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The Priest Leveling Guide

Fem. Dwarf Priest says to pay attention!Priest leveling isn’t bad at all these days. And Shadowlands was made for you. (wink)

Soloing as Shadow, or maybe even Discipline, or hopping into PvP or the dungeons with any priestly spec, will get you to to the level cap quite nicely.

Then you can get to the good stuff (the End Game.)

Each new expansion, and the following fixes and patches, beings plenty of changes, but you’ll still be in fine shape.

So what can you do, as a Priest?

Discipline: Uses magic to shield allies from taking damage as well as heal their wounds.

Holy: A versatile healer who can reverse damage on individuals or groups and even heal from beyond the grave.

Shadow: Uses sinister Shadow magic and terrifying Void magic to eradicate enemies.

Priest Leveling Contents

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Other Priest Guides


Shadow Priests are a pretty cool class, once they get into the good stuff (their better abilities,) 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.

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 (though Penance is pretty interesting…) Join a group (for questing or PvP or Dungeon,) keep them healthy, and you’ll move a lot faster.

Shadow’s the way to go for the damage and the solo leveling, and is certainly no slouch in the dungeon and PvP department.

Shadowlands? Besides a level squish (120 to 50,) a much larger gear level squish, a few talents and abilities moving around and changes made, not much has changed…   Seriously, the feel is close to what it was pre-Shadowlands.

Also, Shadowlands has introduced a “diminishing returns” system for the secondary stats. It won’t matter while leveling, but when you hit the end-game it will. Basically it just means that piling on lots of one stat, such as Haste, will have a lot less benefit than before.

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.

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Race Choice for Leveling Your Priest

So which race do you want to be?

For leveling purposes your racial choice really doesn’t matter much. Every race brings something useful to the table.

Orcs and Highmountain Tauren are the only races that cannot be priests.

All the races bring something interesting to the game, be it buffs, escapes, or useful effects. Some have an advantage at the high level game, but for the rest? Play what works for you.

Shadowlands brings a nice change to the Allied Races: You no longer have to achieve “exalted” reputation with each race, just do certain campaign quests and earn an achievement. Then hit the appropriate embassy (in Stormwind or Orgrimmar) for the final tasks to acquire the race.

You will also start at level 10.

When you start your new character with one of the original races, you will be at level 1 and will have the choice of starting in your own racial zone or the new Exile’s Reach zone. If you are brand new to World of Warcraft then Exile’s is where you will start. Your second character will have the option of starting in their racial starting zone.

Exile’s is a starter zone for people brand new to the game, though it’s also fine for experienced types. It will teach you some of the “how to” about getting around and using your abilities. Allied races will skip both zones.

At level 10 you will be able to choose which area you want to level in. Just talk to Chromie in your capital city (Stormwind or Orgrimmar) or check the mission board (near the front gates to the city.)

Racial Buffs/Attacks/Offence Summary:

    • Trolls have a Haste buff
    • Tauren have an area stun
    • Mag’har Orcs have a stat buff
    • Nightbourne have an area effect blast
    • Zandalari Trolls can pick a Loa which will add to damage or heals.
    • Vulpera have an offensive “trick.”
    • Pandarens have a 4 second stun
    • Draenei are just smarter (more Int)
    • Dark Iron Dwarves have nice Int boost when they wipe away effects.
    • Mechagnomes can summon useful clones
    • Kul Tirans get a nice Haymaker (stuns and knocks back)
    • Void Elves get a Void Energy proc.


    • Blood Elves can removes buffs from nearby enemies
    • Undead can wipe fear, sleep, and charms and breathe underwater.
    • Humans can escape stuns.
    • Night Elves can “vanish” and drop aggro.
    • Gnomes can escape speed altering effects
    • Dwarves and Dark Iron Dwarves can wipe away bleeds and other effects. Dwarves also get a damage reduction with that.

Other Races:

    • Goblins have a rocket jump and can fire rockets, for tiny damage.
    • Worgen have some movement options

All the Racial Abilities for your Priest

Pandarian: The only Neutral race, at least at the start. You get to choose whether your will join the Horde or the Alliance, once you leave the starting area.

    • Your Inner Peace gives you improved Rest XP, making for faster leveling. Obviously of no value once you hit max level.
    • Being Bouncy you take less falling damage, which can be useful. Cliff jumping anyone?
    • Pandarens can, with a quick strike of their Quaking Palm , stun an opponent for 4 seconds. Stuns are always useful. Damage will break the stun effect.
    • Pandarens get 100% better buffs from food with their Epicurean ability
    • Naturally you’re good with cooking, so you have an enhanced (+15) cooking ability.

Alliance Racials


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    • The Gift of the Naaru (a Heal Over Time effect, 20% heal over 5 seconds) acts as a secondary bandage every 3 minutes and, like a bandage, it can also heal an ally. Redundant for you, but you might find a use for it at some point.
    • You have the extra Intellect, from Heroic Presence , that one might think you’d have from the body-building work. It scales up as you level.
    • Your skill at Gemcutting gives you +10% to your Jewelcrafting skill.
    • Being a devout follower “of the light” you have Shadow Resistance , for 1% less Shadow Damage.

Lightforged Draenei– Starts at level 10. 

    • Your passion for killing demons ( Demonbane ) is reflected in your earning an extra 20% experience from that action. Obviously not much use once your are at max level. If you pick this race, then considering leveling in the Legion zones.
    • You have two area effect attacks, Light’s Judgment and Light’s Reckoning . The former lets you call down a strike onto enemies close to you, with a three second delay. Reckoning causes you to unleash the Light upon dying, damaging enemies within 8 yards and healing any allies for the same amount.
    • Not only do you get +10% to your Blacksmithing skill, you can summon a Forge of Light.
    • Naturally you are a bit more resistant to holy damage than others, taking 1% less damage from the stuff with your Holy Resistance .


