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Priest Leveling Guide

Here are some leveling tips for priests. If you're looking for a leveling guide that will significantly speed up your way to the max level, for any class and race, that works for Alliance and Horde alike, I recommend you get a copy of the Booster Leveling Guide/Addon.

Introduction -- How to Level a Priest in WotLK

How easy it is to level your priest all depends on what talent tree you choose to focus on. In the start priests can, and will, seem like powerless casters due to smite being their main damaging ability. This gets better though, at least if you choose shadow (or holy) as your leveling tree. Shadow is focused on damaging abilities, and with some clever talents like Silence and Psychic Horror, you're well prepared for PvP and tough situations as well. The discipline and holy trees offer mainly healing abilities, with some Smite-enhancing talents.

You are not very gear dependent, but gear will always make bit of difference and make you kill mobs faster. Don't spend all your gold on gear for your new priest though; quest rewards will be more than sufficient.

Priest Leveling Gear -- stats to focus on

No, not a hunter weapon... a priest weaponAs a priest, you wear cloth, and this may seem to make it a tough choice of class, but as a spell caster you're not supposed to let the mobs hit you (much). Main stats to focus on at early levels are intellect and spirit, as well as spell power. Stamina is also great for survivability! Also, you would want to hit the mobs, wouldn't you? Hit rating is a nice stat you should try have around 2-3% of. Though, if you are shadow you'll later on get Shadow Focus and Misery, which means you don't have to get too much from gear.

At higher levels you will see more and more gear with crit and haste, which of course is nice, but not necessary. However, you will encounter more gear with crit and haste as you go, and you should get the gear as long as it isn't on the cost of spell power.

Stay completely away from stats like Strength and Agility, as these are stats for physical damage dealers. All your abilities deal magical damage, therefore making both Agility and Strength worthless.

Later on, you will also come over Attack Power, Expertise, Dodge and Defense. Stay away from these as well, they are stats for Melee DPS (Hunters would want AP), and tanks.

Armor Penetration isn't for you either, but for the physical damage dealers. However, there is Spell Penetration, which ignores a part of your targets resistances. However this isn't really any stat to go for unless you PvP a lot, and even then you should not have too much.

Priest Heirlooms and enchants

Got spare Badges (or Emblems)/ Stone Keeper's Shards/ Champion's Seals  lying around? Spend them on heirlooms! Heirlooms will greatly increase the leveling speed, as some of them provide extra experience. Also, they will upgrade as you level. Their stats often stay equal to dungeon drops around your level, and they are therefore a great way to enhance your leveling.

Which heirlooms can I get?

Priest Leveling Weapons

Dignified Headmaster's Charge or Devout Aurastone Hammer

I suggest getting the staff. Mainly because the low mp5 on the mace really won't get you somewhere, and also, you will not have to go worrying about getting an offhand as you level up.

If you don't want to spend your emblems/seals, or simply want some resilience, then get Grand Staff of Jordan or The Blessed Hammer of Grace which can be purchased in Wintergrasp for Stone Keeper's Shards.

However, none of these are better than their emblem/seal equivalents.

As for the chest and shoulder slots;

There’s only one chest-item for cloth users.

There are also shoulders you can buy for Stone Keeper's Shards;

Exquisite Sunderseer Mantle

Again, they don't beat the emblem/seal ones when it comes to damage.

Then there are also the heirloom trinkets!

Discerning Eye of the Beast will provide you with both spell power and mana, as opposed to Swift Hand of Justice which provides haste and health, and therefore I suggest taking the first one.

Also, remember that you can use two of the same heirloom trinket.

If you happen to do the fishing event in Northrend at 2 PM Server Time on Saturdays and win, then you might consider yourself a lucky owner of Dread Pirate Ring! Awesome for that little extra boost while leveling.

Priest Enchants -- Enchanting them l00ts!

Some of these heirlooms can also be enchanted!

Priest Weapon Enchants

Weapons can take any enchant that doesn't have a level requirement, such as Enchant Weapon - Mighty Intellect and Enchant Weapon – Spellpower. 

