#1 - 2012/03/23 10:48:00 PMTL;DR version here: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/4254516173?page=8#153
I'll try to keep this updated and make notes of things as they become solved, and try to incorporate issues/ideas from others.
After having played it on beta a bit, there isn't a whole lot that has changed yet. The way the spec plays is virtually completely identical to how it plays on live - almost nothing has changed so far. I'm personally hoping they just "haven't got to us yet" because some things definitely need to be addressed.
Tier 1 - Nature's Guardian, Stone Bulwark Totem, Astral Shift
This tier isn't too bad.. I wouldn't mind if it went live roughly as it is with a little number tuning, though Nature's Guardian seems a little lackluster compared to the others. Not much to say here. Concerns here are that the first tier of talents being defensive cooldowns isn't all that exciting. Note: Astral Shift no longer has a damage/healing penalty, and reduces damage taken by 40%.
Tier 2 - Frozen Power, Earthgrab Totem, Windwalk Totem
This tier is what will likely end up being completely inconsequential in most PvE play. That's the only real concern here. Windwalk at least isn't likely to see any use at all, and the others will be highly situational at best. All 3 are great for PvP though, of course.
Tier 3 - Call of the Elements, Totemic Restoration, Totemic Projection
I could conceivably come up with cool uses for all 3. Concerns are that Call of the Elements will be required with Healing Tide for Resto PvE. Projection's uses are extremely limited, and potentially only Earthbind, Capacitor, and occasionally Elemental totems would be worth projecting period. At any rate, interesting idea but not very exciting.
Tier 4 - Elemental Mastery, Nature's Swiftness, Echo of the Elements
This is where things start to get really messy.
Echo of the Elements - First of all, you already have a hard time making Crits valuable to healers. Echo of the Elements is just crit for healers once again - doubling a spell's benefit based completely on RNG just isn't what a good healer is ever going to want. Unless Echo is tuned to have a really really high proc rate, there's no way an informed healer will take it over Nature's Swiftness or Elemental Mastery. Isn't this just a redundant talent considering Elemental's mastery? What will happen if Overload procs off Lava Burst and Echo procs off that Overload and Wrath of Tarecgosa procs off that Echo, and Overload procs off that Wrath, and so on?
Elemental Mastery is a great talent for Restoration. Elemental will run into issues with haste capping with it unless it's changed, however, which is why the Cataclysm implementation came into being in the first place. Enhancement gains practically no benefit from haste currently - and whether or not that is resolved will determine if this is a good talent for them or not.
Nature's Swiftness is set to be a great talent for Restoration and Elemental. Its value to Enhancement, again, will be determined by your ability to make Haste a decent stat. Nearly all of an Enhancement Shaman's spells are going to be instant cast anyway.. how will this be made valuable to them?
Tier 5 - Healing Tide Totem, Ancestral Guidance, Conductivity
Really messy tier, once again.
Despite my distaste for group/raid wide damage reduction or healing cooldowns (the heroic raiding game has become more CD map management than game world interaction) Healing Tide Totem is a great talent. Expect it to be used and abused. Ancestral Guidance is another great healing cooldown, but it is redundant - a healing cooldown when there is another healing cooldown right beside it. This, like all of the bottom 3 tiers of talents, are very mathy and there is only ever going to be one "right answer" and 2 wrong ones.
The exception to that is Conductivity. This talent just isn't a compelling choice for either Elemental or Enhancement. It is a situational Restoration only talent. Most of the affected abilities are Restoration only, and Lightning Bolt isn't even used all that much as Enhancement. This is just a bad talent. No sane Enhance or Elemental will ever consider taking it. If they are ever needed to provide healing, the other two options are strictly superior. Restoration might, very situationally.