    • Your Might of the Mountain ability increases the damage and healing from your critical strikes by 2%
    • and you can become one with the stone via your Stoneform . This removes all poison, disease, curse, magic, and bleed effects and reduces all physical damage taken by 10% for 8 sec. Cooldown is 2 minutes.
    • You are also an Explorer and so are better at Archeology than others, finding more fragments and surveying faster.
    • Being naturally cool, you have a bit (1%) of Frost Resistance .

Dark Iron Dwarf – Starts at level 10.

    • Your Fireblood removes all poison, disease, curse, magic, and bleed effects, just like your Dwarven “brethren,” but your ability increases your primary stat (Intelligence) with a bonus for each additional effect removed. Scales with your level. Lasts 8 sec. with a 2 min cooldown.
    • You’re a tunnel dweller and Dungeon Delver and you’ve learned how to move 4% faster while indoors, plus your people have the  Mole Machine : While out doors you can summon a Mole Machine that tunnels through the earth and can pop you up in a variety of places.
    • Being tough you have your Forged in Flames ability, and take a bit less physical damage.
    • Having spent your life working in the forges you have a Mass Production skill , giving you +5 to your blacksmithing skill and letting you work 25% faster.


    • Your Escape Artist ability allows you to break the effects of any immobilization or movement speed reduction effect, but not stuns. Great for PvP, occasionally useful elsewhere. Has a one minute cooldown.
    • Plus your Nimble Fingers give you a +1% Haste boost.
    • Your Expansive Mind increases your Mana by 5%.
    • And your Engineering Specialization gives you +15% to that skill.
    • You also have a bit of Arcane Resistance , and so take 1% less damage from the stuff.

Mechagnome– Starts at level 10. 

    • Hyper Organic Light Originator summons a couple of images of you to distract your foes. Added damage or use it to give yourself a moment to set something up. See it in action here.
    • And you get some Racial Passives:
      • Combat Analysis : You gather and analyze combat data every 5 sec, increasing your Int by 4, stacking up to 10 times. The data decays while out of combat.
      • Mastercraft : You function as a personal Blacksmithing Anvil, Cooking Fire, and Mining Forge. In addition, your limbs include every profession tool.
      • Emergency Failsafe : When you fall below 20% health, heal for 15% of your maximum health. This effect cannot occur more than once every 2.5 min.
      • Skeleton Pinkie : Allows opening of locked chests and doors at your current level +1, so at level 50 you can unlock chests that require 51 skill.


    • Your Every Man for Himself ability removes all stun effects (no other effects are removed,) so is something like a partial PvP trinket. This effect has a 3 min cooldown and shares a 90 sec cooldown with other similar effects.
    • The Human Spirit : You gain 2% more of all secondary stats (Haste, Critical Strike, Mastery, Versatility) from all sources.
    • And since you are skilled at Diplomacy you have a 10% faster rep gain with everyone than does any other race. Useful at times, especially if you want the perks that come from “Exalted,” such as access to the various allied races.

Kul Tiran– Starts at level 10. 

    • Wind up, then unleash your mighty Haymaker upon your foe. Doesn’t hurt much, but does stun then for 3 seconds and knocks them back substantially.  2.5 minute cooldown. Knock ’em back then Escape/attack.
    • Brush It Off – Increases Versatility by 1%. When you take damage you sometimes heal for 2% of that damage over 4 sec.
    • Your Child of the Sea ability lets you swim a bit faster and hold your breath longer than anyone who is not Undead.
    • You are a Jack of All Trades  which increases all of your Tradeskills by 5. Unfortunately it does not give you free tradeskills, just a boost to the ones you actually learn
    • Many generations of seafaring experience have earned you the Rime of the Ancient Mariner ability, and so you take 1% less from Frost and Nature damage.

Night Elf

    • Shadowmeld : Activate to slip into the shadows, reducing the chance for enemies to detect your presence. Lasts until cancelled or upon moving. Any threat is restored versus enemies still in combat upon cancellation of this effect. Against certain spells, if you have really good timing, you can S’meld after it’s cast and thus dodge it. Grab the attention of too many enemies? S’meld and they will move away.
    • A bit more Dodge and movement speed (2% of each,) via your Quickness .
    • Touch of Elune gives you a bit more (1%) Crit by day and Haste by night.
    • Transform into a  Wisp Spirit  upon death, increasing speed by 75%. Hopefully you will only rarely have any use for this trait.

Void Elf– Starts at level 10. 

    • Your abilities have a chance to empower you with the essence of the Void, Entropic Embrace , which increases your damage by 5% for 12 sec. It has a 33% proc chance with 60 seconds internal cooldown. Nothing like a bit of Void energy added to your attacks, right?
    • Spatial Rift : Tear a rift in space. Reactivate this ability to teleport through the rift. 30 yd range. 3 min cooldown. You can activate this, then change direction, hit it again, and be back to the original spot. Practice this to get a good idea of how it works.
    • Your etheral connection gives you a 50% discount on Void Storage and Transmog.
    • Your calm means that your casts are not delayed by incoming damage.

The Horde Racials:


    • Cannot be priests

Blood Elf

    • Your Arcane Torrent removes one beneficial effect from any nearby enemies (8 yards) and restores some of your Mana.
    • And your Arcane Acuity gives you a bit more crit (1%.)
    • Naturally your Arcane Affinity gives you +10% to the Enchanting skill.
    • And your Arcane Resistance allows you to take 1% less Arcane damage.


