July was a very heavy month for news on the patch 5.4 PTR, but it sparked a lot of good discussion concerning the new Proving Grounds feature and where the story would finally end in Mists of Pandaria. This was also an excellent month for the Know Your Lore column.
Patch 5.4 PTR datamine: 100% XP buff via microtransaction I believe this is currently available on Asian realms but not on European or North/South American servers. Given that many Korean and Chinese players have to pay for the game by the hour, it's not as unfair as it might initially appear.
Possible texture from the next expansion datamined in patch 5.4 What is this "Iron Horde" you speak of? Can't say we didn't fire a warning shot, folks. TrollingAzeroth's reaction was priceless: TONY STARK IS THE NEW WARCHIEF. ToddMcLannister comes scarily close to nailing what Warlords of Draenor would be about, even if the comment was really just a joke.
Former WoW developer Mark Kern wonders if WoW is too easy And boom goes the comment section.
Possible hint to the next patch In response to a question over Orgrimmar going back to normal at some point, Dave Kosak replied, "Most of Orgrimmar's permanent changes will happen in a future patch, but before (the) next expansion." Troll and goblin players everywhere, rejoice!
World of Warcraft children's book announced at SDCC Great art, but we'll allow ourselves a minor hipster moment here. Fox did it before it was cool.
Activision-Blizzard separates itself from Vivendi for $8.2 billion In years past, Vivendi had actually been looking to sell Activision-Blizzard but couldn't find anyone who could afford it. So again we say, hmmm. That wasn't the only news in the press release, though.
Opinions and Editorials
The living game and the end of nostalgia "The past is a vast and detailed country we believe we have a perfect image of, frozen forever in our minds as a perfected world. Indeed, only the past can be so perfect, because it's the only place that doesn't change on us. The game we play now, the living game? It will always change."
What If: Velen the villain During the podcast, Sacco had come up with an interesting thought experiment: Can you turn any major lore figure into the next expansion's primary villain in 10 seconds or less? Rossi picked Velen and constructed an eerily plausible narrative around Velen's willingness to build the future he desires for the world even if it means spending lives like water. Anne wrote a What if? two days later concerning Alexstrasza and the former dragon aspects more generally.
Community blog topic results: Favorite playable race Top of the list? Tauren. Bottom? Worgen. I love the worgen to death myself, but Blizzard would probably be doing them and their popularity a favor if it dumped the snuffle that seems to annoy so many people. A few days later, Robin decided to extend the question to our commenters, who voted differently. Gnomes, humans, and Forsaken came in for the worst drubbings here.
Something needs to be done about avoidance An excellent essay by Matt Walsh. Blizzard and plate tanks have long been at war with each other over the issue, because raw avoidance just never managed to be that attractive or exciting. The leather tanking gear model seems more useful in the long run ... as long as you're okay with everyone and his brother rolling on "tanking" gear (said the bear player).
Internet rage, dissociation, and difficult consequences On a clinical level, we all know we're playing with other "real people," but it's all too easy to forget that in the heat of the moment. "People don't want their worlds to collide, they don't want the consequences of their videoplace identities to haunt them in the meatspace," Olivia writes. "Would the internet be a better place if the two were inextricably linked?"
Arts and Entertainment
First Warcraft teaser trailer exhibited at San Diego Comic Con To the best of my knowledge, we still haven't seen this hit the internet, and wouldn't see any concept drawings until BlizzCon.
WoW Moviewatch: Love me like money From the comments:
- PvPscrub: Well done, not so sure about the message though, money is incredibly unimportant in a fulfilled life.
- JoshuaHarrington: You clearly don't understand goblins.
Blizzard spotlight on fan artist Dmitriy "Tamplier" Prozorov His DeviantArt page is here. We'll see you a few hours from now when you finish your fascinated clicking.
WoW Moviewatch: Written by you Ian Beckman decides, the hell with it, let the audience write a movie.
WoW Moviewatch: The last video of Oxhorn Long time songwriter, singer, and machinimator Oxhorn retired from moviemaking this July.
Around Azeroth: The twilight of the Horde A vivid reminder of how beautiful a simple landscape shot can be.
WoW Moviewatch: Precious Life and Seething Sorrow A lush, beautiful video with a sobering story. We like how incredibly expressive the pandaren models are.
Classes, Raiding, and PvP
Blood Pact: Flow like a shaman, sting like a hunter "An essential part of being a warlock is realizing that all of the attackable health bars in the field are eventually going to be part of your resource bars for damage purposes, one way or another."
WoW Insider Round Table: Testing out the Proving Grounds We hosted a discussion with Olivia, Matticus, Dawn, and Sarah on the new Proving Grounds feature on the PTR. Even this early, it was obvious that some classes have a leg up on the nastiest waves. A few days later, Matt Walsh wonders if it's likely to become the means by which player skill is judged and the advantages and disadvantages to that model.
Blood Pact: Argggggghimonde's Vengeance In which Megan accurately predicts a talent before it appears on the PTR.
How do you like your armor sets? Older tier armor is enormously popular for transmog purposes, and MMO Champion polls have singled out Burning Crusade tier sets as the most popular overall picks. Does that mean that modern armor sets just aren't as compelling, or is something else going on?
Do warlocks bring too much utility to a raid? A tweet from Ghostcrawler sparked an extensive discussion on what constitutes utility and whether some classes/specs bring too much of an advantage to ignore. KeithKorg in the comments has a good point: There's also a difference between the utility an individual player can bring, and a class whose mechanics actually lend themselves to stacking them. You don't get multiple Dark Intents from bringing more than one warlock, but you can get multiple totems or pet buffs from shaman/hunters.
The need to resuscitate first aid Is the first aid profession a relic of a bygone era, or a way to give non-healing classes greater responsibility for their own survival?
Odds and Ends
WoW Archivist: WoW's 20 greatest non-legendary weapons And the nicest thing about the lack of orange text is that they're all available for transmog! Well, most of them. Much to our regret, some are no longer in the game.
Know Your Lore: The peculiar puzzle of Sunwalker Dezco Before reading this, I'd advise starting here with the KYL on the various tauren people around Azeroth, which is crucial context. Dezco is unquestionably one of the more popular Horde characters introduced in Mists of Pandaria, but there's a lot about his story that doesn't outwardly appear to make any sense (or is otherwise unbearably sad). As a few commenters point out, there's an Alliance quest line in the Krasarang Wilds that may actually explain why his wife died.
How do celebrity gamers keep the burden of fame off their backs? The responses here were not at all what we expected. It's heartening to be reminded that most players out there really are decent people.
Know Your Lore: The contradictions of the mogu The typical lack of female models for NPC races does bizarre things to the game's lore.
What is WoW's most moving storyline? Pamela Redpath continues to get a plurality of the votes, but the commenters have a variety of suggestions. For my part, my vote continues to go to Until Death Do Us Part, a one-off that mercifully survived the Cataclysm revamp to low-level questing.
Know Your Lore: The mysterious motives of Wrathion It's useful to remember that Wration is more the son of the Titans than Deathwing, and the Titans don't seem to have exhibited any particular regard for their living creations. You may be a very well-rewarded means to an end in your legendary cloak, but you're a means to an end nonetheless.
Know Your Lore: Why I love rambling on about Warcraft lore Rossi pops up with a useful reminder: Even lore that seems contradictory is fun, because it eventually has to get reconciled somehow.
If you enjoyed this article, you might get a kick out of our Best of 2009, Best of 2010, Best of 2011, and Best of 2012 series.