Zarhym wins Community Manager of the Year at Dragon*Con 2012 Well-deserved! But seriously, try to get home sometime.
Ghostcrawler joins Twitter, nerfs you in 140 characters We live in fear that the douchecanoes, funsuckers, and all-purpose idiots will eventually drive him off, but he's still going strong almost four months later.
The Blue Child returns to Azeroth The smaller of Azeroth's two moons had disappeared during the classic game and didn't return (except, curiously enough, during the Dragonwrath questline) for more than 6 years.
Reddit AMA transcript now available Reddit's /r/WoW community hosted a giant Ask Me Anything session with the developers, and Blizzard kindly put together a transcript so the questions and answers would be easier to follow.
Guild Ox introduces Alt Detection Reactions to this ranged from "That's great" to "Oh s#&t."
WoW Insider interviews lead quest designer Dave Kosak A fantastic interview in its own right, but I think Kosak's enthusiasm for his kickass deer in pet battles would've vaulted it onto the best of the year list regardless.
Fishing tournaments disabled, more cross-realm zone info coming Cross-realm zones had a bumpy start in WoW. Supporters argued that playing through a bunch of dead zones was demoralizing and off-putting. Detractors hated ... well, everything about it. As Adam observed, whether you liked or disliked CRZ, the fishing tournaments were the poster children for their problems.
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria now live in Europe and the United States Pandapocalypse!
"Guide Dog" player and sightless guild-mate honored with in-game items We talked about this back in January, but it's too good not to run here as a reminder. A man with a friend is never without vision.
Players begin hitting in gold in Challenge Modes This took four days after release. And if you want to compare yourselves to players around the world, you can do that too.
Opinions and Editorials
Officers' Quarters: All the red flags The best way to stop trouble is to prevent it from happening in the first place. A fine essay on why you should think long and hard about the kind of people you accept into a guild, even when you really "need" them.
Shandris Feathermoon for Warchief I could write a lot about this piece that argues for a more prominent (and aggressive) role for the leader of the Sentinels, but as Rossi deadpanned, she just really needs to do more.
25-man raiding and the tolling of the bell "25-man raids are going to die. There's no other possible outcome. The only question is when will Blizzard finally stop designing them." Not longer after, Rossi noticed a post by Hamlet of Elitist Jerks addressing the issue, and while they don't disagree with each other, they approach it differently. I suspect both articles were prompted by the news that Paragon was switching to 10-mans for Mists.
The social aspect of WoW As Rossi notes, server communities are slowly becoming cross-server communities. The game isn't actively preventing anyone from making friends and experiencing content with them; indeed, almost everything about it is oriented around enabling this behavior.
WoW Moviewatch: Other MMOs Slightly Impressive, otherwise known as Griffter, continues to more than slightly impress. An audience favorite and possibly his best of the year.
WoW Moviewatch: Panda Girl "Permission to explain myself in song, sir?" "This better not be dubstep, private." Oh, Greyfoo.
Around Azeroth: The guilty parties A Horde player reflects on the destruction to Theramore and the Horde's increasingly ugly role in Azerothian politics. I had a quiet moment like this after running the Theramore scenario for the first time, too.
WoW Moviewatch: Anton Pourquoi, No Rerolls: Part one and Part two We loved this series, which is a brilliant send-up of both WoW and Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. And, as Gray observed, the voice acting is so good that it's hard not to remember their characterization of Anduin Wrynn even in the game.
Interview: Funny guys Chris and Mike of The Daily Blink webcomic They're as funny outside of the comic as they are within it. Also, their creative process sounds an awful lot like ours.
Around Azeroth: Goodnight, Cataclysm We didn't think it was possible to make Mimiron's Head a poignant contribution to anything, but we stand corrected.
WoW Moviewatch: Alliance vs. Horde -- Mists of Pandaria, part 1 The classic series returns with a pointed question to the pandaren: Where the hell have you been?
YouTube Skyrim cover phenom Malukah on epic music and playing WoW We were pleased to discover that Malukah, who'd shot to fame as result of a hauntingly beautiful cover of The Dragonborn Comes, is a WoW player. I'd had her music on in the background of both work and play sessions for months and started fangirling when Lisa interviewed her.
