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Since the talent review in the 1.10 patch, most (except for Improved Fade) of the talents available to priests will find a use somewhere. You can use this page to give you ideas about Priest builds and the kinds of options that are available to you as a priest. Mix and match the talents that appeal to you and your style of play.
You should read the Priest Talents page for more information about specific talents.
Leveling a Priest to 70 Edit
"What is the Best Leveling Spec?" Edit
While leveling a priest to 70, it is recommended to specialize in the Shadow tree, as it has both efficient and effective damage spells and great survivability (through passive healing and damage reduction). A shadow build allows you to level more fluidly and is less prone to mistakes. Furthermore, the shadow priest's healing capabilities are perfectly sufficient for any non end-game instance.
However, once you get to around level 35 and talents such as Surge of Light and Spiritual Guidance become available, it is highly possible to level to 70 with the holy tree. The key to leveling as Holy are three stats - spirit, spell crit, and spell damage. The benefits of leveling as Holy are that there is no holy resistance school, and additionally you retain your full healing potential by not having to shift out of shadowform to gain access to your most powerful heals. It is recommended however, that you take spirit tap when leveling as holy in order to reduce downtime.
Note that with the changes in patch 2.4, the Discipline tree has also now become a viable leveling tree. Again, the player should most definitely have the Spirit Tap talent as their first talent. However, after obtaining 5/5 in Spirit Tap at level 14, it is very much possible to level from that point on by utilizing the discipline tree. See below for such a leveling build.
In any build, Spirit Tap greatly enhances leveling speed.
"Should I use Blackout or Spirit Tap?" Edit
For leveling purposes and solo PvE in general, Spirit Tap is often regarded the better choice, as it considerably reduces downtime, especially against mobs of lower level. This talent is very useful in battlegrounds too, helping you to resist during long fights. If your emphasis is on PvP, Blackout normally is superior to Spirit Tap. Some players find the situational benefit of Blackout to be of greater value than the regeneration provided by Spirit Tap even for PvE or solo leveling. What will benefit you more will depend on your own play style. Note that Spirit Tap is activated only when you make the actual killing blow and therefore only really shines when you solo, while Blackout (albeit much more random) is valuable no matter if you solo or are in groups.
Note that tanks will not thank you for putting points into Blackout. Bear form druids and warriors are not able to generate rage by suffering damage if their target is stunned (and thus, not causing them any). Paladins generate a decent portion of their threat by being struck, an action that stunned targets do not tend to do. Stunned targets are also difficult to position. In short, you should never ever take Blackout in a raiding build, without a really good reason (encounter-specific requirements, for example).
Spending Priest talent points to 70 Edit
As with any build for any class, the only "best" build is the one that you enjoy playing the most. However, many players who level a priest by doing solo quests will find something similar to the following to be very effective.
This guide will focus primarily on talents that will help you level a Priest through PvE combat, but an alternative talent build that favors PvP combat will also be suggested. There are a large number of possible effective talent builds, however, so mix and match to your own preference.
Levels 10 to 19 Edit
Spend all the talent points you get on early Shadow talents. Reducing downtime between combat is the primary consideration, as most of your quests will be in the "Kill x of y" format and the less time you spend drinking the faster you will level. You will be able to heal any group you are in without taking holy talents.
- Spirit Tap: A crucial talent for solo levelling, if you plan effectively maxing Spirit Tap as soon as possible will take care of most your mana regeneration needs while questing.
- Improved Shadow Word: Pain: The harder battles you fight will last longer than one application of Shadow Word: Pain, and if you fight multiple mobs at once your first action should be to SW:P all of them. Greatly increases the damage per mana (efficiency) of the spell.
- Shadow Focus: Allows you to reduce the chance your spells miss (are resisted). Three points will be all you need for most situations, unless you often fight mobs that are a few higher levels than you are.
Your talents at level 19:
- with Shadow Focus (more PvE) (patch 3.1)
- with Blackout (more PvP) (Uses Darkness instead of Blackout)
Levels 20 to 29 Edit
Stick with improving your damage-dealing Shadow abilities. You can still be the healer for any group you will be in. (See below for an alternative route from 21 to 39 that uses some Discipline and Holy Talents.)
- Mind Flay: An incredibly useful talent. Gives you a spell that does decent damage, has the best mana efficiency of any Priest attack, and its 50% movement speed snare effect will help both in keeping you from being hit and from keeping runners from aggroing other mobs. Take this right away at level 20, it will change the way you play your Priest.
- Improved Mind Blast: Reduces the cooldown of the highest DPS attack you have. If you put four points into the talent, you can cast two mind flays during the mind blast cooldown.
- Shadow Reach: Allows you to attack targets from a greater distance, meaning more distance they have to cover before they start to bash on your Power Word: Shield.
