Otherwise, the march of Cataclysm news continued in September, and with it came a few startling announcements that didn't go over too well with players. Who knew portals would be such a hot-button topic?
The Daily Blues: Zul'Gurub is gone as a raid instance come Cataclysm Zul'Gurub was announced to be disappearing in Cataclysm. Cue mad dash on the part of players everywhere to get their tiger and raptor mounts before the axe fell.
Operation: Gnomeregan and Zalazane's Fall events now available The pre-Cataclysm events were the first volley in a very long process leading up to the new expansion.
Patch 4.0.1 introduces reforging into the game Reforging, as Ghostcrawler observed, is likely to change the game in a number of ways that are difficult to anticipate.
Return to Graveyard button in latest Cataclysm beta build In hindsight, it seems strange that this wasn't in the game in the first place. Now that it is, we can quit having those inevitable nightmarish moments where you can't get back to your corpse and you can't get back to the graveyard.
Cataclysm beta: Worgen are their own mounts No mount? Mount yourself!
Blizzard announces automated account recovery for hacked accounts Blizzard, still trying to deal with a tidal wave of players getting hacked, sped the process up as much as possible.
World of Raids going offline in favor of MMO Champion The question over what was going to happen to World of Raids after Curse's acquisition of MMO Champion was finally answered, and it wasn't good news.
Cataclysm beta removes portals from Dalaran and Shattrath The first sign of the impending Portalgate controversy, which has dogged the forums in one fashion or another to this day. Mages, however, rubbed their hands together in glee over incoming tips.
The Lawbringer: WoW in China An insightful look at what was going on with Blizzard, The9, and Netease. The comments section also provides some background on what might have been going on with Chinese Ministry of Culture decisions as well.
Arts and entertainment
Byron the Tauren Rogue: The cow, the legend, the gnome Kelly examining her efforts with the Byron comic. A great read on the creative process.
WoW Moviewatch: Sons of Grim Batol Melvenor's wonderful story of Wildhammer dwarves contemplating a return to Grim Batol.
WoW Moviewatch: How you like me now? JMSBuddha was irritated that so much of the WoW community's attention was going to worgen during the Cataclysm beta and decided to do something about it. Also, props for the use of The Heavy's "How You Like Me Now?"
Goblin cinematic: Escape from Kezan The cinematic ending the goblin 1-5 leveling experience was datamined, and players went crazy. It's hard not to see how far Blizzard's come even in comparison to the Wrath Gate or Fall of the Lich King cinematics.
WoW Moviewatch: Interactive Horde Onyxia Attunement Chain We first ran Wowcrendor's Interactive Horde Onyxia Attunement Chain on Dec. 31, 2009 -- too soon for me to put it into the Best of WoW Insider 2009 series -- so I don't feel too bad about sneaking in a rerun we did in September 2010.
The Art of War(craft): A handy guide to winning at everything, part one and part two Zach walks you through the technical side of great PvP.
Spiritual Guidance: Dinosaur pirate explosion carnival, or why Shadow Orbs is lame I have no idea what Shadow Orbs are or what they do, but I'm pretty sure this was the best article title of the year.
The Light and How to Swing It: Why is the mana gone? Chase made it to the beta only to discover that holy paladin mana regeneration had been gutted. He consoled himself by ganking players at teleport NPCs.
The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Patch 4.0.1 is a good thing Rossi tried to calm the hysteria surrounding the patch 4.0.1 changes.
Arcane Brilliance: Things I've learned while dying in Cataclysm Belt's experience in heroics on the Cataclysm beta turned out to be a fairly accurate sign of things to come.
Cataclysm beta: Warlock evilness, goodness in latest beta build Really, Eli's article image sums it all up here.
Totem Talk: Elemental shaman changes for patch 4.0.1 Sarah Nichol -- better known as Pewter from the 'Mental Shaman -- pens her first column for the site.
Drama Mamas: When a guildie does something abhorrent Further proof, as if any were needed, that the wrath of the internet is brought swiftly on anyone who mistreats a cat.
15 Minutes of Fame: Behind the scenes at WoW Insider, part one and part two We decided to interview ourselves and readers enjoyed this quirky outing in 15 Minutes. Game journalism -- or blogging, or whatever you decide to cause it -- changes how you see and experience the game.
The OverAchiever: Pimp Thy Ride There were a number of ways to get 310% flight speed without having to shell out for it once Cataclysm hit.
15 Minutes of Fame: When WoW meets real-life religion "A big favorite that crossed over to be linked at interfaith religion sites and others," says Lisa. Gamers have an unfortunate tendency to stereotype conservative Christians past the point of any meaningful dialogue, but the Rev. Jonathan Fisk tries to dial it back. "Our age of tolerance is a two-edged sword. Everyone is so afraid of offending everyone else (because everyone is always so offended) that it's almost like there's this giant lid on meaningful conversations. We can talk about the weather or loot, but we keep a tight seal on the deeper things of life."
Insider Trader: Old alchemy cooldowns Basil turns an eye to an odd quirk of classic-era alchemy that doesn't outwardly appear to make sense nowadays.
Collecting armor sets: Dungeon set 2 One of my favorite one-off features from this past year. Anne showed players how to get from dungeon set 1 to the now-vanished dungeon set 2. This must have been a horrific amount of work, but it was a lovely read.
Frostmourne makes an appearance in Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock A neat easter egg for players in the new Guitar Hero game.