    • Your Will of the Forsaken removes fear, sleep, and charms. Definitely useful in PvP and of occasional use elsewhere. It also allows indefinite underwater breathing.
    • Your Touch of the Grave is a passive ability that will add a small amount to your overall damage and self-healing.
    • Cannibalize is a nice “in your face” ability for PvP and eliminates the need to use a bag slot for regular food (you’ll want to keep any foods that provide buffs.) Just go full zombie mode and eat what you kill. Humanoids only. Restores 35% of your total health over 10 seconds of devouring.
    • You also have a bit of Shadow Resistance , taking 1% less damage from those shadows.
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    • Your mighty Endurance gives you an increase to base health, which scales with level.
    • Also useful is War Stomp , usually a PvP ability, but also useful elsewhere, that gives the Tauren a useful short range AoE stun. This can also interrupt trash mobs when dungeoning/raiding.
    • Your massive size, your sheer Brawn power, gives you 2% added Crit damage (not crit chance.)  It also give that same 2% bonus to and healing abilities you have.
    • Tauren are good with Herbalism and have +15% skill.
    • You also have a bit of Nature Resistance , taking 1% less Nature Damage.


    • Berserking increases your Haste by 10% for 12 seconds, on a 3 minute cooldown.  Generally useful, since it reduces cooldowns, speeds casting, and gives you faster resource regeneration.
    • You get a 20% XP increase when Beast Slaying . This only applies to beasts, not humanoids or other non-beasts. You’ll be chopping up lots of beasts while leveling, so this is a nice bonus. Not useful once at max level.
    • Da Voodoo Shuffle gives you a nice 20% reduced duration of movement impairing effects, such as snares, slows, etc. Not stuns or anything else.
    • Regeneration , Mon! Trolls regenerate 10% faster than others and can even regenerate a bit while in combat, not that you are likely to notice.


    • Can Rocket Jump forward and away from, on into, stuff. so is a bit like the hunter ability disengage. Note that any effects that slow falling will be suppressed for 10 seconds. So no Rocket Jumps off cliffs. The fall is fine, the impact at the end hurts.
    • Speaking of rockets… Rocket Barrage !!! The perfect Goblin ability. Can launch rockets at enemies. Damage is trivial, but you can probably find a use for it. Maybe.
    • A bit more Haste, Time is Money ya know.
    • Being an expert negotiator, of course, you receive the Best Deals Anywhere . You pay whatever the minimum price is for stuff, regardless of faction.
    • Your relentless urge to try “Crazy New Things” gives you the Better Living Through Chemistry ability, which adds +15 to your Alchemy skills.
    • Check your bank stash from anywhere, every 30 min, with your pack Hobgoblin . A truly deadly ability.

Zandalari Troll– Allied, Starts at level 10. 

    • Your Embrace of the Loa ability allows you to choose which Loa you are associated with. Has a 5 day cooldown. Each embrace also lasts through death.
      • Embrace of Akunda – Your healing abilities have a chance to heal their target for some extra points. Good for anyone with a ranged heal.
      • Embrace of Bwonsamdi  – Your damaging abilities have a chance to deal Shadow damage and heal you for 100% of the damage done. Pretty good general ability for tanks and damage dealers.
      • Embrace of Gonk  – Increase movement speed by 5%.
      • Embrace of Kimbul  – Your damaging abilities have a chance to cause the target to bleed over 6s. This effect stacks up to 3 times. More damage is always good.
      • Embrace of Krag’wa  – Taking damage has a chance to grant you additional Health and 66 Armor. Good tanking ability.
      • Embrace of Pa’ku – Your abilities have a chance to grant you +4% critical strike for 12 seconds. Live by the crit? This is for you. This is your default Loa.
    • Regeneratin’ – Regenerate 100% of your maximum health over 6 sec, interrupted by damage. 2.5 min cooldown.
    • Pterrordax Swoop – Slows your fall for two minutes. Time for some serious cliff jumpin’.
    • Your also have your City of Gold ability, making you the envy of Goblins, since it lets you loot an extra 2% gold from your targets.

HighMountain Tauren Allied, Starts at level 10. 

    • Cannot be priests

Nightbourne Allied, Starts at level 10. 

    • You can do an Arcane Pulse , which damages all nearby enemies and reduces their speed for 12 seconds. Note that this will break most “crowd control” effects you might have on those enemies. 3 minute cooldown.
    • Can read your mail from anywhere, with your Cantrips ability. Get a note while you’re in the middle of nowhere? No problem.
    • Your love of lore and Ancient History give you +15 to your Inscription skill.
    • Your Arcane Resistance   allows you to take 1% less damage from Arcane energy and you also have a Magical Affinity which allows you to do 1% more magical damage.

Mag’har Orc Allied, Starts at level 10. 

    • Your Ancestral Call will boost a random secondary stat (crit, haste, versatility) for 12 seconds on a 2 minute cooldown. The boost scales with level.
    • Your love of the open skies increases your mounted speed by 10%.
    • Savage Blood : Since you are extremely healthy you get reduced duration of curses, poisons, and diseases (by 10%.)
    • If you have a pet then it receives a 10% health boost through your Sympathetic Vigor .

Vulpera Allied, Starts at level 10. 

    • world of warcraft in-game guides Bag of Tricks : Cunning thing that you are you can use a trick on an enemy to damage them or on an ally to heal them. You can rummage your bag to change tricks. Your bag can eventually have a few additional Tricks:

    • Make Camp : Set your camp location outdoors and then you can use  Return to Camp , which teleports back to your camp location. Basically another hearthstone.
    • Nose For Trouble : Take a little less damage from the first strike inflicted by an enemy and due to your being wary around fire, your Fire Resistance reduces fire damage taken by 1%.
    • Your  Alpaca Saddlebags  increase the total size of your backpack by 8 slots.


