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Spiritual Guidance: So you wanna play a priest, part 4, levels 41-70

Two class specs, both alike in dignity,
in fair Azeroth, where we lay our scene,
from ancient expansion to ICC,
here circles, bubbles, mischief all convene.
Spiritual Guidance updates each Sunday with all the essentials on healing as a priest
.

You would think that a priest could dispel bleeds. We can restore people from death and protect them from incoming attacks, yet we can't plug up one gushing wound? Seems a bit strange, doesn't it? Are we not masters of healing?

Anyway, today's column actually has nothing to do with dispelling or bleed effects (other than the author writing today's column while under the effects of a non-dispellable bleed debuff). It has to do with leveling a priest from levels 40 to 70. Hit the jump and we'll get to it.

Glyphs

Last week when I was covering levels 1 through 40, a few commenters pointed out that I neglected to discuss which glyphs were best for leveling. Now seems like as good a time as any to redeem myself.

Major
Minor
Recommendations

Damage For your first major glyph, Glyph of Shadow Word: Pain is going to be your best bet. This glyph has been improved significantly from its original form and is now an ideal choice for leveling priests. The only concern is that to get the full benefit of the mana return component, you'll want all the ticks from your Shadow Word: Pain to go off, so apply your attacks wisely.

At level 20, after you've got access to Holy Fire and Holy Nova, you can switch to Glyph of Smite or Glyph of Holy Nova, but it's based largely on what your leveling style is. If you cast a lot of Smite and Holy Fire and apply DoTs sparingly, then don't go with the Glyph of Shadow Word: Pain.

Glyph of Power Word: Shield is also a fair choice for soloing, since it'll allow you to spend less time healing yourself.

Healing Early on, Glyph of Power Word: Shield is the only glyph you can really pick up to put toward healing a party. If you decide at level 20 that you'd prefer to go more holy, you can switch to Glyph of Flash Heal or Glyph of Holy Nova. Glyph of Flash Heal will save you some mana, but I'm biased to healing 5-mans with Holy Nova, so go with whatever suits you.

At higher levels, you can add in Glyph of Circle of Healing or Glyph of Penance, but they're nothing to worry about until you have those spells available to you.

Dual talent specialization

At level 40 you'll have had the option to pick up a second talent specialization if you can afford to. There isn't much that needs to be said about this, but I figured I'd point out that now is an ideal time to separate two talent builds for yourself: one for using the random dungeon finder, and another for solo questing.

While I know this is a leveling guide for holy and discipline priests who want to heal or smite their way up to level cap (a guide I am happy to provide), I feel somewhat obligated to remind my readers that when it comes to solo content, shadow really is a superior spec. Now, I know what some of you will say: Smite spec is what you used to level, and it worked great. Well, that's fine, but I'm not saying questing as holy or disc can't be done; I'm saying it's just not as good as questing as shadow. That's not so apparent at lower levels, but now, around level 40, it really starts to show.

By all means, though, keep a healing spec for dungeons. But really consider switching to shadow for your soloing and questing. You just can't expect a spec with the majority of talents dedicated to healing to be competitive with a spec with the majority of the talents dedicated to damage.

Priest abilities

After level 40, there aren't too many new abilities that pop up, but let's have a look:
  • Prayer of Fortitude (level 48) This spell, and all the other group versions of your party buffs, will save a bunch of time when getting set up at the start of a random dungeon. Just don't forget to buy reagents before you click into the random dungeon. Also, be prepared to buy a different kind of reagent each time you learn a new rank of this spell.
  • Prayer of Shadow Protection (level 56) Same as the last.
  • Prayer of Spirit (level 60) Again, remember your candles.
  • Shadow Word: Death (level 62) How you use this ability in your rotation is entirely up to you. Obviously you can use it as a finishing move, and it's wonderful for that. If you don't use it in that manner, the kick-back damage is something to consider, though rarely is it a problem. If you have a shield up on yourself, you have nothing to worry about at all.
  • Binding Heal (level 64) Ideal for party healing when you need to heal yourself and someone else urgently. This spell costs twice as much as a Flash Heal, because it is essentially two Flash Heals at once. The spell can be quite taxing on our mana resources that way. If you're holy, Binding Heal no longer counts 2 stacks toward Serendipity like it once did, so keep that in mind.
  • Shadowfiend (level 66) The day you hit level 66 and train this spell is the day your leveling life changes. The sky will seem a little bluer, the food will be more filling and your flying mount will seem a little faster (if you chain Noggenfoggers, that is). Basically, after you get Shadowfiend, your mana problems should be over. The combination of your gear (which has slowly been improving your mana pool and regen) and now a mana-return pet is about all you'll need to cut your drinking down to a rare occurrence. Make sure you pick out a name for your new companion as well, as it is bad luck to not name your shadowfiend. Mine is named Alfonz.
  • Prayer of Mending (level 68) This spell is not so useful in questing and soloing, since it will bounce off you once then never come back. For a priest healing parties in the random dungeon finder, though, this little spell should quickly take priority as the spell you always keep on cooldown. At level 80, it will actually do the most healing of any of your spells if you use it all the time. Finally, it's super mana-efficient, and since it works for you pre-emptively, it's like having a second line in your first defense.
Rotation
New spells like Binding Heal and Shadow Word: Death are situational, and won't dramatically alter your rotation. Again, here is my suggested rotation, similar to what I discussed in last week's column.

