At level 14, Spirit Tap should be maxed for every priest. This drastically reduces downtime and makes life a lot easier for the soloing priest. At 20 you get the next significant increase in soloing capability through Mind Flay (all of this is assuming that you have spent the first 11 points in the shadow tree, which I encourage everyone to do regardless of the end aim for their priest, be it solo, group or PvP). Mind Flay is the most efficient spell in terms of damage/mana spent.
The key to using Mind Flay is to avoid interruption through damage. Because it is a channeled spell, any damage will cause interruption to the casting, reducing the damage done. Mind Flay damages in three 1 second iterations, so if you are being interrupted you will generally only get 1 damage iteration off. There are a few ways to accomplish avoid these interruptions. The first and most obvious is the use of Power Word: Shield. This absorbs all damage and prevents interruptions through damage (you can still be interrupted through status effects such as stuns). The second way many priests use Mind Flay is as an opener and a closer. Because of the slow effect, if you cast Mind Flay first or second in your spell series, you will get off an entire channel before the mob hits you. A good way to open a fight is with Mind Blast at maximum distance, and then Shadow Word: Pain immediately after that. As they are running towards you, cast Mind Flay. You should be able to get all three off before the mob reaches you, assuming you started at maximum casting distance.
The third strategy is the use of Psychic Scream to prevent a mob attacking. There are 2 essential things to be aware of before pursuing this strategy: Undead are immune to fear, and Psychic Scream can be broken by damage, including DoT spells such as Shadow Word: Pain. This strategy is much more mana efficient than using shield, especially if you use rank 1 Psychic Scream. It's wise to have both the latest rank of Psychic Scream and Rank1 both on your hotbar, as in one on one situations, it is better to conserve mana.
You should pull the mob using the same method as above. As soon as your Mind Flay has finished channeling, cast Psychic Scream. This will send the mob fleeing in a random direction. Cast Mind Flay on it as it runs - this will cause you to spin around and face the mob regardless of its direction. If your Psychic Scream (also known as fear) lasts the entire duration, you should be able to fire off 3 Mind Flays during this period. If the monster reaches you and is not dead, cast Mind Blast to finish it off.
Another key to effective soloing as a shadow priest is the correct use of Spirit Tap. Spirit Tap doubles your spirit after you kill a mob, and allows you to regenerate at 100% while casting. The key to this is the second part - if you use a direct damage spell like Mind Blast or Mind Flay to kill a mob, you are reducing the effectiveness of Spirit Tap. If you get the timing down right, you can allow Shadow Word: Pain to finish off a mob, which means you aren't casting. This allows you to regenerate at 200% for the entire 15 seconds, rather than 5 seconds at 100% and 10 at 200%.
For non-shadow Priests, things are tough here (they will get tougher though, don't worry). Anyone choosing a Holy or Disc build needs to have a good wand and a Dagger/Off-hand combo. You will lose a few stats by not using a staff, but will gain a much needed way to kill mobs without using Smite over and over again. The reason you need a dagger is simple - they are fast.
Your wand should be at least .1 seconds slower than the speed of your dagger. This allows the wand to recharge before the next swing of your dagger. Once you see your dagger swing for the first time, hit your wand hotkey (it's probably best to bind it to an easy to reach number or key on your board). This will fire your wand. Then keep pressing the wand button as it cools down so it will fire as soon as it is ready. If you get the timing right, the wand and dagger should cooldown at virtually the same time, allowing both to attack simultaneously. This should significantly increase your DPS, and save you a lot of mana. The reason why this doesn't work with a staff is because they are too slow. They may have a higher listed damage, but it is too hard to combine the wand and staff swing without one interrupting the other.
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