Mage Although Blizzard mentioned that the arcane tree still needs a lot of work, I should point out that a lot of very cool talents are available in the upper tiers of arcane. On the first tier, there's Arcane Concentration for a flat-out 10% chance to proc Clearcasting every time the mage damages a target, and Torment of the Weak, which increases damage done to slowed or snared targets. Both talents work well in a battleground scenario simply because there are just a whole lot of targets for mages to damage, and there are just going to be a lot of snared or slowed targets courtesy of the mage's teammates.
The good stuff is in the second tier, though ... like Arcane Potency to make sense of Arcane Concentration. But the talent that seems to jump out as truly PvP-oriented is Arcane Repulsion, an awesome talent that gives mage armor a knockback effect and another line of defense against hurtful melee. Despite Zahrym's statement that they would like to make the difference feel "less extreme" between PvP and PvE builds, lessening the instance of having two specs for two different aspects of the game, Arcane Repulsion is very much a PvP talent with almost no use in dungeons or raids. Likewise, Improved Blink on the same tier has been reworked to feel much more like a PvP talent with its bonus to mobility.
The fire tree's top-tier talents aren't all too interesting at this point, although there's Improved Fire Blast, which should work nicely with the very PvP-oriented Impact on the second tier. The frost tree isn't all that better, with most of the talents in the first and second tiers complementing frost spells, such as Frostbite and the extremely cool (literally and figuratively) Permafrost. Overall, the arcane tree seems to have the most PvP-oriented talents in the upper tiers for now.
Paladin Ghostcrawler has already said that "the paladin trees are the most changed in the game" and that "there are only a few of the current beta talents that survived the, um, cleansing," which means that we can pretty much disregard the current trees. In fact, during the recently concluded Twitter developer chat, the developers revealed a new paladin resource called holy power, which is sort of like soul shards meets combo points meets runic power. So a whole lot will change.
That said, I'm going to take a look at some of the talents they've reworked that look as though they might continue in that direction. On the second tier of holy, the developers redesigned Unyielding Faith to reduce the casting time of the paladin's next spell by 100% after coming off a fear or disorient effect. It's a promising idea that I hope will make it out of beta (or even this next build).
Most of protection changes are just talents moved around, but the renamed Blessing of Sanctuary -- now Sanctuary -- looks interesting. None of this feels solid, though, and we'll probably see a lot of changes in the coming weeks. Retribution is pretty much the same, but I'd like to point out that the Eye for an Eye redesign seems far more interesting than the any iteration of the talent we've ever seen. Blizzard will probably scrap it altogether given the state of development, but it's definitely a promising train of thought. There's always been the concern that Blizzard still doesn't quite know where to take the paladin class even after five years, but we'll see.
Priest The priest trees aren't done, but they've got a good bunch of new talents all around, such as Evangelism on the second tier of discipline and its companion talent Archangel. Because Evangelism procs through Smite, it's not quite intended for healers but has good PvP applications on top of helping the leveling process for discipline priests. There's nothing too interesting in the holy tree for other specs to pick up in the current build, and almost all the talents with the exception of Inspiration are passive bonuses, so those are likely to change. Likewise, there aren't any talents in the shadow tree that seem complementary to the other trees at the moment, although some good PvP talents are in there such as Improved Mind Blast and perhaps Spirit Tap.
Rogue Although the assassination tree was singled out among the rogue trees as being "far from done," it has a few new interesting talents such as Deadly Momentum and Blackjack. Blackjack should make Sap a strategic part of PvP and gives rogues the real option of using Sap in the middle of an encounter. The combat tree has Improved Recuperate, improving on the new ability Recuperate, which promises to be frequently used in PvP. Improved Kick and Improved Sprint -- both useful PvP talents -- were moved up to the second tier, while the rest are passive talents that might be changed. The only notable thing in the subtlety tree is the move of Waylay from the eighth tier to the second, although the prerequisite Improved Ambush is a disincentive. More changes headed towards rogue trees for sure, though.