Priest Chest Enchants

As a priest, you should get Enchant Chest - Greater Stats or Enchant Chest - Major Mana. Personally, I'd get the stats because it boosts your Intellect, Spirit AND health pool!

As for other item slots and enchants, it is of course nice to enchant them for that extra point of damage, but not really something that will greatly boost your damage. If you even have to find someone to enchant for you, the time used looking for one most likely will be greater than what you save with the enchant.

If anything, I suggest getting a low level pair of boots, like Tattered Cloth Boots and enchant them with Enchant Boots - Minor Speed. The run speed will be really nice until you reach level 20, and by that time you should already have at least one nice pair of boots on you from a quest or by a random drop.

Best Priest Leveling Builds / Specs / Talents??

At lower levels, shadow leveling will be slow and pretty boring. You get your major leveling spells at level 20, 3 0 , 40 and finally 50. Before this, leveling as shadow is both lame and frustrating compared to other classes (or so I'm told). But fear not!

Holy Priest Leveling Build / Spec

A poster on the forums, Chiv, came up with a clever idea for the low levels. Energizer™ is a smite-spamming spec which works great at lower levels, and is said to make leveling a priest more fun. He has done great research and includes everything from specs and glyphs to how to play. Check it out if you are interested.

If not, then stay here and take a look at a very powerful...

Shadow priest leveling guide / How to Play a Shadow Priest

Talent by talent, spell by spell, this will show you what to do as shadow while leveling. Learning new spells without knowing what they do can sometimes be confusing and that new spell that could enhance your speed to the limit might not even get to see the light out of the spell book!

This guide is mainly for solo leveling and questing, while the spec will work quite well in battlegrounds and the odd dungeon.



 Priest Skills / Spells & advice



Congratulations on starting a priest! Now enjoy your awesome Smite-spell, which you will end up spamming your fingers sore on until you reach a high level. You also start off with Power Word: Fortitude. Keep this buff up on yourself at all times.

I also recommend getting a wand



You get your first DoT – Shadow Word: Pain. From now on, your rotation will be something like this;

Smite – SW:P – Smite



Power Word: Shield . Shield yourself before starting on tough mobs. This way, you will absorb an amount of damage you take from mobs, and you won’t get pushback while casting. The amount of damage absorbed is increased by your spell power.



Nothing special damage-wise. You get Fade, which will wipe out your threat temporarily (for ten seconds). You also get Renew, which is a heal over time (HoT) spell.

(Where/how to spend your talent points from level 10 starts below!)


You finally get Mind Blast! It should fill in whenever it is off cooldown (every 8 seconds before talents). You also get Resurrection so you can “ress” your fallen allies.



Spirit Tap



Spirit Tap



You gain Inner Fire, a buff which provides you extra armor. Keep this up as well.


Spirit Tap


Improved Spirit Tap



Psychic Scream! This is a fear spell that makes enemies close to you run around like headless chickens for 8 seconds. It usually breaks early if you damage the mobs (by DoTs too). Be careful though, because if the mobs run into other mobs, they will probably aggro onto you, and cause you more pain than relief. You also get Cure Disease, which can cure diseases (Captain Obvious strikes again!) on you and your allies.

Level 15: You can now finally get glyphs! Your first major one will be in a bit, until then, get Glyph of Fading or Glyph of Fortitude .

Improved Spirit Tap


Shadow Focus



A new healing spell, Heal, which won't serve you for long (before Cataclysm) from your trainer, else there's nothing special.

Shadow Focus


Shadow Focus



Dispel Magic, which will let you dispel magical buffs off enemies and debuffs off yourself and your friends.

Improved Shadow Word: Pain 1/2

Improved Shadow Word: Pain 2/2


Finally! Level 20 brings you many awesome new spells!

Fear Ward, which grants you immunity to the first fear cast on you (or your friendly target).

Devouring Plague, another DoT which heals you for 15% of the damage it does, can only be applied to one target at a time.

Flash Heal – a nice healing spell you'll find useful.

Holy Fire – 2 sec cast time spell which applies a DoT to the target in addition to doing damage. 10 second cooldown. You'll use this spell at lower levels even as shadow because it is incredibly mana efficient.

