Ah, December. Tons of holiday-related silliness, and (for some reason) a lot of point-counterpoint articles and patch 5.2 news. This has been a fun month.
To everyone who's been reading WoW Insider this year, whether you're new to us or a longtime fan, thank you! Happy New Year, all! Stay safe today, and let's have a good 2013!
Patch 5.2: Transmog restriction changes possible Welcome news to mogging addicts, of whom there appear to be many.
Strange framerate problems abundant in Silvermoon City Olivia volunteered a (we hope) disposable Horde character to investigate this, and something weird is definitely going on. SachaKightlinger in the comments suggests the problem's coming from a phased area in the Court of the Sun.
Talking patch 5.1 with Dave Kosak and Cory Stockton The next raid may be something like Ulduar. Let the wild cheers commence!
WoW Insider is looking for writers We're still accepting applications, and will be until January 8. You, too, can be the worst thing that ever happened to WoW Insider! (Not personal, we all have to take turns.)
25-man raids have harder challenges and better rewards on Asian realms Wait, what?
EU servers suffering connectivity issues We followed this one for a while. For the better part of a day, EU players found themselves stuck at 90% on loading screens, when they could get into the game at all.
Big changes to Sunsong Ranch coming in 5.2 I have always privately subtitled this article, "How to get players to want the ingame equivalent of a mortgage and love it."
Officers' Quarters: My rant about raid roles This article and the issue around it fascinates me. Scott doesn't get irritated with people often, but I feel he's justified here. Rather than try a new role (healing), many people will stay whatever spec they're already playing and simply allow a guild to fail. The comments section is enormous but worth your time, and I think there's a valid point here from players who argue that the increasing complexity of DPS rotations makes it harder for people to jump into that role. (Then again, when was the last time any guild went bust for lack of DPS?) Player patience with others' learning curves is a significant factor too.
Are rogues a dying class? The boost to rogue population numbers toward the end of Cataclysm (courtesy of Fangs of the Father) didn't stick. Cynwise has been following class population for roughly a year at this point and turned up some disturbing statistics.
Hellscream is my warchief Pretty much the last editorial I ever expected to see Rossi write, but he's got a point about Garrosh being a note-perfect avatar of the orcs as the creations of a hostile planet (Draenor), and whose continuing ambition isn't always a bad thing. Anne does not agree.
Grandpappy Frostheim on why The Burning Crusade sucked and Alex's counterpoint, Why The Burning Crusade didn't suck BC exists in kind of a weird headspace for longtime players. From any rational perspective, the expansion had serious problems and made life unnecessarily difficult for a lot of specs. Still, overall it was pretty badass.
WoW Moviewatch: A 25th Christmas Fabulous voice acting, funny as hell, and expertly crafted. We're hoping the 25th Line keeps delivering with their new series in 2013.
WoW Moviewatch: Hunters Are Just Awesome A collaboration among several famous hunters (including our own Frostheim) and players in the community celebrating the hunter class. As a hardcore druid player, even I have to give some grudging respect.
WoW Moviewatch: Epic Rap Battles of Azeroth Yeah, I'm gonna have to say Varian won this outing.
WoW Moviewatch: The Sha of Autotune Greyfoo gets into the holiday spirit.
Around Azeroth: The things I do for my guild One of our favorite Around Azeroth submissions this year. Bravo, Stormscythe!
Student artist's Darkmoon Carousel stuns Blizzard, earns internship And now it's in the game! A gorgeous piece, and a lovely interview to boot.
39 tips for new World of Warcraft players Panser's unwilling to let the "total noob" population go without assistance this holiday season.
Around Azeroth: Yay for winter! The header to this article and a beautiful shot in its own right.
Classes, Raiding, and PvP
Has Patch 5.1 broken PvP? I'm cheating here as this encompasses a lot of commentary that Olivia's written this month on early PvP problems in Mists. Burst damage, CC chains, healing nerfs, and the ability to upgrade gear all hit at once in patch 5.1, and the results weren't pretty. And, as Olivia later noted, trinket nerfs aren't doing enough to fix the massive burst certain specs are putting out, and the role that gear should play is always a question. Venruki, a world champion gladiator mage, had similar observations later this month in an interview with Lisa.
Thank the Light, encounters are interesting to tank again Well, life definitely gets interesting when the offtank doesn't steal Lightning Fists off Feng.
Blizzard takes a stand against pre-made battleground groups We've all been on the business end of a pre-made in random battlegrounds, and the results are rarely pretty. Now that rated battlegrounds exist specifically for such groups, Blizzard would much rather that pre-mades stop curb-stomping randoms.
Lichborne: What I learned about death knights by playing my alts It's not for nothing that so many people will tell you the best players have had experience across a wide variety of classes and roles. I need to write something like this for Shifting. Actually, Lichborne was on fire this month, with two more great columns on 3 popular requests that shouldn't be granted and why unholy's popularity has suffered.
Scattered Shots: Hunters have too many buttons With a look at the 17-step opening rotation Frostheim's posted for BM, I'm inclined to agree.
It Came From the Blog: Pandamonium snapshots So ... many ... pandas ...
Where does he get those wonderful toys? Pandaren rares and loot Anne's fantastic guide to the weird and wonderful things you can get from Pandaria rare mobs. Although I was disappointed to discover that the Forager's Gloves don't stack with Cultivation, because it would have been really cool to have a -1.0 gathering rate. Also, I'm pretty sure that this is literally all that Anne has done in Pandaria so far.
Know Your Lore, TFH Edition: Something is wrong I have to agree. Either something's wrong with the Pandaria timeline related to the Townlong Steppes and especially the Dread Wastes, or there's a lot more going on with this continent than we've been told. Where is the seventh Sha?
Know Your Lore, TFH Edition: The seventh Sha Anne builds off Rossi's essay. The more you read, the deeper the rabbit hole goes (and the more my head starts to hurt).
Sporeling Sprout, the humanoid wild pet you've always wanted Alex continues his relentless quest to smack the world into submission with small, cute, and (most likely) sentient animals.
Random acts of Uberness: That wicked-cool guy Sometimes people are just awesome.
Drama Mamas: 20 signs it's time to leave your guild This doubles as both a cautionary piece and a great round-up of the issues the Mamas have addressed in the column. And if you've reached the conclusion that it's time to leave? Here's how to do it and stay classy.
WoW Archivist: WoW's zaniest merchandise I'm partial to the Epicus Maximus mousepad, myself.
The Queue: I need a drink, tell me what Adam's request for beer recommendations spawns a comment thread of 600.
If you enjoyed this article, you might get a kick out of our Best of 2009, Best of 2010, and Best of 2011 series.