- Author: Passion
- Date: August 30, 2022
- Expansion: WotLK Classic
Welcome to our WotLK Classic leveling guide for Priests! Devout and determined, most Priests use the light to heal the sick and smite evil while some eschew the light entirely, embracing the void and inflicting pain and suffering on the minds of any who would oppose them.
Priests in WotLK Classic are fantastic for leveling, no matter what role they choose. Shadow Priests bring a lot of support to 5-man dungeon groups and solid damage, as well as being one of the best questers, while Holy and Discipline Priests are fantastic healers for group content, but aren’t great for questing.
Most Priests will choose to level as Shadow, especially with the new talents available in WotLK, but some may prefer to level in dungeons as Holy or Discipline. Both playstyles have advantages and disadvantages, but most people will choose Shadow for its fantastic questing ability. Because of this, this guide will be focused on Shadow Priests and a DPS perspective.
In this guide, we’ll go over helpful tips, where to spend your talent points, what to look for when gearing, effective use of your abilities, and other general advice to make the leveling process as smooth and easy as possible!
- Fantastic survivability and utility
- Very fast and efficient questers
- Capable of soloing a lot of quests
- One of the best classes for chain killing enemies
- More complicated rotation than other classes
- Healing takes more mana and effort than other hybrids
- Very little direct damage
- AoE isn’t fantastic until at least level 75
General Leveling Tips
Pay attention to your mana, you have very few ways to recover mana during earlier levels and will be up a creek without a paddle if you go into combat without enough mana to finish the fight!
As a Priest you don’t have a lot of crowd control, your primary forms of CC are Shackle Undead and Psychic Scream. Shackle Undead is amazing if you need to get rid of an Undead enemy temporarily, but most enemies you fight won’t be Undead. Psychic Scream is a great CC spell but it requires a little forethought from you. Enemies that are feared will run away randomly, potentially bringing even more enemies back with them, making your situation worse than when you started.
Priests have a lot of buffs to maintain constantly, and they are all important to have active. Find a way to keep track of these that works for you and never forget about them!
Remember that most spells in the Holy portion of your spellbook will take you out of Shadowform when you cast them. Make sure you always go back into Shadowform as your #1 priority before dealing damage! Shadowform is the most important ability you have and drastically improves every part of combat except healing.
Use spells like Dispersion and Shadowfiend liberally. Shadowfiend deals fantastic damage and can likely solo most regular enemies as well as giving you back a lot of mana. Dispersion can be used defensively mid-fight, but you can also just press it between pulls to make sure you always have high mana. If you use these two spells effectively you will rarely have issues keeping your mana sustained.
Even though we have a lot of mana sustain at later levels, you always want to have level-appropriate water on you. You never want to be stuck waiting around for your mana to regenerate, time spent waiting around is time wasted! You won’t need to carry a ton, but at least a stack or two should always fit into your bags.
Don’t refresh your damage-over-time spells when they’re already running, you’ll end up losing damage and spending more mana doing this. Wait for them to run their full duration before you recast them!
Priests are only able to use Cloth armor, so you will be very squishy if you just let enemies hit you! Power Word: Shield should become your best friend, taking damage for you and preventing pushback when you are hit. Keep this up as much as possible when fighting!
A good wand is one of the best items you can get for the early levels. Before you have a lot of your key talents, wands can deal more damage than any spells you have and cost no mana to use. Something like a Greater Magic Wand is amazing if you get it as soon as its useable and it will speed up the early levels significantly.
- Spell Power – Increases the damage all your spells deal and is incredibly valuable to increase kill speeds and reduce downtime.
- Spirit – Increases your out-of-combat regeneration primarily, but when combined with Meditation, Spirit Tap, and Twisted Faith it gives a lot of in-combat boosts, including converting directly into Spell Power.
- Haste Rating – Increases the speed of all your spells, allowing you to do more damage faster!
- Critical Strike Rating – Increases your chance to deal critical damage. This is a fantastic boost as everything you do can deal critical damage.
- Hit Rating – Increases your chance to hit with all spells. This is a great extra stat, but while leveling you will rarely find enough of it to make it worthwhile.
- Intellect – Increases your maximum mana and critical chance with spells. This is naturally on a lot of gear and is always useful to have while leveling, even if the damage contribution is very small.
- Stamina – Increases your maximum health! This is a solid stat that is already on most gear, so it is usually not something you aim at, but instead something that comes naturally.
Your rotation as a Shadow Priest will often be something you have to get a feel for to avoid wasting mana on targets that won’t survive through your damage-over-time effects. If a target will die to Shadow Word: Pain and a single Mind Blast, there’s no reason to cast Devouring Plague on them.
Before any pull, make sure you have all of your buffs active. Power Word: Fortitude, Divine Spirit, Inner Fire, and Vampiric Embrace are all very valuable while leveling. Shadow Protection isn’t always going to be worth keeping up, but if you are going into an area with a lot of Shadow damage, make sure you keep it up!
