So You Rolled a Priest – 2nd Edition

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.

Spell Rotations
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.

  1. #1 by Ron on June 17, 2010 - 1:00 am

    As someone who leveled 1-60 in vanilla (the thought of that makes me want to hit myself), it’s best to level shadow regardless of what you’d like to do endgame. Switch to your endgame spec 2 levels before cap and you should be fine. For a PvP server, leveling Disc is a viable alternative if survivability is a concern.

  2. #2 by Lique on June 17, 2010 - 9:24 am

    Agree with Ron, but sadly, holy is faster for leveling, I think, until you can get penance because smite and holy fire do more damage in the holy tree and the increased spell damage according to spirit is also helpful. Just heal in shadow, it’s easier.

    Also, the holy rotation does not change from the disc rotation. Why would you not cast Mind Blast or Devouring Plague? DP gives you health back (in case you lose any, you won’t waste mana on healing) and Mind Blast will always do more damage over time than Smite.

    Oh, and in humanoid areas, you can carefully solo using Mind Control. (Mind control one caster, kill the others!) It’ll help save your mana a bit. Use your shadow fiend and Inner Focus as often as possible (if/when you have them).

    NEVER try to take on more than 3 mobs as a priest (and only three if you have full mana and are feeling sturdy). Priests are SQUISHY!

  3. #3 by Teoita on June 17, 2010 - 10:27 am

    I levelled a priest alt a while ago (before lfd), soloing both as holy and shadow, and i honestly didn’t feel the need to bubble up before every mob. If i went low on health i would just renew or bandage, and once you get Vampiric Embrace even that is unnecessary.
    Also it may be because my main is a mage, but priests aren’t THAT squishy :)

  4. #4 by Tannim Murphy on June 19, 2010 - 12:58 am

    I leveled my priest alt after Wraith came out, so I’d consider my information a bit more current. I know that sounds arrogant; but I’m very confident of this leveling spec that I found to be a dream to level with. It can heal well, as well as DPS better than anything my level (at least until level 40+; once Shadow unlocks some of their better tier abilities that becomes better). I can’t claim that I came up with it, though; it was pointed out to me. I forget the website where the original information was on, so I’ll recreate it as best as I can remember.

    This is the bare bones of the build:

    This doesn’t really take off until you hit level 15 and get the Glyph of Smite. Make sure your first three talent points are put into Spirit Tap so that when you kill something you’ve got mana regen (and with the massive damage spike smite is, you’ll be doing that a lot, even while healing; finishing off the occasional grunt is essential for keeping the mana flowing). I also get Glyph of Holy Nova when I can; it’s our only AoE spell for damage at the lower levels, and properly talented and glyphed you’ll be downing entire groups virtually on your own, while leaving the healer nothing to do as you’re healing the tank as well. Sadly, by the time you can get Surge of Light, it’s almost time to switch to Shadow.

    I’d also like to note that this spec also does very well on PVP at lower levels. Smite is the Hand of God, and does amazing burst damage. At level 19 I had like, 20 killing blows; a record for me.

    I have to say, I have never leveled my priest without LFD, and I don’t care to; it is a godsend. I usually marked myself as either being a Healer or DPS, and nineteen times out of twenty, you’ll be a healer. But what happens for that one time you actually get to play dps? You are the top damage dealer, that’s what. The only thing you have to worry about is making sure that the tank can keep aggro from your massive damage spikes.

    Admittedly, I also always carried a lot of water with me whenever I did this. I’d pause to drink between fights, then catch up to the group mid-battle and /still/ out-dps everyone there. Still, Spirit Tap is a strong talent to keep your mana up. And the great part about all this is that the spec also has enough healing talents to make you a viable healer as well.

    I enjoyed myself immensely using this build to 46; once there I dual-specced into Shadow and Disc for damage and healing respectively. Without going in Disc for meditation I found Holy just couldn’t keep its mana up, and I hated wasting so many talent points going down the Disc tree just for that.

    Rotation? Holy Fire, Smite, Smite, Smite. Rinse and repeat.

    Sorry for the long-winded tirade, but it’s a subject I’m passionate about and I tell every leveling priest I meet to at least give it a shot. Most of those who have tried it like it as much as I do.

  5. #5 by Llani on September 9, 2010 - 5:48 pm

    SO I was going through your old posts, just browsing while waiting for my ride home…

    and I must say,

    “Looking for Douchebags” has me rolling on the floor laughing!

    I love it! New catchphrase. =)

  6. #6 by on April 19, 2013 - 1:11 pm

    I really tend to agree with every aspect that was authored inside “So You Rolled a Priest – 2nd Edition | I Like Bubbles”.
    I am grateful for pretty much all the actual information.

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