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Spiritual Guidance: Level 1 to 5 on your new Priest


So you're rolling your first character... or perhaps rolling the latest in a series of alts. And for some crazy reason you've picked a Priest. Maybe you just like being blamed for every instance wipe in every group you'll be in. Maybe you enjoy being yelled at for not healing in a battleground when you're at the top of the DPS chart. Maybe you enjoy leveling at an insanely slow pace (at least until you get in the level 40 range). (Okay, it's really not all that bad -- at least not all the time. After all, I've leveled two priests to level 60 and beyond and I'm a perfectly rational, sane individual. Right?) I couldn't say why you rolled a priest -- I'm only here to help you along the way. So read on as we discuss the journey from level 1 to level 15.

If this sounds like fun to you but you haven't yet rolled your priest, check out the last episode of Spiritual Guidance, where we talk more realistically about whether Priest is the class for you and cover picking the right race for your newbie-to-be.

When your baby Priest first lands in Azeroth, you'll have a mace or dagger equipped, a bit of food and water in your inventory, and two abilities at your disposal: Lesser Heal (Rank 1) and Smite (Rank 1). (If you have the cash on hand, you can also train Power Word: Fortitude (Rank 1) immediately, but we're going with the presumption that these are new characters and you won't have it to start.) While none of these are your best abilities, you'll have to learn to live with them for a few levels, at least.


Once you've sat through the opening cinematic, the first thing you should do (no matter what race you're playing!) is pick up any quests that are available. Usually there's only one quest available to you at level one, but if there are any others, it will show up as a yellow exclamation point in your mini-map. Often these are "kill X of Y" quests -- so head out and get to it!


For now, start at max range from your target and cast smite. You'll probably get two off before your target reaches you, at which point you can either (hopefully!) finish it off with a third smite or melee to save mana and avoid annoying spell interruptions (if you're not used to playing a casting class, be aware that every melee hit you take will slow down your spell casts). Pretty much everything you encounter in your first couple of levels should only take three smites, barring resists, to bring down. So get used to this strategy: smite, smite, melee. Smite, smite, melee. Wash, rinse, repeat, dead!


Whenever you're out and about, pay careful attention to your mana bar. It not only indicates how many harmful spells you're able to cast before you run out, but also how many healing spells you're able to cast. Priests are rather fragile casters and you'll find yourself relying on your healing spells to help you through a fight. So think of your mana bar as a kind of extension of your health bar and be careful of getting too low. For this reason (and to speed up grinding!), it's best to avoid going completely to the bottom of your mana bar on every pull -- which is why you should melee those last few hits. And if you get low on health, don't forget the array of healing spells at your disposal -- cast a heal and continue about your business. (But don't wait until you're too low on health -- or spell interruptions from combat may leave you developing a close personal relationship with the nearest graveyard.) To make it easier to heal yourself in combat, I strongly recommend turning on the auto self cast feature under Blizzard's interface options. This will allow any heals you try to cast automatically land on you instead of your current target -- so you can heal while keeping your enemy targeted.


Once you've finished up all of the quests you picked up to start, head back to town to turn them in. This should bring you to level 2, if you hadn't gotten there already. After turning in your quests, find a vendor to sell any loot you've collected (but be sure to equip any you can use, first, because every little bit helps!). Once you've collected your hard-won coppers, pick up any new quests in the area. One of them should tell you to visit the Priest trainer -- so go and get acquainted! When you've located your trainer, you should go ahead and train Power Word: Fortitude, the only new ability available at this level. Head back into the wilderness and locate your next quest objective, be it killing spiders, undead, or kobolds. Buff yourself with Fortitude and keep going with the same basic strategy:
  1. Start at max range,
  2. cast Smite (repeat as needed),
  3. cast Lesser Heal if your health gets low (but don't rely on this every fight -- remember to eat and drink between fights as needed!)
  4. melee to finish the mob off.
Keep going with your questing, smiting, and killing until you've managed to hit level 4. Head over to your skill trainer to pick up Shadow Word: Pain (rank 1) and Lesser Heal (rank 2). At this point your typical combat spell rotation is going to change a bit:
  1. Start at max range,
  2. cast Smite until the mob enters melee range,
  3. cast Shadow Word: Pain (because it's instant cast, it won't be interrupted by the melee hits you're likely to be taking in combat)
  4. cast additional Smites as needed,
  5. at around 20% health (this will vary as you level -- but in this level range we can start meleeing at a fairly high health percentage without getting owned by our lack of melee prowess) melee to finish the mob off. (Well, with a little help from SW:P!) You may cast three smites, in total, to do this and you may cast five -- it all depends on what you're fighting and whether you get spell resists. Use your best judgment!

Keep this up until you hit level five. You won't have any new class skills to train at level 5, but level 5 opens up some interesting choices for your character. Sell off any loot that you can't use, collect all the coin you can, and head for the nearest capitol city, because it's time to pick our professions and grab our very first wand. (Check your map if you aren't sure where the nearest capitol city is -- it will be very clearly marked).

