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Priest Beginner Guide WoW – Overview & Builds for ALL Specs

Priest Beginner Guide WoW – Overview & Builds for ALL Specs

Guide Written By: Dottz Gaming

Table of Contents

  1. Video
  2. Introduction
  3. Specializations
    1. Discipline
    2. Holy
    3. Shadow
  4. Contact Info
  5. Update Log

Video

Introduction

Welcome to DottzGaming.com’s beginner guide for the Priest class in World of Warcraft! This guide will give you a brief overview to what the class has to offer, its specializations and new player focused talent setups to get you going on your adventures through Azeroth! If you are brand new to WoW and are reading this guide, I also recommend checking out my WoW Complete Beginner Guide, which will teach you all non-class specific things you need to know to get yourself started in WoW.

Priests in World of Warcraft are exactly what you think of when you think of a priest or cleric type class: a cloth wearing ranged class that uses the powers of the light to heal and shield their allies, as well as damage their enemies! Some priests even embrace the powers of the void, using its shadow magic to assault the minds of their opponents. Priests bring a wide variety of tools and utility to a group, and are a great class to have in your party!

The Priest class is a hybrid, with two specs for healing and one for DPS. Discipline priests have an interesting healing style, focusing on shielding allies from harm while healing them through the damage that they deal to enemies! Holy priests have a more traditional healing style, using the power of the light to heal their allies and chastise their enemies! Finally, Shadow is the damage dealing spec, focusing on shadow magic and the powers of the void to damage their enemies and heal their allies.

The Priest’s primary resource is mana, while Shadow also has a resource called Insanity. Insanity is built up with certain skills, and then primarily spent on a hard hitting damage over time skill called devouring plague! Priests wear cloth armor, they utilize Intellect as their primary stat, and they can wield wands, staves, daggers, one-handed maces and non-shield off-hand items.

Races that can play the Monk class are as follows:

  • Blood Elf (Horde)
  • Dark Iron Dwarf (Alliance)
  • Dwarf (Alliance)
  • Draenei (Alliance)
  • Gnome (Alliance)
  • Goblin (Horde)
  • Human (Alliance)
  • Kul Tiran (Alliance)
  • Lightforged Draenei (Alliance)
  • Mag’har Orc (Horde)
  • Mechagnome (Alliance)
  • Night Elf (Alliance)
  • Nightborne (Horde)
  • Pandaren (Alliance/Horde)
  • Tauren (Horde)
  • Troll (Horde)
  • Undead (Horde)
  • Void Elf (Alliance)
  • Vulpera (Horde)
  • Worgen (Alliance)
  • Zandalari Troll (Horde)

Now that we have a brief summary of the class out of the way, let’s get into the specs and what they have to offer. The following builds are going to be tailored to new players, looking to make your rotation as easy and straightforward while adding as few additional skills to your action bars as possible. If you’re looking for something more advanced and focused on dealing as much damage/healing as possible, I recommend checking out Icy-Veins or WoWhead for builds more tailored towards end game raids, mythic+ and rated PvP.

Specializations

Discipline

Click here to view the talent calculator.