- Apply Vampiric Touch (Unlocked at level 50)
- Apply Devouring Plague (Unlocked at level 20) – This can only be on one target at a time
- Apply Shadow Word: Pain (Unlocked at level 4)
- Cast Mind Blast (Unlocked at level 10)
- Cast Mind Flay (Unlocked at level 20)
- Cast Shadow Word: Death (Unlocked at level 62) if you are moving or the target will die from it
The Shadow tree is full of fantastic talents and you will be stretched incredibly thin with the limited talent points you have available. Because of this, it can be very important which order you put your points in, to make sure you don’t delay big talents at all.
These are the key points in the talent tree:
- Mind Flay at level 20, the main filler for all Shadow Priests
- Vampiric Embrace at level 30, healing whenever you deal damage, fantastic for leveling!
- Shadowform at level 40, the bread-and-butter of Shadow, increasing your damage done, reducing damage taken and allowing your damage-over-time spells to deal critical damage and benefit from haste! Never be caught without this up.
- Improved Shadowform at level 45, pushback protection as long as you are in Shadowform, saving you a lot of frustration.
- Misery at level 47, more damage on your spells, and more chance to hit, what’s not to like?
- Vampiric Touch at level 50, another damage-over-time spell to complete your rotation.
- Pain and Suffering at level 51, allows your Mind Flay to refresh Shadow Word: Pain, meaning you never have to refresh it during a fight again.
- Twisted Faith at level 55, this talent converts Spirit directly into Spell Power, making every point of Spirit a damage increase.
- Dispersion at level 60, both a defensive and mana restoring cooldown. Use this often.
- Meditation at level 71, enables mana regeneration while in combat, significantly improving your mana efficiency in combat.
When we are done in the Shadow tree, we move over to the Discipline tree. This tree is primarily aimed at healers, but we want to get to Meditation for the fantastic mana regeneration it provides!
Glyphs aren’t always going to be the easiest to get a hold of while leveling, but if you happen to swing by an auction house you might find some cheap and useful glyphs to use.
Here are some of the Major Glyphs worth considering:
- Glyph of Shadow – Direct damage criticals increase your Spell Power by 30% of your Spirit for 10-seconds when in Shadowform. This is a fantastic boost to both your regeneration and damage and is the best Glyph available to a Shadow Priest.
- Glyph of Mind Flay – Increases the damage done by Mind Flay by 10% if the target also has Shadow Word: Pain active. Shadow Word: Pain should always be active on enemies so this is almost always just going to be 10% more damage on Mind Flay!
- Glyph of Dispersion – Reduces the cooldown of Dispersion by 45-seconds, down to 75-seconds total. This enables you to use Dispersion between pulls much more often, giving you a lot more mana efficiency.
- Glyph of Shadow Word: Death – Targets below 35% health take 10% more damage from Shadow Word: Death. This isn’t fantastic but it could potentially be the difference between a target dying to Shadow Word: Death or surviving.
Here are some of the Minor Glyphs worth considering:
- Glyph of Fortitude – Reduces the mana cost of Power Word: Fortitude by 50%. Power Word: Fortitude is a pretty mana heavy spell, so this will reduce downtime whenever you need to refresh it.
- Glyph of Shadowfiend – Restore 5% of your maximum mana if your Shadowfiend is killed prematurely. This is a nice little insurance that you will always get mana from your Shadowfiend , even if it dies.
- Glyph of Levitate – Levitate no longer requires a reagent. I cannot stress how much I love this Glyph and how great it is to always have Levitate available while leveling.
- Glyph of Shadow Protection – Increases the duration of Shadow Protection by 10-minutes. Shadow Protection has a fairly low duration by default, so this extends it by a decent amount, meaning you have to refresh it a lot less often.
Noteable Abilities To Train
- Power Word: Fortitude at level 1, 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 70, 80
- Prayer of Fortitude at level 48, 60, 70, 80
- Shadow Word: Pain at level 4, 10, 18, 26, 34, 42, 50, 58, 65, 70, 75, 80
- Power Word: Shield at level 6, 12, 18, 24, 30, 36, 42, 48, 54, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80
- Fade at level 8
- Mind Blast at level 10, 16, 22, 28, 34, 40, 46, 52, 58, 63, 69, 79
- Resurrection at level 10, 22, 34, 46, 58, 68, 78
- Inner Fire at level 12, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 69, 71, 77
- Psychic Scream at level 14, 28, 42, 56
- Dispel Magic at level 18, 36
- Devouring Plague at level 20, 28, 36, 44, 52, 60, 68, 73, 79
- Fear Ward at level 20
- Flash Heal at level 20, 26, 32, 38, 44, 50, 56, 61, 67, 73, 79
- Holy Nova at level 20, 28, 36, 44, 52, 60, 68, 75, 80
- Mind Flay at level 28, 36, 44, 52, 60, 68, 74, 80
- Mind Soothe at level 20
- Divine Spirit at level 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80
- Prayer of Spirit at level 60, 70, 80
- Shadow Protection at level 30, 42, 56, 68, 76
- Prayer of Shadow Protection at level 56, 70, 77
- Abolish Disease at level 32
- Levitate at level 34
- Vampiric Touch at level 60, 70, 75
- Shadow Word: Death at level 62, 70, 75, 80
- Shadowfiend at level 66
- Prayer of Mending at level 68, 74, 79
- Mass Dispel at level 70
- Mind Sear at level 75, 80
- At level 50 all classes receive a quest taking them to the Sunken Temple. For Priests this quest is Blood of Morphaz offering a choice between Woestave, Blessed Prayer Beads, or Circle of Hope. Blessed Prayer Beads will likely last you the longest and be the most useful as you get into Outlands, but Woestave can be a great item if you find yourself still wanding a lot.
