Patch 5.4 went live on September 10th, and the month pretty much blew up from that point with an avalanche of editorials, art, predictions, and arguments. This and November were easily the busiest months of the year.
The Know Your Lore column in particular went into overdrive in September analyzing what we found in the Siege of Orgrimmar raid, but this month was an embarrassment of riches no matter where you looked.
And the new warchief is ... Players generally approve, although as trenshod points out, you could sorta see this coming because Vol'jin's model was updated. On the plus side, if Lor'themar ever gets a revamp, you'll know something is up.
Guide to every chest on the Timeless Isle People are still making use of this, judging from the traffic numbers.
Gaming For Good's Siege raises over $2M for Save the Children The initial goal was $500,000, so this was welcome news, with efforts eventually reaching $6.6 million. People who tuned in got to see a hair-raising race between Method-EU and Midwinter-US in heroic Throne of Thunder, with both guilds stalling on heroic Dark Animus (f*#% that fight, seriously), and Method eventually beating Midwinter to a Ra-Den kill by two minutes.
Activision Blizzard to take a stand on violent video game research The company hired a firm to lobby the Senate on the Violent Content Research Act of 2013. Not that we disagree with the impulse to do quality research on high-profile issues, but hasn't the violent crime rate been falling for a while even as video games went mainstream? Oh well. The larger surprise is that Congress did anything at all this year.
Blizzard to shut down Diablo III auction house This was a blow to the notion of player-driven marketplaces, but no one could deny the very real problems involved.
We may be in debt, but the chips on our shoulders are chocolate Start baking, Olivia!
Activision-Blizzard split from Vivendi halted You'll see more about this in October.
Opinions and Editorials
What's wrong with Hearthstone I have tried to avoid most Hearthstone-related articles in this series as we cover that as a side job, but Olivia's editorial was too popular to overlook. We think the game is a ton of fun overall, but as someone who's also new to collectible card games, I also think Olivia was right about the learning curve being harsher than intended.
Why I spent $150 on the beta of Hearthstone Adam wrote this in response to the fights that broke out in comments on earlier articles re: paying for cards in Hearthstone and whether it was a good idea.
I won't cry for you, Garrosh Hellscream Sarah wrote the short story Heart of War for Blizzard and had thought through Garrosh's characterization a lot more than most. I want to quote the following because it set me back on my heels in a way that not much else has concerning Garrosh:
Siege of Orgrimmar and the world of the idea The unexamined raid is not worth pwning.
To this day I believe that he, as a character, is defined by insecurity in a way that no other major figure in WoW ever has been. Which makes Garrosh's story all the more heartbreaking. For here it is, at last -- that despondent and in many ways pathetic Garrosh we first met in Nagrand -- his worst fears are coming true. He has become exactly what he feared he would, if given the opportunity. There's an aching tragedy in that. It's not, fundamentally, a satisfying character narrative arc. In fact, it's a rather terrifying one.
Dear Jaina Proudmoore Anne composes a letter to Jaina over her voice acting in the patch 5.4 end cinematic, wondering whether the nascent supervillain route is really one she wants to go down. Don't do it, Jaina. It's a long, tortuous path that just leads to being a dead raid boss with loot being beaten from every orifice. Slightly Impressive also took note of Jaina's single-mindedness with MoP Redubbed 2.
Let's keep things in perspective I feel like Adam winds up having to write one of these editorials every year.
Your favorite (or least favorite) daily Violent hatred continues to boil for Fatty Goatsteak a year into the game.
Community Blog Topic results: Which race would you like to become playable? We have really enjoyed the Community Blog Topic posts, and they tend to be popular discussion pieces. This was no exception. Consider this another vote for the arrakoa, by the way.
How bad is raiding for melee? I don't know, but it can't be any worse than trying to kill Cinderfall as a melee player. Seriously, did anyone who wasn't a ranged DPS bother to test that?
Are we getting less tolerant of wipes? Yes.
Arts and Entertainment
WoW Insider talks 5.4 with 3D artist Fanny Vergne-Vicente So much care and attention goes into even the smallest details in this game. We liked her insight into conveying the orcs' aggression artistically and a sense of discomfort and suffocation in the lower reaches of Siege.
Around Azeroth: Ailurophobia I still wonder how this was managed, as druids are supposed to drop form on death.
WoW Moviewatch: Under the Sea A wordless, short, and simple tale, but not less for all that. We wish we saw more machinima like this.