Talents

  1. Twist of Fate – This talent makes it so that after you heal a target that is below 35% health, you deal 20% increased damage and healing for 10 seconds, helping you to more easily top off that person’s health bar and the rest of your allies!
  2. Angelic Feather – This talent gives us a strong active ability that gives us and our allies some nice added mobility. You place a feather on the ground that makes it so that the first ally that walks through it gains 40% increased movement speed for 5 seconds!
  3. Mindbender – This talent buffs our Shadowfiend and turns it into a Mindbender, summoning a creature of the void that attacks the target and grants us 0.5% mana every time it attacks an enemy. The cooldown is also only 1 minute, allowing us to use this very frequently.
  4. Psychic Voice – This talent reduces the cooldown of our Psychic Scream (an AoE fear) by 30 seconds, allowing us to use this CC more frequently.
  5. Sins of the Many – This talent gives us a passive damage buff, increasing our damage by up to 12%, but it becomes less effective the more allies that have atonement on them. Atonement is a buff granted from some of our abilities that make it so that when we deal damage, they are healed! It is a passive at the core of the discipline priest, and this talent helps us deal more damage to be able to more easily heal our allies!
  6. Purge the Wicked – This talent replaces our basic Shadow Word: Pain damage over time skill with a more powerful DoT for this spec, dealing fire damage over time and having it jump to a nearby enemy whenever we deal damage to the effected enemy with Penance (which fires bolts of light at enemies to deal damage, or at allies to heal them).
  7. Lenience – This talent makes it so that allies effected by atonement take 3% less damage, making your party a bit more tanky and easier to heal!
  8. Dome of Light – This PvP talent increases the potency of one of your defensive cooldowns, Power Word: Barrier by reducing the cooldown by 90 seconds and making it mitigate 25% additional damage! Power Word: Barrier places a dome on the ground that makes it so that allies inside take less damage, and this talent just makes that cooldown even stronger!
  9. Ultimate Radiance – This passive talent heavily buffs our Power Word: Radiance. This casted skill heals our allies and applies atonement, and this talent makes it an instant cast and heal for 250% more, making it extremely potent!
  10. Dark Archangel – This gives you an active cooldown to increase your damage by 15%! In addition, any allies effected by atonement also gain 15% damage, giving your entire party a big damage boost!

Rotation

How to Play Discipline

Discipline plays a LOT different than other healers. They primarily heal through their atonement passive. Atonement is applied through Power Word: Shield, Shadow Mend, and Power Word: Radiance. When you deal damage, allies effected by atonement will be healed for 50% of the damage you do. While many healers play reactively to what is happening, Disc priests play proactively, responding before things happen. The goal is to have atonement on people who will need healing in the future so that when they start taking damage, you can start healing them with your DPS rotation. The general DPS rotation for disc priest is as follows:

  1. Maintain Purge the Wicked on your target.
  2. Use Penance on cooldown. Purge the Wicked also has a chance to grant Power of the Dark side procs which increase this skills effectivness by 50%!
  3. Use Mind Blast on cooldown.
  4. Use Smite as a filler.

Atonement can initially be applied to a target via Power Word: Shield, or the skill can be used to apply Atonement to targets if you need to move. If you’re able to stand still and if targets are taking a low amount of damage, you can apply atonement to them via Shadowmend and then go through the DPS rotation I listed. When damage starts to get high and Atonement healing doesnt feel like its enough to heal your allies, you’re going to want to use Power Word: Radiance in this situation burst heal your allies and to get Atonement on as many people as possible instantly. Afterwards, you’re going to want to go into your DPS rotation.

Offensive Notes

  • Mindbender is best used in situations where you need extra DPS to help keep your party alive via Atonement, or if you are starting to get low on mana.
  • If an enemy has a magical buff on them you want to remove, use Dispel Magic to purge it off!
  • If an enemy is about to die and no allies need healing, you can use Shadow Word: Death to help execute them! This can also be used in tricky ways to break yourself out of CC that breaks on damage by using it JUST before the CC hits, so that the return damage hits you once you’re in the crowd control, thus breaking you out!

Defensive Notes

  • If you know one of your allies is going to take a big damage spike or if they’re taking too much damage, Pain Suppression is great to use on them as it reduces damage taken by 40% for 8 seconds!
  • Power Word: Barrier is best used when your party is taking big damage, as this AoE shield reduces damage taken by allies who stand within it by 25% for 10 seconds!
  • Rapture is a cooldown that is best used proactively when you think your group is about to take a large spike of damage. This automatically applies Power Word: Shield to your target and makes your Power Word: Shield absorb an additional 200% damage. Once you have Rapture shields out, start going into your DPS rotation to keep everyone healed up.
  • If you get aggro from an enemy, use Fade to drop all threat so that your tank can pick it up!
  • Use Angelic Feather if you or an ally need a burst of movement speed!
  • Use Purify if your ally is effected by a negative magical effect that needs to be removed!
  • Be sure to keep all allies buffed with Power Word: Fortitude for the health increase!
  • Use Leap of Faith to pull an ally to your position if they’re in a compromising location.
  • Use Desperate Prayer if you need a quick free heal for yourself in a pinch!
  • Use Psychic Scream to fear enemies off of you and your allies if you feel overrun. Be careful about using this in dungeons though, because if a feared enemy runs over to a group of enemies you’re currently not engaged with, you will get threat from those enemies.
  • Use Mass Dispel to dispel all negative effects on allies, and 1 positive effect from each enemy in the area. This can also dispel things that are normally not dispellable, like a Paladin’s Divine Shield or a Mage’s Ice block.

