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Reader Mailbag: Levelling as Holy

I’m in the middle of a long and hefty post, so just to tide y’all over until I’m done, here’s a reader email I got recently, to which other people might also like the answers.

From Gemosi:

Is it possible to level to 80 as a healer. I am currently ret but looking to go to a healer for end game content. I need to learn all the spells and rotations for being a healer before then so I thought I would respec. Any suggestions and also if leveling is possible what the best rotation.

It’s certainly possible! However, be warned, you’ll find it much slower than Ret – but it’s perfectly viable, and means you can heal an instance at a moment’s notice.

I’m assuming you’re starting from level 70 at this point; if the toon is a reroll, I’d recommend going Retribution at least until you hit Outlands, because Holy is incredibly slow until you start getting spellpower plate/mail items.

Your typical rotation is going to be:

  • keep yourself buffed with Blessing of Wisdom; put up Retribution Aura
  • Seal up with Seal of Righteousness
  • pull the mob and Judge Wisdom on it for mana return
  • Holy Shock it
  • If it’s an undead or demon, use Exorcism
  • If you pull 3+ mobs at once, it’s probably worth using Consecration once they’re in melee range (and Holy Wrath if they’re undead/demons).
  • continue with Holy Shocks and Judgements (and Exorcism) whenever their cooldowns are up.
  • Consecrate a couple more times, but don’t use it on every cooldown; it eats way too much mana.
  • toss Hammer of Wrath into the rotation once the mob’s at 20%.

You can wring more DPS out by using more Consecrates, plus using Shield of Righteousness once you hit 75, but those are fairly mana-hungry and will increase your downtime.

Note that Seal of Righteousness’s mechanics were changed in 3.0.8 last week, and I’m still doing some research to work out if it’s still the best option.


  • ignore Strength/attack power on gear; you won’t be able to stack enough of it to be worth it, and it’ll gimp your healing significantly
  • stack spellpower, mp5, and crit
  • once you get to level 70, start swapping your gear over to drop mp5 – at 71 you get Divine Plea, which restores 25% of your mana on a 1 minute cooldown. At this point, you want to be stacking spellpower, int, and crit – you’ll also get a fair bit of haste on your gear, but you probably don’t need to start stacking it til you hit 80 and are gearing up for endgame
  • when doing quests, if the plate reward is melee or tanking plate, take a look at the mail. Wearing all mail does tend to lower your survivability a lot, especially if you pull multiple mobs all the time; however, you can afford to have a few mail pieces and they’re often superior to the plate you get access to.

In terms of spec basics, I’d go with something like this for a level 70 build. As you level to 80, work your way down the Ret tree; pick up Conviction and Sanctified Seals. That’ll leave you two points left over — I usually put those into Pursuit of Justice, because run speed buffs are awesome :) At 80 your spec will be much the same, but I’d drop Seals of the Pure at that point (in Holy) and swap it over to Spiritual Focus (also in Holy) at that point for healing.