Glyphs, as you know, are the products of inscription, scrolls imbued with the power to augment your spells and abilities.
Think of them as enchantments for your spell book. And just like enchantments, there are limits on how many you can actually have. Glyph slots are unlocked as you level, starting at level 15 all the way up to 80, leaving you with a final total of three major and three minor glyph slots.
Major glyphs are your key combat enhancers, while minor glyphs are largely for convenience or fun.
It seems to me that some classes have been gifted with a better range of glyphs than others. Certainly, the number of glyphs is largely the same per class, which works to the pure classes' advantage. Glyphs for hybrids have to cover more ground and, naturally, cannot all cater to all possible specs. But I'm a glass-half-empty guy and you are welcome to ignore that note of pessimism.
Regardless of your views, what it means for the purposes of this post is I can ignore a big chunk of the available priest glyphs. I've cut out most of the holy and a big chunk of the discipline glyphs before I start. If you want to see the full range, check out Wowwiki.
What we're left with, after my arbitrary culling, are these (the number in brackets is the level they become available):
Glyph of fade (15) — increases the duration and cooldown of your fade spell by 50%
An odd choice of glyph to make available so early on, but at least at this stage you know the spell (that's more than you can say for some of the later glyphs). You may consider this for pvp for the cooldown reduction if you have shadow form, but that's all I can think of. Who would ever use this in raids? Avoid it.
Glyph of shadow word: pain (15) — increases the damage done by your mind flay spell by 10% when your target is afflicted with shadow word: pain
This is a mind flay glyph, not a shadow word: pain one. Silly name. Probably a hangover from when it used to reduce the sw:p mana cost. And have you noticed how you can't use it till at least level 20 when you get access to mind flay? It's a very solid glyph for both levelling and raiding, just don't get it at level 15.
Glyph of inner fire (15) — increases the charges on your inner fire spell by 20
How many times do you run out of charges in combat? Just recast it, doh. I suppose there's a very thin argument for using this glyph in pvp, but even there isn't it more likely to be dispelled than run out? Don't equip this glyph, please.
Glyph of power word: shield (15) — your power word: shield also heals the target for 20% of the damage absorbed
Even at maximum rank with an obscene amount of spell power, the healing from this glyph is pretty negligible. At level 70, it would be somewhere around 300-400, assuming the shield was used up fully. So it's disappointing to say this is the best available glyph at level 15 and a pretty strong contender for levelling in general. I can't see anyone raiding with it though, except possibly the rare discipline healer, and even then I think there are better options.
Glyph of psychic scream (15) — increases the duration of your psychic scream by 1 second
Oh, do I need to say anything about this glyph? Inscriptors (makes them sound like transformers, is that the right word?) please don't even waste your ink.
Glyph of mind control (20) — increases the duration of your mind control spell by 12 seconds
Duration is never a problem with mind control. Maybe I'd consider it if it reduced the chance of breaking early. As it stands: worthless.
Glyph of mind flay (20) — increases the range of your mind flay spell by 10 yards, but it no longer reduces the target's movement speed
For levelling and general grinding, I'd rather keep the snare, but going into raids the extra range would be very handy. The trouble is, that extra range is only situationally useful and it would take up a slot that could otherwise go to improving dps. Plus, I'm rather unhappy that Blizzard has chosen to patch up the long-standing issue of mind flay range with a glyph instead of addressing it properly. My instinct is to see how long I can avoid having to equip this glyph in raids.
Glyph of scourge imprisonment (20) — increases the chance of success for your shackle undead spell by 8%
Raid trash is, at most, one or two levels higher than you, no bosses can be shackled (or would ever need to be) so 8% is an odd number. Ignoring that for a moment, any amount of hit on shackle is a waste for shadow priests with the right talents. Healers may want it if they are called on to shackle, but I suspect even they have better things to spend the slot on.
Glyph of shadow (25) — while in shadow form, your spell critical strikes increase your spell power by 10% of your spirit for 10 seconds
Can that level really be right? You can't get shadow form till 40! Oh well. It's not a great glyph for levelling but then very few are. When it comes to raiding, this is one of the best options.
I'm assuming (hoping, praying) that it stacks with improved spirit tap, boosting mana regen as well as spell power. Igore me, I'm an idiot.
Glyph of shadow word: death (62) — targets below 35% health take an additional 5% damage from your shadow word: death spell
According to theorycrafters, shadow word: death will make up negligible amounts of damage in Wrath raids, but this is one of only three glyphs that actually boosts shadow dps. It's a strong contender for your third raid slot, if only because the alternatives are so weak.
So having said all that, here are my top picks.
- At 15 (first major slot) — glyph of power word: shield (upgrading to glyph of shadow word: pain when you pick up mind flay)
- At 30 (second major slot) — glyph of shadow word: pain and glyph of power word: shield (replacing the shield glyph with glyph of shadow at 40 or glyph of shadow word: death at 62 if you like)
- At 80 (third major slot and assuming a switch to raid spec) — glyph of shadow word: pain, glyph of shadow, glyph of shadow word: death (or possibly glyph of mind flay if your healers insist on it)
- Glyph of fortitude (15) — reduces the mana cost of your fortitude and prayer of fortitude spells by 50%
- Glyph of fading (15) — reduces the mana cost of your fade spell by 30%
- Glyph of shackle undead (20) — increases the range of your shackle undead spell by 5 yards
- Glyph of shadow protection (30) — iincreases the duration of Prayer of Shadow Protection by 10 minutes
- Glyph of levitate (34) — your levitate spell no longer requires a reagent
- Glyph of shadowfiend (66) — receive 5% of your maximum mana when your shadowfiend dies from damage
Well, they're none of them game breaking so take your pick. My personal favourite is glyph of levitate, which I'd recommend snapping up at level 34 when you learn the spell. I'll probably take shackle undead and shadowfiend for raiding, but I think every priest will be different.