With Cataclysm looming on the horizon Blizzard is preparing by putting out a major content patch before the actual release.  They're still shooting for November 2nd by the looks of it, and with the 4.0 patch on the PTR, we'll be seeing the new talent changes soon.  A number of websites including Wowhead and MMO Champion have the talent trees available on their databases so you can play around with builds as you like, which I've been doing, considering my high nerd levels.  I have to say I have high hopes for all three specs come release, and I'm especially thrilled to see that Frost is making a bit of a comeback.  All the initial info was a bit scary for mages as we didn't know how the heck we were going to get mana back since they're turning spirit off for us.  But as Christian Belt advises in his WoW.com post, don't panic.  Things are going to be ok.  *patpat*

Frosty Goodness

Seeing as Frost is my favorite spec by far and I have the highest hope for it, let's start there.  By choosing this spec for your first 31 points, you get a FREE PERMA ELEMENTAL making us a pet class once again.  (Suck it warlocks!)  The nice thing about this is that you don't have to glyph and you don't have to lose Freeze and a second Frost Nova that not only stops things in it's tracks, but also sets off your Deep Freeze.  Deep Freeze is still part of your main rotation as it was pre-patch, along with Brain Freeze procs and Frostbolt spam.  Let's look at the talents for frost in the build I've been playing with:
  • Early Frost - Thumbs up for this talent.  It has a 15 second cooldown, so it's not always a reduced cast time, but that's more of your main damage spell you're casting in any given time, which is always good.  More spells = more damage.
  • Piercing Ice - More crit = more damage = good.  No brainer.
  • Shatter - Same as Piercing Ice.  More crit = good.  The only difference is that this is dependent on something being frozen, which is what the entire frost rotation is based around.
  • Ice Floes - Another thumbs up talent, definitely a must.  With the damage opportunities from Cone of Cold and Frost Nova being more often, as well as the faster cooldown for Icy Veins, it's definitely a DPS increase.
  • Improved Cone of Cold - Freeze = good.  Another great talent.
  • Piercing Chill - More chill effects = more possible Fingers of Frost procs, so more damage.
  • Permafrost - Not gonna put points into this one.  Why?  Because if we're looking at this from a raiding or grouping point of view, a slower target isn't all that much more useful.  This is more or less a PVP talent, especially with the healing aspect.
  • Ice Shards - Again, chill effects = good.  While this build gives you a new fun AOE to play with, Blizzard and Flame Orb can be used at the same time since Flame Orb isn't channeled.  A little extra room to use Ice Lance is good too, as it's your go-to spell when Deep Freeze is on cooldown.
  • Icy Veins - Take it.  Haste = good.
  • Fingers of Frost - This talent is the base of your entire Frost build.  It's necessary to make the whole rotation work.  Take it.
  • Improved Freeze - Absolutely a DPS increase.  With Freeze back in the Water Elemental's arsenal, 2 extra Fingers of Frost charges is huge, especially if you can manage to figure this into your rotation.
  • Enduring Winter - Perhaps not the most necessary of talents, but it gives the raid replenishment and decreases the mana you burn through, so it's a good talent overall.  You don't necessarily need all 3 points here.
  • Cold Snap - Take this one.  It resets all your frost cooldowns, including Icy Veins, Deep Freeze, and Frost Nova, allowing you to do more burst damage more often.
  • Brain Freeze - This is a great talent.  You get a 15% chance to get a free instant Frostfire bolt which applies a DOT to the target and with this talent also gets the benefit of Fingers of Frost.
  • Shattered Barrier - This one I'm not sure about.  Does it apply when drops or just if it's destroyed by a hostile?  If we're not talking PVP and this doesn't apply when the shield just fades, then it's a generally useless talent.  Your shield should be taking damage unless it's raid wide damage.  Even then, are you going to be in range of the boss or whatever you're fighting when it does die?  10 yards is pretty close...
  • Ice Barrier - While it's not a DPS increase necessarily, it's necessary for Deep Freeze, so you have to take it.
  • Reactive Barrier - While it would be nice to have a shield trigger when your health gets low, I"m going to have to say this is a PVP talent and not necessary.
  • Frostfire Orb - So when I heard about our new spells for Cata, I wasn't thrilled, but I am very pleased with this talent.  It turns a mostly fire AOE spell into something that's very viable for a frost mage to throw out before they Blizzard.  The chill effect is a DPS increase, and the slow is an added bonus.
  • Deep Freeze - A major part of our rotation, there's a reason this is our 31 point talent.  Take it.
The way Blizzard designed the new talent trees, you really can't go past the second tier of the other two trees, so I'm not going to go any further than the first for each tree.  The talents that benefit all specs are really the only ones you want to take, as the ones that are more tree specific are not going to do you much good in the wrong tree.  I found these to be the most helpful talents:
  • Master of Elements - Since our mana regen is no longer based off spirit, we need all the help we can get.  Crit is a big deal with the Frost build, so this should be a pretty beneficial talent.
  • Netherwind Presence - Haste = good and this affects all trees.
  • Arcane Concentration - Again with the mana issues.  This gives you a free spell.  I don't know that 3 points are necessary, but it's a good idea to put some points in here, especially if you're having mana issues.
Same Ole Arcane

The changes to Arcane aren't quite as world shattering as they seemed with the previews.  The rotation is basically the same and it's just as bursty as before, except slightly moreso with the mastery talent.  Mana regen is more important in this spec because of the mastery bonus, so we'll have to be more careful with that aspect in order to maximize our damage.  Our big special spell is Arcane Barrage which is a bit underwhelming, but it should be still interesting to play.  The problem I've found with Arcane is that there's less beneficial talents to put your points into and you'll find yourself putting some points into something that's not entirely useful in order to get your 31 points.  Here's the build I threw together and the talents to go with it: 
  • Arcane Concentration - Mana preservation means more increased DPS for longer, so this is a good one.
  • Improved Counterspell - Clearly a PVP talent with little usefulness in PVE.  Not necessary.
  • Netherwind Presence - Haste = good.
  • Torment the Weak - With the variety of different slows or snares that are a part of a normal rotation for a number of classes, this talent has an almost 100% up time and is a good choice for your points.
  • Invocation - While this is probably a PVP spell, it MIGHT be useful occasionally in PVE if you happen to use your counterspell to interrupt something.  Not a necessary talent by any means, but if you can figure out how to use it, a nice DPS increase.
  • Improved Arcane Missiles - More missiles means more damage to the big DPS proc in our rotation.  This is a major talent.
  • Improved Blink - Since we use Blink to get out of fire or other bad AOE, this isn't a terrible talent, but not a necessary one either.
  • Arcane Flows - This decreases the cooldown on some very important spells to our rotation.  A definite must take.
  • Presence of Mind - Instant cast = good.  You can use this for when you're moving or when you want to get a spell off quick.  A good talent.
  • Missile Barrage - Faster Missiles = good.
  • Prismatic Cloak - This isn't exactly a spectacular talent.  It's probably for PVP with the decreased damage and the faster Invis.  Not a necessity.
  • Improved Polymorph - Another PVP talent.  Doesn't really have any application in PVE other than when some idiot breaks your polymorph too soon.
  • Arcane Tactics - Flat Damage Buff.  Take it.
  • Incanter's Absorption - *sigh*  Me and this talent go way back.  While it's not as cool as it used to be, this talent isn't complete trash.  Although I wouldn't use it with Mana Shield since lower mana = lower dps, it may actually be useful with the new Mage Ward.  Not a necessary talent, but one that is better than the PVP options.
  • Improved Arcane Explosion - A little segue here... I had a mage tell me the other day that he used AE for AOE exclusively because it did more damage.  Sure it does more damage, but it puts you in melee range increasing your aggro and costs more mana than Blizzard does.  Plus we get Flame Orb now!  Why the heck would you use this spell?
  • Arcane Potency - A good talent.  Uses two of your previous talents to boost your damage.
  • Slow - With the changes to Arcane a while ago, I fell in love with this spell.  It's not only awesome for PVP, but also has PVE applications with Torment the Weak.  On top of that it's required for our 31 point ability.  Take it.
  • Nether Vortex - Free Slow is good!  Perhaps not necessary, but it doesn't cost you anything to get a free snare + slow on the target you're already DPSing.  Thumbs up.
  • Focus Magic - With this talent now so high up in the Arcane tree, only Arcane mages will have it now.  Arcane mages... and warlocks.  Stupid warlocks.  Stealing our spell.  Still a good one to have, although you'll see less mage daisy chaining.
  • Improved Mana Gem - A short scaling DPS boost that's very sexy and very useful linked to a mana regen.  Take this one!
  • Arcane Power - Part of our burst cooldowns and definitely a good one to take.  More damage is always a good thing, plus they lowered the mana cost!
As with the last spec I discussed, there's a limited amount of points to spend in the other trees, so here's where I put them and why:
  • Master of Elements - Mana return is always a good thing, especially with the new Arcane.
  • Piercing Ice - Increase to ALL spells crit percentage.  More crit coupled with Master of Elements means more mana return as well as more damage.
  • Burning Soul - This isn't necessary, but is the most useful talent to put our points into given the lack of usefulness for Arcane mages in the other trees.  Less interruption means more DPS in the long run.
  • Fire Power - While you won't find yourself using Fire spells that often, the application of Flame Orb as an AOE while channeling your Blizzard isn't a bad idea.  More damage is more damage.
Burning Your Way to the Top With Fire

While Fire has never been my favorite spec, I suspect that it'll be very popular come Cata, if not sooner.  It's up there with Arcane right now in raw DPS when done correctly.  I haven't really messed around with it much, but I suspect I will soon enough.  Pyroblast isn't a new spell and is their big present for picking that spec on top of a flat DPS increase for all fire effects.  The thing about fire is that it's very reactive with no true rotation, and it's becoming even more so in Cata from the look of it.  Here's the build I picked and the reasons why to follow as always:
  • Master of Elements - Crit for mana = good.  Again.
  • Burning Soul - While not necessary, good if there's a lot of raid damage, since you're less likely to be interrupted.  Not a bad place to put extra points.
  • Improved Fire Blast - While Fire Blast isn't necessarily a part of the rotation now, it's instant cast and good to use while moving.  Not a terrible talent.
  • Ignite - A DOT applied with crits.  Good talent.  Crit is a big deal with fire so take this one!
  • Fire Power - Flat damage increase on all fire spells plus an exploding Flame orb?  Yes please!
  • Blazing Speed - Usually when something has a movement speed increase, it's a PVP talent.  Not necessary, but probably fun!
  • Impact - An interesting talent.  I could see including Fire Blast in the rotation with this talent for AOE purposes.  The stun is also nice for PVP.  Not necessary, but not a bad talent either.
  • Cauterize - This talent makes me sure that Blizzard employs a very different type of designer in the mage department.  While you may survive a little longer with this talent than you might have already, you better hope you have friends among the healers.  PVP talent most likely.  Not gonna waste points here. (I KNOW what you're thinking.  "Gypsy, but this will keep us alive longer for more dps!"  Well if you'd get out of the FIRE in the first place, it wouldn't be a problem would it?)
  • Blast Wave - Fire gets all the fun AOE spells.  This one has a slow attached to it instead of the knock back it used to have, thus pissing off a few less tanks and healers in it's use.  Sure why not.
  • Hot Streak - Free Pyroblast?  Oh, hell yes.  Take this one.
  • Improved Scorch - If I'm reading this correctly that means that Scorch is ALWAYS FREE.  Meaning no mana cost for a damage spell that puts on a nice debuff?  Free is ALWAYS good.  Take it.
  • Molten Shields - So Mage Ward may be cool come Cata, which is fine, but this talent seems pretty "meh" to me.  Might be good for PVP if you have Blazing Speed, but otherwise I'd not waste a point here.
  • Combustion - KABLOOIE! (Ok, I'm a little slap happy from staying up to write this post and that sounded like a cool word to put in a fire mage post.  Sue me.)  An instant cast fire spell instead of a buffing cooldown like it was before.  It does, however, combine all your dots into one big one so that if you time it well, you could get a good amount more DPS from this one.  Might be fun to play around with.  I'ma take this one.
  • Improved Hot Streak - A no-brainer really.  This one gives you a guaranteed Hot Streak Proc after 2 crits.  Once you get your crit rating high enough, you'll be seeing a lot of free pyroblasts and I pity the fool on the other end of your spells.
  • Firestarter - Assuming you aren't tanking (mages don't usually do that), this is fabulous for PVE.  Cast a spell while you're running out of fire!
  • Improved Flamestrike - So Flamestrike is one of your base AOE spells and 2 points here gives you an instant cast Flamestrike. Plus if you Blastwave, you get a free flamestrike.  In my opinion not a necessary talent, but not a bad one either.  You can put extra points here.
  • Dragon's Breath - ANOTHER AOE spell for Fire.  Very cool graphic to go with it.  Fun for PVP with the disorient, plus it's necessary for our 31 point talent.  Definitely going to take it.
  • Molten Fury - Execute for mages!  Hurray!  Take this one too.
  • Pyromaniac - Haste is good but this one has a catch, there has to be 3 targets with your DOTs on them.  Not necessary, but a nice on for AOE situations or anything with splash damage.
  • Critical Mass - This is the talent that makes Fire Mages popular in raids.  That crit debuff is nice and while Blizzard's done a nice job of spreading out the buffs among the different classes for Cata, this debuff is applied as part of your rotation.  It also increases your AOE damage with Flame Orb and Living Bomb.  Definitely a Thumbs Up talent.
  • Living Bomb - The Fire Mage's 31 point Talent and a regular part of their AOE and single target rotation.  Definitely going to take this, but I have to wonder how the DOT part of this spell is affected by Combustion in its new form.  Will it still explode at the end or just be a DOT?
As with Frost and Arcane, there are few talents in other trees that are actually good for this spec.  The ones I've found to be useful are as follows:
Please make note that I am not actively in the beta or on the PTR testing this stuff out and this is all based on my own opinion.  I encourage you to try these talents out for yourself and find the spec that you like best, even if you disagree with me on some things.  Just promise me you won't stand in fire?  Please?