WoW Moviewatch: Lore according to Arthas We think this is one of Slightly Impressive's funniest outings, although MoP Redubbed 2 and Stuff NPCs Say later this month were also big hits with our readers.
WoW Moviewatch: Unreleased Siege of Orgrimmar cinematic Players argued whether Wowcrendor or Slightly Impressive's take on this was better, but the audience is the winner either way. As an aside, SI redubbed the Alliance side of the fight, and Crendor did the Horde.
Around Azeroth: I Shouldn't Be I'm starting to suspect that rogues with Glyph of Disguise have more fun than anyone else in the game.
WoW Moviewatch: Moo Like Tauren A lot of commenters compared this one (favorably) with Exodar Disco.
Around Azeroth: Meta beta Hearthstone makes inroads into WoW. Players without beta invites find this cruel.
Classes, Raiding, and PvP
Blood Pact: Lock loot in Orgrimmar Megan continues in her quest to make gear posts interesting to read (something I have never managed).
How to use TradeSkillMaster 2 The original version was no longer updated as of the patch, and it wasn't possible to import all settings to the new one. Because TSM can be a finicky addon to get working just the way you want, Basil decided to walk people through it.
Bottom-line expectations for raiders in World of Warcraft Welcome to Raiding 101. Lisa will be your professor this evening, and she's grading on one hell of a curve.
The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Why you should tank in patch 5.4 Trying to convince people to do the worst job in the game, one column at a time! But seriously, protection DPS got a lot better when patch 5.4 hit.
Addon Spotlight: Reviewing readers' secret addons I loved this. It's difficult to ferret all the potential gold mines from addon sites because there are just so many of them competing for attention, so it's a perfect problem to crowdsource. This was how I found Drop the Cheapest Thing.
From 25 to 10, a Lodur story This was one of the articles I thought of when Blizzard first announced that flex would become the standard raid mode in Warlords of Draenor. Healing is necessarily different as you move between raid modes, to the point where I wonder if the burden of variable raid sizes falls disproportionately (or even solely) on healers.
oQueue how-to for flex raiding on demand oQueue was a godsend to players on low- and medium-pop realms without a ready supply of people to run flex raids, but it wasn't as intuitive as we'd like. Blizzard took notice of the massive (and growing) popularity of this addon.
The right and wrong ways to use healing meters Hopefully not as a blunt instrument against players you don't like or classes you don't understand.
Odds and Ends
How to live happily ever after with a nongaming partner You don't necessarily have to have every hobby in common with your partner, but you can't let any hobby rob you of quality time with him/her.
Know Your Lore: The history of the Warchief Rossi glossed this as, "The position of Warchief was invented by Gul'dan. GUL'DAN. It's NEVER a good idea to do ANYTHING Gul'dan suggested, ever."
A day in the life of Blizzard Historian Sean Copeland This was fascinating. We'd always wondered what the Blizzard historians do, and apparently there's so much lore-related work that three full-time people take care of it. By the way, the three historians -- Evelyn Fredericksen, Justin Parker, and Sean -- all have ingame equivalents on the Timeless Isle.
The "Had To Happen" series That's how I'm going to shorthand two Know Your Lore columns from Anne and Rossi on the destruction of the Vale and the general upheaval caused by allowing the Alliance and Horde into Pandaria:
- Know Your Lore: This was all necessary I enjoy this take on Pandaria, particularly the commentary on Taran Zhu and the corrupting influence of pride.
- Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: The haunting refrain of the Mists of Pandaria The decision by the Celestials and the Golden Lotus to allow the foreign arrivals into the Vale was the worst they ever made. Or was it?
Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: Heroes of the Storm Anne was also the staffer who wrote up Blizzard's trademarking of Heroes of the Storm for us. She went on to write a KYL about it "because so many people wanted this to be a thing too."
WoW Archivist: A rolled-back history of realms and part two As someone who started playing at the beginning of Burning Crusade, this was a fascinating read.
Know Your Lore: Alea iacta est "Soon we'll get to see the end of the beginning, if not the beginning of the end. The die has been cast. Now all roads lead to Orgrimmar."
Know Your Lore: Requiem for innocence lost An excellent essay on what is won and lost in the Siege. Aysa and Ji have been fundamentally altered by the events of this expansion, and probably not for the better.
The 9 people you need to avoid in WoW Featuring such august personages as the Asshole Tank, the Haterade Chugger, the Class Opportunist, and the Passive-Aggressive Sociopath. Spend any serious amount of time in the game, and you will eventually run into all of these players.
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.