Ret can heal anything up to a heroic 100% as well as holy...literally no noticeable difference. They are fine on mana thanks do their mana return on judge and their sheath of light creates a powerful hot effect. In fact when I healed as ret I also got in melee ranged a dpsed allowing me to proc instant cast flashes of light, heal through divine storm, and do moderate dps. The only place where holy makes a difference is where you need larger throughput that ret can not match but that does not exist until heroics.
Originally Posted by qygibo
As I have said before it comes down to preference but holy will take a lot longer then ret and provides no bonus. There is nothing that holy can do that ret can't while leveling and ret will do it faster. If holy is a play style you really like go for it but know that it is coming at a cost. To deny that is just not reasonable.
I do deny that holy is a difficult spec to level up, because it's not hard. I found it much easier to level up my holy paladin than I did one of my actual dps classes. I'm sorry that you seem to think that somehow holy is excrutiating to level, but again, that wasn't the experience that I had, and it wasn't the experience that various holy paladins that I know had.
Any healing class can level just as easily as any dps class as long as you know where to go. And being a specced healer gives some advantages, because when it came to things like group quests and instances I was pretty popular. But by all means, if you want to level as ret and hope to accumulate the gear that you'll need to heal at level 80, then please, feel free to just level ret and let the actual healers come in to heal. I'd rather have someone who's actually specced to do the job they come in for than to make a dpser heal an instance, and I know of few other people who would disagree with that.
You are not reading what I am saying at all. Holy is not hard to level, it is just slower by a very large amount. Also you keep saying holy is an advantage for healing instances while leveling which it is not. In every instance up until a heroic there is 0 advantage to being holy compared to ret and in many cases ret will even make the group go faster due to being able to do moderate dps while healing. I leveled 70-80 as ret and did every instance on the way up, some of them several times. I did not dps a single time. I healed most of them and tanked a few...all as ret and never with any trouble keeping up.
Originally Posted by qygibo
I am going to sum this up as plainly as I can and please actually read what I am trying to say this time:
1) Ret solos much faster then holy
2) Ret can solo virtually all of the group quests up until icecrown with a few exceptions...even some of the 5 man quests. Holy can generally do the same.
3) In a leveling 5 man there is no difference between a ret and holy healer assuming they both have the same gear.
4) A holy paladin could not fill a dps slot in a 5man if group already has healer
Conclusion: Holy can do everything ret can except dps effectively which makes their leveling speed significantly slower. However if it is a playstyle you enjoy enough to be willing to take longer then it is still easy to level.
And you are not reading what I am saying. I don't know anyone who has said that any healing spec is slower for leveling than leveling as a dps. In fact, I know several people who leveled a healing class, be it a shaman, or a paladin, or a druid, who managed to level their healer to 80 in a week, some in a matter of days, who are now saying that it's harder to actually level a true dps class.
Less than 2 weeks it took me to level my holy paladin. And I never ever had a hard time finding a group that needed a healer--if anything, there is such a shortage of healers that groups jumped up in joy when I went into a group to heal something. A dps has a harder time getting into a group than a healer does, especially one that's specced to heal. I don't know of a single person who is going to look at a holy paladin and a ret paladin and take the ret paladin to heal over a holy paladin, unless it's a guild run or a run with close friends.
Leveling as Holy can be slow, but it's certainly doable. Your best bet, of course, is to do instances as frequently as possible - though there are certain quest chains in each zone that are generally a good idea to do, due to huge XP rewards and blue rewards.
You will level faster as Retribution, there's not even a shred of doubt about that. Protection will also level as quickly, and possibly more quickly, than Holy - both specs possess superior DPS while not really losing any survivability. I'll say it again: Holy will level slowest of the three specs solo.
That said, if you're determined to go Holy, I'd suggest checking Wowhead for quality quest rewards and instance drops (note: there's very little quality spellpower plate 70-80; it's one more reason I strongly suggest leveling as Protection or Retribution) and aim for them. You should prioritize your stats in this order: Intellect, Spellpower, Critical Strike, Haste, and Mana per 5. INT increases your spell crit, your spellpower, and your mana pool, which interacts with Divine Plea perfectly - it's gonna get nerfed (and everyone knows it) so enjoy it while it lasts. MP/5 was a solid stat in TBC, but is now virtually worthless in LK due to Divine Plea, especially considering its itemization cost.
I think levelling as holy would be worse than my 3 hours spent levelling unarmed skill.
However, if you're adamant on having a holy pally you will be wanting to get decent healing gear while you level so that you can heal instances for gear.
Whatever you do tho, please do not be 'That Guy'. A That Guy is someone who says they can heal/tank/dps but don't have the right gear. I ran a heroic, and thankfully I am overgeared for them, with a healadin who had just specced from ret and still had half DPS gear on. Nobody likes a That Guy.