Leveling your priest – talent points

In other posts I’ve been relatively even-handed. This one… not so much. This is my recommendation for your first 20 talent points – the ones you earn from levels 10-29 – REGARDLESS of whether you intend to be holy or shadow.

Actually, that’s not completely true. The reality is that most priests will do most of their first 30 levels solo. And while you CAN level holy solo and you CAN level Disc solo, if you’re not wedded to holy/disc all the way you’ll take the dark side on the way up because, well, because it’s easier – it’s got the best impact on your success.

I’ll also tell you the points at which to consider respeccing. If you are just doing shadow to level but REALLY want to be a healpriest, I’ll point out the typical “quit doing this” points.

Your first five talents – levels 10-14 – will go to Spirit Tap. Yes, Blackout is nice. And the extra damage from wand specialization is very useful. But you should learn early that the longer you go without being out of mana, the faster you grind. In 15 seconds you’ll practically kill the next mob – certainly set it up for finishing with your wand – and the rapid return of spirit means you’ll be the energizer bunny.

The second five points… I’m controversial. Most will tell you to grab a couple in Improved Shadow Word: pain, or perhaps NOW you should grab the Wand Specialization. I disagree. Your next three points are in shadow focus.

With these three talent points in place, you have a 1% chance of missing anything up to two levels higher than you. You will have increased your DPS 4 to 6% (even to 2 levels higher). Remember you want to do more damage for longer periods of time while grinding.

But we’re not going to grab the last two points here – not now. They aren’t of much effect unless we’re dealing with things three levels or more above us – and all it does is reduce the miss percent some instead of going to 1%. Now – at levels 18 and 19 – you grab the Improved Shadow Word: Pain. See, most battles you fight up to this point will be done by the 18 second mark. But you’re soon to reach some tough things and, well, the extra two ticks (6 seconds) of constant damage will happen often enough to run with this spell.

Level 20 is your first decision point – and maybe respec. You’ve been playing a bit and you MAY have found a group for which you’re going to be dedicated healer. You’re just leaving the so-called newbie zones – the areas where there is quite a bit of protection from the other side if you’re on a PVP server. It’s time to take stock. If you’re going to be a dedicated healer who is almost always with a group, you can think about respeccing – the first of the two I mentioned. Most people will stay shadow to 40, but this is where the first large number jump to being Big Healz happens. I’m… not following the jump. Just pointing out the divergence point. Instead, we’re continuing with the certain assumption that most of you will spend a lot of time soloing. sigh.

So your 11th point – level 20 – goes into Mind Flay. Take time now to learn spell rotations and priorities, because MF is the spell that lets you do all damage all the time. And your next four points are… well, they’re useful in several places but critical nowhere. So you get a choice.

Put two of them into improved mind blast as it’ll help your rotation. The remaining two…

If you’re doing pvp, take a real hard look at putting two in Improved Psychic Scream – an otherwise worthless talent, but mandatory to get Silence — and Silence is Golden in PVP. Alternatively, you can get a little more edge on those bosses and put one or two more into finishing shadow focus — you’re going to eventually anyway, and you need fo fill. My personal ‘ideal’ in Improved mind blast is 3/5, so there’s yet another point choice. And if you’re grouping with others AS a shadowpriest, Shadow Affinity will eventually need points. The point is that you have to spend two more points to reach the next level and almost every choice is… useful. Just not critical. Polishing your already useful skills, really.

At level 25, however, it’s time to bring it back on track. 3/5 shadow weaving. And 2/5 in shadow reach. Why not 5/5? At 60% it’s going to tick over half the time. And each tick stacks. You’re going to kill things with only a handful of casts or with lots of casts. If the former, you’ll be dead before you get a full stack. If the latter, you’ll have plenty of time to get the full stack. You’re now level 29 staring at 30.

Your talent at level 30 is Vampiric Embrace. First, it’s the springboard to your capstone. Second, 15% of damage returned as heals – to you and your party – is undeniable goodness because you live longer — giving you more time to kill the tough ones.

But 31 is back to choices. Well, sorta. If you put those two points into improved psychic scream, now is when you get silence. yes, now, after VE. Trust me, that’s the order that’ll do you more good. But you’ve still got to get to 35… 3 points focused mind. And if you didn’t have silence, one point in polish – you know, the same polish as you had at the level 20 pause. Focus or Affinity or perfecting improved mind blast for your spell rotation. Or even – and yes this works too – improved vampiric embrace.

Level 35 – talent point 26 – darkness. And do it again for the next four levels so you are 5/5. Which brings us to our capstone….

Level 40, talent point 31, Shadowform.

