Starting a priest
Priests are the game's most versatile healers, as evidenced by their two healing specializations--something unique to this class. Discipline priests are excellent in 5-man instances and are almost unkillable when playing solo, as well as valued PvP healers. Holy priests have access to a whole slew of area-of-effect and group-wide heals, making them in-demand for complex and difficult raid environments. And Shadow priests are now one of the most potent damage-dealing specs, literally melting the faces off their enemies while driving them insane.
Of course, it's not always easy: healing classes can be tricky to level (especially on PvP servers), and because priests don't get any multi-target attacks until quite high levels, starting off can be tricky. But don't worry, Wowpedia is here to help.
Don't fuss too much about racial traits: thanks to rebalancing, every race has something a priest will find useful. The most important thing is to find a race that feels right. If you think that gnomes are cute, play a gnome. If you think that forsaken are awesome, play a forsaken. Whatever floats your zeppelin. If you're having trouble deciding, see Choosing a race or explore individual race pages by clicking on the links below.
Every race except Orcs can play as a priest:
As a priest, your early spells include:
- , a potent (and cheap!) damage-dealer. Most low-level enemies will die after just 2-3 smites.
- , which does a lot of damage, but needs to sit on your enemy for at least 8-10 seconds to really hurt them.
- , a protection against almost all incoming damage.
- , your first healing spell.
- , a permanent buff which will improve your armor and your effectiveness as a caster.
Remember that, as a priest, you wear very little armor. If your enemies can get close to you and start clawing away at your face, you won't last very long. The good news is that these five spells give you a useful toolkit to kill all sorts of things. Provided you stand far enough away, you should be able to kill most enemies with just a or two. If the enemy is stronger, you'll want to wear a and throw a at them in order to make it really hurt. And in the unlikely event that an enemy bursts your shield, will keep you alive in all but the most hopeless situations.
Don't worry about mana: it regenerates extremely quickly at this level. Just experiment. Pay special attention to learning how to kill your opponents while minimizing the chance that they'll get close enough to hurt you: this skill will be extremely valuable later on.
Specs and instances
Once you get to level 10, you will be invited to choose a specialization. Priests can choose from three different paths:
- Discipline Priests, who usually specialize in shielding and small-group healing.
- Holy Priests, who usually specialize in group-wide and area-of-effect healing.
- Shadow Priests, who deal an intense amount of damage, but are not effective healers.
The healing specializations don't really begin to diverge until level 60, so don't worry about selecting the "best" one: pick one, and if you don't like the way it feels, try the other.
At level 15, you will gain access to the Dungeon finder, which allows you to join groups of 5 adventurers trying to clear complex and challenging dungeons in exchange for tons of gold and some extremely useful loot. Healers are almost always in-demand, and running dungeons is usually safer than levelling in the overworld, so try to run at least a few.
Whichever spec you play, once you get , remember to apply it whenever you enter a dungeon: your allies will appreciate the extra health, and that tiny little burst of stamina could well keep your tank alive!
Early instances as a healer
When you run a dungeon as a healer, you are responsible for keeping everyone else alive. In general, you'll want to use on the tank (a player signified by a shield icon) in order to protect them from incoming damage. Only use your active heals (, ) to top off someone who has already taken damage, or to keep someone alive after a shield breaks. To cast a spell on another player, just click on them (or on their picture to the left of your screen) and cast the spell as if you're casting it on yourself.
More advanced Holy priests will eventually depend less on shields and more on sustained --but for now, stick to shields. To help yourself conserve mana, you should also try to only cast healing spells: leave the attacking to the other 4 people in your party. Once you acquire , you can assist your allies even more by dispelling harmful effects that might otherwise endanger them.
If you enjoy running instances as a healer, you may find a healing add-on to be useful. The most popular add-ons include Healbot (which makes it much simpler to cast healing spells on your party members), Decursive (which will make your use of more efficient) and Deadly Boss Mods (which will warn you when a boss or environmental danger is about to do a lot of damage, so you can get ready to heal hard and fast). For more information on these add-ons, look them up in the curse.com directory.
Early instances as a Shadow priest
As a Shadow priest, your job is to do as much damage as possible. But because dungeons are complex environments with hundreds of enemies, it's extremely important that you follow your tank.
The tank is a player (normally a Paladin, Warrior, Monk or Druid) who wears lots and lots of armour--which means they can take a lot more damage than any priest. They also have special abilities which force enemies to attack them, rather than their weaker allies. (Like you!) Your tank will keep you safe, but only if you help them out.
In order to ensure that enemies are only attacking the tank, the tank will usually "pull" enemies themselves: they decide who the group will attack next, and will attract the target's attention by running straight at them. Do not attack the target until the tank has already picked them up, and try very hard not to accidentally "pull" extra enemies: focus your attacks on the tank's targets, not on anyone else nearby.
- Use as often as possible to build up reserves of .
- Once you get 3 Orbs, use to cause a ton of damage to your opponent.
- While waiting for to cool down, fill your time with .
- Try to keep on your target at all times, but don't stress if it falls off.
As you acquire more abilities, try to slot them into this basic rotation. Remember that being a good shadow priest is all about damage over time, not necessarily instant-fire: you do best when the fight lasts a good 4-5 minutes, because that gives your lots of time to run uninterrupted, and provides multiple opportunities to pop , which--when combined--can bring your enemies to their knees.
- Main article: Priest quests
These quests are available only to priests, and offer unique rewards.
As a priest, you wear cloth armour, making Tailoring a useful choice. Because most professions are only really useful if you have another profession supplying them with materials (Mining and Blacksmithing, Herbalism and Inscription, etc.), many priests combine Tailoring with Enchanting--an especially good mix, because you can disenchant your tailored clothes for additional materials.
However, with professions--as with racial traits--the most important part is that you feel good about having them. If your character feels like an engineer, take engineering. If your character feels like an alchemist, take alchemy. Don't worry about optimal outcomes: you can always change your professions later.
What gear do I pick?
To maximize your effectiveness, you will want to collect certain equipment bonuses. Every item has its own combination of stats, and you'll gain new gear quickly as you level up. However, certain stats are particularly useful for priests:
- Intellect: makes all your spells (healing and damage-dealing) more powerful, and makes your critical hits especially potent. This is the most important stat for priests of all kinds.
- Spell Power: makes all your spells more powerful. Good for all priests.
- Holy and Discipline priests make extensive use of Spirit, which can significantly improve your mana regeneration. Spirit is most important at the highest levels of play (level ~85 and up), but becomes invaluable once you reach that stage.
- Shadow priests have and , which reduce their need for mana regeneration. Instead of Spirit, you'll be wanting Haste (which makes all your spells quicker, and reduces the Global Cooldown) and Critical Strike (which increases the likelihood that your spells will hit for additional damage).
- If you plan on playing PvP, a little extra Stamina might also be handy.
- Most other stats (strength, agility, etc.) are not of use to priests.