Updated for Mists of Pandaria
Why Shadow for leveling? They’re the Death Dealers. The Sith Lords of the leveling area. Dark and mysterious and dangerous, the can solo quest easily and just as easily switch to dungeons and PvP.
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Shadow Priests are a pretty cool class, once get into the good stuff, and they present a solid variety of damage capabilities plus the even have some of the ever-present healing/buffing power of any priest, esp. if they drop Shadowform for a moment.
All in all they also come in very close to Warlocks in terms of style and grinding ability, they just lack the pet.
Shadow priests also have quite a bit of their own playstyle to enjoy, face-melting with mind flay (lazers!) as well as certain mind control hijinks.
So, read on and learn how to maximize your shadow priest’s leveling experience. Feel free to add a comment if you have questions or concerns or if something needs to be added.
As far as Holy and Discipline Priests go, well, your solo leveling experience will be a bit on the slow side, due to lack of damage. Join a group (PvP or Dungeon,) keep them healthy, and you’ll level just fine. Shadow’s the way to go for the damage and the solo leveling.
Quick Priest Leveling Guide
While Mists of Pandaria will change a lot of things, it doesn’t change most of the basic stuff. You’ll have some new abilities and things have moved around, but the basic concept of the Priest is unchanged.
Keep in mind that things will be a bit slow until you get Shadowform at level 24.
Any race, except Orcs, but including Pandarens, can be a priest. For leveling purposes your race won’t matter much, so play what you like to play. While each race has certain special abilities those abilities just don’t matter that much while leveling.
On the other hand, if you want to be efficient for end-game raiding or whatever:
- Troll, for the Berserking and increased damage Vs beasts.
- Gnome or Human for Alliance PvP (escapes)
- Pandarens get better buffs from food, which will be nice for raiding.
- More about races
Builds & Glyphs: Click the links to see the builds
You’re either ranged damage or a healer. If you choose to be a healer you’re better off with a team while leveling, since your damage output won’t be very interesting.
- Shadow – Unless you want to stick to being a dungeon healer, this is what we recommend for leveling up. Nice damage and you can drop out of Shadow to heal yourself (or others.) You can also drop into dungeons or PvP easily.
- Holy – Nice as a dungeon/raid healer, not so hot for questing due to a major lack of damage.
- Discipline – Also a good dungeon healer and a good PvP healer. This is also a good way to go if you’re dungeon/PvP leveling, maybe not so hot for question due to a lack of damage.
- Now get leveled really fast with an in-game leveling guide.
- Stack Stamina until you’re happy with your life expectancy.
- After that, stack all the Int that you can. Int is the #1 stat for all Priests, even in Mists.
- Your Spirital Precision (gained at level 20) ability grants you plenty of Hit rating (if you equip a bit of Spirit gear,) but you won’t need more than 4 or 5% Hit anyway for leveling or PvP.
- You have no use for Str or Agi.
- Haste is your “best of the rest” stat.
- Resilience is for PvP only.
- PvP Power (PvP only) is a very valuable stat that you won’t see until 90, so don’t worry about it.
- Don’t worry about gemming or enchanting your gear, unless you’re rich enough and want to. You’ll level too fast for it to be worthwhile.
- More about stats
- When you find items with sockets and you want to bother with gemming, then Gem for Int. and Int. only. Skip socket bonuses unless they are at least half of the value of that Int gem. Mists of Pandaria gems require item level 417+, so you can igmore that for awhile.
Cheap enchants, such as Stamina, can often be found on the Auction House. You’re probably going to level out of your current gear very soon, so spending too much gold on enchants is pointless. Heirlooms can be enchanted with any enchant that will work on ilevel 1 items.
- Look for cheap Int, Spellpower, and Haste. Stam if you need the health.
- Same as Enchants.
- Healers need Spirit for better mana regen. Shadow will want to for the Hit rating.
- Wands are nice, especially when they have useful stats.
- Potions of Mana or Int
- Foods for Stam and/or Int/Spirit
- Scrolls of Int or Stam
- Skip the tradeskills unless you’re rolling in cash.
- If you have lots of gold, then tailoring and enchanting are a nice combo for priests.
- To earn more gold, pick two of these and work them hard: Skinning, Mining, Herbalism.
- You don’t need first aid, obviously, but it might have certain uses. Such as healing your partner with a bandage rather than a spell, just for the LOLz. Yo won’t have to srop our of Shadowform to use First Aid, either.