Secondary Stat Priority

  1. Haste
  2. Critical Strike
  3. Versatility
  4. Mastery

Shadowlands Specific Information

Recommended Covenant: Venthyr

Recommended Legendary: Memory of the Penitent One

Holy

Click here to view the talent calculator.

Talents

  1. Renewed Faith – This talent makes it so that our healing is increased by 10% on targets effected by Renew, which is our primary HoT, giving us much better throughput.
  2. Angelic Feather – This talent gives us a strong active ability that gives us and our allies some nice added mobility. You place a feather on the ground that makes it so that the first ally that walks through it gains 40% increased movement speed for 5 seconds.
  3. Guardian Angel – This passive talent makes it so that if Guardian Spirit expires without saving the target from death, the remaining cooldown is reduced to 60 seconds. Normally a 3 minute cooldown, this spell makes it so that for 10 seconds, the ally that has this spell casted on them receives 60% additional healing. In addition, if they would die, the spirit instead sacrifices itself and saves the ally. This talent helps you heavily reduce the skills cooldown if you cast it on an ally but manage to save them without the “cheat death” effect proccing.
  4. Censure – This talent makes our Holy Word: Chastise, which is normally an incapacitate, a 4 second stun that doesnt break on damage, making it a bit more reliable as a CC!
  5. Surge of Light – This talent makes our Smite (an offensive casted spell) and our various healing spells have an 8% chance to make our next Flash Heal (strong spot healing spell) instant cast and have no mana cost!
  6. Benediction – This talent gives our Prayer of Mending (a heal that procs on an ally when they take damage and then jumps to another ally) a 25% chance to leave a renew on the target that it heals, combining well with Renewed Faith!
  7. Holy Word: Salvation – This talent gives us an incredibly strong emergency cooldown that heals all allies within 40 yards and applies Renew and 2 stacks of prayer of mending, giving a huge burst of healing to your entire party.
  8. Greater Fade – A PvP talent that makes Fade (a skill that normally just drops threat) into a defensive cooldown by making it increase your movement speed by 50% and causing most attacks and spells to miss for 4 seconds or until you take a hostile action.
  9. Miracle Worker – This makes Holy Word: Serenity (a strong single target heal) have 2 charges and a 25% reduced cooldown, allowing you to have much greater access to this powerful heal!
  10. Cardinal Mending – This talent strengthens your Prayer of Mending further by having it heal the target for 10% of their maximum health while ignoring any healing reduction effects, which is perfect for PvP!

Rotation

How to Play Holy

If the proactive healing style of the disc priest doesnt sound like its for you, thankfully priests have a 2nd healing specialization that plays a bit more traditionally, with Holy being that spec!

Holy priests have a TON of heals at their disposal, with each of their heals serving a different purpose. You typically want to use Prayer of Mending on cooldown on your tank, so it can proc when the tank takes damage and then bounce to another one of your party members. In addition, maintaining Renew on your tank will be helpful as it will increase your throughput via the Renewed Faith talent. From there, you move into like an If-Then priority system.

  1. If a single ally is taking low damage, Heal is going to be your go-to spell.
  2. If multiple allies are taking low damage, use Prayer of Healing to heal them back up.
  3. If you need moderate amount of single target healing, you’re going to want to use Flash Heal (or whenever you get a Surge of Light proc).
  4. If several allies need moderate healing, you’ll want to use Circle of Healing on cooldown to restore their HP.
  5. If an ally needs heavy spot healing, you’ll want to use Holy Word: Serenity for a strong single target heal.
  6. If allies need heavy AoE heals, you’re going to want to use Holy Word: Sanctify.

If no allies currently need healing, simply apply Shadow Word: Pain to your enemy and use Holy Fire; if they still don’t need healing, fill globals with Smite.