Holy Nova – AoE spells that damages nearby enemies, and heals nearby party members. Incredibly expensive, stay away and use it for emergencies only.

You also get Mind Soothe, a spell that makes enemies less likely to attack you (range-based) great in areas where you would want to avoid ninja pulling several enemies.

Shackle Undead – CCs an undead target. One of the few times you get to feel like a true mage!

Mind Flay


Mind Flay is a channeled spell that slows down the enemy while you channel.

Mount time!

Improved Psychic Scream


Level 20;

Go get your Glyph of Mind Flay from a scribe or AH.



Nothing much, you learn new ranks of your spells, and Mind Vision, which lets you see through the eyes of your target over quite a distance.

Improved Psychic Scream


Darkness 1/5


Mana Burn time. Good for PvP against mana users, not quite as useful on mobs due do their mana pools.


Darkness 2/5

Shadow Weaving 1/3





I dinged 26/28 and all I got was these “lame” higher ranks.



Shadow Weaving 2/3


Shadow Reach 1/2


Shadow Weaving 3/3


Shadow Reach 2/2


Mind control

Ever wanted to make friends with some hostile target? Well, now you can...! Kind of… eh… Your human target (works on the opposite faction as well) will obey your every command for a few seconds. Have fun throwing them Alliance/Horde off the platforms in Thousand Needles or run them into a pack of dangerous mobs. Your Mind Control will last 7 seconds in PvP-combat.

You also get two new buffs, Shadow Protection and Divine Spirit. Keep that last one on yourself at all times and make sure the Shadow Protection is up against targets that do shadow damage.

Also find a Glyph of Shadow Word: Pain. It will return you mana and these two glyphs (SW:P + MF) will serve you well.

Vampiric Embrace 1/1


A buff on you that heals you for 15% of your shadow damage done, and your party for 3% of your shadow damage done.

Silence 1/1


A spell that interrupts spells cast by enemies. Great for pulling spell casters to you or in PvP situations.


Abolish Disease – cures a disease on your or your friendly target and then works like a hot that ticks every 3 sec, curing additional diseases.

Darkness 3/5

Darkness 4/5


Levitate – lets you walk on water and slowly glide down instead of falling at the cost of a light feather or a minor glyph

Darkness 5/5

Mind Melt  1/2





You don’t get any new spells, only higher ranks before level 40, so just keep going steadily against your goal!



Mind Melt  2/2


Improved Devouring Plague 2/3


Improved Devouring Plague 1/3


Improved Devouring Plague 3/3



Greater Heal – like it says, a bigger heal than your others. It also has a longer cast time and consumes more mana.

Shadowform 1/1

More damage, stronger spells!

Remember to get a new mount.


Level 40 – level 80

This is when you pretty much stop getting new spells, or get them very rarely.    

Keep playing around with your current abilities!


Level 41 – 50

41 – Improved Mind Blast 1/5

42 – Improved Mind Blast 2/5                 

43 – Shadow Power 1/5

44 – Shadow Power 2/5

45 – Misery 1/3

46 – Misery 2/3

47 –Misery 3/3

48– Improved Shadowform 1/2

You also get Prayer of Fortitude, a spell that will let you buff your whole party/ raid at the cost of a candle.

49 – Shadow Power 3/5

50 – Vampiric Touch 1/1

Vampiric Touch is one of the more important steps of becoming a real Shadow Priest. You are now just one Mind Blast away from Replenishment, a buff that regenerates 1% of your mana back every 5 seconds.

Here's a look at your current...

Shadow priest leveling rotation

PW:SVTDPSW:PMFWhatever is off cooldown/MF.

 Shadow priest DPS test

Priest in shadow form

This “rotation” is also somewhat like your list of what to press and when, or priorities.

You would always want to take less damage, and therefore use your Shield. Is Vampiric Touch running out, and the mob is still standing strong? Cast another one. Same goes for Devouring Plague. You should hopefully not have to recast SW:P, due to the talent that refreshes it when you cast Mind Flay (at level 51). Also, use Mind Blast as soon as it is off CD, and VT is up and ticking on the target.