- More about professions
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Race Choice for Leveling Your Priest
For leveling purposes your racial choice really doesn’t matter much. Trolls might level the fastest, due to the added damage Vs. beasts and their Berserking ability
Pandarens have longer lasting Rest XP, but if a Gnome or Undead is what you want to play then go for it.
If you really want to be efficient, because you’re going into end-game raiding or PvP and want to sqeeeze out every last bit of effectiveness, then read on:
In a case of blatant racial discrimination, Orcs are the only race that cannot be priests.
In Mists of Pandaria you will be able to play a Priestly Panda and play as either Horde or Alliance.
- You get Better buffs from foods, which is a pretty nice perk.
- Skilled with cooking
- Bouncy (take less falling damage)
- Rest XP lasts longer, so leveling is a bit faster.
- The touch of your paw can put an enemy to sleep (this is a 4 second stun.)
For the Horde!
Blood Elf - Best looking hair of all priests, but not much in the way of useful racials.
- Arcane torrent will restore some mana, but is otherwise a point blank area effect (that silences opponents) and you won’t usually be that close to the opposition.
- Enchanting skill is increased
- Resistant to Arcane damage
Goblin – Hey Bud, ya wanna buy a holy symbol? Cheap?
- Rocket Jump is a very nice escape or emergency movement.
- Haste increased, which is nice since Haste is one of your best stats.
- Launch rockets? Do you care? You can Flay Minds!
- Vendor discounts and a personal bank have their uses.
- Increased Alchemy skill and better effects from your own potions.
Tauren – Big, fuzzy, big, lovable, big…
- Warstomp isn’t so hot since you won’t usually be in melee range, but it has its uses when the opposition gets too close and/or your fear is on CD or undesirable.
- Increased health doesn’t actually provide much at level 85 or beyond.
- Increased Herbalism skill and speed.
Troll - Best tusks in the game.
- Bereserk increases casting speed when you need it. Nice. Put it in a macro so it goes off with your starting attacks.
- Damage increase Vs beasts is nice for leveling and some PvE content.
- Reduced duration of movement impairing effects is always nice, especially in PvP.
- Regen is increased, by a very small amount. You have heals, do you care?
- Ranged Weapon Expertise is useless to you.
Undead - No special abilities for leveling or PvE, put they sure look the part of the Evil High Priest.
- Remove fear, sleep, charm – very nice for PvP, sometimes useful in PvE.
- Can drain life which heals you for the amount that it drains. Happens automatically and will add a bit to your overall damage.
- Consuming corpses to regain mana (and health) has its uses, and might be a nice “in your face” for PvP. Kill ‘em and eat ‘em!
For the Alliance!
Draenei – Tentacles. ’nuff said.
- The heal is fairly useless, for you, but it’s free.
- +1% chance to hit helps with end-game gearing, especially in PvE where you will need 15% Hit against the bosses. Much less useful if you become a healer. For leveling or PvP (against opponents of the same level) you only need 6% Hit, tops.
- Jewelcrafting skill increased.
- Resistant to Shadow damage
Dwarf – Bless this ore… No particular PvE abilities.
- Stoneform wipes bleeds and reduced damage by 10%, nice when that Rogue is too close or those other “oops” moments.
- Ummm… you’re short?
- Good with Archeology
- Expertise with ranged attacks is useless to you
- Expertise with Maces will add 1% to your Spell Hit if you have a mace in the main hand.
Gnome – Hmmm… how can we mechanize this prayer…
- Escape from speed altering effects has uses in PvE and PvP.
- Increased mana pool is nice.
- Engineering skill increased.
- Resistant to arcane damage.
- Expertise with Daggers adds +1 to your Spell Hit, if you have a dagger in the main hand.
Human – A pretty solid choice for Priests, especially healers.
- Increased Spirit is nice for Discipline and Holy, and Shadow uses it for Hit rating (after getting the level 20 Spiritual Precision ability.)
- Bonus to rep gains is nice with all the many factions in this game. if you’re going to be doing any rep grinding then this is a nice plus.
- Expertise with mace will add 1% to your Spell Hit if you have a mace in the main hand.
- PvP trinket ability allows use of two DPS trinkets in PvP. Also has occasional PvE use.
Night Elf – Nelves and shadows, a match made in… well… someplace. No special PvE abilities.
- Fade into the Shadows. Lurk in wait, pop out with a fear… Also drops aggro in dungeons, which is very nice at times. Can break incoming spells if you time it just right.