When you've discovered the nearest capitol, it's time to hit the auction house. (Talk to any guard for directions.) We're here to buy a wand that will become your best friend in the levels to come: the Lesser Magic Wand. You can first equip it at level five, making it the first wand available to you. If you can't find one on the AH (or can't afford it), you can hit up any Enchanter friends you might have to make one for you or ask around on the trade channel looking for an Enchanter to make one for you. If you still can't find or afford it, don't fret -- sure, a wand will make your life easier (much easier), but you can keep going without it. Keep saving for your first wand and head back to buy one as soon as you can afford it. (If you hit level 7 or 8, though, there are other wand options, and by then you may have gotten lucky with a drop.)


Why's a wand so great? It does more damage than whatever melee weapon you have, works from range, and, best of all, costs you no mana. It saves you spellcasts, which saves you mana, which results in less downtime, which means you level faster. The first step to this delightful mana-free damage is equipping your new wand. Open your character window (the default hotkey is "C") and drag your wand to the ranged slot, shown above, the right-hand slot at the very bottom of the screen.


Now, open up your spellbook (the default hotkey is "P"). Under the general tab, you'll find a skill labeled "Shoot" with an icon that looks like your equipped wand. Drag this icon down to your hotbar and you're ready to go! In the future, all you have to do is target whatever you want to kill and hit your shoot hotkey to make your Priest start attacking with his or her wand. (For great victory!)

Now, though that may sound like a lot of progress, there's still one more thing to do before we leave town: professions! You have two profession slots to fill with the choice of: alchemy, blacksmithing, enchanting, engineering, herbalism, jewelcrafting, leatherworking, mining, tailoring, and skinning.

There are several directions you could go here. You could pick up two gathering professions to gather materials that you can sell on the auction house (and worry about crafting professions later if you want to), or you could pick up a crafting profession and a gathering profession to craft goods while you level up to help you along the way. I'd say your best options are:
  • Mining and skinning: Two gathering professions to make you some cash. Ore and bars from mining are always a profitable option because many professions need ore (blacksmithing, engineering, and jewelcrafting). Skinning pairs nicely with mining because, while mining has a detect minerals option to make nearby mineral nodes on your minimap, skinning doesn't require any tracking -- so you can effectively run through any zone mining and skinning. (Herbalism, on the other hand, has a detect herbs ability, which means you'd have to pick between seeing herbs and seeing mining nodes on your minimap.) Note: for mining, you'll need a mining pick and for skinning you'll need a skinning knife. Vendors for these should be found in the vicinity of the trainers.
  • Alchemy and herbalism: Alchemy allows you to make useful potions that can restore health or mana and buff your stats or abilities. The extra boost from your potions and elixirs will help you along the way to level 70 and at end-game, your potions, elixirs, flasks, and transmutes will always be needed.
  • Tailoring: Tailoring allows you to make cloth armor that you can use. It will provide acceptable (though not great) gear as you level up and tailored epic gear you can craft at level 70 is easily comparable to (or better than!) tier 4 or 5 gear. But to equip this excellent gear, you must be a tailor. (Alternately, you could go with moneymaking professions to start, pick up tailoring later, and power-level it up.) Though this doesn't naturally pair with any other profession, you could pick it up with a gathering skill (for making some cash) or with enchanting (which also doesn't naturally pair with another profession).
  • Jewelcrafting and mining: Jewelcrafting will let you make rings, necklaces, trinkets, and, later in the game, it will let you cut gems to buff your gear with. Jewelcrafted items are great -- at low levels, they'll be better than anything you're going to find elsewhere -- but you can also find most of them on the auction house for reasonable prices. However, Jewelcrafting gives you access to the lowest level trinkets in the game and these will require you to have jewelcrafting to use. You'll be able to use your crafts, sell the excess, and the ability to cut gems is in demand at higher levels (though to cut the best gems, you'll have to spend a lot of time hunting down rare patterns). Note: for mining you'll need a mining pick. A vendor selling picks should be near the mining trainer.
  • Enchanting: This allows you to enchant gear with extra stats and make some low level wands. At high levels, absolutely everyone is going to want your enchants, but it's a slow and expensive skill to train up, plus the most demanded enchants are learned from rare patterns you'll have to spend some serious time acquiring. To get materials to enchant items, you need to disenchant magical items in order to get magical dusts, essences, and shards. Since magical items don't grow on trees, this means it will take you a while to gather materials -- and that you'll have to disenchant gear you find instead of selling it. What does this add up to? While leveling enchanting, you're likely to be dirt poor. However, you could pick up enchanting and use it as a gathering skill: instead of enchanting your gear, you could use it to disenchant magical items you find, and sell the dusts, essences, and shards you get. These always sell well -- and for good money.
In addition to these "primary" professions, there are also a few secondary professions you can pick up: cooking, fishing, and first aid. Cooking provides food that restores health and gives you buff, fishing provides fish that you can cook or use for your alchemical creations, and first aid lets you create bandages to restore your health. I recommend picking up all of these when you have the chance: the buffs from cooking are great (and only get better as you level), fishing (though boring to train) will help you level cooking quickly (and some of them sell well), and first aid gives you some convenient mana-free healing that's great for bringing your health up to full between fights.

What you pick is ultimately up to you -- and doesn't really change the way you level. So make your decisions (or go back to town and spend some more time grinding and questing for cash to train them) and we'll see you back here next Sunday for a discussion of your next levels!

Looking for tips and tricks for leveling up your mains or alts? Check out our page of WoW Insider Class Leveling Guides!

Filed under: (Priest) Spiritual Guidance, Priest, How-tos, Leveling, Guides

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