Damage:
Holy Fire > Devouring Plague > Mind Blast > Shadow Word Pain > Smite

As I said above, Shadow Word: Death, is really dependent on your play style. It is a cheap spell (just slightly more expensive than Holy Fire) so as far as trying to stay mana efficient, you can use it wherever you like. I find it's best to just find something that works for you and stick with it so the amount of time it's on cooldown stays consistent.

Healing:
Prayer of Mending > Greater Heal > Renew (if holy) > Power Word: Shield (if disc) > Flash Heal

After level 40, you won't need Heal or Lesser Heal, so you can drop them entirely from your priority. Greater Heal will become your bread and butter spell for mana efficiency until Wrath. Renew and Power Word: Shield will become your filler after that. Flash Heal remains a situational "use for emergencies" spell, but now at higher levels Renew and Power Word: Shield will take precedence.

Talents

The following are level 70 talent trees for leveling. As I said last time, feel free to deviate from them if there is something you want or don't want.
  • Discipline: Random Dungeon Healer A build with all of disc's signature abilities, some threat reduction and a little sparser holy side.
  • Discipline: Solo Questing with Penance Penance can be used to heal and to attack, so depending on how you want to use the spell in your adventures will determine whether you want to snag a build that uses it it or not.
  • Discipline: Solo Questing without Penance Here is your Penance-free soloing build.
  • Holy: Random Dungeon Healer Threat reduction from the discipline tree will probably be necessary for when you choose to use Circle of Healing. Circle of Healing doesn't often have a place in lower-level content (the damage just never calls for it), but if you feel like being lazy, it's there.
  • Holy: Solo Questing This strange little build dips into discipline to reduce the mana cost of your DoTs while also keeping utility to use Body and Soul and heal yourself with Empowered Renew.

Gear upgrades

From level 40 on, there are an exhausting amount of potential upgrades available to a priest. There are so many in fact, listing them all would take up pages. So instead, I have some general advice that I feel you all should keep in mind as you level.

You'll be passing through level 60 on your way to 70. There is plenty of gear to acquire at 60 because obviously it was once the level cap, and there is gear from all the old content patches. You don't need to go acquire this gear. In fact, as soon as you get to about level 58, you should just head on to the Outland and start picking out quest gear instead of finishing off your last two levels in Azeroth. The item level jump from one expansion to the next is just too massive, so there is no point in exerting all the effort to get the hard-to-acquire pieces from 60 when it's going to be replaced soon after. The same will hold true for you when you start approaching 70. Your only priority should be able to heal the next level instance or kill your next quest mob.

That said, vanilla dungeons have a lot of upgrades in them, especially Blackrock Depths, Dire Maul and so on. The big problem is actually finding a group that can do a full clear of the dungeons. These old dungeons are mazes with tricky trash packs that can sometimes be more difficult than the bosses themselves. You may not always get lucky finding groups. This is the reason you don't want to get attached to seeing a certain piece of gear in a dungeon. Just grab what works and work on to the next level.

Want to find more great tips for carrying out your priestly duties? Spiritual Guidance has you covered with all there is to know. Check out Holy 101 or Disc 101 for an introduction to healing as a priest; for the party-minded healer, check out a priest's guide to tanks.

Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

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