- Being a bit more more difficult to hit is always nice, especially in PvP.
- Resistant to Nature damage
- Faster movement while stealthed? Nice for Rogues…
- Wisp form so you can get back to your dead body faster.
Worgen – Just don’t get them wet, the smell is … disturbing. Besides that, they’re a good general priest race.
- Sprint is a nice ability.
- An added 1% Crit chance with spells is nice for heals or damage.
- They’re good with skinning.
Tailoring provides you, and mages and warlocks, gear sets that are as good as anything else at the level.
As a complementing skill I’d suggest picking up Enchanting, it works well in synergy with tailoring to disenchant crafted items and sell, making back some if not all of the crafting cost while simultaneously raising your tailoring skill.
If you don’t have a steady cash flow then consider the gathering professions instead. You’ll make enough gold to keep yourself in gear and mounts, where leveling two crafting professions will make you a small fortune, if you start with a large one. Also note that you get XP for each herb you pick or rock you mine.
- Consider Cooking for the buffing foods.
- First Aid is useful for those times when you just don’t want to spend the mana to heal or you find yourself both out of mana and nearly out of health. You can also troll other players by using your bandages to heal them instead of your spells. Obviously it’s a much less useful skill than if you’re, say, a Warrior.
- If you don’t take Tailoring and/or Enchanting then take any two of the gathering skills: mining, skinning, and herbalism. They’ll keep you in gold as you level up.
- Check out our gold guide if your gold supply is weak.
If you have a ton of gold and want to power level one or two of the crafting professions to get the buffs, then go for it. Each of the main professions will provide a self-only buff worth around 320 Int in Mists of Pandaria. Not a lot at all in terms of level 90 damage capability, but if you’re in a race to get every tiny bit of DPS, then go for it. In Mists of Pandaria the maximum crafting skill level is set to 600.
If you’re not doing Tailoring and Enchanting, then consider Engineering since that Int boosting ability is on demand (a cooldown,) not just a random proc.
- Alchemy – Besides generally being able to create all kinds of useful potions and flasks, you will get an additional 30% of stats and an extra hour duration from your flasks and elixirs. Oh yeah, there’s an extremely expensive to make top of the line potion that lets you turn into a dragon. That may be worth getting Alchemy right there. (You’ll also have to have the Archeology skill for that one.) Buffs from your own potions do more and last longer.
- Blacksmithing – all told, not a really useful profession for you. Still, it’ll let you add a socket to your gloves and wrists, for the best Int gems that you can find. And you can make axes or armors for your Warrior pal. In the end-game those two slots allow more gemming flexibility than the other professions.
- Enchanting – besides being able to keep you gear enchanted as you level you will always be able to disenchant all that junk gear that your groups find. Oh yeah, you can also enchant your rings for 160 Int each in M of P.
- Engineering – Besides making all sorts of cool gadgets and that motorcycles, you can also make the awesome Synapse Springs gadget for your gloves which adds 1,940 Int for 10 seconds with a 60 sec cooldown. Unlike various other items or enchants, that’s not a random proc. You get to use it when you need it, subject to a cooldown, of course. Stick it in a macro
- Inscription – Besides glyphs and useful off-hand items and such, you get a nice shoulder enchant which adds up to 520 Int. You will also be making everyone’s shoulder enchants.
- Jewelcrafting – You can make some money with this skill, if you’re careful and pay attention, you can also make yourself some pretty nice “self-only” gems.
- Leatherworking - About as useful as Blacksmithing, except that the enchant adds a max of 500 Int to your wrists. You can make stuff for your Rogue and Hunter friends.
- Tailoring – A pretty useful skill when leveling and actually goes well with Enchanting (You can disenchant all the extra greens you create.) Your LightWeave embroidery sometimes adds 580 Int to your cloak for 15 seconds (2,000 Int in M of P.)
Shadow Talents for Mists of Pandaria
These builds assumes that you will do most of your leveling via questing, but it will also be fine as DPS if you want to gain a few, or many, levels in the dungeons through the random dungeon finder tool.
Shadowform doesn’t happen until level 24. After that things will become much easier. Your damage and damage resistance are both greater. You won’t be able to cast Holy spells while in Shadowform, but you can drop out of it to cast those spells or use potions, bandages, or your own heals.
Each talent is picked up at the appropriate level. Any spec of any Priest can pick any one talent from any of the six levels. So yes, Disc, Holy, and Shadow could all have exactly this build. They will have different abilities, though.
