Finding information on how to level a particular class in a DPS spec isn’t hard to do. Most classes (except Rogues, apparently nobody likes being a Rogue) have at least a decent blogging community dedicated to them and/or you can find posts for it on forums all over the place. You can find most of the same for leveling as a tank as well. But when it comes to healing guides, almost all of them are aimed at healing in heroics or raids, or how to switch from a non-healing spec to the healing spec.
Personally, I don’t like just grabbing a random spec I’ve never tried before when my character is a high level. I don’t like learning when I have all the tools I’ll ever need thrown at me all at once. Rather than grabbing a spec I know nothing about I prefer to reroll the character, especially if the spec in question is tanking or healing because of their nature. If I pick up an unfamiliar DPS spec my team can usually carry me while I’m busying sucking and trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing, but I can’t do that as a tank or a healer because I’m the only one filling that role at the time and my failure would lead to the group’s failure.
I believe that the best way to become truly skilled and knowledgeable about a particular spec is to level in it. I’m not saying it’s the only way, you could certainly do it without ever experiencing the spec until you reach max level, but that knowledge is so much easier to pick up if you’ve had the time to learn about each and every ability as it becomes available to you rather than just having them all thrown at you at once.
So I’m going to do a little mini-project, which is to level a character form 1-85 in their healing spec the entire way. I know it can be done, my wife did it on her first Paladin. The results of this test, which are going to be based on how fun it was and how hard/easy it is will determine whether it becomes a larger project (leveling all of the healing classes in their healing spec), or if I just say, “that was fun, but uh…yeah, never again.”
But I’m not going to take the easy route, I’m not just sticking to LFG where four other people do my leveling for me; I’m going to experience the leveling content in every aspect of the game. So I’m going to take the healer(s) into dungeons, I’m going to take them into battlegrounds and I’m going to quest with them all with the healing spec. I’m not even going to purchase dual specs for them because I know if I do I’m going to be tempted to cheat and grab a DPS spec that I’m sure I’ll tell myself “oh, it’s just for a BG or two so I can throw someone off of the Lumber Mill in AB.” None of that, these suckers are going to live or die (/delete) by their own healing power.
Having done at least some leveling with all of the healing classes with varying degrees of healing experience, I already know a few things off the bat about each class:
- Druid: Can be very boring as HoT’s are very powerful and quick/instant cast.
- Paladin: Some healing spells or related spells can be used offensively to help leveling.
- Priest: Similar to the Pally, they have some heals that can be used offensively.
- Shaman: Passive healing from Earth Shield can make up for time spent DPSing.
Knowing that Druid healing is frequently boring, I’m less inclined to have them be the class I use for the first test. On the flip side, their powerful HoT’s could very well make up for their boring factor by allowing me to deal damage during the downtime. I’m still considering the druid, but right now they’re the lowest on the list.
Paladin healing I’ve only done in the low level battlegrounds and tiny bit in Northrend during Wrath. I don’t think I have any real “need” for another Paladin right now, so I might leave this one for one of the last slots as well as the character would likely end up deleted and rarely/never played.
The Priest is a class I’m really enjoying right now, but still in the Shadow spec that I’ve recently blogged about. I’m not a great Priest healer and that’s something that I want to work on, and I’d really love to learn it by leveling instead of just flailing into it on my 85. As such, this is a big contender for first or second. I would likely go Holy over Disc because Holy is labeled more as the “used for heals only” spec where Disc is more “use for heals or leveling”.
Lastly we have the Shaman, a class I’m also having a lot of fun leveling right now, but both of my existing Shaman are in DPS specs. My Resto Shaman experience extends to about level 25 as my current Enhancement Shaman was originally a level 19 Resto Twink (which is why he’s named Tiklemonster, btw). I know that Shaman healers are very powerful at low levels as even after Cataclysm I managed to solo a couple of the low level dungeons, one of which (SFK) my buddy Cynwise hasn’t managed to solo yet on his super-twinked 19 Prot Warrior…yet. This ranks the Shaman near the Priest in priority as I had a lot of fun with the Resto spec.
So for right now I’m left with the big question – Resto Shaman or Holy Priest.