Priests are able to use one-handed Maces, Daggers, Staffs, and Wands. You should always try to use whichever weapon gives you the best stats, combining one-handed maces and daggers with an off-hand item or using a staff in both hands. For the earlier levels, you will want to prioritize DPS on a wand, but as you level you will use your wand less and less and can instead focus on the stats on your wand.
Weapon upgrades will often be the biggest damage increase while leveling. Weapons give the largest amounts of Spell Power, especially as you get into Outlands and Northrend.
Priests are only able to use cloth armor. This means you will never be particularly great at taking physical damage, but you have a lot of spells you can use to mitigate or avoid physical damage entirely! Play smart and your armor will rarely be a hindrance.
Professions can be hard to keep up while you level, but in Wrath of the Lich King, they give a lot of benefits. Something like Blacksmithing is very difficult to keep up while you level, but gathering Professions like Mining and Herbalism are incredibly easy to keep up as you go, and even if you don’t want to craft things yourself, you can sell the materials on the auction house to supplement other aspects of leveling.
While every profession gives some kind of stat boost, most of them give them towards max skill. Gathering professions instead give skills early that constantly scale as you level.
- Mining gives Toughness, a passive boost to your Stamina, starting with 3 Stamina at 75 Mining, and ending at 60 Stamina at 450 Mining.
- Skinning gives Master of Anatomy, a passive boost to your Critical Strike Rating, starting with 3 Critical Strike Rating at 75 Skinning, and ending at 40 Critical Strike Rating at 450 Skinning.
- Herbalism gives Lifeblood, an instant cast heal-over-time on a 3-minute cooldown. This scales with both Herbalism and your maximum health.
If you instead want to craft things while you level, Alchemy and Engineering are fantastic alternatives.
- Engineering allows you to craft grenades and bombs alongside a bunch of fun or niche utility items such as target dummies and fireworks.
- Alchemy allows you to craft your own potions, flasks, and elixirs which can all be invaluable for improving your leveling experience and speed.
There aren’t many useful macros while leveling as a Priest, the only one I recommend is a cancelaura macro for Dispersion, so that you can cancel it at will. This macro will cast Dispersion on the first press, and remove Dispersion on the second, so make sure you don’t spam the button!
#showtooltip Dispersion /cancelaura Dispersion /cast Dispersion
for macros, should include a mind flay macro to prevent canceling a channel if you press mind flay again:
#showtooltip Mind Flay
/cast [nochanneling] Mind Flay
Nochanneling macros for Mind Flay are not good to use or to get used to, because it prevents you from queueing them into each other or interrupting early to compensate for latency.
Thanks a lot. It’s really hard to not play with the silence.. but harder to remove something else..
If you do feel the need for Silence there are a few places you can take the points from, for example, Improved Mind Blast, Focused Mind, Veiled Shadows, or Improved Vampiric Embrace. I don’t personally find more value in Silence, but if you do there are some options!
I’ve leveled a priest as shadow and another as holy I’m thinking of leveling this time as disc just to switch things up
You can easily get away with leveling as any spec, but I personally enjoy Disc leveling the least, at least Holy gets Surge of Light for instant smite procs
The Mind Flay pick is wrong imo. I’m in that level range I don’t cast it at all. It doesn’t do anything and it is mana inefficient. Makes more sense to get more mind blasts.
Mind Blast is incredibly inefficient at low level and will likely be your least cast spell while leveling.
yet it’s in your suggested rotation 🙄
Yes, “low level” is not the entire leveling process, it gets more efficient as you go, for example, once you get Vampiric Touch and Replenishment.
It is also a lower priority spell in my suggested rotation, after all 3 of your DoT spells, which are by themselves enough to kill a target.
Mind Flay doesn’t get a lot of use, especially behind Mind Blast, but you can at least use it for the Slow in a pinch. Mind Blast is simple direct damage against enemies that don’t need direct damage, that’s why it is one of your least cast spells.