Talents can be swapped like glyphs, one at a time. Click the new talent (in-game,) pay the cost in Dust, and pick the new talent. Up to level 8 you will need Vanishing Powder, level 81+ you will need Dust of Disappearance, level 86+ you will need Tome of the Clear Mind.
Shadow Priest M of P Leveling Build
Mists of Pandaria Talents
Shadow Abilities and Level Gained
|Tier 1: Acquired at level 15 – Control
Tier 2: Acquired at level 30 – Movement
Tier 3: Acquired at level 45 – Healing and Damage
Tier 4: Acquired at level 60 – Emergencies
Tier 5: Acquired at level 75 – Bonuses
Tier 6: Acquired at level 90 – Godhood. Well, maybe not.
|10 20 21 21 21 24 28 42 44 52 60 74 78 80|
|Prime Glyphs are deadMajor Glyphs modify your abilities for greater damage, more utility, and so on.Minor Glyphs are pretty much just cosmetic.Major
Minor – all are cosmetic, so take whatever you like.
Leveling, Stats, Gear, & Stuff
This section won’t change much, if at all in Mists of Pandaria. For end-game stuff you’ll probably want Ranged Expertise, since you spells can be dodged now. For leveling, don’t worry about it.
Int converts into Spellpower (as of Cataclysm release.) Int also adds to your mana pool (not in Mists) and a small amount to your crit rating. Anytime that you grab new gear you’ll want to be looking for Int and Stam. With plenty of stam you can DoT up a few opponents, shield yourself, and watch them expire at your feet. None of this will change much in Mists of Pandaria.
- Int is your spellpower. Stack as much as you can. Especially in Mists.
- Stamina – is going to keep you alive, especially on PvP servers. Get as much as you need in order to survive, then go for Int. I like to stack Stam at low levels, as much as I easily can.
- Hit Rating- you don’t need much for leveling and you don’t need any for healing. If you go dungeoning/raiding as Shadow then you will need a fair amount, but see #4. If you’re going to work on Hit rating note that any Expertise that you have will add into your Spell Hit rating. This includes racial expertize from Dwarves, Gnomes, and Humans. Also, see Spirit, below.
- You’ll want up to 6% or so for leveling
- 6% is fine for PvP (with same level opponents)
- 12% is needed to always hit dungeon bosses
- 15% is what you’ll eventually want for raid bosses.
- Spirit on gear + Hit on gear + Expertise from gear or racial = your Spell Hit.
- Spirit on gear is now good as your
Twisted Faith talentSpiritual Precision ability adds Hit Rating based on your gear based Spirit. Especially useful if you are shooting for the raid content. It also helps with your mana regen. Equip a bit of +Spirit gear while you’re leveling and you’ll rarely, if ever, miss.
- Haste Rating – Your most important secondary stat.
- Mastery Rating is only a concern after level 80, but is almost as good as Haste.
- Crit chance – Useful for leveling, but Int counts for more.
- Agility and Strength are useless to you. Skip them.
Gear, Gems, Enchants, etc.
As you can tell from the above look for Int first, then Stam and Spirit. Gems slots are rare before 60 and all gems that you slot should be Int (generally “brilliant” gems.) Just buy the cheapo gems while leveling, save the really nice ones for the end-game. You won’t be able to socket M of P gems until very high level as they require ilevel 417 gear.
- Brilliant gems, such as Brilliant Inferno Ruby (+40 Int.) are what you will want to use if you’re gemming.
- Brilliant gems in Mists of Pandaria will be much better, but there’s that gear requirement so they’re not for leveling.
Enchants are frequently expensive and you’ll be leveling quickly enough that you’ll probably need a new one (for your new gear) in a few minutes. Ok, a few levels. As above, go for Int, Stam, and Spirit. Really cheap enchants can sometimes be found, so keep an eye on the Auction House if you’re interested. As with gems, the Mists of Pandaria enchants will be much better.
Generic Gear Suggestions
- If you’re Ok with PvP then do enough of it to buy the Arena PvP geat at 70. (Dalaran swers and Gadgetzan.) You can get the full set for well under 2k Honor. This will easily carry you to 77.
- 77-80 put away your heirlooms and sell the PvP gear. Buy Cataclysm greens, they’re far superior to anything else at that level. It’ll probably cost 2-3k gold for a full set.