- Shadow Weaving: The first of several Shadow tree talents that improve the overall dps done by shadow spells. For now only take three points in this talent so you can get vampiric embrace sooner.
Your talents at level 29:
Levels 30 to 39 Edit
Continue to improve your damage output, and also start to heal yourself (and your group) as you dps. Group healing is still no problem for you, but be sure to run some instances so you can start practicing how to heal at later levels if you plan to go Holy down the road.
- Vampiric Embrace: This talent returns a portion of the damage you cause to you (and your group) as healing. Allows you to greatly reduce dependency on Power Word: Shield, in favor of taking and healing damage as you go.
- Focused Mind: Improves the mana efficiency of your bread-and-butter damage spells.
- Alternative Silence: Crucial PvP talent that again has some utility in PvE.
- Darkness (priest): You can use this Tier 1 talent to increases overall Shadow damage by 10%.
- Improved Devouring Plague: Spend your last point at lvl 39 here to increases damage done with Devouring Plague.
- Alternative Improved Vampiric Embrace: choose this one to increase healing from Vampiric Embrace when you have problems with healing yourself.
Your talents at level 39:
- Full Focused Mind (more PvE and from here you can got to the 49 PvE build) (patch 3.1.0)
- Silence, Improved Vampiric Embrace (more PvP)
Levels 40 to 49 Edit
Similar to the 30 to 39 section, you are still improving your shadow damage output and remain a viable party healer. PvE'ers will be picking up PvP road talents described above.
- Shadowform: The definitive Shadow Priest talent. Increases shadow damage done by 15%, reduces physical damage taken by 15%, and makes you look so much cooler.
- Improved Devouring Plague: continue to improve this talent or when you invested in Improved Vampiric Embrace you can skip IDP and go for Shadow Power. You can spent 3 points in Misery then.
- Shadow Power: Improves crit rate for both Mind Blast and Shadow Word: Death. More useful in PvP, however combined with VE and once you get Vampiric Touch this can have huge mana returns from MB and SWD.
- Misery: Boosts all spell damage taken by the target by up to 5%. This includes from other casters in your group. Lethal in PvP and loved in raids. (2 or 3 points, depends whether you have chosen IDP or IVE)
Your talents at level 49:
Levels 50 to 59 Edit
Beginning to branch out into the Discipline tree.
- Vampiric Touch: The crown of the Shadow tree. Similar to Vampiric Embrace, but for mana instead of health. Unlike Vampiric Embrace, it is a DoT instead of a simple debuff.
- Wand Specialization: Increases DPS done by wands.
- Improved Power Word: Shield: Makes it nearly impossible for mobs to chew through your shield.
Your talents at 59:
Levels 60 to 69 Edit
At this point, there are a huge number of possibilities. Many priests will respec at 60 to put points into Holy in order to improve their ability to heal Outland instances while still keeping points in Shadow to effectively level, among many other possible paths.
Maximizes damage output in PvE.
This build is very popular among Priests looking to heal on raids. It aims to improve the power of your healing while stretching your mana pool out for a long as possible using Inner Focus, Improved Healing, Mental Strength and Meditation so you can keep healing through the long fights in MC and BWL. Very hard to solo level with this build.
http://www.wowhead.com/?talent=bxT0zhxzbZfbxcfzqVhc <=== A better version of the build that has less threat per heal, better plus heal from improved divine spirit and empowered healing. It loses Mental Strength because 10% extra mana isn't worth the talent points and Improved Shield is a waste on a talent that is only used in emergencies. Points can be removed from Empowered Healing to take Lightwell, which is handy for warlocks without Dark Pact.
A heavy emphasis on the Shadow Tree gives you the maximum raw DPS. This build generates a lot of threat, and so is most suited for PvP. For tough instances try the Shadow Raider build below.
- Swap some points for Spirit Tap, this gives less DPS but longer killing in for example BGs before having to pause and drink again.
- Healing Focus. This is only 2 points and a huge 70% of a chance not to get casting interruption while healing, so vital to most Priests. The problem is that you can't heal while in Shadowform, so this talent isn't for those who don't like to shift out of face-melting mode occasionally. Furthermore, in many situations Martyrdom will allow casting without interruptions, anyway.
This build focuses on maximizing Holy damage. The DPS and DPM is not as good as the Shadow build, but healing is better. The basic build:
- Force of Will and Searing Light beef up the DPS of your main damage spells: Smite and Holy Fire.
- Martyrdom and Healing Focus improve your survivability against Rogues and Warriors.