This is your major milestone. This is where EVERYONE KNOWS you are a shadowpriest. And… it’s fun. That hissss as you form, and the fact that you AND YOUR MOUNT (even if it’s the griffin you’re riding) become this black translucent shadow are a joy in themselves. And for the next three or four levels you are quite probably one of the most dangerous players on the field. Yes, you can be beat, but if you play well it’s a hard fight for just about anybody. Mobs in instances? pffft. But… It’s also the second major breakpoint for players who want to play holy/disc. And it’s because of all the reasons already stated – there’s something DEFINITIVE about shadowform.

Which means a lot of priests planning to respec do so here. And do well. And because there are so many choices, and because I’m trying not to cover EVERYTHING in one chunk, I’m not going to cover them.

I will point out that the next major shifts appear to be 55, 60, 63 and 68. No, I do not know why, and worse I’m basing this on chatter among forums as opposed to any solid data. But those seem to be the places where players decide to try the light side.

The good news about that is that it means you’re not ‘different’ for feeling the urge. And you’re not ‘different’ if you decide you do – or do not – like the other way better. The bad news is, well, it means you are going to spend money on respec. eh – it’s just money….

Last point. This is NOT the only way. It is one of the most efficient paths for a player who expects to solo most of the time. But there are a lot of good players who will choose, well, blackout. Or Wand Spec before going to shadow. Or who’ll run up holy or disc trees for a while. Because there are some very nice choices there, and there are a lot of players, and…

in the end, it’s about YOUR fun. So take this with the appropriately sized salt shaker for your taste, and go play.


~ by Kirk on September 22, 2007.

12 Responses to “Leveling your priest – talent points”

  1. Something I would add. I found I could heal sufficiently in dungeons, as shadow spec, all the way up until 55 or 60. It wasn’t until I got to Outlands and started running Ramparts that I had to call it and no longer join groups as the healer. So unless you have a group of friends who really wants a better healer, OR you want to run dungeons several levels above you, I see little reason in speccing holy.

    Of course then after playing shadow for 60 levels you may be like me and enjoy it so much you don’t want to switch to holy. Luckily shadow priests became viable late game.

  2. Kirk… I have no words… “Great minds and all that” *sighs as she deletes the virtually identical article now taking up space on her hard drive*

  3. RaydenUni – yep, that happens to a lot of priest. Yes, you can do a BETTER job of healing in holy/disc, but the fact that what you’ve got is “good enough” plus the need for viable solo…

    Galadria – your turn, huh? I’d say sorry, if you and Ego and Matticus and Phaelia (and on and on) hadn’t done the same to me more than once. (Grin). Seriously… you’ll think of something, and I look forward to it whatever it might be.

  4. […] Spells, Talents) Since Kirk stole my idea… just kidding, he wrote an article about talents for the leveling priest, up to level 40. I had a similar article half written, waiting for some polish when I read his this […]

  5. Awesome post, Kirk. Thank you very much.

    I intend to apply your gentle guidings immediately tonight… and then go back to leveling fishing on my main until the pain is too much.

  6. if it’s all about doing more damage faster, then why wouldnt you choose wand specialization to put your points into? an extra 25% is a huge help , more so than the other early choices i believe

  7. Frrr ffds – I mention wand spec, but let me be clear.

    At a certain point, your magic starts doing more damage than your wands.

    If you take wand spec, your increases to shadow damage are delayed by up to five more levels. This means Wands are competitive to your spells up to around level 27 or so. If you did NOT take wand spec, the balance point is usually around level 19.

    In other words, it’s a short term boost with a long term sacrifice. Around level 25 or so you’d need to respec to get the best benefit.

  8. This was a great post to find right when I took out my dusty old level 30 priest, saw his talents, and cringed. Great post!

  9. First of all, I’d like to thank you for the awsome blog and input. I’m the epitomy of NOOB although I’ve been playing for two years now. I’m so NOOB I solo levelled without grouping from 1 to 60 as a total prot warrior. I have a brand new priest that I absolutely love to play and this post was exactly what I was looking for. What I hope to find in the game to add to this is a seasoned mentor that has the patience to learn a slow but stupid squid like myself. 🙂 Great job!! BTW… Thanks for your service Kirk!!

  10. Great post. I’m leveling my first priest, and it was very helpful to get your view on where to put the talent points. I’m still deciding if to go shadow, or go discipline/holly.

  11. nice guide! i’m playing a priest. had 2 Rogues.

  12. I enjoyed your post. As you said there are many options that are available towards leveling a Shadowpriest. I myself decided to take the blackout rather than shadow focus/imp. SW:Pain. I was seriously debating whether or not to take the imp SW:Pain as the DoT itself does insane amount of damage as is. The problem now though is Blackout is not a good talent to put points into unless you go all five into it. Of course, the chances of Blackout Proccing will be increased much more once you obtain Mind flay.

    I look forward to getting shadowform. Thank you for your WoW post!

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