How to start over again
With the coming of Cataclysm and the upheavals in the old world, many people have now started to roll new priests for themselves. Some always wanted a priest for an alternative character, others had it gather dust until an excuse came along to level it. And finally, the lure of the Worgen and Goblin races brough some to roll priests of those races (and sometimes even a second priest).
For those people, I’d like to start the new year with a post dedicated to leveling a priest, whether to watch the scenery or to plow through levels as quickly as humanly possible.
The importance of guilds
The new guild system, with its levels and perks, has a large impact on the leveling experience. Not only does the perk Fast Track give a 5% or 10% bonus to experience gained, the perk Mr. Popularity does a similar thing for reputations. And finally Hasty Hearth, the perk gained at guild level 7 reduces the cooldown on your hearthstone to 15 minutes, down from 30.
This means that in a large and active guild (at the time of writing, Stormwind Academy is on the verge of reaching level 9) you can easily have yourself a 10% boost to experience and a much faster return to base camp.
Guild reputation involves all the achievements you gain and quests you complete. As a new character, you will start racking up guild reputation from the moment you log in, up to a maximum per week. I am not sure what the real cap is, but so far it seems to be about 5-6K per week.
There are several rewards unlocked that require the guild to have gained a certain achievement, and you to have a certain reputation with your guild. For leveling purposes, there are a few that can be quickly gained by most guilds, and help you while advancing your new priest:
Shroud of Cooperation - A cloak with the guild logo and colors, which allows you to teleport to Stormwind/Orgrimmar with an 8 hour cooldown. This requires the guild to have the Class Act achievement (one member of every class) and you to be Honored with the guild. Not only will this help you in returning to Azeroth from Outland or Northrend now that the portals are gone, it will also allow you to get to Eastern Kingdoms if you started a character in Kalimdor (Night Elf, Draenei, Goblin) or vice versa (everyone else).
There are several cloaks with lower cooldowns, but these require more involved achievements, higher guild levels or more than Honored reputation.
Guild Page – A noncombat pet which has an 8 hour cooldown. He comes bearing a standard with your guild banner, but more importantly will buy your grey vendor trash, unwanted quest rewards and similar stuff, keeping your bags clean. He will remain for 5 minutes, but sadly can’t repair your gear. As an aside, he also offers to sell you any other guild rewards you have access to.
As always, if you want to level fast, you want some heirlooms. While they are currently rather pricy when bought for Justice Points (and you might have uses for them on your main) they still sell for the same cost at the Argent Tournament. Two or three runs doing all the Tournament dailies on your main will allow you to buy one heirloom, as well as some minor pocket change.
The most important heirlooms for leveling fast are the Chest and Shoulder items, since these boost your XP with 10% each. After that, a good set of trinkets and weapons will make you practically unkillable to anything in the old world.
There is an heirloom ring, Dread Pirate Ring, which boosts XP gained by 5%. However, to get this ring you will need to win the Kal’uak Fishing Derby in Northrend, always a gamble. Fortunately, most people will be more involved with the new content, meaning your chances improve.
Finally, new heirloom cloaks will become available from the Guild Vendor once your guild reaches level 10 (possible this week if you made the cap every day since Cataclysm launch) and you are Honored with the Guild. These cloaks offer Crit and Haste, as well as a nice portion of Stamina and Intellect. More importantly, they will level with you until 85, meaning their value stays for much longer.
For speedy leveling, nothing beats being a Miner/Herbalist. While not the most glorious professions to have (certainly once you hit max level) they will offer you a lot of experience on the way. And best of all, this experience scales with your profession level, meaning that it will be beneficial all the way.
The Herbalist benefit of Lifeblood (small heal and a Haste bonus) fits well with a Shadowpriest, and allows you to burst down tough quest mobs or hold your own against Elites in Azeroth and Outland. Mining offers increased Stamina which, while not all that required until Northrend finishes, will serve you well in Cataclysm. Quest mobs from level 83 on start hitting really hard, and if you pull too many mobs, this Stamina might just save your day.
