Leveling a Shadowpriest

When leveling  a fresh Shadowpriest, most of the advice I give on my blog is rather useless – it either relies on abilities you don’t yet have, or it assumes you have a basic level of gear which you can’t achieve. Mmmm. What to do? I know! I’ll write a short guide on leveling a Shadowpriest! Now updated for the wonders of patch 5.0 in anticipation of Mists of Pandaria!


As I have stated before, there are numerous advantages to getting heirloom gear for leveling – the 10% experience boost from the shoulders and chest, the fact that they improve as you level, and of course without durability they cannot be damaged lowering your repair bill significantly.

The set I would recommend is a Tattered Dreadmist Robe, Tattered Dreadmist Mantle, Dignified Headmaster’s Charge, Tattered Dreadmist Hood, the heirloom cloak with spellpower and 2x Discering Eye of the Beast. These can also be bought with Champioon’s Seals, but considering all the other things you can buy with those, I’d recommend the cheaper option and converting Honor points/Justice points.

Should you wish to PvP for your levels, you can obtain decent PvP heirloom gear at the Honor Heirloom Vendor in Stormwind or Orgrimmar. With the recent changes to resilience and PvP power, standard heirlooms will no longer rule the BGs, so you will have to get the PvP heirlooms to be competitive.

While this may seem a huge investment, remember that you will be using these items until at least level 80 (and depending on your guild and personal wealth perhaps even a little longer), and can be re-used for other alts, so it is never a waste. Should you wish to start your new Priest of another faction than your own (from Horde to Alliance, for instance), remember that you can mail these items to your alts even if they are of another faction.


I can’t stress the usefulness of Enchanting enough; if you happen to level through dungeons it becomes all the more powerful, and it will be one of your most useful professions at level 80. Whichever other profession you pick does not really matter until level 80, but I can recommend Mining, Skinning or Herbalism (which make reasonable money and have small benefits). Tailoring is also a good option, but since you will have mostly heirloom gear, these benefits are marginal.


Talents have changed significantly and are no longer as important in the levelling process. However, because levelling is more aimed at personal survival than DPS, you have more leeway which you choose to take. Void Tendrils and Psifiend are good choices on your first talent line. In the 2nd line (level 30) I’d pick Phantasm, since when you’re alone getting out of roots isn’t something you can rely on a healer for.
At level 45 it’s an equal choice, although Mindbender will be best to keep a good uptime – more mana is less drinking is more killing. At level 60 I’d suggest Angelic Bulwark (which is a passive and automatic defense) or if you want to play around a bit, Spectral Guise. Divine Insight will see a lot less procs while levelling and will also be a lot less necessary – here you can safely pick Power Infusion.


You will find that a Shadowpriest from level 10 on starts to grow into a killing machine quickly. Shadowform and Mind Flay are solid damage sources at lower level, even if you don’t want to DoT everything up yet. With proper heirloom gear you can make short work of almost any quest mob. And, with the addition of the new defensive abilities it’s going to be a lot easier to take on the Elite quests in, for example, Nagrand.

Use Power Word:Shield before the pull, Mind Blast as a starter because it has a cast time so you get a free shot on your target. Then either cast SW:P and Vampiric Touch (if it is strong) or Mind Flay it to death.

What to look for in gear

At the most basic level, anything cloth with Intellect will do really. Spirit is nice for regeneration between fights. Anywhere you can’t get Spellpower gear, try and put an “Of the Eagle” or “Of the Owl” type of green item. You will find that there’s really not a single piece of Cloth you don’t have a use for. Once you hit the Northrend/Cataclysm zones, you will want Haste/Mastery or Haste/Crit gear preferably.


None of the Glyphs are absolutely necessary while leveling – Mind Blast roots your target for 4 seconds when glyphed, which is nice to have and the Glyph of Psychic Horror reduces its cooldown by 10 seconds. Everything else will come into play mainly while raiding or for PvP.

Leveling through PvP

Some people would like to take advantage of the XP from Battlegrounds to level – sometimes in combination with questing and dungeoneering. Assuming you have Heirloom gear with Resilience even the basic talents and glyphs will work (in fact MB and PH are the two most useful here).

Useful supplies

One of the things I can’t stress enough is the value of reuse. I levelled a spare Priest as an Alchemist/Enchanter. Because of this, I had a lot of leftover Enchantment scrolls, potions and elixirs. Some could still be sold for decent value (Invisibility potions never go out of style) but a lot of them simply would be vendorbait. Here I’d suggest putting them in a bank/guild tab and when you next level, say, a Monk or a Priest…mail it over and have this alt use it all.

Drink the elixirs, waste the potions, eat all that extra food. Every second it shaves off your levelling time will be more valuable to you than the few silvers or gold pieces you have gained from vendoring it all.

2 Responses to “Leveling a Shadowpriest”

  1. Hi Natarumah, I have decided I want to start a shadow priest and was excited when I came across your leveling guide on google but then I noticed it was a pre-cata guide.

    I know its a lot to ask and would obviously take up quiet a bit of your spare time but is there any chance that you might consider updating this guide?

    Best regards,

  2. […] one of my readers had asked to update the Shadowpriest leveling guide, I thought it would be more prudent to start from scratch. That way, it’s also more […]

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