Leveling any character in WoW Classic can be difficult, especially since everything is prone to killing you. Even more so as a squishy priest. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Our step-by-step guide will help make the leveling process to 80 as smooth as possible for a priest in WotLK Classic!
Best Talent Specialization & Build for Leveling a Priest
For this leveling guide, we will be focusing on the shadow talent specialization. The shadow tree offers the most efficient leveling as the only damage-focused talent tree. The holy and discipline trees offer some damage through Smite, Holy Fire, and Holy Nova, but are more focused on healing.
Unlike in retail World of Warcraft, you will need to visit your class trainer in order to learn new spells as you level up. Trainers are located in every major faction city as well as each of the starting zones. You should train at least every few levels, because new ranks and new spells can make a huge difference to your damage and efficiency.
Best Stats & Gear for Leveling a Priest
As a shadow priest, here are the stats you should look for on gear, in order of importance:
- Spell Power is your most important stat, increasing the damage done by your spells.
- Spirit is useful for keeping your mana up, and also boosts your Spell Power thanks to your Twisted Faith talent.
- Haste speeds up your spell casts, increasing the amount of damage you can do over any given window of time.
- Critical Strike increases your damage by causing more of your spells to critically hit.
- Intellect increases your mana pool and also boosts your critical strike. You should get lots of it naturally on gear without having to focus on it.
- Stamina does nothing to boost your damage, but is important for making yourself hardy enough to take a few hits. Like Intellect, it should be easy to get this without having to look for it.
- Hit is much more important at level 80. You won’t see much of it as you level and you don’t really need to worry about it.
As a priest, you can only use cloth armor. Your weapon options are daggers, one-handed maces, staves, and wands. Wands have their own weapon slot and you will always want to have one in addition to your primary weapon.
If you are using a weapon other than a staff, you’ll want to use an off-hand with it. For your wand, look for a high DPS number. Your primary weapon is not used for damage, only for stats.
Best Heirlooms for Shadow Priests
Heirloom gear is extremely useful. If you have a level 80 character with enough currency to purchase them, they can significantly speed up your leveling time. They scale with your level so that you don’t have to keep replacing your gear as you go. Chest and shoulder pieces also provide a buff to your experience gained.
These are the heirloom pieces you should look for if you are leveling a priest:
- Shoulder: Tattered Dreadmist Mantle
- Chest: Tattered Dreadmist Robe
- Trinket: Discerning Eye of the Beast
- Trinket: Swift Hand of Justice
- Weapon: Dignified Headmaster’s Charge
WotLK Leveling Guide for Shadow Priest
Now let’s get started! We’ll walk you through level by level.
Rotation: At first, Smite will be your only damaging spell. At level 4 you’ll get Shadow Word: Pain, and you should start using it to pull enemies. At level 6 you will acquire Power Word: Shield, which you should keep up on yourself to reduce spell pushback and damage taken.
Wands: You can get your first wand as early as level 5. Lesser Magic Wand can be crafted with Enchanting or purchased from the auction house. At your first opportunity, grab yourself a wand and start using Shoot instead of Smite. Wands can do pretty decent damage for the first 40 levels or so and will help save your mana.
Water: Priests use a lot of mana! Get used to carrying around a few stacks of water to reduce downtime. Put the water on your bars and bind it to a key so you can get back in the fight as fast as possible.
Talents: At level 10 you’ll be able to choose your first talent. Here are the recommended talents for this level range:
- Level 10-12: Spirit Tap (3/3)
- Level 13-14: Darkness (2/5)
- Level 15-17: Shadow Focus (3/3)
- Level 18-19: Darkness (4/5)
Glyphs: At level 15 you will be able to use your first glyphs. For your minor glyph, Glyph of Fortitude is the best option. There are no good major glyphs at this level, but you will want to use Glyph of Mind Flay when you hit level 20.
Rotation: At level 16 you can start weaving Mind Blast into your rotation. Use it after Shadow Word: Pain and keep using it on cooldown.
Mount: You can buy your first mount at level 20! The basic ground mount has a speed of 60% and costs five gold. Head to the starting zone or capital city for your race to purchase a mount as soon as you can – it really makes everything a lot faster and easier.
Talents: Things start getting interesting now that you can reach Mind Flay in the shadow tree. Here are the recommended talents for this level range:
- Level 20: Mind Flay (1/1)
- Level 21: Darkness (5/5)
- Level 22-23: Improved Shadow Word: Pain (2/2)
- Level 24: Improved Mind Blast (1/5)
- Level 25-27: Shadow Weaving (3/3)
- Level 28-29: Shadow Reach (2/2)
Glyphs: You can now use the Glyph of Mind Flay that we recommended earlier.
Rotation: You can finally spam Mind Flay like a real shadow priest! You also get a second DoT in the form of Devouring Plague. It now becomes feasible to pull more than one mob at a time and let your DoTs do their thing. Let’s get a real rotation going:
- Power Word: Shield to protect yourself from spell pushback
- Shadow Word: Pain on the first target
- Devouring Plague on the first target
- Shadow Word: Pain on the second target
- Mind Flay the second target to slow it as it approaches you
- Mind Blast the second target
- Mind Flay to finish off the second target, or Shoot if your shield falls off
- Mind Flay or Shoot the first target if it hasn’t died yet
Talents: You’ll work your way up through some talents that improve your damaging spells and grab Vampiric Embrace.