Offensive Notes

  • If an enemy has a magical buff on them you want to remove, use Dispel Magic to purge it off!
  • If an enemy is about to die and no allies need healing, you can use Shadow Word: Death to help execute them! This can also be used in tricky ways to break yourself out of CC that breaks on damage by using it JUST before the CC hits, so that the return damage hits you once you’re in the crowd control, thus breaking you out!

Defensive Notes

  • If you think your tank or another party member is going to die, use Guardian Spirit to give them death protection and to heavily increase the healing they receive.
  • Divine Hymn and Holy Word: Salvation are long-cooldown AoE heals that do absolutely massive amounts of healing. Use these abilities in emergencies when you really need the extra group-wide healing.
  • Use Holy Word: Chastise to stun problematic enemies!
  • If you get aggro from an enemy, use Fade to drop all threat so that your tank can pick it up!
  • Use Angelic Feather if you or an ally need a burst of movement speed!
  • Use Purify if your ally is effected by a negative magical effect that needs to be removed!
  • Be sure to keep all allies buffed with Power Word: Fortitude for the health increase!
  • Use Leap of Faith to pull an ally to your position if they’re in a compromising location.
  • Use Desperate Prayer if you need a quick free heal for yourself in a pinch!
  • Use Psychic Scream to fear enemies off of you and your allies if you feel overrun. Be careful about using this in dungeons though, because if a feared enemy runs over to a group of enemies you’re currently not engaged with, you will get threat from those enemies.
  • Use Symbol of Hope if you and other healers in your raid need mana during an intensive raid fight.
  • Use Mass Dispel to dispel all negative effects on allies, and 1 positive effect from each enemy in the area. This can also dispel things that are normally not dispellable, like a Paladin’s Divine Shield or a Mage’s Ice block.

Secondary Stat Priority

  1. Critical Strike = Mastery
  2. Versatility
  3. Haste

Shadowlands Specific Information

Recommended Covenant: Necrolord

Recommended Legendary: X’anshi, Return of Archbishop Benedictus

Shadow

Click here to view the talent calculator.

Talents

  1. Fortress of the Mind – This talent makes your Mind Blast and Mind Flay, two of your primary damage dealing skills, deal 10% more damage and generate 20% more insanity, which will allow you to fire off more Devouring Plagues (a hard-hitting DoT that we spend our insanity on)!
  2. Body and Soul – This talent gives us some much needed mobility, causing our Power Word: Shield (a basic defensive shield) and Leap of Faith (a skill that lets us pull an ally to our position) to increase the targets movement speed by 40% for 3 seconds.
  3. Misery – This passive talent frees up some global cooldowns for shadow priest, making it so that your Vampiric Touch (which is one of your primary damage over time skills) automatically apply one of your other main DoTs: Shadow Word: Pain!
  4. Last Word – This talent lowers the cooldown of Silence (which prevents an enemy from casting and interrupts any current casts) by 15 seconds, allowing you to use this CC more often!
  5. Auspicious Spirits – This talent makes it so that your Shadowy Apparitions deal 15% increased damage and generate 2 insanity! Shadowy Apparitions get summoned when your Mind Blast, Void Bolt or Devouring Plague deal damage and float towards your targets effected by vampiric touch, dealing damage when they reach them!
  6. Mindbender – This talent buffs our Shadowfiend and turns it into a Mindbender, summoning a creature of the void that attacks the target and grants us 5 insanity every time it attacks an enemy. The cooldown is also only 1 minute, allowing us to use this very frequently.
  7. Hungering Void – This talent changes the way our Void Form works, which is our primary offensive cooldown. Normally, Void Form increases your damage by 20%, gives your mind blast 2 charges and lowers its cooldown for 15 seconds. In addition, while in Void Form, the cooldown turns into void bolt which is a hard hitting single target skill. With this talent, Void Bolt makes your target vulnerable, causing it to take 10% more damage from you for 6 seconds and extending void form’s duration. Therefore, the more void bolts you are able to get off on the target that is currently vulnerable to you, the longer your burst window will be!
  8. Greater Fade – A PvP talent that makes Fade (a skill that normally just drops threat) into a defensive cooldown by making it increase your movement speed by 50% and causing most attacks and spells to miss for 4 seconds or until you take a hostile action.
  9. Void Origins – This talent makes it so that Void Eruption (the skill you need to cast to get into void form) is instant cast, which will help prevent enemies from stopping you getting into void form.
  10. Lasting Plague – This talent makes Devouring Plague, your main insanity spender, last 6 seconds longer. This is a hard hitting DoT that heals you for some of its damage, so maximizing its uptime is very important!