You can now just DoT up multiple targets and shield yourself (drop shadowform and heal yourself if you are in a crisis), it might be tough on your mana, but it lets you kill quite a few mobs

Your shadow priest leveling spec should look something like this;


Level 51 – 60

Leveling a priest becomes more enjoyable now, and with the arrival of Vampiric Touch, you should watch yourself kill mobs faster than ever, and still have the mana to go on! Fewer drinking breaks results in faster leveling.

You won’t even get any new damaging spells in a while; all you get is Prayer of Shadow Protection and Prayer of Spirit, which will use Sacred and Devout candles, respectively, to buff your whole raid or party. Remember to carry around a few if you happen to do instances a lot.

You can now also get a new minor glyph, the ones you can get at the moment, do not make much of a difference so I suggest picking one you like (playstyle) or get the Glyph of Levitate.

All the minor glyphs can be found > here <.

51 – Pain and Suffering 1/3

52 – Pain and Suffering 2/3

53 – Pain and Suffering 3/3

54 – Psychic Horror

55-59 – Fill out Twisted Faith

60 – Dispersion

Dispersion lets you move around like a shadowy ball that is almost (damage taken reduced by 90%) immortal for 6 seconds and restores 6% of your mana per second. Very awesome for tough fights and for getting mana while your DoTs kill the enemy!

Priest leveling Glyphs: Feel free to get the Glyph of Dispersion  for a 45 sec reduced cooldown! If so, replace the Glyph of Shadow Word:Pain.

Level 61 – 70

61 – Shadow Power 4/5

62 – Shadow Power 5/5

You also learn Shadow Word: Death, a

63 – Improved Shadow 2/2

64 – Improved Vampiric Embrace 1/2

65 – Improved Vampiric Embrace 2/2

66 – Veiled Shadows 1/2

You also get your Shadowfiend! It returns mana to you when it strikes the target, and it will stay by your side for a few seconds. You can even make it “tank” for you! Apply your DoTs, cast your Shadowfiend and then Fade. This lets you gain a few seconds of DPSing or maybe running away before your fiend dies/expires.

67 – Veiled Shadows 2/2

68 – At this point... you can finally start putting your final talents into the Discipline tree.

Twin Disciplines 1/5

New Spell: Prayer of Mending, a decent healing spell that’ll heal your target once their hit points do down. It won’t heal when damage is being absorbed, parried or dodged and so on.

69 – Twin Disciplines 2/5

70 – Twin Disciplines 3/5

Level 71 – 80

71 – Twin Disciplines 4/5. As well as a new rank of Inner Fire that gives you spellpower!

72 – Twin Disciplines 5/5

73 – Improved Inner Fire 1/3

74 – Improved Inner Fire 2/3

75 – Improved Inner Fire 3/3

Mind Sear – Your one and only (Holy Nova doesn’t count!) AoE-spell. If you want to kill a whole bunch of mobs with it, then I suggest DoTing up your channeling target and just let the rest take damage. Remember that you use cloth, so don’t take too big risks. Keep your enemies close, but your Dispersion closer.

76 – Improved Power Word: Fortitude 1/2

77 – Improved Power Word: Fortitude 2/2

78 – Meditation 1/3

79 – Meditation 2/3

80 – Meditation 3/3

First of all, congratulations on reaching level 80! Hope the fun on later levels compensated for the pain the leveling was in the start.

Upon visiting the trainer, you’ll now learn two helpful spells;

Divine Hymn, which can work like a “oh crap”-button while you are in a group, that really can save lives. If you can, put up a shield on yourself first to not lose any of the channeling time.

Hymn of Hope is the second one, and it restores mana as well as increasing the mana pools of those with the lowest current mana by 20%. A really nice spell to pop if you see the healer or yourself run low during a fight when Shadowfiend and Dispersion still is on cooldown.

Your level 80 priest spec should now look something like this (with glyphs of my choice):

While this spec is awesome for soloing and questing at 80, it falls behind in dungeons, and it is not optimal for PvP either. 


