Spiritual Guidance: A shadowy work in progress

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Spiritual Guidance: A shadowy work in progress
The Spiritual Guidance duo, Fox Van Allen and Dawn Moore, haven't always gotten along so well. While some attribute that to the natural way that the shadow abhors the light, the real reason is the time they were on The Price is Right together in 2003. I mean, two hundred dollars for a grandfather clock, Dawn? What were you thinking?

Some days, I wish Spiritual Guidance was a TV show. Not only would the world be better able to appreciate my own physical beauty, but I'd be able to do one of those "Last time, on Spiritual Guidance" opening montages, filled with dramatic clips that tell you exactly what happened last week.

"Fox, we need to get to level 10, and fast! Before the orphanage explodes!"

"But if you're the Priest trainer ... then who's that?"

"You're not casting Smite enough! Faster! Faster! More Smite NOW! Hurry, there's not much time!"


"The orphans, they're on fire! Quick, cast Renew!"

Things are often a lot more awesome in my head than in real life, I'm afraid. Still, last week, we did address the process of starting a new priest, getting him geared up with heirlooms (or heaven forfend, green items) and the basics of the early spells (Smite, lol). This week, we're digging a bit deeper, getting to 20, rocking some instances and doing some PvP -- that's right, life as a priest is finally ready to begin.

Follow me after the cut. And don't mind the random explosions and orphan debris -- they're just there for next week's opening montage.

Before you jump back into killing stuff ...

When we last left off, our baby priest had just hit level 10, the first major milestone to the end game. World of Warcraft isn't just about the wanton slaughter of the innocent. It's also about broiling meats and sewing dresses. You're allowed to grab two main professions on each character. They're a terrific source of buffs and sellable materials.

A lot of you will probably pick your professions as soon as you can (level 5), but if you haven't yet, this is definitely the time. If you've already grabbed your professions, now would be a good time to make sure you're up to speed. As a good rule of thumb, you should increase your skill in each profession by five points per level. (That is, when you hit level 10, you'll be well up to speed if your professional skills are all at 50 or better.)

Fishing and Cooking You should always grab these professions, as they don't count against your limit of two. Fishing and Cooking are good to level side by side, since you can usually cook what you fish up. Eating food restores your health (and sometimes your mana), and usually puts a Well Fed buff on you as well. The buffs aren't the best at these low levels, but they get increasingly valuable as you level.

First Aid is a pretty useless skill for a priest since we can cast healing spells. It's also fairly expensive to level (Wool Cloth tends to be especially expensive Horde side), so don't put too much effort into it. If it's been a long time since you've leveled a character last, it's worth noting that you don't need to find First Aid books or complete quests to level this skill anymore -- you can just visit a trainer now.

If you need help and more information about choosing which two main professions to take, I wrote about professions in a previous column. For our purposes here as a leveling shadow priest, I find that the duo of Tailoring and Enchanting work well together -- you get to create the best armor for yourself as soon as it's available, and then improve the stats on it. Alchemy and Herbalism also work well together -- you can create long-lived spell casting buffs for yourself and sell whatever herbs you don't need on the auction house for profit.

Making travel easy

Back in vanilla WoW, getting from place to place kinda stunk. You'd have to take flights (some of which last upwards of ten minutes) or wait impatiently on a dock for a ship to arrive. Nothing says fun like tabbing out of World of Warcraft during a lengthy travel session to go read some boring article on some stupid website or something.
To make things a little bit easier travel wise, offer a few gold in trade to buy a mage port to Dalaran. You can't go questing in Northrend yet, of course, but Dalaran has portals to every major city of your faction. Just be sure to visit the innkeeper at the Legerdemain Inn and set your Hearthstone so you can get back on your own.

Spells from level 10 to 19

At Level 10, we have a very limited toolbox when it comes to spells -- Smite, Mind Blast, and Power Word: Shield are the ones we'll get most use of. As we head to level 20, we'll again be learning new spells every 2 levels. There really is something worth getting every second level, so at the very least, try to visit your class trainer once every 4 levels.
  • Level 12 At level 12, you learn Inner Fire, a buff that temporarily increases your armor. From here on out, if you're playing a priest in World of Warcraft, you should have this buff active at all times. The good news is that the added armor makes your clothie priest as resilient to damage as a more hearty mail wearer; the bad news is that Inner Fire expires after you take 20 hits of damage (or after 32 hits, if you put talent points in Improved Inner Fire). You can only cast it on yourself.
  • Level 14 At level 14, you learn new ranks of Smite and Renew, boosting the power of those two respective spells. You also learn two new spells: Cure Disease and Psychic Scream. The former does exactly what it advertises. The latter sends enemies attacking you in a random scatter, allowing you time to escape, regroup, or Shadowmeld (for those who are rolling Night Elves). Psychic Scream is a must-have spell in PvP, but it should only be used as a last resort in PvE -- scattering your enemies in random directions typically leads to them running into packs of other enemies, which complicates matters exponentially.
  • Level 16 At level 16, you learn Heal, a spell that does exactly what you think it does. You also learn a new rank of Mind Blast.
  • Level 18 The new spell you learn at level 18 is Dispel Magic, which unfortunately does not find much use in leveling situations outside of PvP. That's no reason to skip visiting your trainer, though -- you also get new ranks of Power Word: Shield and Shadow Word: Pain at level 18.
So, which of these spells will find their way into your regular rotation as you make your way to level 20? Er ... well ... none of them, really. We'll mostly be using Smite and Mind Blast to attack, and Power Word: Shield to defend ourselves through the onslaught of attacks (with the occasional healing spell thrown in). This gives us good occasion to revise last week's flowchart and give you a new guide for making it through enemy encounters:

Note the subtle change from last week. (Things get a little more interesting at level 20, I promise.)

Talent points

Once you hit level 10, you'll start earning a talent point with each new level. Now listen -- I know you want to be a shadow priest because we're all shadowy and cool and slightly purple. But look at that flow chart above -- you're mostly going to be casting Smite over and over again, even through level 19. We'll revisit our talent build at a number of points throughout the leveling process, but for now, you really do want to consider putting a handful of talent points into the holy tree. (Yes, even Fox Van Allen was holy in the early days.)

The three best talents to consider while leveling to 20 are:
  • Spirit Tap (3/3): A basic shadow tree talent to help with mana regen.
  • Holy Specialization (5/5): Boosts your chance to get a critical hit with holy spells by 1% per point.
  • Divine Fury (5/5): Reduces the cast time of major holy spells by 0.1 second per point.
Those three will get you throwing out more powerful blasts of Smite quicker, with the least amount of downtime between enemy pulls. This will not only make your early solo questing smoother, but also give you a nice boost if you ever decide to heal one of the early five-man instances. (More on that later.)

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