The Priest, a staple class of the classic MMORPG including Warrior(Tank) Priest(Healer) and Rogue(DPS.) However for once the priest class shows some inventive design in World of Warcraft as opposed to being pigeonholed into yet another strictly group player role much as other games have done.
Priests represent what is in many ways the greatest healing class
in the game combined with the potential to become one of the faster
killing/leveling classes as well as providing damage utility to endgame
raiding, as opposed to becoming yet another healbot amongst many others
such as paladin and druid.
Additionally the discipline tree provides the required tools to toughen your priest considerably, bringing them to a level of PvP healer viability to complement already strong defensive tools such as Power Word: Shield and even psychic scream, an AoE fear.
However rolling a priest isn’t all kicks and giggles, there are some obvious disadvantages to being the number one healing class in the game, and being the honorary first target for anyone with half a brain in PvP is one of them.
Of course if you’ve rolled shadow this is somewhat negated, many players still find themselves confused that a priest is capable of fearing them and proceeding to lay the smack down, additionally for those players who have encountered shadow priests before, they generally realize you can’t heal and move onto the next target such as Druid or Paladin.
One thing to remember is that even if you are a shadow priest, death incarnate, stealer of life, etc. You still have holy spells. Yes, that’s right, even though shadow form prevents you from casting healing spells, you can always switch out to save a team member and quite possibly save the fight as opposed to continuing to mindlessly DPS like many others.
The most powerful priest, whether they are discipline, holy, or shadow, will be the one who knows when and where to heal, damage, and shield others. Only by truly utilizing all your abilities will you find yourself bringing the class to its maximum potential, anything else is a waste of perfectly good spells.
Taking this lesson with you into raiding, arena, battlegrounds, and even solo grinding will find your survivability if not DPS dramatically improved, always be prepared to utilize all three tree’s of spells, as
each define on third of what makes the priest powerful, not one at a time, but all three in unison.
As far as races go, fear ward was once a large choice, although this has been changed so that all priests are granted the ability at 20 via trainer, instead all things considered it’s a mostly even contest except that I would slightly favor undead for Devouring Plague.
In the race between tradeskills, tailoring comes out as a definite number one for any type of priest, whethere it's for PvE or PvP. In fact, many of the set items you can craft at 70 outdo karazhan and further tier gear in terms of healing or damage, making them practically required for any priest truly looking to maximize their abilities prior to raiding.
Gathering professions are as always useful for making money, and given that tailoring requires none of them to function you can easily pick up mining or skinning to make money on the side and finance your tailoring skill gain, if you want.
A few tradeskills you might also check out are Enchanting and Jewel Crafting, yet again you could pick up either of them to complement your crafting skills and at higher skill levels make some big money as well. You’ll find that enchants and jewels are expensive.
Check out our Tailoring Guide for more information on leveling the skill and our gold guide for tips to increase the cash flow.
2.0 - Priest Abilities
Priests, like all classes, possess three unique trees holding numerous spells designed to support and aid in all pursuits, whether they be damage, healing, or simply survival. However unlike many, holy and shadow represent almost polar opposites, many a time I’ve leveled a shadow priest without even touching the holy tree for multiple levels at a time.
In essence by choosing one tree over another you almost redefine exactly what your class is made to do, as opposed to others who simply improve one function over another. Ultimately this requires you to choose wisely as to which tree you’ll invest your points in.
Shadow is the pillar of priest strength and is practically our only source of efficient damage when questing/leveling. It holds all but one of the Nukes, all of our DoT’s, and with some talent points it provides the only available silence.
Mind Blast is the large damage spell you gain from Shadow, a short cast time and medium cooldown attack spell that drastically improves priest damage over time when worked into a spell rotation. Additionally this tree provides shadow word pain, a fairly mana efficient damage over time spell that should be used every pull unless you’re healing.
Finally shadow provides the tools to become a viable end-game raiding DPSer and mana battery, by use ofvampiric touch and vampiric embrace a priest can drain both life and mana, returning it to his team members, all while increasing the damage dealt to his or her target via Misery and other such talents.
With shadow being a priests damage capability, discipline is our survivability, it encompasses all our defensive and buffing abilities such as Power Word: Fortitude and Power Word: Shield, both immensely useful for all styles of play including solo leveling, PvP, and raiding.
Discipline also provides our only means of improving armor and defense against melee attacks aside from a straight up damage shield, this being inner fire, a charged armor buff providing protection for a period of time.
By going deeper into the discipline tree you gain increasing survivability and mana efficiency, making it an ideal complimenting tree for either shadow or holy, and when chosen as your primary investment it can be ideal for PvP situations.
Holy is the core of what defines a priest, being a tree dedicated entirely to healing. This was originally the priest’s one and only reason for being viable in teams and raiding in general, and although shadow has now become an equal as far as utility is concerned, holy priests still represent a large factor in group success.
Of our holy spells we gain renew, our only heal over time, as well as heal and greater heal, the latter being a massive raid saver for the tank when used at the right moment, and multiple AoE healing abilities that drastically improve your odds of completing several boss fights.
Finally the holy tree grants us the ability to ‘improve death" by casting the spirit of redemption form which lasts for 15 seconds after death and giving them the ability to cast heals without mana cost. This often will allow the Priest to save groups from a wipe, demonstrating amazing effectiveness even after death.
This section is only an overview of Priest leveling, check
out our Priest
Leveling Guide for more information and leveling build details.
3.0 - Leveling
Leveling as a priest can either be a fun experience or an exercise in frustration, based largely by your own choices. This divide comes from those who level as shadow and those who level as either discipline or holy, and although with recent changes both the have become viable, they still remain a distant second to shadow power.
Most priests likely find themselves already exasperated by the time they’ve reached level 10, further more so at 20, and even a shadow priest could find it rather dull to reach 30 before finally dipping into the pool of more interesting powers,mind control amongst them.
This in large part comes from the deficiency in priest power due to a general lack of mana regeneration and low +spelldamage gear, if any at all, prior to the later 30’s and early 40’s, whereupon you suddenly gain access to whole new reservoirs of gear granting you the ability to finally level efficiently. Consider the virtues of a lot of grouping, before you hit 40, and/or a leveling guide.
Shadow Priest Leveling
Leveling as a shadow priest is my personal favorite and the obvious choice for a
solo player looking to hit 80 as quickly as possible. It limits your healing abilities
somewhat, especially what with shadow form locking them out unless you drop the spell,
but all in all gives back more than enough to make up for it.
Shadow is based around killing an opponent without wasting more mana than you can recoup via Spirit tap, and later vampiric touch, and also making certain you don’t lose too much more health than you regain, by using vampiric embrace, either.
By carefully calculating out a spell rotation for whatever mobs you happen to be fighting, you can effectively create a never-ending grinding cycle as you regenerate enough health and mana per fight to more than replace all that was lost from being beat on/using spells.
One strategy to remember is that whenever you finish casting a spell, spirit mana regeneration deactivates for five seconds, making your spirit tap less effective overall at bringing back all lost mana after each fight.
To counter this, use your wand to great effect and finish the mob off with that attack instead, this allows your mana regeneration to kick in earlier and gain full advantage of both spirit tap and natural regeneration.
Discipline/Holy Priest Leveling
Both of these builds are generally used for those who forsake the path of shadow, granting a combined bonus to healing and mana efficiency that shadow won’t require due to its vampiric talents. Additionally this style of leveling should only be used for those who have a few dedicated leveling buds to call on at any given time, otherwise you’re only slowing yourself down.
Smite and Holy fire remain generally weak and mana inefficient until the high 40’s and 50’s, this slowly starts to be negated as you pick up more spell damage and improve your overall mana regeneration via massive amounts of spirit plus MP5(Mana per 5 seconds gear.)
Although I won’t recommend this style of killing, it is possible for those who wish it, it just won’t be as fast as shadow no matter what gear you pick up and you’ll also find your overall power quite low until you hit Outland.
Many of the items below are tailoring/can be replaced by tailored products and this list is not foolproof, however it does represent an easy list of objectives for each and every slot to be filled prior to beginning your first raid as a healer.
WoW has about a bazillion quests and sometimes one is left with the question, "where to go... how do I find... what to do next...?" Especially if you haven't already leveled several charaters to the max.
Leveling your Priest, of any build, doesn't have
to be an exercise in frustration. Treat yourself to a full blown 1-80
leveling guide, like Zygor's
guide, and you will never again have to ask any of the "Where to go..." questions. Zygor's contains the step by step 1-80 path and is fully automated. This means that the guide knows where you are and updates your quests and directions as you move along.
Everything you need to know is contained within the
guide and it's displayed (in a moveable, resizeable window) on your main screen. You
may never have to look at your quest log again.