Jov sez: How2Priest (part 1, the noob years)

March 31, 2009

This isn’t going to be the most thorough guide out there, but in the past week, we’ve gotten many requests here at Snarkcraft HQ requesting a bit of basic priest-fu, ranging from leveling to raiding (seriously, multiple emails… you all sharing a brain or something?) so I’m gonna take the next few weeks to provide an overview.

This week: the noob years.  Rolling and leveling.

Okay, so after stumbling upon our blog and becoming faithful readers, you say to yourself “Self… Priesting is awesome-pants.  I totally want in on that.  What should I do now?”  Fear not, for Jov has answers and will steer you right.

First, you need to consider faction and playstyle.  I’m horde, but I’m a reroll and played Alliance from 05 to 08, and make no secret of my total infatuation with the draenei.  I don’t really have faction pride.  Play what makes you happy, where your friends want to play, or where you can send yourself bags and heirloom shoulders.  Related, determine how are you going to level.  Are you going to solo quest?  Whore yourself in LFG?  Do you have a buddy you don’t leave home without?  Take a moment to plan exactly what you want from the class, because that will affect how best to go from here.

If you choose to solo quest…

First, I’m gonna come out and say it.  Shadow is totally viable for healing most instances, and is also much faster when it comes to questing out in the world.  The advantage holy* (defined from here forward as “healy”) priests usually have is in mana regen and/or stronger heals.  That isn’t an issue, however, until Outlands at the very earliest, so feel free to go straight to shadowform before jumping over to Discipline and picking up Meditation and going back for more shadowy goodness.  Or badness, depending on perspective.  (Think about something 13/0/31-ish in the mid-50s.  Note: getting to Meditation happens however in the second tier…  you don’t get the spellpower boost from Inner Fire (and want the boost to improved) until 71.)  That will be more than enough to see you through until you’re closer to thinking about a “final spec.”

However, much as you can heal as shadow, you can definitely level as holy or discipline, bearing in mind it’s just going to be a bit slower to do so.  For those of you going the mainly solo-route, I’m still going to advise sticking your first 5 talent points in shadow to snag spirit tap (and improved spirit tap), then jumping into Discipline to get Meditation as quickly as possible.  The name of the game here is reducing downtime, since kill time will be a bit longer.  But that’s alright, with Meditation and Spirit Tap working together, you’ll be a regen machine and rarely need water.

Once you hit lv 18, with it’s regen hijinks, you can pick your path:  Discipline, or Holy.  You won’t see much difference between the two while questing, nor will you really be running into the differences between the healing styles until closer to Outlands when you can pick up Circle of Healing or really become a bubble-priest.  Discipline will want to pick talents which boost their spellpower and shields, and Holy will want to snag reduced cast time, more spellpower, and chance for free spells.  Remember to respec at 71 for Improved Inner Fire if you’re not using it already!

Example Disc Soloing Build (live)
Example Disc Soloing Build (3.1 PTR)
Example Holy Soloing Build (live)
Example Holy Soloing Build (3.1)

If you choose to LFG…

… by which I mean “don’t quest, just instance level,” most of what I said above applies.  Spirit Tap and some of the damage talents will decrease in utility, as you’ll mainly be using them when the party is going well or to duel outside Orgrimmar while waiting on a summon.  There’s actually little to no reason to avoid going straight for one of the specs I outlined a few weeks ago, just remember to start in Discipline for Meditation, either way.  You’ll be a healing machine, just maybe a bit slow if you try to kill anything yourself.

If you choose to Healbot your friends…

It’s kinda a combination of the two.  Depending on who you’re running around with, you might not find Spirit Tap all that useful *grumble lousy hunters grumble* but you’ll probably find yourself smiting pretty frequently.  It really depends on your group or what you’re doing.  If you’re wanting to have fun smiting around, spec more for damage.  If you’re just wanting to tag along and heal when needed, spec for healing.  (Hey, I don’t judge.  I first started playing Priest because it enabled me to auto-follow Tarsus’ first character, not get lost, not understand WASD controls, loot and heal occasionally.  Even to this day, several years and many characters later, I STILL prefer to follow Tarsus as I have serious issues deciphering some quest descriptions.)