Questing or instancing?
When playing a Shadowpriest, you will find that queuing for a dungeon can be hard. Even with all these people starting new characters, you are going to wait a long time for a dungeon unless you queue as Healer. For this, I’d suggest getting a healing spec on the side once you can, because the lower-level dungeons have been slightly retuned with better loot and (slightly) increased challenge.
Questing, on the other hand, has become much simpler. You can say goodbye to your old questing addons, since every capital city has billboards with “Call to Arms” quests sending you to level-appropriate zones. And within these zones, quests are arranged in hubs with frequent flight paths in between. Every quest (as usual) is also displayed prominently on your map, so you will have no trouble finding anything.
On the whole, questing and gathering while waiting for your queue to pop as DPS seems to be the most efficient route. Quests for a dungeon are all located at the entrance, so no need to go around and gather those up anymore either. Questing and leveling have never been as easy as today.
The slow road
In fact, a more frequent complaint these days is that leveling is too fast, and that you outlevel the quests in an area before you even finish it. Sadly, there’s not much to be done here. Without heirloom boosts and mining/herbalism you will slow down a bit, but you can’t shut off the guild perk for the 10% boost unless you leave the guild, negating your hard-won reputation with it.
But people who love the questing and sight-seeing experience won’t be deterred by being too high level for them, and the new world has been enriched with very fun new quests, a plotline that evolved since classic (no more searching for Mankrik’s wife) and incorporating many of the madcap antics found in Northrend quest (cutscenes, bumping goats off cliffs, races, and much more) making questing fun rather than a chore or a race.
When leveling up, you will get to pick being a Shadowpriest from level 10 (yay!) granting you the awesome Mind Flay ability. If you’ve visited Twisted Faith before, you probably know the drill, so what I present below will be control-based specs (survival and control > DPS) while leveling rather than the raid specs.
Level 21: http://wowtal.com/#k=f-zr.a8t.priest.
Level 31: http://wowtal.com/#k=f-u0g.a8t.priest.
Level 41: http://wowtal.com/#k=f-uBkG.a8t.priest.
Level 51: http://wowtal.com/#k=f-uBpa.a8t.priest.
Level 61: http://wowtal.com/#k=f-CIQI.a8t.priest.
Level 71: http://wowtal.com/#k=f-AhuP3.a8t.priest.
Level 81: http://wowtal.com/#k=8-AL_n-.a8t.priest.
Level 85: http://wowtal.com/#k=a5FN4KMg.a8t.priest. (requires a respec)
The level 85 talent choices are what I use for a Dungeon spec. I chose Improved Psychic Scream (Panic Button), Silence (Interrupt) and Psychic Horror (Disarm/Stun) as I have seen how much damage can be prevented on the party or the tank, and how much level 85 heroics require control.
In the next post I will give attention to Shadowpriests in Heroics, elaborate on the Control spec, and give tips regarding specific bosses.
When it comes to gear, things have become really simple. While leveling, you want gear with as much Intellect as possible, augmented by Spirit (for the Hit and lower downtime between combat). Haste is still a primary stat across all levels, balanced out with a bit of Crit.
You don’t want to get any talent related to Mastery until level 80 (when you learn the ability) and gear at level 80 or below does not have Mastery on it.
Once your character reaches level 79, get your hands on a set of Deathsilk, crafted by tailors. This is one of the starter tailoring sets which also is used to level tailoring on, making it cheap and affordable. The robe and helm are blue quality items and require volatile fire, the others only cloth and thread. It’s not uncommon to see an entire set on the Auction House for less than 800 gold, even at the height of the expansion’s leveling streak.
This set will be good enough to fearlessly challenge level 81-84 content, and you will find that replacements come only in Uldum and perhaps the last quests of Deepholme. Therefore, it’s a great investment. As mobs will be hitting much harder, the additional Stamina on the pieces will make things much easier, even if you were draped in ICC epics before.