Rotation

Dealing Damage

With the talent build in this guide giving a ton of passive bonuses, our rotation is actually relatively straightforward! First off, make sure you’re in shadowform; you’ll always want to have that on when playing a shadow priest. When you get into a fight, apply Vampiric Touch to as many targets as you can, which will automatically apply Shadow Word: Pain thanks to Misery. You then want to use Mind Blast on cooldown to help generate insanity. You also want to use Mind Blast when you get Dark Thoughts procs from your DoTs, which give you a charge of Mind Blast to use. Afterwards, you want to use Mind Flay (or Mind Sear if there are 3+ enemies) until you hit 50 insanity, in which case you’ll apply Devouring Plague to your primary target. When your target hits 20% health, use Shadow Word: Death on cooldown to help execute them!

Offense

  • Mindbender can be used frequently to help assist in your damage and generate extra insanity to make sure you can easily pump out Devouring Plagues on your enemies!
  • When you want to deal a big burst of damage, use your Mindbender to start generating a ton of insanity, and then use Void Eruption to get into Void Form. Be sure to use Void Bolt on cooldown on your exposed target (typically the priority monster in a pack or a boss) so that you can maintain your void form as long as possible! User Power Infusion in conjunction with this to maximize your burst damage! You don’t have to always use these 3 burst cooldowns together; you can stagger their use since they all have different cooldowns. But, if for example your Void Eruption is off of cooldown and your power infusion only has like 10 seconds left, it’d be better to wait for Power Infusion before going into Void Form.
  • If an enemy has a magical buff on them you want to remove, use Dispel Magic to purge it off!
  • In addition to using Shadow Word: Death as an execute, this can also be used in tricky ways to break yourself out of CC that breaks on damage by using it JUST before the CC hits, so that the return damage hits you once you’re in the crowd control, thus breaking you out!

Defense

  • If you take a big burst of damage and need to play defensive to stay alive, use Dispersion. This reduces your damage taken by 75% for 6 seconds and increases your movement speed, but you cant take any other actions besides moving during that time.
  • If you and your allies need some additional healing, use Vampiric Embrace to turn a portion of the damage you deal into passive healing!
  • Use Shadow Mend if you or an ally need a heal in a pinch!
  • If you get aggro from an enemy, use Fade to drop all threat so that your tank can pick it up!
  • Use Power Word: Shield to give yourself some extra defense and some additional movement speed when you need it!
  • Use Purify Disease to remove any diseases from a friendly target!
  • Be sure to keep all allies buffed with Power Word: Fortitude for the health increase!
  • Use Leap of Faith to pull an ally to your position if they’re in a compromising location.
  • Use Desperate Prayer if you need a quick free heal for yourself in a pinch!
  • Use Psychic Scream to fear enemies off of you and your allies if you feel overrun. Be careful about using this in dungeons though, because if a feared enemy runs over to a group of enemies you’re currently not engaged with, you will get threat from those enemies.
  • Use Silence on enemies casting problematic skills to prevent those spells from hitting you or another party member!
  • Use Mass Dispel to dispel all negative effects on allies, and 1 positive effect from each enemy in the area. This can also dispel things that are normally not dispellable, like a Paladin’s Divine Shield or a Mage’s Ice block.

Secondary Stat Priority

  1. Haste
  2. Critical Strike = Mastery
  3. Versatility

Shadowlands Specific Information

Recommended Covenant: Venthyr

Recommended Legendary: Memory of Talbadar

Contact

If you have any questions about the build, join our discord server and ask @Dottz about the build in the #wow-general channel!

Update Log

1/12/2021 – Guide created