For anyone out there who's new to the site, at the end of every year we run a retrospective series examining the last 12 months and the articles that best captured the zeitgeist of the player community. You'll find one of these published every day through the end of 2012, assuming we don't all vanish into the nether on Dec. 21 (which I am inclined to doubt, as bills are due and nobody's that lucky).
Marthazon: World of Warcraft is sort of like the French Foreign Legion of games when it comes to age. As long as you can do your part, it's rare for someone to ask "How old are you?"
2012 felt like a very introspective year for the game. Between the lack of a 2012 BlizzCon, Cataclysm's winding down, and the 9-month wait for Mists of Pandaria, players used the extra time to argue and probe into systems that most needed improvement. January was no exception, and this was a very chatty month for our staffers.
Raid Finder loot rules changing in patch 4.3.2 Blizzard tinkered endlessly with the Raid Finder's system for loot distribution, and one of the more agonizing issues was watching someone win two of the same item and vanish back to their own server. That problem got fixed, although Josh observed later that that didn't mean life was appreciably easier in LFR.
Cross-realm raids coming in patch 4.3.2 An update to Raid Finder rules wasn't the only thing to hit the live servers, although most players didn't see it rise to true prominence until it was used to finagle Darkmoon Rabbit kills in the fall. Necessity is the mother of invention.
64-bit World of Warcraft game client now available for testing Not sure why that's important? Don't worry, Mat will explain.
Is this a Game Master in the Armory? How'd this happen? And for that matter, why is Melesong still on the Armory? The world may never know.
Rogers Communications violates Canadian net neutrality rules over WoW bandwidth throttling This was an issue that Mat had been following for a while. It's extremely common for ISPs to throttle anything that looks like peer-to-peer or torrent traffic even if it's not, and this was at least a small victory against a discriminatory practice.
Ol' Grumpy and the return of class-based quests An examination of why class-based quests had existed in WoW in the first place and what we had to gain from their return. This essay seems somewhat prescient given the yearlong debate on class population and how best to encourage people to return to specific classes, with frequent suggestions to return to ... well, class-based quests.
The fastest way to make 10,000 gold As Basil observes, there's a middle ground between WoW multimillionaires and players who can't scrape enough gold together for their repair bills, and a lot of it's tied up in your spending and not your earning habits. Fox ran a counterpoint a few days later.
Officers' Quarters: The plight of 25-man raiding guilds "Normally I don't like to (make my articles too personal)," Scott writes soberly, "but my guild's own experience is dovetailing too neatly with an overall trend." 25-man raiding is dying because it offers the same reward as 10-man raiding at the cost of more significantly greater administrative overheard. Even professional-caliber players have been affected. Blizzard agrees, but there's no easy answer.
7 wishes for guilds in Mists of Pandaria Scott follows up with a series of suggestions to address ongoing guild management issues. The guild hall and "rep for deposit" points get high marks with readers.
Destroying this clockwork universe Rossi's love letter to Cataclysm lore, and a probe into the nature of the Titans, who may not be as well-intentioned as we think. Hang onto that thought, folks, because you'll be seeing it again later this year.
How archaeology could get a lot worse (and why we hope it won't) Archaeology was perhaps the most interesting profession on a theoretical level, but the ingame results were kinda meh. A few of the suggestions in the article and its follow-up made their way into Mists of Pandaria.
Why we need difficult raid encounters Tyler's editorial was a reminder that many of my fondest memories of the game are the direct result of raid bosses that were hellishly difficult at the time.
Profanity filters, homophobic slurs, and Blizzard's shaky relationship with the LGBT community A deeply uncomfortable question: "If saying 'homosexual' gets eaten up by the language filter, then why the hell do the words 'fag' and 'faggot' sail right through?"
WoW Moviewatch: Unreleased Dragon Soul Cinematic Wowcrendor started of 2012 in classic style with a rather pertinent set of questions concerning what the Aspects are going to do in the absence of their traditional powers. He was back a few weeks later with The Story of Dumass, LFR Summed Up in 30 Seconds, and perhaps most notably, Racial Stereotypes (Humans: "I'm boring!").