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Quick and Dirty Priest Leveling Guide

We’re not going to worry about the “flavor of the month” for this guide, or the best tweaks for PvP or raiding. It’ll just be about getting to max level quickly and efficiently.


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.
  • 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, and can also do some damage, so can level well in the open world. Especially if you like to weave dungeons in with your questing, as wait times for healers are much softer than for damage dealers.
  • Holy – Nice as a dungeon/raid healer, not so hot for questing due to a major lack of damage. Not recommended to general questing unless you’re with a partner or team. Heal up that rampaging melee damage machine pal of yours and you’ll both do well.
  • Now get leveled really fast with an in-game leveling guide.

Pries Stats for the Leveling:

  • Item level is King. Or Queen. Or something. Anyway, a new item with more Intelligence on it is better than the old one. It will have a higher “item level” and that wins for now.  Higher item level for any piece of gear is better than a lower one, as long as the piece has Int.
  • Stack Stamina until you’re happy with your life expectancy. Potions and scrolls and buffing foods help here.
  • After that, stack all the Int that you can. Int is the #1 stat for all Priests.

Gems and Enchants

When you find items with sockets and you want to bother with gemming, then Gem for Int or +Haste. The issue is that you will level out of that gear rather quickly, so  you might want to save the gold.

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. Note that Shadowlands enchants require you to be level 50 to use them.

  • Look for cheap Int and Haste. Stam if you need the health.


  • Preferred Weapon: Staff, Wand, Dagger, Mace.  Wands are nice.
  • Cloth armor, with Int.
  • Heirloom gear rules.


  • 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.
  • More about professions

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Shadow PriestShadow Leveling Talents

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.

Your talents can easily be changed IF you’re in a “rested XP” area, such as your garrison, an inn, or the big city. No reagents, trainers, or special rituals required.

If you are in the raid/dungeon or out on the world and need to change talents before the next fight? Buy or make (with Inscription) a stack of Tome of the Quiet Mind, which will work up to level 59. From 51 to 60 you can use a Tome of the Still Mind. That will give you one minute to switch up.

If one suggested talent doesn’t work for your style, change it up.  For your abilities skip down the page.

Shadow Priest Leveling Build

This build is intended primarily for questing, so movement and immediate damage are the priorities. Mobs won’t usually last long enough for long term effects (eg: a 24 second DOT) to be interesting. Of course, if you’re primarily doing dungeons or PvP, then those long DOTs might be just the thing. Again, experiment and change things up to get what works for YOU.

Shadow Priest Leveling Talents

DOT = Damage over Time, CD = Cooldown, P = Passive effect. Our picks are checked: Best talent

Tier 1: Acquired at level 15

  1. Best talent Fortress of the Mind (P) causes your Mind Spike, Mind Flay, and Mind Blast to do 10% more damage and generate 20% more insanity.
  2. Death and Madness (P) gives you 40 Insanity over 4 seconds and resets the CD of your Shadow Word: Death  if that spell kills the target within 7 seconds of application. If you can consistently drop your SW: D on the targets at low health, resulting in kills, then this is the best talent of the set as it returns the most Insanity. Fortress is easier, though.
  3. Unfurling Darkness (P) is the weakest of this group for general questing/leveling. After youi cast Vampiric Touch on your target, then your next Vampiric Touch is instant-cast and does instant damage, in addition to the DOT. So if you are using your Touch often then you will get that bonus. Weaker than the others, skip it.

Tier 2: Acquired at level 25

Do YOU need a speed boost, a heal, or an emergency “avoid damage” CD?

  1. Best talent Body and Soul: (P) PW: Shield gives you, or your target, a 3 second burst of speed (+40%.)  Pretty nice for general moving about, or even in dungeons and such.
  2. San’layn (P) improves your Vampiric Embrace by reducing the CD by 45 seconds (to 75 seconds) and increasing the healing by 25%. How often do you use V. Embrace?
  3. Intangibility (P) is great if you get in a little over your head at times: your Dispersion now heals for 50% of your max health and its CD is reduced to 90 seconds, from 2 minutes. If you like to live dangerously and push your limits, then this is a goo “Yikes!” talent.

Tier 3: Acquired at level 30

  1. Twist of Fate (P) lets you do more damage and healing (+10%) when the target falls below 35% health. Better for dungeoning, with its tougher mobs, where you might notice the boost.
  2. Best talent Misery (P) is especially good for fighting longer lived stuff, such as rares, elites, bosses. Your Vampiric Touch will also apply Shadow Word: Pain to the target. Two DOTS in one is pretty nice.
  3. Searing Nightmare requires you to be in Shadowform and is only usable while channeling your Mind Sear. Does some damage and applies your Shadow Word: Pain to the target, but it does more damage is the target already has SW: P. Then it’s simply a refresh of that DOT.

Tier 4: Acquired at level 35

  1. Last Word reduces the CD of your Silence from 45 to 30 seconds. Not very useful for general leveling.
  2. Mind Bomb replaces your Psychic Scream, has a 2 second delay, then explodes and disorients all enemies within 8 yards of the target. Also happens if the target dies sooner. 30 second CD, Instant cast. Nice if you’re fighting groups in dungeons and a control is needed.
  3. Best talent Psychic Horror is a 4 second single target stun, which is rather nice.

Tier 5: Acquired at level 40

  1. Auspicious Spirits: Makes your Shadowy Apparitions more useful by generating +25% damage and generating 2 insanity. A passive effect and makes the ability more damaging. Best general use pick of the set.
  2. Psychic Link is great if you are spreading your Vampiric Touch around as it causes your Mind Blast to also damage targets affected by your VT.
  3. Best talent Shadow Crash is not a Cyberpunk book. The spell fires a blob of Shadow Energy at the target, doing solid damage to all targets within 8 yards. Generates +15 Insanity\. Note that it targets an area, not a mob, so you need to trust that the targets will still be there when the blob lands.

