Now slightly updated. Still planning to revist the specs when WoWhead isn’t down for the count. I also should links to “advanced stuff” shouldn’t I?
So You Rolled a Priest, 2nd Edition
A Priest Leveling Guide
So you rolled a priest. Maybe, like me, you just wanted to try something else. Maybe your raid needs a healer. Maybe this is your first character! Now you’re level ten and staring at your talent trees. Now it is time for THE DECISION: what spec are you going to be?
This is intended as a leveling guide, not an end-game guide. Spell rotations and specs will reflect that.
Priest Specs-The Basics
Ask yourself several questions.
Do I mostly want to heal? Do I mostly want to DPS?
-Do I want to PvP, or focus on PvE?
-Am I going to be soloing, duoing, or instancing my way to 80?
-How crazy am I?
Before the advent of Looking for Douchebags, shadow was considered by many to be the ‘default’ leveling spec. If you plan on mostly DPSing and/or mostly soloing, this is likely the route you’ll take. It’s also a respectable PvP spec. You will likely get asked to heal even as shadow, because people are silly like that, and it can make for a faster queue time. If you don’t mind, it’s entirely possible to heal as shadow until fairly close to end game (with some gear concessions).
Holy is a (raid) healing spec. If you plan on soloing/questing, this is…probably not the way to go. If you want to level primarily through instance groups or with a friend, holy is fine. Several people who planned to go holy end game leveled disc anyway because they felt it was less gear dependent, but I tend to favor ‘learn as you go’.
Disc is another healing spec, and my personal favorite (warning: bias ahead!). It’s good for healing in PvE, and with some different talents it’s also great for healing in PvP. I leveled as disc on a PvP server and not only was I durable, I was dangerous! If you want to heal instances but know you’ll be doing a lot of questing on your own, disc might be for you. And you get to heal with pew pew lazers later on. :D
Disc Spec: Here is one leveling path… I put all my points into disc to start and only went into holy later. I personally skipped the standard spirit tap because I’m a nutcase. You may want to be smarter than me.
Holy Spec: How about this one? I don’t know, the mere idea of a holy leveling spec kind of broke my mind.
Shadow Spec: I recreated my own shadow spec as best I could here. It’s PvE biased, not PvP. I am a PvPnub.
As Disc, my DPS rotation while questing was as follows:
Shield > Holy Fire > Shadow Word:Pain > Devouring Plague > Mind Blast
If mob was at less than 50% health, then I’d wand them to death for mana conservation. If it was not, then I’d bust out the smite until it was. At higher levels, PW: Death is great to finish things off as long as you’re careful (keep yourself bubbled!). It might seem a little slower to wand things to death, but you save time drinking, so it evens out.
While duoing, I holy smite everything I can just because it’s funny (hell, in raids I holy fire things because it’s funny). My tank is less amused, but tossing dots up on whatever he’s aoe tanking does help things go faster.
Can you lolsmite DPS in groups? Yes. Are you going to do awesome DPS? No. Does it matter in Maraudon? Not really. It sure does eat your mana bar, though.
Holy would switch up the disc rotation a bit. Or more than a bit, I suppose. Er. Here!:
Shield > Holy Fire > SW:P > Smite > Smite > Smite
Toss Devouring Plague up for tougher mobs that will live long enough for the DoTs to be worth it. The wand to death below 50% health strat applies here, too.
For shadow leveling:
Shield > Vampiric Touch > Mind Blast > SW:P > Devouring Plague> Mind Flay
Like the other two specs, for grinding you want to wand things to death sub 50% health. For DPSing in groups, you obviously won’t be doing that. Your group rotation would be more like this:
Vampiric Touch > Mind Blast > SW:P > Mind Flay
Renew VT when it drops, and use MF when MB is on cooldown.
VE is now an Inner Fire like “aura” –don’t forget to keep them up!
Leveling gear is generally whatever the hell you can grab. With today’s quicker leveling until 70, the gear you get before hand isn’t terribly important.
Holy: Spellpower, Int, Spirit, Crit/Haste/Mp5
Disc: Spellpower, Int, Crit, Haste
Shadow: Hit*, Spellpower, Int, Crit/Haste
*I consider hit to be like defense on a leveling tank. You want some, sure, but the “cap” is ever-changing. So don’t worry too much about the hit cap and just pick it up where you find it, at least until in your 70s.
If you get a piece with gem sockets, look at what gear you have now. What are you missing? If you have a lot of mp5 pieces, consider crit or SP gems, etc. Don’t spend too much money on gems sub 70, because you’re likely to replace the gear soon. On your way to 80 the gear replacement slows down…a little. That said, Lyr had three different weapons in 2 levels. I don’t bother with enchants at all for the same reason.