The way it looks to see yourself jumping up the healing meters after a well time archanjel+spirit shell is worth having to chuck a few smites out. Especially when you have people telling you Disc currently sucks :P
Smiting is not MANDATORY, you could go the lazy route and just build your stacks up with HF which is only 1 gcd. Some top ranking disc priests sometimes don't even smite at all, it's all up to you, but it's kind of stupid if you decide NOT to at least build your stacks up slowly.
Why do you think it is mandatory? Because they made it a base talent for disc? You can play however you want to play, they just made it so that you can take the decision making out of the equation and just play in whatever way that makes you happy.
That being said, there's a lot to be said for the extra damage you can put out, not to mention the easy heals. And... it's pretty fun. Just remember to keep your rapture going and you'll be fine.
The important part of the Atonement functionality that you'll need to care about is Archangel, and a +25% healing cooldown is very nice. You can stack it with instant cast holy fires and pop your big CD for a large incoming damage phase.
In the part of the post that I didn't quote because it's not really what I want to talk about you mentioned 25 man raids...to be honest I'll probably never even heal a 10 man raid. If I'm just doing 5 mans could I still be able to use my old method of PW:S/DA/PoH massive mastery stacked absorption?
If you're looking to spam two spells (PoH/PWS) for optimal performance, then no, you cant do that and that's definitely a good thing.
Then again, if you were gemming/stacking hardcore mastery in Cata then you weren't playing optimally anyway so not smiting might not be a big deal for you. But if you want to mastery stack and cruise to top HPS just via the nature of absorbs without regard for any other spell, then no you can't do that. Now you'll have to exercise some skill in spell selection to be effective.
No Atonement is not the only way but it makes sense in some situations.
If you really can't stand smiting or using Holy Fire, than don't - it won't affect your healing too much unless you're trying to progress-raid. But it just feels good beating an Enragetimer by just a few seconds and looking at recount reveals you have done 5 mio damage (or whatever) while still healing your group but maybe that's just me
Furthermore, I have to admit i had a hard time to manage my mana well until the recent Hotfixes but now i find Disc more fun than ever. Also because the healing style is so different and as Castalya mentioned a well-timed Archangel+Spirit Shell is absolutely awesome and will save your raid numerous times, because there are many bosses where you precisely predict when a huge amount of raid damage is coming in.
Hi guys. I'm thinking about re-subbing to WoW (quit for a lot of reasons around the last patch of Cata) because I really miss my lil' gnome priest healer who is pretty much the only reason I have to play WoW.
The problem is that (from what I've read so far) they pretty much made it mandatory for Disc priests to go the Atonement route now. I didn't ever like doing it that way because I didn't like the hybrid of dps-healing and much preferred to stack the crud out of my Mastery and go total PW:S/Divine Aegis crazy. I just liked how it felt to have people criticize my hps and then be like "How are we not dead?"
Anyway...is this true now? Is Atonement the ONLY way that a Disc priest can heal this go-round? I'd like to know because really it will make the difference as to whether or not I come back.
To answer you, very simply. NO it's not.
However, with the release of 5.1 and atonment being 41 yards now, you will probably be able to rely on it more then before. But you should still be using a mixture of PoH+SS+All of your other tools.