Around Azeroth: An inauspicious beginning Alliance had a few problems getting started with the new expansion.
Classes, Raiding, and PvP
Blood Pact: The importance of heroic Spine As Megan wrote, she hated 25-man heroic Spine with a passion when she first saw it, but the encounter is kind of a master class in how to stretch a warlock to maximum capacity.
The OverAchiever: That rabbit's dynamite! Yes, an entire OverAchiever was devoted to the killing of the Darkmoon rabbit. In our defense, the rabbit was the most dangerous raid boss of patch 5.0.4.
All death knight team clears 25-man heroic Dragon Soul Above the nerf calls, you can just about hear the death of paladins' souls.
A walkthrough of the Fall of Theramore scenario from the Alliance side Players were excited for WoW's first scenario but unsure of what to expect. Olivia's guide is excellent, but what happened to Alcaz Island?
Shifting Perspectives: The rage extends life. The rage must flow. Not the first time that I've written an entire column around the opportunity to use a cool header image or title, and probably not the last.
The Care and Feeding of Warriors: 5.0.4 prot warriors and the looming shadow of Cataclysm "Cataclysm prot warriors were the best designed tanks, period. Others may have been stronger or weaker, but none were as elegant in execution, varied in toolkit, or beautiful to play."
Encrypted Text: What Fangs of the Father could have been Chase had been vocal about his dissatisfaction with the Fangs, on which he'd had to do a lot of math just to prove that they surpassed heroic No'Kaled. In patch 5.0.4, Blizzard increased the proc rate for Shadows of the Destroyer and rogues equipped with the Fangs saw their DPS soar a few short weeks before they were rendered irrelevant. It was hard not to feel bitter.
PvP Power, PvP Resilience, and PvE gear Blizzard's endless tinkering with stats in PvP has a tendency to confuse players. Olivia's got you covered on what happened and why the changes were made.
Odds and Ends
Drama Mamas: 40 things you should never say ingame and 51 more things you should (probably) never same ingame As advertised. This is kind of a bullets-point summary of everything that Drama Mamas and Officers' Quarters have written over the years.
Transmog and the amazing Journeyman's Vest Hardcore transmoggers have hunted through WoW's loot tables to root out the most interesting options, and there have been some surprising results.
The tragic fate of the Shady Rest Inn Long-time players will be very familiar with this beloved quest series, but newer ones may not, and shouldn't miss it.
How to stay healthy while leveling Robin got in great shape this year and isn't accepting any excuses as to why you can't.
Know Your Lore: The lost introduction to Theramore's fall Blizzard has a problematic history of shifting necessary context for game events to tie-in books and comics, and I wasn't the only confused player who found herself in the Theramore's Fall scenario asking, "Wait, why are we here?" Oh well -- on some realms, Jaina's already gotten her revenge.
WoW Archivist: WoW's craziest TV ads "The message here is if you see a guy wearing an Alliance logo on the street, you should immediately attack him from behind with the deadliest weapon you have available." Half of us can get behind that. The other half are positioning ourselves above the people in Horde shirts.
WoW Archivist: Vanilla WoW's launch event was out of control The reaction to the launch of classic World of Warcraft far surpassed what anyone believed could happen.
Why the NFL's Chris Kluwe will always be @ChrisWarcraft on Twitter Kluwe, punter for the Minnesota Vikings, had recently landed in the news for his defense of Baltimore Ravens player Brendon Ayanbadejo and his arguments in favor of gay rights.
Know Your Lore, Tin Foil Hat: All according to plan Arthas had a pretty good reason for stringing players along all through Icecrown Citadel. Rossi argues that Deathwing was playing an even longer game to enable his sole offspring to manipulate the world to his liking. Enjoying that Sha-Touched Gem of yours?
How is World of Warcraft not a cheeseburger? Not gonna lie, I'd have slapped this here if only for the header No, I do not want fries with that mage.
If you enjoyed this article, you might get a kick out of our Best of 2009, Best of 2010, and Best of 2011 series.