Tier 6: Acquired at level 45

  1. Best talent Damnation instantly casts all three of your DOTs (all at the same time:) Shadow Word: Pain, Vampiric Touch, and Devouring Plague to the target. This is rather nice. 45 second CD.
  2. Mindbender: replaces and improves your Shadowfiend. It attacks for 15 seconds and also generates 5 Insanity (instead of 3)  whenever it attacks. Has a 1 minute CD.
  3. Void Torrent channels void energy into the target over 4 seconds, doing solid damage and generating 60 Insanity over that 4 seconds. Nice talent, but Damnation is hard to beat. 30 second CD.

Tier 7: Acquired at level 50

  1. Ancient Madness (P) increases your Crit chance, when you enter Void Form, by 30%. This decays at 2% per second until the effect ends at 15 seconds. Not really worth it as the Crit bonus decays too fast.
  2. Hungering Void (P) causes your target to become more vulnerable to Void Energy, taking 10% more damage from you, while you are in Void Form, for 6 seconds. Casting Void Bolt on a vulnerable target extends your Void Form by 1 second (2 seconds if you crit.)
  3. Best talent Surrender to Madness deals damage to the target and activates your Void Form. You then have 25 seconds to kill your target or YOU die. For that 25 seconds you can cast while moving and generate 100% more Insanity from all appropriate abilities. Want to add a bit of risk? Pick this one. Don’t want the risk? Go with Hungering.

War Mode Shadow Priest Talents

It used to be that you could play on a PvP or non-PvP server. Now all servers are the same in that regard and you can flag yourself for PvP or choose not to do so.  Just activate War Mode if you want to do World PvP.

War Mode must be activated in either Orgrimmar or Stormwind.  Doing so enables you for world PvP (ganking and being ganked) which gives you at least +10% XP. More if your side is outnumbered, with a max of 30%.

You get to pick a max of three PvP talents, in addition to your regular talents. They become available at levels 20.30, and 40. The idea behind the picks below is that they will be useful for questing and leveling, not necessarily the best for PvP.

    1. Psyfiend – Useful against rares and targets with a lot of health. Requires level 20.
    2. Void Origins – Instant cast void eruption is very nice and lets you kite mobs (or players) more. Requires level 23.
    3. Greater Fade – Allows you to pull more mobs before bursting them down with a double eruption. Requires level 40, 45 second CD. Replaces your Fade.
    4. Lasting Plague (P) adds 6 seconds duration to your Devouring Plague. Requires level 40.


Shadow Glyphs for Leveling

Major Glyphs died in Legion. You will only have access to “minor” glyphs which are pretty much only cosmetic. Right click it to learn it and it directly modifies the appropriate ability’s appearance.

For example, here are three. There are at least 12, so check the Auction House or your friendly, neighborhood (guild) scribe:

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Your Priest Stats

Quick & Dirty: Get more Int, maybe Stamina, don’t worry about the rest until you are max level.

The stats you need for Priest leveling aren’t as important as what you need for raiding or PvP. In short, don’t worry about it too much. You will find it difficult to stack any given stat as you level, so save it for the end-game.

Now, if you want to do top damage (or healing) in the dungeon or rule in PvP as you level, than you’ll want to pay more attention to stats.

Int converts into Spellpower and 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.

  1. Item level before all other considerations, due to the increased Int & Stam.
  2. Int is your spellpower. Stack as much as you can.
  3. 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.
  4. Haste Rating – Your most important secondary stat.
  5. Mastery Rating is almost as good as Haste.
  6. Crit chance – Useful for leveling, but Int counts for more.
  7. Versatility is a straight up add to your damage, heals, and (at half value) damage reduction. A better PvP stat than PvE.


Abilities for the Priest

You have a set of abilities that are usable by any Priest. And you probably noticed that the in-game list of those abilities is now on a separate tab from your specialization abilities. For your Talents just hop back up the page.

Mana is used by all priests, even Shadow, which uses it in order to use their utility spells, like Dispel Magic, Mass Dispel, and Shadow Mend. Insanity, however, is only used by Shadow Priests and is generated by most of Shadow’s damage casts. It is used used as a resource to cast Devouring Plague, a Shadow Priest’s most powerful periodic effect.

Here are the abilities for all Priests:

    • Smite (Level 1) is your basic spell and does Holy damage.
    • Shadow Word: Pain (2) does some instant damage and then more damage over the next 12 seconds.
    • Flash Heal (3) is not The Flash coming to heal you or an ally, rather it is just your basic heal effect.
    • Power Word: Shield (4) shields an ally for 15 seconds. You cannot shield the same target again for 7.5 seconds, but you can shield another target immediately after the first.
    • Mind Blast (5) blasts the enemy’s mind. 1 charge, 15 sec. CD.
    • Power Word: Fortitude (6) adds 5% to your target’s Stamina for an hour. You can also do the same to your entire party/raid with the one cast, as all will be affected.
    • Psychic Scream (7) causes up to 5 enemies, within 8 yards of you, to flee in terror, and be disoriented, for 8 seconds. Damage to any might end the effect. Beware of their bringing friends when they return. 1 min. CD.
      • Psychic Scream, Rank 2 (54) victims can take 20% more damage before the effect breaks.
    • Desperate Prayer (8) increases your max. health by 25% and also heals you for the same amount.
    • Fade (9) lets you fade away and remove all threat from your attacked. Let them eat someone else. Lasts 10 seconds. Note that when the effect expires (fades) then you might re-acquire their attentions. That also might happen if you attack while faded.
      • Fade, Rank 2 (17,) decreases the range at which the enemy will notice you.
    • Resurrection (10) He’s Alive!!  Your ally comes back with 35% health. Must be out of combat.
    • Shadow Word: Death (14) damages the target, BUT if it does not kill the target then YOU take damage equal to what you inflicted. If the target is at 20% health or lower then damage is increased by 150%.
    • Levitate (21) lasts 10 minutes and lets you and/or a party member float around for that time. Lets you travel over water and safely jump off cliffs. Experiment and see what you can and cannot do with this.
    • Mind Vision (22) is channeled for up to 1 minute and lets you see through the targets eyes for that time. No rage limit, but that target cannot be on another continent or in another instance (such as a dungeon.) Certain spells, such as Cloak of Shadows, will block the effect.
    • Dispel Magic (24) removes one beneficial buff (magic effect) from the target.
    • Shackle Undead (28) basically immobilizes the undead enemy target for up to 50 seconds. Can only effect one target at a time. Damage cancels the effect. Note that it does NOT work on Undead players.
    • Focused Will (33, P) triggers its effect vs melee attacks against you, causing that damage to be reduced by 15%.
    • Mind Control (34) controls a mind equal to your level +1, for up to 30 seconds. Lasts for less time on players.
    • Mass Dispel (42) has a 45 seconds CD and a 15 yard radius. It removes all harmful magic effects from up to 5 allies and 1 beneficial effect from up to 5 enemies.
      • Mass Dispel, Rank 2 can remove more effect, including some that are not normally dispellable.
    • Leap of Faith (49) pulls the targeted party member to your position. Good for yanking people out of awkward spots.
    • Mind Soothe (52) reduces, by 10 yards, the range at which a hostile target will pay attention to you. Makes it easier to slip by some of them. Only works vs Humanoids and Dragonkin. Does not work Vs players.
    • Power Infusion (58) infuses you or a target with 25% Haste for 20 seconds. 2 minute CD.
Fastest Shadowlands Leveling, and lots more
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Shadow Priest Abilities

DOT = Damage Over Time. A spell that does its total damage over some period of time, generally in the form of hits or “ticks” that happen several times during that period. For example, a DOT might do damage (tick) every second for 10 seconds.

CD = Cooldown, P = Passive effect.

    • Mastery: Shadow Weaving (10) increases your damage to the target by 4% for each of Shadow Word Pain, Vampiric Touch, and Devouring Plague. One  DOT = +4%, 2 DOTs is 8%, and 3 DOTs is 12%. All enemies receive the 12% bonus when your Void Form is up.
    • Shadowform (10) lets you become one with the shadows, increasing damage by 10%.
    • Voidform (10) increases your damage by 20%, lasts 15 seconds, has a 1.5 minute CD, and also refreshes your Mind Blast CD and gives that ability +1 charge. It is activated by casting Void Eruption and requires 100 Insanity.
    • Mind Flay (11) melts the target’s brain (doing damage) for 4.5 seconds and slows them. Channeled. Generates 18 Insanity over that time.
    • Devouring Plague (12) does instant damage and then additional damage over 6 seconds. Also heals you for 50% of the damage done. This will be your most powerful offensive spell and will be powered by the Insanity that you generate with your other attacks.
    • Mind Blast, Rank 2 (13) knocks 7.5 seconds off of the CD.
    • Vampiric Touch (15) causes damage over 15 seconds and heals you for half of the damage done. Generates 5 Instanity.
      • Vampiric Touch, Rank 2 (48) causes the target to flee in terror if the Touch is dispelled.
    • Dispersion (16) is for those moments. You become pure Shadow for 6 seconds and reduces all incoming damage by 75%, but cannot attack or cast. Can cast this while stunned, feared, or silence.
      • Dispersion, Rank 2 (44) now increases your movement speed by 50% and your are immune to speed altering effects.
    • Purify Disease (18) removes all disease from the target. 1 charge and 8 sec. recharge.
    • Shadow Mend (19) heals an ally (or yourself,) but also damages it. The effect ends when they leave combat or take total damage, from all sources, equal to 1/2 the heal effect.
    • Shadowfiend (20) is your handy Shadow Pet for 15 seconds. 3 min. CD.
      • Shadowfiend (32) Rank 2 generates 3 Insanity every time it attacks.
    • Void Eruption (23) causes you to erupt with pure void energy, damaging all enemies within 10 yards and triggering your Void Form. While that form is active this ability is replaced by Void Bolt. 1.5 min. CD.
    • Void Bolt (23) replaces your Void Eruption while you are in Void Form. It is instant, has a 4.5 sec. CD, and generates 12 insanity when it damages the target
      • Void Bolt, Rank 2, (37) adds 3 seconds to the duration of your Shadow Word Pain and Vampiric Touch on all targets.
    • Voidform (23) lasts 15 seconds and increases your spell damage by 20%. Also grants +1 charge to Mind Blast and refreshes its CD.
    • Vampiric Embrace (25) embraces a nearby ally with Shadow, causing them to be healed for 50% of any single-target damage you do. 2 min CD and lasts 15 seconds.
    • Mind Sear (26) causes the target to radiate energy which damages all enemies, within 10 yards of the target, for 4.5 seconds. Also generates 6 insanity for each target damaged by the effect.
    • Shadowy Apparitions (29) – Certain spells will cause a shadowy version of yourself to float towards the target for some damage. Two images if you crit. The target must be affected by your Vampiric Touch, and the images are launched along with your Void Bolt or Mind Blast or devouring Plague.
    • Silence (29) prevents all spell-casting from the target for 4 seconds. 45 second CD.
      • Silence, Rank 2, (56) adds 10 yards to the range, for a full 40 yards.
    • Dark Thoughts (41, P), when activated, increases the charges on Mind Blast by 1 and allows Mind Blast to be instant cast and can also be cast while channeling Mind Flay or Mind Sear. For each of your DOTs on the target your Mind Flay and Mind Sear each have a 3% chance to activate the Dark Thought.
    • Hallucinations (43, P) allows use of each of these spells to generate 6 Insanity during combat: Dispel Magic, Mass Dispel, Purify Disease, Vampiric Embrace, and Power Word: Shield 



Shadow Rotations

Generally it’s pretty simple. Keep your shield and fortitude up at all times, DOT up the enemy, generate Insanity with your basic attacks and DOTS, and  then spend it on Devouring Plague.  (Consider saying very strange things at high insanity levels.)