Shaman The shaman trees have some cool new toys, although the elemental tree is mostly a reshuffling affair. It's quite likely that we'll see more changes and less passive bonuses here -- I'm fairly certain Improved Fire Nova doesn't quite fit the developers' idea of palpable talents -- so we'll give the elemental tree a pass. In the enhancement tree, there's the new but otherwise unexciting Focused Strikes that other trees will probably skip. On the second tier is Ancestral Swiftness, which grants a passive bonus to movement speed making it a great choice for PvP.
The restoration tree has Ancestral Resolve on the first tier, another passive talent but should appeal to elemental shaman in PvP. There's also Spark of Life, which is sort of like an improved version of paladin Divinity. Finally there's Focused Insight, another new spell that has a more dynamic feel to it by working through a proc. It also appeals to both enhancement and elemental shaman because it procs off shock spells. Restoration shaman can use it to mix things up by tossing a shock before healing an ally. Very nice talents for shaman so far, it will be good to see what changes take effect in later builds, especially for elemental.
Warlock The warlock trees feel very unfinished at this point, with most of the talents just shuffled around. Nothing too interesting in all the trees, which have old, passive talents which are very likely to change as the beta moves forward. I will note, however, that Blizzard seems to be continuing the trend of allowing Soul Link to be easily accessible to all builds with its move up to the second tier. It seems like they really want warlocks to have it by default, anyway, and the developers acknowledged considering making the ability baseline. Demonic Embrace is a prerequisite now, but that passive, unexciting talent is likely to be changed. There isn't much to see here yet, so we'll move along.
Warrior Warriors, on the other hand, have a bunch of new if unfinished talents such as War Academy on the first tier of arms. It still reeks of passive, impalpable bonuses, so that might change. Right alongside it, though, is Field Dressing, which is not only an awesome ability for PvP, but it also references first aid and bandages (check out that icon!), which is a fun bonus. On the second tier is Blitz, a very cool talent which improves the already awesome Charge. More rage? Check. Stun an additional target? Check. Will probably be picked up for PvP builds? Check.
The other two trees don't have much yet aside from moved talents. I'll point out that Blood Craze in the fury tree has been moved one tier up, allowing warriors to pick up a self-healing talent, perhaps in conjunction with Field Dressing. Protection also doesn't seem to invite branching out into, as most talents here seem fully geared towards improving the protection spec and playstyle. Even the new first-tier talent Hold the Line works best for protection. Some good abilities here, but expect to see a lot more shuffling in future builds of the beta.
A long way from done
It's still too early in the beta to map out builds, but limiting our view to the first two tiers should give us an idea of what Blizzard will allow. Expect more talents that affect spells found exclusively in other trees to populate the first two tiers of talent trees. Although the developers are adamant about keeping players majorly in one spec and killing hybrid, cherry-picking builds, they seem to encourage picking complementary talents from the other two trees. It also gives us an insight as to what kind of playstyle they expect from classes or specs.
Limiting the choices to about 10 deep per secondary tree allows the developers to limit what kind of spells will be available to each spec. As mentioned, this reduces a lot of the guesswork involved in predicting the PvP landscape. Furthermore, developers can more easily sway players to pick up certain talents because they're so easily accessible, such as Soul Link for PvP warlocks. The talent tree lock-out makes it easier for new players to work through their talent choices, and having a mere 10 points for complementary talents makes it easier to round out their builds once the other trees become available. This change impacts PvP min-maxers the most, but players will still have two tiers of talents in other trees to choose from. We'll learn more as the talents get finalized as the beta progresses, and I'm pretty certain players will be able to pick out the most optimal (or imbalanced) PvP talents from other trees. The only difference is that this time around, Blizzard will be expecting it.
Zach delivers your weekly dose of battlegrounds and world PvP in one crazy column. He writes about how the world is changing and how battlegrounds are going to be awesome. Get some practice while waiting for Cataclysm. Just don't, uh, go AFK while doing it. If you're in the beta, why not check out Twin Peaks, as well? Check out last week's primer on how the new talent tree redesign affects PvP.