- 81+ Put your guild heirlooms (cloak, headpiece, etc. ) back on or use the M of P gear.
- M of P gear, some of it blue, starts at level 80. Keep half an eye on the Auction House and, if you have the gold, you might be in some pretty good gear well before level 85.
Scrolls and Potions and Foods
Scrolls are available either from the Auction House or from a Scribe (Inscription Profession.) Scrolls can buff your Int/Stam/Spirit for not much gold.
Potions can buff Int/Mana and various stats. Healing potions are nice for when you need to be throwing spells elsewhere. Mana potions are good for those Out of Mana (OOM) times. If you’re an Alchemist then you will get better effects from your own potions.
You can only have one buffing potion or scroll up at a time (scrolls are now “battle elixers.”) You can have a food buff up at the same time. Food buffs stam at low levels (the spirit is an effect, so benefits from Spiritual Precision.)
And, of course, there’s your very own Power Word: Fortitude to increase your stam, as well as that of your entire group.
- The goal is to spend more time actually leveling and less time on other things. If you have to run back and forth from the vendor to buy supplies and dump stuff then you’re wasting time. Taking breaks to do fun stuff (duels, hanging with friends, etc. is cool, but doesn’t help you level faster. But, since the game is supposed to be fun…)
- Set up a bank alt and mail all of your sellable stuff to that character. Have stacks of gathered goods? Mail ‘em off.
- Buy the biggest bags you can afford, even from level 1.
- Buy plenty of any supplies you might need, any spell reagents, food, drink, etc.
- Learn cooking to gain access to the buffing foods, or just buy them off the AH.
- Questing is much more efficient than grinding for gaining XP, group smiliar quests together so you can do more than one at the same time. You can often easily know off several quests before handing them in.
- Always log out at an inn, to get the rest XP when you log back in.
- Leveling with a competent buddy will make things go faster. Less XP per kill, but faster kills and less downtime will more than make up for it.
- Dungeons used to require time to gather a group and travel to the dungeon. WoW’s Dungeon Finder tool is a big help here. Dungeon leveling can result in pretty fast XP gain and gives out better gear than questing (if you’re lucky.) Most of the dungeons quests can be found just inside the dungeon entrance. As Shadow you’re wait times to get into the dungeon (using the tool) will be at least a few minutes, so you might want to combine dungeoning with questing or gathering.
- At level 30, if you can afford it (a brutal 10g,) buy the dual talent capability and make your second build a healing build, which will put you in much higher demand for groups (and you’ll get into dungeon groups faster.) Skip it if you don’t want to heal groups.
- Beware of fear spells. Mobs will run and bring back friends. You will learn all about this soon. Fear is much more useful in PvP.
- Use your hearthstone often.
- Only buy gear upgrades if it’s a major upgrade. It’s a waste of time and gold to buy new gear every level, you won’t see much benefit from the small upgrades. Instances have great gear and that gear is free, you just have to win the rolls for that gear.
- Skip crafting, unless you enjoy it, since it takes a lot of time and gold.
- Skip gathering if you really want to move quickly, unless you need the cash or you’re feeding a profession.
- Heck, depending on how you’re feeling at the moment, skip looting! (Heresy, I know.) Just blast everything, hand in the quests, get more, continue.
If you want the best gear while leveling and don’t want to spend time gold-grinding, then you should be doing the instances.
Maximum Speed Leveling
Cataclysm raised the level cap to 85 and Mists of Pandaria is raising it to 90. Who knows where it will go with expansions after Mists? Whatever the level cap, Zygor has your back.
Zygor’s guide is the next best thing – it’s like having an expert looking over your shoulder, helping you out with where to go and what to do. You will never have to ask, “Where do I go next…” or “What do I have to do now…?” It’s all in the guide. Everytime you complete a task or quest the guide updates to the next step, always letting you know exactly what’s next. You might never look at your questlog again.
Fully automated, Zygor’s will let you do you the Shadow thing without ever having to look up anything, set waypoints, or much else other than run and slay the opposition.
Zygor is also smart. Gain a few levels, or a bunch or levels, while PvPing or dungeoning and when you come back to the guide it’ll adjust to your new level and show you just where you need to go. You’ll even be able to delete all of your obsolete quests.
Zygor’s is quickly updated for all patches and expansions so will never be obsolete, even for whatever comes after Mists of Pandaria. Snag your copy of Zygor’s Leveling Guide and get leveled to 85, 90, or whatever, fast (or check out our review first. )