Attaching your abilities to keys will make things easier (google “shadow keybinding” if you need info)

Fade if you get into trouble.

Be careful of using Fear, as running mobs will grab allies.

You can see more detailed rotations on our Shadow Priest DPS page. They’re for high levels, but you will have a pretty good chunk of the routine by mid-level.

  1. Up to level 10 you will be using Shadow Word: Pain and Smite to blast your way through the enemy.
  2. At 10 you will pick “Shadow” from the specialization screen and add Mind Flay to your mix of attacks.
  3. Voidform at level 10 and you are mighty.

Your top priority is to maintain your DoTs on your target. These are Shadow Word: Pain and Vampiric Touch.

  1. Mind Blast should be cast on cooldown
  2. Cast Shadow Word: Death on cooldown, this spell can only be used when the target is at lower than 20% health.
  3. Use Mind Flay when no other spells are available.
  4. Cast Devouring Plague when you have enough Insanity.

When facing multiple targets, apply your DoTs to all targets (assuming they’ll live long enough for the DoT to actually deal some damage) and continue to use Mind Blast and Mind Flay as stated above.

If you’re facing a particularly large group of enemies, meaning somewhere over 5 or 6, channel Mind Sear on either one of the enemies or preferably a friendly target such as a tank who is positioned close enough for the spell to hit all targets.


  1. Shadowfiend should be used on cooldown for extra damage and mana.
  2. Dispersion can be used to avoid damage and/or generate mana depending on your circumstances. You’ll primarily be using this for mana purposes depending on the encounter as some fights may demand the use of Dispersion for survival purposes instead.
  3. Vampiric Embrace should be saved for when it will help the raid/group most as it has a 3 minute cooldown and only a 15 second duration. This buff causes your single target damaging spells to heal allies for 50% of the damage.

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Priest Gear, Gems, Enchants, etc.

Briefly: Gem for Int, enchant for Int & Haste. Int & Crit if Disc.

As you can tell from the above, look for Int first, then Stam. Gems slots are rare while leveling, and all gems that you slot should be Int. Just buy the cheapo gems while leveling, save the really nice ones for the end-game.

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. Really cheap enchants can sometimes be found, so keep an eye on the Auction House if you’re interested.

Priestly Heirlooms

Heirloom Gear is what most are wearing these days, at least those who’ve been around long enough to handle the costs. You can now buy them with gold, for a few hundred gold each, and they’re good through level 29. spend a fair amount more and the items are good to level 50. (Figure 9k gold to give the armor, ring, or trinket a level 120 cap and 13.5k for a weapon. Need more gold?)

Why bother? Because they’re better than any other gear you’re likely to find, at any level, with rare exceptions. And they scale with your level and no other gear does. With a full set you’ll be overgeared for dungeons and questing at your level. You’ll also get +25% XP.

Are heirlooms essential? No. But they will make your leveling faster and easier, sine you will be over geared for most situations. Hop into a dungeon or Battleground and most of the others will be wearing them.

Heirlooms live in a special storage area from which you can summon up a copy at any time. Use the copy till whenever, destroy it, and the ‘loom still exists in that area. (It’s a tab at the bottom of your mounts/pets window.) If you enchant the ‘loom and then destroy it then the enchant is lost. So mail the enchanted ones back and forth.

To get your heirlooms go see:

  • AllianceKrom Stoutarm is in the Library of Ironforge, which is found on the north-eastern edge of the outer ring.
  • HordeEstelle Gendry lurks around the south-western side of the Rogue’s Quarter of Undercity. Note that if you are 110+ and Undercity has been sacked, then she is on top of the front gates of Orgrimmar.
  • Guild Vendors will have several items for sale.
  • PvP heirlooms in your main PvP hall in Orgrimmar or Stormwind.

Enchanting your Gear

In BFA you could only enchant your rings and your weapons. Shadowlands opens up a couple more slots. At lower levels you can enchant most of your gear. All of the enchants will scale down to your level. Start a new alt at level 1, deck it out in heirlooms, and apply the following enchants.

Note that any of the Shadowlands enchants will requires you to be level 50+. Earlier enchants can be applied to level 1 gear. Certain enchants, such as shoulder and legs, will require a level 32 to apply it to the item. Then you ship it to your new character.

Enchants for ShadowPriest Gear. 

Note that Item level is not character level.

And non-heirloom items…

    • Wrist: Intellect, +5 Int, max item level is 50.
    • Gloves: Superior Haste, +7 Haste, 50 item level max.
    • Belt: Engineers can add some “enchants” to their own belts and Blacksmiths can add a gem socket.
    • Boots: Greater Precision, +4 Crit; Greater Haste, +4 Haste; Panda Step, +3 Mastery and slightly faster run; all max out at item level 50.

Shadowlands Enchants require at least level 50. Find a piece of gear that you will keep awhile? Put one of these on it. Note that only a few items can take enchants.