Around Azeroth: Awkward family photos Everyone in a family rolls Alliance but one. As advertised, things get weird.
WoW Moviewatch: The Hills Have Eggs Fabulous voice acting and great animation -- we expect no less from Olibith.
Around Azeroth: The great space octopus Another reminder, as if any were needed, that WoW can be an extraordinarily beautiful game. In case you're wondering, it's the "sky" in Deepholm.
Amazing player-animated and rendered WoW avatar Just what it says in the title. Thorvald, you rock.
Shifting Perspectives: 2011 for feral druids Chase revisited 2011 for ferals on the first day of the year and noted that, quite sadly, one of the most exciting thing to happen to the spec in years was Unheeded Warning. Then it got nerfed.
The Care and Feeding of Warriors: The state of the class Rossi had a similar idea, and points out that Gurthalak was almost single-handedly keeping warriors competitive in an expansion full of casters toting Dragonwrath and rogues running around with Fangs. With the benefit of hindsight, Cataclysm wasn't a good time to be melee DPS, was it?
Scattered Shots: The top 5 hunter raiding priorities DPS makes #5 on Frostheim's list. Yes, Virginia, there are four more important things for a DPS to do than DPS.
Rotations vs. Priority Systems: The buttons you press Blizzard has increasingly favored priority systems over damage rotations because the former's just a lot more interesting to play. From a game designer's perspective, the inability to macro a priority system is also a solid win.
Shifting Perspectives: The druid of 2011 "This year, I have several bottles of a very fine '09 cough syrup produced by a family of local brewers making inroads into the artisan pseudoephedrine trade. I have some doubts as to the legitimacy of their business license, but have been reassured that state regulatory agencies do in fact sign these in crayon."
Why healing rotations spell death for your raid Matticus gains the ability to Enrage.
How to win at Warsong Gulch Gray schools inexperienced players in one of WoW's more despised but least avoidable battlegrounds. I admire the succinct answer given by K.B. in the comments: "Two healers and a blood DK."
"Guide dog" player and guild embrace sightless guildmate, steer team to victory Still one of the most popular posts of 2012 almost a year later. Owen, a young Scotsman playing a death knight, set himself the task of becoming the ingame "guide dog" for Ben Shaw, an enhancement shaman and British Army soldier who was blinded in Iraq. With a series of macros, addons, and instructions over Mumble, Owen guided Ben through raids and onto the top of the DPS charts in heroic Dragon Soul. A truly extraordinary article and one that deservedly got a lot of media attention. 8 months later, Blizzard honored the pair with Hexu's Amplifying Helm and Davidian's All-Seeing Eyes. A man with a friend is never without vision, indeed.
The man who gave away 1,000,000 gold Fox talks to Keelhaul of Proudmoore (US), better known as The Mogfather. He made more than a million gold off the still-new transmogrification craze and then decided to give it all away via a fashion show.
Drama Mamas: The etiquette of AFKing in a group or raid For all those of you out there who occasionally find your cats on fire, there's a right and a wrong way to make a quick exit. And most importantly? Don't turn it into an annoying habit.
Robert's not-so-original WoW miscellany A collection of 25 random WoW facts that you totally didn't know. Well, maybe you did.
Know Your Lore: Where is WoW's story headed in the distant future? Rossi accurately predicts the return of the Blackrock clan to political prominence.
It Came From the Blog: Caroling carnage event snapshot A lot of clever maneuvering on Robin's part kept ICFtB from encountering wholesale slaughter at the hands of the Alliance. Commenters are shocked that a raid full of Gaudy Winter Veil Sweater-wearing characters was somehow allowed to remain alive.
70-year old grandma wields legendary and leads her guild Marthazon of Dalaran (US) has been running her guild for 5 years, slings Dragonwrath, pushes progression content, tops the meters, and is not even the oldest person in her guild. You have no excuse. Oh, and as I write this in December 2012? She's still at it.
20 observations from a leveling tank One being, Auchenai Crypts sucks.
If you enjoyed this article, you might get a kick out of our Best of 2009, Best of 2010, and Best of 2011 series.