Priest Leveling Tips

Some tips just can’t be repeated enough; they are simply awesome, and they will enhance your leveling to the limit!

  • Keep all your buffs up!
  • This means fort, spirit, Inner Fire, and of course VE and shadowform as shadow.
  • Remember that even shadow priests can heal if needed. Have those healing spells ready!
  • Use Shadow Protection for shadow resistance against enemies with abilities that do shadow damage. 
  • Bring loads of consumables with you – waiting for your mana to regenerate or having to go to the vendor to buy more all the time slows you down. I also suggest getting as big bags as possible because of this.
  • Shield yourself with Power Word: Shield to prevent increased casting time, and absorb damage taken.
  • In the early levels I suggest visiting the Auction House or consult your friend with Enchanting for the wands. The first one requires level 5 and provides a great damage output.

Check out these wands and keep upgrading your wands as you level, quest rewards should be good enough.


Priest Addons

There are some addons that I suggest getting, even for leveling! The types I recommend are:

DoT tracking

This will simply make your day! Ever wondered how long it is until your DoTs expire on the other targets when you run around multi DoTing? Maybe they ran out? Can’t be arsed to target to check. Get a DoT timer such as:

DoT timer -- easy to understand while it keeps track your DoTs and cooldowns. Easy to understand and ready to track DoTs from the first seconds.

ForteXorcist -- requires a bit more modification than DoTimer does, but when you get it to work, you’ll love it!

Threat Meter

If you do dungeons and level with others quite a lot, then this is a really nice addon for you.

I personally prefer Omen Threat Meter, which is both easy to use and easy to customize.


Priest Glossary



Spell Name


Power Word: Shield

Fort, stam

Power Word: Fortitude




Fear Ward


Mind Control


Psychic Scream



Spell Name

Angel, Wings

Guardian Spirit [HOLY]


Lightwell [HOLY]

Improved Death

Spirit of Redemption [HOLY]


Circle of Healing [HOLY]


Prayer of Healing [HOLY]


Prayer of Mending 


Power Infusion [DISC]


Pain Suppression [DISC]



Spell name


Shadow Word: Pain


Mind Flay


Shadow Word: Death


Devouring Plague


Vampiric Touch


Vampiric Embrace


Mind Blast


Upcoming Changes to the Priest in Cataclysm

Here's a Blizzard post regarding upcoming changes to priests in Cataclysm.


In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, we'll be making lots of changes and additions to class talents and abilities across the board. In this preview, you'll get an early look at some of the changes in store for the priest class, including a rundown of some of the new spells, abilities, and talents, as well as an overview of how the new Mastery system will work with the different talent specs.

New Priest Spells

Heal (available at level 16): While priests already have a spell called Heal, the existing version becomes obsolete at higher levels, which is something we intend to change in Cataclysm. Introduced at a low level, the "new" Heal spell will functionally work much like a down-ranked Greater Heal did in the past, adding more granularity to your direct-healing arsenal. If you need to heal someone a moderate amount and efficiency is an issue (making Flash Heal the incorrect spell for the job), then Heal is what you want to use. Heal is intended to be the priest's go-to direct-healing spell unless they need something bigger (Greater Heal) or faster (Flash Heal). We will be following a similar philosophy with all the healing classes.

Mind Spike (level 81): Deals Shadowfrost damage and puts a debuff on the target that improves subsequent Mind Spike damage. The intent of Mind Spike is to fill a niche missing in Shadow DPS, though it may be occasionally useful for healers as well. Mind Spike provides a quick nuke to use in situations where the priest doesn't have time to set up the normal rotation, such as when adds are dying too fast or you have to swap targets a lot. Spamming Mind Spike will do about as much damage as casting Mind Flay on a target afflicted with Shadow Word: Pain. The idea behind the debuff is that when you cast Mind Spike, we expect you to cast a lot of them; we don't intend you to fit it into an already full Shadow rotation. It also provides Shadow with a spell to cast when locked out of the Shadow school. (School lockouts will no longer affect both schools for multi-school spells.) 1.5-second cast. 30-yard range. No cooldown.