    • Cloaks can take a +30 enchant, or a +20 with +30 in either Leech, Avoidance, or Speed. For example: Fortified Leech.
    • Chest: Eternal Stats gives +30 Int.
    • Rings: You can get +16 to your Haste, Crit, Mastery, or Versatility. For example: Tenet of Haste.
    • Wrists (Bracers:) Eternal Intellect for +16 Int.
    • Weapon(s:) Celestial Guidance has a chance to add 5% to your Int when attacking or using spells or abilities.

Now get leveled.

How Hard do You Want Your Game?

    • Easy mode: Get the best gear you can, all the way. Heirlooms with enchants are great.
    • Moderate: Nothing better than quest/dungeon gear. Use only what you can find or buy. No heirlooms.
    • Hard: Nothing better than quest rewards. No blue or purple items or nice PVP/Dungeon gear.
    • Real Hard – How about naked?? Once upon a time a Naked Troll leveled to 60 with no gear, other than his weapon. Naturally he was a Hunter. So if you want “really hard mode” …
    • Insane: Do Hard or Harder with War Mode on.


Scrolls and Potions and Foods

Scrolls are available either from the Auction House or from a Scribe (Inscription Profession.) Scrolls can buff your Int or Stam 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.

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.

And, of course, there’s your very own Power Word: Fortitude to increase your stam, as well as that of your entire group.

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Priest Leveling Tips:

Worgen Priestess is now level 90, in Season 13 Elite PvP gearThe 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…)

  1. Set up a bank alt and mail all of your sellable stuff to that character. Have stacks of gathered goods? Mail ’em off.
  2. Buy the biggest bags you can afford, even from level 1.
  3. Buy plenty of any supplies you might need, any spell reagents, food, drink, etc.
  4. Learn cooking to gain access to the buffing foods, or just buy them off the AH.
  5. Questing is much more efficient than grinding for gaining XP, group similar quests together so you can do more than one at the same time. You can often easily knock off several quests before handing them in.
  6. Always log out at an inn, to get the rest XP when you log back in.
  7. Leveling with a buddy will make things go faster. Less XP per kill, but faster kills and less downtime will more than make up for it.
  8. 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 your 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.
  9. Having a higher level buddy take your through the dungeons works very well, too. You’ll gain XP quickly enough to make up for any boredom. Your bud gathers up and destroys everything and you get the loot and XP.
  10. Recruit-a-friend. Got a buddy who wants to play? Recruit ’em, play together, and get 3x XP.
  11. Consider switching specs as appropriate. Quest as Shadow, Queue for dungeons as a healer. Healers will get into dungeons much faster than Damage classes and are highly in demand for PvP. Skip it if you don’t want to heal groups.
  12. 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.
  13. Use your hearthstone often.
  14. 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.
  15. Skip crafting, unless you enjoy it, since it takes a lot of time and gold.
  16. Herbalism and Mining provide very nice XP.
  17. Heck, depending on how you’re feeling at the moment, skip and the gathering and skip looting! (Heresy, I know.) Just blast everything, leave the bodies, hand in the quests, get more, continue.
  18. Also see our Ten Best Leveling Tips.
  19. Then grab a copy of Zygor’s Guide and never wonder where to go, or what to do, again.

If you want the best gear while leveling and don’t want to spend time gold-grinding, then you should be doing the instances.

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Tradeskills for Priests

There are no stat boosts to be had from the professions anymore (there used to be some.) Get professions for the gold or your own gear or because you like making things.

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.

Check out our Tailoring & Enchanting profession guides for more information on leveling those skills.

    • Consider Cooking for the buffing foods.
    • 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 for whatever reason then go for it, I certainly won’t stop you.

    • Alchemy – You will be able to create all kinds of useful potions and flasks. 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.) Or buy it off the Auction House.
    • Blacksmithing – Weapons, plate armor, keys for locks. Your garrison follower can give you two nice buffs:
    • 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. In Draenor you can change the look of various enchants.
    • Engineering – Good for making all sorts of cool gadgets and that motorcycle. Can also make rockets, shields, nitro boosts, a stealth device, and a bunch of cool stuff.
    • Inscription – Glyphs and useful off-hand items and such. A pretty nice caster staff and so on.
    • Jewelcrafting – You can make some money with this skill, if you’re careful and pay attention. Make nice neck items and rings. A gemmed mount.
    • Leatherworking – Less useful than Blacksmithing. You can make stuff for your Rogue and Hunter friends. You garrison minion will let you make tents that add 10% to all of your stats.
    • Tailoring – A pretty useful skill when leveling and actually goes well with Enchanting (You can disenchant all the extra greens you create.) In Draenor you can make some nice armor and boost it.

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Maximum Speed Leveling

BFA took the level cap to 120, Shadowlands is 60! You can even boost to 50 now and then level the last ten. Whatever the level cap or your plan, boost or no boost, Zygor has your back.

Hit Max Level Fast, with Zygor
Click here and get leveled, fast.

Naturally, the fastest way to blast your Priest to the level cap (aside from boosting) would be with a system that did all the work for you, but boting (or buying power leveling) will get you banned, and Zygor will not.

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. Every time 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. It’s much better than the ingame system and gives more help.

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 Shadowlands. Snag your copy of Zygor’s Leveling Guide and get leveled to the cap, fast.


Related Priestly Pages

5 thoughts on “The Priest Leveling Guide”

  1. ?From Darkness Comes Light – Vampiric Touch ticks give a chance for a free, instant, Mind Blast with increased damage and that doesn’t consume your DoTs.

    should be mind spike not blast.

  2. There is an error in the guide. It makes no sense that Penance glyph be used for Shadow, as it’s a Discipline-only spell. Please address this.

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