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Prot sub Ret would probably be the easiest. The gear is homogeneous enough that the dps loss you have from wearing str/sta/def gear vs str/sta/atk gear won't matter on the mobs you're fighting to level with and it only requires that you keep a 2h in your pack. Once you get mastery, the gap closes even more.
Ultimately, pick what you want to play. If you want to tank, main prot. If you just want to smash faces then you can roll ret and level super fast doing overworld questing and zone hopping to keep up with the hero's call board. If you want to heal then.. dual spec to ret until later or spam instances.
It's more important to enjoy what you're doing than to do something you don't like in an attempt to get to the top slightly faster. Instancing is potentially the fastest but questing is really fast and it lets you work gathering skills for cash on the side.
edit: Also, a lot of the new content is really well written. Some drama. Some cheap laughs. Lotta good stuff out there. At least until you hit TBC.
Edited by Nakoda on 12/27/2010 1:28 PM PST
I leveled from 80 to 85 as holy, but I think the original post is more about lower levels. I came up as ret. I got a holy spec at 40 but didn't use it until I was able to get a good healing set with triumph emblems. Started healing then and liked it so much, I dropped my ret spec and made a second holy spec for pvp. That's the one I use when I quest. Needs to be tweeked a bit, but I had no problem leveling to 85. When I made this switch, there were some things that were hard in my retribution spec that were very easy in holy. When I soloed chillmaw as a ret, I had to basically do everything just right. About half the time I would die and have to come back and kill the bombardiers after rezing. As a holy, I never had to pop a cool down and finished every fight with full health and manna.
At lower levels, I have no idea, but I don't think anyone else would know either except someone currently leveling a holy paladin. I think you will find that you are hard to kill and will simply out survive most opponents. You might want to include some talents in you won't include later just to get your dps up a bit. (blazing light, for example)
The problem with dual-speccing at 30, is gear. If you dual spec, say, Holy/Holy with one focused on healing and the other on dps talents, then you're fine. Prot/Ret probably isn't a bad combo either, because you can generally get by with one set of gear, just carrying either your two-hander or sword and board in your bags. But Prot/Holy or Ret/Holy doubles your bag space requirements, which can be considerable if you spend enough time in the field. As long as you're able to keep it in the bank, I guess that's okay, but it's a pain - that's why, even at 85, I'm dual-specced Holy/Holy (healing/questing specs, and yes, there is a huge difference.)
Protection, maybe holy if you get bored of pulling 10 things at a time.
Ret is horrible to level with since its inconsistent on short skirmishes. You will go up and judge, CS.. then do it over and over again. While i leveled i could occasionally get 5-6 mobs without a single art of war proc, and it just dragged. Ive also got art of war 3 times in a row once.. but after only one, the mob is dead anyways so you miss out on them regardless.
At the very least, wait until you get your wings before going ret.
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