Next week: Jov discusses what makes healy priests unique: spells, glyphs, and talents.


  1. Nice suggestions for new priests!

    Take the opportunity to experiment while you level, it’s the best time to learn what style of priesting you prefer and to learn the skills which you need at 80. Do take the time to heal a few instances on your way up, I found it one of the most fun things about WOW. Sunken Temple is still my fav instance, bring on heroic please!

    Also, it is definitely viable to solo level as a healer, so don’t worry about that when deciding your levelling spec.

  2. For leveling my baby priest I chose to go Disc/Holy rather than shadow because I do not like Shadow. I also thought this would be a good way to experiment around with Disc talents as I have never played a Disc priest. So far I’m having no problems leveling at all. Yesterday I put my second point into Searing light and now I feel amazingly powerful! 😀

    Anyhow I’d link my spec only last time it made your site hate me so I’ll keep my link to myself! I am working toward 51/17/3. Basically I grabbed Spirit Tap for regen first. Decided to skip Imp. as I really don’t use Mind Blast much and do not have Shadow Word: Death. After that I moved on to Holy and went straight for Searing Light. As soon as I level again I’ll be moving on to the disc side. I am trying to grab talents that help with damage or protecting my squishy butt! For heals…I’ve healed as shadow so not too concerned about picking up talents to buff heals.

    Anyhow all that said I’ll probably respec several times to try out different things. That is part of the fun to me though! 🙂

  3. Yea, I’d second Ayslin, you really don’t want improved spirit tap for levelling – the buff is mediocre and overwritten by spirit tap when the mob dies. Otherwise, very nice guide. I keep meaning to try out disc levelling so will give some of those builds a look, thank you 🙂

  4. I solo leveled to 40 or so under the holy tree, and was constantly amazed to kill ‘elite’ mobs 2 levels higher than my toon.

    Of course, then I found Shadow, and discovered that the only thing better than a merciful priest was an evil priest.

  5. For the record, I tend to think I just have a pretty good sense of direction – but Blizzard’s sense of what constitutes a good quest description means sometimes we still need Wowhead.

    Also, Leveling as a priest (or any healer) with a tank can be pretty awesome for both parties. Jov and I used to jest that combined we were like a paladin, we could kill anything (even elites seven levels higher than us when that sort of thing was almost unheard of) that we ended up with. Of course, this has only become more awesome since pretty much all tanks now to great AoE damage.

  6. Yeah! I have been wanting and waiting for this guide! I just fell over laughing about the spirit tap hunter stealing action.

    My only comment is, if you choose to healbot your friends you should definitely invest in spirit stats. As a crossover from the mage variety I immediately thought intellect and couldn’t figure out why I went from full to zero mana in 5 sec. flat (okay mostly because I overheal like mad *Not a mage stupid! DPS is not like healing*) At any rate, spirit GOOD!

  7. Hee! Have some pity, the last time I leveled a priest, spirit tap had 5 points base (excluding getting Jov from 70 to 80, in which case I was MB’ing and keeping SWD on cooldown anyway). But points taken 😀

  8. @Jov: Your original point is still valid though, Shadow will be the fastest and easiest way to level your character. And I’d also argue that a shadow priest who spends most of his time in dungeons or with a group of friends and may not be landing the killing blow all the time will benefit more from improved ST. Not to mention having only two points in Blackout is kind of a waste of points since it’ll almost never proc.

  9. I was not trying to say you were wrong. I was just sharing how I have chosen to level and my reasons for it. I love your article 🙂

  10. […] Part 1 included links to suggested specs for soloing […]

  11. […] doing it as holy is better.  Check out my How2Priest series for more detailed information.  Part 1, Part 2, Part […]

  12. Hey,,,I have full Valo T7.5 on mu Rogue always been Dps…its the first time i level a healing class(Priest ofc) which is 26 now and i LOVE it…I just wanna know how good is a healing priest in Naxx and Ulduar considering u have shammans and druids in the same raid…i know my question is kinda noobish but i know nothing abt healers or casters..so i wanna know how important is to have a priest(healer) in raids?? thx hope i get a reply soon 🙂 and this site is quiet inspiring to play a Priest…tc

  13. @ Terresa — Priests, holy specific, are very important parts of the raid team.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: