Ensidia scores world-first 25-man Lich King kill As expected, Ensidia got the world-first 25-man Lich King kill -- and then a 72-hour ban for the use of saronite bombs. Turns out the bombs were bugging the encounter and rendering the val'kyr spawns a non-issue by causing the outer portion of the Frozen Throne's platform to reassemble. "It is a longstanding tradition for end bosses to be exploited in the most hilariously awful of ways," Alex shrugs.
Debunking another hacked authenticator story An article surfaces on The Consumerist claiming that a hacker removed an authenticator from an account. Robin doubts this assertion can be taken at face value.
Man-in-the-middle attacks circumventing authenticators Account security woes continued with yet another trick by hackers to bypass the layers of security surrounding a WoW account.
How to tell if a GM is whispering you Robin's war against the scammers continues with an instructive piece on how to avoid one of the newer phishing scams that sent players to bogus websites over a fake GM's whisper.
Winter Olympics 2010: Ghostcrawler promised me a moose The "Ghostcrawler promised me a (X)" meme kicked into high gear after an attendee at the Stephen Colbert rally in Vancouver made his presence felt. WoW players (and Blizzard) were amused.
Is Arthas redeemable? One of our guest authors, Richard "Greyseer" Powell of Lorecrafted, weighed in on the issue of Arthas' possible redemption and came to the conclusion that "There is no salvation for one so willingly damned."
Is the Alliance aiming to retake lost lands in Cataclysm? Sacco took a hard look at the Cataclysm maps glimpsed during BlizzCon and started wondering what we were going to see.
Editorial: Thoughts on the Ensidia ban Dawn Moore weighed in on Ensidia's sudden ejection from the game and pointed out there was no possible way the players weren't aware that something was seriously bugged with the encounter.
The Lawbringer: Contracts and player bans If you want to hear the legal side of what was going on with Blizzard and Ensidia, Amy had you covered.
Trial account restrictions and the 30 percent problem Daniel looked at a statistic we had recently published -- only 30 percent of trial accounts make it past level 10 -- and dug into potential reasons for it. His conclusion? A lot of the steps that Blizzard's taken in an effort to combat gold companies' abuse of trial accounts has made these accounts close to useless for enjoying the social side of the game.
Know Your Lore: Malfurion Stormrage We restarted the Know Your Lore column with Anne Stickney and Matt Rossi, and one of the first outings was a comprehensive piece on a guy who really likes to blow stuff up (if by "stuff" you mean "the world").
Arts and entertainment
Fall of the Lich King cinematic The Fall of the Lich King cinematic was datamined shortly before patch 3.3.2 (and the Lich King encounter) went live. Lore junkies everywhere rejoiced, and then some of the more contemplative among us wondered -- what on earth's going to happen to Bolvar?
WoW Moviewatch: The life of a vendor This was one of the simplest and most brilliant ideas I've seen in machinima: What does WoW look like from the perspective of an NPC?
WoW Moviewatch: Boom De Yada WoW The Discovery Channel's famous commercial I Love the World comes to WoW in the form of a particularly well-crafted machinima from Irdeen Productions. Indisputably one of the most popular picks of the year.
All the World's a Stage: You can't be a vampire No, seriously, you can't.
All the World's a Stage: How you can be a vampire Okay, you can.
World of Warcrafts: Mixing it up with Mr. Voletron Lisa tracks down and shoots the guy responsible for the Wrath remixes that'll leave your head right around the time "It's a Small World" does. Or interviews him, whatever.
All the World's a Stage: Realistic touches to an unrealistic person WoW roleplayers have often said (accurately, I think) that there's inevitably a splash of Mary-Suism to our characters given game mechanics. Gray helps you dial it back a notch to create a realistic, whole, and necessarily flawed personality.
Scattered Shots: Grandpappy Frostheim on death knights Frostheim described the appeal of this column as, "Anything making fun of death knights is good reading."
Totem Talk: Enhancement 201: Spell selection Enhancement has one of the most complex damage rotations in the game. Rich Maloy was prepared to help you untangle it.
Scattered Shots: Skill vs. gear A Scattered Shots post on the interaction of skill, gear, and raid buffs, with some numbers showing just how little your gear contributes to your DPS compared to other sources. Written for hunters, but very applicable across classes. From the comments section: "In more than two years reading WoW Insider (and most of that time playing a hunter), this has been the single most insightful article I've read (from) the hunter column."
Blood Sport: Season 8 team compositions Colby analyzed common season 8 team compositions to see what was being said about PvP as a whole. Unhappily, burst was still a very potent factor despite the recent boost to resilience.
The Art of War(craft): Introductory guide to fighting paladins All of Zach's introductory guides to PvP against specific classes were wonderful, but I thought the paladin outing was particularly well done. Either way, it was also timely given that the class was statistically the toughest to kill in battlegrouns.
Blood Sport: Alliance racism I really enjoyed Colby's series on racial abilities and their impact on arena. Less enjoyable was knowing that the overpopulation of humans in arena wasn't likely to end due to the difficulty of finding anything to equal Every Man For Himself.
Shifting Perspectives: In defense of a glyph everyone hates Allie comes to the rescue of the beleaguered Glyph of Healing Touch (which at that point dropped the cast time to one second or less), helpfully close-captioning the column for the humor-impaired among us.
Scattered Shots: Dreaming of awesome ammo A fun Scattered Shots about what could have been done to make hunter ammo totally awesome, rather than just nonexistent.
Raid Rx: Frustrations of two-healing a 10-player raid A Raid Rx that may actually be more timely and relevant these days with a number of 25-man raiders making the transition to 10-mans.
Ready Check: Understudies and how to grow them A raid's ability to survive and plan for the future hinges on its ability to cultivate and develop talent. As any company can attest, tracking down good people is a full-time job.
15 Minutes of Fame: The solo artist The Austrian player Raegwyn has gained a measure of well-deserved fame for soloing encounters and dungeons that even a full group could still manage to wipe on. The amount of tinkering he had to do to get specs and rotations capable of this makes me wonder how he'll work with the new talent system in Cataclysm. That said, he still figured out how to solo Kael'thas toward the end of the expansion, so pessimism's not the order of the day.
Guy is angry about WoW and STO Boogie's take on the "difficulty" of the Crimson Halls.
Addon Spotlight: Elitist Group GearScore, while around for almost a year before patch 3.3 hit, reached new heights of popularity with the advent of the dungeon finder and quickly became an integral -- though widely despised -- part of the WoW subculture. However, it wasn't the only tool (or, many would argue, the best tool) that allowed you to evaluate players quickly in the event that need arose.
Officers' Quarters: PUG showdown A great look by Scott Andrews at how guild membership (and the game's inability to recognize guild alliances or informal partnerships) affects relationships. The letter writer here has a valid complaint. Unfortunately, so does the guild leader whose policies are under critique.
1. Local: An Ensidia-free zone "Is it possible someone could tell me who Miley Cyrus is?"
15 Minutes of Fame: The Frag Dolls' Valkyrie This was an eerie precursor to an article written by Kelly about two weeks later on gaming becoming a female-dominated activity, at least in some genres. Great interview, and the comments make it even better -- particularly Master Ash's pointed question regarding the nature of the Frag Dolls' existence: "(So), does Lara Croft empower women or exploit them?"
Drama Mamas: Love Fool What happens when you want one player from a pair but not the other -- and the latter makes himself (or herself) as much of a nuisance over the issue as possible?
A look at GM Island and the player jail Player curiosity about the "forbidden areas" of the game is never going to abate. Adam spilled everything we know about GM Island.
Know Your Lore 101 Looking to get started with official lore sources? Here's the definitive guide.
Know Your Lore: The black dragonflight A huge chunk of the back story for Cataclysm lies in this one article. Deathwing's devolution from aspect to terror couldn't help but influence the development of his flight.
Gold Capped: Auction house addon list Players are often bewildered by the array of addons designed to make buying, selling, and price comparison easier and faster. Basil took you through it.