Inner Will (level 83): Increases movement speed by 12% and reduces the mana cost of instant-cast spells by 10%. This buff will be exclusive with Inner Fire, meaning you can't have both up at once. Inner Fire provides a spell power and Armor buff; Inner Will should be useful on a more situational basis.

Leap of Faith (level 85): Pull a party or raid member to your location. Leap of Faith (or "Life Grip") is intended to give priests a tool to help rescue fellow players who have pulled aggro, are being focused on in PvP, or just can't seem to get out of the fire in time. Instant. 30-yard range. 45-second cooldown.

Changes to Abilities and Mechanics

In addition to introducing new spells, we're planning to make changes to some of the other abilities and mechanics you're familiar with. This list and the summary of talent changes below it are by no means comprehensive, but they should give you a good sense of what we intend for each spec.

  • All HoTs and DoTs will benefit from Haste and Crit innately. Hasted HoTs and DoTs will not have a shorter duration, just a shorter period in between ticks (meaning they will gain extra ticks to fill in the duration as appropriate).
  • We want to bring back Shadow Word: Death as an "execute" -- something you do when the target is at 25% health.
  • While we want to keep the priest's role as a well-rounded healer, we also want to make sure the class is a viable tank healer, which is something priests moved away from a little in Wrath of the Lich King. Greater Heal will probably be the tank-healing spell of choice, though we've also discussed giving Discipline a second shield so that they have a small shield to cast on lots of different targets, and a big, more expensive shield to cast on a tank or anyone else taking a ton of damage.
  • Divine Spirit and Prayer of Spirit will be removed from the game. As Spirit will be the primary mana-regeneration stat, we don't want it to vary as much between solo, small group, and raid play. Blessing of Kings and Mark of the Wild will not boost Spirit either.
  • Mana will be a bigger consideration for all healers. We aren't trying to make healing more painful; we're trying to make it more fun. When the cost of a spell isn't an issue, then casting the right spell for the job is less of an issue because you might as well just use your most powerful spell all of the time. We are, however, getting rid of the five-second rule, because we don't want to encourage standing around doing nothing. We're also going to cut back on the benefits of buffs such as Replenishment so priests (and all healers) don't feel as penalized when those buffs aren't available.

New Talents and Talent Changes

  • We want to improve Discipline's single-target healing capacity. One key is to make sure shielding isn't always a more attractive option than healing.
  • We want to improve Holy for PvP healing. One way to do this is to make sure that Heal's throughput is similar between both specs.
  • We want to improve Shadow for short fights and reduce its susceptibility to school lockouts.
  • Discipline will finally be getting Power Word: Barrier as a talented ability. Think of it like a group Power Word: Shield.
  • We want to make Holy a little bit more interesting to play. One new talent will push the Holy priest into an improved healing state when he or she casts Prayer of Healing, Heal, or Renew three times in a row. The empowered state varies depending on the heals cast.
  • Since the Shadow tree has a lot of passive damage-boosting abilities -- something we're trying to avoid in Cataclysm -- we will need to replace several of the tree's talents. One idea is to play off of the new Shadow Orbs mechanic (see Mastery section below), possibly allowing you to consume an orb to increase damage from Mind Blast or reduce Mind Spike's cast time.
  • Misery will no longer affect spell Hit chance. We want players to be able to gear themselves around a Hit cap that isn't variable depending on group composition.

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses



Spell damage
Spell Crit
Shadow Orbs

Absorption: Improves the strength of shields such as Power Word: Shield, Divine Aegis, and Power Word: Barrier.

Radiance: Your direct heals add a small heal-over-time component to the target.

Shadow Orbs: Casting spells grants a chance for Shadow Orbs to be created that fly around you and increase your shadow damage. This will help lower-level characters feel more like "Shadow priests" before they obtain Shadowform.

We hope you enjoyed this preview, and we're looking forward to hearing your initial thoughts and feedback on these additions and changes. Please keep in mind that this information represents a work in progress and is subject to change as development on Cataclysm continues.

[Update 08/04]
A few quick clarifications:

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