Alternate Route: Levels 21 to 39 Edit
This build minimizes downtime between fights, but lengthens the fights themselves. Start with the level 19 PvE build from above and take Mind Flay. Then add Wand Specialization and after that Improved Renew. At level 28 your build should look like this:
After level 28, spend your points in the shadow tree like the shadow builds in this article. When you hit level 40, respec to get Shadowform.
How to use this build:
- At max range start with Power Word: Shield
- Pull with Holy Fire or Mind Blast, which ever does more dmg for your level.
- Start your Shadow Word: Pain DoT
- Do some more damage with Mind Flay, 1-2 applications should be good.
- (If you expect to take lots of damage, use Renew)
- Finally, use your wand until the mob is dead
- After five seconds of using your wand the spirit regen will start filling your mana.
- Spirit Tap will kick in when the mob is dead, which should return you to full mana by the time you reach the next mob
This way you can grind mobs and almost never stop for a mana break.
Here is a talent tree http://www.wowhead.com/?talent=bVMhZZEMztMxRGtEo
PvE "Discipline" Leveling to 70 Alternative Edit
With the changes incorporated into patch 2.4, it is now possible to effectively grind using a Discipline build. The way that this build works is similar to that in which both the pure Shadow and the alternate Shadow builds above.
Levels 10 to 20 Edit
From level 10 to level 20, your build is identical to that of a pure shadow build. Thus, during these levels you should have a build that looks like this: http://www.wowhead.com/?talent=bZZG0f
Levels 21 to 44 Edit
From level 21 to level 44, you will take Darkness (priest) and proceed to discipline talents. Do this by first talenting 5/5 in Twin Disciplines, followed by 2/2 in Improved Power Word: Fortitude. Next, pick up Improved Inner Fire and if you are purely grinding and not planning on doing instance runs, you can pick up 3/3 Improved Power Word: Shield. However, since these levels have good gear and quests for instances, going 3/3 in Silent Resolve will typically be preferred. Next, pick up Inner Focus and 3/3 Meditation. Finally this is followed by 5/5 in Mental Agility. The build looks like this at level 44: http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#bVcbuhhZZGxf (patch 3.1)
From level 44 to level 60, you'll be heading down the holy tree to pick up talents that will support your smiting ability. Begin with 5/5 Holy Specialization followed by 5/5 Divine Fury and then Holy Nova at level 54. The next four talents are pretty much personal choice as any of them will be useful but all are situationally dependent. For instances, 3/3 in Improved Renew and 1/3 in Inspiration is recommended. However, since we are building a grinding build, we are avoiding anything that will specifically only be useful for healing. Therefore, we will be picking up 4/5 in Spell Warding to mitigate spell damage that you will be receiving from caster mobs. We will follow this with 2/2 in Searing Light for a build that looks like this: http://www.wowhead.com/?talent=bVT0zhxzbZ0vt00bZxMhz
The build from level 61 to 70 continues down the holy path with 2/2 Holy Reach then the final point in Spell Warding for 5/5 in that talent. This opens up Tier 5 talents and from that range you will go a full 5/5 in Spiritual Guidance and end your build with 2/2 in Surge of Light.
The final build looks like this: http://www.wowhead.com/?talent=bVT0zhxzbZ0Et0bbVbZxMhz
What this build does is basically works to obtain synergy between 3/3 Meditation and 5/5 Spirit Tap to make the grind to 70 very fast with almost no down time for drinking. Since the build doesn't rely on Shadowform, you can cast any spell needed (healing or otherwise) as the situation presents itself. Damage output in the early level 40 range gets a boost with an even larger output as the build continues from there. This is also a great supporting build for instances and can easily operate well in either a PvE or PvP environment.
At level 70, you can respec to http://www.wowhead.com/?talent=bVT0zhxzbZ0EtcbbVih or use one of the builds below for heroics and raiding.
"Holy" Leveling to 70 Alternative Edit
Holy spec priests have somewhat different opportunities and challenges from Discipline or Shadow priests during the leveling process. While a discipline or shadow spec priest can both heal effectively at low levels, a holy spec build is ideally positioned for leveling as a healer. Healers are usually in high demand for 5-man instances (along with tanks) and it is often easy for a holy spec priest to find groups where they can hone their healing skills and level their character at the same time. While shadow spec priests find that effective healing becomes significantly more difficult as leveling progresses into the 30s. Holy spec priests will continually build their healing abilities and become more effective as leveling progresses.
The biggest challenge for holy spec priests is solo grinding. While Smite is the spell with the highest base DPS of any priest damage spell, it is not the most efficient in terms of damage per mana DPM (see Spell Damage Comparison). Furthermore, pure holy spec priests don't get the survivability benefits of talents from the other trees like Shadowform or Improved Inner Fire.
See Leveling a Holy Priest for some ideas about leveling progression for your holy spec priest.