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Holy spec priests have unique challenges and opportunities for leveling. This section is designed to provide suggestions for leveling priest characters using 5-man instances as a primary vehicle for leveling.
Holy spec priests have somewhat different opportunities and challenges from Discipline or Shadow priests during the leveling process. While a discipline or shadow spec priest can both heal effectively at low levels, a holy spec build is ideally positioned for leveling as a healer. Healers are usually in high demand for 5-man instances (along with tanks) and it is often easy for a holy spec priest to find groups where they can hone their healing skills and level their character at the same time. While shadow spec priests find that effective healing becomes significantly more difficult as leveling progresses into the 30s, Holy spec priests will continually build their healing abilities and become more effective as leveling progresses.
The biggest challenge for holy spec priests is solo grinding. While Smite is the spell with the highest base DPS of any priest damage spell, it is not the most efficient in terms of damage per mana (DPM) (see Spell Damage Comparison). Furthermore, pure holy spec priests don't get the protection survivability benefits of talents from the other trees like Shadowform or Improved Inner Fire. For these reasons, it may be a good idea to take some talents from other trees in addition to holy talents.
The mana regeneration of all caster classes has been significantly reduced. The primary talent to address this is Meditation found in the Discipline tree. All priest players should consider taking this talent to significantly increase their available mana.
During the leveling process you may want to review your spec occasionally and decide how much time you want to spend as a damage dealer solo or in a group and how much time you want to spend focused on healing and adjust the distribution of your talent points to match your playing style.
A particular consideration if you want to make solo leveling easier is to put 3 points into Spirit Tap. It won't help with healing at all and very little as a dps in groups but provides very good mana regeneration for solo play.
Instances become available to characters during this level range. Ragefire Chasm for Horde characters becomes available at level 13 and The Deadmines for Alliance becomes available at level 17. Characters can enter these instances at lower levels even though it does not show up on their list of recommended instances. A significant amount of time during these levels will be spent outside of instances but by the end of this level range, you have the option to make instances a regular part of your character leveling.
The talent points spent during the first 5 or 10 levels of any priest spec do not make or break the characters effectiveness. Still, there are talents that can make soloing easier in this level range if the player feels this is an issue. These talents include Improved Inner Fire, Twin Disciplines, and Spirit Tap(shadow). Each of these will ease solo leveling noticeably. The only drawback is that only Twin Disciplines helps you as a healer.
If soloing doesn't seem to be a problem at early levels you can jump right in and focus on holy talents from the start.
Level 20 and up
During leveling, talent issues will come up for your character development. Several of these are: effective healing, buffing, DPS, survivability and mana management. There are talents in the Holy talent tree that address these issues. There is also a lot of synergy between the holy and discipline trees. You should consider taking talents from the discipline tree if they address your issues. Some players also take talents from the shadow tree in combination with holy talents, but the synergy between these trees is not as strong.
The lists below include Holy Talents and where applicable Discipline talents that benefit Holy Spec leveling. Discipline talents requiring more than 25 talent points are not included.
Some of the healing enhancement talents from the holy tree include Healing Focus, Improved Renew, Spirit of Redemption, Spiritual Healing, Lightwell, Blessed Resilience,Empowered Healing, Test of Faith, Divine Providence, Guardian Spirit and Circle of Healing.
Damage only Talents
Healing/Damage Synergy Talents
Of special interest while leveling as a holy spec are talents that benefit both healing and solo play. Talents that help healing and holy damage include Holy Specialization, Divine Fury, Surge of Light, Holy Reach, Spiritual Guidance. Discipline talents include Twin Disciplines, Power Infusion, Focused Power, and Enlightenment.
Mana Management Talents
Holy survivability talents include Spell Warding, Blessed Resilience and Blessed Recovery. Discipline talents include Unbreakable Will, Silent Resolve, Improved Power Word: Fortitude, Improved Power Word: Shield, Martyrdom, Improved Inner Fire.
Buffing is a specialty of the Discipline tree. Still, buffing talents can work effectively into a healing priests repertoire. Holy buffing talents include Inspiration. Discipline talents include:Improved Power Word: Fortitude, Improved Power Word: Shield.
Below are a couple of examples of possible progressions for priest characters leveling as holy spec.
(Until someone updates this for 3.0.2, there are notes on the talents affected by 3.0.2 about how they are affected so you can decide how you want to modify them without having to go into each talent.)
Pure Holy Leveling to 40
This build progression includes holy talents with an emphasis on talents that have the aim to facilitate both healing and solo play.
Divine Fury 5/5
Blessed Recovery 2/3
Holy Reach 1/2
Searing Light 2/2
Improved Healing 2/3
Transitioning Build to 40
This build starts out picking up some useful Discipline talents for solo, survival and mana, then switches to holy. This build is probably a stronger choice for starting out since it quickly gets Meditation which provides a large bonus to mana regeneration in all situations.
Switch to Holy:
Improved Renew 3/3
Divine Fury 5/5