyph to increase their chances of Smite actually landing and doing damage.

    In the case of a Priest wanting to take Darkness, I’d take 2 points out of Surge of Light and one out of Empowered Healing to max out Darkness, going to 31/7/3. I’m not sure about the usefulness of the Veiled Shadows talent yet, it depends on how mana management is at level 85 which I have not been able to test yet but I assure you I will be soon!

    This post will be updated with changes/suggestions as I level in Cataclysm and experience/test everything out properly at level 85.

    [Reply]

  10. Joshua Tompkins says:

    @Lilitharien, There is a bug with Atonement where the range of the heal is calculated from the center of the target’s hit box, but if the target’s hit box is larger than 8 yards, no one gets healed. Hopefully it will eventually get fixed, and I don’t think that a single range bug invalidates the build. For fights like that, you can always switch to a Heal-based rotation, using SoS and more PW:S.

    [Reply]

    Lilitharien Reply:

    @Joshua Tompkins, I see! Thanks for the heads up. And yes, I definitely agree that it doesn’t invalidate the talent.

    [Reply]

  11. So far I’m doing the regular dungeons as Disc without Evangelism/Archangel. I don’t have much in the way of mana issues yet. I’m 84 now. Am I going to be forced into build where i have to DPS to Heroic and Raid or is a build without it still viable at current End-Game?

    [Reply]

    Joshua Tompkins Reply:

    @Lagspike, At least in early heroics, it’s not necessary and really early on you’ll probably have problems finding a place to weave in your Smites – the damage is really high.

    I think even when raiding the Atonement sub-spec is always going to be optional. Unfortunately for those who don’t like it, you have to take some weak talents to fill out the Disc tree if you don’t take the Smite-based ones.

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    Lilitharien Reply:

    @Lagspike, I’m pretty sure not taking Evangelism/Archangel will not be the source of any, if at all, mana woes that you will have. Since the mana gain from Archangel was nerfed from 3% to 1%, it’s not essential to take just for the purpose of gaining mana. You still have a lot of other option for mana returns in your arsenal—Arcane Torrent (if you’re a blood elf, which I am and find very handy), Hymn of Hope, Shadow Fiend, and, of course, mana pots! And make sure you’re spamming Heal instead of Flash Heal in down times, as it costs less than half the mana of FH.

    So, no, you won’t be forced into anything you don’t want to do, but I am curious—Why so anti-Smite?

    [Reply]

    Joshua Tompkins Reply:

    @Lagspike, also, and I mean this completely seriously, I’m not sure you’d call healing with Smite “DPS”. Even in full 333 gear in a normal instance, where with a little CC you can basically Smite all the way through and keep your group up, I only do about 2k DPS.

    Honestly with the proper macro support you can integrate Smite into your rotation and it feels *exactly* like normal healing – you still target friendly units, you still heal a predictable (though not always controllable) target. You just do a little damage on the side.

    [Reply]

  12. Joshua Tompkins says:

    One interesting potential Disc build is 33/8/0: http://www.wowhead.com/talent#bfGorRsbcRMochM.

    This build drops Strength of Soul in exchange for Inspiration, and also takes Inner Focus and Train of Thought.

    Some current theorycrafting suggests that in a scenario where you are chain casting fully-Graced Heal, you can macro Inner Focus to your Greater Heal and chain cast that instead.

    With the reduced cooldown on Inner Focus that comes from ToT, you gain one additional Inner Focus/Greater Heal cast every nine Greater Heals. That free cast, assuming no overhealing, makes Greater Heal’s Healing Per Mana (HPM) roughly equivalent to Heal, while at the same time not requiring you to be GCD locked (because you let the heal target dip lower to limit overhealing from GH, you have time to cast spells other than Heal).

    It’s an interesting thought and one that is useful as you enter Heroics, where you’ll be leaning more on Greater Heal, at least initially, to deal with the greatly increased tank damage.

    [Reply]

    Lilitharien Reply:

    @Joshua Tompkins, I was actually thinking of doing something VERY similar to this spec, depending on how much use I get out of Strength of Soul. I actually am finding myself casting Smite over Heal when I can just because Smite is faster and actually ends up being slightly more mana efficient after the return from Archangel. Because the tank I’m aiming to heal usually is the only one taking damage (except on AoE fights, of course) within the vicinity of the boss Atonement’s heal hits ‘em just as a targeted Heal would. However, I haven’t done any heroics yet so I’ll leave this comment as here-say until I get some testing done in there.

    Only one more level left for me to go! It really sucks that Cata had to come out around the Holidays, when I’m busiest at work. :(

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  13. Not really anti-smite. I like my Priest because I always felt we had the most “options” and had to make the most decisions. It’s true now more then ever imo. I haven’t really given it a chance so I can’t say for sure that it isn’t my playstyle. I might give it a try. I don’t know. But I have trouble finding a place on my bars for all the spells I use now. Adding DPS spells just seems excessive.