- Level 30-33: Improved Mind Blast (5/5)
- Level 34: Vampiric Embrace (1/1)
- Level 35-36: Mind Melt (2/2)
- Level 37-39: Improved Devouring Plague (3/3)
Glyphs: At level 30 you can use a second major glyph. Unfortunately there aren’t any good options at this level aside from Glyph of Mind Flay, but you can pick up a Glyph of Shadow to use once you hit level 40.
Rotation: You can continue to use the same rotation you were using from 20-29.
Mount: At level 40, you can upgrade your mount. An epic ground mount has a speed of 100% and costs 60 gold. You will most likely need to return to the same vendor you purchased your level 20 mount from.
Talents: You finally get the big talent, the one that makes all your other damaging spells stronger: Shadowform! Not to mention it looks awesome.
- Level 40: Shadowform (1/1)
- Level 41-42: Improved Spirit Tap (2/2)
- Level 43-44: Shadow Power (2/5)
- Level 45-47: Misery (3/3)
- Level 48-49: Improved Shadowform (2/2)
Glyphs: You won’t unlock any new glyph slots in this level range.
Rotation: You can continue to use the same rotation you’ve been using from the Level 20-29 section. Just make sure you’re in Shadowform at all times!
Talents: You get your final DoT spell at level 50, Vampiric Touch. Twisted Faith gives you one more boost to your damage before you start focusing on utility talents.
- Level 50: Vampiric Touch (1/1)
- Level 51-53: Pain and Suffering (3/3)
- Level 54: Psychic Horror (1/1)
- Level 55-57: Twisted Faith (3/5)
Glyphs: At level 50 you can use a second minor glyph. Glyph of Levitate is a great choice.
Rotation: For one or two enemies, you can stick to the rotation you’ve been using and simply add a Vampiric Touch at the beginning. However, it now becomes viable to start pulling three, four, or even five enemies at a time! Here’s how to do that:
- Power Word: Shield to protect yourself
- Vampiric Touch and Shadow Word: Pain on the first target
- Vampiric Touch and Shadow Word: Pain on the next target
- Keep pulling this way until you are out of mana or don’t feel confident pulling any more
- Mind Flay or Shoot to finish the targets off
Zones: You should head to Outland as soon as you reach level 58, as the quest rewards are much better.
Mount: At level 60, you can purchase your first flying mount. A basic flying mount has a flying speed of 150% and a ground speed of 60%, and costs 300 gold total. The Flying trainers are located in Hellfire Peninsula and Shadowmoon Valley.
Talents: You’ll be able to grab Dispersion at level 60, giving you an amazing defensive cooldown that you can use when things get ugly. Beyond that, you’ll start dipping into the Discipline tree for some improved utility.
- Level 58-59: Twisted Faith (5/5)
- Level 60: Dispersion (1/1)
- Level 61-65: Twin Disciplines (5/5)
- Level 66-67: Improved Inner Fire (2/3)
Glyphs: You won’t get any new glyph slots until level 70.
Rotation: At level 62, you can start using Shadow Word: Death to finish off tougher enemies. At level 66, you will gain access to Shadowfiend, a solid damage and mana regeneration cooldown that you should use as often as you can. Otherwise you can continue what you’ve been doing.
Zones: You should head to Northrend as soon as you reach level 68, since the quest rewards there are much better and you can start earning the reputations you will need at 80.
Mount: At level 70, you can upgrade your flying mount. An epic flying mount has a flying speed of 280% and a ground speed of 100%, and costs 5100 gold. However, you will not be able to use a flying mount in Northrend until you train Cold Weather Flying.
This can be done at level 77 for 1000 gold, or if you already have a level 80 character, you can purchase a Tome of Cold Weather Flight to use on an alternate character as early as level 68. Northrend flying trainers are located in Dalaran, Storm Peaks, and Sholazar Basin.
Talents: You’ll grab some more utility talents and finish off with 4/5 points in Shadow Power.
- Level 68: Improved Inner Fire (3/3)
- Level 69-70: Improved Power Word: Fortitude (2/2)
- Level 71-73: Meditation (3/3)
- Level 74-76: Focused Mind (3/3)
- Level 77-78: Improved Vampiric Embrace (2/2)
- Level 79-80: Shadow Power (4/5)
Glyphs: At level 70 you can use a third minor glyph. Glyph of Shadowfiend is the most useful option. You won’t get the third major glyph slot until level 80.
Rotation: At level 75, you will get Mind Sear. Finally, a AOE damage spell that works in Shadowform! Use it for groups of more than 3 enemies after you have put your DoTs up, or for large packs of really weak enemies. Otherwise, stick with the rotation you’ve been using.
Congratulations on level 80!
Join the High Ground!
Thanks for reading! Hopefully this guide has helped make the leveling process for your priest a lot easier in WotLK Classic! If you have any questions, leave a comment below, and be sure to subscribe to High Ground for more useful guides!