    [Reply]

    Lilitharien Reply:

    @Lagspike, I actually only show healing spells and spells with cooldowns (like Arcane Torrent or Shadow Fiend) on my bars. I have all my spells bound to keyboard keys so I don’t necessarily need to see them, so my UI stays clean and simple.

    [Reply]

  14. Nice rundown of the spells. Personally I like Inner Focus. The cooldown is very short and is perfect for when you know a little damage is coming, pop it with Prayer of Healing or for a free Gheal on the ol’ tank. Actually like it more than Power Infusion but probably cause I don’t remember to use it.

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  15. Honestly, have you played a Disc priest in this expansion?
    You’ve taken almost every worthless talent in the tree. 1/3 of our
    available Disc talents are related to buffing Power Word: Shield. 7
    total talents out of 21. 3 of those talents are all but required. 4
    of them are (in my opinion) worthless. Required: Rapture –
    Supplements the regeneration we lack. Stacking Int is as good or
    better than stacking spirit due to Rapture’s dependence on the size
    of our mana pool. Borrowed Time – Haste = Supplements the
    throughput we lack. Renewed Hope – Supplements Crit which helps
    with throughput and our worthless Mastery. Worthless: Improved
    Power Word: Shield – 10% of nothing is nothing. Soul Warding –
    There’s almost never a reason to use a shield more than once every
    3 seconds. It’s just not mana efficient enough to be spammed on the
    party willy-nilly. If you need a quick bubble on everybody, you’re
    better off to IF>PoH. Strength of Soul – Rapture’s IC is at
    12 seconds so it’s worthless to use SoS>Heal more than once
    per Weakened Soul, you should be Smite/Atonement healing if you’re
    using Heal and ToT/GHeal+IF if you’re not. Reflective Shield –
    Worthless PvP talent in a world where PvP Disc Priests are already
    a joke. Would need to reflect 300% of the damage I take to even be
    remotely useful.

    [Reply]

    Oestrus Reply:

    @Synz (Durotan),

    As a holy priest, I don’t know too much about the arguments you are posing.

    However, from a common sense standpoint, I can say that you are wrong in stating that Lilitharien told anyone to use Reflective Shield. She clearly states that she put 0/0 points into it. That part or your criticism could be left out of your comment.

    I will step aside and let her or any other discipline priests feel free to reply to your other sentiments, regarding the quality of the choices that were mentioned in the post.

    Thanks.
    Oestrus´s last blog ..L2Holy – TalentsMy ComLuv Profile

    [Reply]

    Avalonna Reply:

    @Synz (Durotan),

    There’s a right way, and a wrong way to do things. I agree with some of the things you’ve said. I also disagree with some things you’ve said. But I’m not going to berate you for your input or even lack of experience raiding as a priest this expansion (or even the last one, from the looks of it). Why? Because it’s asinine, that’s why.

    The blogging community is very tight, both with authors & readers. No one pays bloggers or they people that give input & comments. It’s not a ticket to fame and fortune. It’s a lot of hard work and a lot of time. We do it because we love it. WE do it because we love the discovery and interaction. We love bouncing ideas and topics off each other. And every time some jackhole comes flaunting an epeen, it makes people question why they bother.

    Do I disagree with some of the things said here? Sure. And she’ll disagree with me. But there’s this neat thing about being an adult that allows people to discuss things without resorting to insults or questioning one’s ability. Discovery is about discussion, not trying to feel superior by flinging derogatory or scathing remarks.

    So by all means – disagree with everything said here. Just do it without being a grade A jackass.

    [Reply]

    Joshua Tompkins Reply:

    @Synz (Durotan), I think you’re being a little over the top here.

    You pointed out the required shield-based talents, and then trucked everything else off as being “worthless”, with no real numbers or reasoning to back up your claims.

    Just as a quick example: Imp PW:S provides a 10% boost to the bubble. You dismiss this as “10% of nothing is nothing”, but a fully-buffed PW:S from my heroic-geared Disc priest absorbs about 11k damage, and (thanks to Rapture) is mana-positive, which boosts its effective HPM way, way above everything else we have. Even a non-Rapture shield, if fully absorbed, provides as much effective healing as a fully-Graced Heal, and is instant cast.

    What world are you living in where an instant cast Heal isn’t useful?

    As for spamming bubble – Blizzard has explicitly stated that they don’t want Disc priests doing that any more (just like Resto Druids can’t spam Rejuv). Complaining about the fact that you can’t do it any more, and then declaring any talent that buffs the bubble as “useless” simply because you can’t spam it, is no more useful than complaining about the fact that if you jump in the ocean you get wet. That’s just the way it is.

    If you’d read the comments, you’ll see that a SoS-less build has also been discussed, and no where in the post did I see RS being recommended as anything but a levelling talent.

    Honestly it sounds like you’re not a fan of the new Disc, which is fine, but there’s no reason to take out your anger here, or on anyone else for that matter.

    [Reply]

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